31 Days to Less Noise: “Preparing” my closet

Unless I’m really deliberate about consistently organization and purging, I feel like my closet is yelling at me.

I used to be terrible about getting rid of clothing items, until I realized how much it reduced the noise of my closet. Between the things that don’t fit well and the items that are too worn or have holes, purging my clothes on a regular basis began to feel like a relief. It’s much easier for me to choose my outfits when I know that I love everything in my closet and it all fits me well.

On the other hand though, I also have a hard time buying things for myself, even when I really need them. And those “missing” items then become noise-makers too, because every time I need something I don’t have because I’ve just put off buying it, it also makes it a lot harder to get dressed for various occasions. I feel unprepared for events that are coming my way.

I realized when I began packing for the She Speaks conference over the summer, that my “nice” wardrobe was really lacking. I never feel the need to buy a really nice top or a business casual ensemble because of how rarely I need it, but as I’m starting to attend the occasional meeting here or there, or a conference, or a speaking engagement, I’m seeing a bigger need for those items.

So this week, I…

1) Cleaned out my closet and dress of items I hadn’t worn in way too long.

IMG_7161-0.JPG

2) And I caved: I signed up for StitchFix.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a personal online styling/shopping service, where you fill out a profile and they send you 5 items. There’s no obligation to buy anything, and you just send back what you don’t want to keep.

My friend Geri started raving about StitchFix about a year and a half ago, and since then, I have seen so many people jump on board. I’ve enjoyed reading my blog friend Mary Evelyn’s StitchFix posts…and then she tried to peer-pressure me to sign up on Twitter :)

IMG_7155.PNG

And then my best friend Kristin signed up, and I felt like every time I would compliment her outfit, she’d say ” Thanks – StitchFix!”

So I’m giving it a try, hoping that I can snag a few new items every season or so, without having to actually take 2 small children to the mall. Because the noise of the mall is a whole other story. (My first “fix” will arrive at the end of November, so I’ll report back on my experience!) I’m hoping that it will push me outside of my comfort zone – which usually entails neutrals and stripes – and give me some dressier pieces to wear when I ditch the kids at home and hit the town ;)

Have you tried StitchFix? What’d you think?

 

Keeping baby expenses down with Target up & up

As I mentioned in this post last month, we’ve been intentionally working on keeping our budget down since I began working at home after Connor was born, particularly with grocery and personal care items.
 
Enter Target up & up.
 
And though we’ve used so many of the up & up products, one of my favorite for the last 5 years has continued to be their baby items… especially diapers.
 
The Target up & up diapers are, hands down, my very favorite generic brand. They are so much less expensive! We used them consistently with Connor, and now that Target has come out with a new cotton enhanced layer, I’m looking forward to trying them with Brenna too.
 
Cotton really is one of the best materials for Brenna’s skin, and according to Target, cotton fibers can actually absorb as much as 25 times their weight in water. Cotton is actually stronger when it is wet, which minimizes the risks of tears and leakage in the up & up diaper. I guess the true test to this strength will be putting it against our constant use of Aquaphor :)
 
I was also happy to see the newly released up & up baby wipes for sensitive skin. It’s no secret that we’ve been making our own wipes since Brenna was born, but as we need them less and less when we’re out (and hopefully, maybe, be potty training fairly soon!?), I was looking for a kind that I could just keep in the van – both for potty purposes and for overall cleaning purposes. 
 
The residue from those suckers the kids get at the doctors’ offices doesn’t just clean itself, you know.
 
So far, Brenna’s skin has done really well with the Target up & up sensitive wipes. I don’t use them very often, but when I’ve needed them, it’s so nice to have them on hand in the car.

I absolutely love Target’s up & up baby products –  along with new diapers and wipes, we also picked up some up & up squeeze food pouches and new snack containers!

And don’t forget – there is a chance to win one $100 Target GiftCard!! To enter, just leave a comment on this question: have you ever used generic brand diapers or other baby products?

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 10/22/2014 – 11/22/2014.

Be sure to visit the Target’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

31 Days to Less Noise: Preparing Food

Providing my family with good food is becoming more and more of a priority to me, but I absolutely detest the food prep that goes along with that. (I must be in the majority with that mindset based off of the high consumption of convenience foods in this country.)

Food preparation can take up a lot of space in my head, with meal planning and grocery lists and “I want a snack!” and recipes I want to try and reading labels and “what should we bring to the family reunion tomorrow?”

I’ve been experimenting with the best place to have my meal planning sheet, and the best way to keep a grocery list – on my phone, on paper, hanging up, on the counter? I want to keep it simple so that it’s not stressful for me to figure out what we need from the store and what recipes I’m trying and need to buy for.

Freezer cooking has been a saving grace for me, and even as I explore more healthful options, I’m having to look a little harder, but it’s well worth it. This past weekend, I whipped up some meatloaf with a lot of veggies in it, cooked and shredded chicken to have on hand, and made my own taco seasoning.

Breakfasts also go pretty well, because I’ve realized that by keeping a few things on hand in the freezer – muffins, egg and sausage cups (my favorite) and breakfast burritos (Evan’s favorite) – there is always something homemade and filling that takes less than a minute to prepare.

Sausage egg cupsHowever, I struggle with lunch, and with snacks. And often by the time I’ve gotten the kids all served up at lunchtime, they’re done and ready to move on before I can get my lunch ready.

A few weeks ago, I tried something new, inspired by Crystal from MoneySavingMom: I pre-made my salads for the week. I love having a good salad for lunch, but dread the time it takes to throw it all together. It worked beautifully, and I loved it… and then I fell off the bandwagon.

So this week, I’m jumping back on and trying it again. You only have to get the ingredients out once, and it takes 5 seconds to throw your salad from a jar to a plate (I like my dressing good and mixed, so a plate is necessary for me vs. eating straight from the jar). And I’ve found that when I pre-make it, I’m much more likely to throw in extra vegetables like broccoli and carrots that I just don’t have time to cut up and add each day.

pre-made salads

Now for snacks. I just need to get into the habit of heading to the fridge – for fruit, or cheese slices, or hummus – instead of to the pantry for Doritos. I think that will be a work in progress!

How do you take the time aspect out of food preparation each day? And send any good freezer recipes or easy snack ideas my way too – especially kid-friendly ones! I’d like to continue learning some simple ways to provide healthy food for my family all day long, without it taking up my entire day and without bombarding my brain with what to prepare, how to prepare, what to buy, and more.

31DaysLessNoise

Follow me: Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter