Michael’s: $3 Display Cases today only!

by Ann-Marie on September 12, 2011

Head to your nearest Michael’s store today and grab up this daily deal.

Collectibles cases and Display cases are on sale 70% off, today only, at just $3 (reg $9.99). While supplies last, no rain checks.

Michael’s has a different Daily Deal each day this week, Sept 11-17, 2011. Check the list and see if something you’ve had your eye on will make it for the deep discounts!

Take a look at other retail deals to help you save at the store.

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Idea for Kids: Cleanup Countdown

by Ann-Marie on February 3, 2011

This idea came to me on a rare Saturday when we didn’t have anywhere to be, and my kids were driving me nuts already by 10am. I tested it again yesterday, day 2 of our 4-day school hiatus from the infamous ice storm, and it was a hit once more.

My 6.5 yr old daughter has a nasty habit of not putting her toys away in her room (“Shocker!”). Then when  you have clothes here, Polly Pockets there, scraps of craft paper here, and Squinkies there, and there, and there, it becomes too overwhelming for both of us.

I ‘get’ that brains are wired differently, and some, like Mallory’s, need to compartmentalize in order to process it all. Taking an overall look at her room results in a tearful, screeching, “I CAN’T DO IT!”, with a little foot stomp for added emphasis.

So I started a fun “game” (anything with ‘game’ added to it gets instant buy-in from my kids). It’s called the Cleanup Countdown.

The premise is so simple, and yet so rewarding:  Get the kids to pick up their stuff, without having to nag them about it. Then reward them. And guess what, the more kids you have, the faster your house gets cleaned!

Here is how our game worked, you can adapt it to your levels, rooms, and messiness factor. These directions are per child, so 10 toys on the basement floor really means 20!   And I recommend doing this on-the-fly, just look around the house and come up with your list. It will change every time you ‘play’!

  • Put away 10 toys on the basement floor.
  • Find 9 things you’ve taped to your bedroom walls or door, and either throw them away or put them in a folder for keeping.
  • Pick up 8 pieces of clothing from your bedroom floor.
  • Find 7 markers/crayons/pencils and put them in their boxes where they belong.
  • Put 6 books back onto your bookshelves.
  • (Mallory): Find 5 hair pretties and put them away. (Dylan): Find 5 army guys and put them away.
  • Put 4 stuffed animals back on their shelf.
  • Find 3 of Carlie’s toys and help her to put those away. (She’s 2).
  • Remove 2 papers from the refrigerator, and either throw them away or put them in a folder for keeping.
  • Make your 1 bed.

The reward can be as simple as a special dessert for dinner, or if they worked extra hard then treat them to a Family Movie Night with a Redbox video and popcorn. The bigger your eyes and your own excitement get when describing the reward in detail, the more exciting it will be for your kids. Happy cleaning!


Organizing My House: The Steps

by Ann-Marie on January 25, 2011

So it’s been a couple weeks since I last posted on my home organization project. Admittedly I have been sidetracked, with life, and laundry, but now I’m getting back on track. Ain’t that just the way things go sometimes.

A few years ago I hired a friend from church who is a professional organizer, Joani P., to come over and give me a once-over on tips to organize our home office in our last house. I still use her ideas today, because they just make sense. Here are the steps I have learned, that I am working on in our new house. These can – and should – be applied to ANY room.

Step 1: Remove EVERYTHING off your surface, clean the surface, and put ‘pretties’ back – but nothing else.

I started with the desk, and took each pile down onto the floor. After dusting every crevice, I put back only the desk mat and our file basket. In concept, once your surface is clean and you have any decorative accents in place (picture frames, a lamp, candle etc.), you won’t want to ugly it up again.  In concept.

So now I have even MORE piles on my floor!

Step 2:  Sort, Categorize, Prioritize.

This gets a little trickier when you’re dealing with a hodge-podge of junk, but for these piles I’m working on from our home office it’s actually not that tough.

I started with the top of the first pile (I have heard professional organizers suggest you turn a pile over, and work from the bottom, because those will be the oldest papers. However I needed to find things that could be needing more urgent attention, so I started from the top. You accounting folk would recognize this as the LIFO method!).

Each paper, coupon, receipt, photo, whatever, was sorted into a new pile. You can see in the photo below, I made categories called “To Do”, “Read”, “File”, “Larry”, and “Coupons”. The lower pile is what I’m working on.

As I was working on a pile, if something jumped out as obviously outdated, unneeded, etc. then I put it into recycling or trash.

One important note that really has hit home, especially in this room which becomes our dumping ground when company comes over:

If it doesn’t permanently belong in the room, put it where it permanently does.

Does that not just make the most sense?!  So while it doesn’t apply so much to the papers on my desk, you’ll see this come through in my next posts about my home office, because there are loads of crap in this room that certainly don’t belong in here, temporarily or permanently.

If you’re just dying to know, here’s a short list of what’s in my piles:

What’s in my To Do pile:

  • Gobs of codes from Huggies Rewards and Pampers Gifts-to-Grow, that need to be entered.
  • YMCA program guide, with dog-eared pages: Figure out what classes to sign the kiddos up for, then do it.
  • Fishers Parks & Recreation Guide, ditto the Y guide.

What’s in my File pile:

  • Bank statements for my business account
  • JC Penny Portrait Studio receipt with those cute little thumbnails of Carlie’s portraits
  • Various school papers, some will conveniently disappear, others to save will quite honestly go in the big pile on the top of our bookshelf until further organizing!

What’s in my Read pile:

  • Ikea catalog from last Fall
  • Lowes Idea catalog (pictured above, notice it’s outdated with the candy cane on the front)
  • 4 issues of Southern Living, 4 issues of Parents, 1 All You (a Halloween issue from 2009), 1 Oprah, and 1 Real Simple.

Step 3:  Just Do It.

Now that I have the junk from my desk into piles, it’s time to actually act upon those verbs “Read”, “File” and “Do”.  If your life is chaotic like mine, it’s more practical for me to break up the task into mini-chunks than to ignore my 2-year-old for half a day to get it all done (thereby risking a visit to the ER, and from DCS!).

Here are a few helpful tips on how to find the time to “just do it”.

  1. Since it takes so daggone long to boot up my computer, I use that time to file a few pages away.
  2. When my internet’s misbehavin’ or my system slows from starting a scan or virus check, I can quickly purge outdated coupons.  (Probably the Mac users never have these timewasters, I’m guessing).
  3. Many things in my “To Do” pile are computer-related, such as the Huggies/Pampers codes. I group these and it’s quick to knock them out in less than 2 minutes.
  4. Stand up.  This was a trick I learned when I actually had a paying career. You’re less likely to get sucked in (to web surfing, to a conversation by a co-worker, etc.) if you remain standing instead of lounging in your office chair. I roll it completely out of the room, so it doesn’t call my name.
  5. If possible, leave the computer off.  In the rare occasion I have the house to myself, and I can work in the office, I leave the computer off so I can get more accomplished. Any random things that come up that you need to search for online, or email someone, just make a note of it, and do it at a later time when your computer is on again.
  6. Multi-task. When hubby needed to use the computer, I took my “Read” pile into the family room and flipped through some old mags while catching up on Days.

I hope some of these steps and tips have been helpful so far. There’s more to come!  Next up I’ll be tackling my bookshelf stuffed with photos … two years’ worth of school pictures, soccer photos, baby portraits, envelopes of printed snapshots – yikes, it will be quite a job!