Clever Fall ideas

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I spent some time reading the Fall Home Tour from a group of bloggers I follow. I really enjoyed the tour because the home and ideas mostly looked like things I could accomplish. Some times the ideas are so far beyond my skills, tastes, budget, style or home type. You still enjoy window shopping, but there won’t be any of it you use in your own home.

The first idea I loved was from Dio Home Improvements, and it is really simple. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it as soon as I saw it – put a wreath on the back of your door. My front door is usually closed, and we come and go through the garage. I may only see my wreath a few times a week. By putting a wreath on the backside of the door I can see it all the time.

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What Megan Makes had this beautiful wreath made from book pages. I love it, and think it would fit in nicely at my home.

 

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Acorns are my new favorite fall item. It might be because we moved to a home that doesn’t have them dropping all over our yard anymore. That really might be it, but regardless this from Mrs. Hines Class is adorable.

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If you are a monogram everything kind of girl, I also loved this cheap and easy idea to make a monogrammed pumpkin. Use felt!  Visit Fresh Idea Studio to see how she made it. I also like the chalkboard, and you can find better pictures on her blog.

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Postcards From The Ridge had two things I need to get by next year, and they are both acorns! I loved both the felted acorns and the glass bead ones. Both acorn groups came from Etsy, but you can find the link on her page. Such cute ideas.

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Here are all the blogs that are included on the tour. You can follow links from any of the sites I linked to above. I didn’t find any easy link page.

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$5 Crockpot Dinners

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If you spend more time in the car at night than at home, consider some the meal planning and using your slow cooker. I came across these tonight, and I will be trying out some of these winner dinners this week.  The best part of this site – all dinners are typically $5 or less. Sometimes it seems to fit this criteria that things are on sale, but that is often true that a certain meat or side is a good deal and you are still trying to find ways to use it. Let me know if you end up making any of these and what you think.

Slow Cooker Ranchero Chicken

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Cranberry Apple Orange Pork Roast

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Slow Cooker Carne Asada

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Slow Cooker Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas

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There is a full list of recipes here, but these were the ones that intrigued me the most.

 

Rebate Credit Card Uses

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More and more stores are going to credit card rebates, and I don’t like them. I find them hard to use, and they usually end up getting lost in the junk mail and I find them months later.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the money, I find the cards more of a hassle than just sending a check.

Elizabeth Tip: Use those cards to buy Amazon or other gift cards for the exact amount and then add them right to your account. I got one today for $5. I bought a $5 gift card and then applied the gift card to my account. I then got to throw the original Visa card away. If they don’t expire before Christmas, you could keep them in a pile and add them all right before you Christmas shop.

 

 

Keeping Up With The Joneses

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Ok, so we aren’t the Jones family, but I have trouble keeping up with all our activities. I would like to say our life is paperless, but it just isn’t. You can’t keep everything on your smartphone or online calendar. Unfortunately, it takes a combination of online and paper organizers.

Before school started, I felt like I at least planned my day. Once Monkey started Kindergarten a few years back, all these other people were planning my day with volunteering, pick up times, after school activities and appointments. So to make me look like Super Mom I pulled together an organized notebook.

I highly recommend this. It allows everything to have a place. First, it doesn’t have to be a fancy notebook. I went through a few different ones before I found this pink one with plastic slide rings. They weren’t as likely to slip open and bend. Second, you will need some dividers. You won’t know how many dividers just yet, so you go ahead and buy two packs. Buy a cute zipper pencil bag if you want, and you are ready to go.

My first section in front of the divider is blank notebook paper, and I keep a list of things to do now. Within that section I have a couple of lists. One list is short-term things, like things for today or this week. The other list is long-term things like paint the house. It is also great to have the blank paper to take notes at meetings. Also on my short-term list I started putting post-it notes on a sheet of paper with lists for the stores I don’t go to weekly. I keep a list for Sam’s/Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and CVS or Walgreen”s. When it is time to go to one of those places I can just grab the post-it or take a quick photo of it and I have a ready list.

The next section is twelve months of printable calendar pages. This site allows you to type things on your calendar. With your monthly view, you can put in all the school in service days and other dates that are set in stone. Next add all year-long activities, like the ballet recital dates, that are known in advance.  I add all things we are expected to do. It is amazing that I can forget there is church on Wednesday nights if it isn’t listed. Add all of them for the entire family. That way when you go to the PTA meeting you have everything on one calendar so there is no double booking. Another great option is to use a google.com calendar. You have to have an email address, which is free, but you can invite other family members to join and it will email or text your activities right to your phone.

Next up? Rebates/Deals – I always have some sort of rebate out there in la la land. I can keep up with them by having them all together. I also use this section to print out all those Groupons, Plum Deals, Living Social etc. and put them all in one place so I know where they are when we need them.

Behind that I have a divider with ALL our addresses, think Christmas list, so I can always buy that card and mail it. It is also a good idea to have some stamps in your notebook so you are ready to drop things in the mail and be done with them.

After that I have my favorite section, trips. Here is where I game plan vacation. I keep all my reservations, receipts, boarding passes if bought far in advance and schedules for our next outing. It might be Disney in six months or a list of places to go next time we visit Grandma.

I have a special divider for our house. It tends to be whatever I am working on for the house right now. Last year it was the actual house hunt. Right now it is our long-term list of repairs and improvements along with the names of a few handymen, lawn services and other people that work in our home. This is also a good place to list all those filter sizes for your air vents. It saves so much time and hassle.

There is a section for Monkey’s activities (so I know exactly where the ballet schedule is). I only have one child, but I would make one for each child. I make sure I know exactly where she is supposed to be, and what time I am supposed to pick her up. It is so helpful to have the phone number, hours, address and schedule for the dance studio at my finger tips. I also have a list of places I would like to take her, and what days the bounce house have open play so when we have a free afternoon or day off of school I already have a list.

There is a section for Monkey’s school stuff (for her) and another one with PTA-type stuff for me.  I volunteered in the library at school and been a room mom, so I kept my schedule, handouts and any instructions I needed for school here. Monkey’s school divider had all those important hand-outs from the first day of school and the class phone list. I also put the county-issued website logins and other things that are hard to get again after that first week of school.

I have a section for Christmas/Holiday with a my gift list so I can write down what I buy. Right now it also has a few recipes I want to try this Christmas, and some ideas for a fun after school Halloween party. The Fly Lady has a great journal to get you ready for the holidays. I usually print out some of those pages like decorating, and gift and meal planning.

Well, that is pretty much my notebook. It sounds harder than it is. A mom recently said it looked too hard. I told her that my notebook isn’t cute, neat or fancy. It isn’t there to impress or even for others to view, it is a simply messy collection of all the stuff I need to keep organized.

How do you keep organized? Have you made the transition to notebooks, do you do it all online or do you have the wall calendar?

My Favorite Summer things

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I am not sure why I love summer. I think I love that it stays light until 10. It just gives you a lot longer to get things done. Summer requires different items than winter. Summer is all about cool drinks, flip flops, and being outside.  Since summer in the south is already here, I have been purchasing my summer items. School gets out next week and we are ready to go. What do you need to call it a summer?

I love Ice Breakers Cube Sugar Lemon Gum is fun and refreshing. It is a different flavor than your usual gum. I usually grab this at Kroger or Walmart.

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I love Teva’s Mush Wedge Flip Flops. I have some foot problems, and I can no longer wear unsupported flats for long periods of time. These flip flops are the perfect height and allow me to enjoy flip flops again. I usually go through two pairs a summer.  You can find them here. 

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My good friend Sal introduced me to red wine with Sprite. It tastes like Sangria without any of the labor. It is a great summer drink. By diluting your wine, you aren’t exposed to nearly the same amount of alcohol. This is helpful to keep you safe. The Bota RedVolution is a nice boxed wine. This is great for taking wine places that don’t allow glass.

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State Testing Issues

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A friend sent this to me today and I have her permission to share it, but I am erasing names and the state. She will let this principal and the PTO know of the support anyone gives to it.

I saw this on Facebook posted by someone named Carol Hampton Rasco. She said all had permission to re-share it.

My friend said:
My daughter’s new elementary school principle sent this to all the students as they received their state standardized testing scores this week:

“We are concerned that these tests do not always assess all of what it is that make each of you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you– the way your teachers do, the way I hope to, and certainly not the way your families do. They do not know that many of you speak two languages. They do not know that you can play a musical instrument or that you can dance or paint a picture. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them or that your laughter can brighten the dreariest day. They do not know that you write poetry or songs, play or participate in sports, wonder about the future, or that sometimes you take care of your little brother or sister after school. They do not know that you have traveled to a really neat place or that you know how to tell a great story or that you really love spending time with special family members and friends. They do not know that you can be trustworthy, kind or thoughtful, and that you try, every day, to be your very best… the scores you get will tell you something, but they will not tell you everything. There are many ways of being smart.”

My friend reported her daughter who did well on the test shrugged about her scores, but read the letter over and over and held it close to her heart announcing, “I really love this.”

I love it as well.