Archives for November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

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This morning one of my daughters (I have 4 year old twins) quietly slipped out of her room, careful not to wake her sister, and crawled in bed with me. She curled up next to me and put her head on my shoulder and said softly, “I like you, Mommy.”

I woke up thankful.

Wherever you are in the world, I wish for you at least one thankful moment today.

Photo Credit: Alex Campos

Clean + Green Review

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I was recently introduced to a new line of products called Clean + Green. I’m pleased to say that the product I tried works. We sampled the Dog-Concrete & Grout Cleaner and were pleasantly surprised. We have a 110 lb. yellow lab and when he uses the bathroom on the garage floor, suffice it to say, the mess is plentiful and smelly. We’ve tried numerous products in an attempt to get the left-over scent out of the concrete floor, but have found they really just mask the smell for a short period of time.ps_dogconcrete

About a week ago there was a storm coming and my husband moved our dog from his pen into the garage. The next morning, there was the usual mess. After mopping it up, my husband went after the can of Clean+Green. He followed the directions exactly, which were incredibly simple: shake can, spray on affected area, allow to air dry. The next day when I went into the garage to get something, there was absolutely no urine odor. That’s something I haven’t been able to say for some time.

Clean+Green contains a large line of pet products. In addition to the concrete cleaner, there are cleaners for carpet, wood & tile, auto, furniture, and cat’s litter box. Another great looking product is the De-Skunk Coat Cleaner. The Clean+Green website says the cleaners are “effective on any common household odors such as animal and people urine and feces, skunk spray, smoke, sweat, and food odors.”

Speaking of smoke, our power went out last week for a few days and we kept warm by burning a fire in fireplace. Even though my husband cleaned out the ashes, the ash smell has remained. I reached for my can of Clean+Green Concrete & Grout Cleaner, and once again, the smell is gone.

It’s obviously important that the products work, but the best thing about them is that they are safe for children and pets and eco-friendly. According to their website, “CLEAN+GREEN is all natural, non-toxic, non-carcinogenic, non-corrosive, and non-flammable. Per the U.S. Federal Regulations Toxic Substances Control Act, Title III, Section 311 & 312, this product contains no health or hazardous materials. It is perfectly safe to use around people and animals when you spray an odor source.”

I can only assume that their other products work as well as this one did. I know I’m sold. Clean+Green products can be purchased online at their website and in stores like Wal-mart, Petsmart, and PetCo.

[Disclosure: We received one free can of Concrete & Grout Cleaner to sample. We are receiving no other payment or incentive for this review. The links in this post are NOT affiliate links. Please see my Review Policy for more information.]

Grass-Fed Beef

Our bulk order of grass-fed beef came in this week. We now have approximately 70 pounds of ground beef, various roasts, and steaks.

I’m excited about this bulk order and am hoping it works out as well as I think it will. There are several reasons we decided to buy the beef in bulk.

1. To save money. It turned out to be less expensive per pound to pay a flat rate for all of the cuts.

2. To help with meal planning. With a freezer full of beef, it should be a lot easier to plan our meals each week.

3. To reduce trips to the grocery store. Obviously, a bulk order of beef won’t cut out my trips to the store altogether, but I’m hoping that by having all of this meat “in stock,” I’ll plan better and cut down on my visits to the store. We’ll see how this works out.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of eating grass-fed beef, you can check out my earlier post on the topic. Also, I came across an interesting article today on Kat Eden’s Body Incredible about grass-fed beef being higher in Omega 3’s than grain-fed.

Our beef order came from Polyface Farms of Food, Inc.
and The Omnivore’s Dilemma fame. Unfortunately for those outside of our area, Polyface does not ship their products. There is a lot a great information on their website, though, about grass-fed beef and pastured pork and poultry products.

I’ll provide updates on how our first bulk-beef purchase is working out. Have you ever bought beef in bulk? How did it work for you?

Unclutter Your Life In One Week: Book Review

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I actually wrote yesterday’s post, Some Thoughts on Clutter, a couple of weeks ago. I’d been thinking about my clutter and scribbled out the words by hand. Before I had a chance to upload it on the site, I learned that Erin Doland, Editor-In-Chief at Unclutter.com, was preparing for the launch of her new book. I really like the website, but didn’t know if I wanted/needed to read yet another book on getting rid of clutter. As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve read a lot, but still haven’t taken much action. On a whim, I emailed Erin and asked for a review copy of her new book. She kindly agreed and sent it to me.

Many of the positive things in my life have come about as the result of a whim. I’m so glad that I took the time to contact Erin. I found the book inspiring and, most importantly, do-able. Erin’s motto: simplicity is revolutionary. Clear the clutter so you can pursue what you love the most.

The problem I’ve had with many of the other books I’ve read is that the tone can be off-putting. Some authors attempt to amuse you and much of the time reading the book is taken up with skimming and skipping around silly jokes to get to the point. Other authors take a more therapeutic approach and try to assume the persona of a dear old friend who wants to counsel you through your issues with clutter. Others assume the reader is exactly like they are, and so they provide the one set of steps and tips that worked for them.

When I take the time to read a book about simplifying my life, I’m not interested in being entertained or looking for a friend, and the way my personality works and the way my life runs may not be exactly like that of the author.

Enter, Erin Doland’s book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week. This book really is different and if I’d found it first, I could have saved myself a lot of time and money.

What I like:

◊ The tone of the book is casual, but to the point. The impression I came away with is that Erin is like a lot of us — she once struggled with clutter, but has found a way to straighten it out. She does, however, realize that everyone has a different style and that what worked for her may not work for everyone. For each of the “steps” she walks the reader through, she offers several methods of accomplishing the tasks that are sustainable for a variety of personality types.

◊ The book is comprehensive. Erin addresses all three of the main types of clutter: clutter in your home, clutter at work, and clutter in your life. There are tips for reducing the clutter in each of these areas each day.

◊ The goal is clear from the beginning. When you reduce the amount of stuff in your life and streamline your routines you have more time and space for the things you enjoy. In the first section, titled “Foundations,” she writes, “Simple living isn’t about depriving; it’s about enriching. You’re getting rid of what doesn’t belong to make room for what does.”

What’s inside:

The book is divided into days of the week. There are 3 primary tasks for each day.

Monday: Your Wardrobe, Your Office, Your Reception Station

Tuesday: Your Bathroom, Your Files, Your Chores (Creating Routines)

Wednesday: Your Bedroom & Commute, Communication at Work, Your Kitchen & Dining Room

Thursday: Your Living Spaces, Working at Work, Your Home Office

Friday: Scheduling Strategies, Routines at Work, Living with Clutterers

Weekend: Taking Care of Yourself, Preparation, Making the Most of Your Personal Time, Vacations, Socializing

And finally a section on “Celebrating and Maintaining Your Success”

Throughout the book, Erin includes worksheets and charts to make the whole process easier. There is even a comprehensive list for both Fall and Spring cleaning.

This may just be the resource that helps me finally tackle my clutter. I plan to post periodic updates of my progress in hopes that doing so publicly will encourage me to achieve the goal.

If you feel at all overwhelmed by your stuff or if you feel like you need a plan to make your days run more smoothly, I can’t recommend Unclutter Your Life in One Week enough. It’s available on Amazon in hardcover for only $14.96 and the Kindle edition is $9.99.

Some Thoughts On Clutter

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I’ve spent a good bit of my life feeling overwhelmed. Part of this is due to my personality, but much of it is a result of filling up my life with too much stuff. The “stuff” takes many forms. A lot of these things are material items. I’m interested in so many things — I have a large number of books and magazines on a variety of topics. I love to read and I love to learn (both good things, I think) but I tend to overwhelm myself when I accumulate stacks of books and magazines that I want to “get to.”

They begin to loom over me.

Another form of stuff, for me, is paperwork. I’m afraid of tossing something I’ll someday need, or of tossing something sentimental I’ll wish I had later. My paper organization is lacking, though, to say the least. Consequently, I’m easily overwhelmed by the stacks of paper here and there and all around. My children’s artwork from preschool has only added to this. It’s so difficult for me to decide which masterpieces to keep and which to toss. So they stay in their piles until I make up my mind.

I have read Leo Babauta’s wonderful ebook, Zen To Done, and Gayle Blanke’s Throw Out Fifty Things, and Mary Caroline Walker’s Simple Solutions to Organize Your Family and Home, and Don Aslett’s books, and many, many others. I read Unclutterer.com and Leo’s new mnmlist blog, as well as David’s Simple.Organized.Life. I subscribe to Real Simple magazine. I file away their advice in the little drawers that make up my memory. There are numerous tips and tricks for decluttering our lives and becoming more organized.

But I’m reading more than doing.

So what’s the problem with clutter? Why not just accept that this is “the way I am” and move on?

The problem is that clutter makes me feel like crap. Having so much stuff everywhere keeps me tense. I don’t like the look of it and I have a hard time being productive when so much stuff is in sight. I believe that freeing myself of clutter will be a gift to myself and to my family. When I’m less overwhelmed by stuff, I’ll have more time and energy to focus on the things that matter to me most. I’m on a mission and I just may have found the help I need to reduce the clutter and streamline my life.

I’ll discuss my new favorite resource in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned.

Photo Credit: Photos8.com

[Full Disclosure: Many (though not all) of the links to books or products on this site are affiliate links. That simply means that if you click the link and then decide to buy the product, I’ll get a little bit of pocket change at no cost to you.]