How to organize your fridge to keep your food fresher longer. (And cut your energy bill.)

Tip: Your fridge isn’t just a closet for food – it’s a high tech device that helps you store all of your favorite snacks, condiments, and meal fixins in optimal conditions. Not only do refrigerators have different compartments that serve different purposes, they also have different temperature zones. This means that if your storing things in the wrong place, your not taking advantage of the modern miracle of refrigeration. And that leads to loss of food, loss of money, and less desire to cook at home. (Who wants to face down a crisper drawer of wilted greens? Talk about a bummer)

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Chill out!

Food needs to be maintained at cold temperatures to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microbes that make food spoil – and can make people sick. Refrigerators should be kept at 40F or lower and freezers should be set at 0 f. But even when the refrigerator is sufficiently cold, the temperature will vary in different parts of the fridge, depending on how close they are to the cooling element. Master the art of the refrigerator, and your food will last longer.

Your game plan:

Freezer

Lets start with the obvious stuff: Freezers are for storing frozen things (duh!) You’r ice goes in the freezer, as do frozen fruits, veggies, meat, stock and other items. You can also store a surprising number of other foods in the freezer for latter use, such as tortillas, pasta sauce, and even eggs. (note: you can freeze bread for up three months, but don’t store it in the fridge or it will dry out) The trick with freezers is to pack foods tightly in their containers, and keep things well organized, since this optimizes storage space and also saves energy. (And moolah on the energy bill) Rather then using glass jars, which can break, freeze food in stackable plastic storage containers or in plastic freezer bags laid flat.

Doors

Doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for foods that are most resistant to spoiling. Keep condiments, juices and other foods that can stand up to temperature fluctuations here. (and remember, that even condiments have a shelf life). Since fridge doors can get warm (particularly when they’re opened often), eggs and dairy shouldn’t go here, even if you guzzle milk straight from the carton all the live long day. (although, if that’s how you roll, you have bigger bacteria to worry about)

Upper shelves

The upper shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temps, while lower shelves are coldest. One pro strategy from restaurant kitchens is to place foods that don’t need to be cooked near the top of the fridge. This includes left overs, drinks, and ready to eat foods, like tortilla hummus and deli meat. Herbs can be kept fresh by placing them upright in a vase or jar with a plastic bag. You’ll want to keep berries up here for easy access. See crisper section for more berry info.

Lower shelves

The lower shelves are your best bet for raw meat, eggs, seafood, and other dairy to be stored at the coldest temps. To prevent raw meats bacteria from spreading to other areas, assign a particular section of the fridge as your meat locker. Keep meat in its original packaging, and place it on a plate or in an improvised bin that is cleaned regularly.

Overall: Don’t over crowd your shelves too much. Unlike the freezer, the fridge shouldn’t be totally packed. Cold air needs to flow here, and if it can’t you’ll get inconsistent temps with pockets of heat and warmth. (Luke warm yogurt anyone?) Leaving a little wiggle room between your left overs will also help keep your energy bill down.

Crisper drawers

The purpose of crisper drawers is to maintain moist conditions that help preserve fruits and veggies. But don’t make the mistake of jumbling all your produce together in a fruit and veggie free for all. Many fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes, produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them to ripen. Unfortunately the ethylene produced can also promote ripening in other plants, causing veggies to yellow and go limp or even sprout. So keep veggies in one drawer and fruits in the other.

Fruits and veggies should be washed before eating, but too much moisture can cause foods to flip from ripe to rotten before you can get your antioxidents on. The goal is to was fruits and veggies when its convenient, but not so far in advance that they are likely to spoil before you eat them. When washing fruit, remove extra moisture by draining in a colander, blotting with a paper towel, or using a salad spinner. Berries are particularly fragile so handle with care. Once washed, put greens and herbs in a plastic bag or container with a square of paper towel to soak up extra moisture. Out the containers back in the crisper for longer term storage, or on the top shelf where you more likely to see them.

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On top of the fridge.

If you’ve been using the top of your fridge like a food attic, stacking bottles or merlot or loaves of bread up there, stop! Even if you kitchen is tiny and that spaces feels super convenient, its not a smart idea. To regulate cold temps inside, the fridge’s condenser coil pumps warm air out, and heat rises around the appliances cabinet. Results: It gets pretty warm up top. Heat is krytonite to wine. And it will make bread mold faster. The best use of this space? Store appliances or supplies like paper towels or a stack of cook books.

To fridge or not to fridge…

One of the tougher questions is figuring out if something goes in the fridge in the first place. Certain foods don’t belong in the fridge. Tomatoes will turn mealy and odorless in the fridge – keep the comfy at room temp. Onions, squash, and potaotes do best in a cooler environment with low moisture, so store them in a dark cupboard or other place outside the fridge. Avacado’s and many fruits are just fine being left on the counter to ripen, but can also go in the fridge to slow the process down if needed. Herbs can be kept in the fridge in a vase or the counter top. If they’ll be used in a few days.

Then there’s the gray zone: Foods that can be refrigerated to maintain maximum freshness and quality but don’t have to be refrigerated, if you use them quickly. For example, nuts, nut flours, nut butters, are just fine to store in the cupboard, but refrigeration will help maintain the natural oils. So refrigerate if your house is warm or you wont be using with in a few weeks.

Like wise whole grain flours and oils such as canola, safflowers and olive oil will last longer if stored in the fridge away from warm temps. Bottom line: if these products are laying around your home for a long time. Putting them in the center or upper shelves of your fridge (or freezer) will help prevent off flavors that can develop over time.

How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

If your going to host Thanksgiving this year, you may be concerned that this will be an expensive experience. This can leave you too stressed to enjoy the Holiday for what it really is. A lovely time to get together with your family and appreciate your blessings.

Would you be surprised to hear that it is entirely possible to host an amazing, delicious Thanksgiving dinner, even when your on a budget? These tips can help you have a wonderful celebration and save money.

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How to host Thanksgiving on a budget.

Pot luck time.

I’ll be honest. I am not always a potluck fan. When I invite people over for dinner, I want them to be able to just show up and relax. I don’t want them stressing over having to bring something.

But, if you are normally the Holiday hero, taking care of every item on the menu, you might consider taking a step back. A big Holiday meal might just be a time to set aside any pot luck missgivings you might have. After all, its a great way to ensure that everything is taken care of without having to break the bank or over doing it in the kitchen. The good news is, everyone will get something they love.

Make a list.

Write out a budget and a menu and stick to it. This is a great way to ensure that you stay on track with your spending and you don’t go overboard with the menu. If you create your lists far enough in advance you can even make sure that you pick up certain non-perishable or freezable items on sale, saving even more.

Cook from scratch

When you buy pre-packaged items, you are usually going to pay more for lower quality products. Instead of those instant mashed potatoes or boxed stuffing make it all by hand using ingredients you most likely have in your pantry.

Give high priority to must haves.

Its entirely unnecessary to have 20 different side dishes at Thanksgiving. Pick a few you fell you must have and forget the rest. There is no need to go overboard and it will save you money and food waste. And, if you are serving less you will be more like;y to opt for the “from scratch” option, saving you even more money.

Consider varying your main dish from the traditional. Isn’t it really the experience of gathering the family around the table to break bread together that really matters? If you can’t afford the spiral sliced ham you usually serve, opt for something less expensive this year.

Use decor you already have.

Going overboard on decor and table settings can quickly destroy your budget. Instead of heading out to buy trendy new items each year, use what you have on hand. In fact, there’s something special about bring out the familiar year after year.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match too! This may include versatile plates and serving dishes, plain napkins and glasses. By not going for a matchy match look, you can use a variety of items and add some extra color and texture to your table setting.

When creating a center piece, you can easily use what you find outdoors. Freshly fallen leaves, decorative squash and pine cones can go a long way to making your Thanksgiving table beautiful. You could even task the kids with going outside to gather up the items for this.

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to break the bank to be fun and delicious. One year, my daughter and I were unable to cope with a big feast. So we opted for a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. We had a mish mash of simple foods and treats we enjoy and and it while watching movies. It was one of out favorite holidays ever. If you just keep your eye on whats important and simplify as needed you might even create a new tradition.

7 things to do in November to save your sanity in December.

Ok, Halloween is behind us, now, as much as I don’t want to skip over November and rush though Thanksgiving – it’s actually my favorite Holiday – every year I try to use this month to accomplish as many Christmas tasks as I can, so that by the time December arrives I’m in pretty good shape. Here’s how I use November to relax in December.

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Take a Christmas picture.

Actually I get a jump start on Christmas cards a whole year before by shopping for cards on major clearance after Christmas. Then I pack them away so I don’t have to pay top dollar for them in November. Our family has made it a tradition to take a family photo on Thanksgiving. I then order 40-50 prints from Mixbook’s Holiday Card Collection There are plenty of creative options from cards to decorative boarders on your pictures. Then all that’s left is to address the envelopes.

Shop for gifts every Friday.

We have to budget for Christmas. I pay bills every Friday, so each week I allow $50 to buying Christmas gifts I’ve saved to my Amazon wish list through out the year. Since we are member of Amazon Prime I never have to pay shipping and can have a box of gifts delivered each week.

Check wrapping supplies.

I take 5 minutes to check my wrapping supplies in November, then pick up a roll or two of paper, shirt boxes, and tissue paper at the Dollar Tree.

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Start baking

Baking may not be your thing, but its a tradition in our family to make tons of different kinds of cookies each year. Not only do we have a cookie tray on the counter through out the whole season, we use them as gifts for the neighbors and the kids teacher and bus drivers. So each week starting in mid October I make 1 kind of cookie and freeze them. If they need decorating I sometimes save that step for the kids and I to do together when it gets closer to Christmas. I also double my pie crust recipe so I have an extra shell if I need to bring a dessert or something.

Make and freeze side dishes.

I always end up hosting at least 2 Christmas dinners at my home. I’m responsible for providing the main course. I try to make sure enough sides are made by those I ask. But I feel that if I have guests in my home, they shouldn’t have to worry about making something to bring. So I just double the ingredients at Thanksgiving and freeze. So then all I have to do come Christmas, is thaw and bake.

Shop for Christmas dinner.

Sometimes we host Christmas dinner. If is our turn, I make a list of what I making and shop for the ingredients a little bit each week on my regular trips to the grocery store. That way I’m not stuck with a huge grocery bill at the worst time of the year to spend more money.

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Plan Christmas activities.

Finally, I take a look at our December calendar and plan out when our other Christmas activities will happen. We always get our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, so that already there. Sometimes we go see a Christmas movie, some times we celebrate with friends with a white elephant party. I get it all on the calendar in November to save my sanity in December.

What are your tips and tricks for making use of the count down to Christmas?

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Here’s how to set a beautiful Thanksgiving table on a budget.

Its one thing to do the Thanksgiving menu on a budget, its another thing to set a beautiful table. Can you host 10 people for dinner and set a gorgeous seasonal table while on a budget? Certainly! And you don’t even have to be particularly crafty.

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Dishes and glassware: find beauty in the mismatched.

You don’t need a full cupboard of dishes to host 10 for dinner. There are other ways to set the table beautifully.

First strategy? Borrow. Ask guests and friends if you can borrow dishes. Keep everything in one palette. (white is always classic) for a blended, yet beautiful look.

Second strategy? Thrift store. Hit up your local thrift store. You can get a haul of plates for just a few dollars, and they will go together beautifully.

The same applies to silverware and glassware.Dollar Tree is the place to look for an even more inexpensive idea.

Greenery: Go outside (and go glam)

You can find inexpensive greenery at the Dollar Tree (We’ll come back to that), but for an even less expensive option, go outside and stroll through your neighborhood, gathering leaves and branches with fall foliage for your table. Candles are a great option and can be quite inexpensive. But you may want to visit Jewelry Candle Co – JEWELSCENT | Hidden jewel valued $15-$7500 in our jewelry scents for a way to decorate and bring out the scent of fall!

Skip the table cloth.

Table clothes are expensive. Skip them altogether and do a runner of brown paper. You can purchase this at Dollar Tree. Or lay a bright, pretty scarf down the center of the table for some color.

To capture all the memories from Thanksgiving… Don’t forget to visit Mixbook’s Homepage Where there are endless options to capture these memories for years to come.

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Things you can do now to get ready for Thanksgiving!

Thanks giving is coming up fast. But there are a few things you can do now that you can check off your list. That way, when its crunch time…you’ve already done it!

This is so important, especially when your hosting larger gatherings.

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Clean your china

Do you have seasonal or formal dinner ware that you use for this occasion? What about glass are? If you are like me, they have been sitting in storage all year and its time to wash the dust off of them.

Clean and iron the linens.

What linens are you going to use? A table cloth? Place mats? Napkins? Are they clean? Did you iron them? This is a huge time saving step you can do right now.

Polish the silver.

If you have silver or silver plated cutlery, they may require polishing. Take them out of the cabinet and decide if they need to be polished.

Decide your meal plan.

Have you decided what exact recipes your going to make? If you make the same thing every year and use the same recipes, great! We always try a new dish or two to see what is a hit or not.

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Make what you can ahead of time- and freeze it.

Now that you meal planned, is there some thing you can make ahead of time and freeze? Like maybe your pie dough. We make a soup sometimes that can be made ahead.

Early grocery shopping.

Are there things you can get at the grocery store now to prepare? For instance pie crust? Cranberry perhaps or pumpkin puree in a can? Don’t for get the coffee! Buy 100% Pure Kona Coffee

Below is a list of 25 things you can buy ahead of time.

  • potatoes
  • marshmallows
  • pie crust
  • turkey
  • ham
  • cream cheese
  • frozen veggie
  • butter
  • whipped cream
  • canned olives
  • canned pumpkin
  • seasoning/spices
  • soup
  • canned veggies
  • gravy seasoning packets
  • canned pie filling
  • canned cranberry
  • canned fruit
  • sugar
  • chocolate chips
  • cake mix
  • flour
  • crackers
  • chicken broth
  • stuffing mix
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Slammin sweet potato pie.

ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 lg eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 9 in pie crust

Preparation

  • pre heat over to 350 f
  • boil sweet potatoes in their skins 45-50 min
  • run under cold water, then peel skins
  • Blend potatoes in a blender for about 1 min. To make sure all fibers are broken. Place in a bowel, with butter and mix well. Add sugar, milk, eggs and cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg. Beat on med speed until smooth
  • Pour into pie crust and bake for 50-60 min. Let cool before cutting.

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10 tips for controlling clutter in kids bedrooms.

Kids bedrooms, Is there anything more scary to think about when it comes to keeping things clean, organized and clutter free then kids bedrooms? Maybe, but they certainly can be a clutter collector.

When all together, there are 5 kids in this family. 4 of which have to share a bedroom. I have become an expert in this area. I have mastered some techniques when it comes to making kids bedrooms liveable and manageable for our kids. At the same time, these techniques keep my boyfriend and I happy too. Since expecting perfection isn’t realistic.

You may want to watch for my upcoming post “how to encourage kids to be tidy.

In everything I have learned, I think there are 10 key ingredients in controlling the clutter in kids bedroom, and here they are.

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1 Limit the opportunity for clutter to collect.

This means keeping the amount of “stuff” they have in their rooms to a reasonable and manageable amount. This amount is completely personal and also depends on the size of the bedroom. You also have to take into account the availability of space in the other areas of the house for their things. It also depends on how many children are in the bedroom, and so much more. I cannot stress enough the importance of being reasonable in what is kept in your kids bedrooms and is not.

2 Train your children to be involved in controlling the clutter in their room from the time they can walk.

Kids who are only one can learn to put their pajamas on the bed for instance. Giving them age appropriate tasks from the earliest age is vital. Then, continue to train them while also holding them to age appropriate standard.

3 Declutter/cleaning needs to happen at least 2 times a day.

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I have discovered that kids are easily overwhelmed when it comes to keeping their own space clutter free. For this reason, keeping clutter under control is essential. This is also true for us, but teaching this basic concept to our kids early is setting them up for success in this area.

4 To keep kids bedrooms clutter free, you must have the proper tools.

As I have said in reference to other areas reguarding the things we need our family members to be a part of, we have to make is painfully easy for them to do so. Make sure there is ample storage available for clutter prone things. I find multi – purpose things are especially clever. The Dollar Tree has many options available.

5 Label where you want things to go.

Labels make it easy for anyone and everyone to put things where they belong. With out a label you husband may not know where the kids books or toys belong. This means that it will be very difficult for him to help. Labels also avoid kids being able to argue, “I don’t know where that belongs” as an excuse for being lazy. When labels are being used properly, it saves time since you will not have to continually go in and reorganize everything.

6 Be specific in organizing and labeling things down into smaller groups of like items.

When you have a bin labeled “trucks” ideally you wont be finding trucks put in a different area. If your bin is labeled toys, everyone will have a harder time finding things they are looking for. General labels will also make it more difficult to return things to the correct spot. Having a drawer labeled winter tights will be more organized then just having a place for tights and socks for instance. The Dollar Tree has many types of stickers that can be used as labels.

7 Don’t shy away from implementing “stuff rotation”.

Whether it’s clothes, books, toys, or something entirely different, proactively making sure there isn’t too much to get cluttered in the first place is key. One easy way to avoid this is to rotate the things in kids bedrooms every couple of months. Having less is often a welcome sign in many kids eyes.

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8 Involve your kids.

Allowing your kids to be involved in how their room works ensures that they will be more willing to help you keep their space clutter free. Give them a space they enjoy being and that they can take pride in.

9 Avoid being an emotional collector.

Don’t hang on to things for emotional or sentimental reasons. We all have things that are important to us. But limiting the amount of things we keep for the sake of keeping them is needed. Doing this is important for you. It is also important that your kids have a good role model in this area. There are numerous things you can do to preserve the memory while letting the item go.

10 Only allow approved items to come into your kids bedroom.

Kids bedrooms should not be a dumping grounds for things that belong else where any more then our master bedroom in the first place. As I have mentioned before when deciding on what to allow your child to have, keep in mind that everything they have must be stored.

Always being mindful of this has kept me from allowing certain things into my home just from a storage stand point. This was something I came to learn the hard way.

Clutter can so easily collect in kids bedrooms. But doing these 10 things has greatly helped limit the clutter issues we have in our kids bedrooms. They will help you as well.

Fall clean up – 5 Spaces to organize every fall.

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Its time for round 2 in the fall clean up. Round 1 was the list of 10 spots to purge every fall. Today digs deeper into organizing 5 areas as we start to prepare for cooler weather and busier schedules.

Fall kitchen organization

The decluttering step last week should have cleared out everything that was expired. So, now its time to organize what is left. I’d recommend thinking about the three things that make you crazy when you are trying to cook or put away clean dishes and focus your time on those. Here’s a few ideas from our kitchen.

I don’t bake often through out the year, but various baking supplies were spread through out the pantry. When I organized the pantry, I grouped them all together in a dollar store plastic bin. Before using the bin, I spray painted it to match the rest of the pantry accents. Now, when ever I’m in desperate need of home made chocolate chip cookies, I can pull the whole bin out to the kitchen.

Can organizer/storage bins Using bins to corral similar items also works inside the fridge. The hour I spent organizing the fridge like this two years ago was so worth it. It finally started to get out of control again this summer, so I’ll be getting it back into shape this week as part of my personal fall clean up.

The plastic ware is another great cabinet to tackle before the season of holiday left overs begin. I don’t know what took me so long to figure out how to store them, but I get a little excited every time I open the cabinet and see them under control.

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Fall coat closet/mudroom organization

If you’ve got kids in school, now is the time to figure out a landing zone for back packs, shoes, coats ect. Having a routine place to drop things and help control clutter.

You can fake a mudroom really inexpensively using a cube organizer on its side by the front door, with a bin for each family member. Above the bins, add coat hooks for back packs and your all set.

If you’ve really got limited space like we do in our garage entry, I’ve been really happy with the slim hooks we installed for coats. The hooks flip up flush when not being used, and hold a surprising amount of weight. Its great in the middle of winter when we load them down. It was a great way to utilize the space behind the door.

Organizing kids rooms

I mentioned that fall is a great time to de clutter kids rooms of toys and out grown clothing last week. But then what do you do with everything that is left? Bins and baskets are a huge help!

I will have more tips on this in a upcoming post “De cluttering and organizing a child’s room.”

Organizing the guest bedroom

Is anyone else guilty of letting the guest bed turn into a landing pad for the most random crap?

I kid you not, there was still Christmas junk on ours in June! Thank goodness we had some family come and stay with us so I had to clean it up.

Don’t wait until right before Thanksgiving or Christmas to organize your guest space. No one needs more things to do around the holidays.

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Office/homework/craft space organization.

The last place I think fall is the perfect time to organize is where ever you keep craft/and or office supplies. Even though I’m not currently in school (thank goodness) I get a bit excited about school supplies and office organization every fall. If you’ve been following along you know I got a jump start on this one and have my paper clutter and office organization under control. You can find this article under my organization tab on the home page.

There is a reason I think we should work on the organization of these areas every fall.

Our lives and habits evolve, which I believe is why some people think organization doesn’t work. They do it once and expect it to last forever.

Tweaking the system once a year lets you evaluate whats working and what needs to be updated. Having a designated season to work on key areas of your house will help you stay on top of everything year round. And that makes the time spent so worth it for me.

What do you think? Did I hit or miss the most important areas for fall organizing?

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Fall clean-up: 10 things to purge every fall.

Adding a fall clean – up routine to your year is a great way to get the house ready for the holidays with less stress.

Spring cleaning gets all the attention, but I don’t know anyone that has time to de clutter, organize, and deep clean their entire house each spring. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are easy things we could all work on in the fall to split the work load into something manageable.

In another post, we’ll talk about some things to organize in the fall, but today we’ll start out with some quick wins.

You don’t have to worry about making any of these areas perfect. Just grab a trash bag and donation box and try to get rid of as much as you can from each of the 10 spots. If your feeling like an over achiever, tackle the 2 bonus points.

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Fall kitchen decluttering

Spices and seasonings- Take all the spices, seasonings, and condiments out of the cabinet and give the shelves a quick cleaning. Before putting everything back, check all the expiration dates. I’m not hard core about throwing spices out on the marked date, but they lose potency after time, so its probably time to replace the pumpkin pie spice from 7 years ago.

Have a piece of paper handy to keep track of what needs to be replaced. You’ll be all set for holiday baking.

Freezer- Sometimes our freezer becomes a black hole where things go in and never come out. The fall is the perfect time to get it cleared out and ready for winter.

Bonus: If you have a little extra time, purge the pantry/food cabinet as well.

Fall closet de cluttering

Sandals and summer shoes- Be honest about what shoes were really worn this summer. Now is the time to donate or sell the others. The most effective way to tackle this is to remove ALL the shoes from the closet and then put back the ones that you wear. That also gives you a chance to wipe down the shelves or shoe organizer.

Swim wear- Fall is also a great time to purge the swim wear. I seem to add swimsuits and other cover ups, but never get rid of any. Why should I keep the extras around for another winter?

Bonus: Peek at the family’s winter coats and donate any that have been out grown or are no longer needed now before winter hits. Some one will be so great full you did this one.

Fall garage de cluttering

Toys- Any big toys the kids have out grown should be cleared out in the fall, before the holidays. Its the perfect time to donate them, and you don’t need to store them all winter if the kids will never use them again.

Garden tools and products- Clean – up, repair, and purge your garden supplies so they will be ready for you in the spring. Nothing kills my spring planting motivation faster than being ready to plant and finding everything a mess from the prior year.

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Fall living room de clutter

Magazines and books- Do a quick sweep and lighten the clutter by purging out dated magazines. Look for books you know you’ll never read again and pass them along to a new home. We both have books on our Christmas list every year. So fall is a great time to free up some space for them.

Throw blankets- At one point, I thought you could never have too many blankets around the living room. Then I kept adding new ones through purchases and gifts, and passed the saturation point. I didn’t realize how many there really were because we throw them in every corner. I was able to donate some, the rest we put in a basket so I can keep them under control.

Fall bedroom de clutter

Timer challenge- I feel like everyone gathers different kinds of clutter in the bed room, but that doesn’t mean we can’t address it. Set the timer on your cell phone or microwave for 15 minutes and try to find as many things as you can that can be removed.

Depending on the state of your bedroom, start with the floor, the flat surfaces (dresser top) or inside drawers. Our bedroom looks great on the surface, but I’ll be tackling my night stand drawers, you wouldn’t believe the mess hiding inside.

Fall bathroom declutter

Product purge- Chances are you you’ve got some beauty products that are never touched lurking in the bathroom. I’m definately guilty of trying out products, not liking them, but not wanting to get rid of them because the bottle is 3/4 full and I spent money on it. That is just crazy though! Keeping them around to clutter up the bathroom isn’t doing any good. Get rid of that old make up too.

Not too bad, right? It shouldn’t take too long to tackle all the spaces on the list, and I bet you and your home will both feel a bit lighter when you are done. For our house, I’m especially excited about the items that feel like I’m getting a head start on the holidays, like the spices.

How to host a freakishly frugal Halloween party.

I’ve thrown a lot of parties in my day. But have only been able to host a few Halloween parties. And so far, the last one was really epic. So if you are thinking about doing an epic party, here is my step by step plan.

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Step 1 THEME

First you have to decide what type of Halloween party you want to have. Do you want to go gory-slasher flick style? Or do you want to do a vampire theme? Mad scientist? I decided to do a more generic haunted house theme. I love to create a creep spooky atmosphere.

Step 2 DECORATIONS

You could throw up a few fake spider webs, but to throw an epic party, you have to commit to the decor. Once you’ve decided your theme, you can figure out which direction to take your decor. I put those fake spider webs all over the place. You really have to stretch them to get them to look realistic. And then I threw up some fake spiders. I covered my furniture in sheets so the house looked abandoned. I decorated with lots of creepy decorations like skulls, ravens, and some old country pictures which look eerie with all the other decor.

I made the entry way extra creepy, since its the first impression of the house. The front porch has lots of pumpkins and hay bales along with some creepy signs I picked up at the Dollar Tree! Once you enter the house you’ll see tons of spider web and tattered fabric draped around.

There were other little touches here and there. You can use old antique looking pictures and frames. I searched images until I found one I liked and printed it out. Or if you have some of your own tucked away…

Step 3 LIGHTING

Lighting is literally one of the most important parts of the spooky factor. We turned off all the over head lights. You can get strings of colored lights at the Dollar Tree. Candles, tea lights and lanterns all add to the feel.

Step 4 SPECIAL EFFECTS

You could do some sort of dry ice or fog. Or you could project some images to make it look like there are ghosts in the house.

Step 5 TABLE SCAPE

And this is actually my favorite part. I set up my table with bowls and plates of treats. So everyone can help themselves. Just put out a cheap black table cloth then add some creepy touches like candles, pictures, skulls, what ever you have.

Step 6 FOOD

Food is a simple way to add decor and its fun. You can always find Halloween colored candy and even gummy worms will work. Green colored frosting, red colored drinks and the list goes on. Its so fun!

Step 7 DRINKS

You can serve your drinks in champagne glasses. This adds to the creepy factor. Place a bucket with dry ice to make the foggy effect. Or set out bottles of soda with creepy labels in place of the original labels.

Step 8 GAMES

With an epic party you just cant hope everyone will be satisfied with decorations and special effects. Plan some activities! You can make a bean bag toss out of a card board box. Use strings of lights to light it up. Use which hats for a ring toss game. A fun team game to play is the “mummy wrap” Using crepe paper, the first person to use up all the paper wins.

So you see, with these 8 tips, and epic party is very easy. And you can do it all on a budget! Just look around your home for what you cant find at the Dollar tree or local thrift store.

Fall bucket list ideas.

Every list is going to be different, but here are some ideas to add to your bucket list.

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Fall is my favorite season. Here in Wisconsin, the weather is perfect, the foliage is beautiful, and there are a ton of fall activities to do with the family. Our family is really big on doing activities together, but with so many ideas , its sometimes hard to keep them all straight, and make sure they all actually happen. Creating a fall bucket list has been the perfect solution to ensuring we intentionally plan out the fall season and maximize our time together as a family. Prior to creating out bucket list we would frequently say “one day we should do ___” but they never seem to happen. Either we forget about them, or simply run out of free time to schedule them. That’s why having a personalized fall bucket list is a must have.

Why do you need a fall bucket list?

  • Do you sit around wondering how you can fill your days?
  • Are your weekends filled with various birthday parties and get together’s, and you never have time to fit in your own family fun?
  • Do you look back on prior months and wish you did certain things that you never got a chance to do?
  • Do you always intend to catch up with certain friends (or schedule play dates) but never come around to doing it?
  • Do you have a list of books you want to read, movies you want to see, or concerts you want to attend?
  • Do you wonder what to do with the kids on a rainy day?
  • Do you look back on the fall and wonder where it went, but don’t have anything to show for it?
  • Do you want to maximize your fall and have the most fun ever?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you need a fall bucket list.

A fall bucket list is a simple resource that encourages you to brain storm all the fun activities that you want to plan. Having a fall bucket list encourages you to think about the life that you want to live and is the first step to putting it into action. By putting together a fall bucket list you are forced to think about all the things you want to do, people you want to see, places you want to go, and put them out into the universe to happen.

Putting together a family fall bucket list gives everyone in the family a chance to choose adventures and contribute to your family’s precious memories.

How do I put together a fall bucket list?

Typically, you put together a fall bucket list in the beginning of fall. But there isn’t any reason you can’t start mid fall! All you need is a paper and pen.

To start, brainstorming all of the fun activities and adventures you want to go on. I like to categorize my bucket lists into the following categories.

  • Outdoor
  • indoor
  • night time
  • places to go
  • play date’s to schedule
  • people to visit
  • things to make
  • things to learn
  • book/movies/concerts

I like to do this together as a family. That way everyone gets a say and can contribute to planning the fun.

Putting your fall bucket list into action.

Once you have your personalized fall bucket list, you have to put it into action. Writing it all down is a good first step, but planning it out is even better. Grab a calendar to start scheduling out when you want to do the various activities on your list.

I prefer to schedule out the big activities in advance but leave some room for spontaneity (you cant predict the weather, so it would be hard to schedule all the out door and indoor activities in advance with out knowing the weather.)

What to put on your family fall bucket list.

Every list is going to be different, but here are some ideas that we have on our bucket list.

Outdoor fall activities

  • Apple picking
  • bobbing for apples
  • decorate your porch
  • do a corn maze
  • farmers market
  • fishing
  • go to a foot ball game
  • grave yard tour
  • have a fall scavenger hunt
  • Halloween trick or treating
  • haunted house
  • hiking
  • jump in a corn pit
  • jump in leaves
  • mini golf
  • park/picnic at the park
  • play catch/foot ball
  • take a hay ride
  • take family pictures
  • visit a brewery/winery

Indoor fall activities

  • bake pumpkin pie/bread
  • bowling
  • bounce house
  • build a blanket fort
  • can your veggies and fruit from the summer
  • carve a pumpkin
  • cook a new recipe
  • create a care box for our troops
  • create a memory box or time capsule
  • eat/drink pumpkin spice everything
  • make an apple pie
  • make candy apples
  • make pumpkin seeds to eat.

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  • play board games
  • rock climbing
  • trampoline park
  • visit your local library
  • write a letter to a friend

Night time fall activities

  • campfire smores
  • drive in movie
  • game night
  • have a sleep over
  • make fondue
  • star gazing
  • make your own pizza

Things to make in the fall

  • build a scare crow
  • create a fall wreath
  • create a halloween costume
  • create a summer photo book
  • leaf painting
  • make a pumpkin volcano
  • make a thankful tree
  • make homemade ice cream
  • make a no sew blanket

Other ideas for your fall bucket list.

  • books to read
  • concerts you want to attend
  • movies you want to watch
  • people to visit
  • places to go
  • play dates to schedule
  • things you want to learn about.