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Blog: Balancing Thrifty And Fun

This blog will ramble on about raising two boys while working full time as an editor for ThriftyFun. I'm really lucky in so many ways. I have a loving, hardworking husband, a not too heavily mortgaged home, and two healthy and bright boys. But it is still hard, despite my blessings. I thought I'd share my challenges and my techniques (or lack thereof) for staying ahead of the wave of chores, responsibilities and financial problems.

Showing 2 posts in the Organizing category for this blog.
Purging The Plastic
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Last week, I decided to get rid of the majority of the plastic in my house, mostly gladware containers.  I know that they are cheap and reusable but I had way too many and never could seem to find the right shaped lid or the right size when I needed it.  Too much of a good thing, I guess.  Plus, there are more and more studies about plastics, especially when heating it in the microwave. As this is the main reason for those plastic storage containers, I had second thoughts.

What I did was buy a set of glass storage containers at Costco, called Glasslock.  They have a heavy duty plastic top that locks around all four sides of the glass container. They are beautiful, very sturdy and look great in the fridge.  I packed up all the old gladware and random other "tupperware" type containers.  I also got glass juice containers to replace the plastic ones.  They are smaller, just one can of frozen concentrate, but I figure this will keep my boys from drinking juice so fast.  I also have one full of water in the fridge, as our local tap water is very high quality (Western Oregon).  I already have some glass cannisters, with the rubber gasket and the old fashioned flip lock. I keep my dry goods in those. I have a very old canning jar that I use for my popcorn.  My oils and vinegar all have their own colored glass bottles from Ikea. I was going to use them as vases or for other decorative purposes but I'd rather give them a real purpose in my home.  If I need more containers, I always have canning jars and lids for quick storage of leftover soups, sauces or whatever.

I am still using ziploc bags, especially for freezing and marinating.  I have had good success with freezing chicken stock and leftover chili in a gallon sized bag.  Just be sure it stays sealed very well. I always buy brand name bags, because I have found that the off brand have more failures and the price isn't usually that far off.  At some point, I may invest in a Food Saver vacuum sealer but there always seems to be something more pressing.

I have a good looking tomato harvest coming up in August.  Last year, I had more tomatoes that I knew what to do with and gave away tons. This year, I'm going to make and can spaghetti sauce and salsa for later in the year.  My plants have several green spheres so I should have plenty.

My husband and I took this opportunity to reorganize and pare down the kitchenware. I have 4 (yes, four!) vegetable peelers, each with their own pros and cons. I had several sets of measuring spoons and cups, lots of very old spatulas and cooking spoons that had seen better days. And no end of random kitchen gizmos and specialty items. No wonder I couldn't regularly get the drawers to close!  I got rid of anything that was an obvious duplicate or unnecessary (several lids for spice jars that I no longer have), and have mentally marked a few items that may be going out on the next purge. For example, I bought a garlic chopper, it is sort of round and you push it against the garlic on the cutting board and it "easily" chops it up. this is in addition to the two other garlic presses that I had in there. I got rid of the oldest press and am going to test out the chopper before deciding to give it away to a friend or donate it.  Problem is, every time I chop garlic (every day, pretty much), I forget to get it out of the drawer and just smash it with my knife. So that is probably a sign that I don't need it :)

I'm a big fan of Alton Brown and his show, Good Eats, on the Food Network. He is a advocate for avoiding "unitaskers", kitchen gadgets that only have one purpose.  He says that the only unitasker you should have in your kitchen is a fire extinguisher (a lesson I learned a couple of years ago!).  I'm not quite there, but it is something I'm keeping in mind.

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Organizing The Clutter
Thursday, May 07, 2009

Well, my husband and I are on a mission to organize our house. We don't have a very large house, around 1100 square feet and we have two kids and a dog.  So, as you can imagine, there is stuff everywhere.  We recently built some shelves for our office "corner". This weekend, we went through box after box of "Important Paperwork" or "Office Supplies". We got a bunch of small containers to organize the supplies and a bunch of file folders for the paperwork.  We have a little labeler so we have clearly labeled all the boxes "Pencils, Marking Pens," that sort of thing.  It is very nice to know exactly where to go for scissors, or stamps or birthday candles.

One of the most challenging things is sorting through all the keepsakes, and deciding what to keep. With two young boys, we get lots of art projects and drawings that seem precious now but may lose their meaning as the boys approach adulthood.  They also tend to be bigger than the standard letter size for file folders. I currently have them stacked in larger boxes, but I'm sure some of it is getting ruined over time. What I would like to do is get or make an oversize scrapbook (12x18 inches) for each child (and maybe one for me too!) to put in newspaper clippings, holiday projects, etc.  Don't even get me started on the greeting cards, I guess I am a packrat!

The next thing we are going to do is to work on organizing the garage and slowing converting it into living space. I want to make it a family room with a TV, video games, etc. but also room to work on projects and store extra stuff.  I think this family room will be very important as the boys approach the teenage years. Plus, our front door opens directly into our small living room and it would be nice to move the clutter from the entry to deeper in the house.  Well, better to put it all away, but I am a realist :)

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jess (Contact)
Hillsboro, OR USA
About Me:

I'm a 39 year old . . . what? Mother, college graduate, housewife with a full time job, mostly unpublished writer, the list just goes on. I'm spiritual, but not religious; lazily liberal; frugal but with a love of pretty, shiny things. My mother, Susan, was the founder of ThriftyFun and scrimped all her life to have enough for her kids. I try to do her proud but sometimes stumble along the way.

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