Archive for May, 2010

Remember The Clothesline – Frugal Challenge

Monday, May 31st, 2010

My friend Patti Winker over at RemarkableWrinklies.com has been reminiscing about clotheslines and the way that sun and wind dried sheets make a person feel.  So, I thought I’d chime in with my own thoughts about clotheslines and drying clothes naturally.

I’m bringing back a post I did some time ago, and judging from the comments received on this topic, you are just as passionate about drying your clothes in the sun as I am. As a matter of fact, you’ll see clothes on my line just about year round!

It’s disheartening to know how many people are prohibited (by their landowner’s association) from drying clothes outside.  It’s a shame because this can be one of the great money savers in a household, not to mention an energy saver for our planet.

I hope you enjoy this post I’ve resurrected and please feel free to voice your opinion or share your tips about line drying your clothes.

clothesline web sizeIf you’ve been watching some of the headlines these days you’d think a war had been declared on clotheslines. And, you may be right. In many parts of the world, especially where there are homeowner associations, laundry left billowing in the breeze could send you to the courts.

Granted, no one wants to gaze upon tightie-whities or bloomers flappin’ in the wind right out in plain view, but a discretely placed clothesline with discretely placed undergarments should not be causing the sort of alarm that is apparently being raised. We all know how to pin up our unmentionables behind our lovely sheets and towels. If we can all follow certain clothesline protocol, then what’s the problem?

The problem is that some folks agree to association rules and then, when the power bill gets ridiculous and the planet needs saving, decide they want to do something to help.  So, what are frugally and environmentally minded folks supposed to do?

There are a few alternatives to stringing a clothesline between two trees in your front yard or installing full-out clothesline poles.  For instance, a portable clothesline may work. An inexpensive folding clothes rack can suffice for drying at least some of your laundry.  Another option may be a retractable clothesline that you attach to the side of your garage or house, pull out to hang the clothes, then retract when not in use.

Hanging your clothing inside on hangers may be an option.  If your air conditioner or your heat is running you actually have a pretty good little drying system inside already.

A simple option is to buy an inexpensive tension rod, the kind that you would hang a curtain on, and position it in a door frame where you have good air flow between rooms. Hang some items there and you’ll be surprised how fast they dry. Remove the rod and put it away for the next load of laundry.

Another option is a small retractable clothesline attached above the door frame in the bathroom and run across to the tub.

My challenge for you today is to find an area outside of your house, apartment, or condo to hang a few clothes. If you can’t possibly find a spot, set up drying areas inside your house to accommodate at least a few items every washday. You’ll be thrilled when you find your clothes dry and it didn’t cost you one extra penny.

Spring Cleaning One Room At A Time – Bathrooms – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

BroomI’ve decided this year that tackling spring cleaning one room at a time may make more sense for my family than ripping the whole house apart.

The reason cleaning one room at a time is a better idea for our family is it should make living in the house a bit more sane as we clean.  What doesn’t work so well for us is disrupting every room in the house at the same time.

How about you?  Would you rather tackle one job at a time, say all the floors, or one room at a time?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

I’ve divided the house into five areas – bedrooms, dining room, living room, bathrooms, and kitchen -  for spring cleaning.  As I plan my strategy, I’ll be covering one area each week on Tidy Tuesday.

The last three weeks we tackled cleaning the bedrooms, cleaning the dining room and cleaning the living room. You can see what each area involved by clicking the links above. Then come back and see how we’re going to get the bathrooms clean and shiny.

Depending on how many bathrooms you have, this project could take all day or even several days.  Here is where I take some tips from the pros.  Cleaning bathrooms can be back-breaking work, so I appreciate all the help I can get in time saving and effort saving tips.

For our discussion here, we’ll just assume we’re cleaning one full bath; that is a bathroom that has a tub with shower.  Then just reapply all the cleaning strategies to any other, smaller bathrooms and powder rooms.

Trick of the pros: choose only two cleaning solutions for entire bathroom.  It makes the job go faster and easier.

Choose one cleaner for scrubbing and one for shining.  In other words, you’ll want one cleaner to scrub the tub, tile and countertops.  You’ll want another cleaner for the mirror and faucets.  (Note:  NEVER mix bleach, even products that contain bleach, with ammonia or products that contain ammonia. The fumes are toxic, even deadly.)

Following a professional’s guidelines, we start with the toilet.  Use a good cleanser.  That doesn’t mean you have to use a “toilet bowl cleaner.”  You can use any good disinfectant scrubbing cleanser.  Fill the toilet bowl, close the lid and let it stand while you continue.  Some folks prefer just using plain bleach for this job.  You may want to start your exhaust fan if you choose to use bleach as the fumes can get a bit obnoxious.  Close the lid and move on for now.  You’ll come back to finish the toilet later.

(Note:  Again… NEVER mix bleach, even products that contain bleach, with ammonia or products that contain ammonia. The fumes are toxic, even deadly.)

Remove your shower curtain, liner, and any rugs, etc.  Launder or replace as necessary. If you have a window, remove those curtains, shades, or blinds (if possible) and wash accordingly.  Using a mixture of vinegar and water, wash the inside of the bathroom window and the surrounding woodworking with soft rags.

Grab your scrubbing cleanser and sprinkle (wet shower surround and tub first) or spray on the bathtub-shower walls continuing down into the tub.  Start scrubbing with a good stiff brush or scrubbing pad, top to bottom, all the way into the tub.

Trick of the pros: it’s much easier on the back to climb into the tub to scrub it. Put rags in the bottom of the tub to prevent slipping and climb in barefoot.

You’ll want to have a large bucket and large sponge on hand for rinsing if you don’t have a detachable shower head.  Once you’ve scrubbed the entire surface, begin rinsing until you hear the surfaces squeak when you rub it.

Trick of the pros: install a detachable shower head and use it like the spray attachment on your kitchen sink to rinse your shower. For around $20 you will solve the back-breaking chore of rinsing your shower, bending and dipping a sponge in a bucket of water over and over again.

This is a good time to get yourself a cold drink and do a slightly different chore.  Grab a couple boxes or bins and empty your medicine cabinet and under the sink area into them.  Take the boxes out to a comfortable area where you can sit and sort.

You’ll want to start with your medicines.  Check expiration dates and put any medicines (prescription or over-the-counter) that have expired into one box.  Add to that box any medicines that you simply no longer use.  Anything you haven’t taken in over a year is suspect.  That box of medicines should go to a medicine disposal place – call your doctor’s office for information about these safe disposal sites.  Most clinics and hospitals allow people to bring their drugs and medicines there for collection and proper disposal.

Continue sorting out all the items from your medicine cabinet and under the sink area.  If you have items like broken or unused curling irons, brushes, combs, clips, etc. dispose of those items or put in a separate box for donation.  Spring cleaning time is a great time to dig out from under the stuff that keeps accumulating in our bathroom cabinets.  Be brutal with your clutter!  Still have soup can size hair rollers you haven’t used in more than a decade?  Wash them up and give them away!

Okay, now that you’ve handled the clutter, it’s time to wipe out the shelves.  Use a mild cleaner and a sponge or rag and get the interior of your cabinet and cupboards wiped out.  I like vinegar and water for this chore as it freshens as it cleans.  Leave the cabinet doors open and let the interior dry completely.  Then neatly restock with your bathroom items.

Now you’re ready to clean the mirror, countertop, and sink.  Using your tub cleanser, sprinkle or spray your sink, faucet, and countertop.  Take your scrubber pad, brush, or sponge and scrub up your surfaces.  Rinse well.

Next, spray the mirror, countertop, and sink with a glass cleaner.  My preference is a vinegar and water mixture because it’s safe to use and it removes  soap residue.  That is the reason you spray down the countertop and sink after you scrub it.  Plus, you’ll get extra shine on the faucet.  Wipe the mirror, countertop, and sink with clean rags until they are dry and shining.  Take your glass cleaner over to your tub faucet as well and give that the same shiny treatment.

Trick of the pros: always follow up your sink and tub scrubbing with a spray and wipe with glass cleaner on the faucets and handles.  That’s where the shine comes from.

You are ready now to scrub the toilet.  Use a good solid brush, scrub up and around the rim, and flush.  Spray the entire toilet down with your glass cleaner (vinegar and water works well) and wipe down with clean rags.

Your floor is the final step.  Using a mixture of vinegar and water, start with a bucket and mop or a sprayer and rags, and work your way out the door.

Speaking of the door, now is the time to wipe down the door, door frame, and door knob.  Using a mixture of vinegar and water (which makes a good, safe disinfecting spray) spray down the entire door and wipe dry.  Pay close attention to the handle.

Once the floor is dry you can go back in and hang the shower curtains,  window curtains, and any rugs.

Now your bathroom is shiny and clean, just like if you had the pros come in!

See you next week when we tackle the kitchen.

p.s. Would you like to get all the rooms in your house spic-and-span? Click on and get even more Spring Cleaning Tips for Mom to get your whole house clean – one room at a time.

Organic Bread – What Are The Benefits

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

What are the benefits of organic bread? The quality of bread has dropped over the years. Bread producer put more emphasis on the convenience of their trade than on consumer’s health. The baking time of ‘modern’ bread has been reduced by the use of additives, but at the expense of nutrients and bread texture. Organic bread takes longer to make, but it tastes much better and it certainly benefits health.

Organic bread may or may not contain yeast, depending on whether the maker wants to use a growing agent or not. In the absence of yeast, lactobacillus remains active in organic bread, which has immense benefits for the health condition. Oat bran is sometimes added to organic bread too, but this usually depends on the recipe. Such products digest better and they have a reputation for reducing cholesterol.

One paradox related to organic bread is that even when fresh, it should be firm, not soft when touched. So, if you want to use organic bread, you’d better not expect soft texture from it. Keep in mind that soft bread is full of additives and preservatives. And this is not possible with natural, additive-free bread. Plus, the out-of-the-oven texture cannot last for days. These should be your criteria for judging the quality of the breads you buy.

As for ingredients, organic bread can be made from multi-grain, white wheat or whole wheat. Most bakers provide a variety of presentation forms from regular loaves and rolls to baguettes and even toast. For unique flavor, some special ingredients may be added to organic bread, and these products are specialties. You can buy organic bread with olives, walnuts, sun dried tomatoes, basil, cheese and lots of others.

There are lots of health stores that sell organic bread. Yet, many people prefer to make it at home using organic ingredients. There are automatic bread makers you can use at home, and there are certainly lots of recipes to choose from. It’s hard not to like organic bread once you’ve tasted a well-made variety.

Buy it from the local bakery, order it on the Internet or make it at home; but do use organic products! There are lots of health benefits deriving from the regular use of organic food in your diet. You’ll enjoy a better overall body condition and a lot more vitality. Lots of people have learned this on their own. You can be one of them!

Instead Of Frying, Use A Griddle

Monday, May 24th, 2010

You might ask why do you need a griddle for cooking food. There are a lot of uses for a griddle and cooking is one of the primary ones. Griddle cooking is preferred recently because you are going to be able to make healthier foods. What exactly can you cook with a griddle? We use the griddle to cook foods like hamburgers, hotdogs, vegetables, seafood and many more.

In regards to home cooking, there are generally two kinds of griddles. You might use a griddle that you place on your stove-top, or you can use an electric griddle that you plug in and place on the counter-top. If you possess a food business, there are a good deal of commericial griddles on the marketplace these days.

You now need to make a decision which griddle is best for your needs. Both of these types have their benefits and disadvantages. It all will depend on on your certain circumstances and what you prefer. One particular person might love the electric griddle while another person just can’t get any use out of it. The stove top type griddle  is a good choice for a person that has already have a stove top. If your stove top uses gas, then it will save you some money than a separate griddle that uses electricity. The stove top type also saves you space in your kitchen. Stove top griddles may also be referred to as gas griddle.

If you need to take up even lesser space but still have the cooking quality and efficiency of a griddle, you could possibly choose a round griddle skillet for the stove. It looks like a skillet but has no lip so that you can use it as a griddle. This is good for smaller space room and for persons that just lives alone.

Electric griddle on the other hand is a good choice for bigger families. It uses your counter space so that your range top has more space and your burners can be used to cook other food items. An individual can plug it away from the stove.

There’s no right or wrong griddle to use. If you still are not sure, go to your kitchen and look around. Check to see if you have enough space for the electric type or if you don’t have enough then go with the stove top type. Pick the one that you prefer, then you can start cook your favorite dishes.

More Reasons To Use Less Detergent – Frugal Challenge

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Wash Tubs old fashioned webI’ve spoken in the past about cutting back on the amount of  washing detergent used in a load of laundry or a load of dishes in order to save money.

Sure, it makes sense to use less soap in order to cut back on the cost, but I’ve read recently that there are other reasons why less is better.

In a book entitled Appliance Handbook for Women: Simple Enough Even Men Can Understand, author Vernon Schmidt (a veteran appliance repairman) discusses the wisdom and the reasons behind using less detergent in today’s washing machines and dishwashers.

Not only are you saving money on your detergent purchases, you may also be saving your appliance.

The reasons?  Most newer washing machines and dishwashers are designed to use less water in a more efficient way.  Less water means less dilution of the detergent.

Also, many detergents have become more concentrated and even contain better cleaning solvents.  Again, use less and get the same amount of cleaning power.

Just as important as saving money on detergent, is saving wear-and-tear on your appliance.  Using too much detergent in a load of laundry or dishes over a period of time can really gunk up the works.  Literally.  Gunk, crud, goo – whatever you want to call it – can build up in your appliance, around the seals, sometimes causing mold to grow.

Using too much detergent over a period of time will inevitably cause your appliance to suffer.  This could result in your appliance requiring numerous repairs or it could even result in a shortened lifespan for your appliance.  You can see how the money starts to really add up.

Using less detergent is a good frugal decision.  If you can make your detergent supply last twice as long by using half as much, well, that just makes sense. Now,  look further into the future and you’ll discover that fewer repairs and a longer life for your wash machine and dishwasher is priceless.

Appliance Handbook for Womenp.s.  Interested in even more appliance maintenance and repair tips from an expert?  Click on this link or the graphic and take a look.

Not only will you get simple maintenance tips, but also sound advice on how to treat your appliances well to make them last a long, long time.

5 Valuable Money Saving Tips

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

This is a Guest Blog Post by Debt-Free-Christian.com

We have all heard the talk about debt consolidation loans and  other “debt solutions”  but here are 5  simple  tips that  everyone   can use to  stop needless spending  and get on track to  complete debt freedom .

1)   Sack The Sandwich

Making a lunch  instead of buying it will not only save money it is usually a much healthier option also.  A bag lunch can be made for a fraction of the cost of eating out and without having to leave for lunch you will also save money on gas.  Estimated savings $1,300 per year.

2)   Create Frozen Assets

Overspending is a common problem and having a credit card handy can make it so easy to purchase unnecessary items on a whim.  Instead of  slicing up  your credit cards that you may actually need  at some point , simply put each one in a glass of water or plastic bag and freeze it.  If you want to use it for a  quick purchase  you are forced to really  plan  whether it is worth thawing out the card to make the  purchase .

3)  Create An Emergency Fund

One of the single biggest ways to save money on credit card interest is to build your own line of credit for emergencies or other purchases through a savings account.  By saving at least $500 you will have a cushion for unexpected car repairs or other  situations  that would otherwise require you to put it on  plastic .  Saving money on interest payments  will  add up quickly over time,  but you must remember to replenish the savings !

4)   Don’t Make A Habit Of Eating Out

Make eating out a special treat that you do once or twice a week and plan for it in advance by adding it as a line item to your budget.  Keep track of your  mealtime  expenditures and you will be surprised how the meal, tip, and gas can add up to an expensivedate.

5)   Budget With Cash

Using cash to pay for  day to day purchases  makes you realize how much money you are actually  wasting in some cases .  Some people refer to it as the “envelope system” which is when you carry enough cash to pay for the  everyday items  in your budget but no more.  This will keep you from overspending because you  actually  do not give yourself access to additional funds .  This idea has grown in popularity in recent years and continues to be a habit for many budget conscious people everywhere.

Everyone can make  easy  changes to move toward financial independence .  For more strategies visit the debt free Christian site at www.debt-free-christian.com and get on the road toward debt free living today!

Stress Less And Get Stuff Done – Fuzzy Wuzzy Wednesday

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

To Do ListIf you’re like me, your daily to-do list keeps growing and growing, causing you stress and agitation.  Instead of checking things off and feeling a sense of accomplishment, we keep adding to the list and getting frustrated because we can’t seem to complete any one task.  Stress piles up, and at the end of the day, our to-do-list has collected it’s own cobwebs!

Here are some simple processes that I am finding help me get my to-do list working for me instead of against me to relieve stress, but equally as important, to get things done.

Two to-do lists – This process automatically shuts off that scattered feeling in my brain and makes me focus.  I use two lists.  On a small piece of paper, I write one task to get done and post it front and center.  Then, on a separate piece of paper posted behind the first, I write everything I want to do today just to clear my head and keep track of my goals.

Now I can focus on the one item to get done without the distractions of all those other tasks staring me in the face.  I don’t allow myself to peek at the second sheet of paper until the first task is completed.  Once the first task is done, I toss the small piece of paper and move the next task onto a new piece of paper and tack it on top of the longer list.

Take short breaks between each task – Rather than move immediately into my next task, I take a short break.  Even five minutes spent outside walking to the mailbox will lower stress hormones. Take five minutes and brew a cup of tea and nibble on a  handful of nuts to boost your creativity even more.

A brief mental vacation from your tasks will boost your creativity and you’ll be much more prepared to tackle your next item on your to-do list.

Set deadlines for yourself – If your tasks don’t include a deadline, set one.  Deadlines are great motivators for many of us.  Adrenalin starts pumping, and you start producing results, which, in turn, produces those “feeling good” hormones.

When you allow a task to drag out endlessly, you may get to the end of the day and lose out on that sense of accomplishment.  You also may lose sleep over an unfinished project, which is a vicious cycle to get caught up in.

Reward yourself for a job well done – We all need a little pat on the back when we do a good job.  Promise yourself a treat when a task is completed.  Plan for a special dinner or a day at the beach and mark your calender, shop for the ingredients, get out your bathing suit, and tease yourself with the reward you’ve chosen.

When a reservation at a nice restaurant is scribbled on the calendar, or your beach bag is packed and ready to go, you can bet you’ll get your task done before the moment arrives.

These are simple strategies, but they work surprisingly well.  I hope you’ll give it a try and share your thoughts with me here.  Have a great day and enjoy a productive week.

To-Do Notepadp.s.  I found this nice To-Do List Notepad that I like for getting my tasks categorized and organized.  Click on and take a look if you would and see if it may help you, too.

Spring Cleaning One Room At A Time – Living Room – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Broom I’ve decided that tackling spring cleaning one room at a time this year may be the way to go.

The reason is because cleaning one room at a time may make living in the house a bit easier while the work is being done.  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

I’m dividing the house into five areas  – bedrooms, dining room, living room, bathrooms, kitchen.  I’ll be covering one room each week on Tidy Tuesday.

The last two weeks we tackled cleaning the bedrooms and cleaning the dining room.  You can see what that involved by clicking the links above.  Then come back and see how we’re going to get the living room spic-and-span.

Because my family uses the living room as  an entertainment center, we need to spend time on all the movies, games, and other electronic paraphernalia that piles up.  Many families have the same situation, so let’s begin there.

Start by sitting down with a couple empty boxes.  Mark one “keep” and one “give away.”  Gather all the dvds, cds, what-have-you for movies and games.  Pull them into a pile in the center of the room and spend time sorting them into these two boxes.  Pull the movies and games off the shelves, too, and include those in the sorting.  Take the “give away” box out to the car, and set the “keep” box aside.

One suggestion is to take any loose game components and put them in decorative boxes.  That way they’re out of site, but still handy.

Do the same sorting for any magazines, books, or newspapers.  Add another box for this task  labeled “sort” for those magazines you know you want to keep, but you’ll be tearing apart and keeping just the relevant pages. Take your “give away” box out to the car and set the other boxes aside.

Now, clear any other knick-knacks off the bookcases, setting them in bins and moving the bins out of the room.  You can start the actual dusting now, beginning from the top to the bottom.  Start with your ceiling fan, wood trim around the ceiling, doors, and windows.  I like using a micro-fiber cloth for these areas to trap the dust instead of sending it flying

This is a good time to remove and air out or wash draperies if necessary.  Then, you’ll want to wash the windows and wipe off any dirt, scuffs, or smudges around the door frame and window frame or window sills.  Use a cloth dampened in a cleaner that is safe for wood.

Once this task is done, dust the entertainment unit and components.  You may want to use a special “canned dusting” blower to really get that dust out of the grills and from underneath the television and all the players you have attached.  Use your micro-fiber cloth again to gather all the dust bunnies you’ve unearthed.

You’re ready now to do the “nice” dusting.  Start with your bigger furniture, like the entertainment center, then move on to your lamps and end tables.

Get out your vacuum and, using the proper tool, vacuum out under the cushions of the sofas and chairs.  (Put any money you find in a special fund for a treat for yourself!)

If you have area rugs, remove them now and hang them outside if you can, or just roll them up and put them aside.  If you have large rugs and space available, put your rugs upside down and vacuum, then flip and vacuum.  They’ll be ready now to bring back into the living room once you’ve finished with the cleaning.  Just roll them up and set them aside.

Hook up the crevice tool and extensions and vacuum around the edges of the room.  Then, put your vacuum back together and give the entire carpet or floor a good vacuuming, using a back and forth motion, then changing directions, and go over the carpet or floor again.

You’re ready to bring in the draperies and area rugs.  Put your room back together and bring in the bins with your knick-knacks.  Keeping a clean micro-fiber cloth in your hand, remove your knick-knacks, wipe them off, and return them to their places.

That’s it!  There are all sorts of special considerations for cleaning a living room.  If you have leather furniture, you’ll want to take time to clean and treat it properly according to manufacturers directions.  If you have a fireplace, that’s a whole separate cleaning task which is very specific to each home.  If you have slip covers on your furniture, it may be time to have it professionally dry-cleaned or laundered.

Everyone’s living room is different.  But, one thing is common among them all – when springtime rolls around, we want to get the living room freshened up again so we can relax and enjoy it.

See you next week when we tackle the bathrooms.

p.s. Would you like to get all the rooms in your house spic-and-span?  Click on and get even more Spring Cleaning Tips for Mom to get your whole house clean – one room at a time.

An Excuse To Visit The Farmer’s Market – Frugal Challenge

Monday, May 17th, 2010

vegetable gardenWe discussed the advantages of buying food locally, and in season, last year  in the post “Becoming A Locavore.” If you want to take a look, just click on the link, then come back and we’ll pick right back up again where we left off.

Today I wanted to cover the same ground once again as the growing season is getting underway.

Before we had so much mass transportation of food, we used to eat what we could grow, or what our neighbor could grow.  If we didn’t have a garden, we shopped at our local grocery store or visited a farm to get what we needed.

Food shipped from thousands of miles away became the norm for many decades.  However, we now know that eating locally is better for us, our economy, and our environment.

If you think about where your food comes from before you buy, you will be making an informed choice that can benefit you and your family in a couple ways.  Locally grown food is more nutritious and normally less expensive since there are fewer shipping costs involved.

If you are fortunate enough to have a local farm or farmer’s market, shop there before you shop at your grocery store.  However, you may find that your local grocery store may carry produce from a local farm right alongside their regular produce.

Buying your food locally will help to:

  1. support your local economy
  2. reduce  the world’s energy consumption
  3. reduce your grocery bill

Buying locally naturally means eating seasonally.  The food you’ll find will depend on the season and the part of the world you live.  Even the coldest climates produce crops during some part of the year.  Your dinner in June may include peas, in August you may have corn, in September you may be harvesting squash, and in November your dinner may include rutabaga.

Planning your meals around the seasons and the local crops is challenging, but interesting.  Take some time today to discover your local farms and farmers market.  See if you can find vegetables, fruit, eggs, chicken, fish, and even meat locally.

This is one frugal challenge that is about more than saving money – it’s about a lifestyle.

Eat LocallyEat Locally Kindlep.s. Looking for more information on eating locally?  Eat Where You Live is an excellent resource.

Click on the link above or the pictures to take a look.

You’ll notice both a book version and a Kindle version.

p.p.s. You may want to also check out the book Edible – A Celebration Of Local Foods by clicking on the link.  It’s another great look at not only why we should eat locally, but how.

I hope you’ll take this challenge and eat healthy – and locally!

Remember To Revitalize Your Body & Mind – Fuzzy Wuzzy Wednesday

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

clock websize 3I had a hectic day today and didn’t realize until AFTER I was exhausted that I forgot to take my own advice.

There are a couple of “quick energy” techniques that I like to do to revive my brain and body as the day goes on.  These are the simplest and most effective re-energizing things I’ve tried:

1) Set a timer for every 30 minutes and close your eyes.  Now, roll your eye balls back and forth, up and down, and repeat.  This helps reduce the tension in the muscles around your eyes which may help eliminate a potential headache and it refreshes your brain.  Strained eyes cause very real fatigue.  Setting a time will help remind you to take your little “eye ball break.”

2) Take a 5 or 10 minute walk around the block, especially after eating. Your stomach uses a lot of energy to digest your food.  When you walk, you speed up the process and regain some of that energy for your other tasks, like working.

3) Drink cold green tea.  A little bit of caffeine can give your body and brain a boost.  I like to drink my green tea cold because it’s refreshing.  I don’t add sugar, but I do use a combination of green tea and mint tea so the flavor is refreshing and delicious without the sugar.

4) Breathe deep.  Oh, yes.  This one’s tricky, especially if you sit at a desk all day.  Sitting up straight and breathing deep will increase blood flow to your brain which helps you perk up.  Notice I said “sitting up straight.”  You won’t get your lungs full if they’re collapsing under your curved back.  Perfect posture everyone!

5) A splash of cold water.  An old trick but a worthy one, indeed!  For women who wear makeup, a simple cool cloth will do, placed on the back of the neck.

6) Aroma therapy.  Even setting an unlit aromatic candle on your desk will freshen the air around you and revive your senses.  Use aromas that will perk you up – aromas that are light and fresh, like mint and citrus scents.

If you feel your internal clock ticking down through the day, take a few simple steps to revitalize.  It doesn’t take a lot of time – just a moment or two – and you’ll be feeling fresh and ready to tackle the next thing on your list!

aroma reedsp.s.  I like the idea of aromatherapy, but can’t have burning candles around the house all day.

These Aromatherapy Reed Diffusers are perfect – and safe to use.  Click on here or on the picture to see if this is something you might enjoy, too.

Spring Cleaning One Room At A Time – Dining Room – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

BroomLast week we got going with our spring cleaning job.  We’re tackling this by cleaning one room at a time.

We started by cleaning the bedrooms.  Click on here to review how we tackled cleaning the bedrooms, then come back and see how we’re going to spruce up the dining room.

The reason we’re spring cleaning this year one-room-at-a-time is because living in a house during spring cleaning time is a little easier when only one room is disrupted.

We have decided to split the house into five sections (bedrooms, dining room, living room, bathrooms, kitchen) and cover one room each week on Tidy Tuesday.

Let’s look at a simple room-at-a-time plan for the dining room.

Just like the bedroom, you begin by dusting from top to bottom.  If you begin with the window and door frames, the doors themselves, and any trim along the ceiling, you’ll get the dust knocked down where you can vacuum it up.

Windows in your dining room would also be washed at this point, once the trim around the window is dusted and wiped down.  Also, if you have any window treatments, it’s time to take them down and air them out, or wash them as necessary.

If your dining room lighting fixture is large or complicated, or requires special attention, tackle that next.  Then continue your dusting (I prefer a microfiber cloth) of the buffet, side tables, main tables, and any decorations and centerpieces you may have.

If you have a buffet filled with dishes, you may want to remove those at this time and put them in the kitchen to be washed.

You are now ready to vacuum and mop.  If you are able, move any furniture such as the buffet away from the wall so you can vacuum next to the floor boards and wipe the floor boards as well.  If you can’t move the buffet, use your extension tools to vacuum under the buffet and get as close to the wall as possible.

Continue vacuuming and mopping the floor as necessary.

Re-hang your draperies or other window treatments at this time.

It’s a good time now to give your table and buffet any special treatment it needs, such as oiling or waxing.  Take care to include the chairs in this treatment.

Now, bring in your washed dishes and put them back where they belong and replace any other knick-knacks you may have removed while you were cleaning.

If you find you have more time and lots of energy, now is a good time to clean out the buffet drawers or shelves and wash any linens stored.  Washing or polishing any special service pieces would complete your task.

The dining room is often the easiest room to spring clean.  It can also be the most rewarding as you wash and polish some of your favorite dinnerware, keepsakes, and decorations.  Take your time and enjoy.

See you next week when we spring clean the living room.

p.s. Click on and get even more Spring Cleaning Tips for Mom to get your whole house clean – one room at a time.

Shop Smart Online And Get Free Shipping – Frugal Challenge

Monday, May 10th, 2010

laptopMany of us use the internet to shop around for deals.  Then, just as often as not, we find our “‘deal” loses its appeal once the shipping costs are added in.

We are faced with a decision – empty the virtual shopping cart, or pay the shipping and feel regret, perhaps, that our good deal wasn’t so good after all.

I did a little shopping around the internet this weekend for items I needed and found a few good deals, but was disheartened once the shipping came up.  That’s where I stopped and took my own advice.  You don’t get unless you ask, so I started “asking” around for free shipping coupons.

Was I ever pleasantly surprised to find the free shipping coupon I needed – and it worked!

Many people have shared their frustration with me about finding free shipping coupon sites that either 1) the coupon doesn’t ever seem to work, or 2) the site requires a membership fee before you’ll get any coupon codes.

What I learned is this:  do your research, don’t give up, and don’t pay anything for a membership.  There are plenty of coupon and free shipping sites to explore; you don’t need to fork over your hard earned money to find them.  After all, you started this to save money, not spend more.

A few sites I’ve found have been very useful.  Here they are:

RetailMeNot.com is the site in which I found a coupon for free shipping this weekend, plugged in the promotion code, and the shipping was in fact free.  In other words, it worked!  Was I right to worry and be suspicious?  Sure.  Never assume a coupon for free shipping or any other promotion is guaranteed to work.  Double check your final order page before hitting the ‘finalize sale’ button.

FreeShipping.org (*see note below) is another very friendly site.  You can browse a particular store for free shipping as well as other offers and promotions.  I haven’t tried this in an order yet, but will be sure to come back and look around when I’m ready to shop again.

*BEWARE!  You’ll notice this site is “.org NOT.com.  Don’t get them confused.  FreeShipping.com is a paid membership, what they refer to in their sales page as an “Insiders-Club” for discounts, reportedly unavailable to the rest of the shopping world.  Do some deep research before you sign up and pay the price to this or any coupon “insiders-club.”

I just thought you’d be interested to know about a few easy-to-use coupon shopping sites.  It’s always a pleasant surprise when you get to the check out online and the shipping really IS free, or the discount has been given.

Don’t assume your online discounts and coupons will always work, but don’t give up looking for them.  Even though I had a positive result during my little online shopping experience, I will always remain vigilant when I shop on an internet store, or anywhere for that matter.

Thank you for reading and I hope the next time you shop online you’ll find some really great deals, too.  Have a wonderful and frugal week!

online coupon codes Kindlep.s.  Want more information on how to save online with coupon codes?  Click on the graphic or link to see how you can learn tips and tricks to save money shopping the internet.

Identify Your Headache Before You Treat It – Fuzzy Wuzzy Wednesday

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

egg in c clamp stressTension  -  Migraine  -  Sinus  -  Cluster

Some of those headache terms may be familiar.  But, when it comes to diagnosing your own headache, it may become a bit confusing.

If you’ve ever had a debilitating headache, or even a headache that restricts your ability to function normally throughout the day, you know that prompt diagnosis of the type of headache you have is crucial to treatment.

Of course, you should ask your health professional if headaches of any kind persist, but being able to figure out which type of headache you experience may help you and your doctor decide what treatment is best.

I’m listing here common headaches and the symptoms that typically help you diagnose which type you are experiencing.

Tension headache – Probably the most common, this headache is normally felt on both sides of the head, starting at the back of the head and reaching around to the front.  Mostly described as feeling dull or tight.  Picture your head in a woodworker’s vice or someone squeezing your head with their hands.  This type of pain seems to hang in there, not necessarily getting worse, just not getting any better for a long time.

Migraine headache – The most typical, and well known, symptom of a full-blown migraine is the visual disturbances coupled sometimes with nausea. Most people describe what they feel as pounding or throbbing. Sufferers often complain of the pain on one side of their head, then spreading to both sides.  Migraine headaches often give the sufferer a warning that it’s coming.  This warning is called an “aura” because the warnings can produce visual changes like seeing an aura of light, followed by dark, or different colors, and even sounds. This headache will get worse before it gets better and requires the sufferer to lie very still, and normally in the dark.

Sinus headache – If your pain is in the front of your head, around your eyes, cheeks, and nose, you may be suffering from an inflammation in the sinus passages. This pain can increase if you bend forward. It is also normally worse when you wake up. With a sinus headache, you may also have secondary symptoms like postnasal drip, dark or bloody discharge from the nose, and sore throat.

Cluster headache – These headaches are less known than the others and are quite rare.  Typical symptoms include sharp, extremely painful headaches that can occur as often as several times each day for months and then stop completely for the same amount of time.  The symptom to pay attention to here is that these headaches are cyclical – following very definitive patterns.

If you suffer any type of headache that sends your day into a spin, seek advice from your health care professional.  It could be something as simple as taking a break from your computer for a few minutes every hour or so.  You might require medication.  You need to learn how to identify the first signs of a headache so you can be proactive in the treatment BEFORE it knocks you out.

I hope if you suffer headaches like so many of us do, you’ll take a few minutes to diagnose your symptoms and get the help you need so you can enjoy every, single day!  Have a great Wednesday!

Spring Cleaning One Room At A Time – Bedrooms – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

BroomOkay, this is it.  It’s spring cleaning time!  The early spring had many of us getting our task list together, only to be halted by a late spring rain or snow.

Now the windows are REALLY ready to be washed, and the floors have taken another beating with wet, snowy, or muddy shoes and boots.

Where to begin?  How do you normally like to spring clean?

For many, living in a house during spring cleaning time is more comfortable when one room is cleaned at a time.  Why?  Because there’s less disruption all over the house when only one room is in disarray at a time.

We are beginning this week by splitting the house into five sections (bedrooms, dining rooms, living rooms, bathrooms, kitchen) and covering one room each week on Tidy Tuesday.  Let’s look at our simple room-at-a-time plan for the bedrooms.

Take one bedroom at a time and, starting from the top down, begin by dusting.  This includes ceiling fans, walls, and trim around windows and doors, as well as the doors themselves.  Don’t forget closet doors. Use a microfiber dusting cloth to gather all the dust flying about.  Follow with a damp cloth where necessary.

Take down drapes and wash or air.  Dust blinds and wash windows.

Remove the bedding and launder or air as necessary.

Dust lamp shades, then table tops and dressers, removing small items as you go, dusting those items as well.  Wash any dresser scarves or clothes.

Remove everything from underneath the bed, pick up any throw rugs,  and take out of the bedroom.

Pull furniture slightly away from the walls.  This is done in order to get ready for the vacuum cleaner or dust mop.

Bring in the vacuum cleaner, dust mop, or both, and begin by cleaning around the room edges, vacuuming and/or wiping off the trim around the floor.  Use an extension tool on your vacuum cleaner to reach the corners and behind the furniture.

Some people take this opportunity to air the mattresses or, at the very least, turn them upside down and/or end to end.

Slide the furniture back in place and replace the mattresses if you removed them, and run your vacuum cleaner all over the floor, making several sweeps in various directions.  You’re vacuuming up all the dust you knocked down earlier, so be thorough.

Hang the curtains back up, replace your stored items under the bed, and bring in the fresh laundered bedding and you are done – at least with one bedroom.  Time to move onto the next!

See you next week when we spring clean the dining room.

p.s.  Click on and get even more Spring Cleaning Tips for Mom to get your whole house clean – one room at a time.

Start Planning Now For Your Family Vacation This Summer – Frugal Challenge

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

calender webHere it is May already!  School will be out shortly and then summer is upon us.

Like most families with kids in school, summer is the time when everyone can get away together and have a little fun.

Like most big “purchases”, the more effort you put into preparing for the purchase the better price you’ll get and the better choices you’ll make.  Last minute purchases are almost always disastrous to a budget.  Consider your family vacation something you “purchase” this summer and you’ll see why planning ahead is a wise move.

Last summer I wrote a post about Sticking To Your Vacation Budget.  You can click on to read the suggestions I made, then come back and we’ll talk about what needs to be done even before you have a budget to stick to.

This is a short outline of the basics you need to cover before you reach that final day of school.  It’s a very limited outline, but may get you planning at the very least to agree on a vacation with your family.

1) Review your last several summer vacations. Be honest here – how have your plans worked out in the past?  Were there sticky situations that you need to avoid?  Ask each family member to give you some high points and low points so you can see what you would like to repeat, or where you need to improve.

2) Review your income. Again, be honest here.  How much CAN you spend realistically on a summer vacation?  A trip to Italy may be a dream, but is that something your family can save enough money for?  Can you spend $100 a day? $50 a day? $20 a day?

3) Review your savings commitment. How much money can you realistically have saved by the time you take a vacation this summer?  Starting today, can you put $20 away each day?  $5 each day?  How much money do you currently have saved?  Who’s contributing to this savings and how much?

4)  Review the time you have available. How much time can you spend away from work?  Are there any other commitments you have for the summer?  Are there lessons or sports that the kids need to be involved in?

Now, you have a rough outline.  Get out your calendar and mark the available days for each family member.  When those days coincide, you have an idea of the time you have available to spend together.

By reviewing these basic items, you’ll be well on your way to making some decisions about vacation time with the family.

Today’s challenge is to take a few moments to write out your step-by-step review and begin the planning process.  Knowing what you have to work with (money, time, and preferences) will get your vacation off on the right foot.