Saturday, February 23, 2008

Grocery Shopping Savings...

The concept of using online friends and blogs to pass along saving tips and such is a fairly new thing to me....but I've had fun in the learning of it!! This will be an ongoing topic as I share what I am learning in the whole "shopping game"!!

I decided to investigate into ways to save some money for two different reasons...we had less $$ to work with in our budget after my long-term temp job came to an end...and it would be another way to simplify our lives if we could make the smaller budget work.

The first thing that I did was to sign up for The Grocery Game. This is a pretty cool site that you can sign up for that teaches you how to use coupons to your best advantage at your area grocery stores...as well as stores such as CVS and Walgreens. I have only been a member on there for four weeks...and they say that you really need to do it for 12 weeks before you really start to see real savings results. A four-week trial for all your area stores is just one dollar...so it's totally worth checking out...just to see if that is something that will work for you. After the initial trial...if this is something you want to keep up with...it is $10 per 8 weeks for one store...and $5 per 8 weeks for each additional store...so really it only works out to a couple bucks a week for a couple stores...and you can totally recoup that $$ in savings...so check it out!!

If you don't want to spend any money initially until you feel you have a better grasp of the "game"...so to speak...see if you can get your hands on a copy of "Shop, Save, and Share" by Ellie Kay. She gives a lot of great ideas on saving money by using coupons and shopping sales. If you can get this book from the library or thru Paperbackswap...saving you from having to spend $$ to read it...so much the better!!

I do need to mention that for most of these savings ideas that you will prob want to buy a Sunday newspaper (or get someone who gets the paper to save you out the circulars for CVS and Walgreens as well as the coupon inserts). If you don't receive the grocery store circulars in the mail each week (we get ours on Wednesday or Thursday)...then you might want to find out what day's newspaper has those as inserts and get that day's paper as well.

Also, if you don't have a Google account, think about getting one...even if it is just a generic one...for the purpose of signing up for RSS feeds in your Google Reader...I will post some good feeds to sign up for later in this post. This Google account can also be handy if you set up your iGoogle homepage with a bookmarks area...to bookmark other handy sites that don't have feeds...as well as handy forum links...I'll post a few of those as well. Another thing that makes having this Google account handy is that you can sign up for all kinds of freebie offers and coupon offers via email...and it won't flood your regular inbox. Definately some advantages to think about.

And now for those RSS feeds...
MoneySavingMom is written by Crystal Paine. On this blog she shares how to save money...mostly at stores like CVS and Walgreens...but she also lets people know about other good deals. Not all will be in your area of the country, but it's still totally worth it!!
CentsibleShopper is another good one, sometimes with overlap from Crystal's...but she finds some things that Crystal does not and vice-versa.

Those are the top two I check, but some other ones that are handy to subscribe to are linked below:
Frugal Hacks
Sisterly Savings
MoneyCommonSense
iMommies
MommyGetsPaid

A couple forums you can join for free...
Grocery Game
Fishing for Deals

One thing that I think WOULD be a great initial investment though is Crystal Paine's Supermarket Savings 101. I haven't bought this yet...but based on her blog (which is one of my RSS feeds)...even my husband is enthusiastic about buying this. Best of all...since these are ebooks...you can download them immediately and start to put the ideas into practice!!

Anyway, here's the first of my shopping simplicity posts. As I come across good deals and further money-saving ideas, I will post them.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bathroom drawers and cabinets...oh MY!!

Today...since I'm insane...I tackled the bathroom cabinets and drawers...thinking "Ahh, shouldn't be TOO hard"...WRONG!! I am SOOO tired, and you don't even wanna see the odds and ends still on the countertop to deal with...I've still got a good 20 minutes of work...just to get the bathroom back to looking like it did this morning...when all the junk was hiding behind closed doors!!
In any case though...I DID get it done. Sorting thru all the vitamins and meds and tossing the old stuff, deciding what toiletries to pass on to others (hey, the unopened ones will make nice little gifts!!), and trashing/giving away some other stuff. Granted, the pics are a little more bare than the shelves will usually be...seeing as there are at least 3 towels that need to be put in the one cabinet...and that we are almost out of toilet paper!! All in all though...it DOES look a whole lot better. Even though I'm tired...I am happy!! One more area organized and simplified!!








Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lazy Sunday Afternoon...

This morning we got up and went to Sunday School...but forgot to say our memory verses to anyone!! Oops...by next week we will have to say three memory verses just to be caught up!! We picked up Chicken Express on our way home and had that for lunch...while Ami enjoyed a little tuna. It turned yucky outside about an hour or so ago...prob gonna rain before the day is over. It's quiet in here...Brack is on the computer, I'm on the laptop, Ami is asleep on my lap, and the dryer is running quietly in the laundry room. In a little bit, the first Nascar race of the year will be on TV and Brack will be "watching" it while snoozing on the couch. I do have to get out for a little bit later...prob once the race starts...to pick up some patterns and material at Hancock Fabric for the PR apron swap and to buy a newspaper for cutting out coupons. All in all though...a rather quiet day...a perfect Sunday afternoon. Hope everyone is having such a nice Sunday!!

The REST of the closet!!

So, it's no secret my dh is more of a clothes-horse than I am. After all, he's lived in the metroplex for 8 years...and before that lived in one town in West Texas for the majority of his life...so he's never had to ruthlessly weed out clothes like missionaries have to!! (In fact, it was only a couple months before our wedding in late 2006 that I got him to finally give away his WHITE jeans that he hadn't worn in years)!!

Yesterday, it was a rather yucky day outside and the poor man was feeling a bit under the weather. He was sweet enough though to lay on the bed as I hauled clothes out in segments and as I held each thing up he would tell me to keep, keep for now, or get rid of. He actually parted with 16 pairs of pants, 3 pairs of shorts, and 51 shirts!! (Of course, he still has twice that much that he is keeping...but it is a start)!!

Check out the before/after pics...and the pile of stuff he is saying sayonara to!!



Oh, yeah...and if you really look close...the hangers are organized by color (his pants on blue, his shirts up top on green, and his shirts on bottom on white--mine are black and maroon)!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Kitchen Stuff

So, today my goal is to at least start on the kitchen...I'm tackling the pantry first (though I did pull the few food items that were on top shelves in the laundry room down to deal with as well). I took a pic before I started and will take one when I'm done so progress can be seen.
Seriously, I read on a blog the other day where the lady challenged people to not go grocery shopping for as long as possible. She said something about people having WAY too much food in their pantries that never see the light of day. So...part of my goal in going thru all this is to make a master list on the computer of all staples that I have on hand...and use that to plan meals for the next little bit.
My mom got me an awesome cookbook for Christmas (one that I'd been wanting for a while). Make A Mix has recipes to make up all kinds of mixes...stuff comparable to Bisquik and the like...but since you are making it up yourself, you can adjust ingredients to account for allergies and food sensitivities...veddy cool!! So now I just have to convince my mom to part with some of her awesome glass canisters she got from an old country store that closed...to store all my lovely homemade mixes in!!

So here are my before and after pics!! What do you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Some Simplicity At Home...

Another step that I took toward simplicity is to go thru my closet. Granted, having been a missionary (particularly one who sent over a crate and came back with suitcases)...I didn't have a HUGE amount of clothes. However, since moving back to the States, I have gained some weight and went up a size. I do plan on working on that as another goal toward simplicity, but will probably never have quite the same proportions again as I did in my 20's!! So...some of the stuff that didn't fit (and hadn't for over a year) had to go!!

I was pretty ruthless in my sorting. There were some things that went into my "keep for now" list and I do have a decent amount in my "keepers" list (particularly when you think of the amount of clothes that the majority of people in the world own per person). But I did manage to weed out several pairs of shoes (leaving me still with 10 pairs of keepers and 4 pairs of keep-for-nows...including slippers and flips)...as well as several purses and quite the pile of clothes!! Take a look at the pictures below to see the new closet space and the piles of sell or give away stuff!!



Monday, February 11, 2008

First Steps of 2008 Toward Simplicity...

So...since I made the decision to embrace simplicity in my life in mid-January, I have done a few things toward simplifying my life.

One of the first steps I made toward simplifying my life is still a work-in-progress. This is the simplifying of my online life. I completely closed out my accounts on Myspace, Yahoo 360, Tickle, Friendster, and Flixster. I was going to cancel my Hi5 account, but am leaving it open for now, as it is one of the only ways to keep in touch with so many of my Romanian friends. I also have been ruthlessly pruning out old email on my Hotmail and Yahoo accounts in anticipation of moving all email just to my Gmail accounts (which then funnel into my Outlook). Not done on the email pruning yet, but I'm making progess!!

I also moved my old Yahoo 360 blog posts over to my Blogger account and have started copying my Xanga posts over to there as well. I won't be leaving Xanga for a good bit yet, but am going to be posting simultaneously for a while. With Blogger I can have one dashboard for three blogs: my "Random Days" (texanromaniac) blog, my "A Missionary Journey" blog (which I've started to rally people into helping my career missionary parents get into a decent house), and for this "Essential Simplicity" blog!!

Another thing I did was to go thru my "Favorites" links. I deleted any links that no longer were interesting to me, set up RSS feeds for any blogs that I'd saved to favorites that I actually wanted to keep up with, and posted bookmarks on my Google homepage for any other often-used sites. Now on the laptop I have just a few links in Favorites left to go thru...and all the ones on the desktop are organized into folders. The laptop is threatening to die soon...so I want to have anything really important saved to the desktop before that happens!!

I will not be completely swearing off the internet...no worries!! But I figure if I can get it down to just Gmail, Facebook, a few blog feeds, a few message boards, and my own blogs....then I will be doing pretty good. It is just too easy to get sucked into wasting too much time on social networks and slogging thru junk email!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Blogs are synched!!

So I just finished up synching my Xanga and Blogger blogs...so from now on you will be able to find my personal blog posts both here and here!! Let me know what you think of my new blogs!!

Currently Listening To: Time Is... by DC Talk

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My New Blogs!!

So a little less than two weeks ago I posted about simplifying my life...at that point I'd mostly simplified my online presence. Since then, I've completely gone thru my clothes and my half of the closet, taken one load to Goodwill, am in the process of selling a couple bags worth of clothes, and have another load ready for Goodwill.

Anyway, as you may recall, I moved all my Yahoo 360 blog posts over to Blogger and started moving Xanga posts over there as well. I am really loving Blogger since I can have one profile and multiple blogs...plus I get to play around with HTML!! So, without further ado...let me introduce my new blogs!!

Random Days is my regular blog....the one that will eventually at some point in the future replace my xanga blog...though not for a good while yet. Meanwhile, I will be posting here and there simultaneously.

A Missionary Journey is the blog I have started to rally people toward helping my career missionary parents get into a decent house before next winter. This one is still a work-in-progress...so check it out in a week or so...

Essential Simplicity is my newest blog...and I'm pretty excited about it!! My goal in having this blog is to help keep myself accountable for the goals I’ve set to simplify my life and to help encourage others who have decided to follow this lifestyle themselves. The things I will concentrate on here will be to simplify in these main areas: cleaning, organizing, shopping, cooking, etc. Other things touched on will be simplifying life online, simplifying activities offline, using resources to find cheap or free fun, getting or staying in shape, staying healthy, etc.

So anyway...please check them out and let me know what you think!!

Currently Listening To: Ebay by Weird Al Yankovic

What is Essential Simplicity?

The dictionary defines essential as absolutely necessary or indispensable. Simplicity has more definitions but the one I like the most is freedom from complexity.

I am not one to come out and condemn someone for having a lot of things and/or a lot of stuff going on in their lives…that is their decision. I just know that the more things you own and the more stuff you’ve got going on…the more complicated life can get. For myself personally, I choose not to embrace complexity…I choose to embrace simplicity. To me, simplicity IS essential…hence the name for this blog.

My goal in having this blog is to help keep myself accountable for the goals I’ve set to simplify my life and to help encourage others who have decided to follow this lifestyle themselves. Not everything I do will be the right step for another, so feel free to pick and choose from the ideas presented here…and maybe you will find other ideas that help you that you may want to pass along here as well.

The things I will concentrate on here will be to simplify in these main areas: cleaning, organizing, shopping, cooking, etc. Other things touched on will be simplifying life online, simplifying activities offline, using resources to find cheap or free fun, getting or staying in shape, staying healthy, etc.

Since this is a blog, I do welcome comments. Since this is MY blog, comments can be deleted at my discretion. Just keep it clean and polite, please!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Story of a Determined Young Princess...

Once there was a little furry princess. Her name was Amidala, but her human parents called her Ami. She was a tiny little thing with an interesting face.This little princess loved to play as hard as she could, and then she would sleep really hard afterwards.
One day she saw her toy up on a shelf and determined that she MUST have that toy to play with immediately...so she set her mind to it and got to work on acquiring it!!




All was right in her little world!! She played some more, ate a little food, and took a nap in the sunshine!!
THE END

Currently Listening To: Beautiful Life by Ace of Base

Operation Christmas Child: A Rebuttal to Unsolicited Advice

Since that blog post (of what one person thinks you should and shouldn't send) is making the rounds AGAIN, I thought I might sha...