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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    the cabinets when a lowly handheld can opener would have stayed in the drawer Or how about the paper towel holder I used to think that was essential in a kitchen Now we just use a rag to wipe up spills and a dish towel to dry our hands Do you ever wonder how we accumulate so much stuff Or maybe some of it is given to us There is always a new and improved version of something There is always an upgrade and it s supposed to make our lives better and easier or so we re told Now when I m presented with something new I ve started to ask What problem will this solve for me and is it really that much of a problem As my life becomes full with more responsibilities I cope by having fewer things to keep up with I want more of my things to resemble a cast iron skillet modest and hardworking Fewer gadgets I m learning to choose the classics How are you simplifying your stuff Want to read new articles like this one Join thousands of other subscribers and start simplifying your home It s free 71 Comments Dress Up Your Small Garden with Container Plants Throughout the day in our home we listen to work crews builders sirens engines airplanes cars honking and leaf blowers The wind blows hard enough to throw our door wide open and remind us that our apartment is high up in our building At least the view through the glass door is always peaceful Plants are important to make your apartment feel like home What should you consider when choosing plants for your container garden Privacy The mandevilla pictured above is one of our favorite climbing vines and it s nicer to look at than my neighbor s satellite dish Fragrance Beauty I always grow mint for how it smells when I crumple it in my fingers and the jasmine flowers pictured here make me wish this blog could be a scratch n sniff I love blooms and who can resist the green of bright new leaves Many plants need at least partial sun to produce flowers but they can still grow even if the conditions are less than ideal Even our camellia could push out a few blossoms under the shaded cover of our last apartment Food Everyone should grow some food in containers at least once if only to understand just how much time water and care growing food takes We harvested golden peppers and cherry tomatoes last year and baked them on our pizzas There were only a few but they were special We thought about how many plants and efforts would be required to produce a bigger harvest It was like Barbara Kingsolver said in Animal Vegetable Miracle Labors like this help a person appreciate why good food costs what it does It ought to cost more Herbs are a sure easy thing Italian parsley is one I reach

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/83/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    can hang flower boxes over the railing 7 Twine Top heavy plants can easily be knocked over by the wind so we have our biggest plants tied securely to the balcony railing Twine can be used to support vegetables and train climbing vines grocery twist ties are good for that too Challenges of a Container Garden Water If you don t have access to a hose you ll be carrying all the water in jugs yourself and you ll probably be doing it every day during the summer Pests Weeds aren t much of a problem but you do need to be on the lookout for pests so you can stop them before they become a problem Choosing plants It s hard to go to the garden store and limit yourself when all of the plants and flowers are blooming and gorgeous We ll talk about choosing plants for your container garden next time We just took our family trip to the garden store this weekend which is pretty much my favorite spring time tradition although we re growing fewer plants this time compared to previous years Are you planning a garden this year 26 Comments Good Reads for Your Weekend So many tips I want to pass along to you this weekend Why You Need A Sidekick And How To Get One from Inspired to Action Struggling with Time Debt from Get Rich Slowly Kideos online videos for kids kind of like YouTube but screened to be safe and age appropriate Our three year old daughter will surprise us with how well she uses the computer She somehow added a little pink pet to my husband s Facebook account and it took him a good half hour to figure out how to delete it and restore his manly rep You re guaranteed to find new lunch ideas you like from the nearly one hundred amazing comments you shared this week I especially liked Rochelle s idea why didn t I think of this I usually try to bring leftovers for lunch at work Many times I will actually portion out my lunch first I started doing this when there were consistently no leftovers at night and no one seemed to complain about there not being enough It also helped me choose smaller portions at dinner time Special thanks to artist Mary Anne Davis for sponsoring Small Notebook She makes fine porcelain dinnerware and serveware from her studio in the Hudson Valley Learn more about her work including custom work at Davistudio Hope you have a relaxing weekend 12 Comments Don t DIY The Dairy Free Yogurt Experiment Making yogurt at home is really easy Making dairy free yogurt at home and having it resemble anything like regular yogurt or even the dairy free yogurt from the store is definitely not easy I knew the odds were stacked against me I ve heard other people say they could do it so I tried it For all of these experiments I

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/84/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    neighbor s dryer lint pipe Hopefully it won t come to that this time I just looked over and realized that I no longer even bother to put the ice cream into a bowl but now I m eating it straight from the carton Oh my word Do you have any crazy nesting stories to share Do tell 38 Comments Baking Shortcut Make Your Own Mixes If you re planning to bake you can save time by mixing the dry ingredients ahead of time assembly line style When it s time to start baking the dry ingredients are pre measured and ready and all you need to do is add the yeast and the wet ingredients This works for all of your favorite baking recipes You could even make cookie mixes and give them as Christmas gifts I m using this recipe for gluten free bread It s fantastic Quart size glass jars are just the right size for most bread recipes To pour the flour in the jars without making a mess use a wide mouth funnel If you don t have a funnel you can make a cone with a sheet of paper You can try this for cookies muffins brownies biscuits and other yummy treats 46 Comments Simple Living Myth Trying to Keep Up Appearances Living simply has a broad meaning one that people interpret differently For some it means owning less stuff in general For others it means being more self sufficient For still others it means eschewing cheap mass produced things and choosing specific products from small cottage industries Regardless of viewpoints there do seem to be a few common themes I mean for these to be read completely tongue in cheek Natural materials like linen and cotton are beautiful but polyester Acrylic Why would you want those What you don t garden Don t you want to pick your own vegetables from your own soil to serve to your family for meals Well you do at least buy your produce at the farmer s market don t you You forgot to bring your canvas bags to the grocery store Shame Kidding aside we do have a social tendency to accept common practices as better than others so much so that they almost seem like rules when you speak to others But most of us are on a journey to simpler living and the process is gradual change Maybe we d rather have wooden toys for our kids but there are still quite a few colorful plastic toys in their rooms Maybe that plastic bag was tossed oops recycled instead of washed and reused for something else And maybe just maybe you don t make your spaghetti sauce from scratch There have been times when I ve been concerned that mentioning something might not be good for my image You know my desire to look healthy conscientious resourceful and like I cook all my food from scratch Oh forgive me for wanting to have an

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/118/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    I ve had since I was little Sometimes my desk is clean sometimes it s not and other times it has only the illusion of clean which is still good enough On the wall close by hangs my tote bag and occasionally I ll move papers or projects from my desk and put them in the bag so I can enjoy an instantly clean open work area There are no drawers but I like having a big table to work on A few supplies are stored in a small box in the closet but I ve noticed that as I ve gradually switched over to going paperless I need fewer office supplies too It s so restful to be able to sit and work in a spot that s just mine without the usual assortment of stuff that collects in other places around the house Do you have a favorite spot of your own 29 Comments Organizing Your Children s Clothes Storage Having cute baby clothes in a drawer usually means having off season different sized children s clothes stored somewhere else in the home It s hard to organize it all We received a generous pass along of baby boy clothes from size newborn to 4T Those new additions plus the little girl clothes we already had meant it was finally time to do something about our clothes storage Generally getting organized is not about finding the ideal storage container Sorting and donating always come first and the times that you need to buy something new to store something else should be few and far between I had been storing children s clothes in a large bin plastic bags and even paper grocery sacks The trouble with the big bin was that everything was jumbled making it hard to find a current size and the clothes in bags wouldn t stack When the amount of clothes suddenly doubled I decided to switch to tote boxes In this case the totes did make it easier They re sweater box size and they stack at the top of the closet I don t know if I should feel satisfied or afraid I m happy the clothes are organized but it s rather overwhelming to see how many there are Even after sorting through them it seems like a lot of boxes and there will likely be more How to keep the clothes storage from taking over your space 1 Have a limit The totes limit how much storage space we can fill Each size has to fit in only one box 2 Limit the keepsakes For each kid I have one tote of sentimental clothes to keep so I won t accidently give away the hospital hat or heirloom sweater Anything else not in that tote can be freely given away when I m ready 3 Keep the best stuff Don t keep anything worn out or stained Nicer clothes show less wear and play clothes can be easily replaced 4

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/117/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    too Boiling Water For serious anthill problems in your yard or walkway pour boiling water over the anthills It sounds a bit cruel but pesticides can be equally if not more cruel Mint Mint destroys the smelling capabilities of ants and prevents them from entering your home There are several ways to use mint to prevent ant infestations First plant mint around your home especially near doors and close to areas where you have seen anthills Second place mint leaves in and around windows If ants are entering your pantry place some mint leaves on the shelves and in the corners Other Plants Here is a list of some other plants which have been known to be effective at warding off ants The idea is the stronger the smell the more likely the plant is to keep the ants away Basil Chili peppers Eucalyptus Garlic Lavender Peppermint Rosemary Thyme Persistence is the key when trying natural ant control remedies If one of these methods doesn t work for you then try another You may need to repeat it a few times How have you gotten rid of ants in your home Guest blogger Marcy Tate is a blogger at Networx the Home Improvement Network She has been working with ant control experts for over a decade on ways to naturally control ants Want to read more helpful tips like this one Subscribe Join thousands of other subscribers and start simplifying your home It s free 76 Comments Share Your Lunch What Do You Like to Eat I think I could use some more lunch ideas Leftovers from dinner would be excellent but they are completely gone Save me from snacking on almonds and raisins all day My lunch criteria 1 Require no more than a few minutes to make or can be prepared in advance 2 Bonus if it can be eaten with one hand 3 Involve no peanut butter whatsoever Lunches I ve been eating lately 1 Chicken salad made at the beginning of the week and kept in the fridge So good if it has apple and raisins in it 2 Hamburgers grilled in advance and waiting in the freezer I reheat it in microwave for a minute and there is no loss of the hot of the grill taste 3 Smoothie Especially now that warmer weather is here Share your lunch ideas in the comments please What are you having 102 Comments Taking Care of Me Photo by Muffet I m amazed sometimes that it took me 32 years a marriage and bearing two children before I learned how to take better care of myself To go to bed on time To drink water instead of soda To moisturize properly To eat right To take my vitamins One of my primary responsibilities is to take care of other people People who don t know how the washing machine works People who can t even bathe or feed themselves And yet I wasn t doing a very good

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/85/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    units It s not even possible to calculate how much we paid in higher mortgages for extra rooms in our houses to store extra stuff Storage units can provide a valuable service I ve used one before The problem is what happens when they are filled with things that we don t miss and won t use Storage units should be temporary in most cases But we all know they are easy to fill up and then hard to go back and empty out even if we do have the best of intentions That s why so many companies offer the first month s rent for free It takes time to go back and decide what to do with that stuff and then make the effort to sell or donate it It s much easier to delay the trouble of making decisions and simply pay the fee for just one more month s rent Before you know it that monthly fee has added up to hundreds of dollars every year which is often much higher than the value of the stuff being stored I don t have a storage unit I m trying not to keep the extra stuff I ve been listing some stuff on Craigslist lately Yesterday as I watched my husband sitting outside with my old TV waiting for someone to pick it up I felt a tiny bit of loss Mostly good feelings but still a little bit of risk What if I needed it someday What if one day we moved into a house and we had an upstairs playroom for the kids and we would want a TV to put in there so they could watch a movie If we wanted one then I wouldn t need to buy one because I already had it But then I saw the hundreds of other used TVs on Craigslist and suddenly letting go of it didn t seem like such a bad idea There is no shortage of used TVs I don t need to keep one just in case If I want one I can always buy another one from someone else who is selling their used TV set on any day of the week A few months ago we bought a baby swing for Tom but he s already starting to grow out of it It s a nice one and I almost thought about saving it for a future baby It takes up a lot of room though and I ve been to baby showers There s no shortage of baby swings either It will be no problem to find another one in the future Since we bought it on Craigslist for 25 in the first place and we can sell it again for 25 I m glad I don t have to worry about getting my money s worth from it I ll happily keep my cash in my pocket instead of my stuff in my storage There is no shortage of

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/86/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    season in your life and you no longer use it or love it let it go Don t carry it from one home to the next like overpacked luggage Make more room for the life you have right now Oo ooh yeah 25 Comments Evernote Free Software that Knocked My Socks Off I finally tried Evernote and I m glad I did It s an incredibly useful program to save all kinds of information It has a gorgeously simple design It s free Here is what it looks like on my computer I had heard of Evernote before but I thought it was just a way to save quick notes like reminders on a Post it I already had a note keeping system that worked for me so I dismissed it My philosophy is if it s not broken don t fix it so I don t try new software just for the novelty of it This one is worth trying Seriously Go try it I use it every day and it keeps me more organized and free of paper clutter First it organized my recipes For the past few months I had been trying demos of recipe management software and I wasn t pleased with any of them They were costly overly complex and all the forms and check boxes weren t worth the trouble I collect most of my recipes from the internet but I always make changes and substitutions to them I was looking for an easy way to save the recipes along with my notes and changes and then be able to find them later Sometimes I bookmarked a web page but it didn t help when the internet was down a page took five minutes to load or it had been deleted I had recipes saved in Word files in folders but they were hard to search for and I couldn t always remember the recipe names As a result I had recipes everywhere in every form Evernote made it easy to organize them When I found a recipe I liked online I could just highlight what I wanted to save on the page including the photo click a button and that was it Since you can add tags to your notes you don t need to bother with folders and the text is highly searchable if you want to look for a specific recipe or ingredient I love that I can preview the recipes as I scroll through them because I usually remember the photo instead of the name Since the format is simple it didn t take long for me to add my other favorite recipes to the collection Then it simplified my projects I ve built up long lists of website links for my interests and hobbies such as gardening beekeeping and sewing When you spend time reading blogs you end up with a lot of new ideas and information I went through my bookmarked links and saved the ideas and instructions

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/116/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    have any ideas or tips on how to organize magazines Or purge them I have the tendency to save certain ones for a long time because of a few articles but then cannot find what I am looking for later meanwhile the magazines start stacking up Erin I love bringing a big stack of magazines with me on vacation and getting to browse through them with my feet up on the couch But what should you do when they start to pile up at home Do you save them Give them away Clip pages I have a file folder with a few articles to keep Sometimes I ll reach for my camera and take a photo of a page in a magazine or book to remember it later What tips do you have for Erin 86 Comments Batch Cooking Meal Starters If I need to cook dinner fast and all I see in the freezer is frozen blocks of uncooked meat then I m so tempted to go out to eat If however I see a couple of chicken breasts that are already cooked then it feels like dinner is almost ready It s no problem to boil some water for pasta or rice and have a full home cooked dinner I thought about this as I was getting ready to have our next baby I wanted to have meals ready in the freezer but I knew my freezer space would only hold enough for maybe a week or two I decided to focus on preparing meal starters instead of complete meals We started at the grill and made about 50 small burgers and 30 chicken breasts Cooking that much meat in the kitchen would have required several hours of time plus a huge mess The best part about the grill is the help If I were to say Hey Doug don t you think it d be nice to do some batch cooking today then he d raise an eyebrow But if I say Hey Doug why don t you grill some meat for us then he s much happier The burgers make a good lunch Sixty seconds in the microwave and they taste like they re straight off the grill We can also break them up to add to spaghetti sauce or scrambled eggs The chicken breasts are nice for dinner but we mostly shred them for pizza topping stir fry salad or soups Some of the chicken was added to a double batch of Santa Fe Chicken Chili The ground beef that didn t make it to the grill went into another huge pot of chili and I mean really big like 22 servings Chili freezes well When I freeze soup or stews I use a quart freezer bag to hold two large adult servings I stack the bags on top of each other in the freezer and when it s time for dinner they don t take long to defrost because they re thin Ten minutes

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/115/ (2016-02-10)
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