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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    tiny dining table that is so small you can t scoot your chair up because you ll hit your knees Oh yes trading that tiny table for a regular size farmhouse table was first on my list If you live in a small apartment you don t have to have tiny furniture Choose comfortable furniture pieces but fewer of them For example you might have a nice couch to take naps on but forgo the coffee table Add a soft quilt Do keep size in mind not just for your current place but for future homes as well A king size canopy bed just won t work An upright dresser or small armoire is more versatile than a low wide dresser that requires an entire wall Couches with narrow armrests give more seating than couches with large rolled armrests When you re choosing fewer pieces of furniture you can afford to spend a little more to get the right one and you ll be able to take it with you when you move Avoid the Container Store Back to School August sales Look we all love storage but plastic storage containers are a slippery slope Small apartments risk looking like dorm rooms when they have too many small plastic storage bins and organizers Not everything needs to be contained Use bins if you need them do what you ve gotta do but also look for more natural materials that bring texture and a sense of age to your home Try baskets linen bags or wood crates Shelves are easier to retrieve items from than stacked bins with lids Add green living plants Most people feel more like plant killers than green thumb gardeners but plants bring life to your home Herbs in a pot or violets in a windowsill make your home feel lived in It s okay if your potted plants don t live forever You can use this gardening tip I learned from my mother when your plant dies you can get another one A few dollars for a plant that lives a few months sounds like a pretty good deal to me Love your decorative stuff in all seasons Your decorative things should be your favorite things not seasonal or trendy items It s frequent advice for house owners to shop the house rotate items and change things out for something new but I don t have closet space to store decorative items I m not using That s where my clothes go In an apartment I d rather use extra space for a kitchen pantry than for seasonal decorations though I do own a box of Christmas decorations It s so helpful when your things are attractive and useful White cake pedestals vases and wooden bowls serve as a good backdrop for any season Thoughts to add 53 Comments Making a Home the Last Chapter but not the end Previously in this story the college apartment the single girl apartment and the money pit Doug and

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/87/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    ve been told should be out of our kitchens No wonder we view it with suspicion and at the very least uncertainty Perhaps it is something better left to professionals No truthfully generations of people have been making yogurt in their kitchens long before industries packaged it into convenient little containers for us along with all the added sweeteners and thickeners And just like anything else you make at home it does taste better More fresh and not so sharp Make It Yourself Directions 1 Heat 1 quart of milk on the stove to 180 degrees F A thermometer helps to ensure food safety 2 Let the milk cool to 110 degrees 3 Add 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt to a quart jar Make sure the yogurt has live active cultures It can be store bought plain yogurt or the last spoonfuls of your most recent homemade batch 4 Add a bit of the cooled milk to the yogurt in the jar and swirl it around Then pour the rest of the milk into the jar 5 The jar needs to stay warm for about 8 hours while the cultures do the work Options Put the jar inside the oven with the oven light on Put the jar inside a cooler and fill the cooler with hot water Buy a yogurt maker which will keep the jars warm 6 After the yogurt has thickened cool the yogurt in the fridge and enjoy 7 The yogurt is more thin than store bought but it s ideal for smoothies If you like thicker yogurt pour it into a colander lined with cheese cloth coffee filters or paper towels and let the excess liquid drip into a bowl below A note on milk I m biased When I drink milk it s whole milk every time Can you make yogurt using skim milk or two percent instead of whole milk Um yes I suppose The rest of my family is dairy free so I no longer make quarts of yogurt to eat all by my lonesome I ve heard people say dairy free yogurt could be made at home could it be possible It seems that everyone who actually tried it reported failure so maybe it s the holy grail of dairy free food I want to find out for myself Making dairy free yogurt at home is my next experiment and whether it succeeds or flops I ll tell you how it goes Once you ve made homemade yogurt you can eat it to your heart s desire with any kind of toppings honey maple syrup fresh fruit granola I like to stir in about 2 teaspoons of vanilla and 1 teaspoon almond extract per quart of yogurt with some brown sugar How do you like your yogurt 51 Comments The Freedom of Routines Photo by Kanko You know how it happens the very week that I make a grand post about how I clean my house I was busy And tired

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/88/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    the bright spots in otherwise difficult days In my twenties it was a pick me up when things got stressful at work and deadlines loomed over my cubicle I knew I wouldn t be able to keep drinking it forever and that at some point I would have to make healthier choices When I m 30 I said I ll probably have to give up soda I m 32 now And then there s this one who watches everything I do and repeats everything I say I don t think I would mind an occasional soda but my problem is that I feel a compulsion to drink it If there s an open bottle in the fridge then it s very hard for me to choose something else I want to be free of that It s been over a week and so far so good There wasn t any in the fridge to start so I avoided a dramatic scene involving drinks poured down the drain Not having it at home makes it easier I think about it but the only willpower required is when I choose not to buy it during the minute I pass it at the grocery store In other news what we ve done this week city camping More later 49 Comments A Lighter Wallet Do you have a full wallet Let s clean it out Since it s something we carry and use so frequently let s get rid of the clutter and make it easy to look through And on a related topic is your handbag too prepared Here are a few things that threaten to clutter up my wallet 1 Store and Membership Cards These things drive me a little crazy It seems like every store I go to wants me to

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/114/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    right direction Once you ve found titles worth keeping forever don t feel guilty for devoting a little of your family s budget on them Books are truly an investment in our children in our imagination and in our education 3 Invest in experiences not more stuff Most of our homes don t need any more stuff That s why so many books and blogs have been written to help us organize our possessions before they consume us So when it comes to special occasions holidays or birthdays think outside the box Instead of spending money on more toys for our children or ourselves let s invest in experiences Photo by Steve Evans The possibilities are endless memorable vacations together tickets to the ballet or maybe taking our kids to a new ethnic restaurant Spending money this way invests in our relationships and in valuable memories the family will never forget Try to get that same return on investment from another plastic disposable toy off a store s shelf Money itself is nothing to be afraid of even in lean times It s just a tool a powerful one we can use to bless our family Yes at times we ll sacrifice in order to meet a higher priority That s okay With each dollar we spend we input into the type of atmosphere and culture we want for our loved ones By investing intentionally we reap the benefits of a closer healthier family Jamie writes about her journey toward becoming a more intentional professional mother at her blog Steady Mom Topics include getting organized retaining enthusiasm learning together and making memories She candidly presents the successes and struggles of doing life with her six year old daughter and two four year old sons not twins You can find her with a cup of hot tea in one hand and a satisfying book in the other Jamie s upcoming book Steady Days will be available this winter What s your favorite way to invest your family s money 34 Comments Coming Out of Survival Mode It s been a sweet vacation of rest and procrastination Of low expectations due to having a newborn and wondering just how long I can use that as an excuse to let things go undone I ve been taking care of babies food and laundry but that s pretty much it Everyone says to take care of yourself and make sure to get plenty of rest and that s great advice but it doesn t get the bathroom clean or the bills paid After a few weeks I just don t know how much longer I can look at all the stuff that hasn t been done yet Each night as I think of the things I didn t do I wonder well maybe tomorrow As we re coming out of the first weeks with a newborn I don t anticipate the next few months or years becoming much easier I need to learn how

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/113/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    you wash the dishes but you kind of want to do it yourself so you will know they really are clean That s fine if you want to spend all your time cleaning everything by yourself Save time by just cleaning the dirty stuff Then marvel at how much better things look It s about taking care of people not taking care of stuff But you already knew that Which cleaning philosophies make a difference in your home 60 Comments When Going Green Goes Not So Great A hawk landed on my flower box to eat her snack lunch Just like on National Geographic It was gross Like anything new that you try sometimes there s a learning curve Last week I shared the ways I ve changed to a more simple natural lifestyle but today I thought I would share some of the bloopers Like when I first tried to go shampoo free Everyone was raving about using a vinegar rinse in place of conditioner for soft clean hair I tried it and my hair looked like a bird s nest It felt like straw What was I doing wrong Months later I figured out that I was using white distilled vinegar but it s apple cider vinegar that works so well A couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a squirt bottle filled with water if you want to try it Pour it over your hair and rinse out Or when I made yogurt because I wanted to know how and it turned out really good In my eagerness to try it though I didn t stop to consider that everyone else in my family is dairy free and I m not really a yogurt loving person So there I was with a ton of yogurt and no one else who could eat it Then one time I was at a party and as I loaded up my plate with cheese and cake my friend asked So are you still keeping worms under your kitchen sink Everyone within earshot turned and stared I m pretty sure a chip fell out of someone s mouth and hit the floor Yeah Awkward Any good stories to share Experiments gone wrong Awkward pauses Do tell Share it in the comments 39 Comments Good Reads Here We Are This is You and Me I don t have any makeup on yet my favorite jeans have a big hole in the knee Tom s on his third outfit so far and we both smell faintly of spit up He just started crawling so things are about to look very different around here But enough about me let s get to the good stuff Have you seen the Reluctant Entertainer s Apple Pie in a Jar recipe It makes jars of apple pie filling that you can give as hostess gifts or use to make a quick pie But really don t you see yourself opening up a jar and just eating the

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/89/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    he has blessed my family again and again The Making a Home Story Chapter 1 The Beginning Chapter 2 The Single Girl Apartment Chapter 3 The Money Pit Chapter 4 The Last Chapter but not the end 24 Comments Confessions of an Earth Club Dropout I went to high school in the early 90 s when bell bottom jeans were fashionable again and Earth Day had a renaissance I joined the Earth Club simply because my friends were in it In those days my concerns were more about a social calendar than a social cause Was I interested in recycling Oh not so much I stopped going later when we had to you know work on stuff outside Yes I m a high school Earth Club dropout When I was in high school it was hard to know what my adult self would be like Maybe I pictured myself wearing a blue blazer I thought I would become an economist It wasn t until I became a stay at home mom with my firstborn that I had time to read That s when the small changes started Do you remember a few years ago when reusable bags became more mainstream and we all had to figure out how to remember to take them with us to the store I know readers in other parts of the world are shaking their heads at Americans right now but that s just how things were Reusable bags was one of my first baby steps to a more simple natural lifestyle I just kept adding new changes a little at a time When I was in high school I never thought I would love plants especially small space gardens I d prefer cooking on the stove over using the microwave Stovetop popcorn I would spend a week s worth of free time learning about how to raise backyard chickens It was even possible to make homemade yogurt not hard and better than store bought I d stop buying harsh cleaning products and switch to natural cleaners I could give up soda and be okay with that The food we cooked at home would taste better than eating out There would be a worm compost bin under my kitchen sink for food scraps I would stop buying paper towels and just wipe things up with a rag the way people used to do it Disposable plates and silverware would bother me I might sew a quilt I never understood cutting up fabric to sew it back together again but I totally love it now I would cloth diaper my baby And since we were cloth diapering that we would mostly switch to using cloth wipes instead of toilet paper Do I really want to share about this No I m too shy But my friend Megan s not and she wrote all about family wipes at SortaCrunchy I would use a clothesline I could make my own soap from olive and coconut oil I would

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/90/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    gloves can be stored in baskets or a hanging shoe organizer If you don t have a coat closet hang your favorite coat on a hook by the door Kids tend to do better about hanging up coats if they have hooks instead of hangers Have you organized something recently Give yourself a high five and tell us in the comments 36 Comments Simple Living Myth DIY is Always Best Sometimes simple means doing it yourself choosing the materials or ingredients tailoring it to be exactly what you need and savoring the process Sometimes simple means Wouldn t it be simpler to just buy it It s not just our money that we have to think about We also need to consider that our time is valuable Whole Foods sells a smoked chicken for 8 99 An uncooked chicken is about 5 or 6 Some nights I m willing to pay that extra 4 to have someone else cook it and clean up It s a heck of lot cheaper than going out to a restaurant and honestly it tastes better It frees up my time that evening so I can focus on something different There s a value and a beauty to making things yourself but you must be selective about which things you choose to do Just as being frugal means finding the greatest value for your dollar we have to focus our efforts in a smart way It might be better to buy the finished product if 1 If a project requires buying and storing a seldomly used tool Pasta maker anyone 2 If a project will stay unfinished nagging at you for months and months 3 If the materials will cost far more than the finished product with little perceived added value 4 If you re

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/112/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    morning and then come home and change into comfy clothes We eat brunch at home or go down the street to get coffee Brunch doesn t that sound fancy It s just scrambled eggs and bacon We do whatever we want after that maybe read or go outside Watch football Naps are a sure thing Supper is easy or we might go out for cheap fajitas Fun Sundays are a predictable part of our weekly routine That s what I think of as a day of rest A day off When Doug comes home from work he gets to leave his work behind at the office When I m at home I look around and see a bunch of work that still needs to be done There is laundry the kitchen needs to be cleaned and the floors are messy Those things won t go away Once the dishes are washed a cup is set in the sink As soon as all of the laundry is done a pair of socks gets tossed on the closet floor The only way to stop working is to choose to take the day off You can t wait for the work to be done because it never will be You can work all the time until you don t even remember why you re working That s why I choose to ignore the work on Sunday even though part of me wants to do a load of laundry to get a jump start on the week It helps if I think of Sunday as the last day of the weekend instead of the start of the new week How to take the day off Plan ahead for it On Friday I do a last bit of cleaning to prepare for the weekend I check the fridge to make sure there is enough food for meals and snacks to enjoy Get going on Saturday Saturday mornings I m pretty tired and I m tempted to sleep in and not do anything I try to keep in mind that if I don t accomplish things on Saturday then I ll have to do them on Sunday Procrastination is not restful I coach myself to get moving so that I can have the full day off on Sunday Eat simple food unless you really like to cook Enlist family help We don t do much house cleaning but we do basics like washing the dishes after supper and picking up after ourselves as we go We do it together so that it goes quickly and it s not a burden on one person But what if What if you work outside the home and the weekend is the only time you have to get things done If you re a mom and you also work then you re working two jobs It s just as important if not more so for you to have a regular day off if at all possible Nancy said In order

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/111/ (2016-02-10)
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