Life as a military wife and mother

Chest Freezer Organization May 23, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 10:54
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I love, love, LOVE my big chest freezer. That thing comes in so handy when I find a great deal and have to by a ton of something.

What I don’t like is wondering if that blue shade my fingers turn while I’m searching for something will go with my outfit that day! Holy cow, I feel like sometimes I need to climb in it just to find what I need down at the bottom!

So, how can you organize a chest freezer. Well I tried crates, they just crack in the cold temp. And they are a PAIN to lug out. I tried just stacking stuff in general areas. That lasts about three days. Then a few weeks ago I was shopping and bought a bunch of the same thing (veggies I think). So I brought home a reusable shopping bag full of them and really had to hit the potty (because who can shopping without grabbing a giant Diet Coke?). So, I tossed them bag and all into the freezer. I went back a little later to grab the bag and thought, “wait a minute! HOW PERFECT!” They were all contained and easy to grab out to look for something else. So I found a few more shopping bags and put all my chicken products in one, all my bread products in another, beef in another, etc. And voila! How easy (and CHEAP) is that?! I used different colored bags for each catagory… I mean you can get them for $1 or less at most places!

And that’s it. Now my freezer is pretty organized, I know what item is in what bag and just pull it out, shut the freezer while I get what I need out of the bag, and then toss it back in! So simple and no more blue fingers! And when the freezer needs defrosting I can grab the bags in a just a couple minutes, defrost the freezer very quickly with a fan, and throw the bags back in! If it’s easy and cheap I like it!


Who’s ready to purge?! May 9, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 11:06

Spring is FINALLY here… at least I think so…. er, I hope so….

What does spring make you think of? What are you itching to do every spring? For me it’s flinging open the windows and flinging out the STUFF that accumulates around my house!

BUT WAIT! This can sometimes create chaos as oppose to getting said chaos under control. Here is a step by step process to get you going.

1. Get a box and label it “Give Away”, then grab your trashcan complete with trash bag. Take them to the place you want to start with. Let’s say the kids closet

2. Set your timer for 15 minutes, DON’T CHEAT!

3. Start at the top shelf, and work your way down (Or start in a corner of a space and work clockwise.

4. When you pick up an item say to yourself “Do I love this item? Have I used this item in the last year (NOTE I did NOT say “Do I think I MIGHT USE THIS SOMEDAY”)?” If the answer to both is no, either throw it away or put in the give away box.

5. When you come across something that goes somewhere else, PUT IT THERE! Then go RIGHT BACK to the closet. Don’t get Sidetracked!

6. STOP after 15 minutes and do something else or take a break. Get some distance from the project, then go back.

Just keep repeating this process until it’s clean. Even if you only do it for 15 minutes a day, you will be shocked at how quickly it will be clean! And you won’t overwhelm yourself. Don’t let yourself get into the rut that if you can’t completely finish something the same day you start it that you shouldn’t even begin! That is how our house gets cluttered in the first place.

And, something to think about when purging items… it is SO tempting to hold on to things for sentimental things and I’m all for holding on to a few heirlooms or special papers. However, we CANNOT keep everything everyone gives us, or every piece of paper or project our kids bring home. By holding on to the non-so important things, we make the REALLY important things less important. Just because you get rid of something, doesn’t mean you are getting rid of that love or memory, it just means you don’t NEED STUFF to keep that love or memory because it’s that strong! So it’s really a blessing to that other person and shows just how much you care!

Now set your timer and JUMP IN! 🙂

If you use these steps show me some before and after pictures! I would love to post them!


Stay Tuned! April 22, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Extreme couponing,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 07:45

Good morning friends. I know I have been so lax about posting but that is going to change. I PROMISE! So, a couple of projects I’m going to post the next few weeks:

1. Organizing a chest freezer! Does it take you a very cold hour to find that ground turkey you need?

2. Organizing canned goods… whether you have a pantry, or like me deep cupboards in your kitchen, you need to know whats in there to be able to use it up!

3. And the big project? Finishing the painting in the kitchen!!!!!!!!! WHOO HOO! This is going to be a great one!  I’ll show you before and after if I can dig them up.

This is just a few of them… there will be more posts that this!

There are going to be TONS AND TONS of projects happening here in the next year. It’s going to be awesome! Just wait!

And if there is something you want me to blog about tell me! I love ideas! (And exclamation points!)


What is the first thing people see? March 30, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Organization — holdingdownthehome @ 11:04
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I am ashamed to say that lately, this is the first thing people see when they walk in my door. Funny how walking into a Pepto-Bismal pink room can make you nauseous! NOTE TO READERS** No, I did not paint a room this color. It came with the house and as we have been remodeling for the 5.5 years since we bought the place as we have the money to do so, this room is as yet not done. So, for now it is a mud room, play room, office, and storage room. It’s a BIG room! So, as my husband’s deployment begins I have millions of ideas for improving things around the house and was going a little nuts yesterday as to where to start first. So, I figure why not start at the front of the house and work my way around. I went through a few ideas yesterday and made a trip to Big Lots and the Dollar Store for a couple little things. Then got started this morning. Here’s how it went.

First I took EVERYTHING out of the area other than the cedar chest, and the dirt bike (Yes that’s a dirt bike for our three-year old… what? according to my husband all three-year-olds NEEDS one). I cleaned the window and the floor.

At the dollar store I grabbed a four pack of self adhesive hooks. I really wanted an area for us to put our every day jacket and my purse (which I can never find). So, we each get a place for ONE jacket a piece, including a munchkin situated hook, and a place for my purse.

What entrance is complete without a key hook? I grabbed this for $2.50 at Big Lots. Of course it was a little boring so I looked through my craft stuff and found some pretty-uppers to stick on it.

Then I grabbed this shoe rack out of the closet….

And for the finishing touches…

Put a basket on the chest for hats, gloves, or anything else, and a blanket on the chest for sitting and taking of your shoes. And of course, a picture of our favorite hero.

Voila! A new “mud room”. Total time: less than an hour. Total $ spent: $3.50.


Stockpiling Vs. Hoarding March 10, 2011

What is the difference between stockpiling and hoarding?

This is something that’s been on my mind since I started getting into couponing. Remember the A&E show “Hoarders”? As I look as some of the new shows like “Extreme Couponing” on TLC I can’t help but compare the two shows. Some of them are so similar it’s a bit worrisome!  Now this is going to be just MY OPINION but it is something I have seen and I have seen what it’s like to dig yourself out of it. I could even see myself going overboard with stockpiling.

Now we all know that high that comes with getting an amazing deal with coupons! Cutting your $50.00 shopping trip down to just a few dollars or even a few cents is awesome…. but did you buy the items because you needed, or will need them in the near future? Or did you buy them because you liked the feeling you got when you bought them? Here are some questions to ask yourself before you buy something… or even before you make out your shopping list:

1. Will we use the item before it’s expiration date?

2. Is this nutritionally beneficial to my family? — This is one of my favorite questions because many coupons are for boxed or pre-packaged foods that are not always very good for your health.

3. Will I use this item within the next couple years (if no exp. date).

4. Do I have ROOM to put these items without making my house into a stockpile garage?

5. Am I buying this because I NEED it or am I buying it because it’s a good deal. –And just so we are clear…. being a good deal is NOT enough reason to buy something!

Watch this video taken from the TLC show “Extreme Couponing”. In my opinion this goes beyond even extreme couponing. I consider this hoarding. This is absolutely over the top insane. If he were donating all these things, or running a store out of his house then maybe. But it is just sitting in his garage. CRAZY!

I have learned in a very short time to ask myself those few questions for a shopping trip. Let me give you an example. I have limited storage space so I have a cupboard designated to cereal. I can fit about 10-12 boxes in it… last week it was full, so even though there were other cereal deals… I passed them up. I also have about 12 tubes of toothpaste in my cupboard (I only pay tax for toothpaste never anymore than that) and even though this week I could have gotten free toothpaste at the local drugstore, I passed on it. I am also good on pasta, shampoo, and butter for a least 4-6 months… so I won’t be using any deals for these products even if they are free. I WON’T clutter my house and my life. There will be a good deal again when I need it. The only exception to this is if I get something to donate to charity.

Now couponing DOES provide you with a great opportunity to give to charity for just pennies! There are tons of couponers out there that give hundreds of pounds of food to charity every month! My favorite coupon lady, Melanie, from The Coupon Goddess is always showing us her trips to her local food bank. This is a great this to do and only adds a few minutes onto your couponing every month.

Remember, saving your family money does not need to come at the expense of your comfort at home. You can save just as much without buying EVERY good deal you come across… and in fact will probably save more.

If you feel that you have been hoarding and need help to stop the cycle please visit FLYLADY and ask a professional counselor for help. You CAN dig yourself out!


Love the stuffed animals? February 18, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization,Uncategorized — holdingdownthehome @ 06:59
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Well if you do, that’s great. Personally, I really get annoyed by stuffed animals. They are bulky and my dog seems to think they all belong to her. Where are you supposed to store them? In a box in the closet? Then why have them? One of those ugly hammocks in the corner of the room where they are forgotten about? What’s the point?

Well I’m here to give you an idea of how to have them out, but out of the way! Total cost? Couple dollars… if that! I went to the dollar store and snagged these colorful plastic clothespins:

Note the hole at the top of the clothespin

So I checked out my stash of ribbon and found this great red colored one with a muppet-like quality to it:

Make sure it has some substance to it, if it’s too thin it won’t work. Thread the ribbon (or rope, or twine, or string) through the opening of the clothespin and tie around it:

Do this about every six inches or so all the way down the length of string. Then find a place to hang it up. We chose a curtain rod, but you can use a hook on the back of a door, or one of those hooks that you put in the ceiling. Or if you really want them out of the way hang them from a closet rod. Then just clip on the stuff animals! And you’re done!

How easy was that?!








Cleaning With Vinegar February 14, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Laundry — holdingdownthehome @ 19:26
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If I was a poet, I would write an Ode to Vinegar. White vinegar is my best cleaning friend! And at $1.99 a gallon at Wal-mart, how can you go wrong? The uses for it are endless! I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.


One myth I will disspell when using vinegar… you will not smell like salad dressing!!! Though it’s odor is strong, it dissapates at a very quick rate! So unless you pour a gallon of it on something… the smell will disappear before you know it.

Keeping Drains Clean: 1/2 cup Baking Soda followed by 1 cup of white vinegar*

*If your drain is CLOGGED try this (it’s NEVER failed to work for me): Pour in 1 cup table salt, 1 cup baking soda, followed by a kettle full of boiling water. Let sit 1 hour and rinse with cold water.

Fabric Softener: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle in your washer (no it will not stink after they are dried!)

Soap scum, lime scale buildup, etc: Warm white vinegar, put in spray bottle and spray on areas to be cleaned. Leave 15 minutes then scrub and rinse. Repeat as necessary, but if you do this regularly you should really have to. For really STUBBORN  buildup, pour warm white vinegar on a towel and set on buildup for up to an hour. Scrub and rinse.

Bug repellent: Apply undiluted to exposed skin (not FACE). Works great! Use it on your pets too!

Burn Popcorn in the microwave? Put in a bowl with 1/2 cup of vinegar for 1 minute, then wipe out. Still smell like burnt popcorn in the house? Homemade air freshener: Mix 1 tsp of baking soda, with 1 tbsp of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Put in spray bottle, shake before using.

We all know what happens when your pet goes potty in one spot on your carpet… they think it’s ok to go there all the time! Mix up 25% vinegar to 75% water and spray spot, blot, repeat until odor is gone. Test this in a hidden spot first just to make sure it won’t discolor your carpet. (I’ve never had it discolor and we’ve had A LOT of pets!)

Clean vinyl (or laminate) flooring with 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon water. I keep this in a spray bottle too… much cheaper than a swiffer! You can also you this to clean the front of kitchen cupboards

Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to your dishwater to add more grease cutting power!

Stinky dishwasher? Run a cycle on the hottest, longest cycle (empty) that you can with 2 cups of vinegar thrown in there.

If you have hard water, it’s a good idea to run a quart of vinegar in your washing machine every month or so to keep drains clear of mineral deposits.

I also get mineral deposits on our teapot because of our hard water. I put in 1 cup white vinegar, fill with water and let sit over night. But Don’t Throw that vinegar out! Use it to clean the drain, or coffee pot, or shower head! (Then rinse the teapot well of course!)