Simplify 4 Lives

A quest for a life that's simpler, sweeter, and a little more satisfying…

Saving Money on Laundry Detergent September 20, 2010

Filed under: Saving Money — celestesda @ 10:04 pm

I thought I’d write a quick note on a money saving tip tonight.  Back in the spring, I heard an advertisement on the radio about a local salvage store that was offering laundry detergent and fabric softener at a very discounted price, sold by the ounce or gallon.  It is offered at a significantly cheaper price than I can buy it for retail in my area, so I thought I’d try utilizing this money saving offer.  I saved my bottles after I used all the liquid, and then bought an extra set so I would have four bottles to refill, thinking that when I ran out of one set, I could go to set number two, and then refill the first set, thus never running out.  Well, in the busy craziness that is my life, I’ve let all four run out before, but thats another story.

Today, I needed to stop by for an overdue refill.  I had only a little fabric softener left at home, completely out of detergent, and my laundry is quickly piling up, so I knew I had to stop today.  Before I tell the amazing price that I paid for my laundry liquids, I want to tell you that as of today, I’m really not sure what a bottle of laundry detergent or fabric softener costs at a discount store like Walmart, but I did a quick Google search for items on sale and came up with these current prices, which seem to be that a national brand of laundry detergent ranges from $8 to $10 for about 40 ounces.  Correct me if I’m wrong, because like I said, it’s been a while.  If those prices are accurate, the price per ounce would be .20-.25 per ounce.  Outrageous!!  Anyway, to the good part!!  Here’s the total price and products I bought today:  two – 40 oz. bottles refilled with Gain laundry detergent, one-51 oz. bottle of Downy fabric softener, a bag of ice, and a small bear filled with local honey, all for a price of $15.35!!  That equals out to .08 per oz. for the laundry detergent, which was $3.20 per bottle, and .07 per oz. for the fabric softener, which was $3.57 per oz!  I’m so excited about my savings!!  I could go even further into the environmental savings, but I’ll save that one for you to ponder.

Check around at your local salvage stores, or other money saving discount stores to see if they offer this type of service, and if not, there are other ways you can save money on these products while still purchasing them at retail prices.  I use some of these tricks as well:

  • Use less detergent/softener.  I’ve found that you only need a quarter to a half of what the product tells you to use.
  • Try substituting some of your softener with vinegar. I ran out of softener recently, and used vinegar after reading about it on a few websites, and it really works, although it doesn’t cut out the static.  I did read that you can use a wadded up piece of aluminum foil to help with static, but I have not tested this yet.
  • Other sites suggest re-wearing some clothing pieces, and re-using towels.  This has to be a personal preference on your part!  🙂
  • Make your own.  There are tons of recipes out there, but depending on the availability of the ingredients in your area, it may cost about the same.   You also need a pretty large container or storage area for the yield of these recipes.

I hope that this post will help you save money, even if it’s just a little!


The Grace Challenge September 19, 2010

Filed under: Faith,Grow — celestesda @ 10:44 pm

I’ve got this book that my mother-in-law gave me at some point, over a year ago, I think.  She’s always giving me neat little things she’s picked up here or there, because she’s a super-bargain-shop-every-yard sale lady.  I love it because all I have to do is tell her “I’m looking for this…” and she finds it in super lightning speed.  I digress.  She gave me this book titled The Power of a Positive Mom. It’s just a little devotional book that you’re supposed to read once a week to reflect and grow in your quest to be a good, Christian mother. It’s got some really neat devotions, but I’ve not been very faithful about reading them on a regular basis.  In fact, I’ve gotten to week 3.  It’s titled “The Grace Challege” and last Thursday night, as I was reading it, God knocked me over me with the words.  It felt like I’d been run over by a train when I finished.  The key scripture verse is Leviticus 19:16-18, which discusses how we should treat others. Here is an excerpt of the reflection:

“As Christians, of course, we are no longer under the rule of Levitical law; we are under grace, thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us.  As recipients of God’s glorious grace, then, we ought to be showering grace on others in turn.  And what does grace toward others look like?…Guarding our mouths from gossip, forgiving, not holding grudges – all of these are practical ways we can shed God’s grace on the people around us.  Let’s teach our kids, through our words and our example, to reflect on the goodness of God’s wonderful grace and, in turn, to offer that grace to others.”

Wow!  Powerful words.  Powerful thoughts going through my head, sadness over all of the times I’ve denied grace to others, been short with my words, and quick to anger, with those around me, including my own family.  That night, I prayed that God can help me to begin showering more grace upon others, especially those I love most, instead of being less patient, less forgiving, quick tempered, and downright grumpy.  What a difference it has made!  Though my days have been far from perfect, my mood is improved, and I let things slide that, in the grand scheme of life, don’t really matter.  I’m going to continue this prayer, and the practicing of showing grace towards others, until it is my second nature.  Is this something that would apply to your life as well?  If so, take the Grace Challenge with me!


Photo Books September 16, 2010

Filed under: Organize,Simplify — celestesda @ 9:56 pm

Raise your hand if you are one of those people out there who love to spend time sending in your digital photos, receiving them via mail or your local printing shop, and then coming home only to have to label them, and then spend even more time placing them in a photo album!?   This is excruciating torture for me.  I’m terrible at it.  In fact, I do a good job if I get them printed at all.  Currently, I have two drawers full of printed pictures with no permanent home.  With my snail-slow internet speed, it takes hours to get them all sent in, not to mention all of the after-print work.  Isn’t there an easier way we can do this?  Yes.  There is.  It’s called a Photo Book.

For those of you out there who do not know what a photo book is, here is a brief explanation:  a photo book is a book that you customize using your photos.  While it does eliminate the the post-production work, it does add a little extra time during the pre-printing stage.  For me, it cuts the work down because of many reasons:  it comes in a cute little binding that you’ve chosen and customized, you type the captions in while you’re in the design mode, and you can choose a cutesy color-coordinated theme, kind of like a little scrapbook!  Best of all, most hardcover books are printed with a spine label.  Another plus for me is that I find myself being a little more picky about what I actually print, because I can store those unprinted, not-so-great photos on a disc and look at them again anytime I want.

Pricing isn’t cheap, but I wait for specials, so I usually don’t pay full-price, and they usually cost less for me to design and order a book that to print all of the pictures.  I’m thinking that for all future picture orders, I will use this method, unless it is a print that I specifically plan to print.  I just received one yesterday that I paid a total of $6.00 for!  I only had to pay shipping!  And it’s 20 pages long…I’m so excited about it!!

A couple of pages of my newest photo book

Last page of the new photo book

Cute little cover. This is an 8 x 8 hardcover book.

I have a friend who does a book at the end of each year.  It takes a lot of time, but it’s the coolest project by the end, and she’s probably put less time into it than she would have if she did it the “old-fashioned” way.

Does this sound like a fun, organization project you might like to try?  It’s easier than it sounds, so don’t be intimidated by the technology part, just follow the directions.  There are tons of sites out there to try, but my favorite of the moment is Shutterfly, who is offering 30% savings right now.  I might try a couple of others, based on specials.  Picaboo has a couple of great specials right now:   a free photo book for new members with a special code (1FBLGB-7W), and a buy one, get one free through 9/28.

I think this will be just one more wonderful step to my newly organized life!


30 Meals September 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — celestesda @ 10:42 pm

If you’re anything like me, when it comes to grocery shopping, you just groan and dread and wrack your brain.  You have to use a lot of brain-power sometimes to think of ideas on what meals to make during the upcoming week, what ingredients you already have, what you need, etc.  We get stuck in a rut around here!

While googling “cooking on a budget” a couple of weeks ago, I came across a nifty little blog called Nannygoat and found this cool idea called 30 Meals.   The blog was evidently run by two women, who needed a blogging break, and that haven’t blogged since March.  30 Meals is such an awesome “duh” idea for me, that I can’t wait till they begin blogging again, and I hope they hold to their promise that they’ll be back.  Anyway, about 30 Meals:  it’s basically a hodgepodge of a menu, grocery list, and recipes all thrown together into one book that you create yourself, so it’s tailored to you and your family.  Without going into too much detail, because you can read it just as easily on their blog, you keep a running list of 30 meals your family likes to eat on a regular basis.  This helps in four areas:  the list to choose from is already made, the recipes are there, the ingredients are there, and you can watch for sales on products you can stock up on.  Yes, work at first, but it will be a great time-investment!

It’s going to make my grocery and meal planning so much easier!  My hubby is on-board, and I think we’ve gotten 17 meals on the list so far.  It sounds easier than it is!  Read up on it, and let me know if you think this is something that would work for your family!  Give the ladies on Nannygoat a shout-out as well, maybe we can coax them to break the writer’s block!


Organizing Part I September 12, 2010

Filed under: Organize — celestesda @ 10:24 pm

I spent a big part of yesterday afternoon on cleaning out, throwing away, and attempting organization.  I chose to focus on the kitchen first, because it is a central location that we use for a lot of different activities, and it’s highly visible. I got about a 1/4 of the way through, with only completing my telephone counter/cabinet area, and my computer/desk area.  I’m proud to say that it worked!  I threw a lot of stuff away, and I’ve about filled up my first box of yard sale items.  Not only does it look good on the outside, the insides of the cabinets look great too! 🙂  It’s not fancy, but it’s clean and everything that’s left has a place. I am posting before and after pics.  I’m already seeing results and it’s given me the motivation to keep it up!  Have any of you gotten started yet?  I’d love to hear about it!

Telephone Cabinet Before

Telephone Cabinet After

Computer Desk Area Before

Computer Desk Area After

Computer Desk Area After


If We’ve Ever Needed You… September 9, 2010

Filed under: Faith — celestesda @ 10:55 pm

This song by Casting Crowns has been plaguing me lately. You can watch hear it in a YouTube Video here.  I think it’s the lyrics that get me every time.  It’s the raw reminder of the eternal selfishness and short memory of the human race.  How is it that elephants can remember events and places from their childhood, yet we cannot remember the blessings and grace that God has given us over and over in our lives?  The song echoes in my mind more and more as the political voting season is upon us.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Hear our cry, Lord, we pray
Our faces down, our hands are raised
You called us out, we turned away
We’ve turned away

With shipwrecked faith, the idols rise
We do what is right in our own eyes
Our children now will pay the price
We need Your light, Lord, shine Your light

If we’ve ever needed You
Lord, it’s now, Lord, it’s now
We are desperate for Your hand
We’re reaching out, we’re reaching out

Wow!  Powerful words of reminder and remorse.  This is just another reason and motivator in my steps to simplify my life and live it the best way that I can.  I’m trying to lay my idols down, and reach out to the Lord.  What do you think about this song?  Does it give you motivation?  I hope that it does.  I think Mark Hall got it right.  Joel 2:12-19, Matthew 22:35-37


The Overwhelming Need to Simplify

Filed under: Uncategorized — celestesda @ 2:27 am

So, here I am.  29 years old.  My life has become increasingly complicated lately.  Well, I say lately, but I think it’s probably always been that way.  I’m one of these people you might call an “overachiever” or a “pleaser”. Yep.  That’s me.  I put too many irons in the fire, only to burn my hand when I try to take them out.  I guess this goes all the way back to high school, and probably even childhood, when I wanted to do everything, and be the best at it.  Who knows where and when it started?

But, at 29, I’m finally realizing that I cannot be perfect, I cannot do everything, and I certainly can’t always be the best.  What has led me to realize that, you might ask?  I think a lot of different factors have led me to this realization; lack of sleep, constant tardiness, dirty, cluttered house, overwhelming finances, and just a general feeling of being spread too thin.  I am constantly deprived of sleep from trying to fit too many things into one day.  I run late a lot these days, because I’m trying to fit too much in, my finances suffer because they are overstretched from being, well, overstretched.  Too much month, not enough money.  This probably stems from buying too much.  I’m diving into that later, instead of getting too deep right now.  My house is never in order, because at this point, I don’t have time to maintain it and all the junk in it!

There is no one straw that has finally broken the camel’s back, but too many straws to number.  I do know this:  I am ready to simplify my life and the lives of my family.  My husband is on board with me, and I hope and believe my children will follow.  I’m tired of my life being centered around how much money we make, how many “things” we acquire, and how many different activities we can be involved in.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re still going to have a few things that are nice and be involved in a couple of activities, but I’m slowing teaching myself the word “NO”, and I’m beginning to use it! I’m proud of myself!

What is my goal?  A year from now, I hope life feels easier, tidy, satisfying, and happy.  I’m hoping that life will pass just a little bit slower, because life as it is now, feels like one of those roller-coasters that you’ve waited three hours in line for, and when you finally get on, you feel disoriented,  rushed, and sick by the time it’s over.

I want our family focus to center around three things:  God, family, and enjoying our one life here on Earth.  I think these are the first steps to our new, simplified, focused lives.  I hope you’ll take this journey with me, as I struggle through the complicated, unkempt, dissatisfying, crazy life that exists for me right now.

Leave me a comment!  How does the world around you feel right now?  Simple, Sweet, and Slow or  Complicated, Unkempt, and Crazy?  Let me know…