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11 Things I Want To Accomplish In 2011

by Tara Kuczykowski on January 3, 2011 · 56 comments


Notice that I did not title this post "11 Resolutions For 2011." I am horribly bad with resolutions, and I know I'm just setting myself up for failure if I go down that road.

So instead I'm sharing with you 11 things that I want to accomplish in 2011. Not all of these are about saving money -- in fact, most of them aren't -- but I want to share more of "me" on Deal Seeking Mom this year! (I guess if you count that, we're at 12 things, LOL.)

Many of you wrote to say how much you enjoyed the Preparing Your Home for the Holidays series, so I'd like to introduce more similar content by sharing my wins and missteps as I tackle these accomplishments over the next year.

{1} Start making some of our grocery staples from scratch. I've always wanted to try my hand at homemade yogurt, granola, and pasta to name just a few, and I'm planning to tackle at least one of these each month. You can check out my attempt at making sourdough starter on Unsophisticook!

{2} Make the switch to purchasing more organic grocery products. I'm concerned about how this will affect our overall grocery budget, especially with the quantities of milk my five kids are known to go through, but I feel like this is an important change that our family needs. Of course I will be looking for ways to save while doing this, and I'll be sure to share any tips or deals with you all.

{3} Start recycling. I've been growing increasingly concerned with the amount of trash that our large family generates. I've always wanted to recycle our waste, but we don't have the ideal space to store or recyclables between pickups. However, ideal or not, I'm committed to finding a place for it, and this will be a new family project for our household.

{4} Finish the Back To Basics series. I've had a number of you inquire as to whether I would be continuing this series, and I'm ready to dive back in! I have some other series I'd like to share with you as well, so look for more content posts in 2011 -- and of course, I'll still be sharing the best of the best deals that pop up each day.

{5} Become better at time management. I get a lot of emails asking how I manage to "do it all." I don't. I'm not Super Woman, and something has to give somewhere. I've made a lot of progress over the past year in learning to say no and cutting back on blogging commitments, but I know that there's still room for improvement. My time is valuable in its own right, so I'll be sharing more tips for saving time -- and time is money, right?

{6} Organize my digital photos. I have 8+ years of digital photos scattered across numerous DVDs and old, unused laptop computers. I don't want to lose these precious moments, so I want to get them organized and safely stored. In addition, I want to take more photos to document my kids growing up -- and I want to actually be in some of them. I'm usually the one behind the camera, so we have far too few family photos.

{7} Do a whole house decluttering. We have too much stuff, literally, and I know much of it we can live without, so we'll be working room-by-room to remove all of the extraneous items that are taking over our house and to better organize what we do keep. "A place for everything and everything in its place" -- a rule to live by.

{8} Save for a down payment on a new house. We haven't decided whether to build or buy, but our goal is to be ready to start looking by this time next year. We've got a good start on our savings, but we're really going to need to ramp it up to achieve this. I definitely think it's doable though!

{9} Exercise at least 3 times a week. This is important to me for a number of reasons. First of all, I know I just feel better when I exercise regularly. I was doing really well until I got a horrible sinus infection in November, and it's been pretty much downhill since then. I also believe that it's important for my children to see that I'm committed to exercising regularly because I want them to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle as they get older as well.

{10} Learn how to knit. Well, actually, I know how to knit -- I made the most adorable hat and booties that all of my kids wore as infants. But I really want to try some more challenging items. Plus I need an offline hobby that will allow me to relax and rejuvenate.

{11} Create a chore chart. It's become quite apparent that we've been underestimating our kids' abilities as far as contributing to the upkeep of our household. After all, two people can't possibly maintain the messes created by seven. So we've slowly been giving them more responsibilities, but I really want some sort of visual tool to help them keep track of their contributions and keep them on track. My challenge is that most charts are created for much smaller families, so I either need to do some more research or create something from scratch. Suggestions are welcome!

What kinds of things are you looking to accomplish this year? And are there other topics you'd be interested in seeing covered on DSM?

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsey January 3, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I don't necessarily have a suggestion on a good choir chart, but the pastor at our church a few months ago was talking about how his family doesn't have choirs they have contributions to the family. At the end of each day they could help and recount how they contributed to the family each day. This was a bigger more expansive list than just choirs but it included them as well. My daughter is only 2 1/2 but we are starting to use this 'language' in our household I like the positive note to it and it makes me feel like we can all contribute to our family on a regular basis.

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2 Lacey January 3, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Lindsey- I love the positive thought behind "contributions". Thanks for the tip. I hate the word chore.

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3 Amy January 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I share the goal of organzing my photos. If you could post your methods as you go, I would greatly appreciate it!

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4 Missy January 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I use a monthly program that backs my computer up automatically twice a day (www.mozy.com). I use Picaso as my photo program and pay $5 a year to upload and store my photos there. In the even of a computer crash I can download my pics from their website and have mozy reload my info onto a new computer. Picaso allows me to share whichever albums I want to with whomever I want to. LOVE IT!

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5 Aimee January 3, 2011 at 3:31 pm

I saw a tip for chores. List all the chores on slips of paper, put them in a bowl and on a Saturay morning on some designated time have the kids draw a chore, do it and then keep drawing chores until they are all done (or set a time limit) - in the end the one with the most done gets a treat (or a day without chores next time around).

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6 danni January 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I saw on tv where they took a bowl and wrote all the chores of the household on ping pong balls and the kids drew from the bowl, the one that finished the most (correctly not half way) in a time span won a little prize or something special. Thought that was a neat idea!

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7 Linda G January 3, 2011 at 3:32 pm

I want to do: -1) Organize and backup my photos
2) Def. make some staples from scratch like ketchup, etc. 3) Learn to say no!

Best of luck to all of us in 2011!!!

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8 Lacey January 3, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Ketchup from scratch. Count me in!

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9 lynn @ Maven of Savin' January 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I love that they are NOT resolutions. I have the same problem. I LOVE to knit and also need to make more time to do that and UNPLUG! I look forward to what you come up with for a chore chart as well!

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10 Deb January 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Your list sounds alot like mine and I am looking forward to reading about ways to go organic and still save! I have been doing quite a bit of research myself. I "only" have 3 kids, so our chore chart isn't quite as large, but we started very young. We've always given the kids responsibilites because that's part of what being a family is about. We all take care of each other. Now that they've gotten a little older they are looking for ways to earn rather than just doing their chores. We created a help wanted board and put random chores there they can do to get paid. The caveat is their "regular chores" have to be done before they can take one from the help wanted board. Originally we bought a chore chart but realized kids get bored easily, so instead, I write one out on a white board so that changes can easily be made. The kids have even started to trade chores when they have something that they need to do while they should be doing their chores. For example, my oldest made all three beds for a week so that the other 2 would walk and feed the dog for her so she could sleep over a friends house.

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11 Lacey January 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm

How young did you start the chores? Love the Help wanted board.

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12 Mel January 3, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Tara, do you have a Braum's in your area? If so, check out their milk - no hormones and they're almost always either the same price or cheaper than the junk at the grocery store.

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13 Tara Kuczykowski January 4, 2011 at 11:58 pm

We don't have a Braum's, but thanks for the suggestion!

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14 Christie January 3, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I want to get updated on the scrapbooks I have started for my children. I also plan to declutter each room and sell things on craigslist, ebay or donate.
The other big one is to get our kitchen area more organized. the mail, school work, calendars seem to clutter within a day and it drives me crazy. I would love to hear any ideas on that. The daily system on pottery looks great but don't want to spend almost $300 on it!

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15 Ashley January 3, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Knitting is a great commitment to make! Studies have shown that people who regularly do activities that require both hands to do repetitive motions for an extended period of time--like knitting or crocheting for 20 minutes--have less depression. It sorts out something in your brain somehow--no joke!

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16 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:01 am

That's really interesting!

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17 Barbara Spangler January 21, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I've recently taken up crocheting again and it really is relaxing. I have joined the local sewing/craft class at our community center. Everyone helps each other with whatever it is they are working on.

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18 Sarah K. January 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

It pains me to read that you don't recycle! This system works for us: we have a small garbage pail in the kitchen (for us it fits on the top step to the basement, but it could go under the sink, etc) that we will up as we use things. We also have a bag hanging on the back of the basement door for fiberboard, and a nice basket in a corner for newspaper. Then in the garage we have one of those large plastic three-drawer units to put plastic and "tin" cans in. We have a large township bin for aluminum cans, and three buckets for glass (in our area they must be separated by color). Our township picks up aluminum cans and glass once a month, and the other stuff I drop off every other week or so on Saturday mornings. Once you have a system that works it can be pretty easy (still a chore, yes, but so important!)

Good luck!

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19 janet r January 3, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Tara, if you go to Swaco Recycling, you'll find a list of drop off locations around Columbus area/ Franklin co. We just happen to have one very close to our house, so we drop off 1-2 times a week to prevent overload...and bonus, they don't require you to separate stuff. So we have a large trash can right outside our back door and throw our recycles there. You'll be amazed at howmuch stuff you can recycle!!! your trash needs to be emptied much less often. PLus, with Spring coming up soon, Sam's club carried a very inexpensive composter last year, so we compost now too, to give back to the earth!! Trust me, if my family can do it, anyone can!!!

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20 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:02 am

Wow, this is awesome, Janet! There's a drop-off location at my Kroger which is less than five minutes away. This will make it much easier for us!

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21 Sharon Cardwell January 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

The best thing for organizing my digital photos has been the Memory Manager by Creative Memories. It does so many things, but for me what sets it apart from other programs is that it allows me to find specific pictures in less than a minute. Like if I have 500 pictures from Florida, but I want to find just the pictures that have a certain child in them from Florida with the click of a button I can narrow those 500 pictures to 120.
Here are other things that it does:

*It also includes a handy Memory Vault feature to automatically back up your photos, audio and video files
•Organize your digital photos from digital cameras, scanners, moblie phones, files or CDs using virtual Power Sort Boxes
•Store digital photos and journaling with the exclusive Memory Vault feature
•Organize and store your audio (.mp3, .wav, .wma) and video clips (.avi, .wmv, .mpg, .mp4, .mov)
•Photo enhancement features such as color correction, red eye, cropping and much more
•Preplan your PicFolio® Photo Albums and journaling
•Produce album-ready photos and journaling boxes
•Print your digital photos online or at home with the click of a button
•Keep track of printed or non-printed photos using the one-of-a-kind PrintTrack feature

It is easy enough for beginners and savvy enough for amatures. You can see a virtual tour of it or find answers to questions at http://www.mycmsite.com/sites/scardwell/Content/Help/MemoryManagerTraining.aspx

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22 Tina K January 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm

I think you have a great list to work on for 2011. We bought an external hard drive JUST for videos and pictures and that puts my mind at ease. Definitely splurge and get one to keep that part of your life simple.

One of my goals is to pray more and another is to be more laid back like my husband. He's not lazy but hardly nothing throws him into a "tizzy" and I need to be more like that. It's exhausting to get worked up over nothing.

Happy New Year!

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23 Kerrie January 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I sooo want to get this book myself... But you should read 20 Duggars and counting! If you ever have seen their show, they know how to manage a large household! As far as chores go they use this one system that you can purchase. You can probably google it and find out what it is. I forgot what it was. I've seen many blogs rave about it though. But basically each child has their own clip that holds all their chores and it can be clipped to their clothes.

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24 Samantha January 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I think you'll find that if you make more of your staples, then your trash amount will go way down. You won't have all of that packaging!

Do you shop at Kroger or a related store? I thought I would tell you about the organic milk we use. If you want a big brand, like Horizon, Kroger seems to have the best price in our area. They keep it in a special refrigerator case with all the other organic stuff. BUT, if you go back to the back of the store where all of the other milk is and look about half-way down the row, they have a store brand organic milk that is a dollar cheaper per gallon than the brand name. And I've found that if you look around Kroger has other good deals on organic things. They definitely have the best selection around here. We don't have a big store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, so I'm grateful for what Kroger has.

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25 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:04 am

Good to know! I do shop at Kroger, so I will definitely check it out.

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26 Emily January 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

Also, the brand name organic milks, like Horizon, that come in a carton are ultra pasteurized, which pretty much gets rid of the nutrients. This is how they get it to have such a long shelf life. So, nutrient-wise, you're better off getting the store brand organic milk too. I personally don't buy organic milk, but I also want to start buying more organic produce this year (mainly the produce on the "dirty dozen" list).

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27 Sarah January 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm

I just made my own organic yogurt last week in the crock pot. It cost $2.85 for me to make, it would have cost $8 for me to buy the same amount of organic yogurt. Here's the recipe I used http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html

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28 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:04 am

Thanks for the recipe -- adding to my list to check out when I'm ready to attempt the yogurt.

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29 Thannon January 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm

For Christmas I got a cool device that make me feel better about having tons of pictures everywhere and in multiple devices and sites: it's called a "picture keeper". you plug it into your computer(flash drive) and it automatically looks for and does a back up of all photos on your hard drive. I got an 8 GB picture keeper, and now I feel confident that if something at least happened to my computer, I would still have my photo memories! =)

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30 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:05 am

I have a Picture Keeper, and I agree that it's very useful, but I think my collection might be too large for it at this point. I'll have to dig it out to use in the meantime though.

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31 Deanne January 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm

It sounds like i am in a similar place as you, my plans for the new years are almost exactly like yours (exercise more, relax some, get everyone and everything organized (to sell the house is my main motivation), and back to basics. I used to do all of our bread, yogurt, applesauce, etc. We know we are not going to be building, though, so at least that is one decision down :)

You will be surprised how much you can recycle, just have to find a system that "fits" your space/family. Our recycling is right out the laundry room door in the garage. It's the two four-year-olds' "chore" to take items out there as needed. We pay by the bag in our town, so we save money on garbage (my main motivation!)There are six of us and we alternate between one and two bags of trash a week...that's it. Of course, that trash is sitting right beside two large tubs of recycling. Our old neighbors (family of four) always had at least three bags out, her and I would joke about it. Making more of your items from scratch will reduce your trash as well.

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32 Shawna January 3, 2011 at 5:41 pm

To help you with #2 check out this blogger, if you're not familiar with her already: http://savingnaturally.com/

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33 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:07 am

I will check it out -- thanks!

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34 Amanda January 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

If you are going for bang for your buck, you may want to try doing organic fruits and veggies and/or organic meat rather than worry about milk. I go to a large, rural university with a lot of agriculture students (as well as having farmers in the family) and most of them are very skeptical of any benefits obtained from switching to organic milk. Just a thought :)

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35 Emily January 5, 2011 at 11:47 am

I agree completely (I also work at a large university with a big agriculture department), which is why I don't buy organic milk. I just try to stick with the fruits/veggies on the dirty dozen list when I can afford them. For some fruits on the list, there isn't much of a price difference to buy organic. For those with a huge difference, my goal this year is to buy more organic when my budget allows.

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36 Lydia January 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hey there! Well, I must say I'm glad you are able to keep this up and going! It's been a real blessing to us!! As for the chore chart, we've created one for our six year old and it's a snap!!! Go to http://www.goalforit.com and you can add all the age appropriate chores for each child. We keep ours on the fridge. There are things on there we hadn't even thought of and it has been a HUGE help! Anyway, you can select each chore (per child and chart) and then print them off. They're done in weekly increments and so what I've done is print one and laminated it. I use dry erase markers so that each week we start with a clean slate. Every day that chore gets done she gets a smiley face and if all week long there have been smileys she gets a star showing that task was accomplished. For each star we give her a quarter. She gets the reward for doing things like emptying the silverware, taking out the trash, feeding the cat and scooping the litter, making her bed, cleaning her room, helping put laundry away, etc. I hope this helps!!

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37 Christine January 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm

You list almost mirrors the things I need to do in my life this year. Maybe we can compare notes midway through the year to see how much we have accomplished!

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38 Sunshine January 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I LOVE your site first of all and check it every day! Plus I don't have a website but I posted the one I use for my testimony:)
CHORES! I know what you mean....I have four children and homeschool and the book that was a God send to me is "Managers of Their Chores" by Steve and Teri Maxwell. They also have a book "Managers of Their Home" which completely changed my life as far as our schedule goes! I have each child's chores listed for morning and afternoon on cards in envelopes placed in a basket in our homeschool room. At their chore time, the child grabs their envelope and does the 5-6 chores listed so that each day they are doing around 10 chores each. It HELPS so much....and my 8 year old has discovered that he loves to clean toilets:)

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39 theresa January 3, 2011 at 9:05 pm

i have only three children, ages 3, 6, and 9 and i use calendar pages on each floor of our three story house - what i want done is at the top of the calendar page and each person initials when they do their chore on that floor daily (3-year-old gets help, of course) - you could do one at each child's bedroom door, or at the back door, or wherever chores take place - my children are excellent are remembering to initial that their chore is done because that is how they earn computer time!

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40 Lisa January 3, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Love your list it has inspired me to create my own. I think you have at least 8 of mine on yours as well! Happy New year!

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41 Lacey January 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I'm looking forward to all the 2011 changes. I am so glad I discovered your site. It has been the perfect fit for me. People who love to save money and love to share how they make it all work. I just started my Sourdough starter and can't wait to make my first loaf. Keep up the super awesome blogging.
Happy New Year

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42 Little Mama January 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Mrs. Kuczykowski, your list is EXACTLY my list! I don't do resolutions for the reasons you noted. I also don't label them as "things to accomplish" either because I did it last year and it didn't work for me. I didn't make my list a priority, it was too general, and I didn't set a time limit to accomplish the things on the list. I reasoned that I had the entire year to accomplish everything on it, so I would constantly put other things ahead of it. I also made another big mistake: I figured I would do everything the "right, perfect way" rather than being realistic and factoring in my every day habits. For example, last year I thought it would be very efficient to wash, dry, fold and put away every piece of dirty laundry in the entire house in one day. Needless to say that I crashed and burned. I was a mess! Now, I take my time and spread the laundry throughout the week (linens one day, clothes another, pet bedding the day after, etc). I'm much more at peace now that I'm able to do what I need to do and enjoy life as it happens.

Your list is more detailed than mine was a year ago, so you'll succeed where I failed. Please share your progress. I always look forward to reading your blog entries.

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43 Samantha January 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Tara, thanks for sharing your goals with us! I also have photos needing my special attention. Digital files are great, but it is scary when you don't have things backed up and accessible. My hubs won an 8GB flash drive at a Christmas gift swap which he gave to me, so that will help!

Check out this link for a wonderful and easy granola recipe I used to make regularly : http://vegweb.com/index.php?topic=17135.0

Also, I took a pasta class last year ( a gift from my husband!) and homemade pasta is so much better and more filling than cooking from a box! The recipes from the class were more gourmet, but the basic pasta recipe is very inexpensive. I have found some cheaper alternatives for ravioli fillings, etc. and love to flash freeze and then cook them up whenever!

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44 Tara Kuczykowski January 5, 2011 at 12:08 am

Adding the granola recipe to my list too. Thanks!

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45 Ana January 4, 2011 at 1:26 am

I used to be afraid that switching to organic groceries would totally break our budget but it is actually the same. We do not buy dairy anymore (only local raw milk once in a while) and it has saved us thousands. I am still looking for a good goat cheese farm around my area since that's the priciest item in my list. But since we've stopped buying anything with HFCS, additives, hydrogenated oils, dyes, preservatives, dairy, soy and anything canned , it has limited our grocery list and bill.

This year, I will tackle making my own bread, household cleaners and stock :D

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46 Steph January 4, 2011 at 1:41 am

We recycle in a 1 bedroom apartment!! I have 4 of these stackers http://www.containerstore.com/shop/trashRecycling/recycling?productId=10005524&N=70654

they fit in the trunk of my Honda civic :) Once you do, you'll never be able to just throw things away again. It's amazing how much is recyclable.

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47 Hollynn Kidwell January 4, 2011 at 7:33 am

I am looking forward to the posts on organizing your digital photos and videos. I have been looking for the best and most creative way to organize them. Mine are scattered out on different computers, cds and on various different photo storing websites for creating and making FREE photo gifts. Please, please, please share your tips for organizing digital photos and videos. Thank you.

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48 thecouponchallenge January 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

I switched my 2 kids to organic milk a few months ago. They also drink a lot of milk, so I have seen a slight increase in the budget. To help, I buy regular milk for my husband & I to drink.

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49 Carrie January 4, 2011 at 10:31 am

I just implemented a chore chart last night, and so far so good! I read somewhere to give kids only 3 chores to do per day. Also, I changed their chores daily-for example the older one set the table last night, and the younger one is doing it tonight. ALSO, I swear by shutterfly and/or snapfish for photo storage. I organize pictures on our computer by folders under "My Pictures". Then, I upload those onto both sites...it works well for me.

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50 Linda January 7, 2011 at 1:37 am

Happy 2011!
Creative Memories has wonderful products to store, save, and display your pictures. Let me talk about family tasks, cleaning, homework, anything the kids have to do. My kids earn marbles ( glass gems from Walmart) once they fill the jar they get to choose what they want. My daughter wanted to have her nails (done) painted at the shop( painting is just $3). My son likes Wii games but he has to fill the jar twice for that. He always wants a $50 game. So I hope they learn the value on the dollar too. But you can have a special one on one time, they choose what you make for dinner(be ready for breakfast food) or whatever fits your budget. But if they have a goal they always seem to work harder. They start coming to you to tell you what they accomplished. That is always the best part.

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51 Carrie January 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

Hi, Tara. I just posted about organziing my pictures on my blog. Feel free to check it out-maybe it will help you reach your goal

http://www.myfavoritefinds.blogspot.com

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52 AW January 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I highly recommend off site backup for your pictures. An onlien computer hard drive back up service such as Backblaze. They usually cost around 50-60 per year. That way your protected incase of a natural disaster or fire. Another less "fool proof" way is to store an external hard drive at a relative's house. Hopefully one far enough to not have the same natural disaster but close enough for you to regularly take home and add new stuff to.

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53 DORA HOGLE January 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Dress better.

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54 Tanya January 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm

We use a magnetic chore chart, when they complete one of their chores they get to put a small smiley magnet next to their chore on the list-- just like a sticker chart. Love your list!

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55 Kyle Rothgeb January 21, 2011 at 9:33 pm

The only thing I want to accomplish in 2011 is to turn off the damn tv!

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56 toasty redhead May 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Right on!

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