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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    clean slate It was glorious And my dining table looked like this Here s a view of it from the side just so you can see how deep it goes Obviously to be continued the Results Back Room Makeover The Before The Strategy The Clean out The Results 54 Comments The No Spend Month Annually for the last three years our family has embarked on a No Spend Month challenge It s been good for us So much so that this year when I asked Doug if we wanted to do it again neither of us were sure Well if we do No Spend Month again what would be the point What do we want to be different about our spending I asked I like our spending the way it is I do too So with that we decided not to do a No Spend Month this year We ve reached that happy balance of needs versus wants of being mindful with our money and knowing that if we had to we could make do without an income for a long time But what if people hoped I would write about it again this year Truthfully No Spend Month was never supposed to be a blogging stunt It began long before this blog was created one night late in June 2007 when I noticed I was spending my free time looking at Craigslist for vintage furniture that never would have fit into my small apartment in the first place I found myself using shopping as entertainment and I didn t want to be like that To break the habit I decided to completely cut off spending for the next month And just like that July became our No Spend Month If I had known at the time that hundreds of thousands of people would read about No Spend Month here at Small Notebook that I would talk about it on television and the radio well I probably would have given it a name that was more literally and grammatically correct One guy was disappointed we were spending a little and not living in a van and foraging for food How We Do It When we have a No Spend Month we limit ourselves to the basics of all discretionary spending Even the groceries are limited because of how easy it is to satisfy our wants with food Potatoes Fine Chips No I took our grocery budget at the time which was about 300 a month reduced it by 100 because of the food I had in the pantry and decided that for the entire month of July 200 would cover all our discretionary spending groceries gas clothing household eating out entertainment and coffee The next year we increased the budget to 250 Of course what was not included was our rent and bills business expenses health care tithes and gifts We weren t willing to suffer a health problem for a challenge and we didn t face any big catastrophes

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/79/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    processes Do any of these thought habits apply to you to make things more complicated Perfectionism When you look at something as if it s under a microscope instead of through a wide angle camera lens You might notice a little bit of dust in the corner instead of seeing what would make the most impact to clean up a room Idealism You make plans assuming everything will go the best possible way You usually expect to do too much due to an unrealistic sense of time and energy For example It only takes me 12 minutes to get to work assuming all the traffic lights are green and I run to the building Thoroughness You have an overwhelming desire not to let something go before you ve seen it completed You might have the bulk of it ready but you ll tweak and fiddle with it Do you watch the entire movie even if it s lame because once you ve started it you have to finish it Sometimes it s best to move on Control When life is a series of regular interruptions and redirections every five minutes hello small kids it s hard to give up your original plans and change course You might try to add the new work plus keep your original plan too just so you can have some say in the matter and not feel like your day was lost The task list keeps getting longer Over planning Planning is a good thing but too much leads to procrastinating That s why I think getting organized might be a big fat waste of time Efficiency You know the most logical way to do something You know the right order and if you do it in batches it saves time But we often don t get those big blocks of time do we Sometimes you have to sacrifice efficiency for effectiveness They re not the same What do you think 51 Comments How to Make Things Harder and Do Nothing Have you ever noticed how easy it is to come up with a reason to do nothing I m a project person and I can organize the simplest task into a big project that is much harder than it should be For example I can t put the kids clean laundry away because their dresser is getting full and I was planning to sort through their clothes If I make chicken stock then I can have soup for dinner But since that soup requires egg yolks I should make those cookies that use the egg whites Before I put the groceries away I really should reorganize the pantry so it won t be messy I can t wash the white clothes because there is a washcloth with a stain that I was going to pretreat first and I haven t done that yet I can t dust because this time I was planning to dust the ceiling fan and I ll have to get

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/80/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    t very good he says and I answer I know that s why we still have them We ve been finishing the canned and boxed food that we were never going to eat as long as better choices were available Random ingredients for recipes we don t make anymore New foods we tried but didn t care for It s pantry clutter Pantry clutter can happen to anyone It s when you look at a shelf full of food and think There s nothing to eat Most people underestimate just how much food they re storing Most people would prefer to eat something fresh from the fridge rather than something canned from the pantry I ve become much better at making dinner from the assortment of remainders What do you make with rice frozen broccoli from the bottom of the freezer and two lonely chicken tenders Stiry fry of course You can add anything to rice in a skillet and call it stir fry Update No no you can t and last night s dinner disaster proves it I ll be at the grocery store this morning I m paying special attention to what we still have in our pantry so I can know what not to buy next time This week I started restocking some of the pantry foods that we will actually use I bought a litre of olive oil flour baking powder tea and coffee I also bought some of our favorite foods to enjoy on the weekend to keep our spirits up while we ate the foods we didn t want to Some of our meals and snacks this week banana muffins broccoli salad beans and rice stir fry eggs and salsa This month has been easier in a way than past No Spend Challenges Maybe we re more practiced at it but I believe the main reason is that I m more home centric than I was before It s easier not to spend money when you keep busy at home We re also grateful that a few months ago when we decided to move we chose an apartment surrounded by fountains and parks instead of the glamorous one that was surrounded by restaurants and stores This one suits us better For those who are cutting back your spending this month how is it going Any new insights or habits Any surprises 37 Comments Ideas to Buy Fewer Drinks and Drink More Water Photo by D 32 on Flickr Sometimes when I m shopping at the grocery store it catches me by surprise that drinks take up so much room in my cart Compared to food I mean Usually all the food fits into two bags The drinks however are big and awkward After I get them in the car they re heavy to carry from the car to the stairs and long walk to the apartment We all like them so they re consumed quickly Then we have to recycle the containers If I

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/122/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    half gallon canning jar which produces enough for three 16 oz bottles Day 1 Boil a quart of filtered water Add 4 tea bags and let steep for 20 minutes Stir in ¾ cup of sugar and let cool Pour tea into a half gallon glass canning jar and then fill the jar with cool filtered water Add the SCOBY and ½ cup of kombucha from the last batch as a starter You can use store bought kombucha the first time Cover jar with a muslin cloth or paper towel and secure it with a rubber band or the canning jar ring Let it sit undisturbed in a dark place for about 5 10 days The longer it sits the less sweet it will be I usually let it sit for 9 full days Day 10 or sooner if you prefer Remove the SCOBY from the jar and place it on a plate Reserve a half cup of kombucha to start the next batch Use a funnel and pour the kombucha into bottles or jars with lids I use glass swing top bottles with rubber gaskets I bought them from a homebrew store that sells equipment for making wine and beer A batch this size fills three 16 oz bottles Add flavoring if you like Since we like grape flavor I add a little less than ¼ cup grape juice to each 16 oz bottle Let the bottles sit at room temperature for 5 days This improves the flavor and adds carbonation Make sure your bottles have tight fitting lids to hold the carbonation Day 15 After waiting 5 days for the bottles to sit on the shelf and improve carbonation transfer the bottles to the refrigerator They re ready to drink With this routine every nine days I start a new batch of kombucha and each batch takes two weeks to be ready to drink I use my calendar to help me remember when to start a new batch and when to move the bottles to the fridge Q I avoid refined sugar Can I use an alternative like honey instead A From what I ve read the SCOBY does best with sugar in the most simple form possible Most of the sugar will be consumed before you drink the kombucha anyway Q I m not ready to make the next batch Can I store the SCOBY A Store your SCOBY covered with some kombucha in a jar until you re ready to start the next batch How to Grow a SCOBY Start with a new 16 ounce bottle of plain store bought kombucha A popular brand is GT s and it is found at grocery stores such as Whole Foods Pour the kombucha into a wide mouth glass canning jar and cover the jar with muslin cloth or a paper towel Let it sit at room temperature After about four days a SCOBY will start to form Add some sweet black tea to help the SCOBY grow Sweet

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/121/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    preferences The phone books stay there until someone else finally throws them out or recycles them I hope and soon the next issue is delivered I opted out but if the phone books keep coming I ll just work on my free throw before I recycle it What else is there I don t need a booster seat and I m all set for garden mulch thanks Watch the video of phone books in flight 40 Comments Just What Everyone Needs Right Is it just me or does this decorative wall hanging strike anyone else as funny 59 Comments The Closet Makeunder Before all the clothes piled on the floor because I had too many clothes in four different sizes After cleaning them out and then adding a couple of things my clothes now feel more like an ensemble rather than a mish mash of clothes that don t fit And the closet floor stays clean Doug s side of the closet always stays organized It s so easy you have shirts and you have pants All the same size and all worn year round I m a little envious And then here s my side and yes it does feel a little odd to show my closet to everybody but here it is finished What I like most about my side of the closet is I have room to hang up all of the summer and winter clothes together since I have fewer clothes now I used to keep the off season clothes stored away and would rotate them but that required extra work Now I keep my maternity clothes stored away These hanging canvas organizers have been so handy They re simple to move from one apartment to the next I use mine for shoes and sweaters and

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/81/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    try on a shirt and the baby is suddenly reminded that he wants to nurse Meanwhile the preschooler tries on my clothes and acts like a dancing monkey it s way past nap time and the only thing that might save the afternoon is a stop at Chick Hooray on the way home And I m supposed to try on ten bathing suits in the fluorescent light Online shopping And I love the modest is hottest trend in swimwear this summer Coming up next putting it all together a peek inside my newly organized closet What do you think about when you go shopping 31 Comments The Closet Makeunder Out with the Old The floor in my closet Don t judge How could I have a closet filled with 4 different sizes of clothing and still feel like I had nothing to wear All of my clothes ended up on the floor I have maternity clothes and post maternity clothes I have my regular clothes And I also have smaller clothes since I went on a gluten and dairy free diet several months ago Very few of my old clothes fit anymore so I was heading into summer with what felt like two shirts and one pair of jeans Plus a bikini that s older than most sixth graders It s hard to clean out your clothes when you worry you ll have nothing left At some point I think I ll be in those different sizes again so I don t want to get rid of everything I don t have an arbitrary rule about getting rid of something if I haven t worn it in a certain time I think more about the possibility of wearing it in the future with a couple of sentimental exceptions It was time to go through those clothes so I could figure out what I had and make some space The Worn Out This shirt used to be pink This is not a black and white photo It s easy for me to identify what s worn out Faded or stained or maybe misshapen stretched out and saggy Those old clothes I can go through and clean out by myself For a while I thought I would wait until I found replacements but I just cleaned them out and freed up the closet space The Shopping Mistakes Reading the book Color Me Beautiful several years ago helped me to avoid shopping mistakes It was published in the eighties but I still use the color principles today The book groups colors by seasons and helps you identify your most flattering shades I know I look good in blues and pinks and I avoid burnt orange and olive green even when those clothes look good in the store I still had a couple of clothes in my closet that would not work even though I had stayed hopeful I reluctantly admitted they weren t right for me and I would never wear them They

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/82/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    home more than we needed Find your favorite cheap meal When we re on a beans and rice budget we get tired of beans and rice Neither of us want the leftovers I found out we both enjoy scrambled eggs with salsa and baked potatoes We could eat it every week without getting tired of it Keep good food at home especially having favorite snacks on the weekends to avoid the temptation of going out and spending more Think about why you re shopping I learned early in the first week how often I was tempted to do the shopping as a way to procrastinate other work Shopping is time consuming and even though it s good to buy things for your household it can often wait What Others Said It s been fun to read the comments and insights of others who have taken on similar challenges Here are just a few We did our own version of the no spend month It was so awesome to be forced to really evaluate each and every dollar we spent and it also helped us to reach our goal of paying off our car in full by the end of that month which was the absolute last of our debts Since then we ve been able to save save save which is just such a good feeling Stephanie from Keeper of the Home We did a no spend month last October and though it was hard to go through it really did open our eyes to how much we spent on the little things It also gave us more strength to say no to spending in other situations once the month was over Jenni from Life from the Roof Coupons and gift cards don t save you any money if they cause you to spend money you weren t planning to Holly from STL Chases The biggest benefit we ve experienced this month is we re getting much better at sticking to our grocery budget If that s the only skill we ve learned through cash budgeting I d say it s absolutely worth it Karen from Living Well on Less What Do You Think What helps you to be consistent with saving money Goals Habits Planning What would you recommend to others 26 Comments No Spend Month Update The Final Day I don t think Lane ever noticed that it was No Spend Month When the last day of No Spend Month finally arrived I still had 67 We ve never had so much money at the end before I even had a half tank of gas in my car I went grocery shopping during the morning Doug requested chips and I bought a few other treats and some of the ingredients I needed for the batch cooking I want to do this week The pantry contains less now but that s a good thing I wouldn t call it empty but it s certainly decluttered It reminds me of

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/120/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    the sharp needles by stringing the buttons into necklaces What s more fun than the sewing is hearing her talk about it Needles are called noodles buttons are bun duns and every button necklace is going to be for the pirate party she s planning She s caught on to the idea that she can make the things that she sees at the store Every finished thing makes her smile with pride so big that I think my heart is going to burst Most importantly we don t take it too seriously So when she wakes up at 6 30 in the morning wanting to sew a pink party hat like the one she saw the night before I pull out the stapler and glue gun and we call that sewing too I don t want her to be so concerned about doing something the right way that she hesitates to start So far she s been ready to jump right in A few kid friendly sewing project ideas Handmade Felt Food group on Flickr Coloring Pasta and Making Necklaces from Make and Takes Butterfly Mobile from the Long Thread Festive Bunting and Many More Ideas from Sew Mama Sew Wild West Gear and Fake Mustaches from Little Birdie Secrets What do you or your kids like to make 28 Comments What Do You Collect Do you collect anything I mean things that you actually like and want to have several of not the kind of collection that happens when one day you mention you like chickens so then everyone gives you chicken themed gifts from that moment on I didn t think I had any collections but then I looked out at my balcony and realized I have a huge plant collection Some of the plants have grown so

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/119/ (2016-02-10)
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