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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    anything it s been freeing exciting and a true adventure from Meghan A year after I graduated from college I was working at a job I hated so I quit and moved to China to teach English and International Politics at a university I didn t speak a word of Chinese and had never been there before but it was awesome anyway It totally changed my life Naomi and her husband decided to move to India Why not she said She writes about her adventures at Delhi Bound There were even more stories like this in the 212 comments for the post If You Could Live Anywhere And I also have to mention the Hendrick family who recently moved to Haiti and how they chose to leave their nice home even though it was hard You know what words come up the most often freeing liberating exhilarating I think I m going to go get rid of some more of my stuff 38 Comments My 7 Per Month Mobile Phone Plan My mobile phone isn t smart and I have to triple tap but it would have blown my mind in junior high My first cell phone was a Christmas gift when I was in college in 1997 I could hardly use it because the network was still in progress in my college town How did I spend the first twenty years of my life without something that seems so essential now We live in an awesome age I am going to be one of those old women who tell their grandchildren about life before cell phones and personal computers The internet is a miracle I still call the DVD player a VCR I just can t keep up with it all Anyway when I got that first cell phone I signed up for a monthly plan and I stayed with it for the next ten years I canceled my home phone and felt modern with just my mobile phone In July 2007 our family decided to do our first No Spend Month Since we weren t spending time shopping I had time to look carefully at our regular monthly bills I noticed I wasn t talking on the phone that much but I was spending 40 a month for it I decided to switch to a prepaid pay as you go plan from T Mobile the kind where you buy minutes in advance and refill them when you need to Three years later I m glad I did I ve been spending an average of 7 64 a month for my phone minutes compared to 40 before Over three years that saved me 1 165 Additional bonus No contract This works for me because I m not really a phone person I use it occasionally We also have a home phone now because where we live a home phone with internet service costs us less than internet alone Doug asked me if I wanted to upgrade my phone so

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/71/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    other items that may be sensitive to humidity or extreme temperatures such as leather or some art supplies it would be a smart choice In the southeast where humidity reigns mildew can be an issue as can the salt air in coastal areas 3 Store as much as you can on shelves around the outside of the unit Leave yourself as large a space in the middle as you can That way you will be ready if you have to store additional items unexpectedly More importantly though if you have a bit of extra space in the middle or in a corner if you prefer you can if need be use it as additional working living or hobby space occasionally But don t use your space for sleeping even if you are tempted a nap may seem harmless to you but self storage facilities are not zoned for that 4 Put whatever you can into storage Having less stuff around really does reduce your stress and when your possessions are in storage they stay organized Things kept at home tend to get pulled out and disorganized on a fairly regular basis When you do add to your unit be sure to take the little bit of time to put it in its place Though dropping a box off from time to time seems harmless they add up quick and your storage unit will end up as cluttered and confused as your closets may once have been Try to keep an inventory of what you have put into your storage unit as well Some people like to keep their self storage inventory in a three ring binder at home with tabs for each area or for each family member Whenever they take another load to the unit they take a moment to log its contents in the storage inventory Other people prefer to use an online program so they can reach their storage unit inventory from any location Also watch out for odd shaped items the enemy of organization If you are storing many items with a standard shape and two or three of rather odd shapes pull the odd shaped ones out and put them in their own spot Even libraries store oversized books in their own special location 5 Use storage as a way to transition to a simpler lifestyle If you would like to have fewer belongings but can t decide what to get rid of one way to find out what you can live without is to put almost everything in storage this time at an out of the way location NOT on your usual route Then observe what items you find yourself going out of your way to pull back out Everything else is stuff that you probably don t really need Guest writer Art Decker a manager with Self Storage Co leads a stressful life traveling from one self storage site to another Consequently he has developed an interest in organization reducing stress and balancing

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/72/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    greenhouse but this pretty cake stand is doing the trick When it s wet and rainy the lid protects the seeds and holds moisture When it s sunny I can take off the lid and let the seedlings soak up the sun I have basil tomato and luffa seedlings growing in paper tubes After just a few days many of them have shoots Maybe I like that it combines two of my favorite things gardening and dessert My first attempt was to use an egg carton but the sections were small and the dirt kept drying out I wouldn t recommend it It was on the windowsill and I kept forgetting to water it I even lost one of the seed pods I have no idea where it went Not that we need more plants Our balcony is small and it s already pretty full It s starting to look tropical I love it this way One of the garden regulars is this little baby dove He was just an egg in my flower box a few weeks ago The other one has flown away but this little guy is staying for the free food Saturday we went to my favorite nursery in Dallas North Haven Gardens It was raining but we still walked around for over an hour I am now the happy owner of a lime tree The new leaves smell like limes Next to the mint it smells like a fruit salad out there I m hoping to have lots of fresh key limes this year Looking forward to key lime pie sorbet and I would love to sample the key lime meltaway cookies from Smitten Kitchen What do you make with limes Any garden plans this year 25 Comments A Single Bag of Trash Photo by

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/130/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    that was exactly what I wanted I wanted it to be simple so it would fit in a variety of kitchens I thought a vertical rack on the side of the cabinet would efficiently use that empty space I also didn t want to spend more than 40 Doug made one for me The two sides are oak from the cabinetry section of the hardware store The rails are aluminum also from the hardware store cut into three shorter pieces I like how the aluminum and natural oak look together The aluminum is a C shape so the oak fits right in and the pot hooks can hang from the edge Nice work Doug The tricky part was cutting and bending the aluminum to attach the top and middle rails Brackets on the top will be used to hang the pot rack Total Materials Cost 34 Materials 2 oak 1 x2 24 cabinetry pieces for the sides 2 each 2 aluminum 3 4 C channels 10 gauge 48 long for the rails 8 each 2 metal brackets to mount 1 each screws 1 S hooks to hang pots 12 Tools drill hacksaw for cutting aluminum deep pliers for bending aluminum level Total Assembly Time 1 hour 2 hours with a little helper Thanks Doug 29 Comments FAQ How to Cut the Food Budget and Keep the Food Writing about No Spend Month I ve received lots of questions about how we keep our food expenses so low during that month since the 250 budget plan includes not just food but also gas entertainment and personal expenses Let s talk about some of the strategies for that and the questions I receive the most often Don t you want to buy healthy food Absolutely I ll be 8 months pregnant in July so I m not going to deprive myself of good food I haven t eaten Ramen noodles since college and I don t plan to do it again We have to eat healthy food Doug is on a wheat dairy and corn free diet and Lane can t have wheat or dairy either The diet restrictions mean no high fructose corn syrup no cheap fillers no chemicals and no MSG It s just not an option Most of our food is prepared at home using whole foods and since I m not an amazing cook we keep it simple Seriously there s a reason this blog is about simplifying and organizing and not cooking If you only knew how many times I ve set toast on fire Fortunately I can fix delicious salads and smoothies that take full advantage of the fresh produce available and on sale during the summer Do you stock up on food ahead of time No I feel like buying a lot in advance would defeat the purpose I also don t have the space to store excess food I m lucky this apartment has a cabinet in the kitchen for food storage but it

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/129/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    the late afternoon I felt even tempered and happy I had given up caffeine before and I had tried to drink more water before and I sort of tried to consume less sugar but this was the first time I consistently did all three at the same time For me that was the secret 1 I completely stopped drinking caffeine Though some people favor a gradual step down I always prefer to make big changes cold turkey 2 I started drinking lots of water I have a big jug I fill up twice a day and I add sprigs of mint and a scant teaspoon of sugar to 32 ounces of water It makes a refreshing minty water that I drink much faster than plain water 3 I avoided extra sugar After giving up so many foods the cups of tea became my main source of sugar I avoid herbal tea now Though I don t have a problem with herbal tea I found myself adding heaping spoonfuls of sugar to each cup If I slowly drink a cup of herbal tea I won t be as hydrated as when I drink a jug of water When I had previously given up coffee tea and soda I was always conscious of how I was going without something that I wanted It was really hard and it only lasted as long as my willpower This time is different I feel good and I don t feel like I m going without I finally found good health that other people alluded to but which had seemed impossible or impossibly hard All the times before that I had heard other people say to consume less caffeine and more water hadn t motivated me to make a change but feeling this good motivates me to keep it this way I knew I had broken free from my addiction when I didn t want to drink any tea or soda because it didn t feel worth messing up how good I felt I want to be a drink water evangelist I didn t know it was possible to feel this way on a daily basis I get to be a happy mom and I really feel like it I don t have to fake it for my family I can still go out for coffee I just buy a bottle of water instead I also don t need to use under eye concealer as much anymore because the dark circles under my eyes have faded and gone away Thank you sweet guy Have you struggled with a caffeine addiction or tried to go without it Let s talk about it in the comments 156 Comments Undoing the Mess Sometimes I wonder if an apartment is easier to keep clean than a house What do you think I used to believe it was true but that was when I lived by myself worked full time and was away from home all day Now I think an

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/73/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    put nuts in your nose and the advice that it s simply no use to rush a three year old So I hope to laugh about it and know that these days won t last long Detective Snow White is annoyed that Tom doesn t want to go on a secret mission with her and we need to go to the grocery store which is an adventure in itself So here we go Have you felt like this too 55 Comments If You Could Live Anywhere A couple of days ago Doug called me at home and said he read that with about 30 000 of income a year our family could move to Belize and live on the beach Where was Belize It took me a split second to decide that I could quickly sell our furniture and move I don t know why I was suddenly willing to do that Maybe it s all these years of apartment living Or maybe it s how I am SO OVER my stuff It was obvious what my priorities were by my first two questions 1 What kinds of food would we eat 2 Do they have internet Doug said that yes they do have internet so if we move to Belize I can keep blogging but I ll be doing it with my toes in the white sand I ve never chosen a city and just moved there Every move has been job related I don t think we ll really move to Belize but I love the idea that we could go anywhere What do you think Does the idea of making a home in a foreign destination sound crazy Or awesome We d include travel funds to visit family in our budget Where do you think would be

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/74/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    My Thoughts on Sunscreen Part 2 Practical advice from Keeper of the Home Simple Mom has a week long series on cloth diapering providing all the answers for the types brands and methods for anyone who s been confused about so many different options and how to s Life as Mom has a frugal way to make chicken dinners go twice as far So smart Life From the Roof gives thoughtful inspiration to help us clean out our stuff and Let It Go That s one of my goals this weekend and this post makes it easier Enjoy your weekend friends 10 Comments The Secret to Great Iced Coffee You don t have to be a barista behind the counter surrounded by stainless steel equipment and rows of glass syrup bottles to make a great iced coffee In fact iced coffee is better when made at home if you know the right method The secret to an iced coffee that has delicious flavor without the bitter taste or over sweetness is to make it the night before using the cold brew method Instead of making the traditional pot of hot coffee and then chilling it you soak the coffee grounds overnight in cold water It makes a tremendous difference in flavor it s smoother and easier to drink so you don t need to add extra sugar to cover up any acidic taste Once you make iced coffee at home and realize how easy it is and how much better it tastes the idea of spending cash at a coffee shop each morning seems disappointing This iced coffee recipe makes two glasses for less than fifty cents and that s with the good coffee It s super easy to make in the French press but you could also use a glass jar and sieve The night before start with 1 4 cup of coarse ground coffee and add 1 cup of cold filtered water Let it overnight The next morning add 1 more cup of fresh cold water Strain and pour into a chilled glass over ice makes two glasses I add a generous amount of milk and a spoonful or two of raw sugar You could even make a simple syrup with a little vanilla If you like extra milk add less water Freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays for next time After you ve tried this recipe the next time you order an iced coffee from the coffee shop you ll think I can make this better at home Try it you ll see Small Notebook is full of practical ideas to simplify your life and home Want to read more helpful tips like this one Subscribe Join thousands of other subscribers and start simplifying your home It s free 57 Comments Hopelessly Devoted to You Broccoli Every now and then I find a recipe that sounds really good I save it but it s a rare day when I try something new Except this time because

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/128/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    it easier to extend more grace because people and relationships become the focus instead of daily chores And it makes it OK to not be perfect 40 Comments Prioritizing Goals and Letting Some Go Does anyone else have difficulty with setting priorities Keeping up with my 1 year old son and part time job are about all I can manage so when there is a surprise free 15 or 30 minutes I don t know what to do with myself Should I catch up on cleaning gardening financial management Should I plan meals de clutter In getting rid of clutter where should I start my clothes baby clothes office supplies But maybe this would be time to read a book Or call a friend Or organize photos Or go for a walk Does anyone else feel pulled in a million directions How do you manage Beth commenting on the post Finishing Things What do you do when there is more to do than you ever have time for It s easy to be reminded of all the things that would be good to do It s also easy to feel worn out or overwhelmed When it comes to prioritizing we need to remember that goals are relative We don t all have the same free time or energy or support systems My life is busy now but I m not pulled in quite the same way that I was when Lane was one I had to adjust my goals and expectations to fit what I could manage We left the house a lot that year because that was the only way I could maintain it and keep things from getting worse Pictures tell the story better so let s get down and dirty The year Lane was one she liked to get things out Including my makeup It was easy to see where she d been I had my own share of messes This stuff was on my hope chest for I don t know months Sometimes we had sugar cereal for a home cooked meal Here s a good one I fell asleep on my bed at 7 20 p m beside a pile of laundry What s significant about this photo is it was my anniversary The year Lane was one I didn t do a lot of paperwork or organize my photos or plan meals I was just glad when I could sit quietly in my chair and read for a few minutes I wanted to be productive but at that stage in my life the results of my productivity looked very different from what someone else s might look like I didn t have it together and although that would have been nice it wasn t the goal When I found these photos I happened to come across this one What kept me focused on my true priorities instead of all the things I wasn t doing is written on that page in that notebook And

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/127/ (2016-02-10)
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