Category: Tips & Tricks

Weekly Schedule Free Printable

The holidays can get a bit crazy, huh? We are winding down our year. We are looking ahead to the New Year. If you’re like me, you have a zillion sticky notes, lists, and phone reminders just to keep up. For years, I searched for the perfect weekly schedule to no avail. So I made one. I wanted a week at a glance and room for notes all on one page. I also wanted a no-nonsense, easy on the eyes, and easy on the printer ink version. Is that too much to ask for? I think not. If you too are in the never ending quest for the perfect DIY weekly schedule, try mine. It’s free! Consider it a little Christmas happy from me to you. You know, to stay sane. Or to at least look like we have it all together.

Click to download this Weekly Schedule Free Printable on Scribd.

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Battle Seasonal Germs With Essential Oils

It’s that time my friends. Cold and flu season is upon us. I absolutely despise sinus crud, winter colds, stomach bugs, and coughs of every sort. Germs are the enemy! This time of year I turn into commando general. No kidding: it’s a full on battle. I plan to win. My main weapon? dōTERRA Essential Oils.

Here is my strategy against germ warfare. I’m proactive. I use OnGuard liberally. I diffuse it in the air, clean with it, drink it in a tea, and use it in place of hand sanitizer. Forget that it smells sooooooo good, this little product packs a punch. It’s ingredients include wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary.  Historical uses of the oils in this blend include antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and anticatarrhal. This is my main antiseptic/anti-infectious weapon.

If one of my little soldiers (it’s war, people, get with it-war I tell you) succumbs to one of those nasty little evil cold/flu buggers, I have weapons for that as well. My go to bullet to stop icky germs in their tracks is a honey and essential oil tea. It is super quick and easy to prepare.

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Warm 6-8 ounces of water in a glass container

Add 1-3 teaspoons of honey (to taste, really)

Add two drops of each: OnGuard Blend and Lemon Oil.

Stir with a stainless steel of glass straw and enjoy. I always drink from the straw as the clove oil in the OnGuard can numb your lips. Since essential oils can draw out toxins, I never ever use them in plastic cups and straws.

Please visit http://mydoterra.com/cathykimball to learn more and purchase these battle weapons for your family’s germ warfare. (Some browsers may get an error message. No worries: click refresh.)

Please note, I have to include this disclaimer to appease the lawyers: the FDA has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. I am sharing my personal experience with using essential oils. My statements should not be used to replace your doctor’s medical advise. Please consult your healthcare practitioner for any concerns. I am not a doctor. I am not an army general either. You didn’t really think I was, did you? I’m a mom keeping her family heathy with alternative methods.

Help for Setting and Achieving Your Goals

I have spent November and December in quiet time, prayer, and planning.  I wanted to greet the New Year with enthusiasm and a plan.  You see, ever since MOMCon 2014 (Mothers of Preschoolers Convention- totally awesome, by the way) I have been contemplating this year’s “Brave” theme and what it means for me and God’s call upon my life.  Never before have I spent so much time and effort into setting goals. Oh I make plans, alright, and lists – tons of lists. (My Mom thinks I’m a little overboard in the organizing department. I may or may not have had my suitcase packed two full weeks before my last trip back home, outfits rolled together with undies and jewelry all together. That’s not weird. You do that too, right?) But goals? Actual write them out all official-like goals? Nope. Never. I wasn’t even sure where to start.

Several resources have helped me in that department. Each one has profoundly changed the way I think about goal setting and why I should even bother. I want to share these resources with you. Each one has been for a specific area of my life.  All together, they were beyond what I’d call a good value for the little money I spent. THEY WERE FABULOUS, I’m telling you. Fabulous!

I downloaded the books A Million Little Ways, Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman and Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen.  I attended workshops that each of these ladies led at MOMCon. Oh my they were fantastic! It’s no exaggeration to say that the Restless book radically changed my mindset. If you have ever pondered your purpose beyond wife and mother, these books are for you. (While I am not an affiliate for either one of these titles, I do have them in my Amazon store for your convenience.)

I also downloaded a few workbooks to help me get it all sorted out. The first one is Your Retreat, A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day by Erin Odom. Erin blogs at The Humbled Homemaker. She’s the perfect combo of crunchy yet practical – I like that. In this downloadable PDF, she covers why it is so important to set aside time to plan and set goals. She guides you through several areas such as homemaking, meal planning, personal growth, spiritual growth, and finances. She also touches on our roles as wife and as parent. This was the perfect starting point for me.  It was easy to read and to implement.

About the same time, Tina at Savvy Homeschool Moms recommended a free ebook by Leonie Dawson called A Cowgirl’s Guide to Riding Wild Donkeys. Crazy, I know. (I loved it. You know I would. Come on…wild donkeys? Yes, please.) That book led me to her workbooks, Create Your Shining Year, 2015 Life & Biz Editions. Now, before skipping off to her site I have to warn you: the girl has got a mouth like a sailor. Somehow, though, she’s endearing on so many other levels that I sort of overlook it. (And read emails from her with one eye closed. Really. Lovely girl but whoa..that mouth.) She’s a totally groovy, hippy dippy sort of chick. I think she’s the Australian version of Dharma & Greg. (Kinda miss that show. I may have been her in my previous single, yoga teaching, life. Dharma with the clean mouth. Just so you’re clear on that one.) These two fun and artsy workbooks narrowed down the focus a bit more. They cover specific goal planning for what you want to accomplish but also the kind of life you want to have. Clever, huh?

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Those three workbooks impressed me so much that I partnered with the authors as an affiliate (As an affiliate, I earn a tiny bit of moolah for each book that is purchased though clicking on their links from my site) to help them reach a greater audience. The workbooks are THAT good. I can see myself re-using them for years to come. They are available as printable PDFs so I can do that. Score! Green, even.

You know what’s even better? This week only Erin’s Your Retreat, A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day is available for only 99cents !

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I’m curious, do you set goals? What’s your process? Do you have a plan or just wing it? Connect, let’s chat about it.

 

Three Simple Ways to Get Organized and Stay Organized

I love organizing. Let me re-phrase that: I love the benefits of being organized.  When things are organized I know where they are.  My house looks tidy.  I save time. I save money. What’s the biggest benefit?  I stay sane!  It drives me nuts when things are scattered all over the place, when I can’t remember appointments, or getting to the grocery store and not knowing whether or not we need to buy milk.

My brain just doesn’t function well in chaos.  
Here are the top three ways that I keep things running smoothly:
          1.  I write it all down. If you write it down and keep it in one place you don’t have to remember it or go looking for it.  I use a combination of a home management journal, smart phone, iPad, and a weekly calendar posted on the refrigerator.  My home management journal is for things that I use less frequently. It’s for my contact list, emergency info, master to-do list of some day items/projects, monthly meal plan ideas, and chore lists. My iPhone and iPad hold my everyday information such as appointments, phone numbers, Bible reading plans, e-books, etc… seriously, I’m going to have do do a whole other post on this one. Going digital keeps the info you need with you at all times. I utilize this pretty weekly planner on the refrigerator so the rest of the family knows what’s going on and what’s for supper. 
          2.  I keep it all together.  For this I use my mobile office.  It holds all my stuff and looks great too. I can grab it and go.
The idea came from A Bowl Full of Lemons. My mobile office holds my laptop and iPad.  My files include our monthly budget and bill paying info, homeschool lesson planning, devotional materials, goal/projects list, holiday planning, craft info and blog journal. The outside pockets hold my power charging cords and office supplies. My “office” lately is my Big Cozy-Comfy Chair. What could be better?

I keep all our financial papers together in one huge binder. I three-hole punch everything.

This binder has been especially helpful. It’s organized into sections such as bills due, bills paid each month, insurance EOB’s (great for matching the medical charges with the actual benefits paid), bank statements, info needed for filing tax returns, etc.  At the end of the year, the contents go in the tax box with our receipts then to the attic for storage.

          3.  I plan ahead. Utilizing a monthly meal plan helps save time and money. I always know what we are having and I have dramatically reduced the number of trips to the grocery store. In the past, I listed 30 meals and the ingredients needed for each meal on this meal planner. Then I plugged it in on a monthly calendar that I posted on the fridge.  I also typed our favorite recipes and had them in a cute little binder on the counter.  NOW, that I have my iPad (and we all know how I love my iPad), I use a menu planning app called Paprika.  It’s awesome! I can use all my own recipes or search for new ideas and save them all in one spot. It will even print out a grocery list for my planned meals.

I also lesson plan in advance for our homeschool. I save so much time in the long run by getting things together before I need them. I utilize work boxes to keep things handy and broken down into days. I put the day’s assignments and any craft materials inside the box. They stack nice and neat for presentable appearance and easy access. 
Staying organized keeps life simple for me. It gives me more time for the FUN things. How do you manage the chaos? I’d love to hear some of your sanity-saving tips.

Super Easy Life Hacks For A Great New Year

I have two great posts coming for you in 2012 about ways to organize and simplify your life.  Until then, I thought you may enjoy the Top Ten List from this past year. Happy New Year!

From Practical Faith for Everyday Life, Posted December 30, 2010

Many people this time of year reflect upon the past year and look ahead with new goals, resolutions, or at the very least: wishes for improvement.  I have a confession. I don’t really make New Year resolutions.  Not that I’m perfect, I just get bogged down in the details…and the guilt when I don’t fulfill them.  Why set my self up for failure? (All though I have heard that writing them down and breaking them up into attainable steps works. Hey, wait- I already do some of that with housekeeping.  Keep reading. You’ll see.)  Sometimes I just take the easy way out.

Here are some of my “easy way out” strategies.  Some of them require just a tiny bit of effort on the front end.  Over time, they really save me BIG in time, effort, and money.  Some keep me healthy. Heck, some of them even make me look better!
  1. Post a grocery list on the refrigerator.  Not on the counter.  Not in your head.  Put it ON the fridge. Whether you use a dry erase board, a pre-printed list, or a plain ol’ piece of paper (that’s what I do), you can quickly post grocery items as you run out.  Train the kiddos and hubby to do it too. This really does help eliminate forgotten items and trips back to the store. Now, if you really want to save yourself in the long run, take the time to organize your pantry.  Don’t go all Martha Stewart, just put all the cans of tomato soup together. (No offense, Martha, its just that most of us don’t have have a staff to help and tons of money to spend on closet hardware.)  Group like items together.  At one quick glance you can see what you have and what you need to add to the grocery list.
  2. Speaking of your pantry, as you run out of items replace them with the healthier, less processed version when you’re at the store. One by one you’re feeding your family more nutritious meals. You’re not throwing food out either-wasting money.  It’s not so overwhelming this way.  Small steps can make good habits last longer.
  3. Keep a small notepad in your purse.  I use the notepad on my iPhone.  Train yourself to jot everything down.  This way you can keep track of errands you need to run, gifts you need to purchase, items you need to add to the grocery list, etc.  Not everybody is a list maker, I know, but it does eliminate that feeling of, “I know there was one more thing but I just can’t remember.”  This way you can save room in your brain for the really important stuff!
  4. If you have trouble finding time to spend with God, break it up into smaller, do-able chunks during the day.  See my post on How I Abide In Him for easy ideas.
  5. Trying to get your house in order (especially after Christmas guests, and kids home on school holiday) can seem impossible.  Focus on smaller tasks.  Spend just 10-15 minutes once or twice a day on the trouble spots and you’ll be organized in no time.  This is how I keep my housekeeping chores from getting away.
  6. If you’re having a hard time exercising, this one is for you!  At least three times a week, put on some great music, set the timer for 15 minutes, grab the kids and dance your buns off.  March, run, jump, dance- whatever- just go all out for 15 minutes.  Increase your time as your endurance builds.  What’s better than having fun with the kids and getting a good cardio workout too?
  7. Lay out your clothes (and the kids’) the night before.  You’ll be amazed at the time this saves in the morning. No more “what to wear?”  No more wasting precious time trying on things. No more fights with the kids.  I layout my clothes on Sunday night for the week ahead. No kidding, I do! Use an over-the-door hook or just put those outfits together in the first space of your closet rod.  
  8. Even if you’re a stay at home mom, you need to have at least one “go-to” outfit ready. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just something that says “I’m fabulous.” You’ll feel fabulous too running errands in something other than sweats. Jeans and a trendy top (those tattoo t-shirts hide stains) paired with cute low-heels and big earrings are a must. Don’t spend much. You can pull together a great, yet inexpensive outfit at most discount or dollar stores if you take the time to look. I’m serious about the big (preferably hoop) earrings.  My theory is that they draw attention away from the dark circles under my eyes. 
  9. Keep those dry trouble spots smooth with a stick moisturizer. (I’ve been using one made by Palmer’s but Santa left Heel-Tastic in my stocking. I like it too.)  You can find one in the health & beauty section EVERYWHERE.  Keep it by your bedside or by your toothbrush if you have trouble remembering (like me) to use it. I swipe my heels, knees and elbows in the morning and the evening.  It’s a five second spa treatment with no greasy hands!
  10. Just like the go-to outfit, I have a quick go-to makeup routine for the days I want to look put together but just don’t have the time.  Tinted moisturizer + Lip Crayon + Mascara = Instant (but super quick) GLAM.  Use a mocha or mauve lip crayon in the crease of your eyelids and blend with your fingertips.  With the residue from your fingertips, swipe along your cheek bones. If you use a waterproof mascara, you can use the crayon underneath your lower lashes for a soft liner affect.  Of course, don’t forget your lips! With only three products and your fingers you can be gorgeous in less than three minutes. Really- three minutes! 
These tips are so simple yet can revolutionize your day to day routine. I’d love to hear some of your short cuts and ideas!  Let me know if you try mine and how it goes. Why should getting organized, living healthy and looking great be expensive or hard?


Super Easy Life Hacks For A Great New Year ~ 2012 Edition

Need to simplify? Organize? Are you overwhelmed? Hate resolutions? Me too! Here are some ways that I create order out of chaos:

  1. Messy house? No time for a “deep clean?” Spend just five minutes morning or evening (both- if you’re ambitious) picking up the clutter.  Keeping the common areas free of clutter goes a long way in making your home appear clean and presentable.  Nobody really cares about the dust bunnies behind the TV anyway.
  2. Write EVERYTHING down –  on a post-it note, on your smart phone, or on a refrigerator memo board. Keep all your notes in a central location.  This way you don’t have to rely on your memory on days when you’re brain is overloaded. 
  3. Turn the TV off and turn the uplifting music on.  Even if you’re not paying attention to it, what you hear filters in to your heart and mind.  Brighten your spirit and you brighten your day.
  4. Drink LOTS and LOTS of water.  Water is an inexpensive way to detox and beautify your body.  Adequate hydration eliminates waste, lessens allergies, stimulates proper body weight, and moisturizes your hair and skin. Talk about multi-tasking!
  5. Learn to SAY “NO” with confidence and without feeling guilty. Know your limits and enforce your boundaries to keep sane.  You don’t have to do EVERYthing. Give yourself permission to prioritize according to your family’s needs.

To see last year’s tips, click here. I wish you a very, very Happy New Year.  May God bless you with peace, health, and prosperity.

A Proverbs Wife $$$ Tips & Links

I am super excited to have a guest interview today!  Saidah writes at AProverbsWife.com, where she shares her journey in modeling herself after Proverbs 31:10-31. She writes about how scripture molds her into being a better Christian, wife, and mother. You’re sure to be inspired by reading her blog. She also shares some really great coupons and bargains there. You can also find her chatting it up with her readers Facebook and Twitter.

How did you get started clipping coupons and participating in online surveys?

I began using coupons and taking surveys in 2008 as a means to stretch my husband’s income. Our budget was extremely tight and I decide to help my husband by being a better steward over our grocery budget. He was totally against me working outside of the home so, instead of trying to make money I decided to start helping us save money. Shortly after learning to use coupons I began investigating ways to make money from home. One of the ways that intrigued me was giving my opinion for compensation. I didn’t know if anyone could really make money taking surveys, but once I signed up for my first survey company, I was convinced that it was something I could do. I’d spend a little time each week taking surveys and then cash out at the end of each month.

How much time do you spend per week on the above? If you could put a dollar amount per hour that you spend, what would you estimate earning potential to be?

I don’t spend as much time taking surveys anymore because I have other streams of income that require my attention, but when I began I’d spend about 2-3 hours a week taking surveys. In this time I would earn anywhere from $150 – $200 a month. It’s not a whole lot, but it allowed me to help put the “budge” back into our budget. Now I make less. In February I made $50 taking surveys.

How do you balance your online activity with your other homemaking responsibilities?

My computer is on a great deal of the day from October – January, simply because there are so many amazing deals and I want my readers to be able to shop for Christmas a frugally as possible. I am a firm believer that with a little bit of planning Christmas gift can be paid for without breaking the budget. I know from experience that it can even be funded for FREE. The remaining months of the year, I pray a lot and talk with my husband about my schedule.

I never feel like I’m balancing well but I do have a schedule. I am a master schedule writer and chief life organizer (in my mind. However, I understand that no amount of scheduling will ever be perfect unless God creates it. This is why I pray regularly for direction and guidance about the way that I use my time, how I interact with my family and about my blog.



How do you find all those amazing deals?

I find many deals right in my inbox. I am partnered with some great affiliate companies and brands who send deals and offers to my inbox daily. I also have amazing blog friends and readers who forward deals to me as well. You’d be surprised to know that I find amazing coupons codes and FREE sample offers in magazines or while watching television. As a blogger who posts deals so often, I don’t look at everything the way most people do. I’m always looking for a deal. For instance, while watching a television ad, I heard about a new chicken sandwich variety, but at the end of the commercial I also heard, “Come on in and get a FREE sample”. When I find offline deals I usually make a note to confirm them and post the offer on my blog.

What advice would you give to newbies? 

To new bloggers I would say make the choice earlier on who you will worship. Blogging can be a popularity contest filled with many “in-crowds”. It can also be a field that can put you in a position to be idolized. This being the case, I advise choosing early on to honor God in everything you do. If you decide to monetize your blog never put money before your readers and if you do, be swift to apologize for any lapse in judgment.

What’s the most challenging part of your typical week?

The most challenging is balancing it all.

I love time with God.
I love time with my family.
I love homeschooling.
I love blogging.
I love homemaking.

These areas of my life threaten to overtake one another on a daily basis. That’s the most challenging part of my week. Keeping everything in it’s proper proportion.

What’s the most exciting part of your typical week?

It’s different every week. One week it could be learning that a company has decided to partner with me on a project. Another week it could be a surprise date night with my husband or a special quiet moment with the Lord. It varies and I’m easily excitable.

What excited me this week was my daughter scoring a 90% on her spelling test for the second straight week. This is huge because she is a delayed reader due to dyslexia. That’s what excited me this week.


What role does frugality play in your faith walk?

My family uses every opportunity to save so that we can give more away. We endeavor to be debt FREE because we know that God can’t use our finances as long as we are in debt. Our family goal is to live simply and pay off our mortgage so that we can be available for God’s use in the international missionary field.


What do you do for “down time” entertainment/ relaxation?
The ultimate downtime is reading the Bible and listening to Christian music. It is the one activity that leaves me rejuvenated and inspired. Other things I enjoy are spending time with my family and gardening. While I’m not that great in the garden, I just like being outdoors close to Gods creation. It humbles me to watch the growth cycle of the earth. Once you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to deny the sovereignty and existence of God.


Website: AProverbsWife offers inspiration, frugal tips and great conversation for living life as today’s Proverbs 31 wives & women!

On Twitter: @proverbswife

Visit her frugal community on Facebook

Spring-time Super Savings

Saving money is high priority around here these days. I’m always looking for ways to make less do more.

NOLA2009-4 by agbayliss, on Pix-O-Sphere
photo from Amy Bayliss at pixosphere.com

I’m excited about some new ideas that I’ll be sharing with you soon.  In the mean time…here are a few links to some of my first posts on ways to save. What will you be doing with your savings?

Frugality is Godly
Ways to Stretch That Dollar! Part 1
Ways to Stretch That Dollar! Part 2
Ways to Stretch That Dollar! Part 3
Coupon Rescue