Project Ideas

Will you take the June challenge? Here are five ideas to get you started.

1. Clothes Chaos – this challenge requires you to divide and conquer and is best done in chunks of time with a full length mirror and Law & Order marathon. Start by sorting your clothes into categories and deal with one at a time. Jeans, shorts, bathing suits, socks, sweaters, pajamas, and so on.
Grab some boxes for clothes that should be donated and clothes needing repair. Then go back through the “to repair” clothes and ask if it’s worth the time and money.
Socks with holes become dusting rags, same with solo socks.
Worn shirts can be your painting clothes but put a limit on it – 3 max.
Shoes that hurt your feet or are too uncomfortable have to go.

2. Word Wars – do you ever feel like there is too much information and you’ll never get a chance to read it all? Here’s your chance to limit input for 30 days.

Unsubscribe to emails you never read (sorry Quiznos, Rite Aid and charity spam)
If an email or mail is important enough to keep then create a file for it.
Throw away the excess. You don’t need the envelope your Visa statement arrived in 2 months ago. You don’t need the 13 emails leading up to the decision to go to the Lake last year. Keep what’s important and archive or delete the rest.

3. Endless entertainment – don’t let the items that should help you relax become a source of stress.

That book you bought and never liked: donate it
The movies you used to watch but don’t like now: sell them
A stack of games or a game system that sits unused: get rid of it
Towering piles of magazines you wouldn’t read even if you were on bed rest for the next year: recycle them

The same goes for websites you bookmarked but don’t care to read again, links to news stories that are now archived and old research for long forgotten projects.

4. Recipe Review – tame your recipes and start using the ones you want to try.

Read my guest post on organizing recipes here.

5. Music Madness – are you holding on to discs, tapes and records when you could simplify?

Gather all your CDs and add them, one by one, to your MP3 player. Before you take a CD in the car for your road trip, copy it to your computer. Once the music is downloaded you can organize the discs however you choose.

If you’re holding on to tapes, records, or 45s ask yourself why? Do you listen to them? Do you even own a tape player? Donate.

Tackle your accessories too. Throw out headphones that are broken or poor quality. Get rid of chargers, adapters and speakers that go to equipment you no longer own. (I have iPod skins for several older generation iPods to toss…)

Once that’s done, organize your music files. Create fun playlists or fill in gaps in your collection. Check out the library for new music or a book on CD to listen to during your commute.

Reset the radio presets to your favorite stations and buy a new CD – just one – for a new artist.

What am I going to do in June? I have no idea! My initial idea was to finish decorating my master bedroom but I have a few barriers. I’d like to scrape the popcorn texture ceiling first so I don’t have to re-empty the space. To do so I need a scaffold. IF I can get that scaffold the plan is to:
a) empty the room
b) lay down drop cloths and plastic
c) scrape the ceiling smooth
d) remove plastic & ceiling junk
e) wipe down walls
f) prime & paint walls
g) remove baseboards
f) buy, paint and install baseboards
g) bring everything back in
h) paint and install picture frames


Guest Posting

A third guest post on Money Saving Mom posted today. If you’re interested in saving money but live in a High Cost of Living Area, here are 8 tips to do so.

Coming up next : my frugal project for June.

Happy Memorial Day – Please Slow Down

It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the states and so often we’re in a rush to get it “all” done in just a few days time. I’m certainly guilty of this, driving 6 hours yesterday for a 3 hour photo shoot. But there are times when this can turn dangerous, even deadly.

Last weekend at the Makers Faire I took several photos of this car:

It’s a beautiful car owned by wonderful friends with a rich history.  Now, less than a week later here’s what the car looks like:

The driver and passenger are lucky to be alive and sustained minimal injuries. They were rear ended by a big rig during a tour. This could have easily been my Dad who dropped out of the tour to do some work for my Grandparents instead.  It could have been his car, his injuries, his burns.

I hope you’re all seeing friends or family and having fun this weekend. But please get where you’re going safely.


Very often there are frugal activities in our own communities that go unattended.  Just in the last month my town had a garden tour, children’s event at the park, dog agility event at the fairgrounds and Earth Day celebration in town center.  What kind of events are going on in your town this summer?

Check out your city website, local newspapers, and websites of local organizations.  Check out reading hour at the library, book clubs, volunteer opportunities, upcoming fairs or festivals and town events.

Last Sunday I was able to attend the Makers Faire, a fabulous event hosted by Make Magazine that brings creators and innovators together to showcase their talents. I met C3PO, saw a rocket ship, rode shotgun in a 1906 automobile, saw things catch on fire and honked a horn on a 99 year old car. You may not live close enough to attend a Makers Faire but you never know what exciting thing is happening in your community until you take a look.

June is Frugal Hobby Month

No, it’s not a formal thing, just a challenge from me to you!  Summer is
kicking off and there’s so much to be done. But there’s also a tendency to
run out to the stores for a new swimsuit! lawn chairs! flowers! camping
gear! fruit snacks! pool toys! new books! lemonade!Slow down.

The first thing is to take a few sheets of paper and go for a walk. Walk
from the front door to the back door. Through your garage. In the backyard.
Into bedrooms and bathrooms.

What bugs you? Notice I’m not asking what’s wrong according to MY standards. Ask yourself what YOU want to change.

Some things that bother me in my house:
-book series I haven’t read in years but enjoy
-duplicate DVDs I want to sell
-the purple paint in my bathroom
-bald spots on my lawn
-a puzzle I want to complete

Take that list of things you want to change and make June the month to get started. Don’t try to tackle everything! Have you ever encountered a friend who writes novels in her “spare time”, bakes incredible creations, volunteers all over town or maintains a clean and efficient household? Changes are she learned habits and created this lifestyle over time.  Instead of complaining that this friend is obviously a transplant from Stepford, Connecticut start with one thing you want to change, set a modest goal and go for it.

Here are 27 ideas for practical and fun ideas:

  1. make a neighborhood walk with your spouse, kids, pet or friend a habit
  2. take 12 photographs a day
  3. reorganize a closet (just ONE!)
  4. practice a new language
  5. improve your vocabulary using my favorite site for high schoolers: free rice
  6. organize your DVDs
  7. re-read a favorite book or series
  8. paint a room
  9. touch up paint on baseboards, a scuffed wall or trim
  10. train your dog a new trick
  11. weed the lawn and garden
  12. do 1 minute sit up drills and try to improve your numbers
  13. collect and sort all the writing utensils in your house (last time I did this, no lie, over 20 black Sharpies)
  14. catalog all the food in your pantry
  15. scan 25 family photos every day – bonus points for throwing away overexposed, blurry and unrecognizable prints
  16. research and comparison shop for car insurance
  17. set up a laundry line and hang all your clothes to dry
  18. finish a puzzle
  19. play every game in your game closet
  20. sort through all your jewelry for forgotten pieces
  21. do all those small repair projects (caulk the tub, replace a fence board, repair a torn screen)
  22. sharpen your kitchen knives
  23. learn to change the oil in your car
  24. cancel 5 paper statements and sign up for email reminders (add reminders to your calendar)
  25. backup your computer data whether or not it’s organized the way you like it
  26. write down all the birthdays coming up in 2010 and 2-3 gift ideas for each
  27. turn in recycling and reduce your trash contributions

What else can you think of? I’ll add more to the list with your comments and let me know what you’re going to tackle in June!

Book Winner!

According to’s random number generator the winner is:


I’ll be sending you an email with details shortly! Congrats!

And if you know a college graduate who could use help figuring out finances or are interested in learning about it yourself, pick up Ramit’s book. I highly recommend it.


In case you were wondering, I numbered the comments on the post,  then the subscribers and let random pick a winner.

The Empty Kitchen Gets Organized

Thanks to Jana from the Empty Kitchen for this guest post on organization. I’ll be announcing the winner of the book giveaway a little later tonight but for now: organizing the kitchen.

We spend a great deal of time organizing our bedrooms, desks, closets, money and schedules to accommodate all we have to do. But how many of us actually take the time to organize our kitchens? I know that up until recently, I never really paid much attention to how my kitchen is organized. Considering I love to cook and bake, I was surprised at how little I cared about the organizational stylings of my kitchen. Sure my pantry is organized in a method that makes sense only to me and my freezer is arranged so that a hungry husband can see the contents easily but most everything else in my kitchen is an organizational disaster.

So I took a step back and evaluated what’s going on, not only in my kitchen but in almost every kitchen I have ever been in. I tried to see where people were succeeding and where people were failing.  Although my kitchen fails in numerous areas, I identified 3 common areas where we all could improve:

1.       Spices—this is my most epic organizational failure.  Really, it’s just a shelf in one cabinet and it’s a big jumbled mess. It takes me about 5 minutes to find what I’m looking for because somehow the spice that I want is always shoved in the back corner.  There is absolutely no method to how spices are tossed into the cabinet. If you suffer from this same problem, your organization could be improved by  purchasing a spice rack or installing a shelf large enough to accommodate all your spices.

2.       The non-silverware utensil drawer—this is also a big jumbled mess.  This is where large, sometimes-used utensils are kept. This is akin to the junk drawer of utensils. Serving forks? Throw ‘em in. Skewers? Add those, too. Meat thermometer? Sure and please make sure that the pointy side is always up so a stabbing can occur.  Not only is it a hodgepodge of utensils but they’re usually stuck together in a big tangled web.  To organize this, one of those handy in-drawer utensil organizers would be helpful or, if there’s enough space, separate them in different drawers by category: serving, barbeque and cooking.

3.       The crispers in the fridge—the crispers are both a blessing and a curse. While I’m glad that they exist to keep the fruit, vegetables, cheese and tortilla shells separate, it is really easy for cheese or a cucumber to get buried at the bottom and turn into something that is not really recognizable as food (and have you ever had to touch a liquefied cucumber? It’s disgusting).  To keep this organized, go through the crispers every week prior to grocery shopping and do a cleanse. Also, if you have lunch meat or cheese in a crisper, keeping a list of expiration dates is extremely beneficial.

There are some organizational tools that I do implement. I have a big jar on my counter next to the stove where I keep my spatulas, tongs and spoons. My silverware drawer has one of those organizer things (I love this). My pantry is organized in a manner that rivals Kelly’s. My cookbooks are stored with bookends on top of my fridge. And I have a basket on my pass-through ledge that holds pens, scissors, my camera and battery charger and my daughter’s reward stickers.

Being organized saves time and money, two things I really love to save. By knowing what’s in my pantry or my fridge, I won’t spend money on those items  and I also don’t run the risk of looking like a potential candidate for Hoarders. That money that I’ve saved can be used to by another item I need or want, or I can roll that money into the next week’s grocery budget.  By having my pantry, fridge and freezer organized it’s easy for me to find all the ingredients (spices not included) I need for a recipe and I can more efficiently use the precious 46 minutes I get each night to cook dinner (46 minutes is exactly the duration of 2 episodes of Dora the Explorer).  It makes the task of cooking that much more enjoyable.

Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive. You can look around your house and see if there’s anything that can be repurposed. You can hit the dollar store for simple plastic bins or drawer organizers. If money isn’t an issue but you’re unsure of how to start, Good Housekeeping has tons of articles on how to get started organizing your kitchen. This is one that I particularly enjoyed.

I’m busy. You’re busy. Kelly is really, really busy.  Busy is just a fact of life. And for most of us, so is eating.  Let’s try to save some time by having an organized kitchen!

Note from Kelly: Kelly is so busy she threw away a liquefied cucumber today from the bottom crisper drawer. It was, in fact, disgusting.