I am always looking for ways to cut my spending, make life simpler, and reduce waste. I have often seen and been tempted by those disposable, sanitizing wipe things that come in huge canisters, and I’ve found myself grabbing baby wipes to clean up more things than just my baby. Well, no more! We can make reusable, washable, non-toxic wipes ourselves!!
You will need:
Wipes, (I used baby wash clothes I had laying around, which I’ve found for about $6/12 pack online. You could also repurpose an old towel, sweatshirt, or other absorbent fabric), vinegar, dish soap, water, and a container or two. If you buy new wash clothes, make sure to run them through the wash first. In your container, mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup water, and a couple drops of dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like that kind of thing. I’ve also used less vinegar before, so they don’t smell so strong, and it worked fine. Swish that stuff around, then smush your wash cloths down into the liquid. You want them to ideally be damp, but not drippy.
And now you’re ready! Wipe up any little spills without guilt! For dried on stuff, I spray plain vinegar, let it sit for awhile, then wipe everything down. When I’m done, I just toss the wipes in with our regular laundry. Note: you don’t want to use dryer softener, like Snuggles or Bounce, with these, or any other towels. It coats them with softeners which reduces their absorbency.
I make one batch at a time, and have another container of dry wipes ready to go. Some people use this same recipe with paper towels so they can throw it away when they’re done, and that’s up to you. I use paper towels for exceedingly gross stuff, like anything that comes out of my cats, but kitchen counters aren’t heinously disgusting like those little hell beasts.
Anyway, this recipe is great. My kitchen is already oodles cleaner, and we’re not burning through paper towels at a frightening rate anymore! Now go forth, and save!
It always happens: I feel that first tickle or soreness in my throat, the inexplicable aches, Hubby starts sniffling. These are my warning signs that illness will descend upon the household imminently. I usually run to the store to stock up on what we’ll need, guiltily spreading viruses throughout the store. The alternative is attempting to sustain myself on the remaining dregs of a bottle of Dayquil whose expiration date rubbed off years ago, and that tea in the back of the cabinet that tastes like it was dredged out of Boston Harbor be someone even more frugal than me.
Well, no more! I am currently on the mend from a cold/flu, and this time I am stocking up in advance for the inevitable next plague. You can also use this as a “Get well soon” kit for an ailing friend. Put these items in a lovely gift basket with a bow, then leave it on their porch and run like hell to avoid zombie-fication.
- For adults:
Dayquil (or generic alternative, which you know is the one I have)
NyQuil (aka magical unicorn tears)
Okay, basically all the drugs
Tea (Throat coat is almost as magical as Nyquil)
Cough drops (even more drugs)
Chicken soup, or your preferred hot liquid
In the event of a stomach virus, crackers
Zinc (my choice), or your go-to supplement, like Emergen-C
- For kids too young for the good meds:
Herbal Tea (No caffeine, for the love of hamsters)
Chicken broth, watered down juice, whatever they’ll drink to keep hydrated
Vapor Rub (goes on feet at night, under socks)
New books, games, TV, anything to distract them
When you feel yourself starting to get sick, get your nest ready. You may need or want to be sequestered away from others to avoid spreading contagion, or just to avoid their horrified grimaces when they see you wandering the house with tissues stuffed up your nose, moaning quietly.
Darkness, blessed darkness
Quiet, thrice blessed quiet
Chargers in place for required devices
Trashcan (for tissues or vomit, depending on your illness)
Comfy bathrobe for wandering the house in, while moaning quietly
Journal and pen to capture your last words
You can also prepare by either keeping some things on hand: canned soup, soup fixin’s, or make and freeze soup in advance, in small containers. Having food basically ready to pour in your mouth when you feel like death is a solid option makes illness so much easier. Your body needs fuel to fight off a virus, so help it out with lots of fluids, nutrients, and sleep. You can make big batches of soup while you’re feeling well, then freeze it so it’s ready when you or a friend need it.
It’s hard to deal with sick kids when they’re too young to get the effective medicines, like decongestant. For congestion, take your little one into a hot shower, and get the bathroom nice and steamy. You can also use a humidifier if you have one. We also put a couple folded towels under one end of Nacho’s crib mattress so he slept a little bot propped up; this seems to help him breath easier while sleeping. We’d heard the Vapor Rub on the feet thing before, but finally tried it. It seemed to possibly help, but he could have been healing on his own at that point, so it’s hard to tell. We also save TV for a treat, so during the worst of it we let him watch a solid hour of TV. He was so fixated, I was able to sneak some chicken soup into him.
Also remember, antibiotics will do NOTHING for a cold virus. AntiBIOTICS fight BACTERIA. AntiVIRALS fight VIRUSES. Don’t pester your doctor for antibiotics that will do literally nothing to make you better, and can lead to more problems down the road. That’s like asking for an antidote to poison when you got hit by a car. It’s not going to fix the problem you have.
Being sick sucks, so make it suck a little less by being prepared.
So we had to have it replaced. The original fencing didn’t even have concrete poured for the posts! No wonder it collapsed. Hubby and I ripped it out bare-handed, and had this gorgeous new gate installed:
It’s so pretty and functional and pretty! We also ripped out the old wood that was edging a garden patch the previous home owners had put in. As we know from previous installments, those people were idiots, so they put in a big pile of terrible dirt right where the yard should drain when it rains. This creates a moat around the porch that our tiny dogs can’t overcome. We’ve started working on the yard a TON now that baby Nacho is old enough to run around back there.
We actually dug out by the other gate (because so many leaves and whatnot had built up water wouldn’t drain that way either) and discovered a small concrete patio! We’ve lived in this house for over 6 years now, and had no idea it was there. Now we have a new place for our trash cans! I have gotten COUNTLESS mosquito bites working outside, in spite of bug spray. UGH. I hate being outside. This just shows how much having a kid can change you.
This next part is tragic, and horrifying. Our electric bill had been weirdly high for about 3 months. We called an electrician about something else, and he found that we were getting power surges. A city electrician then came out and discovered this:
This poor snake apparently crawled into the electric box during the winter, looking for warmth. I guess his bar b queued carcass was causing the power fluctuations. We didn’t change anything in the house, other than removing the “reptile torture dungeon of horrors” (quote stolen from Timmy), and our power bills went back down to normal.
After that, both our washer AND dryer died, which is normally bad, but since we use cloth diapers was unacceptable! Thankfully, a friend had an extra washer laying around she literally gave us for free (THANK YOU LYNN), and then I went and bought a dryer. So we’ve had a very productive, yet expensive few weeks.
Am I going to leave you with the traumatic visual of snake jerky?
Oh okay, fine. Here’s a picture of Stefano, the Overly Excited Cloud:
A friend of mine was recently asking how people save money on groceries. Me being the frugal guru I am, I of course had plenty of advice for her. As I’ve mentioned before, a price book can be a huge help with this. Here’s a link to mine, so people with access to HEB grocery stores can probably use this, but everyone else can use it as a template. A price book might seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. I generally add a couple items to it each time I go shopping. I didn’t run around the store with paper and pen writing down the unit prices of everything they stock. That would be madness!
- I don’t have to remember prices on everything.
- I can compare different items. For example, brown rice is waaaaay cheaper per pound than quinoa, so can I substitute that in some recipes?
- I can compare within items. How much cheaper are dried beans than canned? Is it worth the extra time required to cook them myself? (Hint: Yes)
- Is that sale item really a deal?
- Is the coupon worth it?
As you can see, I only shop at HEB and Costco. If I happen to find myself in a Target or Sprouts, I’ll glance around, but generally I’ve found that these are the two cheapest places, and they BOTH offer fantastic quality. Don’t forget to always look at the unit price when shopping. Often, the larger package is NOT more cost-effective. I noticed that with frozen corn this week.
If a price book seems too nit-picky to you, or while you’re in the midst of building one, you can use a few guidelines while shopping to reduce your costs:
- Produce for $1 a pound or less.
- Meats for $2 a pound or less (keep in mind if it has bones, you’re getting less meat).
- Only X number of snack items, or they can only cost X per ounce.
- If that thing you use all the time is on sale (For REAL on sale, not like a nickel cheaper) STOCK UP.
- Feel free to make your own rules. Only 1 item that’s not on the grocery list, or only 1 item under $5, or only items with <10 grams of sugar per serving, whatever you’d like.
- Keep an eye out for clearance or sale items you would normally buy anyway, or that will be a cheaper substitute for something you’d normally buy. If goat cheese is on sale for only $8, but you normally would have bought feta and only spent $4, you didn’t save money. You spent twice as much as you could have. However, if it’s on sale for $3, stock up!
Of course, dietary restrictions, personal preferences, and number of family members will all impact your spending. I’m shopping for 2 adults, 1 enormous baby, 3 ungrateful cats, and 1 spoiled corgi, so our bills are not as cheap as I’d like.
Other ways to save money on food:
- Use up what you have. Have a “clean out the fridge” buffet every 2 weeks or so. Maybe you’re eating cucumber slices, strawberry jell-o, and stir fry, but at least it’s getting eaten. Not every meal has to be beautifully plated or instagram-worthy. The important part is that it is getting eaten.
- Shoplift! Nothing’s better than free food! (I’m totally kidding, please don’t
- Use recipes that utilize cheaper ingredients, or substitute them yourself. Raisins are generally cheaper than dried cranberries or blueberries, so can you use them instead?
- Make from scratch when it’s more cost effective. A bag of dried beans is generally cheaper than canned beans, and it only takes water to make them. Look at some of your regular purchases, and consider reverse-engineering them.
Food can be pretty pricey, and it seems to take a lot of work to eat cheaply and healthily. Here’s a free, online cookbook for more ideas, and of course, my blog is chock-full of wonders and amazement. Can’t you just feel it radiating out of your monitor?? Good luck, Happy New Year, and stay frugal!
Hubby has this electric hair trimmer that was driving me nuts. It came in a box, but the latch on the box was crap-tacular. Every time you’d try to get it out of the cabinet, it would fall open:
Scattering clipper parts hither and yon:
Making me curse the box designers and their descendants for eight generations:
Rather than continue to sacrifice my sanity, I bought a plastic bin to hold the stupid clippers:
Now everything is contained, and I can even put the hair gel in with the clippers!
There are certain items that we habitually buy, use, and throw away, that could easily be replaced with something reusable. These can be a great source for savings. Here are a few examples, and some tips on how to decide whether or not a reusable is a good value.
1) Paper towels – I admit, most of the items on the market to replace paper towels are not great. I too have had a problem finding something that is both absorbent and cost effective. BEHOLD cloth diapers! Not the super fancy ones that look like actual diapers, these are the old fashioned grandma-used-to-boil-them-in-a-cauldron type, aka prefolds.
I use these as burp clothes for my son, and used them to clean the house growing up. They are tough and absorbent, but don’t take forever in the dryer. *Note: I’m using Amazon to show you what I’m talking about, but that doesn’t mean they have the best price. Always comparison shop!
There are some times when you will have to use paper towels, like for cat vomit, and I totally understand that, but you can pay ~$15 for a 10 pack of the diapers, or ~$12 for 12 rolls of paper towels. How fast will those paper towels be gone?
Keep in mind you should NEVER use fabric softener on these or any other towels. It coats them in grease and ruins absorbency. If you’ve done this to your towels, wash them in hot water and vinegar to clear off the gunk.
2) Coffee cups – When I saw disposable coffee cups for sale at the grocery store (like the kind from gas stations) my first thought was “People are literally buying garbage”. That might be harsh, and obviously people might buy them for some kind of picnic or brunch thing, which I understand. However, if you buy those for your house, I think that’s pretty ridiculous. Travel coffee mugs are cheap and very easy to care for.
3) Coffee filters – coffee filters are fairly cheap, but are yet another item that can be replaced with a permanent version. They even make them for those fancy, over-priced Keurigs. Why worry about adding one more thing to your shopping list?
4) Plates and utensils – I really hope that you aren’t using paper plates and plasticware at home. Seriously, use grown up dishes. If you get Correlle you don’t have to worry about them breaking (seriously, I dropped a bowl once and chipped the kitchen tile, but the bowl was fine), they’re compact, and you can slowly collect them at thrift stores.
5) Bathroom items – this maybe a no-go for some people, but ladies, there are certain things that women use every month, then throw away. We have a couple different options, however. Some people even use cloth instead of toilet paper, but I’m not personally willing to go that far.
6) Baby stuff – we use cloth diapers, and wipes, and I mentioned our burp cloths previously. For the wipes we use baby wash cloths that come in packs of 10 (we have 3 packs). I have 3 Tupperware that I cycle through for batches of wipes. I put a small amount of baby shampoo in the tub, add water, shake it, and add a dash of vinegar, then add the washcloths. When we use them, we just stick them in the dirty diaper, and wash everything together.
7) Water bottles – I’m fortunate to live in an area where the tap water tastes great, and I also live in the US where tap water is highly regulated, so I know it’s clean and safe to drink (unless you live near a fracking operation). If you live somewhere with terrible water, use the analysis below to decide if buying bottled water or a filter is more cost effective for you. For the rest of us, get a reusable bottle.
I don’t know how we survived in the 80’s, going from place to place without a beverage immediately at hand at all times. It’s a miracle society didn’t crumble. There are a million varieties of bottles out there. A couple criteria I use are: dishwasher safe, wide open mouth for easy cleaning, no straws (hard to clean), clear so I can make sure it got clean, holds a decent amount, and hopefully fits in a cup holder.
Analysis: How do you decide if a reusable item is a good value compared to a disposable? Let’s use the paper towels example. I personally use very few paper towels, but that’s because I never clean anything. I surveyed several friends to find out how long one roll of paper towels lasts them. They said from 3 days to 2 weeks.
Let’s assume that one 10 pack of towels will substitute for one roll of paper towels. If we assume that one roll of paper towels lasts for 2 weeks, a 12 pack will last 24 weeks. (I did that math right, right? Guys? Where’s my math minion…) One 10 pack of diapers costs about the same as a 12 pack of paper towels, so if they last longer than 24 weeks, you’re saving money. So far, mine are doing just great. When I was a kid, we used cloth diapers for all kinds of cleaning around the house, and they lasted for years.
Obviously for any reusable item, there will be maintenance, such as washing and possible repair. Take this into account when analyzing which option is the most cost effective.
Buying something reusable instead of disposable usually saves you money, is generally better for the environment (though everything we do has an impact), and means you have one less thing to remember at the store. Driving down your monthly costs gets you that much closer to your financial goals.
Some of our very dear friends were moving across country recently, and couldn’t take their couch with them. This is a couch I have envied for YEARS, so I of course generously offered to give it a home. The couch seems normal at first glance, but it’s as deep as a twin sized bed, so I can sit on it cross-legged to do all my crafts, and it gives us another space for someone to stay over. It’s also gloriously comfortable. Our plan was to have the new couch live in Hubby’s Man Cave so it could easily double as a guest room. I want to clarify that all this happened when I was barely pregnant and still allowed to move lots of stuff. I was not doing this recently!
Yes, that is a ton of stuff for a tiny room. The tininess of the room is why we had to pull EVERYTHING out before the couch could go in. Here is the couch, after we took the legs off and attempted to get it to its new home. Also notice disgruntled dog, who was annoyed because I wouldn’t let him get a couch dropped on him. Some people are never happy.
There are several things to consider when moving a couch:
1) Is it too big to fit through the doorway of the room you want it in?
2) Is it too long to make the turn in the hallway leading to the room?
3) Is it so long that if you try to move it on its end, it will rub all the texture off the ceiling, and attempt to remove a light fixture?
Here is the results of not taking geometry into account. That white stuff is ceiling texture chunks, and it got EVERYWHERE. We first tried to just get the couch down the hallway, but there was no way it was making the turn, so we backed it all the way out, and stood it on its end. It is 8 feet long, exactly the height of our ceilings. I did not take into consideration that a) this is not the height of any of ours DOORWAYS, and b) if it’s pressed against the ceiling, there is no way to tilt it down to the floor; there just isn’t space.
We ended up moving this new couch into the living room and replacing the right half of our sectional with it. They are almost the same color, so most people don’t even notice unless we point it out. Yes, that means there is a sofa arm in our sectional, but it actually makes this comfy, adorable little nook to sit in our store my current craft project in. Plus the arm is padded, so it’s very comfortable. It’s not a typical living room arrangement, but it fits in with my Bohemian sensibilities. We’ve been using it for months now, and I still love it. The other half of the sectional went into the man cave, and Hubby as happy to have some real seating in there finally, so it was a win win, except for the ceiling.
So what did I learn?
1) Measure every possible angle of the furniture you’re moving
2) Measure every possible angle of the area you will have to move it through
3) You should probably just hire a 3D digital artist to build a model and do a test run for you to see if it’s even possible
4) Don’t feel like you have to stick to conventional furnishings or arrangements.
Your home should reflect your personality, not the artificial set up from a catalog. Would you use your living room more if it had your Hot Wheels ramp or pottery wheel in the middle of it? Then set it up there. There are no rules, do what makes you happy and you will enjoy your home way more.
I can’t be the only person who has draw strings stealthily remove themselves from pants and hoodies, right? I think this is a fairly common issue, and I may have found a better way to fix it. I tied one end of the drawstring securely to a crochet hook, then shoved the crochet hook, back end first, all the way through the pants.
It only took a few minutes! If you aren’t the type of person that has crochet hooks laying around, 1) Why AREN’T you? Maybe you should reevaluate your life choices. 2) If this happens to you frequently enough, having a crochet hook around might not be a bad idea. They don’t cost much, and if you have a friend that crochets they might have an extra one laying around. Or you could take up crochet! It’s great! You can turn your entire checking account into yarn in the blink of an eye! But crocheting is also far less stabby than other needle arts, so keep that in mind.
Despite my best intentions, it seems like some part of the house always becomes the dumping ground for things that have no official home, like the island of misfit toys. My closet had become one of those places. Closets are extremely vulnerable to this phenomenon for a variety of reasons: they can be dark, awkward spaces; their only purpose is to hold crap; and until you need to get something out, it’s easy to just keep cramming things in on top. These issues, plus my hoarding of craft supplies led to the mess you see here:
Yes, that’s a Millenium Falcon on the floor.
You can see I do label boxes, so I know what’s in there, and I attempted to utilize wall space by hanging a purse on the left.
Those are some of my dresses on the right. They didn’t have a real place to hang, and would come out wrinkled constantly.
My work clothes hang just the right height above the dresser, and I added a vintage fruit hanging basket (far left) for belts, scarves, bras, and other weird pieces of clothing that defy normal storage methods.
The amount of clothes has been reduced a BUNCH. I thought very seriously about whether or not I would ever wear something. Even if it was cute, was it comfortable? Did I like how it fit me? There were several items that didn’t fit this criteria, and were culled. Dresses now have their own long space to the right of the shoe bag.
Craft supplies got further reduced, and some specific projects were moved elsewhere (a story for another day). My laundry basket has a home, that is not the middle of the floor! And it also doubles as a cat bed for our cranky cat. The projects I’m working on now will hopefully reduce the needed storage even further, but that of course takes time.
Hubby also had a RUTHLESS clean out of his closet (completely his idea!). His was so crammed with clothes we were running out of hangers. He filled THREE garbage bags to go to Goodwill! He had a variety of old t-shirts and free shirts he’d accumulated that just didn’t fit him comfortably or well, and now they’re GONE. I am so proud! He’s down to maybe 20 t-shirts, 5 dress shirts, 2 pairs of jeans, and 3 pairs of shorts. I wish I could reduce mine that much, but while I’m pregnant is not the time to make clothing decisions. His closet is sparse and amazing!
Want to clean out your closet? Here are a couple tips:
1) It helps to be in the mood, if you can (if you have a deadline, or will use “I’m not in the mood” as an excuse to procrastinate, then no, this is not for you). I like to watch Hoarders or Fight Club before or during a big cleaning job, as motivation.
2) If one big purge won’t work for you (for time, medical, or attention reasons), keep an empty box or bag in or near your closet. Every time you try something on, or just see something that you know for sure you no longer want, throw it in the box. When the box if full, take it to Goodwill and start a new one. This is also a good method for things you aren’t sure about: put them in the box, and if you haven’t needed them in the time it took to fill the box, you probably don’t need them. I often forget what I even put in the box in the first place, which shows how little I cared about it to start with.
3) If you want to do a big purge, plan your whole day around it. Get up, have a good solid breakfast, and have beverages and caffeine available in your work area. Have all your supplies, like a trash can, donation boxes, sharpees, and masking tape easily at hand. Have music, movies, or podcasts ready to motivate you.
4) Don’t just rip everything out of the closet; down that road, madness lies. For me, it’s much easier to work a section at a time, for instance, take down all the boxes on the top shelf and sort through them first, then put back what’s staying so it’s out of your way. That way if you get to a point where you can’t continue, due to an emergency, or because cleaning is giving you rage fits, you are never far from a stopping point that won’t leave your whole room destroyed.
5) Start with the worst things first, when you have the most motivation. If you can sort through your sticker collection from Elementary school that you’ve been ignoring for a DECADE, you can sort through anything. Having the part you dread the most over with is hugely motivating, also.
6) Be realistic. You haven’t worn that shirt in 5 years, do you really love it that much? Even if you do, if it’s shrunk, or stained, or faded, do you love the shirt now, or how it used to be? If you found this item at the store, would you buy it? Do you actually like it, or do you have negative emotions attached to it? “It was so expensive!” or “Aunt Sally gave it to me”, or “I never lost enough weight to fit back into it” are all negative reasons to keep things. You’re only reliving bad memories every time you see it. Purge it, and those demons with it! Save yourself the emotional energy for something important!
7) If you can’t decide which clothes to get rid of, move all your clothes (if possible) to one location, say one half of the closet. As you wear, wash, and put away clothes over the next few months, put them in the other half of the closet. After awhile, you’ll see which ones you actually wear, and which you can safely purge.
8) Truly get RID of things. Once your old crap is in a box and you’ve decided you don’t want it anymore, seriously get rid of it. “But Aunt Sally might need a new lamp!” you say. Well, Aunt Sally lives 4 states away, and you haven’t seen her in 4 years. Aunt Sally will never know what she’s missing, and I doubt she’s sitting at home in the dark, pining for you to spend more money on gas than the lamp ever cost to drive it over to her. Give it to a thrift store, and someone who needs the lamp will acquire the lamp. That’s the whole point of the store’s existence. (Family heirlooms obviously get special treatment).
9) Store the stuff you need to access most in the easiest to reach place, or store things near where they’ll be used.
10) Make sure things are easy to retrieve AND put away. If you have to dig through a stack of boxes to dig out what you need, you’ll never put it away properly, then it will just become clutter again.
I still have a ways to go, but no house is cleaned in a day. Be mindful of every item in your house. Do you have it there because it makes you happy, or because it’s just always been there? Being honest with yourself will be a huge help.
It’s important not to let food sit in your freezer too long: it can get that weird “freezer air” flavor after a while. Or, if you’re like my mother, it can thaw and re-freeze repeatedly during several power outages (she lives in a hurricane-prone area), get buried in the back of the deep freeze, and horrify your children when they visit.
You can also avoid going to the grocery store by eating what’s in your freezer. It’s a win-win! Cleaning out the freezer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to make soup (although you definitely can). This time I’m making smoothies. Am I making a paltry one-at-a-time? Of course not! This is smoothie mass production!
As you probably know, I hate getting anything dirty more than once, so I decided to make a ton of smoothies in my food processor all at once. My ingredients were bananas, strawberries, a little chocolate almond milk, a little chocolate syrup to enhance the chocolatiness, and (this may sound weird, but I promise it’s good) avocado. The avocado makes it super smooth and creamy, and you will probably not even taste it.
I am terrible about eating bananas before they get brownish. The solution? Peel them, and chuck them in the freezer. You can use them for baking or smoothies later. My issue is that I had, literally, a plethora of bananas in my freezer. I said I was terrible about eating them! That, plus my hoard of strawberries, was hogging too much space in my freezer. So I threw all that stuff into the food processor (in batches so it wouldn’t ooze everywhere), then ladled it into freezer bags.
I ended up with 4 bags, plus 2 smoothies for me and Hubby to drink (eat?)immediately. You can also store them in tupperware, which would be more eco-friendly (which I also didn’t really think about until later), but that would take a bit longer to thaw out.
Avocados are full of all those good fats that help your brain function, and are used in sweet dishes in lots of Asian countries. Just try it, at least once.
This is a great recipe for this time of year, when avocados are super cheap, and it can be waaaay too hot outside to eat real food.
Now that Christmas is finally over (yes, finally since it started in September this year), you probably want to get all that holiday cheer out of your house. I know I do! Sure, I can be a little Scroogey. I mean, I like watching the Grinch, (but only the first half, when all the Christmas stuff has been cleaned up) but sometimes there’s only so much joy you can grind out of me.
Christmas is great and all, but I like to start the new year with a clean house, not one covered in decorations that need to be put away, and gifts that never found a home, and leftover fruit cake. So here’s the post-Christmas clean up list:
1) Throw out wrapping and packaging – make sure any gift cards or cash are accounted for first! – trash is easy to get rid of because it’s obviously trash. Doing this first will give you more room to manuever and won’t take much brain power.
2) Put away Christmas decorations – throw out any light strands that didn’t work, or ornaments a fat cat stole off the tree and broke behind the table. This happened twice this year at our house. But our cat is a jackass; you might have good cats. Christmas decorations presumably have a home already so you know right where to put them, so again, no-brainer.
3) Find a home for all your fancy new gadgets and gizmos – don’t forget to get rid of an old version if your gift was an upgrade, or if you follow the ultimate uncluttering rule: if one thing enters your house, one must leave. It’s like the Thunderdome, but for your stuff.
4) Put anything you need to return (wrong size or completely wrong for you, whatever the reason) somewhere you won’t forget them along with their gift receipts, if they have them. Your car might be a good place, if you won’t forget about them. Returns often have a time limit, so make sure to get after it!
5) Christmas cards – If someone has written a touching message, or made a card themselves, or it’s particularly funny I usually keep it. However, some are just generic, like “Happy Holidays, from your dentist”. Well these apparently have a home, other than the recycle bin! St. Jude’s recycles old cards into new ones. I just found out about this thanks to Unclutterer! They actually take cards year-round, for all occassions, so I’m going to keep this in mind as I unclutter my scrapbooking box.
Here’s to a clean and organized New Year!