single sentence Sunday

Sarah Ann over at Sarah Ann's Bon Mot started a neat thing called, "Single Sentence Sunday" on her blog.  I just connected with her through the blogging world, and am already enjoying what she's all about! :) Love connecting with blogging buddies! Well she has challenged me to join into her new Sunday post idea.  Single sentence? Those are two scary words for a "wordy" writer.  (Do you notice how I had to add words to this post about a single sentence?) But I love the idea and simplicity of it so here goes.... ;)

Why do we often judge others based on their personal struggles that we don't have ourselves and can't even relate to based on where we are in our own life?

Can't say this is an original thought....my pastor's sermon today made me think about this.  However, it's so worth pondering!

Thanks Sarah Ann for the invite into your special Sunday post! Now go check out her blog!

sarah ann's bon mot

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we love our frugal pup...free dog food for a month

Boonie's (or you all know him as Boone) "Gotcha Day" is coming up this Friday.  (As if I don't talk about him enough...come back then to hear me brag a little more about our sweet beagle/lab mix.)  We adopted him almost a year ago and I can't believe the time has flown by already! Well, my lovely blog friend, Ashleigh at Thankfully Thrifty let me know of a great deal Pedigree has going on right now. (Thanks, Ashleigh!) They are giving away a free month's supply of food if you have adopted your dog within the last year.  (She explained that it is a bag of dry dog food and then a few cans of moist food.)  You can find the link here. You just have to print out the form and fill it out...very easy to do.  You also have to add a copy of a proof of adoption (which I quickly located in Boone's personal file folder in our filing cabinet.)  Then just mail it off! I am anxiously awaiting our coupons in the mail! We include Boone's food and treats into our grocery budget, so this will definitely help out! We love our frugal pup.

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baby shower gift-wrap idea

I am going to a baby shower on Sunday for Justin's cousin's wife.  They are expecting a little girl.  Too sweet!  I get extremely carried away shopping for babies....little clothes, little shoes, fluffy blankets, adorable flower headbands, etc. etc. And may I add just two words....Baby GAP.  (Good thing I stayed away from that place when shopping.)  Oh my is my budget in trouble when I start dressing and buying for little ones of my own.

I had so much fun browsing the baby aisles in search for some fun "goody box" items.  I love putting together goody bags of lots of good stuff instead of buying one big gift.  I went into the store with the intention of finding something practical to wrap in.  This is "green" wrapping and provides something practical to help organize the nursery.  I found this adorable white box for $3 on clearance.  Love the price....more moolah for the baby gifts! I also found a cute pink blanket to line the basket.  I arranged all the goodies in the box, surrounded them with tissue paper, added a raffia bow...and wallah....a pretty twist on wrapping a baby shower gift. 

Doesn't the thought of a newborn just make you say, "awww".

Happy weekend...yay!

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grocery deals and freebies!

We had another snow day today.  That means we're into June now before we are out of school for the summer.  Annoying, but it was a good day.  Justin didn't work today, so I got to make breakfast and we spent a relaxing day together around the house.  Once he left for school this afternoon, I was off to the grocery store....coupons have been burning a hole in my coupon album! I was so excited to have a free afternoon to spend as much time as I needed with my grocery list and coupons.  As I mentioned here, we are on a $50 grocery budget...and that has been slashed in half from our first year of marriage.  (Could I get good enough at this that we could slash it in half again for our third year of marriage?!)  Since I had extra time for grocery shopping this week due to the snow day and Kroger was running some really good deals that end Saturday, I went ahead and planned my meals, created my list, organized my coupons and shopped for two weeks worth of groceries.  This includes stocking up on some personal hygiene items we use regularly because of good sales and great coupons.

Here's the stash:
(minus my new Venus Spa razor kit and Olay body wash--for some reason it didn't make it into the pic)

This is $158.77 worth of groceries and other items.

After my Kroger plus savings and coupons I paid......$89.84

I saved.....$26.62 in coupons and $42.31 in Kroger plus savings.  Even including the personal hygiene items that we rarely buy, we came in $10.16 under our two-week grocery budget, or $5.08 per week.  Most of these items will last us even more than two weeks...yay! (Can't wait to see what happens the third week of our grocery budget for March....this is like a game for me!)

Free Items:
-$2.09 Gallon Kroger 2% Milk....Free
-$2.09 Gallon of Kroger Skim Milk...Free
(Kroger is running a promo where you get 2 gallons of milk free when you purchase four Kellogg's or Keebler's items for $2.50 each....however, use $1.75 in coupons like I did for the purchased items, and you get an even better deal!)
-$2.00 6-pack of Diet Cokes....Free
(after purchasing 2-12 pack of diet cokes...plus I used a Kroger coupon for $1.50 off)
-$4.99 Salmon fillets....Free
(Buy one/get one promo...I purchased Gorton's frozen shrimp for $3.99 with a $1.00 coupon and got the salmon free)
-$5.47 23 oz. Olay Body Wash....Free
(after purchasing the Venus Razor kit for $4.94 with a $2 off coupon)

Great Deals:
-$1.99 Suave Body Wash for Men...$0.99 after using a $0.50 coupon that was doubled
-$1.00 Blistex lip balm (with 50% more)....$0.30 after using a $0.35 coupon that was doubled
-$1.00 Trident Layers gum....$0.25 after using at $0.75 coupon
-$2.35 Minute Brown Rice....$1.35 after using a $0.50 coupon that doubled
-$3.69 All Detergent-concentrated on sale....$1.69 after using $1 cut-out coupon and $1 coupon loaded to my Kroger card from their website
-2 @ $1.55 each Right Guard deodorants....$0.55 each after using a $2 off 2 coupon
-Diet Coke...after Kroger coupon for $1.50 off of $10 in soft drinks and a free 6-pack of diet cokes, $0.26 per can

Can you tell I was excited about my great week at the grocery? And I bought a lot of extra stockpile items...not items we don't use...but items we use on a regular basis that were on sale.  Of course, because this is a welcomed challenge for me, I have things I can improve on.  Just taking one step at a time toward spending less money.  Hope this will inspire you!

So what makes my grocery budget work?  I cut out coupons from the Sunday papers, load coupons from Kroger's website onto my Kroger Plus Card, and I print coupons for items I need from websites such as Cellfire.  I also study, study, study those ads, plan our meals for the week before going to the grocery store, and only buy items that we really need.  Check your grocery's website for store-specific deals and coupons loadable to your shopper's reward card.

Happy budgeting!

I'm linking up....

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90 days...success and a new goal

Justin and I gave up french fries for our New Year's Resolution....(except for when we go to one of my favorite restaraunts, Red Robin).  I never keep a New Year's Resolution...ever.  And this girl loves french fries.  More than ice cream.  We decided that if we went into it together, we would have more success. So far, so good.  We have been successful for two entire months...and it feels so good.  It feels so nice to set a goal, be determined, and meet it.  Even if it is just cutting something really unhealthy out of my diet.  Nothing profound.  But still....it's success.

Well, I'm onto a second venture for success.  Reading the bible in 90 days.  (Because 365 days is way too drawn-out for an impatient person such as myself.)  Reading the entire bible has been a goal of mine since high school.  It has been one of those faint thoughts that just kind of hangs over my head.  Ever had one of those? I know that this accomplishment will draw me so much closer to my Creator.   For some reason, today is the day that God has laid this on my heart heavy

I recently downloaded the YouVersion bible app onto my iPhone.  I really did this to have the bible quickly at my fingertips anywhere I go.  It is great for that....but it contains something even more intriguing.  This little app holds nearly 10 different options of bible reading plans.  You can choose to read the bible in a year, read just the New Testament, read just the Old Testament, focus on the Psalms, focus on the gospels...there is a plan for any individual at any place in their Christian walk.  I chose the 90 day plan that focuses on reading the entire bible.  Each day the app tells me what chapters to read and I can check them off as I go.  (This goes straight to a "list-makers" heart.)  Choosing this plan means that I am committing to reading 12 chapters from the bible each day.  Love the challenge!

So a daily dose of the bible is a bit more important and life-changing than a simple "no" to french fries, yes.  However, I am so thankful God has given me this mindset in the first two months of 2010....determination to change things.  You could spend forever trying to alter the little things in your life and ignore the most necessary.  To me, the most necessary is my spiritual journey.  I hope you'll be inspired by the way God can move in our lives....and how He uses the little things to prepare us for the bigger things.

I'm linking up....
Chatting at the Sky

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genius, simple way to peel boiled potatoes

I'm not usually a "YouTube" kinda gal.  But when my mom showed me this YouTube video her friend sent her on a genius way to peel boiled potatoes....I was amazed.  Seriously amazed.  If you make mashed potatoes or ever boil potatoes for other recipes, you have to watch this.  If you are like me and are depriving your hubby of homemade mashed potatoes simply because you dread peeling the potatoes, oh...do I have a treat for you! This is only about a minute and a half...and yes, that is Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island in the video. :) Enjoy!

Peeling Boiled Potatoes

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photo montage DIY

Pictures capture memories.  Memories that are priceless.  I always said I would limit something else in my wedding budget in order to allow more money for the photographers. That we did and we had a wonderful photographer for our wedding.  I visited bridal fair after bridal fair and just happened upon our photographers.  Our photographer, Jessie, actually had her studio in this cutesy little area across from where I attended a small bridal fair and found NO ideas from.  I left annoyed and disgusted, but Jessie's hubby, Chris, actually held the door for us when we were leaving and was passing out their card.  Well, if I just went to the cruddy bridal show for that moment...then that's what happened! Kriech-Higdon Photography was the perfect mix of artsy and traditional.  Me in a nutshell. :) This husband/wife team was a wonderful tradition to our wedding festivities and were so fun to be around.  Check out their website if you live in the bluegrass state or surrounding areas.  They're great.

Photo by Kriech-Higdon Photography

Anywho...as beautiful as our wedding pictures were, I got all the proofs into an album and ooed and awed over them until a year after we were married, before I finally made up my mind on what pictures I wanted framed in our home.  (I stink at making decisions, so therefore, I become frozen.  Hence why we didn't have wedding pics on our walls until a year and half after the big day.  You can laugh at me...I laugh at myself about my indecisiveness.)

So I put the two romantic-y pics I love of us in our bedroom.  But, I wanted a little collage of our day in our living room to start our family picture collection.  So I put together a little photo montage.  Here's the DIY tutorial:

Gather your pictures and frames.

Stage the pictures on a surface before hanging them on the wall. (Less holes in the wall and less frustration!)  I have also seen where people have traced the frames onto a piece of paper and then tape the paper on the wall to see how the frames will look hanging in those positions.

I like the mixture of tones of frames.  This is completely up to your taste.  I had the wooden frames left over from our reception and found the white matted frames for $2 each on sale at Target.  For the best look, you also want to have various sizes of pictures.

Here it is on the wall. Love it!

Bare, green wall BEFORE.

Fun photo montage green wall AFTER.

I love the fact that this can grow and change as we grow and change as a family.  Have you done a little photo montage-ing yourself and have tips? Please share! Or maybe this provided just the inspiration you needed to start your own photo collection? Then enjoy!

Happy weekend, my blogging friends!

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easy fajitas

We're meeting friends for dinner tonight at our local Mexican restaurant.  :) Love a good time with good friends! In honor of that...I thought I would give you my easy you-could-do-this-in-your-sleep it's so easy fajita recipe.  Justin loves fajitas.  And something that I have learned about myself as a new wife...I tend to go back to the same meals he loves.  The second year of marriage, I'm actually throwing a few selfish meals in there that are things I really love (Italian, anyone?)  But here is one of his faves:

Slice up a medium-size green pepper and onion (you can add a red pepper in as well) and saute over low-medium heat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Add in one package of Tyson's Fajita Chicken Breast Strips and Seasoned Steak Strips (found in the lunchmeat section of your grocery store...and I can almost always can find a coupon for these).

Saute the meat, peppers, and onions for another 10 minutes or until tender.
(Follow directions on the package of the chicken breast strips if you wish.)

This is as yummy as it looks and has so much flavor! Add your favorite tortillas (we go with wheat), sour cream, salsa or pico, and a side of black beans and/or rice.....and you have a delicious, healthy, Mexican dish for a quick weeknight meal.  Easy. Tasty. My kind of meal!

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wordless wednesday

Because I'm way too exhausted to think my way through a blog post tonight...first day back to school after two snow days in a row.  Check out one of Boone's favorite places in the house (his couch)  I love when he sits and looks out like this.....too cute.

blessings, Cait

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an award and a thank you!

Thank you so much Thankfully Thrifty for an award shout-out!

Ashleigh at Thankfully Thrifty has become a "bloggy friend" of mine. :) She's in Dallas...I'm in good ol' Kentucky...but we've found lots of similarities. Striving to be stewards of God's money? Check! Crafty? (well she's much more impressive on that end! Check out her cute clutch.) Check! Cute "puppies" that seem to be more like our babies? Check! If you're not in the blogging world...it's the best part of it all...making friends with people you would have probably never come in contact with!  Check out Ashleigh's blog for thrifty tips, AWESOME links to freebies, her amazing deals, and all things crafty and cutesy.  Thanks again, Ashleigh!

 Now to pass on the love...Check out my post from about a week ago on my blog tribe to find some great ladies whose blogs bless me! (So cool that I've added Thankfully Thrifty since then...I challenge you to continue to grow your list as I do mine! It's just plain fun!)

So in honor of any of my new (or old revisiting) bloggy friends....here are a couple thrifty tips for your Tuesday morning.

1.  Coupon Buddies--
Find a few people that get coupons that they don't use all of them and swap coupons! Sounds simple? It is! (It's "being green" with your coupons, too!) My mom and my grandma are my coupon buddies.  We're so serious about this that my grandma hands me a stack of coupons when I come into church on Sunday mornings and my mom has them waiting for me in a grocery bag at her house when I come by. haha...we're hard-core coupon people! Check out this stack of coupons I got from my mom the other day.

This makes my heart happy.

2.  Frugal Fabric Softener--
My momma taught me this one! I have been guilty of always buying drier sheets.  Well, this great tip cuts down on how much fabric softener you buy...big time. Whew! The directions on the bottle won't tell you to do this....but I am asking you to be a thrifty rebel here.  Grab a waschcloth and cup it over the top of the bottle.  Simple turn the bottle over once to wet a spot of the washcloth with the fabric softener.  Throw the washcloth into the drier with your clothes and you'll have the same fresh smell and soft-to-the touch clothes.  (And my favorite...no static.) Of course, you may need to adapt how many times you do this onto the washcloth depending on if you are a get-it-over-with-as-fast-as-you-can laundry person like me and do huge loads.  (Dollar off coupon in that stack of coupons you saw earlier helped me get this for about $2.)

Enjoy your day!

blessings, Cait

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sitting still...

This is something I am not good at.  Not at all.  When I sit on my couch and blog...that's probably the longest I ever sit still.  However....the stomach virus hit me on Saturday.  Grrroooosss.  I felt it slowly coming on, hoping it was just something that I ate.  (In the back of my mind...I knew what it was.  Three of my students were out last week from it...so of course it would eventually crawl its way to the teacher.)  Justin and I did have a Valentines date planned.  I wouldn't let me getting sick get in the way.  (I'm stubborn that way.)

First sign I was getting sick--I left some food on my plate at dinner. (I'm not usually one to do that.) ;)

I kept trying to push it away...thinking it was just a little something.

Second and for sure sign I was getting sick--I went to bed at 9:30 on Saturday night.  I probably have not gone to bed that early since elementary school.  No joke. (I'm a night owl.)

Saturday night was absolutely no fun.  And my poor, poor husband.  He had to completely take over.  I was miserable and had to depend on him for everything.  Bringing me ice chips, heating up my rice heating pad, moving the trash can (yes, I said it), getting a wash cloth for my head, etc. etc.

Thanks to my sister-in-law that shared some of her "good stuff" stomach pills from when she was sick when pregnant, I slept from about 12:30 yesterday until 5:30...woke up long enough to eat some chicken noodle soup, took another pill....and knocked out again at 9:30 until 10 am this morning.

Needless to say...this morning when I woke up finally feeling a little better....I felt like I was coming out of a fog.  Thank goodness!

So sitting still has been the way I have spent the last two days.  I am not even one to stay in bed when I'm sick..I at least make my way to the couch.  But I couldn't even sit up on the couch.  I hate staying in bed.  Thankfully I made my way to the couch today and spent my day watching "16 and Pregnant"...haha, yep, you heard me right.

So here is my list of things I did not get done today that I hope to get accomplished tomorrow (on my second snow day of the week...thank you Lord):
-editing and revising 21 feature article drafts
-grading 21 fractions and decimals post-assessments
-cooking a meal with all of the food I have in preparation for this snow storm we're amidst

You know how sometimes you just like to whine and complain while you're sick? Well, I guess I just did that to you my blog friend.  Sorry! :) Thanks for listening and hope the germy germs stay away from you.  (I promise my next blog will be more cheery.)

blessings, Cait

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love letters in waiting

I really went back and forth on if I would write a "valentiny" post.  I'm really sorta cynical about this whole love holiday.  I don't know why.  I have gobs of unconditional love in my life and I am all about love.  Haha....that sounds cliche.  But Valentine's Day has never impressed me.  However, the spirit of love got the best of me.  Cupid-1 Cait-0

When I was in college my best friend and I came up with the idea of creating a journal to our future husbands.  We decided that all of our heartfelt prayers and thoughts for our future hubbies should be recorded to share with them in the future.  I am more sentimental than anyone I know so the idea of all the memories this journal would hold delighted me like crazy.  Sometimes this trait is a good thing...sometimes it's a little much. :) (Oh I can only imagine what it will be like when we have kids...) So on July 25, 2005 I started my journal to my future husband.  (Little did I know that my wedding would be three years from that July and little did I know that the soon-to-be audience of this notebook was a man of God that I met back in Kindergarten and was rebuilding a great friendship with at the moment.)

In this notebook, I wrote an entry about every month.  There were days I was overflowing with thoughts for him.  Then there were days where I was frustrated and annoyed and couldn't put words on a page as a way of "boycotting" the idea of love and turning my ignorant nose to God and His plans. 

Never did I picture the reader of this journal. I just wrote to God and my future husband. Silly dates that I went on in college didn't blur my vision of who the reader of this journal may be. No one captured my heart or intrigued me in a way that got my heart fluttering enough to think that I may have found the recipient of this journal.

Looking back in the journal today, I did find that I wrote my "future hubby" a letter on Valentine's Day of 2006 and 2007. (I guess I was too "head-over-heels" in 2008 with Justin to worry about a letter in my journal...because there isn't one there on that Valentine's Day.)

I still remember the exact moment that inspired my 2007 valentine letter.  I explained it in my letter as: "Today while driving back to my apartment...God sent me a gentle and sweet little Valentine.  My thought was just how blessed I am to be so loved by my Savior, that He is keeping me free from the pain and heartache of being in a relationship that is wrong.  Instead, He is having me remain single, as He continues to craft all the details at the right moment so that we meet in His perfect timing! My singleness is a gift of love!! Wow! A whole new perspective." This was a life-changing perspective for me.  This was the best Valentine I ever received...God's gentle love and peace.

My journal continued including many entries.  The next one was on June 7th when I wrote the first entry to a specific person...Justin--my future husband.  I then wrote about events to remember that led us through our love story, our engagement story when he proposed in the same sanctuary we would be married in, the note that came from the flowers he sent me my freshman year of college when were were just friends and he told me "every girl deserves flowers on Valentine's Day", a card I sent him on Chrysalis, a Christian retreat we both attended and worked, a letter the weekend before our big day, and finally an entry the night before our wedding.  The next day on our honeymoon I would share this journal with the man I wrote to for three years. 

So even though I think Valentine's Day is sappy....our love story is more than a "Hallmark holiday".  To call our love story "sappy" would be watering down the very words of the most awe-inspiring love story author...God.  I will share more of our story in a future post...but God has had His hand in every single moment from Kindergarten until now that has crafted our love story.  Thankfully, through His timing, God turned those "love letters in waiting" to "love letters delivered".

Single? It's never too late to start your very own journal to your future husband.  God's timing is perfect.  Married? Start one to him today.  Happy Valentine's Day all.  Hope you are inspired by the Creator of everlasting Love.

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"watch your mouth!"

Ever heard that line? From mom and dad when you were little maybe? A teacher? Ever said that line to your own kiddos? Oh, I've heard it.  Plenty of times when I was little! I had that quick tongue and my mouth got me in most of the trouble I found myself in.  Thankfully, I learned a few lessons when I was younger and I think I have tamed my tongue from talking back to others. I would like to think I "outgrew" that stage in my life a while ago.  But....God still challenges me.  He still convicts me of just what comes out of my mouth.  I am still challenged sometimes with biting my tongue.  Weird to be like that when you're more of a "shy type", I think.  But maybe it's that I hold so much in...sometimes, when it finally comes out, it comes out brutal.  (Just being honest with you...hope you don't mind.)

Well last night when Justin was reading his bible, he found a neat chart on "Speech" in James.  Here's what it states:

When your speech is motivated by:

It is full of:
  • Bitter envy
  • Selfish ambition
  • Earthly concerns and desires
  • Unspiritual thoughts and ideas
  • Disorder
  • Evil
God and his wisdom....
It is full of:
  • Mercy
  • Love for others
  • Peace
  • Consideration for others
  • Submission
  • Sincerity, impartiality
  • Righteousness
Oh I love this! What an awesome reminder of just how "black and white" God and Satan are.  There is no room for all of the things mentioned in the first list when we are truly seeking God and living as holy people in this world.  After all, James 2:9 states, With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse men, who have been made of God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.

Remember how I mentioned that one of my goals in 2010 is to really dive into the bible as the holy book it is, and study it thoroughly, not just artificially like I so often am guilty of doing? Well, James has been an amazing inspiration to me in my new and revised journey through scripture.  If you are hesitant to open your bible, James is a great heartfelt book of truth that you can't help but be changed by.  It has challenged me with each line....challenged me to change little nooks and crannies of my heart.  Are you up for that challenge? Ready to start "watching your mouth"? Some of the best life changes come from the largest leaps of faith.  Allow words like this to comfort you and move you closer to God:

Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:  2-4

blessings, Cait

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the decluttering and organizing bug returns!

Well I recently posted here in January that I caught the "decluttering bug"....well it has hit again! I think part of the reason is that it looks like this out my backdoor....

And I am indoors due to snow day numero dos (that's two snow days in a row for the second time this year). Who's complaining though? Not me!

So in the previous decluttering bug post I opened my Tupperware cabinet doors and let you peek inside.  Today...I am going to let you peek into another insanely cluttered part of my kitchen....underneath the kitchen sink. Gross.

Go ahead gawk at it.....

Nasty, disgusting, completely inconvenient....and even a budget hog due to me having NO idea what all I actually had in there.

Check out what all I pulled out of this cabinet.

All of this....
And this...
And even this....

Haha, can you believe that?! I really should be ashamed! (I promise I had good intentions with the recyclables......they were going to be used for a measurement unit in math....)

So the hubby and I took a trip to good ol' Wal-Mart today and found a nice little cheap contraption to help with my decluttering "project" for just around $6.

Can you hear the organizing angels singing?! :)

I threw gobs of things away, pulled out nasty cleaning rags that could have easily been in there since we cleaned when moving into this little bungalow about a year and half ago, and I also compiled things.

Items like these Cascade dish detergent packs needed to be compiled.

Wahla! (Only one bag to fit back underneath the sink.)

I threw out a whole garbage bag worth of junk and took the potting soil and potting shovel (yes they were under there too) down to the basement:

And then I even found I had two of some items that I had no idea about....and even some great scrubbing pads that the cluttered cabinet ate and I obviously completely forgot about. (One of the main reasons to declutter and organize.  If you don't know what you have....you will buy another one....and of course spend more money from the budget that you didn't even need to.)

So finally after all my hard work (really to those of you who are timid about decluttering and organizing...this only took me about 15 minutes) here is the newly decluttered and organized under-sink cabinet.....

Closer looks:

There is a method to my organizing and decluttering madness, too! Dish detergent directly next to the dishwasher, boxes turned to where I can get the contents out of them without even removing them from the cabinet, bug spray hidden in the back (away from Boonie's snooping nose), and there are even some "spring" items for our backporch (such as a citronella candle and hummingbird feeder mix hidden in the back for when Spring finally decides to come around).

I hope the bug will spread to you! Just think....it may make you clean more often!
haha...Atleast that's my personal goal for this lovely little newly-organized cabinet!

blessings, Cait

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a budget warm and fuzzy

I discussed here how the hubby and I follow Dave Ramsey's envelope system.  (FYI...it's a cash-crazy, insanely intense form of budgeting).  Sounds fun, huh?! Oh...it is! (No sarcasm there...I am budget-crazy enough to really mean that.) Check out his website for details...or email me personally if you have questions of what all the fuss is about.

Anywho...when we first got married I had no, I mean no idea of how to grocery shop for the two of us.  I had done the minimum grocery shopping needed to get me by in the dorm and my apartment in college.....but that didn't prepare me for "wifehood".  Well, so we budgeted a whoppin' $100 a week (yes, I said week) for groceries...for the two of us.  No babies.  Not even a puppy for the first 8 months.  This is where I will give you permission to laugh at me.  Yes, laugh at my ignorance.  It's okay, I'm human. :) Well, let's just say after a year and half of marriage, I kinda feel like I have our eating patterns down.  I know what we need for lunches (we both take our lunch every day to work) and I plan my meals for the week before I go to the grocery.  So I dropped our grocery budget to....drum roll.....$50 a week.  Oh my heart is smiling.  That puts us at a savings of $200 a month.  That's $2400 a year.  I could keep going. My mind plays these little games on the envelope system. 

February has been our first month on this "slashed in half" grocery budget.  Last week I came home sad.  Before leaving, I cut my coupons like crazy (only the ones for items we actually buy), had them organized just-so like I blogged about here, studied Kroger's ad, strategically planned my list according to sections of the grocery so I wouldn't be distracted by running all over the place and could focus on my coupons and unit prices, and I still came in over budget.  With coupons...my total came to $61.00.  Boo.  However, I got home, pouted a little, and my sweet hubby reminded me that I had cut our grocery bill by $39.  With that, I felt better and even more determined to win this fight.

So fast forward to this week's grocery trip.  After reflecting...last week's trip did include our drinks that last us a couple weeks and other items that are a little more expensive, but last us a while.  (I have learned that it seems every other grocery trip is like this.  The next week's trip is usually just for some "necessities" to add to the pantry for the week.) This week was one of those "necessity" trips.  I do use that term lightly...as I am still learning, folks. :)  Are you ready for this? Remember how I told you I get easily excited? Well I was tonight.  Our grocery bill came out to be $28.75! Yay for the "newlywed" wife!

So if you add the previous week's bill, this week's bill, and the $9.50 we paid for Boone's food that we bought this week (yes, we include his food in our grocery budget.....he is our child after all).....we came in at $99.25 for two week's worth of groceries.  (Some of the items of course will continue to carry over into other weeks.)  That means for the first two weeks of this month we have spent what we spent on just one week's groceries in past months.  Oh, I love this!

A few things that made this week's shopping trip so "warm and fuzzy":
-Boone's Purina dog food was on sale from $14 to $11 and then I had a $1.50 off coupon.
-When pouring Boone's food into his bin, we found a "free" coupon for a Purina granola treat...so he got a $3.99 treat for FREE. (We love our frugal puppy.)
-Kroger doubles coupons $.50 and under....even if it says "do not double"....gotta love those grocery rebels!
-Simply the fact that Kroger has great "generic-brand" products that are much cheaper and you don't feel that you are sacrificing quality.

Check out our $28.75 spread....that does include the ingredients to make a heaping amount of that yummy tortilla soup I gave you the recipe for on a previous blog.  (We have snow on the way, people.  A good homemade soup is a must-have!)

Of course, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace has been a huge inspiration for our budget.  However, for more grocery saving inspiration in the blogging world, visit Money Saving Mom.  You can find great coupon scenarios, printable coupons, freebies, links to other money-saving bloggers and tons of other thrifty tips.

Happy budgeting!! (Don't you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?)

blessings, Cait

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my blog tribe

I am a part of a great blogging community called SITS. It is such a friendly and encouraging group of blogging individuals that support each other through following and commenting on each other's blogs. If you are a blogger and haven't joined this site yet, do so! You will love the support...I know I have! SITS recently challenged their blogging community to "call out" their blogging tribe. These are the individuals that support your blog through visits and comments. Although I haven't blogged for too long, and especially haven't connected with other bloggers for long....there are a few individuals that I would like to call out. That's right...if you have been supporting my blog...I'm putting you in the spotlight! Here are a few individuals that have supported me through lots of comment love lately. Go check out their blogs!

Jessie's Blog is a blog of a sweet teacher friend of mine that always seems to put others first. She blogs about life as a teacher, wife, momma to a cute beagle, avid UK fan, and artist. The best thing, she's as fun and sweet in person as she comes off in her blog!
Crazy Joy is another blog of a teacher friend of mine. Not only have I been blessed to become great friends with this wonderful gal through teaching as next-door neighbors and partner teachers, but the love of Christ absolutely shines through her...both in daily life and with each post she creates. A must read!
The Scholastic Scribe is a humorous blog by someone I connected with through SITS. Maybe it's the teaching connection, but she has been so sweet and supportive through commenting on my blog! Check out her funny pictures.
Tickled Pink Twice is another funny blog! This blogger has supported me through commenting recently on a couple of my posts. What blows me away is that this busy mom is downright honest about the ins and outs of life as a mom and takes the time to reply to every single comment you post to her blog. Check out this great lady and her wonderful insight!

Seriously...check these ladies out! You'll get hooked.
Since I'm new to this...my list is short. However, I truly appreciate those I mentioned above. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the "blog love" you have poured out on this "baby" of mine. I only hope to support you ladies as you have me! (And to those of you non-bloggers that support me....I know who you are....and thank you!) Who is in your tribe that you can "call out"?

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it's the little things

I went through two HUGE changes my first year of marriage.  Number one...getting used to living in a new home (I still say that was a bigger transition than actually transitioning into marriage) and Number Two....getting used to "living" in a classroom.  Now I use the quotes for "living" in the classroom...however, for you teacher people out there...you know just as well as I do that you really could live there if you allowed yourself.  Well, by no means am I queen of keeping this house perfectly organized nor am I a master of a perfectly organized classroom.  However, I have found some things that just work for me.  They are the little things that make my life just a tad bit easier both at home and at school. These are the little things that keep my life less cluttered and allow for a little bitty breath of fresh air throughout my day.  (Thanks to my lovely teacher friend whose recent blog post reminded me to share my strengths and ideas with others....not to keep them to myself.)  So here goes....the little things that make my life easier.  Hope you can find a glimpse of decluttering inspiration!

At home...

I'm a tad basket crazy...
This basket sits on our table in the foyer.  It houses keys, an umbrella, sunglasses, etc.  (All the junk you need when heading out the door that I can't stand having sitting on tables around the house.)

Oh, I love this one! These are great post-it pockets that you can buy anywhere that has post-it notes.  It sticks to the fridge and is the home to all of our bills that are due or things that need to be mailed.

We have a very small section of our kitchen countertops between our sink and the wall going into the kitchen.  I never prepare food here, so we have this great organizer I snatched up at TJ Maxx that holds grocery ads, gum, pizza coupons, carry-out menus, etc.  I declutter it about once a month.  (Again...it keeps stuff off the countertops and hidden away!)

In the classrom...
(You'll notice there are quite a few more "little things" that keep me sane in the classroom.  After all, I do have 21 busy-bodies to keep in line all day.)

Snagged this up at Goodwill in my pre-teacher days.  This sits right next to my desk and the kiddos empty their "Take-Home" folders into the designated bins each morning.  (Notes for me, homework, and returned papers.)

Yes, simple idea I know.  But hey, as a first year teacher last year...I had to learn this trick! (Finished/Not Finished.)  The kids know exactly where to place their papers as they finish work.  (This holds me accountable that I don't let too many papers pile up...which is oh so tempting to do.)

So we have these big ol' honkin "lecture" carts that I guess some teachers would use to teach from.  Just not at our school.  Definitely not my "teaching style".  So I placed that eye-sore right behind my desk and put it to work.  There is a drawer for items for each day of the week...copies, manipulatives needed, science materials, etc.  There is a bottom drawer that houses materials for my volunteers that come in.  My volunteers know to go directly to that drawer to find the things they need when they come in to help.  This works perfectly.  Maybe not the prettiest....but it works.  (The top holds my overhead projector and my anecdotal notebooks, gradebook, clipboard, etc.)  If you are lucky enough not to have this monster to house in your classroom...you could easily do this with two of the 3-drawer Rubbermaid containers.

Can't say I came up with this.  My teaching partner from last year taught me this cute trick.  A simple file folder that sits at an absent student's desk.  As papers are passed out, they go straight into the folder.

Alright, I'm going to be honest.  These lovely mailboxes are expensive....especially on a teacher's budget.  However, I have learned that teachers are by-far the most resourceful and sharing people on this planet.  Someone didn't want this at the end of last year....it was looking for a good home (or the dumpster).  I saved this little mailbox's life.  One mailbox for each student.  (This is where I breathe a sigh of relief.)  Need to know who didn't pick up their homework? A quick glance tells me. 
(Each of my students has a number 1-21 and their number labels their mailbox.  If you don't have a system like this in place in your classroom....do it!)  The top basket holds our "Wednesday Folders"...the folders that go home from the school each Wednesday. (Hint to snag the "good stuff"....ask around! Be there when teachers are cleaning out their classroom or moving in at the end of summer.  Or...email or ask around and simply ask people if they have things they don't want.  I've also learned a lot of teachers are closet "hoarders". hehe.)

You clean-freak people are fidgeting in your seats.  I'm okay with that.  Kids aren't clean. Period.  So this looks a little messy.  Again, I'm okay with that.  This is on our whiteboard when you walk into the classroom.  Each kiddo has a popsicle stick with their name on it in the bucket. (Bucket compliments of the Target dollar aisle, heck yes.) They place their stick in their lunch choice each morning.  (This also serves as a quick "who is absent" check in the morning.)

This is my job list system.  Simply place velcrow on the door and velcrow on each crayon.  I rotate these each week.  It's that simple.

This is just a little something extra.  It is an extra bookshelf that gasp I don't use for books.  Now don't freak out.  My students have huge access to books in my classroom. I just don't use this shelf because I use those annoying wire shelvings that can make anyone go crazy.  (I didn't say I'm perfect...because those definitely don't allow for library perfection.)  The clear bins hold Science and Math notebooks because there isn't enough room in their cubbies.  (I have a "Tub Master" that hands out the notebooks before the mini-lesson.  Right now you are picturing arms swinging, notebooks flying and kids crying. No worries.  I model and teach them the system at the beginning of the year...so they handle this just fine!)  The red canvas boxes hold paper towels and Clorox wipes in one and a hand sweeper in the other.

This sits on my desk all day.  I throw papers in that I need to copy quickly after school.  Works like a charm for me.

So there you have it.  A few "little" things that seem so simple, yet they make my life so much easier.  Like them? Use them! Don't like them? Let me know what works better for you! I'm always up for some new ideas to organize!

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