Thursday, May 31, 2012

Organization Binders

DropBox download added/Updated Photos Dec. 10,2012

How the Binders are Organized

Here are a few FREE PDF's of the templates I made to use inside my binders. Please check back as I will continue to update this list as I design more pages ;) I’ve added a DropBox download option since so many had problems with Google Drive. You can download all the files in a ZIP file from Dropbox HERE

Binder 1: Family  

  • Calendar, Wal-Mart sales cheap desk ones that are the perfect size (I have since stopped using a calendar in here and instead use a pocket calendar in my purse, that works better) 
  • Important Dates
  • To do ( use this as my long term to do list, fix the driveway, table in laundry room, for daily to do’s those go in my pocket calendar)
  • Medical Information - I didn't use this in my binder because of the personal information but wanted to share in case someone else could use it
  • Grocery list (PDF is finally available! It is our common items so not sure really how useful it will be, but may be a good guide to recreate your own)
  • Bulk Menu Planner  -This is basically most of my common meals and I calculate up the bulk amounts at the bottom. Nothing fancy, but maybe it's a good guide for someone to recreate their own.
  • Menu Planner - I simply put my meals on a calendar template. I do use highlighter to mark meats, produce etc for easier bulk calculation. This is just to use for an example of how you could make yours. I do not have recipes. 
  • Coupons ( I use baseball card sleeves to organize them)
  • Things to look for while shopping (This is another long term list, anything I’m interested in but want to find at a good price, not necessity items like food or diapers…..ex: an acrylic tray or porch swing cushions)
  • Recipes (Still working on this, check backs soon!)
  • Wish Lists
  • Take Out Numbers (Dining Out)
  • Freezer Inventory

Binder 2: Finances


  • Bills ( I also keep a list of bill due dates in the front of my pocket calendar)
  • Budget (Laminate and reuse with dry erase markers!)
  • Register (We use the Dave Ramsey Cash system (with individual registers for each category) but this binder register is great for keeping up with bank account’s balance and marking down future bills to be prepared for (school year book or quarterly garbage bill)
  • Bills Due/Envelopes/Checkbook (keep these in the snap pocket plastic sleeve)
  •  Taxes ( I keep up with each expenditure that comes in throughout the year which we can deduct on our taxes, this saves me from that end of the year headache of digging through piles of receipts)

Binder 3: Fun   

  • Posts to post
    -Home Planning
  • Projects
  • Dream home (just a bunch of sketches, magazines pages, paint samples)
    -Craft Projects
  • Current Projects/supplies needed
  • Movies to Watch
  • Books to Read

Page Previews

Binder 1 is for keeping up with the family, Binder 2 is for all the important stuff, Binder 3 is just for me :) I chose not to include anything in my binder that I would be very worried about if the binder was lost (SS cards, marriage licenses, birth certificates, account info, personal info etc). I did this because I wanted to be able to take the binders with me on the go and not be stressed over losing something. Also, I prefer to keep important documents in our safe in case of burglary or fire (see bottom of post for my safe filing system). Unlocking a safe every time I wanted to use my binders just didn't make sense to me.


Drop Zone

My binder cabinet :) This is why I didn't want any important documents in my binders, they are too pretty to be shoved in a safe! Here is a link to all my Drop Zone features!


*Updated tabs since Photo*
I keep a Hanging File Folders with a section for Temp Receipts (for possible returns or limited warranties), To be filed (paperwork that I need to file long term in the safe, tax papers, statements etc.). I also decided to remove my Incoming/Outgoing mail and instead made a file for each of my tax receipt categories (Medical, Business, School etc.) It was a bit of a headache to constantly have to re-sort these receipts when they were grouped in with my “To be Filed” stuff. A few changes just to streamline my filing system.

How the inside is organized

I used these Tab Write-On Dividers to break up all the major sections. Then used card stock to break up the smaller sections inside the tabbed dividers. I simply ran them through my Epson Printer to print the section titles on each divider.


I used my Labeler Machine to print labels for the tabs.


Here are the individual sections printed on cardstock, probably not necessary but it does help to catch the cardstock while thumbing through, saves a bit of time.


There is a Plastic Pocket behind every tabbed divider to keep temporary papers (receipts, bills etc)


I placed these Snap Envelopes in each binder for bulky items (pencils, calculator, checkbook, etc)


Long Term Storage

This is the filing system I use for long term storage, important documents and just any paperwork I want placed inside my safe for protection. The box I use can be found here: Set of 2 File Boxes


I have tabbed Hanging File Folders and inside each file is an Envelope with individual categories. I absolutely love this system. It saves space and is so easy to keep up with. Yes, it was a bit of work to organize it but now I can find and file things faster. It’s a breeze even to send my husband in to look for papers where before he could never locate anything.


I intentionally chose a smaller box. By the end of the year it is pretty much packed (like the below photo). I then go through and clean out all the excess or expired papers and it leaves me with the perfect amount of space for the upcoming year. I don’t hold onto every bill or scrap of paper….. only the most important things. Depending on your family size a bigger box may be needed, this one works perfect for my little family of four.


What to Keep and Toss? 

Keep for 7 Years

  • Charitable Contributions Papers
  • Brokerage Yearly Statement
  • W-2's
  • 1099's
  • Bank Deposit Slips
  • Bank Statements
  • Receipts used for tax filing
  • Tax Records
  • IRA nondeductible contributions
  • Credit Card statements
  • Cancelled checks showing tax deductions
  • Warranty Receipts/paperwork (keep for the length of warranty)

Keep Forever

  • Personal Papers - Marriage, Birth, Social Security, Divorce
  • Estate Documents
  • Tax Returns
  • Retirement Annual Report
  • Use your judgement on any other documents not mentioned

Trash It (always cut up documents before throwing away!)

  • Out-dated Insurance Policy Information
  • Investment Statements
  • Utility bills
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Expired ID cards
  • Cancelled Checks
  • Pre-approved credit offers
  • Expired Credit & Debit Cards
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Receipts not used for tax or warranty purposes

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mason Jar Lidded Cup using Grommets

Saw this DIY project on Pinterest and just had to give it a try!
Supplies Needed (where I bought mine):
Mason Jars (Cracker Barrel $3.47 each on sale)
Mason Jar Lids (Walmart pack of 12, $3.15)
Rubber Grommets (Lowes, in the "hard to find" drawers nail and screw section, I used size 9/16 OD x 1/4ID $1.04 for a 2 pack. Bring the straw you plan to use and measure by that)
Drill and large drill bit (a little larger than inner hole)
Metal cutters
Straws (Walmart, $2 bendy straw pack)
Sweet Iced Tea and a Covered Porch ;)

1. Drill hole in lid large enough for grommet to squeeze through
2. Clip off excess metal with metal cutters
3. Add grommet and test with straw. Make wider if straw won't fit through easily.

Very simple, hard part is getting all the supplies together. I have tested the Grommets in the dishwasher, so far so good.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Glenn Beck National Lemonade Stand and Bake Sale Day

My husband decided to participate in Glenn Beck's National Lemonade Stand and Bake Sale Day June 13th, 2012. He enlisted my services along with many others in our community and family. Some of you may have already heard about this movement but if not you can visit Beck's website to read more:

So far we are the only stand in Alabama and have had calls from people as far as Tennessee who are planning to attend! As the date gets closer I find myself getting more excited to see how many turn out for the event. It's also wonderful knowing that my children will be there to experience and learn from it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cleaning Schedule

Here is a photo of my cleaning schedule. I use it more as a guide to help remember how long it's been between cleaning things. It's helped out alot to keep me from putting things off until I'm swamped and forced to spend 2-3 days trying to clean everything at once. I've since had to add a few things I forgot (Linens, Curtains, etc.) eventually I'll get around to printing and laminating a new one.

Cleaning Basket Organization

Below are a few photos of my cleaning basket. It holds the essentials for easy toting during cleaning days. A homemade all purpose cleaner, Windex, Bleach, Homemade Air Freshner, Stainless cleaner, Stove top cleaner (we have a glass top) and Wood polish.

After trying many homemade cleaners I discovered that no recipe could top store bought windex, bleach, stainless/stove cleaner and Old English wood polish. However the All purpose cleaner works wonderfully along with my Homemade Cleaner and Toilet Wipes (Wipes Link Click here).

I try to keep my cleaner collection simple. At one time I had every kind of cleaner imaginable (scubbing bubbles, clr, soap scum, wood floor cleaners, etc. etc) but have discovered bleach works well to knock most stains/growths out and vinegar works amazingly on wood floors. Long story short my small arsenal of cleaning supplies seem to work for us. I would like to replace the purple carry basket one day.....

And why can't they make brushes and dusters in neutral colors? What is it with making cleaning tools bright blue, lime green, orange....blah! ;)

Made the labels using silhouette sd and vinyl. Bottles are from Big Lots, as are the hideous lime green cleaning tools ;).

Homemade All Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
3 tbls Vinegar
1/2 tsp Washing Soda
1/2 tsp Castille Soap
10 drops Lavendar essential oil
2 cups hot water

Bleach Mixture: 1/4 bleach, 3/4 water

Air Freshner: 4 cups Water with 20 drops of perfume oil (found in soap section of Hobby Lobby). I'm not a big air freshner person since Scentsy Warmers came into my life ;) However I keep some on hand to spray trash cans and there is always a can of Lysol close by for disinfecting.

Below are a few homemade recipes that work pretty good for me however not as good as store bought. Give them a try they may work well enough for you.

Furniture Polish:
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Castille Soap
1/4 cup Vinegar
Fill rest of container with water (may need to add more or less depending on container size)

Stove Cleaner:
2/3 cups Dawn dishwashing liquid
2/3 cups ammonia
6 tbsp baking Soda
2 cups warm water

*All recipes were found from other websites over the years, if you recognize one please let me know so I can add a link and give proper credit, thanks!*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Kitchen Shelf Lining

The inside of my kitchen cabinets were always kinda....blah. Most of my cooking pots, utensils and other items don't match which makes everything feel disorganized. Not in our budget to replace all those items so instead I decided to line the drawers and cabinets with shelf lining in a fun print instead. It helps to liven the cabinets up a bit. We also plan to make custom wood dividers in the drawers (will post photos later). Hopefully these two projects will create a more organized space with an affordable price tag.

Cooking Utensil Drawer (see told ya nothing matched ;) )

Bakeware cabinet

Mixing Bowls, Measuring cups, Funnels and Strainer Drawer

Jo Totes Millie Camera Bag Review

My quest to find the perfect camera bag has been on going for years. Usually the problem is that the bag is just too large/small for my needs, second is price. I'm just not willing to spend $300 on a bag, not going to happen ;) My perfect bag would be large enough to hold my camera w/ attached lens, phone, keys and a few misc items....on occasion I would like to have room to squeeze in a flash or extra lens. It would still need to be small enough to be comfortable carrying around a store, sitting under a restaurant table, etc. Basically I wanted a bag that I could take with me everywhere without drawing attention to "that crazy lady carrying around a suitcase in Hobby Lobby". I think other moms with DSLRs can sympathize with the issue of wanting to carry your "nice" camera for those spur of the moment photo ops but at the same time needing to have it compact for keeping up with kids or running errands. The Millie arrived today and I believe it may just be "the one".

Dimensions have it at almost 10" high, 11" wide and 4" deep. I've owned a Epiphanie Ginger, Shootsac, The Joy Bag "It" insert, a few different camera backpacks but the Millie's size seems to be spot on. Price is $87. Purchased on a Thursday and it arrived on the following Wednesday. Customer service was very prompt in replying to any emails. You'll also enjoy the website simplicity and minimalism.

Mine is in the color "Pewter", though I would have loved to have it in Bronze or Pink instead. It's faux leather and water resistant. Foam lined and comes with two dividers. You can wear it cross body or shorten the strap and wear it higher under your arm. Removable shoulder pad, two zipper pockets (on back and front).

The first thing I noticed is that my magnetic clasp was not underneath the bag. On the website and other reviews the snap was located on the bottom, mine snaps on the bottom front. Not sure if this is a new design and the website hasn't been updated yet? Regardless it does what it's intended to do which is keep the flap closed. The main compartment has a zipper so no worries of losing anything even if the flap opens.

Link to Jo Totes Millie bag:

I'm 5'3" average build and weight and this bag fits my size pretty well. It holds my Canon Mark ii with attached 50mm lens perfectly. Leaving space for a combination of items:

Combo 1: Camera w/ 50mm lens, sunglasses, Small bag of misc items (see photos), phone, keys w/ extra room for cf cards, battery etc.

Combo 2: Camera w/ 50mm lens, flash, extra lens (24-105 4.0 L lens), phone, keys, extra room for cf cards

Combo 3: Camera w/ 50mm lens, Small bag of misc items, Ruger .380 (yes, I pack heat whenever possible ;) ), phone, keys, cf cards.

Just a few examples of things I've had a chance to place in the bag and try out. Should give you an idea of capacity. I'm a simple girl in that I only need my keys and my phone (which has a credit card slot and serves as my wallet) and that's it. For those women who need lotions, checkbook wallet, nail files, a book, tablet, makeup etc....this might not be the size bag for you.

I think I've covered everything so on to the photos!

*I wasn't compensated for this review, nor was this bag sent to me for free to try. Just a Satisfied, Paying ;) customer who wanted to share a good product*






INSIDE (comes with two dividers but I just used one)

Camera and my misc stuff bag

Items in Bag, Hard to tell but there is still plenty of room to squeeze in more items if needed. My camera has a super long cross body strap attached and it fits in perfectly too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Christmas Advent Calendar Update

Picked up this Christmas Advent Calendar from a second hand store. I wanted one of those mirrored ones from Target but just couldn't justify the $50 price tag. This one was $2 and I used leftover paint from other projects to update it. First I spray painted it silver, then went back with white and metallic acrylic. Swirled the paint on to give it a bit of texture and interest. Then cut out numbers on the Silhouette SD vinyl cutter. For $2 it'll get the job done and the kids will love opening the door each day to a surprise. Might go over it with some clear gloss spray paint for a layer of protection.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Yearly Blurb Books

Every year I make a Blurb book that contains all my photos from that year. This serves as my coffee table album 1. Because it takes up a lot less space than print albums 2. I prefer my hard copy prints be stored in a fireproof safe just in case. They're fairly simple to make, there is a program on the website ( so you can design your own. Although if you have any graphic knowledge and Indesign you can install a plugin and design from that software. A few other blurb book examples can be found in my pinterest board:

For our Heritage album I scanned a genealogy chart my mother created. Every person has a number and I made sure to place the number in the photo captions for easy reference. This book was by far the biggest undertaking since I had to scan all the old photos & add captions. But it was well worth the effort to have something to pass on to the kids.

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