Design Books for the Home

Can I tell you a secret? I am a TERRIBLE decorator. It’s one of those homemaking areas that I feel I should be better at, but I’m not. Some women seem to have no problem making their home beautiful, and I’m over here just trying to keep the mess at bay.

One of the things I’ve been working on slowly, very slowly, is decluttering. God has been working on my heart lately and helping me to “cut the apron strings” to my stuff. It is just stuff. Actually, it’s not just stuff anymore. It is stuff I’m tired of managing. I don’t want to be a manager of stuff anymore. Hence, the decluttering.

The slow part comes from my learning to stick with a project and work on it in manageable chunks. I’ve come to realize that I’m an all or nothing kind of girl and that doesn’t really work so well in the homemaking realm. So, I’ve been slowly working on getting things decluttered and cleaned as I can.

I’m still in the laundry room. Sigh.

Slow and steady wins the race, right? I sure hope so!

What does all of this have to do with design books for the home? Well, in my quest to de-clutter, I am also wanting to create a more beautiful home. One that has personality (like I like to think I have) and that my family finds comforting. I also want to do some DIY projects.

Design Books for the Home | Vicki-Arnold.com

Enter, the books. I actually am not even sure how I ended up with this particular selection from the library. It probably started with Amazon and then holds being placed at the library. This is a pretty common occurrence for me. Just ask my husband.

In the instance that you might find yourself in the mood for some inspiration, I thought I would share the list with you.

Design Books for the Home

It’s kind of funny to me that each of these books is by a blogger.

Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman – What I love about this one is it isn’t just decor. There are DIY projects, informational type articles on design how-to’s, and entertaining recipes. Some of the projects aren’t my style, but the general ideas can be tweaked to fit. There are several sections like Cloth Napkins 9 Ways (also mugs, vases, terra cotta pots, etc.) that are super fun.

Blog: A Beautiful Mess

Young House Love by Sherry and John Petersik – This book is full of great ways to update your home, 243 of them specifically. They have a handy little key for each one that gives you cost, time, and work in a bar chart, making it really easy to see at a glance how time consuming or expensive a project is. A LOT of them are free or cheap.

I am also really enjoying their commentary throughout the book. It’s a fun read.

Blog: Young House Love (though technically they aren’t blogging anymore, there are over 3,000 posts to sift through)

The $50 Home Makeover by Shaunna West – This one is mostly individual projects that you can make fit your style. I love the story behind her blog and book. Not all the projects are my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t expect them to be. There are a few that utilize washi tape, which I have only just recently discovered the greatness of, and a couple for Ikea furniture hacks.

Blog: Perfectly Imperfect

Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney

I’m pretty sure Design*Sponge is considered THE original home decor/styling blog. It’s one of the very first blogs I ever read years ago. I am pretty sure it was their Biz Ladies series. But that is not the point here.

This book is so cool because it is a tour of so many living spaces from so many people. It is really neat. A great one to get visual inspiration from people who know what they are doing, or at least pretend really well.

Blog: Design*Sponge

And now that I’ve listed these, I remembered a book that my husband and I came across at the library once that was a lightbulb moment for us. It put a name to our style that we hadn’t heard before. And I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT IT IS! I do believe some browsing will be happening at the library very soon.

Do you have some favorite design books for the home? Please share them with me!

Printable Household Planners

Printable household planners can be a lifesaver. Keeping up with the organization of a household can feel overwhelming at times. There are things that need cleaned, meals that need cooked, activities that need to be attended, and holidays to plan. It’s a lot, yo.

If you are anything like me, digital planners and the like are fine and dandy, but they don’t really work for you. I’m a pen and paper kind of gal. I’m a lots of pens and lots of paper kind of gal. I’ve dived headfirst into this super awesome world of planners and I can not wait to tell you more about all that, but that’s not the point of today’s post.

45 Printable Household Planners | Vicki-Arnold.com

Printable Household Planners

Today! Today I have a list of printable household planners for you. And I’m a bit excited about them. I’ve tried to organized them to make it easier to find just what you are looking for. Let me know in the comments if you find one that is just right for you or if you are still needing something different and I’ll see if I can hook you up!

Complete Printable Packs

Daily Printables

Weekly Printables

Monthly Calendars

Cleaning Planners

Meal Planners

Money Management Printables

Outside the House Planning Printables

More Household Management Printables

Other Free Printable Collections

As is bound to happen in the research process, I came across a few other round-ups of free household printables. Here they are:

Printable household planners are a great tool for homemaking. Seeing things on paper often makes prioritizing easier. It’s also pretty darn satisfying to check things off a list. Give one of these planners a shot and see if it helps you feel more organized!

How to Save Money for Christmas With No Extra Money

Do you find yourself scrambling every November or December trying to figure out how to pay for Christmas? Do you find yourself wondering how to save money for Christmas when you have no extra money?

There is a lot of wisdom in scaling back to only the necessities, giving gifts that don’t cost anything, and focusing on important elements of Christmas like family, serving others, and Jesus Christ. If you are feeling led to do this, please follow that.

If you are simply wanting to take some strain off your finances at the end of the year by planning ahead, I’d like to help you with that.

How to Save Money for Christmas When You Have No Extra Money | Vicki-Arnold.com

How to Save Money for Christmas

The simplest way to save money for Christmas is to figure up a budget (how much you want to spend on Christmas) and then divide it up by the number of paychecks you have left before you will need the money. That will give you the exact amount you need to save each paycheck in order to have the cash you need on hand when the time comes.

If you are just looking for some general how to save money for Christmas ideas, you could try one of these ideas:

  • Change jar. Collect all your change throughout the year in a jar.
  • $5 bill challenge. Save every $5 bill that comes through your hands. (My Dad does this.)
  • Try a graduated savings plan. Save $1 this week, save $2 next week, $3 the week after. OR try doubling it each week: week one is $1, week 2 is $2, week 3 is $4, etc.
  • Use coupons and save the money savings in a Christmas account.

Apps & Websites for Saving Money

If you don’t want to or can’t use one of these systems, or if you want to do more, then giving a savings app or website a try could be worth it. What is great about a lot of these is that you can earn cash back on things you are already purchasing. Here is a list of some that I know about and/or use:

Walmart’s Savings Catcher

Walmart has an app where you can scan your receipts and they will automatically price check for you. It is super easy to use and is free in the App store. I’ve used this since the last week of December and have accumulated $6.69 in money that I would not normally get back because I never price matched things before. I also do not do my grocery shopping at Walmart currently so I am not a frequent shopper. If you are, I’d expect your savings to be more.

Ibotta

Ibotta is another smart phone app where you scan your receipts to receive cash back incentives on grocery shopping items. You scan through the list of available rebates ranging from $.25 on milk or paper towels to $10 for a TOMS purchase. Some of the offers are for specific stores or websites, but some are available for multiple stores and even brands (like milk).

There is a teamwork aspect to Ibotta, as well. When you connect with friends on the app, you can earn bonus rebates. If you do sign up, please use my referral code to join my team and we can work together. My referral code: nciuuwm. You get a referral code when you sign up to refer friends, too.

Ebates

I’ve sung the praises of Ebates before (websites every frugal shopper needs). Basically, if you shop online, you need Ebates. You receive cash back on purchases when you first click through the link on Ebates. Not every store is on there, but there are a LOT that are. Be sure to check those out. If you use your smart phone to shop online, be sure to download their app so you get the rebates still.

They also have a referral program where you can earn bonuses for telling your friends about their service.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is another website I’ve recommended before and there is good reason I still recommend it. The very basis of Swagbucks is that you use their search engine instead of say Google or Yahoo to search online. Randomly you are rewarded Swagbucks. You can then redeem these Swagbucks for gift cards at various stores.

Swagbucks has two apps in addition to the website: the main app is where you can answer a daily poll (and earn 1 swagbuck) and manage your account; and the SBTV app where you can watch videos to earn Swagbucks.

A few other ways to earn Swagbucks (there are more):

  • Printing & using coupons
  • Watching videos
  • Taking surveys
  • Playing games

Swagbucks also has a referral program, so you earn Swagbucks for referring friends.

Snap by Groupon

Snap is from Groupon, which is an awesome site, too. This is a new one for me. You scan through the offers before you shop, selecting the ones you will be purchasing, and then snap a photo of the receipt to redeem the offers. When you hit $20, you can request a check. The thing I like most about this one is that you can shop at any store! The thing I did not like is that the offers that I was interested in were “All Gone” so we’ll see how often they update those.

I have the app, but you can also use it on your desk/laptop via the website. Again, there is a referral program.

Checkout 51

This is another new app for me, but I’ve already earned $3 in 24 hours. I don’t think that will likely happen every day, but it’s off to a good start. These offers update every Thursday and you have to purchase the items and upload your receipts while the offer is still live.

Tips for Using Money Saving Apps

You’ll not likely amass large quantities of money with these apps and websites, but you can definitely put a dent in your holiday shopping budget. Here are a few tips to make the most of your time.

  • Read the rules for each app and offer. You don’t want to waste your time picking up items only to find that you needed to buy them at a different store to get the rebate.
  • Stack offers. The great things about the apps is that you can use your coupons and sale prices in the store, then stack the rebate from the app on top of that.
  • Don’t buy things you don’t need, want, or use just to get the rebate. That isn’t savings. If you ever find yourself tempted to buy something just because there is a rebate, put the money you would have spent on it into your savings account or Christmas fund. You’ll save more money than the rebate and not have something hanging around that you don’t need (clutter!).

Don’t let this list overwhelm you, let it encourage you. Now you know how to save money for Christmas (or any other need) and not even feel it. Just pick one and learn how to use it well. Once you are able to use it without really thinking about it, try another. Those savings will add up!

5 Good Reads On Organization

Organization is one of those things I often struggle with. I love the process. In fact, that is just about my favorite part of anything, the planning process. Brainstorming, creating systems, setting goals…I love all of it.

It’s the follow through that I struggle with.

Never the less, I press on! I read all I can about homemaking, cleaning systems, and organization. I set up my own systems and little by little, I improve. There are days I get frustrated with just how little it is, but the grace of God carries me through.

5 Good Reads on Organization - Simply Vicki vicki-arnold.com

My blogging friend Marcy over at Ben and Me started a monthly link up that I thought was such a great idea last fall. Then life happened and not much blogging was going on here so I haven’t yet participated. But I am today!

The concept is simple, share 5 good reads each month on the fifth of the month. Any subject. If I read it in the last month and believe it should be shared with you, it goes. I intend to keep my 5 on the Fifth posts topical. This month I am sharing 5 good reads on organization.

5 Good Reads on Organization

10 Minutes to a Clutter Free Morning – Becoming a Minimalist

What I love about this post is that it is practical, a checklist of sorts. Printed out, this would give a nice visual checklist that the kids could even help with at night. You know, since most of the items are directly effected by them…

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter – Clean Mama

Paper clutter is the bane of my existence. I organize it in piles which is moderately effective. I can pretty much find things when needed, but no one else can and if a pile gets knocked over, all bets are off. These are much better options.

8 Clever Ways to Organize With Ikea - Decorating Your Small Space

My husband sort of hates Ikea, he finds it claustrophobic. I, on the other hand, LOVE it. I love the little rooms and displays. I love the colorful prints and fun designs. I LOVE coming across posts that use their products, both in the way they were meant to be used and Ikea “hacks.”

7 Ways I’m Minimizing Decision Fatigue in My Daily Life – Modern Mrs. Darcy

I keep thinking that #1 would make life so much easier, but then I also think boring. I really, really like #5 and think that needs to happen. And I appreciated the linen discussion at the end. ;)

6 Things I Do Every Day to Keep the House Clean – Clean Mama

I recently discovered Clean Mama and love it. I appreciated this list because it was equal parts encouragement that I am on the right track and keep going I can do better.

So those are my 5 good reads on organization for this month. I’m not sure what next month’s topic will be, but I have been reading a bit on homeschool already this month because of convention season starting. So there is a good chance that might happen.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out this one:

Organization ideas for the home - part 4 of 5 in the How Do I Teach Organization & Time Management Skills When I Have Neither? series

Super Simple Meal Planning Method

Super simple meal planning method. Get more vegetables in your day.

Meal planning is one of those classic tips for those looking to be more intentional with either their food choices and/or budget. Taking the time to plan out your meals ahead of time wards off things like last minute drive-thru stops and takeout orders. Both are hard on the wallet and can be hard on the waistline, too.

I have used a variety of meal planning methods over the years. I’ve planned out every meal and snack, created lists of options to pick from each day, planned out two week’s worth of meals, and worked week by week. I haven’t tried the monthly meal planning method as of yet, but I know some swear by it. I can see how it works, but I’m not ready to commit to that right now.

I recently switched to a super simple meal planning method designed to put more of a focus on vegetables. I’ve mulled this format over in my head for a while now, but couldn’t quite make it work until recently. We decided to take some time off from eating meat so that we can be more intentional about getting more veggies in our diet.

This can very easily work with eating meat, too. In fact, I will probably continue with this method for a while. It really is simple.

I do this with a pencil and a piece of paper, but I typed it up so I could give you a clearer look at my plan. (After seeing it all typed up, I will likely do this moving forward.)

Super simple meal planning method to get more veggies in your day.

Simple Meal Planning Method

This is basically fill in the blank. I fill it in with what we have on hand and what I’m picking up from grocery shopping.

Here’s more detail:

  • Breakfast – We are moving away from cereals because they are loaded with sugar and are not very filling. We rotate between oatmeal with different fixings and eggs. For the eggs, I will either sautee the veggies and pour scrambled eggs over it or serve them alongside fried eggs.
  • Lunch – I’ve organized the veggies by how I cook them. Then for lunch, I simply pick two plus a grain/carb or do three different vegetables. My kids also love to do a veggie tray with ranch dip or hummus, we often have more than three vegetable options on that.
  • Dinner – This is where I’ve struggled to find what works best. I will be focusing on more protein, less/no carb meals. I’ve kept this simple specifically to motivate me to use more veggies than anything. I use the list from the lunch section to pick my veggies.
  • Snacks – Again, trying to focus on higher protein items. I also use my breakfast shake when I’m needing something sweet because I struggle with that.

Why This Simple Method Works For Me

I have found that I can always find a way to get carbs in my diet. What I struggle to get in are lots of vegetables and protein. I am finding that being intentional about these by writing them out helps me make better choices. I’m hoping this has a positive impact on my weight, too.

I find this method to be the perfect blend of needing to plan ahead and needing the freedom of choosing what to eat. I have never stuck with a “eat this at this time” regimen for more than a day or two. I find it to be suffocating and I tend to rebel when we have those. In other words, it has the opposite of a positive effect on me.

There are no recipes. I love to cook with recipes, collect them on Pinterest, and use my cookbook collection. But I have found that when my focus is on using recipes, I don’t actually cook as much because it ALWAYS takes me 2x’s the time listed on the recipe, but I never plan for that.

Going forward, I will probably have some recipe based items added because I don’t want to get bored with the options and my husband enjoys variety. For now, no recipes is working for me.

This simple meal planning method works for me. If you are struggling with getting enough vegetables in your diet or need to shake up your meal planning efforts, give this a try and see what you think!

If you need some other meal planning ideas, check out my Pinterest board just for that!

Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Food :: Menu Planning on Pinterest.
If you would prefer recipes to follow, you can check out these cookbooks for some plant-based meal ideas to get more veggies in your day:

Happy Eating!

3 Ways You Can Support Shop Small

3 Ways You Can Support Shop Small (and Why)

Shop Small Saturday is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but you don’t have to wait for an official day to support small business owners. You can shop small all year long.

Why Shop Small?

Small businesses employ local people, they tend to be very involved in their communities, and they give towns a unique flavor. They are good for the local economy, too. Just think about it, have you ever traveled to see a town because of its Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath, and Beyond? Not likely, small businesses create a draw because they are different.

Your shopping small ensures that they can stay in business.

I am not saying big business is bad. Big business has its place. I simply would hate to see big business completely demolish small business.

Go Local

Take a look around next time you are in your town or city and see if you can find a “mom and pop” store. In our town, you can shop at an independent book store, art store, and a fabric store. Look for small cafes and non-chain restaurants for your lunches or date nights.

Smaller businesses can be priced a little higher than bigger business because they don’t have the buying power that brings volume discounts. You can offset this some by signing up for the newsletters, emails, or mailings so you will be aware of special promotions and possible coupons from the store.

Go International

This is the opposite of shopping local, but not the opposite of shopping small. When I say international, I don’t mean buying lots of “made in china” stuff. There are a growing number of organizations and ministries that are committed to making a difference in the world.

These organizations work with impoverished, marginalized people to provide them with training for various life skills and crafts. Then they sell those items, with the majority of the profits going directly to the artisan. Your purchases have a direct impact on the lives of some of the neediest people in the world.

Go Independent

You can shop online and support small business. The most popular site for this is Etsy, but don’t stop there. A lot of small businesses sell on their own websites now.

Another option is independent consultants for direct sales businesses. Yes, I know. A lot of people are skeptical of the multi-level marketing set up. I get that, but I also see tremendous potential for supporting entrepreneurs. There are a lot of direct sales businesses, ask on Facebook and I’m sure you will have no shortage of options. If you are looking for hair pretties, I am a Lilla Rose consultant. ;)

Shopping small doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t, be relegated to one day in November. You can support small businesses year round by being a little more intentional with your spending this year.

When Convenience Becomes a Crutch

When Convenience Becomes a Crutch | Vicki-Arnold.com

I make it no secret, I’m not the best housekeeper. I struggle to stay on top of things and sometimes with even the desire to do it because I get easily discouraged when I find myself doing the same thing over and over again.

However, I never let that stop me from trying to do better. And, believe me, I am better than I was years ago. I’m glad that God hasn’t given up on me through the years.

One area I struggle to stay on top of is my kitchen, particularly the dishes. Ever since we went camping in August, I’ve been pondering the idea of ditching our dishwasher. I never really felt brave enough until last week, when I mentioned it to my husband.

Our dishwasher is not terribly old (9 years), but it has never really cleaned our dishes really well. They had to be rinsed thoroughly before going in and if someone didn’t do this, it meant that dishes would have to be hand washed AFTER they came out.

So we ditched the dishwasher mostly, we have only ran it twice in the last week or so to help with catch up after the fridge was cleaned out and after company. For the rest of the dishes, we have been hand washing them. What happened kind of amazed me, but was what I was hoping for.

We don’t have more dirty dishes sitting around than usual and I’m making progress in training the kids to wash their own dishes. This means that the ever present stack of dirty dishes in my sink and on the counter next to it is slowly, but steadily improving.

Amazing!

As I’ve been doing dishes this week, I got to thinking. Don’t worry, it didn’t hurt too bad.

When we had the option of the dishwasher, the dishes were never a priority to anyone immediately because we had to wait for a full load to run it. So the dirty dishes sat and waited. When someone didn’t rinse their dish, which was very, very often the case, those dishes then often enough had to sit with water in them to soften the hardened food in order to be rinsed to put in the dishwasher to be washed.

Just typing that is exhausting.

The convenience of the dishwasher had become a crutch, a procrastination enabler, if you will. So we ditched it and I think we will be better for it in the long run.

What about you? Are there any conveniences holding you back?

How to Create a Custom Chore Chart

How to Create Your Own Custom Chore Chart | Vicki-Arnold.com

I have been on a mission this year to train my children better in certain areas. I personally struggle with discipline and my children have seemed to pick up this super awesome habit. So you can probably guess that the first step in training my children better was to work on creating better habits myself.

Why does parenting work like that? It’s really annoying sometimes. I personally think it would be better if that whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing actually worked. Eh, maybe not.

This parenting gig has a way of changing a person…and that’s probably what God intended. Anywho, on to today’s point…

How to Create a Custom Chore Chart

I have seen a whole bunch of different chore charts over the years. Some are simple like the ones I found at Dollar Tree that were a pad of basic, fill in the blank rows with columns for each day of the week. Others are pretty involved, with systems, rotating cards, and/or magnetic things.

When I was at my friend Tina’s house the other day, I saw a simple laminated graph on her fridge that was exactly what I kept trying to come up with. I knew what I wanted to put on this chart, but couldn’t figure out how to lay it out. Seeing hers made it all click. Mine is a little different, but that’s because it fits our family.

Here’s how I made it:

  1. Open your word processing program (I use Pages) and create a blank landscape document.
  2. Insert/create a table. You will want a table to be 7-8 columns by 2 + however many chores you have rows long (mine is 6 because I have 4 chores on it).
  3. If your table format hasn’t automatically done this, merge all the cells in the very first row together (select them and then in the formatting of your table, select Merge Cells). Type in your title, I chose Household Chore Assignments.
  4. In your 1st column, starting in the 3rd row, start adding your chores.
  5. In your 2nd row, starting in the 2nd cell, label your days of the week. I chose to do Monday through Friday separately and then put both Saturday and Sunday in one column called Weekend. You can do whatever works for you.
  6. Make your text/table all pretty. In my header, I centered the text both horizontally and vertically and chose a font that I liked in a bigger size. For I also centered my text for the chores and days of the week.

Below the chart, I used the space to explain what was expected for each job. I chose kitchen, cleaning, laundry, and feed animals for our chores because I like the idea of having a designated helped in these areas each day of the week.

For the cleaning chore, there is the general expectation of making sure the house (specific areas) stays picked up, plus each day has a daily chore. I put these in the cell that corresponded with the day I wanted them done in smaller text that I centered and then justified to the bottom of the cell so there was space above to write the names. If that is confusing, check out my chart below and you’ll see what I mean.

Finally, I laminated my chart! This is the first time I broke out my laminator after months of it sitting on my kitchen counter. I was pretty pleased with myself. Like all works of art, this will be hung on our fridge…ok, so not exactly a work of art, but hey. It’s still going on the fridge and I will use a dry erase (or possibly a wet erase) marker to assign the duties to the appropriate child.

That’s it! You can check out my chart below, but ignore the little line after the last word, the screen shot caught my cursor in Pages. That’s not actually on the finished chart.

I’ve uploaded it as a PDF so you can see it in full view, too. I just ask that if you like it and want to share it with someone else, please send them to this post so they can see how to make their own if they’d like, too. Meaning, don’t share the link that ends with .PDF, please.

My Custom Chore Chart | Vicki-Arnold.com

Sharing at A Little Bird Told Me