Happy New Year! Now that the New Year is upon us, I am copying one of my posts from earlier this year…….

One of my favorite quotes, from the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”:

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or too early, to be whoever you want to be.  There’s no time limit.  Start whenever you want.  You can change or stay the same.  There are no rules to this thing.  We can make the best or the worst of it.  I hope you make the best of it.  I hope you see things that startle you.  I hope you feel things you never felt before.  I hope you meet people with a different point of view.  I hope you live a life you’re proud of.  And, if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.”

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Used to be that I did not have anything automatically deducted from my bank account.  Over the last year or so, that seems to have changed drastically!  Now, I fear that I am suffering from “subscription guilt”.

Every month when I look over my budget, I see those automatic deductions.  There is one for our dental plan (a necessary item).  There are others for Netflix, Blockbuster In Store, etc.  Although these services do not cost a lot ($8 for the Netflix and $15 for Blockbuster), I tend to feel guilty if for some reason I don’t use them very much for a few days.  I almost feel like I MUST get the most value for my money.  Like I have to exchange my Blockbuster rental every single day in order to make it worth the $15 I pay monthly.

The rational part of my brain says “that’s ridiculous”.  The other side says “you’re wasting money”.  Even when I work out the math, I know that as long as I exchange my movies at least every other day, I am only spending $1 per rental, which is now cheaper than Redbox since their recent notice of a price increase (their prices have risen to $1.20 per dvd rental).

I know that I get immense value from these automatic subscriptions.  We watch the Netflix streaming every single day (no cable in two bedrooms so we stream Netflix instead).  I exchange my Blockbuster dvd’s more than every other day.  Still the guilt lingers on…………

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Clutter drives me crazy!  I cannot stand to live with clutter.  The only problem with this is that I love to save things…. I am not quite of “hoarder” status, but I do tend to save things “just in case I need them” and we live in a small duplex.  Because of this, I am in a constant state of trying to declutter!  I live on a tight budget so I need to organize it for free.

If you are anything like me, then you probably want to actually keep most of your stuff.  There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, I just want to organize the things I have so I can access them better and easily.  Here are a few tips I can give you for organizing what you have and not spending a fortune on containers and other stuff while you do it.

  • Figure out exactly which area you want/need to organize (a closet, drawer, cabinet, etc.) Pick out a small space to start with.
  • Take EVERYTHING out of that space.  Yes, I know it’s easier to look at some things in that space and think “that part is already organized so I will just leave it there” but you really need to take everything out
  • Once you have everything spread out and the space is empty, throw away the obvious trash and sit things to the side that you do not want to keep
  • Now just put “like items” together (if you are organizing a desk drawer, then you would put all the pens in one pile on the floor, all the notepads in another pile, etc)
  • Once you have little piles or areas of like items that you want to keep together, figure out what you can put them in to keep them together in the space you are organizing.  Free items you can use for this are cleaned out mayonnaise jars, small empty boxes, plastic cups, etc.
  • After putting all the items into containers of some sort, you can put those containers back into the space you are organizing
  • If you have any items that you still need containers for, look around your house and then if you need to, buy the necessary containers

By following these simple steps, it is very easy (and just about free) to organize any space you need to!

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I am a HUGE fan of Yankee Candle products!  I love them because they always smell great when they are burning (not just in the jar).  Most candles out there only smell good in the jar then you light them up and they have little or no smell at all when they are burning.  For years now, I have asked for Yankee Candles as gifts during the holidays, for birthdays, Mother’s day, etc.  The main reason I don’t usually buy them myself is that they are expensive .

My daughter Coral used to date a guy whose mother always burned Slatkin & Co. candles in her home.  Slatkin and Co. candles are sold at Bath and Body Works.  At first I didn’t believe that any candle could, well, hold a candle to the way Yankee Candle smell when they burn.  Turns out, I was wrong.  Slatkin & Co Bath and Body Works candles smell GREAT when they burn and they tend to be a little cheaper than the Yankee Candle prices.

Right now, Yankee Candles “medium tumbler” candles (they are 12.5 oz) are $22.99 on the Yankee Candle site.  The same “tumbler” type candle over at Bath and Body works is 14.5 oz and the regular price is $19.50.  That is a few dollars cheaper than the price of Yankee Candle and it is 2 oz more candle!  In addition, last week I got TWO of these candles by Slatkin & Co. for $20 !  That is $10 each!  I have never seen Yankee Candles priced this low! Apparently Bath and Body Works is even offering the same deal on Slatkin & Co. candles on their website too!

While I would NEVER turn down a Yankee Candle, it is nice to know that there are other options out there that smell just as fabulous!

 

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Here at my house, between the two cats and four people, every once in a while I will notice a urine odor either near the litter box or in one of the bathrooms.  I have tried just about everything I could think of to get rid of the odor to no avail.  Then I read somewhere about a very cheap, easy, effective and quick way to get rid of that urine smell.

All you need is an empty spray bottle and some wintergreen scented rubbing alcohol. You can find this alcohol in the first aid section of just about any store.  It will be right next to the regular rubbing alcohol.

Put a mixture of half water and half wintergreen alcohol in the spray bottle.  Clean the toilet (or litter box area or where ever) with this mixture.  If there is a trash can or anything else near the toilet, clean under that too (and also under the litterbox if you are cleaning the cat area).   For good measure, once the area is cleaned, I spray some more of the mixture on the area and let it air dry.  This trick never fails!

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Yes, it’s almost that time again…. time to make your New Year’s Resolutions.  I typically am not a big fan of making resolutions but this year I am seriously recognizing the need for positive changes in my life.  At the end of 2012 I want to be able to look back and say “Yes, I have made progress this year, and it’s for the better!”

My biggest resolution is to lose some weight.  I was diagnosed last year with high blood pressure and my doctor put me on medication.  I weigh about 200 pounds and I am only 5 ft 4.  I need to lose the weight.  So, I have ordered an exercise dvd from half.com and I am going to start exercising every day.  I have to get this (and the rest of my life) under control.

 

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Shelby decided to let me know last night that today was 80′s dress up day at school. Uh, okay……. I went rummaging thru my closet and found some 80′s fashion stuff I still had from high school (1984-1988) and thankfully I was able to get an outfit together for her in no time.

She wore a large plain white tee over some black leggings with a loosely fastened belt over the shirt so that it slung down around her waist.  Over that she wore a faded levis short jean jacket with the sleeves rolled up.  In her hair she had a BIG white cloth headband with a bow on it and then of course the push-down white socks and some black flats.  I even found some earrings I had from the 80′s too!   The only thing missing was some bangle bracelets or jelly bracelets but that’s okay.

Totally cute outfit that cost nothing to put together except for a little time and thought!  It was very Madonna-ish

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This is the time of year that inspires joy, wonder and amazement in the world.  Except in my family.  In my family this time of year inspires hope and fear.  Hope that you get everyone the right gift and fear that you bought the worst Christmas gifts.  Please allow me to explain……

Ever since I was a child, I had a big thing about “fairness” and a definite idea of what a “good gift” was.  These building blocks were helped along by both of my parents.  For instance, the one year I used all my money to buy candy and play Ms Pac Man and realized too late that I had forgotten to get my mom a Christmas gift.  I had a dollar and change left.  I got her a tiny bottle of Orange Blossom cologne (which I actually thought smelled pretty nice).  It did NOT go over well.  I remember getting a stern lecture from my father about the “cheapness” of the gift.  I also remember my mother crying.

Fast forward to my teen years. By this point in time, we were accustomed to making lists and everyone buying off the lists.  So, on my list was a request for Ralph Lauren perfume (I think it was called Lauren… it was in a burgandy square bottle).  One of the first gifts I opened on Christmas was a container of Lauren body powder.  Ummm…… body powder???? Not on any teens wish list.  The fact that it was the right scent but not the right item made it worse.  I got so upset.  Finally my mother insisted I continue opening my gifts.  There, in the last gift opened was the perfume.  Ugh.  Damn.

Later in life, while pregnant with my first child, my now ex-husband thought that three sweatshirts were the PERFECT gift for any pregnant woman.  Do you need to ask why he’s an ex?  That man had a definite death wish.   The list of examples goes on and on.

Needless to say, gifts and I have never really gotten along very well.  I LOVE giving gifts!  I hate receiving them.  Sure, everyone says “It’s the thought that counts” but does anyone really believe that.  Besides, if it’s the thought that counts, WHAT were you  thinking about when you got me a “keep it hot” tray for Christmas?????? Realllllly??????????  I would rather get a candy bar than some generic gift that obviously was not picked with me in mind.

Following that logic, if it is the thought that counts, okay I can live with that.  But at least put some thought into it!  One of the best gifts I ever got was from my grandmother when I was a kid.  She had heard my mother talking about how my sister and I kept eating peanut butter out of the jar.  For Christmas, my grandmother got my sister and I each a jar of peanut butter.  See!  THOUGHT!  It is never about the money and always about the thought!  I loved that gift!   I still talk about that gift all the time!  My kids even think that was  a cool gift!

Over the years I have gotten better about receiving gifts.  Being a parent for 22 years will tend to do that to a person.  When my children crafted flowers for me out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners one year because they did not have money to buy me any, how could I be anything but thrilled?  But the THOUGHT was there!  That’s what makes it special!  They thought about it and took the time to create it just for me!

For me, the reason to give a gift is to let the person know that you were thinking of them and to make them happy.  Why would anyone want to give someone they care about something that they don’t want and that won’t make them happy?  It makes no sense! When I give a gift, I want the person to love it and be happy I got it for them!

Anyone who thinks it is about money has it all wrong.  It’s not even really about the list (although my girls and I are stern believers in the lists and the men in our lives have learned to cope!).  It is all about the thought….. as long as the thought actually occurs.  That is what makes gifts great, no matter the cost!

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