Monday, January 13, 2014

Online/App Chore Chart

Our warm fuzzy jars worked great for rewarding good behavior but didn't really give us any structure and organization when it comes to chores.  Especially since my kids are getting older now and can handle a daily chore chart.  I came across this wonderful app on my iphone and I have it also on my ipod and my ipad and you can also access the app from the internet so I have it on my favorites list on my desk top and my laptop.  The app is also available on android devices. So if you are interested in using this chore chart those are a few of the ways that you can use it.   You can reach the program online here at myjobchart.com.  If you are searching on your app store search "my job chart."

One of the great advantages of using the online program is that it automatically updates everyday.  Sometimes that was the downfall of other charts that I've tried at home. Mom malfunction.  I would forget to update or get a new sheet or count points and start over.  This program will do all of that for you.  Not to mention the fact that you can personalize chores for each child and days of the week and you can assign points to be allotted for jobs done.  The jobs can be divided into daytime and night time jobs too.

The kids just login and then check of the chores when they are complete.  Then when they complete the chores they are given points and then they can choose how to spend their points.  You get to pick the rewards that they choose from and I usually let the kids help me pick too that way they are more motivated to do their chores.  Then they organize their points and can either save, share, or spend.

It can also be a way to let the kids learn responsibility and less yelling.  If they don't do it they don't get the points and if I have to do it then I don't have the energy or time to do other things for them.  So if they asked, "Can you do ____  for me?"  you could reply, "I really tired so I can't because I had to do your chores."

My kiddos love earning points and using electronics for their chore chart and this one had all the features that I wanted.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Top 16 Gift Ideas and Recipes Using Essential Oils

I love the Holidays and I love making people happy with gifts and goodies so I have put together a list of links of some of my favorite ideas:
 
1.) Peppermint Patties!  I love her blog everything I've made off of her blog is really good!

2.)  5 Gift ideas from Doterra blog including the easy Bath Salts and sugar scrub

3.)  Dryer Balls with a bottle of oils (For dryer sheets)

4.)  DIY Diffuser Necklaces

5.)  Travel tin/ small gift set of oils
6.)  Roller Bottles...You could make up a group of your favorite oils into roller bottles and tie a ribbon around them
with some oils info.  When I fill the bottles I fill with a 1-1 ratio essential oil to Carrier oil (Fractionated Coconut oil)
for adults and a 1-2 ratio essential oil to carrier oil for kids.  This is such an easy way for kids to put on their oils.
This is where I buy my bottles great site...https://www.aromatools.com/Glass_Plastic_s/3.htm

7.)  Room Spray or Monster Spray!  Room spray is a great replacement for air freshener that is non-toxic.  Also Monster Spray
is pretty much the same thing only I use Lavender for my scent and it is the perfect remedy for monsters at night. 
I even let my kids spray it to put them in control of getting rid of the monsters.  Not only do they think it gets rid of monsters it is
full of lavender which will help them calm down and sleep.

8.)  Bath Bombs/bath fizzies
....There were many more recipe's for them when I searched bath bombs under Google. 
......Also as a tip: you can substitute Citric acid (which can be hard to find) for half the
amount of Cream of Tartar.

9.)  Tub truffles
...This is only one of the many recipes when I was searching.
The main idea that I got was equal parts of coconut oil and a butter i.e. like Cocoa or Shea
and then and a little bit of fractionated coconut oil to combine and some of your favorite essential oil
for scent and then freeze and package.

10.)  DIY Whipped Body Butter

11.)  Hot cocoa recipe and popcorn... doTerra Holiday Magazine recipe ideas and prices for holiday oils and specials.
http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/f8e184ab#/f8e184ab/1

12.)  GingerBread Men....I just added oils in place of spices i.e. Cinnamon oil, Ginger oil, and Clove oil and add it into the wet ingredients instead of the dry...This dough seemed really dry when we were rolling them out but we rolled them out pretty thick and didn't over bake and they turned out really nice and chewy yummy!
 
13.)  Cranberry Chutney...This was really good what a great dip for any holiday party!
14.)  Cheesecake swirl Peppermint Brownie's....I just added a drop of peppermint to the brownie mix you could
do this with your favorite brownie recipe to give it some holiday flare.  It makes an easy classic into something
for the holidays and an easy yet yummy filler for those Holiday Cookie Plates.  Also try adding a bottle of oils to
the top of your plates with a ribbon or a cookies cutter or an ornament.  Always a nice Touch!

15.)  Pinterest Doterra Oils recipes

16.)  Fruit Dip and other Yummy and Easy Food and oil recipes.  The Fruit Dip with Wild Orange is delicious.
....She also has some great spa product recipes and other ideas so search her blog for more ideas!

***When cooking with essential oils make sure you are using good stage oils such as doTERRA!****

Happy Holiday's and fun gift and treat making!!!
 
Helpful links for Essentail Oils info:
 
Remember for the month of December if you sign up with a 200pv order (Product value is usually equal to the dollar amount)  you get a free 15 ml bottle of Frankincense a 93$ value.  Great deal!  I'm also looking for someone to join my team so let me know if you are interested and I would love to build you your own team!  
 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"There's nothing to eat!"

Do your kids complain that there is nothing to eat?  I myself personally hate this, however I also remember saying it when I was a kid.  So I'm guessing that this is a common problem.  The second my kids say it I can list off a number of snacks that they could eat.  So what did I do help aid the snack dilemma and stop the, "There's nothing to eat!"

1.  I emptied out one of my crisper drawers in the refrigerator and designated it as a drawer for snacks.  It was the bottom drawer because I'm tall and my kids are short! :)  This has been a huge improvement for the kids finding a snack.  No more standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open trying to decide what to eat.  They go in, open their drawer, and pick something.

This is what kind of snacks I put in the drawer:
 - string cheese
 - baby carrots
 - cleaned grapes
 - gogurt
 - cut up fruit, vege's, i.e. catalope, pineapple, berries (just clean and place in airtight Tupperware)
 - oranges, apples, and pears
 - mini manadarin oranges or applesauce

The key is to make the snacks ready to eat, without a lot of work for you or the kids to do when snack time comes along.  I love it too because you can have healthy options for the kids, a place for the snacks to go, and the kids know exactly where to go when they are hungry.

2.) Have one place in the pantry for dry snacks.  If you don't have a pantry use one shelf in the cabnets.  One small place.  If I make big trips to cosco/samsclub then I will put extra snacks somewhere else.  Only the snacks that I want them to eat are on the snack shelf.  It limits choices and helps the kids see the available options and helps them make a faster choice.

These are the kinds of snacks I put on the snack shelf:
 - Fruit snacks
 - Crackers
 - Nuts
 - Granola Bars
 - Nutrigrain bars
 - Healthy homemade snacks

I do not put candy or other dessert items here I save these for dessert or family night or just plain snacks they have to ask for.  But with the other snacks I just let the kids help themselves, a little freedom is good and they don't eat me out of house and home either.  If they haven't had freedom with snacks yet they may over eat a bit at first but their body will tell them when they've had enough. Well, I do have one daughter that could eat as many sweets treats as she wanted, thats why I limit those snacks.

3.) I had a friends mom who would put out bowls of snacks on the table for the kids during snack time and they could pick what they wanted.  I like that idea but I could never keep up with it.  But it might work for you too!

*Now what about the opposite dilemma?  Too many treats at Halloween!!!!!!  When I was a kid we had maybe an hour party at school and then trick or treating that night and that was it.  I feel like there is soooo much going on for Halloween.  Downtown trick or treat, Harvest party/Carnival, Library story-time party, ALLLLLLL day Halloween Party, parade, and trick or treat at school, and trunk or treat and trick or treats.  It is too much.  Well anyway, needless to say next year we will be boycotting half of the activities.  Yah I say that now! ;)  Anyway,  my husband is against taking all the candy away that makes it home so I steal all their bags and then I can at least limit how much they eat at a time.  My kids really have learned when enough is enough and I do see them stop most of the time when they've had enough.
A couple tummy aches and even the thing that follows.  But now one of my daughters always says, "I've had enough!"

1.)  One of my friends gives the kids a sandwich size ziplock bag and says what ever fits in here you can keep and everything else either gets thrown away or put away!

2.) My sister-in-law makes a type of advent calender with the candy.  She wraps a piece of candy for each day until Christmas in plastic wrap individually and then let's them eat a piece a day as a count down to Christmas!

3.) Always take some pieces for yourself when you're inspecting the candy as a tax for the taxing service you provided on Halloween! :)

How do you get your kids to eat healthy and stay away from too many sweets for the holidays?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fall Decorating

I love to decorate for each season it is one of my favorite things about changing season's.  It gives me a wonderful feeling to have the feel of fall in the house and out!  I love to do it and so do the kids.  Sometimes I feel like I just want to be creative and then then let the kids do something themselves.

So try doing something for you and then something for them.  

For You:

*I love using items that are naturally found around in nature for the season.
     - Corn stalks, Hay bales, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, branches, leaves, apples, branches, pine cones...
*Burlap is also nice this year, and it can go with everything.
* I made this vase of flowers that I found in my yard, I snipped some of the mums and vines from the honey suckle and then the tops of the day lillies after the lillies fall off are a really nice shape.
*Another Hint would be to decorate for the season rather then the holiday.  I do have a few Halloween decorations that I like but mostly I put out fall themed decorations so that I can leave them up a little longer to enjoy!





For the Kids:
* They love the window clings and you can find them for a dollar pretty easily at Wal-Mart or the Dollar store.  Give them a page of those and it will keep them busy while you decorate the rest of the house.
*Give them some craft projects to do that they can hang up and then you can do new ones each year. - Search Pinterest for Halloween Crafts for Kids there are tons of ideas

This Year we made these pumpkins.  We put pumpkin pie spice in the kids paint and then they painted the back of a paper plate.  We let it dry and then they glued on shapes to make faces.

I found the idea on... Growing a Jeweled Rose...
http://www.growingajeweledrose.com/2012/09/fall-pumpkin-scented-painting-activity.html

Well this post is a little late, it's been in the works for a bit. :)  So if you've already decorated you can also use these ideas for Harvest dinners or your thanksgiving center piece.  Also, this will give you some ideas to think about when you are at estate sales or shopping after season sales.  It is a great time to buy stuff for next year.

Happy Decorating!!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Organizing Children's Art Supplies

I have got a plethora of art supplies at the house.  And they are driving me nuts.  Not to mention the fact that my children would get into the supplies and leave them laying around, or color on the walls or furniture or their friends would get into them.  I needed to stop complaining about this and fix it...
Here is a picture of all of the supplies that I gathered up and decided that I no longer liked my attempts to organize.  Sometimes I get really irritated at how much it costs to buy organizational material so that's why I put it off for awhile until it is driving me so crazy that I have a mini freak out on the kids, my husband, or myself.  So what I decided to do was:
1.)  Looked at what I had that could work for what I needed.  I had this older hutch that I held just little extra kitchen things in that I decided they would fit somewhere else.  I measured the hutch and then I searched for some plastic bins that would fit in it.  I found some at Hobby Lobby for a descent price.
2.)  I went through all of the supplies and I got rid of the things that we no longer used or that I had more of one thing of and then I went ahead and organized the supplies by categories.  You will need to choose categories that fit your needs.  As you can see I picked categories like Ribbon and Yarn, Stickers, Paint...Or you could organize your supplies by child.  Give everyone their own bin and let them take responsibility for their own supplies.  Then I placed them in the bins and into the hutch.  Use this as a guideline of how much supplies you want to have once they don't fit get rid of something.
3.) This has worked really well for us.  Our children know where to go when they want something and they know that it goes back there when they are done and I also showed them how to respect and use their supplies.
4.) Don't forget to Label them!
5.)  Think about what you have and how you can use it to hold supplies.  Or look at a garage sale for an old hutch or shelving and see if you can make it useful for you.  Here are some other ideas that I found online:


  • Hanging Shoe Holders
  • Put Paper over canned foods jars and place markers, crayons, etc.  Try a magnet and put it on a chalkboard.
  • Use coffee cups (we always get a lot of these)
  • Use Mason Jars and hang them on a wall or attach it to a desk
  • Overhaul your kids closet.  Hand up peg boards and hang up supplies and add shelving and some of the other ideas from above.
  • Use an old Book Shelf.
  • Containers and pull out drawers labeled on their desk (It's amazing what a label or picture will do)
  • Old Metal Filing Cabinet



  • This Cabinet Makeover is from a book I just love about using and reusing things you have.  The Creative Family by Amanda Blake Soule.
Be creative and come up with a solution that fits your space and your families needs!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pay Off Debt

I Promised my next post on debt.  Now besides doing all the things I talked about in my last post there are a few other tips I could share.  I kept hearing the leaders of the church talk about how we need to get out of debt and break the chains that bind us.  The feeling I get when I am in debt is a feeling of bondage.  It means that I am living in the past.  I am living with past decisions instead of living with future decisions.  As my husband and I worked hard to get out of debt we found that we have more freedom and choices rather then less.  Now that our "bad debt" is gone we can make the future what we want instead of paying off the past.

1.) Make a Goal
      Check out this link for a Debt Elimination Calender.  I have got a lot of great information on finances on Provident Living.  What you do is you line up all your debt payments such as credit cards and student loans and car loans then you put the one with either the highest interest rate first or maybe one that you can pay off first or one that has the least monthly payments.  Whichever is going to be best in your situation.  You pay that one off first and then when that is payed then you add that payment to the next debt payment.  Since you weren't using that money for regular expenses you can use it to more quickly pay off your debt.  Once the next debt is paid you apply that whole payment to the next and then to the next and so on and so forth until it is paid off.  Figure out what you are going to pay on what and make sure to follow step number one on the last post, quit making more debt.  Go to my post on goal making for more tips.

2.)  Calculate it:
Financial Calculators.  Sometimes it's just hard to know where to start and the debt and money situation can seem overwhelming. This link had some already made up calculators which are easy to follow.  Just plug in numbers and get information like:

How soon could I pay off all my debts?

How much should I save for emergencies?

Where is my money going?

Would spending a little less and saving a little more make a difference?

How long will it take to pay off my credit card?

When will my loan be paid off?

What if I pay a little extra each month on my loan?

What would my payment be if I borrowed?

Should I refinance my home mortgage?

What would be my monthly payment on a new home?

How much should I save for retirement?

Are my current retirement savings adequate?

How much retirement income will I have if I save regularly?

How much should I save to reach my goal?

How much could I have if I saved regularly? 

Pay Close attention to the first Calculator for debt payoff.  This information can give you a realistic goal.  I remember being really gung ho about wanting to pay off my credit card debt and every paycheck I would just pay it all off well then I had no more money to buy our needs with so I had to use the card again and then I had a viscous cycle.  If you are going to use a card keep track like a debit card and have the money first and then pay it off.  Don't be in a rush, be patient and smart.  We tend to make these decisions emotional when we are in a lot of stress over it but when we remember that the Lord has promised to take care of us if we are doing all we can then you have to let the rest go and just do the best you can and put the past behind you and work with what you have now.

3.)  Move on and make future plans.  Now on to good debt like buying
a home and make sure to keep yourself in check with your budget.  My sister-in-law is trying to move me into the 21st century so I have been looking into some expense and budget trackers for my smartphone.  This may be the way to go instead of my little notebook.  Anyone know any good ones with minimal cost and without having to purchase extra software?  Or is it worth it to get the extra software?

4.) Do Not Forget to Save.  If you have a savings and make that top on the list in your budget then you will less likely have to go into debt again because there are always things that come up that you have to spend money on, like our health and if the car breaks down in a ghost town...etc...And next time you will be prepared instead of going down the whole again.  But if you do have to go in the whole again at least you know how to get out again.

One Small Step at a time!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Making a Budget That Works For You

My Husband and I were struggling financially for many years.  We had credit card debt and  car loans and student loans and no savings.  It is clear that we had a problem but what exactly was the problem?  It wasn't until we started making significantly less money then we had been and were still surviving that we realized that it didn't really matter how much money we had but how we spent it.  So we decided that we needed to change the way that we spent and viewed our money.  There are a couple of things that really help.  And this isn't in past tense because we still have to do this now to stay on top of things.

#1. Stop Spending Money You Don't Have

Cut up the credit cards.  Quit frankly we didn't cut them up but we got rid of all of them but one and we resolved not to use it unless we had an emergency.  i.e. Stranded with your car somewhere away from home...or medical emergencies.  The very cute sweater that there is only one left of and it is on sale, does not count as an emergency.  I know a lot of people who use their cards for points and then only spend what they have, however if you are anything like my husband and I and you like to spend more than what you have then this would not work for you so do not be tempted if this has not worked for you it probably won't work for you again.

#2. Track your Spending

 For at least two months, if not more, make a very detailed list of everything that you spend.  And I am talking everything.   NO CHEATING!!!  This a very important step, do not skip it.  We tried making our budget and sticking to it before we had done this step and it was not successful.  So this step is very important.  How I did this was I used a small notebook and I kept it in my purse.  Every purchase I made and my husband made was written in the notebook.  My husband would save and give me any receipts of purchases that he made and I would record them in the book.  Especially one or two dollar purchases, you will be surprised how much they add up.  It is important to keep a separate book from your checkbook account recorder because there are always cash purchases made and it is also equally important that you record what the money was spent on.  So let's say you bought gas but you also went in and got a drink and a snack.  So you would write down how much you spent on everything separately.

i.e.

$52.34  Gasoline
$4.50  Snacks
.75 cents on magazine
$150.67   back to school supplies
$20 Soccer
$230.12 Groceries
$45.78 Toiletries 
$25.09 Wendy's
$120.45 Power Bill
$112.87 Phone/Internet/TV
...

#3.  Figure Out what Categories you Will need for your Budget

After you compile your lists take all the information and group them by items how you would like them to look on you budget.  For Instance, if you would like your budget to look something like:

Kids Extras
Groceries
Wants (Or what we call Mad Money)
Etc. 

Then you will go through all the information you have gathered.  Let's say that at the end of the month you found out that you spend $400 a month on groceries.  And you want to group together kids expenses because they are not always the same every month so when you go through the list for example you could combine back to school expenses and Soccer in a kids category etc.  

#4.  Figure out Where You Can cut Back

Once you figured out how much you spent on each category that you have on your budget you will need to figure out what is a realistic amount to spend on each category.  Ask yourself these questions after you have gathered the information...

Am I spending more then what I make?

What categories am I spending too much in?

Where can I cut back?

Is there a bill that I can get rid of?  i.e. cable and switch to netflix, can I get a cheaper phone plan, can I ask any loan/credit card companies to decrease my interest rates for being a customer in good standing, can I sell a car with a huge loan or huge taxes/insurance for a car with less, 

Call your utility companies and see if they will give you a monthly rate so that you can plan your budget more accurately.  All of ours did that and it made making the budget more consistant.  (Usually you have had to have service for a year.  So they can get an average.)

***Caution*** Make sure that when you make your budget and decide where you need to cut back that you are thinking realistically.  If you normally spend $400 a month on groceries then don't say, "oh I could get that down to $100."  You need to think specifically how you will reduce it.  If you are going to become an extreme couponer then that might be more realistic.  However if you do not have 20+ hours a week to committ to that plan then you would not be succesful.   An example of a positive change would be:
If you spend part of that grocery money on bread and decide you could cut that in half by making your own bread that would be taking action to change how you spend the money.  

By just writing on your budget to spend $50 less on groceries without taking any kind of action probably isn't going to happen and then you will feel frustrated that you are trying to keep a budget that doesn't work for you and you can't make it work and then you will just go back to your old ways and the cycle continues.  That is one of the mistakes my husband and I made so take it from me you don't have to do it the hard way.  Do not budget yourself so far under what you can practically handle.

#5.  Make and fill in your Budget

So once you have figured out how much you are going to spend on what you need a template and someway to track it.  You could use a print out and just print it out and write out how much you plan to spend.  You could keep track on the computer on a spread sheet tracker or money software.  I tried all of those though and failed.  I have my little notebook and I write the budget in it then when we get paid I make sure that what we made that paycheck matches the budget because we don't get salary our paycheck changes so sometimes I will have to do a mini switch of something and think okay I can't buy a new shirt this month I will have to wait etc.  My Budget looks like this:

May 1st Paycheck                     2nd Paycheck
Tithing                                         Tithing        
Power Bill                                    Insurance
Gas Bill                                        Phone
Internet/Tv                                   Rent
Grocery/food                               Water
Gasoline                                      Grocery
Extra Needs                                Gasoline
Mad Money                                 Extra Needs  
Medical                                       Mad Money
Savings                                       Medical
                                                   Savings
(Here I put anything extra for the month i.e. vacation, gifts, house expenses, I usually wait for a paycheck with overtime in order to pay for these things or if we don't have any of these planned I will put more money into savings.)

I write how much I am going to spend in each category, by now I have pretty well figured out the magic number in each category but it took some time.  A lot of time.  I had to practice and we had to make a lot of mistakes.  The point is, is that we did not let failure get us down, we kept going and we kept trying and we kept making mistakes and we kept learning and getting better at it.  You will also notice that I have no debt payments right now however if you have credit cards or loans to pay off you will need to add that to the budget also.  I will post next about how we paid off our debt.

#6. Seperate Your Money to help manage your spenging.

  I do not put all of this money in the bank.  After I write the amount after the category I will write an A or a C.  A is for Account and C is for Cash.  i.e.

Power Bill $120 A
Grocery $200 C

I take out cash for many categories that it is easy for my husband and I to over spend in.  Like Gas and Groceries and extra "needs" and Kids activities etc.  This ensures that I will not over spend.  The money that I put in the account is for things like accuring bills that do not change much and savings.  Like the water bill and insurance etc.  Also, things I will be using online bill pay for (which is awesome by the way if your bank has it it would be worth checking into.)  And things that I need to write a check for.  After I have got the cash out or payed the bill I will cross it out and write the acctual amount next to it.  So I thought that the Water Bill was supposed to be $80 and it was more this month I will write $85 next to it and then cross it off.  If there is a month that you made more start hiding some money in your checking account incase you have a situation like this where you spend slightly more then planned for but don't make it an excuse to buy something extra.

Mad Money is very important.  We tried cutting out wants all together when we first did the budgeting and we ended up over spending in that area because it was too resritcted and we were unable to follow it.  But if you think you've got the will power then go for it. ;) It's kind of like when you go on a diet and you cut out all sweets.  In the end you end up purging on sweets and junk because you didn't get any of it.  So moderation is key.

My husband and I both get $20 a check to spend/save on anything we want.  I usually save mine for clothes or other.  My husband usually spends his or saves for guns, which was one of the things we noticed we were over spending on when we did our months of checking out our expenses, now we have a set amount and it always seems to be enough.  It was hard, very hard at first, but I no longer have the urge to spend frivolously when I don't have the money.  Our money freedom has been a much better feeling then the thrill of a fun purchase and the guilt after.  I actually enjoy spending that money I have saved and I have no guilt or regret afterwards.  Mad Money is a Must.  Infact, I give the kids $20 a check too, my kids are still too young to give it to them but I use this to pay for activities they want to do or things they need for school or rewards for good behavior.

#7.)  Keeping the Cash Organized

I have colored paper clips in my Wallet.  Yellow means food, blue means Gas, Pink means extra needs, and silver means kids Mad Money.  Then when I go to pay for something I know where to get the money and I know that I can't spend any more in that category until the next paycheck when the money is gone.  Even if it's a need.  Groceries are a need but if I'm out of money in the Yellow paperclip (unless I don't think I'll need any more extra money for the pay period and I have some left of that) I will not buy more groceries untill we get paid.  We usually don't have to wait very long.  And the left overs in the fridge or the can of soup left in the cupboard will do.

It is fast easy and it works.   The cash system has been nothing but postitive for us we are staying within our means and spending less then we make.  We have paid off our debt and we are saving money.


****Check out the Privident Living Website for more Advice. https://www.lds.org/topics/finances?lang=eng There is also a budget template so check it out if you need some more ideas for your budget.

 This was my personnel experience you may have to tweek it somewhat for your needs.  But it is worth the journey.  Just remember that on your journey you will have to make changes and make mistakes and keep going and it is a good idea after to do your detailed recording every once and a while to make sure you are sitll on track.  It can be easy to fall back into old habits.  The more you do it the better you feel and the better you get at it.  In the beginning it was hard to see an end in sight but now that I'm where I am, I am glad we did all the work to make it happen and you will be too.