Monday, May 24, 2010

Favorite Things #7 & #8

One of the best inventions ever of all time has to be the timer.  We use these ALL the time (no pun intended).  This one is probably my favorite.  But I have a "collection"....which I will share.

See...nice, new one (above) old one (below).  We use the living tarnation out of these things.

 Notice the broken ring, hence the strap won't attach any longer.  But this one is my favorite because you can key in specific times to the second.  Also, when they're new and chirrens haven't been beating it to death, you can wear it around your neck so if you need to go outside (when something is in the oven) or to another room or floor of your house, you've still got your audible reminder with you.  I like to send these with my girls sometimes when they go next door to play at the neighbors' houses.  I'd be willing to bet my neighbor is probably happy about it too.  Either that or she thinks, "man that girl is anal".  Which is true.

But here is another nice one.  Flip it on one end and it is a timer and the other end is a clock.  Convenient.

See a drawer (labeled - see my previous post on my labeler) with nuthin' but timers.  Happy, happy, joy, joy...

See...analog, digital, orange-shaped analog that smells just like orange...just kidding. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention and actually reading all of my posts!

There's even one in there that is from the Dollar Tree.  It is especially nice to let the girls have one of these to keep in their bathroom to time teeth brushing.  But, don't ask me what bookmarks are doing in the timer drawer.

Having timers will afford you to do stuff like this.  Which is another one of my favorites.  It is a complete list of things I need to do to clean my house complete with approximate times to complete each task.  It is one of Sandra Felton's ideas.  With this list, I can clean the entire house systematically and most efficiently.  However, the very thought of cleaning the whole house at one time makes me want to pass out.  But if I only have 23 minutes.  I know I can Vacuum upstairs.  Which seems to make the task a little less intimidating.  But let's be honest.  I usually have more than 23 minutes to spare.  I just choose to use them sitting here at this life-sucker.

Now, go bless your house and clean something!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Favorite Things #6

Got coins?  We always seem to be using coins for our Saxon Math lessons.  I despise having to count out ed-zackery (translation: "exactly") how many we need.  Dollar Tree pill box to the rescue...

I can count out 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 10 pennies and 10 nickles nicely in each slot.  Then when it is time for our lesson - easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.

I used my little acetone removal trick on the day of the week labels and had my children assist me in the task.  However, I think I may have ruined my children's health because my sister tells me that lead based paint is VERY tenacious.  About halfway through the removal process (approximately 2.57 hours later), it hit me..."Hey!  This cheap pill box may have lead paint on it!".  But that may very well be what is wrong with me to this day.  I grew up in a pre-1978 house and I'm pretty sure I remember biting on the window sills while gazing longingly outside. 

But seriously if you know of anyone that is in the home construction and/or remodeling industry, thanks to good old Uncle Sam, you may want to send them to my sister's Contractor Training blog for lead based paint removal certification.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Favorite Things #5

Got a reluctant writer?  I would be willing to guarantee that these Staedtler markers will change that.  NAYY (no affiliation, yada, yada...).

What I like about these is they come in wonderfully delicious colors although it seems the Germans forgot that purple is a basic color.  They will wash out of most fabrics (think: all the benefits of a Sharpie but without the permanency).  Also, they have a great tip that is virtually indestructable (I still like to have my own set though because I'm a control freak like that).  The package even states that you can leave the lid off for days and they won't dry out.  Hmmmm...may be a good selling point but I don't know that I'd go advertising that to children.  Anyway, the IE in me loves that the barrel also has an "ergonomic triangular shape for effortless writing".  At least that is what the package states but it IS true.  Plus the design of the plastic box is ingenious and oh so loverly.

I plan to start a family journal this summer and we'll use these to write in it with.  I have intended to do the family journal thing for the past 2 summers but we never seem to follow through.  I am really going to try to keep at it this summer.  I will even try to post about it in the future.  When Ms. Priss was in public school, the counselor (who was an amazing lady) hosted a workshop about keeping family journals.  The person presenting the idea said she got sick with some type of cancer and that became the only way she could communicate with her tween/teenage sons.  That gave me chills and sold me immediately.  She said it was her favorite thing to do to sit and leaf through those little pages of golden history.  I challenge you to start and keep up your own family journal.  Don't make it hard, don't overthink it, don't try to make it too structured or fancy. Just get a regular old spiral bound notebook (you can choose a pretty one, though) and have at it.

By the way today is the first day of our official summer break!  Woohoo!!!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Favorite Things 3 & 4

A new revelation I've had is these magazine files from Staples.  Staples is proud of these little puppies.  But they're oh-so worth it.

First let me show you this:

Nice, but a bit messy and unweildy and UNLABELED.  These are all of my foreign language materials. (They're sitting there on the shelf without a magazine file because I haven't gotten one to put these books in yet).  See how they're just kind of hanging out in the bookshelf and there are even some smaller books that are trying their darndest to wedge themselves in the back of that bookshelf?  They are bookshelf deviants.  Bad, bad books.  I just heard John Rosemand speak about disciplining kids..."Kids are bad." Hence they need controls and limitations - boundaries, so to speak.

Well, enter exhibit A.  Staples' magazine file holders (except mine are in the lovely clear variety....available in the stores but apparently not online).

Language Arts and Geography all grouped nice and neatly and I intend for them to stay that way.  I drive a hard bargain in my house.

See here...the items I use "Everyday" - nice, neat, and compactly stowed.  Order is a beeeeeautiful thing.

Do you see the inferior predecessor to this lovely design?

While still nice and functional...they just don't cut the mustard.  See how tall the fronts are?  Retrieving items from these types of racks is a pain in the you-know-what.

And finally all of this leads me to one of my all time favorite tools (for applications that extend well beyond our homeschool realm), my label maker.  I use it everywhere in my house.

If you don't think labels will make your life better just bet me.  And I aint a bettin' kind of girl.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Favorite Things Series 1 & 2

Pdub, which has become one of my new favorite blogs recently had Heather from Oh My Stinkin' Heck do a guest blog post on the Necessities of a Homeschooling Mom.  It got me to thinking, I have a lot of necessities (that's a hard word to spell) so I thought I would start a or 2 a day of my favorite things.  You might recall I posted some of my favorite things a while back.  Well, I realized I have a lot more.  I'll post them not necessarily in order of my favorite (but somewhat).

So without further adieu the first thing would have to be my laminator.

But you must stock yourself with plenty of supplies to make it fun.  Did I just type that?  Can laminating be fun?  I need to get a life.

I have found some of the best prices at Oregon Laminations.

Another of my fav's are loose leaf ring clips.

I use these for all sorts of applications.  But I want you to note the difference here in how much bookshelf space a 3-ring binder takes up versus how much space the sheets held together with the rings.  Amazing, huh?

They are great for holding together spiral-bound booklets.  This is so much easier for photocopying purposes.

They can hold tags together.  This is what we did with our Bible memory verse copywork this year.

Laminated too!  Hey!  That's 2 of my fav's used in one application.  We call that a 2-fer.

More tags held together.

WHAT are those workbox tags doing sprawled all out on the floor?!?  I get no respect...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

We always have heels of bread left over and nobody ever seems to want them.  Occasionally, I will eat a peanut butter sandwich on them but usually they just sit, all alone, helpless there in the little bread buddy.  Do you have a bread buddy?  I highly recommend them.  The bread takes up less footprint in your pantry and the bread stays fresher.

And besides being frugal (that's a nice word for cheap) I tend to be a bit lazy.  I got a whole lotta' quit in me.  So, if it aint easy and/or able to be done neatly and tidily...well, forget it.  So, in comes one of my favorite kitchen utensils...

Kitchen shears...or simply put scissors.  I have about 10 pair in my kitchen that I strategically place in all different drawers just so I can grab them wherever I am standing and not have to expend extra steps to go to a particular drawer for them.  (See?  Lazy.  I'd like to blame it on officially learned Industrial Engineering concepts - something to the order of analysis of increased optimal workflow processes - but in all honesty it's just lazy.)  I know, I know...I'm getting to the bread issue at hand.  Cut open your bread bag so you create a nice little disposable "placemat" on which to work.  Use the shears and cut up your bread into bite sized pieces.

Next we're on to another one of my favorite little gadgets in the kitchen.  It is my oil dispenser.  I found this clearanced at Harris Teeter.  Isn't it like a little work of art?  Ok...I'm stretching that a little bit but it IS nice don't you agree?

Put all of your little bread giblets into a plastic ziploc bag and drizzle some oil over them.

Season with your favorite seasonings.  Mine happen to be these 2:

And voila'!  You have homemade croutons ready to be baked at a moment's notice.  I store them in my freezer.  Pour out a few onto foil lined baking sheet (because what lazy person wants to wash a pan?) and bake them for 6-8 min (or more or less to your liking) at about 400-425.  I've even been known to hit toast on my toaster/convection oven if I was in a real hurry.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I met P-dub!!!

Good friends are like bras...close to your heart and there for support.  That's who Susan is.  She is a friend that you can call up and pick up with right where you left off.  She was a friend of my husband's before we met and then we became friends.  She graciously allowed me to live with her when I moved to a city where I knew nothing and nobody.  She introduced me to some of the best shopping and food places in the city.  And ~10 years later...because we both have the same strange obsession (and no that's not sweater sets)....she got both of us VIP tickets to be one of the first in line to see P-dub at her book signing. 

P-dub was so funny, warm and friendly that night.  I know she must see a zillion fans and she is truthfully probably SICK of people.  But she treated us with warmth and friendliness.  AND that night I (like the idiot I am) learned what spanks are and I do believe I'm gonna have to get me some.  And Susan also introduced me to the coolest stuff ( Mercy and Knock Knock) at the bookstore.  Believe I'll have to invest in some of these too that is right after I buy my spanks.  I have my priorities...

I hope you have good friends like I have in Susan and I hope you can find a way to let them know they're special to you.  Thanks, Susan!  Now, stop talking Ging.