Goodbye Coupon Chaos…

I have another surprise in store for you today…dont you just love Monday surprises! ¬†Another guest blogger! ūüôā ¬†I asked my very dear friend, Lauren Nix, if she would guest blog for me today…the topic is coupons. ¬†Lauren is a whiz at couponing and finding deals. ¬†Im not too bad myself, but she is much better than I! Since our economy decided to take a dip in the cool money pool a few years back, coupons have become hot and popular again. ¬†They take time and effort to keep track of sales and deals, but can save you money in the long run. ¬†Therefore, I dont mind spending some quality time with my paper and coupon organizer to save hard earned dollars in the end!

Thank you Lauren! ¬†Be sure to check out her blog too! ūüôā

GOODBYE COUPON CHAOS

I absolutely LOOOOOOVE couponing. ¬†I’ve been an avid couponer for almost 4 years and can’t imagine a “full price” kinda life. ¬†I often sit back and try to imagine what my life, and bank account, would be like without coupons.
I’ve been asked by many of my friends & family, “How do you keep up with ALL of your coupons?” ¬†Honestly, after almost 4 years, it’s like second nature. ¬†Once you get a good niche for how you want your coupons organized, it just flows. ¬†There are several great methods of keeping your coupons organized and contained. Here are a few of those examples…
–¬†The binder system. ¬†Starting with a large three ring binder insert plastic baseball card display sheets (found at your local Walmart). ¬†Insert your coupons into the display sheets, facing outward so you can see your coupon. ¬†It is completely up to you how your coupons are filed; alphabetical order in each pocket, or create sections by area of the market, i.e., Health & Beauty, Frozen, Baby, Paper goods, etc. ¬†You may want to insert some dividers in front of each section…a little extra organization.¬† Your binder will grow quickly, so be prepared. ¬†I’ve actually witnessed ladies in my local grocery store with 2 binders. ¬†One specifically for food and the other for non-food. ¬†This normally depends on the size of your family and how long you have been couponing.
–¬†The coupon box. ¬†You will need a¬†toteable box with lid. ¬†Cut small cardboard dividers and insert your coupons behind each category. ¬†Or use labeled envelopes to house your coupons and file in the same manner inside of the tote. ¬†You may want to break your categories down into subcategories. ¬†For example: Baby (being the main category) with subcategories of diapers, wipes, food, other products. ¬†Again, this will completely depend on the size of your family, your length of couponing, and your organization comfort level
–¬†Whole insert method. ¬†This is my personal fav. ¬†I have an¬†accordion¬†file folder with 12 sections, one for each month. ¬†Every Sunday, I sit down and write the date on the front of each insert and place in the correct month’s slot, newest first. ¬†This works for me because I do not have a significant amount of time to sit down each Sunday and cut EVERY coupon out of the paper. ¬†Also, most of your couponing blogs post from which insert (whether it is SmartSource, Red Plum, or P&G) and what date they pulled the coupon. ¬†Thus, making it super easy for me to pull the insert from that month’s tab and match my deal. ¬†I just LOVE those fantastic ladies who do all of the leg work in finding these¬†phenomenal¬†deals
For example:
All Almay Eye Cosmetics $5.99
-$2 off Almay cosmetic product, SS 1/01
You will come to find your own fabulous way to organize your coupons, but hopefully these ideas have possibly sparked an interest in getting your’s together or given you an idea on how to tweak your own method.
How do you organize your coupons? ¬†Are you happy with your method? ¬†I’m always open to suggestions on how to be a better couponer ūüôā
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Foodie Friday…

Welcome to Foodie Friday!  

The idea came about because I love blogging and I love cooking. ¬†Why not smash them together? ūüôā Every Friday I will share a new recipe that I have recently tried and thought was delicious!

I am always looking for an excuse to whip up something sweet. ¬†“Taco Braids” were on the menu for Monday, so I decided it was a great opportunity to bake a recipe I had been dying to try:

OVEN BAKED CHURROS

*Southern Living, May 2011

  • (17.3 oz) package of Puff Pastry
  • (1/4 cup) melted butter
  • (1/4 cup) sugar
  • (1 tsp) cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2) Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray

3) Unfold puff pastry. ¬†Cut sheet in half — then cut each half into 1-inch wide strips.

4) Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown.

5) Meanwhile, melt butter in saucepan.

6) In a separate bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon

7) Remove pastries from oven, dip in melted butter, and roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Whoa-la .. a delicious Mexican inspired dessert. ¬†Raymond loved them — he ate about 10 in the first night. ¬†I have never baked with puff pastry before. ¬†It was super easy and delicious.

Enjoy!

{Extra! Extra! Read All About It}…

Pure & Simple Organizing Brings Great Organizing Tips & Techniques to Local Clubs & Groups

Yep, you read it here first folks! ¬†Pure & Simple is hitting the road with great tips and ideas on how to gain more control over our lives! ¬†Are you tired of just surviving your life? ¬†Are you ready to get on with the business of living it? ¬†{If you said no, then please email with your secret sauce recipe, you could come on the road with us!} ūüôā

Know of any groups and clubs looking for an energetic speaker to book for their next meeting?  We talk on a variety of topics but our most popular ones are:

  • Tackle That Clutter
    • Most effective tips on how to start daunting organizing projects and actually see them through from start to finish
  • Organizing for the Health of It
    • Showcasing the benefits of ‚ÄúBeing Organized‚ÄĚ both for yourself and your family
  • Where Should I Land?
    • How to create a Landing Zone for you and your family, and why it is essential to efficient management of paper, bills, and children‚Äôs permission forms
  • Toys Taking Over?
    • Tips on how to decorate and organize children‚Äôs toys and playrooms (big challenge for moms)

If you know of anyone, we would love an introduction!  Look for a schedule of events {coming soon}!

Family Portraits Made Easy…

I am so thrilled to bring you a guest post today by a great photographer and friend, Matthew Martin of MRM Photography.  Read on for some great tips on how to take great family portaits!

Hey! I am Matthew Martin from MRM Photography and Jennifer asked me to guest blog for her today so that I could give you guys some awesome photography tips!  I wanted to make this a pretty quick and dirty article to help you all get better family portraits on those occasions when a professional photographer isn’t around.  Sometimes things just happen and you want a group photo to remember it, and honestly, nobody can afford to hire a professional for every single get together.  These tips will hopefully help you during those times you have to do it on your own!

The first thing you have to decide is if it will be outside or inside.  This is often determined by the weather, but should also be determined by the time!  Many people don’t think about this as thoroughly as they should.  Many people will just assume that if it is daytime, then that’s a good time to be outside and nighttime is a good time for indoor photographs.  That’s generally correct, but there is one caveat, you really don’t want to be shooting outside around lunch time.  This will give you the harshest light and will create shadows that you don’t want, cause people to be squinting, or create problems for your camera to focus or eliminate lens flares.  The ideal time for outdoor photographs is early morning or late afternoon.  You want the times just after sunrise, or just before sunset.  This sunlight is often referred to as the golden hours (because the light has a warm golden glow) and will produce the softest and warmest light.  Not only does this help out with shadows and squinting, but it makes your skin look softer!  This same principle can be applied during the middle of the day if it is an overcast day.  The clouds will act as a natural diffuser and give you a nice soft light to work with.  In addition to utilizing the correct time, you always want the sun to be behind your subject, and this is mainly to reduce any squinting.

If you decide to shoot indoors, one major thing to think about is opening up your windows to let in some natural light, if it’s during the day.  You want to be aware of any shadows going across people’s faces and you want to make sure there are no shadows being cast onto a wall behind them.  One trick to eliminating shadows on the wall behind your family is to move them in front of the wall by a few feet.  Many people will push their families up against the wall to create more space, but this will often lead to unpleasant shadows on the wall.

One final tip, be creative and have fun!  The last thing you want is an image where everyone is stiff as a board and looks uncomfortable.  Try taking a goofy picture first and then squeeze in a more classic portrait last.  This will have everyone relaxed and laughing / smiling.  These make for the best photographs. {Love this tip!}

If you enjoyed these tips and would like to hear more of what I ramble on about, head on over to my blog at http://blog.mrmphoto.com, or check me out on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/mrmphoto.

I Give Myself Permission To…

Life is full of the “shouldn’ts” and “couldn’ts” and “stay away froms”. ¬†Like that tray of brownies or those $150 stilettos that are SO cute! ¬†It is important that we have boundaries in our lives to keep us focused, motivated, and safe. ¬†But sometimes we should give ourselves more permission to enjoy life! ¬†A list of my “permissions”….

I give myself permission to…

1) Take a nap

Naps are a girl’s best friend, or my best friend at least on days when I am wore slap out. ¬†(If you are from the south, then you can identify with that saying) ūüôā

I am usually much more energized Monday through Wednesday.  I tend to run out of steam Thursdays and Fridays.  By 2pm, I can barely put together a sentence without 15 gramatical errors.  I know I need a nap to recharge.

2) Miss a workout if I’m not feeling it

I used to beat myself up for missing workouts. ¬†My “subconscious self” would say things like: you are so lazy, get up you fatty, everyone else is working out what is wrong with you. Yes, I used to say those things to myself. ¬†Not exactly productive! ¬†I now give myself permission to skip a day or two if I just don’t feel like putting in hours at the gym. ¬†(I don’t give myself permission to miss more than 5 days) ūüôā

3) Eat birthday cake … or any other sweet for that matter

I don’t think I should eat the whole cake — but a piece of a yummy pie won’t make me gain 15 lbs. ¬†Enjoy and savor! ¬†Then see #2!

4) Let my hair down and let loose

Enough said. ¬†Enjoy life’s moments. ¬†E.N.J.O.Y.! ūüôā

5) Make time for myself

Who does this? Honestly, who takes time for themselves? ¬†Not enough of us thats for sure! ¬†A cup of coffee, a quiet morning reading, a walk in the afternoon, a massage, or a great yoga class — those are times for myself. ¬†If I can’t be happy and balanced, then everyone and everything around me is affected!

6) Buy the best food 

For some reason, I have a weird relationship with money and food. ¬†Don’t buy expensive food. ¬†Don’t be wasteful. ¬†Don’t spend over $50 each week at the grocery store! ¬†It’s very bizarre. ¬†Now, I try to buy the best food (or make delicious meals), and worry less about the money being exchanged at the cash register. ¬†I do still get upset at the ever rising cost of groceries, and I do not make recipes that call for 1 tsp of a $10-a-jar-spice. ¬†I have learned to coupon, shop sales, and tweak recipes to cut down on the cost. ¬†And I believe — you are what you eat. ¬†I want to eat solid, healthy, and yummy food. ¬†Nurture¬†the body!

What do you give yourself permission to do?

~Jennifer

What a Week…

It has been an interesting week for me! ¬†I often compare running a business to riding a rollercoaster. ¬†It is no different — exciting, scary, ups and downs, twists and turns. ¬†It can make you feel like your stomach is in your throat, all the while, you are so excited to take the ride. ¬†Anyone else feel like that? ¬†I hope so!

Coming back from 2 full days off was rough.  I rarely take full days off, you know the kind where you dont check email, Facebook, blog posts to see what action might be taking place.  Here is a recap:

  • Signed the contract to redesign my logo {aka everything about my brand} and to create my website. ¬†{HUGE step and accomplishment for me — I have been putting this off for over a year} … *gulp* it is a pricey investment
  • Spent several hours — actually days — writing articles on organizing. ¬†As of now, my articles are featured monthly in Lake Norman Woman magazine and Sophie Womans magazine. Im working to gain more exposure with other magazines {regionally}. ¬†Fingers crossed!
  • Found out I will have a guest spot on Money Saving Moms website in February. ¬†{national exposure — yippee!}
  • Met with an exceptional interior designer, Vickie Hafer, of Carolina Interior Works. ¬†Im looking forward to working with her in the future.
  • Scheduled a photo shoot for tomorrow — Im in need of better pictures. ¬†{Thank you MRM Photography — cannot wait to see what we come up with}
  • Working on creative video ideas for my fans and friends! ¬†{FAVOR: Please email me any organizing challenges that you have} ¬†I would like to showcase them in an article and video. ¬†I can use First Name, Last Initial to keep things relatively private.

Whew! ¬†It¬†doesn’t¬†seem like a lot when I look back on the week — but then again it has only been 3 days!

Tell me about your week! ¬†T.G.I.F ūüôā

Birthday Memories…

All my favorite people at The Biltmore House

Well what a birthday weekend! ¬†I thought I would share with you a few pictures and memories made throughout the 4 day festivity. ūüôā

Friday: {Actual Birthday}

Raymond and I tried a new spot for lunch: Big Bens Pub in SouthEnd Charlotte. ¬†Very tasty Fish N Chips — Raymond ate all of his plus some of mine — he must have been hungry!

Fish N Chips

I had dinner with my wonderful parents at PF Changs. ¬†The place was jumpin’ (aka packed), but we managed to have a great time (reservations always helps)!

Sunday: {Biltmore House, Asheville, NC}

Biltmore House, Asheville, NC

Brunch stop at Mayfels in downtown Asheville. ¬†Delicious burgers! ¬†Too bad Dad ordered breakfast — the burgers were much better!

Lunch at Mayfels

It was a chilly day but great weather to enjoy the gorgeous house!  Walking picture tours are always the best!

Walking to the house {Mom, Raymond, Dad}

Dad likes taking pictures

Took us a few hours to see the house!  I was so happy to check out new rooms that have been refurbished and open to the public!  That was a nice surprise!

Mom & Me

Posing with the lion

"Happy Birthday..To Me" ūüôā

Monday: {Spa Day with Mom At Rock Barn Spa in Hickory, NC}

We usually visit The Grove Park Inn & Spa for my birthday, but due to their ever increasing costs, we decided not to go. ¬†My dear friend, Lauren Nix, mentioned Rock Barn so we thought we would give it a whirl! ¬†{THANK YOU Lauren!} It was fantastic! ¬†The morning started off with a hot stone massage, my first ever and definitely will not be last. ¬†The day was complete with gorgeous mineral salt pools and whirlpools. We ended the day with a pedicure and refreshing spa water. ¬†“Aaahhh”

Im happy to see the birthday¬†festivities¬†end — they are exhausting! ¬†ūüôā

Until next time….