So, if you’ve hopped around my site, you already know I’m a huge fan of my cheap robot vacuum. I mean seriously. Now we have 3 dogs, 3 big people, 1 little people, and a cat. That adds up to lots of pet hair and fuzz in one house full of hardwood floors.
Not only do we have lots of fuzz-creating creatures, but somehow we landed in a 3,000 square foot house. I’m going to be honest here. I had a hard time keeping up in our 1200 square foot apartment back when we got married. Without a kid. Or 3 dogs.
I didn’t realize how essential it was until we moved. Unfortunately, Jimmy (our old cheap robot vacuum) didn’t survive the move. I do still have him plugged up here at our new house, but I guess being in storage for so long must have done something to one of his terminals or something. (Or, maaaybe we just rough on things…my 3-year-old did love picking him up all the time…not sure which it was.)
But the good news is my husband okayed me getting another one! Woo!
Ohmygoodness, y’all! Francesca is so much fancier she couldn’t even be called Jimmy 2.0.
Don’t get me wrong, Jimmy covered the basics and had some fancy tricks up his sleeve (like not falling off the stairs!), but Francesca is so much more advanced!
Here’s why I love her.
Cheap Robot Vacuum Review
The most monumental upgrade that Francesca has is that she knows where she’s been! That’s right! So, that means she turns on and starts vacuuming, then maps everywhere she goes (and shows me in my app) and then goes back to her base for charging!
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, after she gets all charged up, she’s ready to go back out and finish vacuuming the rest of the map.
It’s the most fun thing to watch and terribly satisfying. And if you’re wondering if those areas actually get clean, yes. They actually do! Occasionally, there will be a dirt or two along the edge of a rug, but usually, there is no dirt left in my floor at all. As in, I don’t even think dust mopping is necessary after when Francesca has been working.
Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner
The second biggest upgrade that our new robot vacuum has is that she can manuver around our house SO. MUCH. BETTER. I’m talking, thresholds and power cords and things on the floor are almost no match for her.
She just rumbles right over them and if she gets stuck, she is better able to get herself out of a sticky situation. Jimmy would just get stuck and stay there until we picked him up or he turned off.
We do have these computer tables she gets stuck on, but so far, that’s the only thing in my 3,000 square foot house she gets stuck on. (Except for those cords on blinds. I try to keep them off the floor anyway. Dangerous things.)
Roomba for Cheap
I briefly mentioned this earlier, but Francesca comes with an app. That means that Francesca maps our house and then sends that info to the cloud (so China can already have a map of our homes…) so she knows exactly where she’s been and hasn’t been.
That also means it’s easy to set a schedule and change it if needed. I also think you can schedule out zones for certain times. I haven’t had enough time to figure that part out yet, but I did read where it was possible on the reviews.
Our furniture has been moving around so often as we settle into our new house, that would never work for us, but it’s a seriously cool feature to have.
That’s so many cool features that are totally worth the price difference from Jimmy to Francesca. Somehow, Jimmy’s random cleaning patterns got the job done, but Francesca’s orderly pattern has been spit spot, and I’m so impressed.
In the interest of transparency, I will stop for a second and say that sometimes, Francesca has navigational challenges. Meaning, she gets lost and messes up her map. And even though she has Google Home and Alexa integration, I honestly don’t always trust it because she gets lost. So, at my house, she’s on the basic scheduled cleaning (and returning to charge and cleaning again) schedule.
The good news is that basic system is working for us even though she gets lost sometimes. And her app is wonky.
But other times it’s absolutely mesmerizing.
Best Robot Vacuum for Moms
Here’s the thing, I didn’t realize how helpful our robot vacuum was until we didn’t have one.
Cleaning the floors in my house takes about a day. First I have to sweep the dirt. Then I dustmop the dirt left over from the broom. Then I wet mop with Swiffer or Bona. And I vacuum the rugs.
Girl, that’s a lot of cleaning!
Just to get the floors clean! Not even counting dusting and cleaning other things.
So, now, I get to skip two of those steps (sweeping and dust mopping). And it takes me less than half a day to clean all the floors in my house.
Occasionally, we will forget to empty the dust bin and you wouldn’t believe the dirt that lands in the floor in that day or two that the vacuum is parked on its base.
So, if you’re on the fence or struggling to keep your house clean, here’s the deal. You need a robot vacuum.
If you’re on a really tight budget, I bet you could sell something on Facebook to get an extra $100 for a cheap robot vacuum under $200. And if you’re looking for a higher-end robot vacuum for a steal, you probably want a Francesca.
And seriously. There’s no reason to spend full price on a Roomba when a Francesca can do so much.
Pin this to save for later!
If dust is your main problem, you might want to read this post on how I keep the dust down in my house.
We have saved so much money over the years by using a few easy money saving life hacks that are an easy way to save money.
We have saved thousands of dollars this year alone just by investing in a few ways to treat ourselves on the cheap.
Keep reading for simple money saving tips for moms, especially if you’re saving money to work from home! With just a little bit of time or supplies, you’ll be well on your way to saving hundreds and thousands each year.
Easy Ways To Save Money
Learn to Cut Your Own Hair
Have you ever walked out of the salon after spending $45 on a style that you hated? It just wasn’t what you wanted, but it’s too late to do anything about it. Me too. Too many times to count. So, I decided to start cutting my own hair.
You would be surprised how easy it is to cut your own hair. I’ve been cutting my own hair (into all sorts of different hairstyles) since I was 17! And when I went to college, my husband handed me his clippers and taught me how his hair people cut his hair. Now, he refuses to go to the barber shop (to my dismay sometimes, ha!). And now that we have a little, he gets his hair cut at home, too.
After a little studying, careful trepidation and lots of practice, your own bathroom salon can give you a better style than the expensive salon down the street. I do sometimes still go get a pro haircut when I want something that’s really complicated (or I’m just too busy to cut it myself). But we save about $1000 per year just by doing haircuts at home.
My #1 tip if you want to start cutting your own hair is to start looking at the shape haircuts make. And then imagine what angle of the cut made that shape of the hair. And when you have a special cut you want, search YouTube to see if the experts have tips or techniques to get it right.
And if it seems too risky, maybe it is. Go slowly.
Make Coffee At Home
There was a time when we didn’t exactly have a place to enjoy a cup of joe on the couch and during that time we found ourselves in line at Starbucks more times than I want to admit. 🤦♀️
And while the feeling of that fancy little cup in my hand makes me feel all special, I know that it’s full of stuff that isn’t good for me and loaded with calories that I don’t need.
So, instead, I’ve started making amaaaazing coffee at home and saving a ton of money. So, now, when I walk by the Starbucks in Target, I’m no longer tempted by that big green circle. I know that I can go home and have something just as yummy, in my comfy clothes, reclining back on the couch.
And when I’m on the go, I have a fancy cup that makes my coffee feel even fancier. I love my cup from SimpleModern. I chose the 18oz cup so it fits in my car’s cupholder and always have it when I’m on the go. When I’m at home, I love using stackable cups.
Here’s my easy recipe for amazing sweet creamy coffee (it’s keto-friendly!)
2-4 Tbls of heavy whipping cream (the secret ingredient!)
Optional: MCT oil powder. It’s my new clean energy boost with smooth creamy vanilla or chocolate flavor!
My coffee is like dessert, and it keeps me from derailing my budget and keto success.
Repair Broken Things
This is an old-fashioned skill that we rarely do anymore, but our grandparents were experts at money saving life hacks and squeezing the life out of things. Before you throw away that broken toy, could it be fixed? Maybe a little glue? Or take it apart and see if a piece fell off inside?
I know there are a lot of computer chips in things these days, but even that can sometimes be repaired. YouTube has been a lifesaver for us. We learned to solder things just to repair a broken chipboard thing on our pool pump. It wasn’t as hard as we thought it was going to be and we saved a lot of money by learning a new skill.
Have you found yourself donating clothing because of a hole or missing button? Do you know how to darn socks? I think that’s a skill I might have learned in middle school, but I don’t remember how to even sew on a button anymore (thankfully, my mom is around to help me with my sewing! Love you, mom! <3 ).
If your mom doesn’t happen to have mad sewing skills like mine, learning a few basic sewing skills may just save your wardrobe and your budget.
Repairing items can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Check for Warranties on Broken Items
This goes along with repairing broken things, but often times we purchase items with warranties. Meaning, the manufacturer may fix or replace the broken item if it’s within the warranty period.
Warehouse stores also typically offer a generous return period and warranty policy (I love you, Costco!!). So don’t forget to check with them first.
Plus, did you know your credit card company may offer an extended period of coverage if you purchased the item with a credit card?
And I don’t know how many times I purchased an extended warranty only to forget it when the fridge broke and I paid for the repair out of pocket.
Also, some warranty programs require you to keep regular maintenance on the item (think HVAC warranties or jewelry warranties/maintenance).
Warranties are your friend. You should use them.
Don’t Forget About Free Maintenance Deals
I never knew this until my husband and I bought new tires, but when you buy new tires, they oftentimes come with free tire rotations for life. Talk about an easy way to save money!
Tires need to be rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles (so almost every oil change). And at $40 per rotation, that’s some serious savings just by choosing a place that offers free rotations for life to buy your tires from and heading back there regularly.
Also, your jeweler may offer a free maintenance program. I know we purchased my bridal ring set from Jared and they offered a warranty program that would inspect, clean, and re-dip my rings (to keep the white gold from yellowing) every 6 months to keep our warranty in place. I did end up losing one of the large diamonds in the ring and they replaced it for free because I was current on my warranty inspections. Plus, I loved having a fresh new sparkly (clean!) ring every few months.
There are other free maintenance deals out there for major purchases, so be sure to do a little bit of research before making a large purchase.
Buy Used or Irregular Items
I grew up in “seconds” or “second hand” clothes, and do you know what? No one ever knew. My family has always been a discount shopping, yard-sailing, thrifting kind of family and we always look like we’re living the good life.
I usually keep a running list in my head of things I’m on the lookout for and will buy when the price is right. I will usually find something on my list whenever I go thrifting for somewhere around 70%-90% off. Sound machines, M&D toys, and even a juicer have found their way into my shopping cart at 90% off.
Thrifting can take a bit of extra time, but if you have extra time and no money, it’s a great way to save money on extra items you may not have been able to purchase otherwise. And you’d be surprised how many people will buy an expensive item, never use it, and then donate it.
I also have my favorite short list of discount stores that sell open-box items or irregular clothing. Gabe’s is my new favorite discount clothing store. I’ve recently found two coats (that I desperately needed!) that were both originally priced $200 and I bought one Land’s End Squall Parka for $16.99 and a Lane Bryant coat for $24.99. Now I can work outside on the cold windy farm without freezing!
Home Manicures & Pedicures
If you’re a regular nail salon goer, you can save some serious money by doing your own nails at home. Nail polish has come along way since before salons were so popular. You can make your nails look great for just a few bucks.
Painting my nails is a luxury of time for me, but when I’m needing some self-care, I have my go-to nail polish.
I’ve also heard that Color Street has a cool thing going. It’s like a sticker of real polish that you apply to your nail. They have gorgeous colors and they’re really easy to apply. They aren’t quite as affordable as old school polish, but maybe closer to nail art from a salon.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards For Things You Buy Often
I have a tendency to make a few large purchases a year at stores I really love. About once or twice a year, I make a large purchase of kids clothes at Children’s Place. I stock up on essentials like jammies, socks and underwear when everything’s on a killer sale. On top of those amazing sale prices I get, I also save an extra 20% off because I use a gift card that I bought at a discount.
Sure, the gift card has been sitting in a drawer for about 6 months while I waited on just the right sale, but it’s a great way to stack savings.
You can buy discounted gift cards to your favorite restaurants, stores, and even online stores. I like to snag gift cards that go on sale at Amazon (usually $40 for a gift card worth $50). But there are lots of other ways to get gift cards for a deal.
Grocery stores often have reward programs that will give you a discount on gift cards and extra fuel points.
Plus, you can just go and buy gift cards at a discount at websites like GiftCardGranny.com
And if you’re a member of a warehouse club, they will often offer a great discount on gift cards, usually around 15%-20%.
Discounted Glasses Online
My son wears glasses. My husband wears glasses. Y’all. Even with insurance, glasses are expensive, especially if you buy them at the eye doctor’s office. Fortunately, there are lots of deals to be had on glasses and eye exams.
We have shopped around for eye exams and found that the combo deals at places like America’s Best are a pretty good deal. They’re usually 2 basic pairs of glasses and an eye exam for around $70. Costco also offers eye exams for around $50 in our area, but it doesn’t come with glasses.
We use the 2 pairs of glasses as extras or get sunglasses lenses. Then we buy a nice pair of glasses (with extras like scratch-free coatings) online.
I’m a big fan of trying to treat yourself at home naturally if possible before heading to the doctor for (usually) medications full of chemicals. First, let me say I’m not a doctor, so I’m not offering medical advice. You should always use your best judgment on when to be treated by a doctor.
But, there are a number of ways to save money by trying a home remedy instead of visiting the doctor. And some of them are tried and true. I have a quick list of home remedies I always try before heading to the doctor.
Ear infection: Peroxide drops
Stye: Colloidal Silver
Sore Throat: Apple Cider Vinegar, Cayenne, Honey, Lemon Gargle
The sore throat gargle has even healed us of a minor case of strep throat!!
Easy Ways To Save Money To Work From Home
If you’re a mom saving money to work from home, you know every penny counts. From one mama to another, I hope these simple money saving tips start to make a difference in your budget and bank account.
And just to make sure you don’t forget where to find these tips again, pin this image to save it for later.
If you’re looking for cheap ideas for a date night at home, you’re at the right place. My husband and I have become experts at having cheap date nights at home because we live so far out in the country. It’s so much easier and more relaxing some days to just stay in. Not only is it easier, but sometimes it’s more fun and cheaper to DIY a home date night.
Cheap Valentine’s Date Ideas
Our favorite time of the year to chill at home is Valentine’s. Seriously. Valentine’s Day dates can go from romantic to dreadful in just a few minutes. Fighting the Valentine’s Day crowds at restaurants (even the weekend before or after) can turn a great evening out into a boring uncomfortable evening with slow service and cold food. So, we’re always on the lookout for cheap Valentine’s dates.
Plus, sometimes, we like to get up and do something! Going out for dinner and a movie can be fun if you don’t get to go out often, but after years of dinner and a movie out, I think I’ve decided that I just like having date nights to spend quality time with my love. Even watching a movie at home feels like better quality time since we snuggle during the movie or we can pause the movie to chat or laugh about something.
Home Date Night Ideas
Here are some awesome cheap date night ideas at home to keep you on budget and that spark alive in your relationship or marriage.
Rent a movie and have popcorn in your jammies
Dressing up is nice sometimes but so is dressing down. Especially if you work outside the home all week and just want to chill in your jammies. Plus, you can have all the popcorn you want for about 50 cents instead of $50.
Work a puzzle of a destination you’d both like to visit
My husband and I love to dream together. So, working on a puzzle is great for relaxing and brain power, but it’s also awesome for dreaming. Choose a puzzle of a place you want to visit (like Italy or the beach) or a goal (like to fly in a hot air balloon one day).
You never know what kind of awesome things you can find on YouTube!! We love watching silly stuff or educational videos on YouTube. Definitely a cheap and easy way to spend time and connect with each other sharing favorites.
Take a walking tour of a favorite place on YouTube
My husband and I went to Rome this weekend without even putting on our shoes! We’ve been there before and this video was just like being there without having to try to speak Italian! But we did miss out on the authentic Italian food!
Have you seen any self care for moms tips that have rocked your world?
Last night, my son’s preschool hosted a Dad’s Night Out. That meant that the dads took the kids to the school for a couple of hours on a Thursday night to play games and have fun together.
It was awesome.
But I was left here at home for some free time. Sounds amazing, right?
But if you’re anything like me, knowing what to do during mom “me time” can get tricky. Everything I could think of doing involved getting ahead on my chores, my work at home work, or taking care of my family in some way.
If it was summer, I totally would have been sitting out by the pool with a rum in hand, but since that’s not an option in March, I had to come up with something great to do for me without the summer fun.
I thought of the usual suspects (taking a bath, eating chocolate, reading a book, watching what I want to watch on tv), but the truth is sometimes those are boring or can be more work than they’re worth. Plus, I like to be productive with my time when possible.
And, I’ve been getting more intentional about crafting a life (and me) I love.
What are those things you would love to do if you had the skills?
I’ve always wanted to know how to sing (well) and play guitar. I would love to know how to cook like a chef (getting closer!). I love having a beautiful home (yikes! I need to get to decluttering for that to happen!!). I love building furniture, even though I’m a beginner. Having my own blog is so much fun! Sewing is cool. You can make so much stuff.
But what I’m talking about is a little bit bigger than crafty skills. I’m talking about what kind of life would you love to make. You know. Those (albeit totally fake) tv mom moments when the sun shines down and all the world is happy.
So, I set out to create some of those moments I’ve always wanted to have. Let’s go back to #1 on my list.
When I was a little girl, my dad was a cowboy (like a real one). We would go on camping trips and ride horses up in the mountains all weekend long. And what do you think a cowboy does around a campfire at night? Um, yes. He plays the guitar.
So, I grew up in the guitar around a campfire scene. Or the huge house party “pickin'” where everyone brings over their guitar, banjo, tambourine and comes to jam at someone’s house all night on a Friday night.
I have always wished my kid(s) could grow up around music like that. Unfortunately, I am totally not a natural and could never get past the super-hard chords to make the guitar thing happen.
But, I haven’t given up. I found an adorable chick (on LinkedIn of all places!) jamming with her ukulele. It looks so fun and sounds even more fun. So, that very night my husband and I got a crazy hair and bought a ukulele!
Have Fun As A Mom
Now I’m committed to this little $80 prize and need to make some magic happen so I don’t have buyer’s remorse, right?
What’s a girl do who needs to learn some ukulele? Head to YouTube, of course. That’s where I met my new best friend Cynthia. Okay, so we aren’t best friends as far as she knows, but we spend lots of time together every day on YouTube.
Why is the ukulele the perfect thing to get yourself back again? I’ll tell you why.
It’s really easy and fun to learn. There are only 4 strings so it’s easier to learn than guitar. It’s just enough of a challenge to be fun, but not so much that it’s frustrating.
It’s compact and easy to bring along with you. We keep our uke on the table behind the couch. Or by the bed. Or the dining table. It’s usually within arm’s reach to pick it up and strum for a few minutes while I play with my son or wait on dinner to finish cooking.
It doesn’t take much time. Just 5-10 minutes a day will get you on your way to learning ukulele. Especially in the beginning while you build up your finger strength and callouses.
Kids love to get in on the fun. While my 4-year-old isn’t wanting to learn to play yet, he is joining in on the fun by suggesting I try learning to play some songs and singing along with me. I’ve watched Cynthia sing & play Three Little Birds so much, my son won’t tolerate a version by anyone else. Hahaha. I hope to get good enough at strumming and singing at the same time soon so that I can learn some songs to play for my son.
Finding cheap comfy desk chairs can be a serious challenge if you’re going for beautiful home decor. I mean, seriously. Who wants a huge black hunk of fake leather on wheels without any style rolling around their home office, or worse yet, a bedroom that has to serve as a home office too.
So, I’m here to the rescue today to show you some options for comfy desk chairs that will look great in any space, even bedrooms or living rooms.
And to make it better, most of these comfy desk chairs are under $200, because let’s get real, you’re probably going to need another one soon if you are a work at home mom or have a busy office space in your house.
20 Office Chairs For A Home Office
So, let’s get right to checking out these gorgeous desk chairs, shall we?
Who doesn’t love a diamond tufted look? This one reminds me of a luxury car seat. Plus, it has a tall back, meaning you can chill and lean back while you create that report, schedule social media, or write that article.
Alright. For a girl who is way more modern farmhouse than mid-century modern, I absolutely adore this chair. It probably doesn’t even matter what office desk you pair this with or even what room it goes it. It’s going to be a focal point and be totally styling.
I included this chair in my last post about feminine desk chair ideas, and there’s a reason it’s back on the list. It’s gorgeous and will fit in almost any decor style these days. I think it has a Restoration Hardware kind of feel, even though it’s made by Bassett.
While not the most feminine chair in this list, I adore this chair for one main reason. It’s real top-grain leather. Know what that means? It means it’s going to last a long time. Probably at least twice as long as a vinyl chair. So, it’s probably worth the extra for this one.
This guy is leather, too. His description on Amazon says he’s made of bonded leather, so not as nice of leather as the Aluminum Base Executive Chair above, but still way better than vinyl. And it’s a bit less expensive because of it. But still crazy stylin’ and a great size for a small space like a bedroom home office or teen room.
The last post I created about desk chair ideas had a similar chair to this one on it and everyone looooved it. I mean, seriously. It was hands down the most popular chair. But this guy is upgraded with bonded leather for around the same price as upholstered. Such a steal for a great looking chair.
This one will work great in small spaces, too because of the arm positioning.
This is another high-quality leather chair. Though not specified in the description, based on seller feedback on Amazon, I believe this chair is top-grain leather since they state it is not bonded leather. Definitely a great option if you’re looking for a chair that will last a while.
I adore this chair for a bedroom home office. I will totally fit in a living room if that’s your speed, but I think of the bedroom as being soft and romantic like velvet. This would make a great chair for a makeup desk or vanity.
What about that gold base? **swoon** This chair definitely gets some points for high style. And since gold/brass is totally in right now with mid-century modern style, this chair has all the right elements to spice up your home office style.
And if the latest trends aren’t your favorite, this may suit your fancy. This chair actually be my favorite one on the whole list. My home office is in the living room and has to look amazing, and this chair would be my absolute first pick if I needed a new desk chair. It’s so sophisticated and traditional, but still a bit edgy with those wingback-style arms. Definitely a great choice if you’re looking for a tall, upholstered chair in a traditional style.
If this chair looks familiar, it’s because it’s the big sister to the Layton chair above, only it’s vinyl covered instead of upholstered. I love vinyl as a worry-free alternative to upholstered or leather chairs, especially with littles around.
This chair screams style. I could totally see this in Edna Mode’s office in the Incredibles (if it were shorter 😉 ). If you’re looking for something a touch more modern but still feminine, this may be your little lady.
If you’re going to pick up one of these desk chairs and you have hardwood floors, these are a must-have. I actually found them one day when I was shopping for a desk chair for myself last year, and let me tell you…What a difference.
I used to have a plastic mat on my floor to protect it from the plastic chair wheels, but these little puppies are rubbery so they won’t scratch your hardwood floors and you won’t need an ugly plastic mat!
Woo! Double win.
I love little hacks that make your life better. definitely worth the extra 10 bucks to upgrade your desk chair.
There you have it. This is the updated version of my original desk chair ideas post from last year. Haven’t seen it? Head on over and check out the other chairs I found that are perfect for a home office or bedroom office.
Or, if you’re sprucing up your whole office, you may want to check out this post full of bargain desks for a gorgeous home office.
What do you look for when shopping for a home? Are you craving a big backyard with tons of space for the kiddos to run around in and a nice fence for privacy and to hedge in your dogs? Do you need lots of windows for natural light to cheer up your mornings?
Or, are you like me and look for a spacious kitchen that will be the center of your home where you can gather with friends and family around delicious food?
As in, a great kitchen is totally a non-negotiable.
Chances are that you are not only craving a fantastic kitchen space, but it’s a must have on your list. Well, guess what? You and I aren’t the only ones.
Home Staging A Kitchen
In fact, the kitchen is now considered to be the most important room in the home. So much so that many homeowners are shelling out big bucks for kitchen renovations to turn a modest kitchen into a workspace where Gordon Ramsey would feel right at home. These renovations don’t come cheap though, one estimate has them running anywhere from $50,000 and $150,000.
Because of this new trend, the kitchen is a place where you definitely want to pay special attention and make attractive and inviting when staging a home to sell. But, you don’t have to have a huge renovation budget to accomplish this, in fact you don’t have to remodel your kitchen at all!
With a few simple tricks, you can stage your kitchen and have it look and feel cozy and inviting for potential homebuyers! Here are my top five tips for staging a kitchen to sell.
5 Tips to Stage A Kitchen
Keep it clean. I mean, clean the kitchen.
First things first, clean that kitchen like you have never cleaned it before. I’m talking walls, floors, cabinet doors, inside of cabinets, the oven, the fridge, the light fixtures, baseboards, the ceiling.
Scrub-a-dub-dub everything you can see and everything you can’t Make it sparkle and make it shine.
If this feels daunting it might be worth hiring a professional to come in and clean for you. Oftentimes hiring someone to clean can be very affordable, and they also have fantastic cleaning chemicals and cleaning tricks and tips that make it easier for them to do the job than it is for you to do it yourself.
Go through your pantry and toss out that bag with just the ends of a loaf of bread in it and those fifteen thousand packets of takeout ketchup.
Un-junk the junk drawer.
Counters should be clear with only a few exceptions (see the last tip of this list).
You want to declutter the space in order to make it look as large and clean as possible, while still making it look inviting.
Make Your Kitchen Smell Good
Consider how your kitchen smells.Does last night’s fish curry still linger in the air?Is the garlic from your famous bolognese sauce still dominating the dining room?
Better yet, ask a friend (one of the brutally honest ones) to come over and sniff around. She’ll be more likely to smell your house since your brain has already turned off the smells from your own home.
If you are in a pinch, open the windows, run an exhaust fan and spray an air deodorizer to get rid of food smells. A better option is to dine out a day or two before a big home showing to avoid stubborn cooking odors.
You can also try out one of these DIY home scenting tips from my post on how to make your home smell amazing, or try the old realtor trick of sticking a batch of cookies into the oven to get some delicious smells to warm up the space.
Organize Your Kitchen
Anything that is inside your cabinets needs to be super neat and organized.
I know, I know, why would they look inside your cabinets? I don’t know why, but trust me, they will, so make it pretty. I’m talking all of the coffee cup handles turned the same way, alphabetize your spices and line them up in pretty little rows. Stack the plates neatly and remove any random ones that don’t match with a set.
Seriously. This is a must-do when staging your house to sell.
Make Your Kitchen Inviting
Nothing should be on the counters except a few decorative canisters, a nice simple canister of cooking utensils, a few nice appliances such as a fancy coffee pot (scrubbed and buffed till it shines) and/or a Kitchenaid mixer, and a decorative handsoap. A lovely live plant or carefully arranged vase of flowers can add a delightful pop of color and warmth as well.
There you have it! It is easy to stage your kitchen beautifully and invitingly for your potential home buyers. Happy staging!
Valentine’s gifts for men are so tricky. I mean, seriously.
No guy wants the flowers and heart of chocolates. He probably doesn’t even want a Valentine’s Day card if he’s being honest.
If your guy is into working out, drinking, or tech/gaming you have a few more options, but didn’t we just survive Christmas gifts for men just a couple of months ago??
And so, at our house, Valentine’s day gets set aside as one of those obligatory gift-giving days when we’d rather save our money and celebrate on a day that’s special for us, our anniversary (coming up in a few months).
This year is especially tricky because my husband just survived a really rough few days in the dog house. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say it ended with him setting up a super-special weeknight date at Carrabba’s. He asked our local Carrabba’s for a special night and they totally delivered. It was awesome. Except for the part about my husband being in the dog house. But, thankfully, like a good marriage should, we’ve bounced back.
But the thing is that we just had a quiet dinner out. And we gave our best gifts a couple of months ago. And we all know those flowers are going to wilt in a week anyway. And, ahem, I definitely do not need chocolate.
Gifts for Men for Valentines
And so, this year I’m just not feeling the Valentine’s Day vibe.
We were in Costco a few days ago walking past all their gorgeous Valentine’s day flowers when I remembered to ask him if he had plans for Valentines.
I think he thought I was putting him on the spot, but really I was just checking to make sure he hadn’t come up with any elaborate plan that would put me behind the game.
Thankfully, there was no plan. And while he was eager to offer to get me flowers, chocolates and the whole nine, I gladly declined.
But, I can’t tell you the look of relief on his face when I told him I actually didn’t even want flowers this year. I didn’t even really care about a card (that’s my typical bare-minimum must-do for the holidays. Good grief. A card isn’t too much to ask, right??).
So, he offered to get some chocolates. Nope. No thanks.
“Are you sure?” he says.
What A Man Really Wants For Valentine’s
Seriously, y’all. That look of relief on his face was priceless.
He was making sure he wasn’t in trouble for not doing those things, but I could tell he was so happy not to have to sneak and stop at the grocery store on his way home from work.
Or to make a trip out on his lunch break to pick up a card and chocolates.
And seriously, I’m cool without those things this year. Because I’m happy to have my husband. And I’m glad he’s still happily married (even if he slips up and gets into the doghouse sometimes).
So, if you aren’t sure what Valentine’s gifts for men to get this year, give them a free pass for the day. Or the next holiday.
Make sure they don’t already have something in the works, and then just totally let them off the hook and see how it goes.
Especially if you’ve been married or dating for a while.
And then, come back here and let me know how it goes. 😀
So, here’s the deal. Nathan and I have had an ongoing discussion (going on 6 months now) about “wasting time.” Is it possible? On one hand, every time we’re “wasting our time” there is a good chance we are learning something new that will impact our future. But, on the other hand, we only have a limited amount of time in our life, so if we spend it worthlessly, then that time is gone forever.
Okay. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about how many times you’ve picked up those toy cars this week. (Or toy robots in my case.) And let’s talk about how many times you’ve moved that pile of clothes off your bed only to put them back when you wake up in the morning (totally guilty here). Or what about how much time you spend working around that pile of clutter at the end of the counter?
Or digging through your closet looking for that shirt you wanted to wear? And I don’t know about you, but I’ve probably spent over 100 hours this year trying to find a place to put things. Or organizing things.
And even if the stuff isn’t in your way, what about fixing things? Stuff takes maintenance. Or cleaning things. And stuff still collects dust, if we use it or not.
How many hours a week would you say you spend dealing with stuff?
So let’s tie the two together now. I found this quote on Pinterest and it is shaking me to my core.
Think about it. We work all day and half the night, either bringing home a paycheck from work or working on the life that happens at home. And then once that is done, it’s time to do laundry, clean, pick up toys and the list goes on.
What if we had less stuff? Then would we have more time to play simple card games or board games after dinner? Maybe if there were fewer toys to pick up on Saturday morning we might get to get out as a family and go on adventures (or, if you’re the Grandma, get out and go see the family).
What if we take this decluttering plunge with our whole hearts and come out with the life we’ve always dreamed.
See, I have this idea. It’s kinda bonkers, and I have a blog post coming out about it soon. But, I had lots of toys when I was a kid. We lived in a modest house. Lots of toys + small bedroom = normal kid clutter. As I grew up and wanted a magazine room, I studied the magazines. What I realized was those people could actually see their baseboards.
Whoah. My baseboards were completely covered with toys and furniture. And now that I’m grown up, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of the furniture I had before because I know that if I can see my baseboards, my mind has visual space to think and be creative. That when we can’t see the baseboards, the furniture is so thick in the room that we have a hard time moving around to live and play.
And seriously. If seeing my baseboards is the trick to having more of that sweet precious time with my little boy, I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll sell the whole farm to see his sweet smile and hear his contagious laugh.
So, here is the decluttering challenge.
Right here. Right now. I’m throwing down the gauntlet and challenging you to jump into this with your whole self. It will make a difference for your family. For your peace. And even your joy. You’ll have more breathing room and less stress (who doesn’t need that?!!? Yes! Sign me up!!). You’ll have more time to spend with you family because you’ll be spending less time dealing with the stuff. And you’ll finally have the space to soak up the moments instead of the mess.
So, I’ll leave you with my own quote and a link to this life-changing workbook.
“Get rid of the mess so you can soak up the moments.”
Wondering what’s in this handy free decluttering workbook? Well. I’ll tell ya. Some life-changing stuff.
First, you’ll get to read a quick how-to for using the workbook.
Then, you’ll start the action steps by setting some goals. You’ll want to come back to these goals when it feels like you’re not making any progress. Then you’ll remember why you started.
Next, you’ll find a room checklist to check off a room as you finish it (feel free to add more rooms in your home in the extra space).
Then, it’ll be time to get down to the nitty gritty. You can move through each room, writing down things you know need to go and using the sample list as a starting point. If you need more space or pages, there is a blank page for you to reprint and use as needed.
Finally, I know motivation can be hard to find sometimes, so I included some printable cards for inspiration. Print them out and set them out in the room you’re working on to keep you motivated to keep going.
You can do this. I’ve got your back. Let me know if you need help along the way. I’m right here in the trenches with you!
Let’s take back our life from our stuff and start living the life we were meant to live.
I created this planner with a busy mama in mind. Are you her? You have a ton of things floating around in your head at any given moment. You stress all day about getting your work done, but when you finally get to your desk, the overwhelm sits in and you can’t remember where to start.
If only you could get it all out on paper so you don’t have to remember it but just work through your plan…
And here’s the thing. Your plan is different than my plan. And that’s different than another mama’s plan. I work best with long weekly lists and big sets of bullets (and extra space for the crazy last minute ideas), but you may want to have order and a plan for every day.
And that’s why I am not including a ton of instructions with this planner. Make it yours. Use it how you want. Print out all the flex sheets you want. Don’t want a youtube tracking sheet? No problemo!
With that being said, there are a few things that I put in this planner to help you make it through the year with intentionality. You don’t have to use these features in your planner this way, but I’ve found it helps me reach my goals to see everything laid out in front of me in a way that I have to interact with it.
These are the pages where you can find these hidden features and plus some tips and ideas for your planner.
This post may contain affiliate links to stuff I love. It doesn't charge you any extra, but it will help support this blog and my family.
I designed the planner to be an easy printable. It’s light and bright which means it won’t use up all your ink (but if you want to save a buck, you can buy ink on Amazon for crazy cheap). And, it’s a standard 8.5×11 size so you don’t have to look around for expensive planner paper.
The planner has sections so you can print the ones you need and leave off the ones you don’t.
Feel free to have it bound however you’d like (more instructions on that below), but the planner was created with a disc-bound system in mind.
I have actually used a Happy Planner and then added the sheets from this planner in sections behind the Happy Planner (I did desperately miss the monthly checkboxes, though). I liked that I got the benefits of the Happy Planner (like that dreamy laminated cover and the monthly tabs), but also had all the robust tools from the blog planner that I needed.
But I’ve finally come up with my system for my planner that I love. I have the tough monthly dividers and the extra section dividers that make this thing feel tough and rugged, with the helpful blogging tools wrapped up in a beautiful package. Skip to the bottom of this post if you want to see what I’m doing now.
Don’t be afraid to use it how you want. <3
The first few pages are all motivational printables. Put them in between months, in every section, in a frame on your desk. Use them as a cover. Whatever. I just thought you’d like them. <3
How many of each page to print
I created this planner based on the suggestions of LOTS of business-owning mamas and we all have our own way of doing things. So, you’ll find options for various features of the planner. I encourage you to take 5 minutes and flip through the planner to decide which pages you love and which ones you can do without.
And when you do land on your favorite, be sure to print out enough for your needs. One example is that there are 3 different ways to manage your daily/weekly schedule. Pick the one(s) that work for you and make sure you have enough for 52 weeks.
So, for that reason, you won’t find a hard & fast list of how many pages to print. There are just too many ways to customize this planner. But you can find my suggestions below.
These two sheets help you achieve your goals by breaking them down into smaller, actionable lists. Add a due date. Make it real.
There are two different versions of goal planners. This is just for the people who prefer boxes over straight lines. 😉
The months are portrait and one-sided for a reason. I love to keep notes on the open side of the planner. I keep track of dates on one side, and take notes or jot ideas down on the other side. The monthly pages are great candidates to print onto thicker paper or cardstock just for this reason.
You’ll notice some little boxes above the calendar. These are tracking boxes. Use them to keep track of how consistently you’re meeting your goals for the month. Example: I had a goal to post a blog post every other day for a month. It was easy to keep track of how many I posted because I checked them off every time I finished one. You could also use these little boxes to track exercise, drinking water, product sales, etc.
I like to use the ToDo section at the bottom to highlight important tasks for the month or jot down important ideas that I get along the way.
This page is one of my absolute favorites. It’s one-sided like the monthly planner, but you can tackle an entire week (complete with brainstorming space) on one page! How awesome is that?
I use the left side to block off my days with projects or big tasks and then use the list on the right to keep track of the little things I need to do.
The Remember box is great for quotes, appointments, and goals.
You’ll want to print about 52 of these. I store them in the back of my planner and then just move them into the month as it comes along to keep it easy to flip through coming months.
This section is devoted to the free spirits like me who forget their passwords and have a lot of ideas. Sometimes you just need a blank list that matches the rest of your planner, amiright?
Use these however you’d like.
This section is for the bloggers but could be customized for online shop owners, too.
Post Ideas will help you organize your post ideas to make sure you have a strategy behind your content creation.
And the Posts page will help you make sure you cover all your bases for every post. You’ll want to print lots of these if you’re a blogger.
These are pretty straightforward and will help you keep track of engagement on your social media outlets. My favorite is the Pinterest Group Boards tracking page. When I find a board I love, I put a star next to it so I remember it’s a good one.
Many of these were requested by you. <3
Watch your blog grow with these pages. I’ve also included some handy finance tracking worksheets.
Many of these were requested by you. <3
Clients & Products
These two were created out of necessity. If you work with clients or are developing products, these might be your jam. I keep a client sheet for every client (sometimes for each month, depending on the workload) and a product sheet for every product I am working on to walk me through development and launch/promo.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road! Let’s get this thing out of your computer and onto your desk!!
This little thing is your planner. And here’s the deal. You can do this anyway you want!!
Just keep in mind, that the planner was created with a disc-bound system in mind, though. So, if you opt for a 3 ring binder, you might be punching over a letter or two. If that doesn’t bother you, then punch away. If you think it might bother you, then a spiral binding or disc bound system might be the right choice for you.
Here’s how I have used the planner in the past.
I started off the year using a super-cute 3 ring binder that I found at Target and really loved that layout (using plastic tabbed dividers). I have also gotten my planners spiral bound at FedEx or Staples with a plastic cover and plastic tabs and loved that set-up, too.
But, if you must know, there are a few reasons why I am loving using these planner pages in a disc-bound system.
The beauty of a spiral binding is that it can be small on my desk. I can have it open to one page at a time. It folds back on itself and because of the plastic covers + the bulk of the planner, it’s tough. I like that.
But, I missed the flexibility of being able to move pages around as I needed them (like moving the weekly pages to the front as it comes along so I can flip through future months easier), so I used the 3 ring binder. However, then I didn’t like how big this binder was and that to see a page, I needed some serious real estate open on my desk to open my planner. No good.
So, I’ve found the disc bound systems work amazing for both of those issues. I can have the flexibility of moving my pages around as I need to. I can have a strong book that can fold open on itself.
If you want to take a shortcut, you can use a Happy Planner like I used to (with your blog organizing sheets tucked behind the calendar). You can find a Happy Planner at local craft stores, but I wasn’t too impressed with the selection (plus, they’re taped up so you can’t flip through them there). So, if I buy another Happy Planner, I’ll look on Amazon instead.
But keep reading because I think I’ve finally cracked the code on making a DIY printable planner.
***How I’m putting my printable planner together***
If you want to build a disc bound planner yourself, it’s pretty easy. Just snag all the pieces, punch your papers (& dividers), and snap them onto the disks. You’ll have a complete DIY planner in no time. 😀
For this year’s version, I’m actually using some Martha Stewart, Arc, and Avery pieces I found at Staples. I’m so impressed with how it turned out!!
I’m definitely not needing a Happy Planner this year.
But feel free to find pieces you like locally, on Amazon or even on Etsy. These are just some readily-available suggestions below.
A list of the things you’ll want to assemble your own disc bound planner
Most brands are interchangeable, though they can vary slightly.
Disks I like teal, but Amazon has a ton of choices (more than my local store). Watch for size here. I think mine is about 1.25”
Plastic dividers I like actual plastic (my favorites: http://amzn.to/2iJOhoT) dividers, but Happy planner has some nice dividers, too. Be sure you have at least 12 (one for each month). I punched mine with the tiniest punch you’ve ever seen. At first you think these plastic dividers won’t budget, but they will. Just lean into it. 😉
If a storm is heading your way, you need to beef up on your preparedness skills really quickly and prepare your home & family for a natural disaster.
A hurricane is heading my way in just a few days, so I’ve been doing that very thing. While I’m not in a coastal location, hurricanes tend to bring crazy wind and rain inland for hundreds of miles. So, needless to say, I’ve been getting my prep on (was that totally nerdy to say??).
Emergency Preparedness When A Storm Is On Its Way
In most any storm or natural disaster situation, we’re all worrying about the same things: water, food, power, & shelter. Here is my hit list of things to do to get ready for this impending hurricane.
This post may contain affiliate links to stuff I love. It doesn't charge you any extra, but it will help support this blog and my family.
Take photos of loved ones.
Agree with loved ones on preparedness plan, meeting location if separated, and assign tasks.
Take a photo inventory of my home (including snapshots of serial numbers).
Plan and prepare food for 3-5 days including fresh (eat first), frozen (eat second), & canned foods (last). Pre-cooking meals is a good idea, as wind & rain may make grilling difficult. Don’t forget a can opener.
Save water & ice: water in the tubs, water in extra containers/gallon baggies to save in the freezer (keeps freezer cold longer and gives cold water), and ice in baggies.
Grab some coffee filters at the store to filter your water before you sanitize it with bleach.
Have an ax handy in case you need to dig you or someone else out from under a tree.
Add a 1/2 gallon jug to the toilet to save on water needed to flush the toilet. No one wants to potty outside if you run out of water in your bathtub.