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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    this time last year Things were actually quite similar to how they are today Lane was smaller Two years ago My three week old baby girl captivated me Three years ago We had moved into the apartment we live in now The living room was completely empty with no furniture for four months while Doug searched for his perfect couch Four years ago We traveled more Doug and I went to Chicago for a long weekend I worked for Saks Fifth Avenue at the time and I started wearing scarves and big sunglasses I learned about dress jeans and witnessed the rise and fall of the poncho Five years ago Doug and I were engaged He was in a terrible car accident I thought about how sad it would be if he had died and I replayed it in my mind as if I were watching my own made for tv movie I sold my home and quit my job so I could move to the city where he lived Ten years ago My rent for my college apartment was less than 200 a month and it had gorgeous windows and hardwood floors There was no central heat or air conditioning but I was really content I wondered if I would ever get married Fifteen years ago I got my first job as a cashier at a buffet restaurant The uniform required me to wear a handkerchief on my head pantyhose with socks white tennis shoes a polyester shirt with puffy sleeves and a smock that was a one size fits all I lasted about 6 weeks Twenty years ago The Berlin wall still divided East and West Germany I watched the Cosby Show on Thursday nights and had a denim jacket just like everybody else Twenty five years ago I spent 90 minutes watching the Smurfs every Saturday morning My family went on vacation to the beach I wish we lived close enough to go to the beach every summer like we used to The circumstances change but this one thing remains the same For great is his love toward us and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever Psalm 117 2 15 Comments Goodbye clutter I won t miss you It rained this afternoon hard enough to clean out the air and make everything outside look bright and new It was very dark outside but I opened all the windows to let in the clean air and to hear the rain Inside while Lane napped I gathered all the clutter I had sorted this weekend 6 bags of clothing 2 bags of paper trash and 1 bag for the food pantry It baffles me completely because I do not like clutter In January I cleaned out and donated enough stuff to fill the trunk of my car How is there still so much left And sad to say this time most of it is mine My stuff was long overdue for a good sorting Whenever I start to

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/180/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    plants usually look bright and green By the end of the summer though some of them are ready to just give up That s ok At least I ve learned a little more than I knew before This summer I ve been learning about plant pests and how to recognize them I ve certainly had plenty of opportunity My plants have all kinds of issues as you ll see I used to have a gardenia It died a long slow death I didn t know what the problem was so I didn t know how to treat it In hopes that it might save other plants from the sad sad fate of my gardenia here are a few pictures to help you identify a few plant pests 1 A squiggly line on a leaf might look like some kind of plant disease but it is actually from a leaf miner Leaf miners are larvae of moths or flies and they tunnel through the leaf leaving their trail behind them I pluck off the leaf if I see something like this 2 A dark woody bump on the stem or underside of the leaf might look like a natural part of the plant but it is actually an insect called scale What you see is really a hard shell over a bug that feeds on the plant sap Scale varies in colors and size Sometimes you can just scrape or flick it off the plant stem Other common advice is to apply rubbing alcohol to it with a cotton swab This plant has a bad case of scale The leaves are sticky with a honeydew residue as a result For this one we cut off the branches with the worst of it scraped the remaining scale off as best we could and washed it with soapy water Another type of scale 3 I think these are the worst What looks like some kind of white fungus is really mealybugs These white fuzzy bugs cause a mess They feed on the plant sap weakening the plant and eventually killing it If you notice these you can wash them off with water or wipe them off with a cloth to get rid of them 4 A pest that is hard to see is spider mites These bugs are tiny red dots that reside on the dry underside of leaves When they feed on the plants it gives the leaves a speckled stippled appearance The leaves eventually become dry and yellowed You might also notice a few strands of web around the leaves Spider mites can be hard to treat once they become established If you catch them early enough you can wash them off with water Using water is a common preventive measure against pests The water washes off the dirt or dust that can harbor mites and it usually takes care of the bugs and eggs that hide among the leaves This is especially important for house plants that don t get

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/179/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    why the medicine was unorganized is because the bathroom looks like this in half renovated fashion There is no sink and no storage I didn t have a place to put anything I ve actually gotten used to it Then Jules at Pancakes and French Fries showed how she puts her medicine in the kitchen It was so clear and simple I was just sitting there thinking Oh So that s how to do it I even had some empty cabinets at the far end of the kitchen away from the heat and cooking and conveniently close to the back door I sorted the medicine into three sections one for medicine that is just for the kids one for first aid with a few more grown up medicines tossed in and a group of supplements such as Vitamin C enzymes and the calcium chew ables that taste like Starburst candy What took the longest was deciding to dispose of the ones that were expired It was hard to do because basically I felt like I was throwing away money In addition to the cost I was thinking about calamity and how in a disaster wouldn t I prefer to have recently expired medicine instead of no medicine Then I realized what I was looking at was not life saving medicine but stuff like honey cough suppressant and anti itch cream In other words no big deal Maybe disposing of unused medicine was good because it meant we hadn t needed it after all and when my family does get sick I will take five dollars to the drug store and buy them some new medicine Now everything is easier to find and it s also harder for the kids to reach How do you keep your medicine organized 66 Comments How to Make It Easier to Clean Kids Rooms I was thinking the other day of how some families pay their kids money for doing extra chores at home Apparently my kid was thinking about this too When my five year old daughter offered to pay me ten quarters to clean her room I laughed Then she upped her offer to three euros and I knew she meant it She really did want her room to be clean and pretty but it was too difficult for her to do on her own I get overwhelmed at the thought of trying to clean and organize her room and she s only five so how does it make her feel We already simplify and declutter the toys and my daughter is good at that actually too good She doesn t have too many toys or books or even stuffed animals The issue we re facing is that some of her stuff is so random we don t know where it should go For small kids you can put their toys on a shelf sorted into baskets with logical categories dolls blocks cars little stuff and so on When I was a teenager

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/24/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    she lights up and gets excited about that I don t keep all of the toys immediately accessible The ones that aren t age appropriate right now are in a storage bin that I lined with poster board so the kids can t see what s inside and I put it in the closet The puzzles and games are kept in a cabinet in the living room which helps to keep them organized We re trying to teach the kids to get one out at a time and put it back before they get a new one They also have a bunch of little plastic toys prizes and trinkets and they LOVE this stuff I don t mind if they have it but it all has to fit in one basket so there s a limit They pack their backpacks with it and go on adventures Since my kids both have summer birthdays it s rare for them to get new toys apart from Christmas and birthdays At Christmas we buy each kid one special toy but not a lot else because we know they ll receive more gifts from relatives I also try clutter prevention by not browsing at Target with my kids and avoiding the toys that don t give kids anything to do other than collect more We try to foster the idea of family toys that they share Most of our toys so far are gender neutral When I bought a play kitchen for example I didn t buy the pink one When we went to Italy for three months my kids shared one backpack of small toys I still had to pick up things every day but they enjoyed all of their toys and that was nice Cleaning out your kids toys can be a big project but it can also be as simple as saying Hey can you find two or three toys in your room that you don t want anymore Little efforts count Do you need to tackle the toys 60 Comments Parenting Thoughts 10 Playtime Ideas and Family Finances I found my kids in the laundry room All they needed was popcorn I write at Alpha Mom about parenting and family Here is what I ve been thinking about lately 10 Ideas To Keep Your Little Kids Playing For Hours these playtime ideas require only a small amount of set up from me Don t Quit Before Your Parenting Shift Is Over for those challenging last few hours of the day Tips To Teach Your Kids About Household Bills And Budgets I won t wait until my kids turn eighteen before I teach them about paying the bills and those other grown up responsibilities I m brainstorming ways to involve our kids in our family s finances Join me there 15 Comments Make a Weekly Cleaning Routine I had coffee with a friend and she said that she wanted to find a cleaning routine but every time she made one she

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/25/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    the back of the pantry but the fuel gauge was below the E Dana asked Do you live close to work how many cars do you have I would love to hear the details here We fill up the gas tank in my car 2 or 3 times a month and it costs about 60 per tank right now The gas Doug uses for work is reimbursed by his company so the main cost is driving my car for family outings and errands We are starting with 3 4 of a tank of gas in my car If we fill it up twice this month it leaves only 30 a week for food so I am hoping we will use less by combining trips and staying close to home Really there s only one way to save money on gas There s no discount store brands or coupons You can t negotiate the price You can simply use less Keeping that in mind a couple of years ago we made some strategic decisions The first was choosing reliable cars with good gas mileage We own two Honda Accords We bought both of them used so that we could pay for them with cash One car is 9 years old and the other is 10 years old They both run exceptionally well We try to do regular preventive maintenance to keep them in good condition and running efficiently Check out my post on how to change a car s air filter The second decision was choosing where we live I stay home with Lane now but I used to work in an office building less than a mile from our apartment I loved that 4 minute commute and I could often come home for lunch Within a mile or two we

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/178/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    walk around and look at all the food But if I had bought any of the prepared foods I wouldn t have been able to meet my budget I simply bought basic ingredients Here are healthy nourishing foods you can always find at a good low price No matter what store No matter what season No matter if you don t clip coupons eggs bananas carrots corn broccoli lettuce cabbage celery potatoes sweet potatoes onions canned vegetables canned tuna peanut butter oatmeal whole grain bread flour corn meal quinoa brown rice beans lentils pasta spaghetti sauce sunflower seeds popcorn not microwaved string cheese yogurt To feed my family nourishing food on a tight budget the basic foods above are the ones I go to first I also take advantage of the season s fresh fruits and vegetables Once the basic needs are met I start adding in other foods that I like to use such as milk olive oil and butter and sweeteners like honey and agave nectar We eat meat occasionally but I buy it on sale and freeze it I like to add one or two favorite foods to the list as a splurge to help keep us motivated to eat at home instead of going out Coupons or programs such as Angel Food Ministries give even more food savings What other foods should be on the list 27 Comments 1st Week of No Spend Month Date night picnic in the park For the first week of No Spend Month we spent a total of 13 We re pretty happy with that The 13 went toward basics like dish detergent salt bananas and chicken The first week We ate leftovers from having family visit us earlier in the week We started eating food from the pantry We combined

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/177/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    house 86 Comments Cherry Blossom Art from a 2 Liter Bottle This week I was trying to come up with a spring craft project As I looked through my kitchen to find something I could use to make flowers it occurred to me that the bottom of a 2 liter soda bottle has five points on it which resemble the five petals of a cherry blossom I m sharing the full instructions for this cherry blossom stamp art from a recycled soda bottle at Alphamom com 21 Comments How Can I Darken This Cabinet Hardware I have the original hardware on my kitchen cabinets and I d like to keep them but the pulls that receive the most frequent use like the one on the left are noticeably lighter than the rest How can I make them the same dark color They are made from some kind of die cast metal I don t think they re brass They are forty years old and the finish is wearing off What is the best way to restore them I could spray paint them I have a spray can of oil rubbed bronze paint in my garage but I ve only painted things like mirrors and light fixtures not things that need to withstand frequent handling I could use a metallic wax like Rub n Buff or is there a chemical that would be better Our strategy for this home renovation is to use good materials that will last so that we only have to do it once I don t care so much about how it will look when it s finished or when I take a picture for the blog I care more about how it will look in a few years from now Do you have any suggestions Have

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/26/ (2016-02-10)
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  • Blog - Small Notebook
    guest post 7 Benefits of Imperfection 6 Comments 2nd Week of No Spend Month This second week of No Spend Month was harder than the first I would love to go out to eat one night soon I sure don t take it for granted anymore but I guess that s the point We spent 44 this week which seemed like a lot compared to 13 the week before Then I realized that we re halfway through the month and we ve only spent 57 total The second week We spent 44 on groceries I bought the good expensive juice this time because the cheap kind last week was really really bad We didn t have to buy gas because we only used 1 4 tank We ate food from the freezer and some meatless dinners I dreamed about going shopping at a J Crew sale and every skirt was the perfect size and style I didn t want to wake up I finally learned how to make delicious iced coffee I ve always been confused if I should make regular hot coffee and then chill it or steep the grounds in cold water Finally this recipe via How About Orange explained why cold brewed iced coffee tastes better It could not be easier I followed the recipe and used my french press to filter it I didn t need to add much sugar because the coffee tasted so good I ll be having this every day A little about budgeting In a typical month we use our debit cards try to remember how much we spent and then hope it comes close to our budget at the end of the month This month though we switch to a cash budget since every dollar counts At the beginning of each

    Original URL path: http://smallnotebook.org/blog/page/176/ (2016-02-10)
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