A Good Organizing Tip

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:54 am on Friday, January 3, 2014

This William Morris quote has long been one of my mottoes, so I was pleased to see it illustrated by the awesome artist Lisa Congdon.

What around you does not fit into these categories right now?

8 Tips For Saving Money

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:45 am on Thursday, January 2, 2014

This savings plan is floating around the Internet. I like it because it showed how incremental savings can add up.

When my son was born in 2012, I started saving $300 a month for his college fund, adding it to a small savings account we had previously used for travel. The money didn’t seem like much, but it was better than nothing. And I figured we could increase the amount later on. After all, he’s just a baby.

Today, my son isn’t even 2 years old and he already has enough for his first semester of college.

I’m shocked how quickly that $300 a month added up. If we keep this up, he should have plenty of money for college when he graduates. And since I save the money as soon as we get paid, we never feel the $300 going out.

For most of us, it doesn’t work is to be too ambitious with savings goals. Last year, my resolution was to save 40% of our income every month. Of course we didn’t get anywhere close to that number. It was too big of a goal.

So this year, I’m dialing it back. My plan is to save a regular, doable amount every month. I would still like to save 40%, but I need to work up to that number. Slow and steady wins the race sometimes.

8 Tips For Saving Money

Pick A Small Amount To Save Every Month. A good rule of thumb is 10% of your income. If that’s too much, pick a regular amount–$300 a month is better than nothing. Heck, $50 is better than nothing. The trick is to save that amount, no matter what.

Pay Yourself First. It really does work to take the savings off the top of your paycheck before you deal with anything else. You won’t miss the money if you don’t know it’s there. You can even set up an account to automatically save the money for you.

Don’t Touch Your Savings Account.
This should go without sayings but: unless it’s an emergency, like you’re going to lose your house if you don’t, make it a rule to never take money out of savings.

Put Extra Paychecks Directly Into Savings. Whenever we end up with extra money, like a big tax return or freelance work, it goes into savings and not the checking account. This is a great way to beef up the savings account without even noticing it.

Cut Your Bills And Put Extra Into Savings. Say you call your cable company and decide to go from $150/month satellite service to a pared down $60/month cable plan. That extra $85 now goes into savings every month. Do this with all your bills and see how big the number can get.

Sell Extra Stuff. Put that stuff cluttering your house on Craigslist, Ebay, or Amazon, or hold a yard sale. Put the money into savings.

Track Your Spending. Keep a price book for a month or two and track all your spending. Look for places you can cut back. Do so. Save!

Don’t Beat Yourself Up. I’m not crying in my soup over not making my 40%-of-income goal. I simply adjusted my expectations and moved on. The point is to keep trying. It all adds up in the end.

Want more?


Here’s to a much bigger savings account at the end of 2014!

10 Tips To Lose Weight

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:59 am on Wednesday, January 1, 2014

I’m no doctor and I don’t claim to be stick thin. That said, since it’s the beginning of the year and we’re all trying to lose weight (yet again!) I thought I’d share some tips for weight loss that I know work.

They’re common sense ideas that can be summed up as: only eat when hungry, cut out the extras, and move around. Here they are:

10 TIPS TO LOSE WEIGHT:

ONLY EAT WHEN YOU’RE HUNGRY.
Ignore the time of day or when you think you should eat and wait until you feel physical hunger. That’s your body telling you it’s ready for food. If you eat when your body isn’t hungry, it will store that food by turning it into fat. So don’t be afraid of a little emptiness in your belly.

COUNT CALORIES. Counting calories turns losing weight into a simple math problem. If you’re under the calorie count, you will lose weight. No more worrying about gluten or carbs or how many points things have–just add a row of numbers and stop when you hit the limit. There are even online programs to help you. You can calculate how many calories you need to get to your desired weight here and then keep track of what you eat on sites like Livestrong or FitDay.

REMOVE SNACKS FROM THE HOUSE. Getting control of snacking is essential to long-term weight loss. The way I got out of the habit was to stop buying snack food—no more chips, cookies, ice cream, or even healthy snacks like dried fruit or vegetable chips. When it’s not in the house, I won’t eat it.

EAT MOSTLY FRUITS, VEGETABLES, AND LEAN PROTEINS. When I’m losing weight, I choose foods like salads, fish with a vegetable side, chicken breasts, fruit, vegetarian sandwiches, and so on. Since fruits, veggies, and lean proteins are lower calorie, simply opting for them means you’re more likely to lose weight. Plus, they’re good for you.

EAT SWEETS ONLY ONCE A WEEK. I know this is tough for some people, but there does seem to be something to the idea of sugar being addicting. If you have dessert every day, your body comes to expect it. Once a week is plenty of sweets for me, and it makes having dessert into something special.

DRINK LOW-CALORIE DRINKS. I mostly drink no-calorie beverages like water, diet soda, coffee and try to keep regular soda, juice, and alcohol to a minimum. Wine in particular can creep up on me—one 5-ounce glass of wine has 130 calories, which is almost like drinking a can of Coke. That can add up fast.

WATCH FATTY EXTRAS. Examples of “fatty extras”: mayonnaise, aioli, pesto, whip cream, ranch dressing, tarter sauce, peanut butter, and hollandaise sauce. You know what I’m talking about. When eating out, I always get these sauces on the side so I can control how much goes on my food. Or better yet, skip it altogether. (Or substitute avocado.)

EAT AT HOME. Sad to say, but eating out makes you fatter. You’re just not as likely to layer on as much butter and grease as a restaurant is likely to do. Plus, eating at home saves money.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR BODY SIGNALS. I haaaattteee feeling too full and will go to great lengths to avoid it. When I’m eating, I notice when I’m getting full and start to slow down. Even if I’ve only eaten half my food, when I get the signal I’m full, I stop eating. If I never overeat, I never feel gross after a meal. Learn to recognize that signal in your body—it’s there.

MOVE! You don’t have to get a fancy gym membership to lose weight. Go for walks, kick a ball around, ride a bike, plant a garden, drag out the tennis racket … in other words, find movement that is fun for you, and try to do it a couple times a week. If more people had fun with exercise, more people would do it.

Weight loss! That’s what works for me. What works for you?

New Year’s Jar 2013

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 11:36 am on Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My New Year’s Jar

Almost a year ago, I mentioned I was going to make a New Year’s Jar. You write down things that happen during the year and put them in the jar. Then on New Year’s Eve, you read the notes in the jar.

Well, I’ve been doing it:

Tonight we read the notes. I’m looking forward to it.

What about you? Did you keep a New Year’s Jar for 2013?

Turn Your Christmas Tree Into Spruce Beer

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 10:46 am on Monday, December 30, 2013

Don’t throw out your Christmas tree–make beer from it first. Supposedly, you can recycle some of the needles into Spruce Beer, according to this article.

Those who have a living Christmas tree can harvest the fresh new growth from their tree to make the following drink, which has been adapted from an 18th century recipe. It is also possible to use the needles from a dead Christmas tree, as long as they haven’t dried completely out and are still pretty green.

In fact, Spruce Beer is a very old drink. According to NPR, “Ancient Scandinavians and their Viking descendants brewed beer from young shoots of Norway spruce, drinking the beer for strength in battle, for fertility and to prevent scurvy on long sea voyages.” I suppose ancient Scandinavians had more access to spruce needles than the grain we use to make beer today.

Well, why not give it a try? Here’s a recipe from Andy Hamilton:

Spruce Beer

Ingredients:

    5 litres of water
    100g spruce needles
    20g hops
    One thumb-sized piece of bruised root ginger
    600g malt extract (alternatively molasses, treacle, or honey)
    1 packet ale yeast (available from home brew stockist or online)

Directions:

Bring the water to the boil and add the spruce, hops and ginger. Boil for 30 minutes. Stir in the malt extract and boil for a further 10 minutes. Strain into a fermentation bin or food grade bucket and, when cooled to room temperature, add the yeast.

Leave in a warm place for one week. Siphon into bottles. Will be ready to drink immediately.

No word if there is such a thing as Douglas fir beer yet.

Use A Pillow Case To Organize Your Sheets

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:25 am on Friday, December 27, 2013

I’ve recently started storing my sheet sets in a pillow case, like in the above picture. You fold the sheets and pillow cases and put them in one of the pillow cases.

That way when you make the bed, the sheets are already together in one bundle. Plus it makes your linen closet look a lot neater!

I can’t believe it took me so long to start doing this.

Merry Christmas 2013

Filed under: News — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:30 am on Wednesday, December 25, 2013

May your Christmas be filled with love, joy, peace, and family harmony.

Here is a video of people getting puppies for Christmas:

Christmas Posts Round-Up

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:23 am on Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I’ve written many posts about Christmas but have never done a Christmas Round-Up before! Here are some posts going back to 2008.

savvyhousekeeping strawberry santas

Food:

Strawberry Santas

10 Christmas Breakfasts

Peppermint Meringue Cookies

How To Roast Chestnuts

Traditional English-ish Christmas Dinner

Which Dessert For Christmas?

savvyhousekeeping holiday cheer cocktail

Drink:

Holiday Cheer Cocktail

Wassail Punch

Christmas Cosmo

Puerto Rican Coquito: Coconut Eggnog

savvyhousekeeping From plastic bag to gift topper

Gift Wrapping:

From Plastic Bag To Gift Topper

5 Cool Gift Wrap Ideas

Gift Tag from Paint Chips

How To Make Christmas Bows

Gift Wrapping Round-Up

The Cheapest Ways To Get Wrapping Paper

savvyhousekeeping shalkboard serving tray christmas gift present

Make Your Own Gifts:

10 DIY Christmas Gifts

10 More DIY Christmas Gifts

10 Fast DIY Christmas Gifts

My Christmas Food Gifts

Polite Ways To Reduce The Gift Treadmill

DIY Christmas

Five Tips for Saving Money on Gift Giving

savvyhousekeeping Miley Cyrus Christmas ball ornament

Ornaments:

Miley Cyrus Wrecking Ball Ornament

3 DIY Christmas Ornaments

3D Print Your Own Christmas Tree Monorail

3D Print Your Own Poinsettia Ornament

savvyhousekeeping three christmas decoration ideas

House Decoration:

3 Christmas Decoration Ideas

Giant Balloon Ornaments

Easy Christmas Decoration

The Cost Of Running Christmas Lights

How To Save Your Poinsettia

savvyhousekeeping button wreath christmas

Wreaths:

Nightmare Before Christmas Wreath

Five Recycled Christmas Wreaths

3 DIY Christmas Wreaths

Knitter’s Wreath

From Dinosaur To Toothbrush Holder

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:20 am on Friday, December 20, 2013

Here’s a good idea from Family Fun Magazine: turn a plastic dinosaur into a kid-friendly toothbrush holder.

Pick a hollow dinosaur toy (they can often be purchased for about $1), trace the size of the toothbrush on the dinosaur, and use a craft knife to cut out the hole. Make sure to cut a hole all the way through the dinosaur for easy cleaning. Voila! A fun way to make tooth brushing more inviting for your kid.

Cool Geek Present: Beaker Mug

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:47 am on Thursday, December 19, 2013

Check out this Beaker Mug for the scientist on your list. (What? You don’t have a scientist on your list?)

I learned about from Linux Journal’s The Geek’s Guide to the Coolest 2013 Holiday Gifts. Click through to see more geek-friendly presents.

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