Azure Standard Day (AKA the post where I ramble about produce prices and buy tree bark).

Yesterday we picked up our Azure Standard order from our Drop Point in Rickreall.  It was a more unusual order for us. We desperately needed blueberries and I could not find organic or spray free blueberries for a reasonable price for the life of me.  We had gone through our stash of frozen blueberries that we picked from Minto Island Growers quite a while back and we were missing them.

These berries from Azure were the best deal I could find (the picture only shows 5 of the 10 pounds)…and I still almost choked at the price.  I am also lso finding that most fruit prices are at an all time high this time of year for things like apples and pears.  Although this may seem pretty obvious based on the fact that we are only getting farther away from apple season, it has still taken me by surprise.  In season I can get organic apples for close to a dollar, and then they increase steadily.  This time of year it seems that my target price is more like $1.50 or less per pound for pears and apples.  Now that we are going through a larger amount of produce, I am totally feeling this in our grocery bill.  I even bought organic mangos the other day because they were not much more than the cheapest apples.  Can’t wait for more fruit to be coming into season. Alright, enough about fruit prices. Sorry.

Why did we buy this stuff?

The steel cut oats are our favorite cheap healthy breakfast. We brown them in a bit of butter and then soak them overnight.  The next morning we cook them up and add fun toppings.  Maybe I can post more about this later.

The Pau d’ Arco bark is for hubs.  A helpful lady at Life Source recommended it when I had a question about his skin issues and supplements for him. We will use it to make a tea. Mmmm. Tastes like tree.

The Chia Seeds are something Hubs wanted to add to our cooking. This will primarily be added to things he eats before he goes for runs/races.

The Gamma Seal Lids are to go on top of 5 gallon buckets and create a good seal, but are also easy to open.  We will use them for our bulk wheat berries, different oats, and maybe beans.  They are speedy, but we will use them on food safe buckets we are hoping to get for free. This will ensure that our bulk purchases are safe from getting bugs etc.

 

SN431 Late July Bite Size Cheddar Crackers, Organic 5 ozs. 2 0 $2.35 $0.00
CE231 Bulk Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic 25 lbs. 1 1 $18.35 $18.35
HS764 Oregon’s Wild Harvest Pau d’Arco Bark, Cut & Sifted 4 ozs. 1 1 $4.60 $4.60
FG012 Bulk Blueberries, Natural, Frozen, Large 10 lbs. 1 1 $35.00 $35.00
SE099 Bulk Chia Seeds, Whole, Black, Organic 1 lb. 1 1 $5.65 $5.65
NF094 Gamma Gamma Seal Lid for 5 Gallon Plastic Pail 1 each 3 3 $6.75 $20.25
QP138 Fresh Produce Apples, Fuji, Organic 3 lbs. 1 1 $4.25 $4.25

 

If you are curious about how to get started with Azure Standard, you can check out this post.  Also, you can search “Azure Standard” on my blog in the upper right corner for more related posts.

 

-Not paid for this endorsement, just a happy customer.

 

Azure Standard Day

Yesterday was our Azure Standard delivery day at the drop point we use.  My friend and I take turns picking it up and it always feels a little like Christmas.  We always seem to stop at Burgerville, so it is good we don’t pick it up every time. 🙂 We happened to be out of a lot of our bulk items, and I decided to get bigger 25lb bags of oats and beans this time. I also ordered more hard white and soft white wheat berries. I use the wheat berries in my grain mill to make fresh ground flour (it is healthier and makes homemade stuff taste even better).  Hard white is a good average whole wheat (not too dark), and soft white replaces white flour nicely in recipies for pie crusts, cakes, etc.

Here is a list of what I got. Notice that some items did not come.  That is one of the only things about Azure that is a bummer. Sometimes they are out of your stuff and you have to just order it again next time.  They do have a system now that tells you how many of the item is remaining at the time you add the item.  It still catches me by surprise because I often add items to my cart over time and don’t know they are running low on an item. This picture does not include our favorite steel cut oats.  We already cracked into them and forgot to put them in the picture.

CE227 Azure Farm Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic 5 lbs. 1 1 $5.35 $5.35
SW137 Wholesome Sweeteners Brown Sugar, Dark, Organic, Fair Trade 24 ozs. 2 2 $3.95 $7.90
NF595 Tubtrugs LLC Containers, Flexible, 6.5 Gallon Medium, Pistachio 1 unit 1 1 $7.80 $7.80
SN431 Late July Bite Size Cheddar Crackers, Organic 5 ozs. 1 1 $2.40 $2.40
NS920 Eclectic Institute Elderberry Instant Immune POW-der 2.1 ozs. 1 1 $10.75 $10.75
JC117 Crofter’s @North American Superfruit Spread, Organic 11 ozs. 1 1 $3.30 $3.30
NF225 Biokleen Produce Wash 16 ozs. 1 1 $3.60 $3.60
GR064 Azure Farm Wheat Berries, Soft White, Organic 25 lbs. 1 1 $10.50 $10.50
BE006 Bulk Black Beans, Organic (split with a friend) 25 lbs. 1 1 $34.30 $34.30
SE202 Nutiva Chia Seeds, Organic 3 lbs. 1 0 $16.25 $0.00
EO078 Nature’s Alchemy Tea Tree 0.5 oz. 1 1 $4.70 $4.70
EO067 Nature’s Alchemy Eucalyptus 0.5 oz. 1 1 $3.40 $3.40
BE051 Azure Farm White Beans, Small, Navy, Organic 5 lbs. 1 0 $7.45 $0.00
GR111 Bulk Hard White Wheat, Organic 25 lbs. 1 1 $17.25 $17.25
CE134 Bulk Quick Oats, Organic 25 lbs. 1 1 $18.75 $18.75
CE231 Bulk Steel Cut Oats (whole grain), Organic 25 lbs. 1 0 $18.35 $0.00

My sweet helper always wants to pose with the groceries.  She probably thinks all moms line up and take pictures of their groceries. And yes, she does like to wear multiple dresses in the same day.  Usually I encourage her to keep the same outfit on, today I let her live it up. Love that girl.

After I refilled my jars I had to figure what to do with all the extras.  I wrote the dates on the bags so I can get an idea for how long it takes me to go through them.  I will also clip the corners shut with clamps and put them in plastic totes for the time being.  I hope to get them into well sealed 5 gallon buckets when we get our hands on some more.  I love the Gamma Seal lids on the two that I have.  Who knew I would get excited about fancy bucket lids?

Here is a post I wrote about getting started with Azure Standard. You can also find some of my past shopping trips by searching “azure” in the search box.

I am looking out on at least 5 inches of fresh snow and praying everyone is safe driving today. After all the snow we have gotten this year I am starting to feel like I live in an area where snow is a common occurrence.  Shout out to my dad and hubby for picking me and my van up late last night after I was having trouble just making it out of the neighborhood I was in.

Happy Spring!

Schedule Time

"Maybe if we do this mom will start using a schedule"
"Maybe if we had a schedule we could do things like make bread more often?"
"Maybe she could put it in an awesome binder like ours? Nah...I bet she will just blog about it instead. That would be easier."

It is time to try and institute a schedule into our days.  I am sure we will stray from it here and there, but I think it will help our days have more purpose and organization.  I also think my house will thank me for it.  We have been improving in certain areas, but things still seem a bit chaotic at times (okay…a lot chaotic at times).  This should help a bit.

In case you don’t know us personally, I am a stay at home mama of 3 little ones.  We are slowly entering our homeschooling years.  The twins are 3 (almost 4) and our babe is 18 months.

The schedule only has a couple actual times on it.  It is more of an “order of operations” rather than a “schedule” I suppose.  I prefer to have it a bit more free-form and then make sure the main things like meals and naps occur at close to the same time everyday.

 

Basic schedule goal for M-F (exceptions based on the focus of the day and activities/visitors)

Breakfast for tots and I.

Read Proverbs to kids and work on a memory verse.

Clean up breakfast.

Go get little one when she wakes. Start a load while upstairs.

Nurse/feed little one.

Start school if she is happily eating in highchair and go as long as we can.

School (alphabet, writing, counting/sorting, art project, educational busy bags, flash cards etc.)

Clear her breakfast.

Get dressed with clothes I brought down after kids bed time the night before. Do this right after twins eat if little one is still sleeping.

Kids play in play area. I shower and switch laundry.

Small treat if they stayed in play area and played nicely.

Start preparing lunch at 11:55.

Eat lunch together.

1-1:30 Potty, pray, put Little Man down, Little Lady, and Sweet Baby.

Make our bed if there has not been a chance before.

Clean up any remaining lunch/kitchen mess.

Do devotions.

Check email etc.

Attempt nap if lack of sleep.

Do paper work stuff/work on project.

Cuddle with kids individually as they wake.

Give snack and let them watch shows for a bit.

Check laundry/cleaning.

4:00 Read books together

Kids play while I prepare for Hubs to come home and work on dinner if he is not cooking.

5:40ish Dinner

Cleanup

Daddy play with kids (while I sometimes work out)

Take any dirty clothes or things that need to go upstairs.

Baths if needed/get ready for bed.

Family worship time-Read Crossroads to Character, sing, read Bible. (Consider moving to right after dinner and try to find our “Truth and Grace” books).

Kids in bed by 8:00.

Bring down clothes for kids for the nest day.

Straighten up kitchen and catch up with Hubs.

 

Insert into day when appropriate.

Character quality flashcards. The kids LOVE these.

Children helping with chores-right now we are trying to teach joyful helpfulness and skills to complete chores.  I am hesitant to put them into the schedule.  I want to have the kids get excited about helping me throughout the day and teach them how to help (rather than assigning chores and having a specific time to do them).  As they get a bit older we will add this to the schedule.  Right now they know how to fold some clothes, vacuum with the light wt. vac on hard surfaces, scrub with a towel, pick up while focusing on one thing at a time (sometimes), lining up shoes by the door, gather dirty clothes and take to laundry room, and a few other things I forgot.

(More as I think of them)

 

Daily focus tasks

Monday-Coupon organization, look at ads, make lists.

Tuesday-Kids and I upstairs to do laundry and put anything clean away.

Wednesday-Bathrooms and garbage.

Thursday-Extra School or sometimes go see Great Grandma and Great Papa.

Friday-Errands (or flip flop with wed)

Saturday-Big projects, errands, and FUN!

Sunday-Church and planning for the week.

 

Do you use a schedule in your home?

 

Works For Us-Coffee Filters as Bowls

As much as I love the cheap and colorful Ikea bowls (that are supposedly BPA free), I am quite simply drowning in them.  By the end of the day the sink is FULL and between all 3 kiddos we have gone through a pile of them.  Yesterday we did our coffee filter craft again and I was reminded of a trick my mom used to use with us.  Use them for easy disposable snack bowls!  They are dirt cheap, have just the right shape, and can wad up miraculously small.  Over the years we have moved away from quite a few disposable items, but I will let these pass.

Happy Thursday y’all!

Laundry Basket Dressers

 

The Hubs has been working hard making my dreams come true the past few days.  After a trip to Home Depot he had the supplies to make 3 storage systems for laundry baskets.  I have seen these called “Laundry Basket Dressers” and have not been able to think up a cuter name.  The only thing better than one really cool laundry-basket-holder-thingy is …three!  One would not have done us much good.  We have LOTS of laundry around here and I am a bit compulsive about my numerous categories.

Here are some basic iPhone pictures to give you an idea of the process.

This sweet girl was so thrilled to help Daddy that she was on a high for hours after.

Little man testing out the “elevator” as they liked to call them.

Here is the finished dresser without the baskets and before it was painted.

With baskets…

Here is the one that is going in our room.  We did not want to buy paint for this project so we just used colors we had.  The ones for the laundry room are a soft green (but not as soft as it looks in the last picture) and the one for our room is a bit deeper green.

Here are both beasts we squeezed into our laundry room right after Hubs carried them up.

Now instead of having a huge pile of laundry on the floor in my laundry room and digging through it each time I start a load, I can categorize it perfectly and when the basket fills up I know it is time to do that load.  The set in our room will likely be used for clean laundry (per hubbys request).  Since things rarely all get folded and put away immediately, this will be a nice clean place for it to await its next home.  Maybe someday I will go into more detail about my laundry process (I won’t call it a “system” because I have in no way mastered the laundry beast around here).  I have found a couple things that save me some time…and a few things that don’t save time but do save wear and tear on our clothes and money.

The main thing we changed from other designs we found on the web was making them for the bigger laundry baskets.  I did not see a purpose in creating storage for baskets that would not really hold a full load of laundry.  The only downside is that by making them this size they really can not be stacked on top of each other and easily accessed.  They pretty much have to go side by side.  He also left a gap at the top of each basket so that things could be thrown in without having to pull the basket out every time.

Here are some basics

  • Laundry baskets-Sterilite 2 bushel, shiny tan colored. Found Walmart for $8.99 each (regular price…I know.  Kinda killed a little part of me to pay for 9 regular priced laundry baskets.  Actually the lady did not charge us for the first 3 we bought….when we went back to look for 6 more they only had 5 and we had her charge us for the first 3 too…and we still need 1 because they did not have enough.  Did you follow that?)
  • Wood for all 3 cost about $64.  He used (2) sheets 3/4″ plywood for the top, sides, and bottom.  (1) sheet of 1/4″  plywood for the backs.  For the rails that hold up the baskets he used (4) 8 foot  2×2’s.
  • After be built them he sanded, primed, and painted with one good coat.  By rolling on where you can you will be able to paint them faster and get a smoother coat.  You can also use wood filler after sanding and before painting to get a more finished look on your plywood.
  • Tools and supplies used-wood, circular saw, drill, sander, level, 2 inch wood screws, 1/4inch screws for the back, wood filler, primer (if you have it), paint, paint brushes and roller.

I am sure I totally left something out.  Just wanted to get this post up for people who were curious to see what these looked like.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I will try to get Hubs to provide me with some more detailed dimensions for this project.  Maybe even some fancier pictures of the finished product.

Planner Love

Last year I asked for a planner for Christmas.  My mom and I both share a love for organization and office supply type things.  She and I decided on the Mom Agenda Desktop planner for me.  Although there were pockets of time I did not keep up with it out of laziness, I still LOVED it.

My husband has tried to convince me to use Google Calendar more times than I can count.  I really don’t think it would work for me.  I really like having one thing in my life that still exists on paper.  I love being able to physically flip through our schedule and have something to scribble notes onto.

Last year my planner was pink. This year I chose zebra.  I would have chosen the killer giraffe one, but it was out of stock.  The fact that I chose this one two years in a row says a lot.

Pros

It comes in cute colors.

The layout is spacious and has room for all my lists.

It is “week at a glance” for the main part of the planner and also has a month by month view.

It has room for all my lists I make.

 

Cons

It is a bit bulky

There is no pen holder

 

What planner or program do you use? Are you a paper planner girl too?

I believe I can email you a 10% off code if you are interested.  Just leave me a comment or email me and I will forward it along.  Sales come and go often.  I believe my mom got mine for 50% off…but that might have been a Christmas special.

*momAgenda has no idea who I am.  I was not compensated for this post in any way. These opinions are my own.

The Big List (of stuff to do before baby comes)

Almost every pregnant person I know makes all sorts of lists.  One of the most important is the list that contains all of the things that need to be done before baby (or babies) arrive.  Some of the things on my list are the fun preparing for baby things, but most are home related.  My goal is to have our entire house organized by the time baby comes.  This will be no easy task. We have been chipping away at this for awhile and are seeing a great improvement, but still have a ways to go.

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and likely have 21 or 22 weeks to accomplish these tasks.

To do:

1) Organize master bedroom-move chairs, dust in places I can’t reach, change bedding to my favorites, go through drawers again and make each of them work for me, get the totes to the garage when full of outgrown kid clothes…

2) Organize master bath-do a deep clean of tile and bath, organize stuff on counters, in drawers and cupboards and get rid of anything we don’t need.

3) Organize small bedroom and large closet- get all scrapbooking and office stuff into the closet, organize the entire closet and get rid of stuff we don’t need, organize all non-Christmas holiday stuff, and make the room look how I want it to!

4) Go through upstairs hallway closet- purge, organize and maximize the space.

5) Make laundry room cuter and clean the floors

6) Organize kids bathroom-take out anything that does not belong, decide what to store in the cupboards, and deep cleaning (since our kids aren’t potty trained we don’t use this bathroom often at this point).

7) Finish my crafting space and make the large storage/inspiration board

8 ) Finish organizing toys

9) Organize the garage

10) Finish putting stuff on Craigslist

11) Donate to UGM

12) Take things to consignment store-multiple trips involved (I think they only look at a few things at a time)…we have been putting this off for too long. Use credit to buy clothes in next size up for kids and things for baby.

13) Print pictures and put them in frames

14) Set up an art station for the kids

15) Start and finish the twins baby books….HA, Just kidding!!!!

16) Create a working paper organization system for for the misc. things that stack up

17) Get car maintainence done

18) Go through book shelf

19) Potty train kids

20) Take a family vacation

21)  Decide what to do about room arrangements and who will share when the baby moves out of our room and prepare accordingly (sort of dreading putting my “separate sleepers” in a room together).

Baby related tasks

1) Go through baby clothes-organize, wash, make a list of any little things we need (this baby will be born in June and my twins were early Feb babies).

2) Put gear back together

3) Figure how in the world to configure the car seats in the van and get them all checked by the tech.

4) Put little baby stuff into the diaper bag

5) Purchase-Small cloth diapers, used glider, used papasan swing, My Breast Friend nursing pillow,

6) Make- Burp rags and baby hats out of re-purposed clothes,

7) Read a couple books

8 ) Decide between a repeat c-section or to try for a vbac

9) Go on a couple “dates” with the kids individually

10) Stock up on a couple baby related products (use coupons and watch sales)- wipes, booty cream, wash, and little diapers (we might largely use disposable for the newborn size so I don’t have to buy tiny cloth that will be grown out of quickly)

11) Pick out a name!

There should be plenty of time to finish all of these things, but I reserve the right to “alter” the list at any point. I will post updates as things progress to keep myself accountable

A P.S.A. for bag owners.

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This is a Public Service Announcement!

This morning as I was preparing for family pictures I decided to look for that one missing hat I needed to reach Gymboree Matching Bliss (G.M.B.) (don’ t judge me, I used coupons).  I figured I should look in the diaper bag to make sure it had not been shoved in on some recent outing.  As I was pulling things out of my very full bag I was surprised by the lack of importance of the things I was carrying.  The bag was full, but there was nothing very interesting in it. (Kind of like, “The lights are on but nobody’s home”).

That is until I reached the bottom.  I was hoping to find a cupcake hat, and what I found instead would frighten anyone…..”WHAT THE  PETUNIA PICKLE BOTTOM IS GOING ON DOWN HERE”?  The further I got down I was realizing things were starting to become attached to each other by magical mystery sticky stuff.  Then I found something even worse…..the black fuzz of death! MOLD, yes, mold.  Now it was not as bad as last time…..yes there was a last time (and I don’t want to talk about it)….but the black fuzz of death is never a good thing.  I am not sure how it happens,  I am a fairly clean person, I try and never throw nasty stuff in my bag, everything kinda has its own spot and has a bag to go into…..How could this be happening again? Maybe it is because my bag is really deep and can hold tons? Not sure.

But, it’s a good thing my bag is washable! So, inside out it goes on a gentle cycle cycle with mild soap after a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush.  After that it will get a rotisserie treatment in front of a fan.  It will be as good as new (sort of) tomorrow.

Let this serve as a reminder to dump those bags occasionally!

Am I the only one that has had a  gross experience that gives new meaning to the word “grab bag”?  Hope not!

Now where IS that cupcake hat?

Start Saving Right Now #2:Reduce Your Consumables

paper-towel

After using coupons for awhile and constantly being on the quest to save ourselves money, I realized that there were many things that we buy that we might be able to do with out (or use much less of).  After I started cloth diapering I was especially aware of paper products that could be replaced with a cloth alternative.   Here are a few things we have either completely done away with, or have reduced our consumption of.

  • Paper towels (Still hard sometimes.)
  • Dryer sheets (Almost never use them.)
  • Napkins (We don’t seem to need them often, and use some type of cloth when we do.)
  • Tissues (We use toilet paper or cloth wipes for the babies)
  • Disposable party supplies/decor (I have fun using my own dishes and try to get creative to use things I already have as decor)
  • Cheap disposable containers (We use glass which should last for a very long time)
  • Zippered plastic bags (We use fold over sandwich bags (much cheaper) or our glass reusable containers when possible.)
  • Disposable dusting tools (Unless I can get them for close to free, I use a cloth diaper or old sock.)
  • Cotton balls (Used to use them for makeup removal and face washes etc. and now use cloth for almost everything.)
  • Garbage sacks (We only use them in our kitchen garbage which seems to last us a few days)
  • Water bottles (We used to purchase a case at Costco occasionally for water on the go. Now we use metal water bottles.)

Now I am not saying that by not purchasing cotton balls you will save loads of money. Obviously some changes will save you more than others, but it is nice to simplify your life, reduce waste, and save time and effort (by not couponing and shopping for unnecessary items).  Start paying attention to the things you go through the fastest and try to think of a reusable alternative or just stop buying them all together.

*Even though many of the disposable items in our home have been replaced with cloth items, I have not seen a large increase in laundry at all.  Most of these types of things are small and can easily be tossed in with loads I would already be running.

Things your family might use that you could find an alternative for or stop using.

Little paper cups in the bathroom.

Paper plates, cups, straws, and plastic silverware.

Disposable floor cleaning systems.

Small hand soap containers. (Refill them over and over or use decorative ones that will last.)

Small jar candles (Fairly expensive and create waste.)

Ways to know you are succeeding at reducing your consumables.

Your have less trash than you did before.

Your shopping lists are shorter and more basic.

Your consumable products are lasting you longer.

You find you run out of kitchen towels faster.

Your family is following suit.

Start phasing out a couple items at a time.  Explain to your family why you would like to make these changes and get them excited about saving money and helping the environment.  You will be so thrilled when an errand to Walmart or Target does not become an $80 dollar trip.  These types of changes will help you spend your “grocery” money on exactly that…GROCERIES!  How exciting is that!

Messy Monday: Update… The Pantry

Since I am not quite ready to take on a new big project I decided to just save my update photos for today’s Messy Monday post.   Last weeks project was a success!  I am happy to say that I have a much more organized pantry and I love it.  It is so nice to  know exactly what I have in there.

A few things surprised me as I was organizing.  One was that I thought I would find a lot more food that we had no interest in eating.  With the exception of a can of beets, some pasta roni, and a couple other things I feel like our pantry is filled with stuff we buy fairly regularly or will at least be able to eat before it expires.  The other thing I was quite surprised to see was how few canned goods we had.  The caned food we did have mainly included soups (which we rarely eat…note to self: don’t buy canned soup),  some peaches, a few tomato products, and quite a few canned beans (we eat lots of organic black and refried beans….made me wonder if we should soak our own).

Some things I did to organize the pantry:

  • Put all the unopened foods and opened foods together so that we can clearly see what we have and not open new packages unnecessarily
  • Put all loose snacks in a basket together to tidy up and make snacks easy to find.
  • Put the things we use most in easy to reach places.
  • Got the recycling under control.
  • Took out things that we don’t use on a regular basis to store elsewhere
  • Got rid of most of our water bottles since they aren’t BPA free and we haven’t been using them anyway (I have NO idea why we had so many water bottles).
  • Organized my napkins and party-ware so that I knew what I had and could get to it. (I kinda love fun napkins….even though we rarely use them).
  • Took all the pasta and rice and grains and put them in tubs.

It really is nothing increadible, but its an improvement and I am enjoying it!

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Feel free to join in this week even though I have not selected our next area yet.  If you have a place in your home that needs some love just leave a comment with a link to your blog (if you have one) and the area that you will be bravely tackaling.  If you are so inclined you can also put a link for my post on your blog, so your readers can jump on the band wagon and see what everybody is doing.

-Thanks Deanna from Recycled Lovelies for joining in on the fun last week!