How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

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I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

Quaker Foods: $5 Rebate at Wal-Mart!

I love rebates! This rebate is great because a lot of these items are heavily requested at food banks this time of year.

Tis the season to save BIG at Walmart! Now through December 15, get a $5 Walmart eGift card when you buy $15 of participating Quaker® products online or in store. Just email your receipt to submit@quakerseasonalsavings.com and choose from over 400 Quaker® items, including your favorites like Quaker® Oatmeal, Aunt Jemima®, Cap’n Crunch®, and so many more. Head to quakerseasonalsavings.com for a full list of qualifying products.

The Annual Toy Purge: Clean up & Help Others!

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Each year after Christmas and when the big kiddo is back to school, we go through the house and get rid of the toys that are no longer played with (Duplos), or are broken (So many things), or were taken away and never asked for back (I’m looking at you Nerf Gun). We also weed out the multiples. That way we only have 1 of each kind of train (no one needs 5 Thomas trains!), one of each kind of toy dino/animal in each size, and enough accessories for each Potato Head (but not tons).

IMG_7862We call this the Great Annual Toy Purge.  I enlist the help of my mom (who lives less than a mile away) to come and help me sort through all the toys.  We have toys in bins that are labeled, but sometimes, the toys migrate.

At the same time, we go through the toys. There are three piles:

  • Broken or missing pieces (discard/recycle)
  • In ok/good shape (donate to local thrift store)
  • Great/like new shape (There isn’t a lot in this category- Donate to some places in our local area that needs toys, or give to friends)

Then there is the Big Ol’ Black Trash bag- The trash goes straight in there.

I didn’t get a before picture, but, it was awful. Toys everywhere, junk, empty boxes… You know, kid stuff.

Here is a photo of the after:

IMG_7849IMG_7848 There are still a few more boxes of toys that need to go down to the garage (Stuff that we are saving for the when the Littler One gets bigger), and I vacuumed and we made his bed.

Unwanted toys were moved out of the house yesterday before school pick up. It’s raining right now, so our project is on hold until the rain stops. Next up is Bitty Bird’s room. It’s much smaller and she has less toys, but there are son many small pieces (doll clothes, toy food)- I’ll be stocking up on more 20 quart Sterilite tubs with lids.

Now, there are some toys that live in the living room because they get a lot more play. Mean Animals/Toy Dinos, Guy Men (action figures), and a small tub of Legos. We have them in a 2×2 Kallax Bookshelf from Ikea.

I’m participating in #declutterlikeamother, which is something fellow blogger Allie Casazzara does. A few of my friends are doing it too. While I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if others were doing it, I will definitely get rid of so much clutter and confusion with my friends!

I’ve already cleaned out the hall closet, the kitchen and hall junk drawers, and cleaned out my desk (which was basically just two junk drawers).

We’ve also cleaned out our wardrobes. We donated, recycled, shared hand-me-downs, and prepped bags to take to an upcoming clothing swap.

I encourage everyone to #declutterlikeamother. It’s incredibly liberating not to not feel suffocated by so.much.stuff. It feels so good to let go.

Day After Christmas Traditions- Helping Others!

file0001189581306.jpgOne of the things that I like to do on Boxing Day (that’s the day after Christmas), is to clean out the fridge. It seems like a strange time to do it, but I like to end the year being able to start fresh. Here is a list of stuff I’ll be doing today:

  • Clean out the fridge and toss/recycle/compost (I have a friend who takes compostable stuff for her bin) the unwanted/expired stuff and containers.
  • Go through the oft neglected kitchen cupboards and pull out kitchen gadgets and stuff we don’t use. Figure out whether to integrate them into daily life or donate them. I’m in a Facebook group that brings neighbors together, so I’ll probably post the stuff there before I take it to AMVETS.
  • While doing laundry, I’ll pull out the kids clothes that is started to get outgrown. I’ll also pull out clothes from their drawers that don’t fit/they don’t wear and separate into two piles: pass along to friends and donate. I did my clothes a few weeks ago. I’m still waiting for husband to do his….
  • I’ll also go through the linen closet too. I donate old towels and sheets to the local animal shelter.
  • On the sly, I’ll go through the kiddos toys and pull out the ones that don’t get much play. We’ll donate those. The toys that are broken, missing pieces (oh hi, every puzzle in our house!), or are just junky will get tossed.
  • I usually start entering the tax info I have into Turbo Tax today, but I started last week, so I’m all caught up. I keep a manilla Folder in my desk with the tax year written on it, and I toss tax paperwork and receipts into it as we  get them, so at the end of the year, it’s not a huge rush to gather everything for tax time.

I’ll also be doing the meal plan for this week, as we were busy with family yesterday.