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Meal Plan for Your Sanity

Meal Plan for Sanity

Who should be meal planning? Well, do you plan on eating? Then meal planning is for you! It is that simple. 

Seriously, I was raised in a home that every night the conversation seemed to happen around dinner time. You know the conversation. The one where someone says how they are hungry and want to know what they are having for dinner. Then the evaluation of what is in the fridge and eventually dinner happens, much later.

My husband’s family was sort of the other end of the spectrum. Dinner magically happened with Mom making it. And there was no disclosing what was for dinner until it was placed on the table. Don’t ask! 

When Jeremy and I got married we wanted to figure out an actual system. It is just who we are. My husband had one request of me when it came to dinner. Have a plan! He didn’t care if the plan was to pick up something or that he was cooking. He just wanted a plan (with ingredients if needed). Through the years we have implemented every version of planning from having meals on hand but not a set menu to a specific plan. 

It has brought so much peace to our lives! I can not recommend it enough. I believe everyone should do it too! Now we write out meal plan on our Collage Memo Center along with who is making it. Yes, who. Now that we have older kids, they get to take turns cooking dinner too. 

Meal planning brings sanity to every night. It also brings a little sanity to your budget. You can plan meals around what is on sale at the grocery store. You also tend to have to run out for quick meals a lot less and that saves a lot of money too. 

Are you a meal plan novice? My favorite! Once you start you won’t want to stop, I promise. What has stopped you from meal planning before? If you are new you should check out my Keys to Successful Meal Planning. Don’t be nervous. This is a tool for you and not a regiment you have to fit into. 

If you are a meal planning devotee, when did you start? What is your favorite meal to make?

Pencil Boxes for Organizing Life Outside of School

 Pencil Boxes for Organizing Life

I love office and school supplies! I am woman enough to admit. And so the fabulous sales in the fall always make my eyes gleam. The penny, dime, quarter and fifty cents deals seem too good to pass up.

One of the things that seem most fascinating is the plastic pencil boxes. Not the little slider boxes but proper plastic pencil boxes with hinges and closing hinges. I usually can pick them up on sale during back to school season for 25 or 50 cents apiece at Walgreens.

I live in a world of little people, little things and way to much crud so I knew there had to be some way to utilize these boxes! And I found some! Remember these can be used in so many ways other than holding crayons, pencils or other school supplies!

Here are just 5 ideas to get you going!

  1.  Army Men: My kids have those little army men everywhere. They populate their cities, conduct major battles, and generally get thrown around. Did you know they even make them in fire and police varieties now? And did you know those little stinkers are pointy and sharp? My feet know! You can store quite a few in 1 pencil box and then they don’t have to either leave them out or pull everything out of a big bin to find them!
  2. USB Drives/Press Kits: You know those little USB/Flash drives? Those little storage devices are awesome to have around for those quick file transfers, movies or whatever. But if you don’t actually have it plugged into your computer it can be hard to keep track of them. And can I let you into a little blogger secret? We get press kits from lots of companies on USB drives. So once we pull all the information off for pieces and videos, we have perfectly serviceable USB Drives. They all fit wonderfully in these pencil boxes until someone happens to need a USB Drive (even the palm tree ones;).
  3. Hair Clips: I have decided, women’s and girls’ hair clips have full reproductive abilities. Because it seems no matter how many you throw out because they break or chip they just keep coming! My daughters basically filled a bathroom drawer with hair elastics and clips. Well, that was until I brought the pencil boxes in! Now they have 2 boxes. 1 for clips and 1 for hair ties and there is even room for other things now! Imagine.
  4. Lego People: Legos are awesome. All Legos. But there is a special fascination with the Lego figures. Such a fascination that even the generic, non character ones sell for a pretty  penny. So while we have numerous bins of Lego bricks we only have 20-30 Lego people. And of course they want to play with them all the time. Even if they aren’t playing with the Lego bricks. I can tell you from experience that nothing is more annoying than kids pulling out numerous Lego bins because they can’t find Loki’s staff or Batman. So you can keep all your Lego People and their accessories in 1 pencil box. It will save your kids oodles of time, save you oodles of nagging, and save your oodles of limping.
  5. Game Piece Storage: You are just finishing a rousing (ready fairly stressful) game of Sorry. The more stressful the game was the more likely that today is the day. The day that the box falls apart. So now you are annoyed and just want to be done. But now you are trying to shove everything in the box and trying to get the lid to stick to it… This isn’t going to work. Instead just pop all the pieces into a pencil box. Then you will just need the box and the board to be have everything you need. And more importantly, when you are done you have a dependable method of storage that you don’t have to fight with! 

 Remember just because you buy something that has a use already assigned to it doesn’t mean you can’t use it for something else! Look for unexpected uses for everyday items (or back to school bargains) and your life will be just a little more organized. And you might even have a little more money left;).

So what could you store in your pencil boxes?

6 Ways to Clean with Baking Soda & White Vinegar


You don’t have to use caustic chemicals to clean around your house. Really! Lately we have all heard how great things like baking soda and vinegar are around the house. But you need to make sure that you apply the right treatment to the matching problem. Here are 6 ways to use baking soda and vinegar around your house!

1) Use a combination of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water as a carpet stain remover! Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray the spot. Then use a cloth to blot, not rub, the spot. The 1 problem with this is it can get the spot cleaner than the rest of your carpet;).

2) Have a musty smell in your carpet? Sprinkle it with baking soda. Let it sit a little bit then vacuum it up. That is it!

3) Stinky garbage disposal? Seeing goop? Take baking soda (and a cut up lemon/lemon rinds if you have it) and dump it in the disposal. Flip the switch to grind it just a little bit. Let is sit a few minutes. Then dowse it with vinegar. Not only will it bit a good show, it actually does clean. Then let the whole thing sit if you have time.

4) Have a diaper pail or just a garbage can that has a musty bag? Sprinkle in some baking soda! I sprinkle it in the bottom of my garbage cans or diaper pails before putting the bag in. It keeps food (or diaper) odors away. At least until you have time to take out the garbage;).

5) Have a grimy shower or stove top? Or is that just me;)? I make up a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 Dawn. Gently mix it together and sponge it onto the surface. You don’t have to let it sit but more you do, the less work you do. Then you just wipe it off. It isn’t a miracle, you are going to have to rub some but it is just like using any other cleaner. Except I actually think it works better. It will prevent both mold and soap scum from developing in your shower! And the smell dissipates a lot quick than those bleach based shower cleaners!

6) Cleaning anything that has a hard surface and you have to wipe it? Use baking soda as an abrasive. It is gentle so you don’t have to worry about scratching! And it really seems to be effective.

There are so many other ways to use vinegar and baking soda but these are just a few to get you going!!!

5 Household Tasks to Kick Off Your Year

KickoffWith a new year upon us it is a perfect time to do a few of the much neglected but needed household chores! You can set aside a day to tackle it all or just do 1 job a day for a few days. Let’s kick off this year with a sense of accomplishment!

Lets start with the coffee pot because I need the coffee!! A clean coffee pot really does make a difference! Run 2 cups of vinegar through your coffee pot just like water to clean away the mineral deposits and gunk in your coffee pot! Then run 2 batches of plain water through it to get rid of the vinegar smell and taste! (The smell lingers longer than the taste!)

Change all the batteries in your smoke detectors! Yes, they will beep when the batteries die but that always seems to happen in the middle of the night around here. Buy a pack of batteries, grab the ladder and change them all in one fell swoop.

Another thing we all avoid but needs to be done semi-regularly is cleaning the oven. Don’t wait for your oven to hint to you that it needs to be done. How would the oven do that? Well, I had a friend preheating the oven and his smoke alarm went off. We call that a hint, don’t wait for that. There are a variety of commercial cleaners but there are also some great homemade methods/cleaners! They almost all call for applying something and letting it sit overnight. You could also do the same thing by setting it up in the morning to sit and taking 20 minutes in the evening to wipe it all down.

I find January a good time to do your windows both inside and out. Since it is cool the sun won’t bake on any sprays. Just take a bucket of warm water and add both about 1/2 cup of vinegar per gallon and a squirt of lemon juice. You can use paper towels or the more traditional newspaper and go at it. Or better yet, have the kids do the outside!

You can also take that left over glass cleaner to wipe down your glass light fixtures. Dump out any dust or bug bodies that have collected first and dust the metal bases too.

5 Often forgotten jobs that really make a great impact! Now don’t you feel all organized?

Buying Smart at the Dollar Stores

(If you found me by my spot on KSEE 24’s Central Valley Today, Welcome! Here is the information I referenced today!)

Some recent Dollar Store finds!

We have all know that the various dollar stores and 99 cents stores have a ton of things but are they good deals? It seems that people either assume it is full of either all trash or all treasure. But the magic of a dollar store is realizing that it has both! Our job is to find the treasure and ditch the junk!

Dollar Store Do’s:

  • Coloring Books
  • Tissue Paper
  • Curling Ribbon
  • Gift Bags
  • Scotch Tape
  • Basket/Gift Bag Fillers
  • Crafting Supplies
  • Plastic Bins/Small Garbage Cans
  • Paper Tablecloths

Even though they seem like great deals there are also some Dollar Store considerations:

  • Counts count! Here is a perfect example I found recently! You know those cellophane bags that are used as treat bags? At the Dollar Tree here you can get 1 package that holds anywhere from 10 to 20 bags for $1. At Walmart I got a package of 100 for only $3.50.
  • Quality Counts!I look at the quality value of a product before I buy it along with looking for flaws. An example of looking at quality value is sticky notes! I have bought generic ones at the dollar stores that don’t stick! That doesn’t help so I pay a little more and buy the Post It notes on sale so I know they will work! Often if you find glassware or little knick knacks they will be adorable and obviously a good price. But check for flaws. Sometimes they get a shipment that has flaws in many of the pieces but not all, that is why they go such a great deal to pass on to you. But don’t assume that the dollar item is not in great condition. It does take a few minutes but by finding that treasure you will be happy with the outcome.
  • You can’t return! Don’t over buy in the assumption you can return what you don’t need! Also, this is why it is important to check for flaws before you leave.
  • Inventory varies! Dollar stores with in the same branding may carry different items and not just the seasonal stuff but the regular stuff. I like to make chocolate dipped pretzel sticks for holidays. The bags of big pretzel sticks can run $4 in a grocery store and I used to get them at the dollar store down the street from me. I went in one Christmas and they were gone.  So I called around and found only 1 dollar store that still carries them. So at Christmas time I drive over there and get them when I am out running errands!  And never hesitate to call and ask if they carry something before you drive over to investigate!

The dollar stores have great deals but only if you shop smart! Put a little investigation and thought into your shopping and you will not only have more money but enjoy what you have bought!!!!

10 Great Online Coupons!!!

There are some awesome coupons out there for online shopping. I wish I had had a few of these before I did all my Blissdom shopping!

1. Get 20% and Free Shipping with Code EMPTWENTY at! Valid Through 3/31/12.

2.Save 20% with Code SMS2019 at through 2/25/12. Valid on All Regular, Sale, and Clearance Merchandise.

3.Use Code LKS13CP5 to Get $20 Off Orders of $120 or More at!

4. Use Code EARLYACCESS to Get $10 Off Orders of $69, $25 Off Orders of $139, or $40 Off $199 at! Valid Through 2/26/12.

5. Get 15% Off When You Spend $75 or More on Kids Furniture at!

6. Take $5 Off Orders of $25+ with Code februarylove at! Valid Through 3/31/12.

7.Use Code 000301275 to Get 30% Off Your Purchase at!

8.Use Code XJW562A992 at to Take $10 Off Any Purchase of $75 or More + Free Shipping on Orders of $99+!

9. Get $30 Off Your Purchase of $100 or More with Code TULIP at! Valid Through 2/23/12.

10. Get Up to 30% Off Kids, Baby, and Maternity at! Valid Through 2/22/12.

Mertado Giveaway

What is better than getting great deals on housewares? Having it be a social experience that you can easily share your deals with friends! And that is possible on Mertado! I mean what can be a more social shopping experience than using a site built on top of Facebook? You can become a member for free to get access to all the deals by signing up by email or facebook. It is just that simple!

In addition to great houseware deals there is also some great videos. Mertado has gotten Food Network TV veteran Curtis Aikens to create some great videos with ideas (and recipes) to use with some of the items they are selling!

Speaking of great houseware products…. I received a fluffy, cozy Coral Springs Home Plush blanket from Mertado. I love it!!! It is twin size so if I were to want to share (not likely;) I could put it on 1 of my children’s beds. But they have plenty of blankets, right;)? But I will share with you!

Mertado is giving one of my fabulous readers a Coral Springs Home Plush blanket too! But you have to play to win! It is simple because there are many ways to enter!

Mandatory entry: What is 1 thing you have ever bought due to a friend’s influence (either due to their recommendation or because they had it;). I have bought a variety of clothes due to my best friend Sara’s recommendations.

Additional Entries (that need additional comments for each one):
-Become a member of Mertado for free! And it is worth 2 entries (leave 2 comments;).
-Like NerdFamily Things on Facebook
-Follow me on Twitter. Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter including and then come back here and show us the link.
-Follow Mertado on Twitter and then come back here and show us the link.

The giveaway will close 12/23! Make sure you leave an email for me to contact you!

This post was made possible by Mom Spark Media. Thoughts are my own.

Run to Macy’s

What I scored this week!

Ok, I am not a huge Macy’s shopper usually. They have cute things but often the price point is just a little higher than I think they are worth. But honey, when they have a good sale! Buckle up because it is good!

My niece is getting married in a couple of weeks and is registered there so I was looking around at what I was getting her. I saw that they were having a blowout bedding sale and I have been looking for a set that was both a price I was willing to pay and something I love;).

The set in this picture I picked up for $39.99 plus tax! It is a reversible 8 piece set for a California King bed!!!! Such a deal.

And if you are looking for cookware!!! Bunches of the Tools of the Trade line is on clearance. Why you might ask? Because they are changing the color of the box. They have decided to take the packaging orange again. That is what the sales person told me;).

So I picked up these 5 quart skillets with 2 handles for $19.99. Well actually, I got an extra 15% off too;). And yes, my niece had the fore site to register for this!!

So go! Look at the Macy’s site and make sure that you go through so that you can get 3% back in cash and get some fab coupons to go with it!!!

NerdPie’s Painting Tackled!

 Delightful eh? A wonderfully bland form of off white builders paint isn’t it? For NerdPie’s 8th birthday we gave her a bedding set (that will appear in future posts) and allowed her to pick out some paint. After a lot of primer, a bout of stomach flu for NerdDad and a week of VBS we are finally finished!!!

It is very pink! But she is delighted and that is what really counts. Though when I am actually done decorating her room I think the pink won’t be quite so overwhelming!