Organization

Thrifty Thursday: FoodSaver

My FoodSaver

My parents gave me this TOTALLY AWESOME FoodSaver for Christmas!!!! It came from Costco and included reusable zipper-top bags and a roll of make-your-own bags (shown in the picture, above) as well as a small container for quickly infusing foods with marinades. They also bought me an extra box of bags & rolls, which I’ve broken into since I used up the roll that came with the FoodSaver already!

I wanted one of these for SO LONG, but truly worried how soon, or even if, I’d make back my investment in saving food. Do I really have that much food waste? Yes. Yes, I do. And I’m going to show you how I’ve prevented throwing bad food out and kept foods fresher longer in the 5 weeks since I started using it.

My husband is a hunter and we have the meat from 2 deer in our freezers. All the meat comes back from the processor, broken down into roasts, steaks, ground, etc., wrapped solely in butcher paper. That is not enough to protect it from freezer burn. And I have tried several different brands of zipper-top freezer bags and none of them have been able to protect my foods completely nor for any period of time more than a month or two. I have lost foods that I bought in bulk when they’ve gone on sale at stores because a freezer bag could not protect my foods. Look at this beautiful venison roast, completely sealed up with no air inside the plastic with it. I was thawing it in order make a delicious stew.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 20 AM

Something really strange happens with lunch meat in my house. If I buy 1/4 lb or 1/2 lb of lunch meat at the store, it is devoured in 24 hours and the beasts howl and pound their chests until I go back and get more. If I buy 1 lb of lunch meat, it will sit in the fridge for weeks until it starts to smell! *sigh* I haven’t thrown out any lunch meat since I started using my FoodSaver and their zipper-top bags. I bought 5 different kinds of lunch meats and 3 kinds of cheeses and sealed them up in the bags. When someone opens the bag to get out lunch meat, I simply use my attachment to reseal the bag before putting it back in the fridge. Yes, I have to reseal after each times a bag is opened, but it’s better than throwing away bad meat I paid for and going to the store for more.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 01 AM

I made a loaf of French bread in my bread machine last month and we only used half of it. Being homemade without preservatives, it won’t last long, so I sliced it up and sealed it in a bag that I custom cut from the roll. I also made a batch of pumpkin spice muffins for snacks. We ate half and I wanted to preserve the rest for another time. I know what you’re thinking: if the food saver sucks hard enough to remove all air out of a bag, won’t it crush your baked goods? Nope, because my FoodSaver came with a Pulse Vac option! I select Pulse Vac, slide the end of the bag in and then I use the Pulse Vac button to slowly remove the amount of air I want to. I can suck out most of the air, get the bag to a point where it’s hugging my baked goods but not crushing them, and then seal the bag. The next pix is of my first lot of sealing: chicken thighs I bought in bulk, the French bread and the muffins.

Photo Feb 17, 10 07 37 AM

Besides lunch meat, another item that is wasted a lot in this house are bagged snacks, such as chips and pretzels. Even on those rare occasions when my guys do close a bag up with a clip, it’s still not sealed and they will never taste as crisp and fresh as they did when the bag was first opened. My FoodSaver has solved this problem for me with the Pulse Vac option! I can suck as much air out of a chip bag and I want, starting and stopping to check how close the bag is coming to the chips, and then seal it up until we’re ready to eat chips again. We haven’t lost a single chip nor pretzel stick! You can see in the picture, below, that plenty of air has been removed from the chip bag, but there is still room around the chips. This Pulse Vac option alone is so worth pulling the FoodSaver out onto the counter to use (we have very little counter space, so I don’t leave it out all the time).

Photo Feb 11, 5 04 20 PM

And I’m still not done! This machine has 2 other things it can do to save money or add convenience. Remember that green & black attachment in the lunch meat picture, above? I pull that out and set it on a particular spot on the zipper-top bags to seal them. However, I can also pull the top off of it and, along with a reusable bottle stopper, reseal a bottle of wine! I don’t drink wine, but the hubs does. He won’t drink a whole bottle by himself and sometimes we’ll just open a bottle and use a little wine in a recipe. Yes, you can stick the cork back in and keep the wine in the fridge for another day or two, but the quality & taste of the wine suffers. My FoodSaver attachment will suck out the air and seal that bottle back up for when I’m ready to use the rest.

Photo Feb 17, 11 36 05 AM

I mentioned in the beginning of this post that my FoodSaver included a small container. You can store fragile items in it and seal them up, like my lunch meat in the picture below, or fresh berries that tend to start dissolving as soon as you bring them home from the store or farm. But you can also quickly marinate food in it! Were you looking forward to having a specific dish for dinner, only to come home in the evening and find you forgot to get your meat or veggies in the marinade before leaving the house in the morning? No problem! Put your marinade and food in one of FoodSaver’s containers, snap on the lid, pull out the attachment, place it directly on the gray oval in the lid and press the Marinate button on the FoodSaver. Once’s it’s sealed on there, you can let go of the attachment. It will cycle through a bunch of sucks and releases (for lack of a better description) for 10 minutes, infusing your marinade into your food.

Photo Feb 17, 11 44 17 AM

So there you have it: all the reasons I love my FoodSaver and am so glad my parents gave us one for Christmas! I am not associated with FoodSaver in anyway, nor did they ask me to review their product. I just like to share products I love. If you have been thinking of getting one, and you’re a Costco member, why not go for it? Costco has THE BEST return policy and you can just bring it back if you don’t like it or don’t use it enough. Part of me wishes we’d gotten one sooner, but I’m so glad we waited. These extra functions and accessories offered currently make my life easier and my wallet thicker.

#TuesdayShoesday

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It’s #TuesdayShoesday and these are my shoes today – my bare feet!
I cleaned and cleared out our bedroom yesterday and it felt so good! Six bags of clothes were Freecycled and the room is so much bigger without all the stuff that was dumped in here.
Today, I’m tackling the playroom that B can’t even play in because it’s become another dumping ground. So, I have no need for shoes today. I may not even get out of my pink PJs! ;)👡

My Laundry Pet Peeve

I got up a little before 5am to use the restroom and, instead of heading back to bed, I decided to throw a load of laundry in.  There’s a pair of capris I’ve wanted to wear all week but they were dirty, and today I had enough time to wash and dry them before taking B to camp.  I unsuspectingly threw the load in the washer, checked Facebook, send the hubs off to work, ate my breakfast and welcomed B when he came downstairs.

When the washer was done, I went downstairs to throw the load in the dryer and found THIS – dun, dun, DUUUUUN!

laundryUUUUUUGH!  This is a laundry pet peeve of mine!  The laundry area is (relatively) clean, there is no evidence of an unfinished load, all I want to do is toss my load in the dryer and get the heck out of the basement (still haunted by memories of my older brother insisting that Darth Vader lived in our basement) and I find this – no one finished their load by taking dry items out of the dryer, folding them and putting them away.  *sigh*

I let the anger I felt towards those towels totally throw off my I’m-ahead-for-once-and-I’m-gonna-feel-so-confident-in-my-capri-pants-TODAY chi.  Or it is che?  Hold on…OK, I called the hubs to ask him which one was the appropriate spelling but he’s not answering.  His in that “black hole” of no longer in his car and unable to talk to me on his cell but not yet as his desk so he can’t answer his office phone…Dictionary.com….bear with me…OK!  I was right the first time; it’s chi.  Che was a Cuban revolutionist.

You know, I remember seeing America Ferrera on Wendy Williams earlier this year and she was filming a movie about Che Guevara, wasn’t she?  Hmmm…IMDB.com…Nope!  She’s starring in a movie about Cesar Chavez.  What was I talking about…?

Oh, yeah – laundry!  As I was saying, laundry is no picnic for any of us.  However, when you start a load, you need to finish it!  Because one of my shirts was in that dryer with the towels and now it’s a wrinkly mess.  If I’d known it was there before i started this morning’s load, I could have tossed it in the wash to get the wrinkles out and dried it again.  But now the load is already washed and the clean, wrinkly shirt will have to sit, unworn, until another load is ready to go in.  Errr.  Hold on, the hubs is calling.  Boy, am I gonna give him a piece of my mind about leaving that load in the dryer…

I’m back.  Um…turns out…I was the one who started that last load.  The hubs was kind enough to point out that I threw that load in the wash Monday afternoon when we got home from the pool……………………………………………………..

Well, It’s a woman’s prerogative to start and stop laundry whenever she wants!  And I’m gonna rock those capri pants, if I remember to take them out of the dryer!

 

 

Purse-Sized Sunscreen Container that Provides Easy Application

SunscreenBlog

Last week, my girlfriend and I surprised our boys with a trip to Kings Dominion.  We had a blast!  The weather was perfect, there weren’t any crowds, we hit every ride we wanted to and spent a couple of hours in the water park.  Perfect!

I decided I wanted to travel light in the park and chose a petite backpack purse.  My brand new, 8 oz tube of sunscreen would weigh down my bag.  We needed sunscreen, but not the whole tube!  I searched through the kitchen cabinets to find some small container in which to carry a day’s worth of sunscreen for two people.  I came across an old McCormick spice jar that the hubs takes salad dressing in to work with him.  BINGO!  I filled the jar and off we went.

While standing in line to enter the park, I pulled out the sunscreen to lotion us up.  I screwed off the lid, plunged a finger in the jar and then smeared that finger on one of B’s arms.  *Yuk!*  I didn’t want to do that again, so I flipped the top of the cap up, figuring it would pour out the little spice holes.  It didn’t pour out, but there was sunscreen covering the cap and it’s lid.  So guess what I did?  I just stamped that cap up B’s arm a few times!  He rubbed it in and then I stamped the other arm and both of mine.

My girlfriend saw what I was doing and said, “That’s genius!  You need to blog about that and get it on Pinterest!”  So that’s exactly what I’m doing.

We reapplied sunscreen twice that day at Kings Dominion.  Today we went to the pool, we both applied sunscreen twice and the spice jar still isn’t empty.  My neighbor, who carried a 1 liter pump bottle of sunscreen in her pool bag today, saw my little spice jar and loved the idea, too.

I hope this idea makes your pool/beach/park/outdoor adventure bag a little lighter this Summer, too!

SunscreenPinterest

 

Reviews-day Tuesday: Cozi Online Family Organizer

I don’t think there are enough products in my life to do a review every Tuesday.  However it’s Tuesday, I’ve decided to share something with you that has helped our family and the blog title sounded appropriate and cute.  The next time I decide to share an item I’ve tried, I’ll try to remember to do so on a Tuesday.

I’ve talked to y’all in the past about my favorite family planner/calendar,  the More Times Mom Family Organizer. I’ve even given one of these away because I wanted to share it with others.  However, due to recent health issues and stress, my memory has gone kaput! Most days over the last year and a half, I didn’t remember to look at my calendar. My aunt had invited 2 of my cousins and me to a wonderful event last year and I forgot all about it because I didn’t even remember I had a calendar to look at. Everytime I think of that, I am still embarrassed!  It’s been really rough living inside this body and the stress I piled on myself when things like this happened just made the memory issues worse.  Even when I looked at my calendar and repeated an appointment on there over and over in my head, as soon as I turned away from the calendar, it was forgotten.

Since last Fall, I’ve been going to doctors appointments a lot.  At the end of each one I would be asked when I could come back for this or that test and then when can I come back to discuss the test results.  I had no idea when I was or was not free!  I would have to call them back when I got home after checking my calendar, but that also posed problems.  1) I could have obligations that I just forgot to write on my calendar, and 2) I have a terrible fear of phones.  I would put off calling a doctor for weeks because I simply could not make myself pick up the phone and call.  I needed something else to keep track of my life because my way of life no longer worked with my beloved MTM Family Organizer (oh, how I truly grieved over that loss!).

Then one day at the beginning of the year I was on The Fly Lady’s website looking for a Contol Journal for B. I had decided that he needed something to keep him on top of his household obligations and school lessons.  He was old enough and I was tired of having to remind him all the time.  (Well, it’s kind of hard for a child to be organized and remember everything when he has such a poor example in his Mom!)

While The Student Control Journal  was printing, I looked around Fly Lady.  I hadn’t been there in a while, but she has helped me organize parts of my life before – for example, Cruising through Christmas & doing Christmas cards – so I wanted to see what’s new. I was clicking on all the headings at the top and bottom of her homepage and one was “Cozi”. I had no idea what that meant so I went to the page to find out.  According to The Fly Lady’s website:

FlyLady.net and Cozi have teamed up to bring to you the FlyLady Online Organizer. This is a web-based calendar and organizer program that will allow you to schedule, plan, have time-zone-specific reminders, shopping lists, to-do lists, a family journal section that you can even opt in to post to  Facebook, and more! Oh yes, and we did mention it’s free?

I was curious, so I went to Cozi’s website and read more about it.  It sounded good and, since it was free, I decided to sign up. I really liked what was included!  I was quite overwhelmed in the calendar, however, because it was full of Fly Lady reminders on each day. I am not currently “flying” with her system and would not need those, but soon figured out how to hide them all.  I immediately added a couple of items to the calendar, looked at the list options and perused the recipe bank.  It was quite
easy to maneuver through.

We’ve now been using The Fly Lady Online Organizer from Cozi for almost 2 months and are loving it! Did you notice I said “we”?  Yup, the hubs is all in.  He was constantly feeling out of the loop with what B and I were doing, either because I didn’t remember myself or he never looked at the wall calendar. But now I keep Cozi up on the family computer all day long. He checks it in the morning before leaving for work and knows exactly what we’ll be up to that day.  And if he forgets, he just
pulls up the Cozi app on his phone.  That’s right, is has a matching, free app.

Each one of us has our own color assigned in the calendar so we can tell which appointments are for which family member or if they are for all of us.  We can set recurring appointments and receive reminders on our phone.  On the day I signed up, I entered all the important birthdays into the Calendar and set reminders. This has already paid off – the hubs called his parents on their anniversary and he
wished his SIL a happy birthday.

I don’t have to suffer the dreaded “Whats for dinner?” question all the time because the hubs checks the Meals page before he asks.  I’m trying really hard to update that with dinner plans as soon as I have one.

I really like the Shopping section. It already came with separate lists for the grocery store and wholesale club and I can create other lists, as well. The hubs and I have been really good about entering into the organizer any items we need from the store.  Then, we just pull up the app in the store!  No more forgetting something because I forgot to write it down or left the list at home (I did that frequently). When I put an item in my grocery cart, I check it off in the app. I can either remove the checked items from the list or leave them in the list, but checked off.  I leave regularly purchased items in the list and the next time I need them, I merely tap them, which unchecks them in the list. Now I know I need to buy it and I didn’t have to retype it.

There are other features we have not used yet – To Do Lists, Family Journal and a Messages page where you can write notes to each other.  Although I use the free app with ads at the bottom, you can purchase the Gold version for $29.99/year. In the Gold version, you not only are ad free but you get added features – Contacts (Cozi says that feature is great for doing Holiday cards), and a Birthday Tracker.  The ads don’t bother me or impede what I need to get done in the app and I’ve already added birthdays into the Calendar.

This online family organizer has made a great difference in our life. I’ve drastically cut down on the number of trips I’m making to the grocery store for forgotten items. If the hubs decides to stop at the store on his way home from work, he’s got what I need in his phone. When I’m at a doctor’s office or meeting up with friends and I get asked when I’ll be able to see them again, I can look at the calendar in my phone and make plans with confidence. It’s amazing that when I remove a stressor from my
life, I don’t just lose the stress caused by that one problem. Relieving this big stress has allowed me to relax more about other problems and take them in stride. Another added benefit of less stress on me is a happier hubs and a happier B. 😊

The Safest and Easiest Way to Store Soap in Our Child’s Shower

Now, bear with me, y’all.  I know this picture looks weird, at best, and kinda gross, at worst but it’s harmless and a really good way to store soap in the shower, especially for kids.  So give me the benefit of the doubt and read on, OK?

What you are looking at is a bar of soap, inside a nylon knee high (pantyhose) that is tied onto the shower head in our bathroom.  I know what’s on your tongue – WHY?!  It’s a smart idea I learned from my Aunt Marge decades ago.  You know when a bar a soap gets down to the end, all thin or broken into a couple of pieces?  Either you can’t get enough lather out of it because it’s so small or you don’t get the chance to get lather from it because you can’t keep it in your hands.  Well, back in the days before liquid hand soaps and body washes, my Aunt Marge would gather those little soap nubs up, throw a few (or a bunch) into a leg she’d cut off an old pair of pantyhose and tie it to the shower head. She hated to waste those soap nubs and if she put them together she’d have a decent sized bar of soap.  In the shower, you grab the soap at the bottom of the pantyhose in your hands, pull it into the stream of water, soap up your hands and wash away.  I guess it’s Aunt Marge’s DIY version of soap on a rope.

In our house, it’s the best solution for soap in a child’s shower or tub and I’ll tell you why.  A wet bar of soap rarely stays in place on the corners of your tub or on the built-in soap dishes.  A bar of soap that slides off the tub rim or soap dish can hurt the foot or toes of a child.  The child might even instinctively pick that foot up, throwing themselves off balance and falling.  If a bar of soap falls onto the floor, a child could accidentally step on it, slipping and falling.  It’s also hard for little hands, learning to clean themselves, to keep hold of a wet bar of soap.  I know it can be enjoyable for a child to play with a bar of soap and slip it out of their hands over and over; I did it many times myself.  But it can also frustrate a child who wants to be able to do things for themselves.  If your child is not into showers but takes baths, you could tie this soap holder onto the faucet or the turn-the-water-on-and-adjustment-the-temperature thingy and let it hang down into the tub below the faucet.  We’ve tried body washes with B, but if the hubs or I are not in the bathroom, portioning out the body wash, a 16 oz bottle would be empty within a week.  And there is so much freedom in having a child who can go up, shower, dry off and get in PJs all by himself!

Here’s a close-up of my bar of Olay soap.  See?  It’s not scary!  How can anything that smells so nice, gets you clean and contains moisturizers be weird or gross?  As I said, this is my shower and a knee high comes down low enough for me.  In a smaller person’s shower, a leg cut from a pair of old pantyhose should be used to hang low enough for kids to reach.  (Our bathroom has a window in it and is very bright. B’s bathroom is darker and the pictures didn’t turn out as well.)

Oh, and if the soap shelf on shower organizers works in your house, great!  It just didn’t work in our shower.  The hubs and I each have our own soap and when we put one bar back on it, the other one always fell off.  And if you’re wondering, we don’t use separate soaps because we don’t like to share/.  His is a special facial soap and he uses body wash for the rest of him.  I prefer using moisturizing bars instead of body wash.

DIY Ziploc Perfect Portions Bag

Have you seen or do you use Ziploc Perfect Portions?  Brilliant!  I must admit that when I saw the commercial for the first time, I did a “Doh!” face palm.  So simple, yet so needed, why didn’t I ever think of that?  Oh, well, no matter.  They came up with the idea, I do it cheaper.  :o)  Very simple to do yourself with plastic wrap.

I made a white chili the other day with chicken thighs and needed to freeze the rest of the package.  I ripped off about 1 square foot of plastic wrap, covered my hand with it, picked up a chicken thigh, used my other hand to wrap the plastic completely around the piece of meat and put it in a freezer bag.  Voila!

According to Ziploc’s website today, you can buy a 75 count box of their Perfect Portions at Target for $3.07 ($0.04/ea) or at Amazon for $4.74 ($0.06/ea).  I don’t know what my 3,000 sq ft container of Kirkland plastic wrap from Costco cost me because I got it a while ago.  However, Amazon is selling it today for $25.34.  That’s only $0.008/sq ft!  Even if I bought the 100 sq ft package at Wegmans grocery store for $1.99, that’s still only $0.02/sq ft!  And plastic wrap is something most of have on hand already.  Thank you, Ziploc, for your inspiration!

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