Follow Simple Living Country Gal | Live Simply. Love Completely on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


This post will teach you just how to grow tomatoes in pots! One of my favorite parts of homesteading is growing food for my family. To take a seed from a little paper packet, plant it in some ground and a few months later I have a bountiful harvest is something I look forward to every year.

Unfortunately the last few years have not been good and this year I am forced to do something drastic. My soil has become invaded with just about every garden pest in our area. And to add insult to injury we also got it with some pretty nasty diseases as well. I have tried to fix things on my own but I realize now it is going to take a bit longer than an offseason to fix things.

This year instead of planting in my garden I am moving things on up to the house. Yep, this year I am going to have a patio garden and I am pretty excited to see how it goes.

I have always grown a few things on my patio. Flowers, herbs, and every now a planter of lettuce. My full garden is quite a ways from the house so it is nice to have a few things close by for meals.

This year, however, I am pulling out all the stops. I plan to grow my entire garden up by the house using any container I can get my hands on. I hope to let my garden sit vacantly and let the chickens dig it up the best they can. It was suggested to me by a local master gardener to let my garden sit dormant for 1-3 growing seasons (yep, you read that right) so I was desperate for a plan B. 

I spent the last month researching all I can about growing vegetables in containers and this is the first in a long series. Each time I will focus on a different veggie and as I learn you will learn so we can grow together.

How to Grow Tomatoes in Pots – A Few Things to Remember.

When growing your garden in containers there are really no rules. You can pretty much use anything you have as long as you follow a few guidelines.

  1.  Make sure you have ample drainage. – If not you can simply drill a few holes in the bottom of whatever container you choose.
  2.  Make sure your plants have enough room to grow. – The key to strong and healthy plants is enough room for a sturdy root system.

Plenty of room and plenty of drainage are your first steps when growing tomatoes in pots. As long as you have those two things you are well on your way to a summer full of BLT’s and homemade sauce!

How To Grow Tomatoes In Pots – Step by Step

Cherry tomatoes

When folks think of how to grow tomatoes in pots they immediately go to cherry tomatoes and rightfully so. This is the perfect plant to grow close to the house so you can grab a yummy snack all summer long.

Step #1  Pot size – Look for a container that will hold 5 gallons and is from 14-20 inches in diameter

Step #2  Planting – Keep it to one plant per pot.  Don’t be tempted to put more than one plant in a pot. Overcrowding can lead to poor air circulation which can lead to diseases such as early blight.

Step #3  Soil – When planting use a good quality soil (allow for 1 inch of space from the pot rim) and compost mixture. As flowers start to appear add some more compost to your container by just sprinkling it around the plant directly in the pot. As you water the nutrients will slowly work it’s way down to the plant’s roots making absorption easier.

Full-sized tomatoes

Yes, it is possible to grow full sized tomato plants in containers! How cool is that? Before we dive in deeper we need to go over a few terms. There are two types of tomato plants Determinate and Indeterminate.

Determinate tomato plants reach a certain plant height and then stop growing. The majority of their fruit matures within a month or two and appears at the ends of the branches. These tomato plants need to be supported by a cage and are a favorite of canners since all the tomatoes tend to ripen at once.

Indeterminate tomato plants are vine-like plants. They continue to grow and produce fruit all season long. It is not unusual to have indeterminate plants reaching 15 feet or even more so a support of at least 5 feet is a must. The biggest advantage to these plants is you will get fruit all season long which is perfect for eating and enjoying. 

When choosing a plant for your pots it is best to stick with a bush-like Determinate plant.

Step#1  Pot size – This is important when growing tomatoes you need to make sure your plants have enough room to establish a sturdy root system. Choose a pot size that is at least 18-inches in diameter. A good choice is a 5 or 10-gallon bucket.

Step#2  Drainage – As mentioned above be sure to drill holes in your containers for ample drainage.

Step#3  Location – Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun. You can group your plants together for easier care but do not let the plants touch.

Step#4  Location part 2 – Potted tomato plants require a steady amount of water so if possible locate your planters close to a water supply.

Step#5  Suppor– Ad your support such as a tomato cage right away. Doing so later risks disturbing the root system and/or damaging the plant.

Step#6  Planting – Remember to dig a hole deep enough that it will cover ⅔ of the stem. This will help to encourage more root growth and result in a more sturdy plant.

Step#7  Mulch – Even though you are using pots it is still important to include a good layer of mulch. For this reason, you want to make sure you leave a good 1-2 inches of space below the rim of the pot. Using mulch will keep your soil moist longer so make sure to replace with fresh mulch as the mulch compresses during the growing season. Bark, straw, leaves, or shredded newspaper are all good options for mulch.

Read:  Why You Should Mulch Your Garden

Step#8  Soil – Make sure to use the best soil for the best plants. This is an important step so no scrimping here. Choose a light and fluffy potting soil that will not compact down. Please note when using a fluffy soil that it may rest down and you will want to add more soil later on. 

Step#9  Water – Adding enough water is the secret sauce to a healthy harvest. One of the drawbacks of growing your tomatoes in pots is you will need to water more often. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between enough water and too much. To be sure you are giving the right amount use the high tech finger test. Simply stick your finger down into the soil and if the top 1 inch or so is dry, it’s time to give your plant a drink.

Bottom line. Watering is the key to a healthy strong and abundant tomato plant. You want to keep the soil in your pots consistently moist – not wet, but damp. Get your FREE watering guide to ensure you are always giving the correct amount at the most crucial time.

The post How To Grow Tomatoes In Pots – A Step By Step Guide appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you are a blogger then the word pageviews is both wonderful and the bane of your existence. Sure the blogging veterans tell you not to chase those pageviews but when you are new to the blogging world that is all you can help but do. Those pageviews mean readers, those readers mean eyes on your content, and eyes on your content means income.  Ad income which when you are starting out is a pretty good motivator to keep on going. So what do you do when pageviews drop?

So, what do you do when your pageviews are down? When Pinterest, Facebook, or other social media platforms decide to do yet another algorithm change and pageviews plummet?

First of all, don’t panic.

I have done the panic thing and it just doesn’t work. All that does is have you question yourself and that is the last thing you need to do when you are trying to get a new business off the ground.

Instead of chasing those pageviews I am offering another way to approach the inevitable changes social media loves to make. Rather than seeing this as the rug being pulled out from under us let’s instead look at this for what it is. An opportunity to get our house in order.

We all know when a change happens more often than not people go into panic mode. They scramble to get back the pageviews that were just cut in half. They ignore the things that need to be done and spend most of their time chasing their tail. If you don’t believe me just look at any blogging Facebook group when Pinterest does an update. There is post after post from bloggers saying their pageviews have dropped significantly and they don’t know what to do.

Instead of riding things out they do the worst thing they possibly can. They ask to see what others are doing to promote their posts on Pinterest and they immediately jump ship and replicate their system. This can quite possibly be the worst thing you can do. Trust me here, I am speaking from experience. Sure a tweak or two is fine, maybe even encouraged. But a full-on overhaul is never the way to go. Remember what is working for one blog will probably not work for yours.

So, what do you do then? 

More often than not those page views will come back and when they do you need to be ready and so does your blog. You need to get yourself into improvement mode whether you think your blog needs it or not. 

What You Can Do When Page Views Drop

Tip #1  Clean House

Just like our homes our blogs can become cluttered. And when you have a cluttered blog you will not be able to gain the success you hoped for. Take this time to go through your plugins and remove any you are no longer using. Plugins are good, yes, but too many can really slow things down. And we all know a slow blog is NOT a successful blog.

Tip #2  Update Key Words

The key to outlasting social media and it’s manic behavior is to get more concrete pageviews. Google is where it’s at and if you want Google to shine its rays of love onto your blog then you need to let them know you are here. 

Keywords are the most effective way to do just that and a good thing to focus on when pageviews drop. They are the neon signs that let Google know not only what your post is about but what your blog is about as well.

Take this time to go through your posts and find the best keywords and make sure you have enough (but not too much) sprinkled throughout your post.

A few keyword tips are:

  1. Find the best keywords for your post to rank for in Google search or a keyword search tool such as KWfinder.com
  2. Install Yoast Plugin and use the free version as a guide for setting up an effective post that Google will find easier.
  3. Get at least one keyword bolded in your post by using Heading 2 or Heading 3. By doing this you are putting your keyword front and center where Google will more easily see it.
  4. Use a few of your keyword variations throughout your post in a “real” person manner. What I mean by that is don’t just throw them in there. Remember you are actually talking to a person so keep your post conversational using your keyword in different ways that make sense to your reader.
  5. Make sure your keyword is in your title, meta description, and all of your image alt tags. This just gives Google a heads up that this is actually what your post is about and you are an authority of this keyword.

Tip #3  Check affiliate links

This is one of those painful lessons I learned the hard way. A few links I had on a pretty popular post were no longer good and I cringe when I think of all the income I lost because of that. Take this time to check your links and make sure they are current and accurate. While you are at it make sure those links are still relevant. If not do a quick update now. Add more relevant links in a way that is conversational.

I used to be awful at affiliate links and the money I made with Amazon was just a few dollars a month if I was lucky. I then took an amazing course that turned it all around for me. Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers – Everything You’re Missing by my BFF and blogging Yoda, Carly Campbell is one resource I recommend over and over.  This little beauty changed everything for me and I encourage you to check it out. I went from a few dollars a month to hundreds of dollars a month even when my pageviews drop. Yep, not a typo. That’s a 700% increase in Amazon affiliate sales. 

READ: How to Make Money on your Blog

Tip #4  Revamp those opt-ins

If your email subscribers are struggling a bit then now is the time to give them a look. Take your top performing posts and make sure you have an opt-in included that not only compliments the post but is something that specific reader will want to get their hands on. For example, this post is a list of things you can do to update and prepare for when pageviews increase.

A perfect opt-in would (and will) be a checklist that will make this easier to do. Something most readers would like to have to help this post be simpler and quicker to implement.

Ninja Tip:  If you want your FREE offer to convert really well, make it the main focus of your blog post. By doing this you are drumming up excitement so as your readers progress through your post they are so ready for your opt-in they are jumping to subscribe. 

Tip #5  Tweak your welcome sequence

Just like your opt-ins if you want those subscribers to stick around after they got their freebie then you need to make sure your welcome sequence shows the very best of you. Let your new reader know just what to expect, offer them another freebie that pertains to your blog’s message and most importantly be yourself.

This is your chance to let them know that your list is your VIP’s and not only do they get a helpful email each week (or whatever your schedule is) but they also get special offers meant only for them, the first look at new freebies and other useful tips they simply cannot live without.

Listen your email list is only good if they open your newsletters. Teach them early on that your emails are worth opening so they are not only an engaged reader but a dedicated one.

Tip #6  Update those images

Nothing can make or break a post like your images. Now is the time to get in there and make adjustments. Make sure your images are the same size, load quickly, are clear, and relevant to your post. Check your alt-tags while you are in there and make sure your keywords are updated and included.

Tip #7  Update your Pin images

Since more often than not the reason our pageviews are off is because of Pinterest and an update or change. The best time to get new pin images out are during/after an update. Take the time now to get new images made for at the very least your most popular posts.

Use the current recommendations of Pinterest itself to ensure you are making the correct size. This can be a matter of opinion but right now shorter seems to be better. I am making pins that are 600 x 900 and they seem to be doing well. If you do make new sized images and find they are not performing well for you-you can always go back to a longer size if you find they worked better.

Tip #8 Remove old images

If you have replaced older images completely you may want to remove them. Too many images can slow things down a bit and as I said before a slow blog is NOT a successful blog. Nothing will chase a new reader away quicker than a slow loading site so make sure yours is as quick as it can be.

Tip #9  Install updates

If you have plugins then you have updates. Don’t make the mistake I did and just hit update when you see one in your queue. Do a little research to make sure the update is a good one and not something that will cause headaches. Never ever click without checking. Not sure where to check? Post in a Facebook group to see if there were any issues with an update you are unsure about. 

Tip #10  Use your time wisely

Instead of chasing pageviews put your focus on the money makers. This is a great distraction when pagviews drop. Those specific things that will increase clicks, subscribers, and customers. For me, I believe there is nothing more powerful than a dedicated email list so most of my downtime is always spent there.

An email list, I believe is the secret sauce to a successful blog and I highly recommend you put at least 25% of your focus on building, growing, and establishing a list of dedicated fans that love to hear what you have to say.

While you are working to get ready for the next round of pageveiws don’t forget to keep on pinning. Even if it seems like nothing is working keep on keeping on. Those pageviews will come back and this time you will be ready!

When you are a new blogger (or even an experienced one) nothing can derail you more than crashing pageviews. Rather than panic when pageviews drop use your time to prep and tweak. I promise you it will be time well spent.

Happy Blogging my friends!

The post What You Can Do When PageViews Drop appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you all know me at all, then you know I love to organize and keep a tidy space. Another thing you might just know about me is I am cheap….sometimes to a fault. But I also love a good challenge. If I can find a way to organize a space by using what I have around me rather than going on a huge shopping spree then that to me is a huge score. So, when I decided to come up with ways to organize my craft room without spending a ton of money I was excited about the challenge. (warning…ooodles of pictures here so it may take some time to load)

If you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have an entire room set aside specifically for crafting this can be a good or a bad thing. I find that most crafters are like me. They (well, we) believe you can never have too many craft supplies and purging rarely happens because well you just never know when you might need that random purple button shaped like a unicorn. Just sayin’.

Rather than purge how about we find a way to organize and sort what we have. And how about we do it spending next to nothing.

Challenge accepted.

No, it may not be pretty…but pretty just isn’t how I roll. Simple and effective is my thing and if that is your thing too then stick around for a while. We are going to be great friends.

I am a card maker so brads are a must. Of course, you can never have just one color, you need many MANY assorted colors and sizes of brads. I stumbled across these magnetic containers at the Christmas tree shop and they were 3 for a dollar. I asked Hubs for a sheet of metal that I could have and glued that onto the wall. Next, I simply sorted my brads out and filled my containers and done! Super simple, costs less than a few dollars and easy to use.

Another of my favorites to craft are Christmas ornaments Twine is used with most of my ornaments and there is nothing worse than tangled twine. I had this sugar container in my kitchen I was going to purge and thought that might work perfectly for my twine. Now my twine is kept on a shelf, is easy to find and even easier to use.

Not only do I like to make greeting cards but I also love to make gift tags. The problem is I would just toss those tags into a basket and later would spend so much time looking for the perfect tag for my wrapped gifts. I stumbled on this idea online and have been using it ever since. A hanging jewelry organized will hold all sizes of gift tags so I can see them all clearly and quickly. The best part is there are two sides to this organizer so it holds twice as much.

Along the same lines, I found a larger organizer that holds my gift bags.

And finally, a third style to hold tissue paper and a few canvas type bags as well.

Next, we have ribbons. If you are like me then ribbon is another weakness of yours. I love them for my cards, tags, even gift toppers. I tried many different ways to organize my ribbons but these few works the best.

I grabbed this kitchen wooden tray at a yard sale for 50 cents and purchased (eeek!) this ribbon organizer from the Container Store. Both work just as well but one cost $19.99 and the other was just 50 cents. This just goes to show you that you do not need to spend a ton of money to organize your things.

For my odd sized ribbons, I use a desk organizer that was $4 at Walmart. The dividers are perfect for different sized ribbons and it fits perfectly on my shelf so all my ribbons are easy to see.

Another love of mine are punches. This was an expensive purchase but I did not buy it for my craft room. I instead bought it for my kitchen but ended up not liking it at all. I tossed it into my attic frustrated that I wasted so much money. A year later when I was in my attic I stumbled across that tray again and thought it might just work for my paper punches. It is very durable which is good because punches are heavy. I can pull the entire tray out when I am working and see all the punches at a glance.

Stickers are another thing I love and this divider is perfect for my frequently used stickers. It keeps them out where I can see them easily and it’s easy to move when I am working. Cost? 25 cents from a yard sale.

Another yard sale score were these clear envelopes. I love these things and I find that they are definitely worth the cost. I keep my craft paper organized by theme this way and it makes things super quick when working on a project.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

There is really nothing I hate more than cleaning. Scrubbing floors, dusting, sweeping and don’t even get me started on toilets. I used to spend a full day cleaning our house every single week. Then I got smart and decided to come up with a game plan that eliminated all of that. I found a way to keep a clean house in under 20 minutes a day.

If you think about all the things that need to be done to keep your home clean most of the chores take just a few minutes to complete. Unless you are doing a full spring clean you can usually get things done pretty quickly. By breaking chores down into small tasks and tackling one or more every day you will be able to keep your house neat and tidy with little effort.

Goodness 20 minutes is easy, right? When you think about it 20 minutes is nothing at all. It’s shorter than an episode of Big Bang Theory for goodness sake. And I don’t know about you but I would much rather do a daily 20 minutes than a weekly full on day.

To make this super simple, because you all know I just love simple….especially super! We are going to break this down into steps.

How to keep a clean house in under 20 minutes a day

Step #1  When you cook a meal clean up as you go. There is nothing worse than a trashed kitchen to face after you have eaten a delicious meal. I used to be so guilty of this. By the time I was done cooking my sink would be full of dirty dishes. Finally, I learned to clean as I cooked. Instead of tossing a dirty dish or spoon in the sink I would give it a quick rinse and put it in the dishwasher or a tub of soapy water. As things were simmering on the stove I would wipe down counters and wash things I was finished with. This one little tip made my after dinner clean up a breeze.

Step #2  Every time you use the bathroom clean the sink as you are washing your hands. This literally takes seconds and is a great habit to get into. Soap and toothpaste splatters can make an entire bathroom look a mess. By doing a quick wipe down and shine you give your bathroom a neat and tidy look.

Step #3  Sweep the kitchen floor after dinner every time. Another quick chore especially when you do it frequently. I have no idea why I hate to sweep my kitchen so much but there it is. I used to blow this chore off to once a week but I soon found that a dirty kitchen floor made for a dirty house. That dirt got tracked to other rooms and by ignoring one small chore I created a much bigger one. Lesson learned: sweep my kitchen daily so I only have to vacuum my carpets weekly and make it easier to keep a clean house.

Step #4  Pick up trash and clutter before heading off to bed. When I started adding this to my evening routine I found, first of all, it only took 3 minutes to do and second I woke up to a cleaner home every morning. And who doesn’t waking up to a clean home?

READ:  How to Get Your Family On Board With Decluttering

Step #5  Do a load of laundry every single day. Even when I had all 4 of my boys at home, I found that by doing at least one load of laundry each day I never found myself behind in the laundry department. Another chore that if broken down takes just minutes but if left for later can take an entire day.

READ:  The Laundry System That Will Save You Hours

Step #6  Block off 20 minutes every morning or evening depending on what works better for you. For me this is a no-brainer, I am a morning person and that is when I get the most done in the less time. If you are not an early morning riser then evening must be your game. Whenever you feel you have the most energy that is your time to get your clean on.

Step #7  Make a list of everything you need to do to keep a clean house. Vacuuming, dusting, bathrooms (ugh), sweeping, scrubbing floors, laundry, windows whatever you normally do each week when you clean your home.

Step #8  Next to each chore jot down how long it takes to complete. This will help you when you set up your weekly schedule. Another plus is you may just be surprised at how little time it takes to complete a chore. Even one you hate like sweeping the kitchen floor.

Step #9  Each day of the week choose 20 minutes worth of chores and assign them to a day. This schedule will remain the same to keep things on autopilot. When first starting out I suggest you set a reminder on your phone so you remember when to do your clean up. I like to use my alarm setting on my phone whenever I am trying to instill new habits. That little tap on my shoulder is all I need to make sure I stay on track.

Step #10  Not fond of doing all the work yourself? Delegate my friend! There is no reason every single member of the family cannot chip in and help to keep a clean house.

Is there a chore you simply hate?

That might be a good one to have someone else tackle. You might just be surprised at what even your youngest children can do. Sweeping the kitchen (just sayin’), putting clean towels away, dusting, emptying bathroom trash, putting clean silverware away, watering plants, I could go on and on. Young kids love to help so get them while you can you can even get them their own cleaning kit like this one. I promise you when they get older it won’t be nearly as easy.

Step #11  Take things a step further and do one big chore a week or a month. A bigger chore might take longer than 20 minutes but by incorporating one into your weekly or monthly routine you will be even more on your game. A few things to consider for this are:

  • Washing sheets and/or comforters
  • Dusting pictures and/or wall hangings
  • Cleaning baseboards
  • Washing light fixtures
  • Cleaning out the refrigerator and freezer
  • Vacuuming furniture
  • Vacuuming stairs
  • Washing windows and screens
  • Disinfecting light switches and doorknobs
  • Dusting shelves and nick nacks

I am sure you might just think this idea of a doing little every day so you don’t have to do a lot every week is a silly and simple concept but sometimes simple can make the biggest impact. By creating a system that is easy, effective, and second nature you will find yourself getting more done in less time and with little effort.

Say hello to your Saturdays!

For me, cleaning day was always on Saturday. It was just a given that I would wake up early and hit the ground running trying to get as much done as I could.

But no more! Now I have taken back my Saturdays and they are now a time of rest, family, and fun.

When you are focused and on track, you can get more done in 20 minutes than you think. Heck, you may not even need the full 20 and if not…good for you! The goal is to keep a clean house without wasting a day away! 

You can find this post and others over at my favorite Blog Hop!!

The post Keep A Clean House In Under 20 Minutes A Day appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from my fellow declutters is the neverending piles covering every surface of their homes. I get it, even I have to sleep with one eye open when it comes to this type of clutter. Surface clutter is a force of its own. Empty counters are like a magnet calling for items to flock to its shiny surface. You start out neat and tidy and before the week is through you have piles of randomness all over your tables and counters. If you are here to conquer surface clutter then read on good friends, I’ve got some tips for you!

There is no magic wand to stopping surface clutter. It’s actually quite easy. And there is more than one plan of attack for you to pick from. How awesome is that!

How to conquer surface clutter.

Tip #1 A place for everything and everything in its place.

I know, probably not what you wanted to hear but listen. If you have a home for your things then they will not end up on your counters, right? Our grandmothers were definitely on to something. Have a home for everything so you know where they are when you need them and after you are through using them put them away.

Ta-da! No more surface clutter.

Tip #2 Put the piles in baskets to deal with later.

The problem with tip #1 is not all of our things actually have a home. So what then? That is where this amazingly simple basket tip swoops in to save the day. I have a basket in every room of my home. Into that basket goes any items that either need put away and I am just too lazy to do it right now (ha, full disclosure!) or items that simply do not have a home yet.

These are some of my favorite baskets and look great in any room.

The most important part of this plan is to make sure you do not ignore these baskets. Set a day right now and make that basket day. So, let’s say you choose Friday as your basket day, well great. That is the day you go through every basket and put away any items that have a definite home. The remaining items (those without a home) can be dealt with now by finding a home for them or dealt with later on your next basket day. As you get better at organizing you will find it easier to choose homes that make sense for each item.

Read:  Use Catch-All Baskets to Reduce Clutter

Tip #3 Keep clutter, clutter.

Let’s get real. Clutter should never include these four items. Clothing, dishes, toys, or trash. If you look around your home right now and you see any of these items, get up and take care of them. I promise you it should not take longer than a few minutes to gather up dirty clothes and toss them in the laundry room, dirty dishes and put them in the sink, toys into the kid’s toy box, and trash in the trash can. From here on in those items should be put where they belong and nowhere else. Listen it’s easier to do it along the way rather than spending the time to do it after it builds up.

Make this the next habit you instill and watch your future clutter issue slowly disappear. Because after all, you can clean it up and put it all away but if you don’t change your habits you will be right back where you started.

Ninja tip:  Laundry room too far away? Use these large baskets to corral clothes and keep your rooms neat and tidy! 

Tip#4 The never-ending paper clutter.

This beast can be a bit tricky to tame. When you are constantly getting hit with more and more paper every single day how on earth are you supposed to keep up with it?

As soon as a single piece of paper comes into your home you have 3 decisions to make.

  1. Toss it in the trash
  2. Deal with it immediately
  3. Put it in a pile to deal with later

When you have a paper you need to deal with but not at this moment, what do you do? You put it on the nearest table or counter, right? Sure you do, that is exactly what I used to do. The problem is before you know it that important paper gets shuffled or covered or lost completely by all the other things laying about. What if instead, you had a spot to put all of these papers that need your attention but not this very second?

Cue the Sunday basket.

This tip was given to me by one of my readers and it is by far my favorite decluttering tip EVER and will help you conquer surface clutter forever! 

I have a basket in my office that is nice and big and bonus…has a lid! Oh, I just love hidden clutter! Haha! You can find my favorite basket here.

Each day as paper comes into my home I will put papers that need my attention in that basket. Then on Sundays, I will spend some time on my comfy couch with my basket, pen, and stack of post-it notes. I will go through every single piece of paper and either take care of it now or make notes on a post-it and schedule that task on my planner for the upcoming week.

Since I have implemented the Sunday Basket I have removed 90% of my paper clutter and cleared off just about every surface in my home.

Try it, I promise….you will like it!!

Read:  Dealing With Paper Clutter

So, let’s do a quick recap on how to conquer surface clutter.

#1. Have a home for your things and put them away as soon as you are done with them.
#2. Use baskets in each room to hold your clutter until later.
#3.  Always take care of clothes, dishes, toys, and trash right away.
#4. Use a Sunday Basket to eliminate all paper clutter and never miss a bill payment again!

When you have a plan for clutter it really helps to see things in a different light. The things you use the most must have a home and so they are no longer lost in a pile and priority is given to what is important.

Have a plan and stick to it so before you know it clutter is a thing of the past. Let’s conquer that surface clutter!!

The post How To Finally Conquer Surface Clutter appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Sometimes the best simple frugal living tips are not what we can do but what we should stop doing. These are my top tips on what you can stop buying or eliminate using altogether and save big!

When you have been trying to live frugally for any amount of time you probably think there is no wiggle room left in your budget. Not even for simple frugal living tips. Heck, I even thought that myself. Hubs and I have been married almost 30 years and I think we spend our money pretty consciously and do very little blind spending.

Blind spending is whipping out the credit card and charging purchases without a second thought or concern. Something I used to be a pro at.

Ya, don’t do that. Ever.

If you are already cutting back on expenses but still need to cut back even more. How on earth do you do it?

Well, the easiest way is to find things you can do without or better yet make at home and stop buying altogether.

Yep, this post is all about those things we should stop buying so we can save money.

Serious money.

Now, because I know we are each on our own level of frugalness that means our comfort levels will be different too. Don’t worry, I got your back. Below I have broken things up into beginner, intermediate and Frugal ninja tips.

Tackle the list that you are most comfortable with and watch your savings add up.

Simple frugal living tips for the beginner. Do without and save.

Starbucks coffee.  Now, I am not just talking Starbucks, I am talking any coffee that isn’t made at home. Get yourself a travel mug and take your coffee with you. This one tip will save you hundreds of dollars every year. HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS! Yep, invest a few bucks and get a good reliable travel mug that actually fits in your cup holder in your car. Fill that baby up with some delicious hot coffee before you leave the house and you are good to go!

Bottled water.  I yell at my kids all the time. Water is free!!  There is no reason to ever pay for it. (unless of course, you do not have drinkable water in your home, then you have a whole nother issue you need to deal with first.) Not only that, but those bottles are nothing but bad news for our landfills. Buy a good, safe BPA free bottle and fill it up before you leave the house.

Paper plates.  Time to get real. Paper plates are a silly luxury if you ask me. If you are living paycheck to paycheck this item shouldn’t even be on your radar. It only takes 1 minute to handwash 6 plates. Trust me I did the legwork. Skip the paper at the store and use your plates instead.

ATM fees.  We like to keep cash on hand in our home at all times. This really keeps us to stay away from the ATM and eliminates those fees that can sneak up on you. I suggest you also keep a ledger with your cash. Before taking money out, write down what it’s for. This extra accountability step will help you to think twice before just spending.

Baskets.  Do you like to organize with pretty baskets? I know I do!  Instead of buying a basket why not cover a box in pretty paper and attach a handle and label. A nice alternative and costs nothing. You can see some ideas here on my Pinterest board.

Food storage containers.  When you are finished with a jar of mayonnaise or jelly, wash it out and use it to store food. If you are a canner, canning jars are perfect for storing foods and leftovers. I love canning jars and how nice they look in the pantry. Use them to hold your pasta and rice. No more flimsy boxes that can make food stale.

Simple frugal living tips: Cut the directions and put in the jar. Use masking tape to label the jar with what is inside. 

Simple frugal living tips for the intermediate saver. Do without and save.

Lunchables.  Kids love these things and it’s just crazy how much stores charge for them. Buy a couple of these containers and make them yourself. Now you can custom make healthy Lunchables for your kids. And now you can add notes and special treats just for your kids.

Dishwasher rinsing agent.  Oh, you are going to love this one! Instead of the expensive rinse agent use white vinegar instead! Does the job just as well for a fraction of the cost. Who knew?!

Magazines.  Did you know that most of the magazines you read can be read online for free? Not all, mind you, but most are there. Do a search and see if yours has a free version you can read instead and cancel your subscription. A second option is the library. The last time I was there I checked and the selection was impressive!

Newspaper.  The same is true for some papers. Look online to for the newspaper’s website or see if they have a Facebook page online you can read rather than the paper.

Books and movies.  My favorite place to visit is the library. My goodness, books for days and all free. What’s not to love!!  Did you know you can rent movies for free too? You sure can! Next time you are there check out the selection. Movies, audiobooks, even music all free for you and your family to enjoy. You can also get free books on Overdrive if you do not have access to a library where you live.

Salad dressing.  This is one of those convenience foods that is better to make than buy. You can really spice up your dressing and make it as you need it.

Fabric Softener.  Rather than buy the expensive fabric softeners, just use white vinegar instead.  It does amazingly well at keeping your clothes soft and static free. It also does great if you have soap buildup on towels and kitchen sponges.

Take-out pizza.  I LOVE homemade pizza! It costs just pennies to make and you can put anything on as a topping without getting charged an arm and a leg. If you have young children at home, let them make their own mini pizzas and start a weekly Friday tradition!

Simple frugal living tips for the Ninja Saver. Do without and save.

Paper towels.  I stopped using paper towels a few years ago and I haven’t missed them one time. Old cut up t-shirts are a perfect replacement for paper towels and work great for cleaning. If you have a spill then a damp rag or sponge will work better here. If you are looking to clean mirrors or windows, then newspapers work the best and leave no streaks. Winner!

Paper napkins. Just like with paper towels, this is an easy one to stop buying. Cloth napkins are cheap to buy and even easier to make. I have found some at yard sales for pennies each, and some of them I have been using for over 15 years now. How is that for a good investment!

Cable or satellite television.  Don’t skip over this one, in this day and age it is much easier to do without than you think! If you bundle then no this may not be an option for you, if you don’t bundle I urge you to give this a try. If you are a satellite TV subscriber, you can do a test run by putting your subscription on vacation mode. We canceled Direct TV years ago and haven’t looked back. This one simple furgal living tip saves us over $100 dollars a month!

Read: How We Canceled Satelite Television And Still Watch Great TV

Paying to eat out.  With all the programs out there that give you points or even money for surveys or shopping, there is no reason to pay for dinner out. I love Ibotta and get hundreds of dollars in gift cards every year. It’s free to sign up, you get money saving coupons for grocery shopping, and cash in your account when you upload your receipts. It’s easy and a super simple way to pay for dinner.

Read: Unique Ways To Save Money When You Shop

Toys for your kids.  Rather than buy new toys for your young children why not instead do a toy swap with your friends. Pull out a few toys that your kids no longer play with. Invite your friends over with a bag of their own toys. Lay everything out and fill up a bag of new toys for your kids to enjoy. FOR FREE!!

Courses.  More and more libraries are beginning to offer online courses for free. This amazing resource is one that should not be overlooked. Ask at your local library and see if this is something they offer.

Fresh produce.  Maybe it’s time to start a garden. Sure, it’s a time and work investment but when you have access to fresh delicious produce the investment is definitely worth it. Take this tip one step further and preserve as much as you can. Fill that pantry with delicious foods that you can enjoy year-round. Remember, these are Ninja simple frugal living tips and not for the faint of heart!

Lunch meat.  It is simply crazy what a grocery store charges for meat at the deli counter. Instead, purchase an end cut of beef or ham and have the butcher at the store slice it for you or take it home and slice it there instead.

Shredded cheese.  This is another convenience food that you can easily skip over at the store. Buy in bulk and shred the cheese at home. Freeze in smaller portions for easy use.

Detergent.  I have been making our own detergent for years and at a fraction of the price. It is so simple to make and works amazingly well, even on our farm clothes. This is a fav of all my simple frugal living tips.

Cleaning supplies.  Just like with our detergent we make our own cleaning supplies as well. Once you purchase a few main ingredients the sky is the limit for what you can make.

Cookies and lunch snacks.  Make it don’t buy it is my motto here. Set up a baking day each week or even month. Make enough for your kid’s lunches and package up so things are ready to go. Muffins, cupcakes without icing, brownies, and cookies are all great treats to put into lunches that cost a fraction to make from scratch.

Simple living and frugal living go hand in hand. Take a cue from our grandparents and save. By doing more and buying less we will get a better handle on our finances. I don’t know about you, but I work hard for my money and I am going to do all I can to keep as much of it as I can. Simple frugal living tips are the key to saving big money.


You can find this post and more over at my favorite Blog Hop!!!

The post Simple Frugal Living Tips – Do Without And Save appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

It was just another day here on the homestead. I was heading out to feed and water the chickens and I immediately noticed something was wrong. My hens were acting off, staying on the roost and not crowding the door as usual. As I looked around I saw one of my prized hens laying under the roost. I went over and saw she was dead and worse yet, my backyard chicken was killed by a predator.

My heart sank.

After 8 years of raising chickens, this was my first predator attack.

How could I tell my beloved hen was killed by a predator? I could see by the condition of her body.

When a predator such as a weasel, raccoon, or hawk kills a chicken they kill just to kill. They do not eat the chicken they just kill it. Usually by biting the head off. (sorry, pretty graphic I know)

If you find a decapitated hen then you know right then and there you have a predator and you need to take action fast.

Once an animal learns how to get into your hen house, I promise you they will be back. They will be back to take the eggs and to kill the chickens.  

You need to work immediately and thoroughly to protect your backyard chickens from predators.

With winter in full swing, animals are hungry. They are understandably drawn to food such as eggs, chicken feed, and kitchen scraps. Watch for suspicious tracks in the snow leading from the coop. If you see any, you may want to take action immediately. 

How to stop backyard chicken predators Step #1  

Clean everything out. You need all the bedding out so you can get a good look at the coop. Scrape, sweep, and shovel all the bedding out along with the nesting boxes. Move everything away from the walls. 

Step #2

Do a good and thorough inspection. You will want to look everything over. The walls, the floor, the corners, the door. Everything. Don’t skip over small openings, you would be surprised what an animal can fit through if motivated.

Step #3

Seal up every hole that you find. Double and triple check that you found every opening. You will also want to check any fencing you use as well. Remember, it doesn’t have to look pretty, just be effective! 

Step #4

Keep the food contained in totes or metal cans with good tight lids. Do most of your feeding during daylight hours. Backyard chicken predators such as skunks, weasels, and raccoons come out mainly at night, make sure heavy feeding is done early enough so your chickens are able to clean it all up before dusk.  

Step #5

Make sure you have roosts up off the ground for your hens. This will not stop an attack but it will keep your hens safe if a predator is just there to steal eggs.

Step #6

Lock things up before dusk or earlier if you have a problem. Since most backyard chicken predators are out at night get a head start and put your hens on lockdown early.

Step #7  

Get a sensor light. I just recently read about these small sensor lights and I have mine on order right now. I will keep you updated as to whether or not they work. I ordered 2 of these small lights. I plan to put one at the main door and one at the small chicken door that leads to the run. 

Step #8

You may need to take things one step further. Once a predator knows where the flock is and they have gotten the “taste” it may be difficult to stop them. We prefer to use live traps. The reason is poison runs the risk of killing our own animals, by using a humane trap we can reduce the risk of harming the wrong animals.

This is the trap that we use here. We put ours out only from dusk to dawn. This just ensures our pets are protected.

Raising any animals comes with a great deal of responsibility. Our animals rely on us for food, water, shelter, and yes protection. If you lose a chicken to an attack don’t beat yourself up. Follow these tips and do what you can to protect your pets and hopefully your girls will be happy and safe.

The post Avoiding Backyard Chicken Predators – How To Keep Your Chickens Safe. appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview