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.