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There is nothing I love more than scoring a good deal and with Amazon Prime just a few days away I am gearing up for another day of massive savings. If you are new to Amazon Prime Day is like Black Friday in July. It’s when Amazon marks down prices on 100,000 of items!

Since I am an Amazon Prime member (a great way to get deals year round) I am able to get a sneak peek and what is going to be on sale. And my wishlist is growing every single day as more items get added to Amazon’s Prime day list!

Miniature colorful plastic cases for household use on white background

Before we dive in I do want to mention that you need to be an Amazon Prime Member to get these deals, but don’t worry. If you aren’t one I have a link that you can use to try it out for FREE for the next 30 days.

LOVE FREE!

Try Amazon Prime now – click this link!

Check it out and see just all the crazy fun things you can do with a Prime membership. I have been a member for almost 5 years now and I can honestly say I have saved way more money than the membership costs.

When your family is scattered all over the states anytime you can get free shipping is a big-time money saving perk. And that is just what you get with Amazon Prime and not just regular shipping either, but free 2-day shipping which can come in pretty handy when you are late for yet another Birthday……ahem.

Once you are signed up with Amazon Prime or if you are already a member, just click this link and you will be able to peek at all the deals coming up on Amazon Prime Day!

Ninja Tip: Find a deal you don’t want to miss? Simply click “watch this deal” to make sure you get a reminder when it goes live! Winner-winner! 

As I find deals I will stick them on this list so check back often to make sure you don’t miss a single one! Sure we love to organize but we want to save money too!

Amazon Prime Day is July 16th, so mark your calendars and set your alarms. It’s Black Friday in July people!! Get on your matching T-shirts and goofy holiday hats. (well, maybe not the hats!) and join me for some crazy shopping.

Haha, be there or be sad you missed out!

The post Amazon Prime Day Home Deals appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

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When it comes to organizing having the right tools can make the job a lot easier to do. Corraling small items, bunching together like items and turning an awkward section into an efficient storage area are all great reasons to utilize these tools.

Unfortunately, some of the baskets, totes, and boxes can be pretty pricey and that is where I come in.

This is a compilation of my favorite products that you can use as your new home organizers. Set your cluttered rooms up into organized havens that you will love!

Organizers For Your Drawers

When it comes to organizing drawers utilizing the space you have to hold all the things inside without it becoming a jumbled mess is key. I find a few simple baskets work the best and can corral small items making it so easy to find just what you are looking for.

Whether a drawer in your kitchen or a dresser drawer in your bedroom, having things sectioned off will help you to keep your items neat and tidy.


Organizers For Your Cabinets

Most folks might not think that organizers are needed inside your cabinets, but if you are limited on space a few good tools can give you a bit extra where you really need it.


From vertical storage to additional corner shelving I have found all of these tools quite helpful when it comes to my kitchen. 

Organizers For Your Closet

No matter how much room we have in our closets there never seems to be enough. Luckily there are some great organizers out there to create space where we need it and in turn, double the size of what we have. Since we have pocket doors on our closet we miss out on some of those door hanging organizers out there. Oh how I wish I had a traditional closet door, all that extra space!


Don’t forget to take these tools one step further and do a good purge of your clothes. Read my How To Declutter Your Closet post with some of the best and simple tips from all over the internet!

Organize Those Tricky Spots

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to organize a spot that is invaded with pipes and chords. These tools will help you to make the most out of these areas so you can keep even the quirkiest spots organized.

Flexable totes will fit nicely under the kitchen since where those pipes take up most of the available room.

The post Organizers For Your Home That Actually WORK! appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

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Oh, my it has been hot up here in the hills! When you wake up at 6 AM in Northwestern PA to temperatures already in the mid 70’s oh and let’s not forget to add in a little humidity that you can literally cut with a knife, then you know you are pretty much guaranteed a hot day ahead. I have learned over the years how to keep the people here cool with my own version of redneck air conditioning but my poor animals needed help now as well. Let’s chat for a minute on keeping animals cool in hot weather.

READ: KEEP YOUR HOME COOL WITHOUT CENTRAL AIR

Heat can kill especially in the southern states so it is important to know what you should and should not do with your animals when you want to cool them down.

How To Keep Animals Cool In Hot Weather Pigs

Oh, my poor pig. She is warm on a cool day, so when it’s hot we do our best to keep her cool in the summer heat. Since pigs do not have sweat glands they are unable to sweat and release internal heat. Pigs also have smaller lungs limiting their ability to pant. This makes pigs much more prone to heat stress.

This is why pigs love to roll in the mud. Having a nice layer of cool mud really helps to cool them down and also protects them from sunburn.

Yes, pigs, especially light colored pigs, can get sunburn and pretty quickly too.

Since we prefer to keep our pigs inside of the barn we like to run a fan on them at all times. This really helps them to cope better with the hot. We also keep our pigs in the coolest section of the barn that gets the least amount of sun.

Access to fresh water and a cleaned water system is essential for her and encourages plenty of drinking. If you notice your animals are not drinking as much water as they should, you may want to clean out their water dish or water system.

To make sure she is eating enough we prefer to feed more often and in small amounts. Too much food on a super hot day is not something even a pig enjoys so by giving smaller portions of her feed more often she will continue to gain weight all summer long.

Each evening we like to take our pigs out for nice long walks in the cool grass. We will even include a little play time in the water with a spray down from the hose.

Caution:  If you hose your pigs down during the day always start at the rump and move your way up to their heads. Sudden cold water on a hot pig’s head can cause shock or even death so please be extra careful.

Finally, cool treats like watermelon ends, frozen fruits and veggies are not only yummy but will help to cool them down as well.

Chickens

Like pigs, chickens also cannot sweat. Panting or fanning out their feathers helps to release some of that heat. It is important to make sure your hens have a shady area available.

If you don’t have a tree over your run, then a tarp can work just as well.

As with all animals, water is the key to keeping cool. For my chickens, I like to have more than one source of water. There is water inside of the coop, one inside of their run and outside under a shade tree if they are free ranging that day.

Chickens forget to drink especially if the water is out of sight so by having more than one option they will drink more keeping cooler.

A great treat for the gals is frozen fruit and veggies especially in the afternoon when things are really cooking. This is an excellent way to get rid of those watermelon rinds. Your chickens will peck away at them until all you have left is a paper thin piece of watermelon skin.

Since your hens will spend quite a bit of time inside of the coop you will want to make sure you have good ventilation and air flow. Stagnant air is bad any time of the year, so clean your vents and keep windows and doors free from debris.

READ: HOW TO CONVERT A SHED INTO A CHICKEN COOP

Ducks

Ducks are a lot like chickens so much so that we house and raise ours altogether. The main difference is that ducks love the water and will gladly spend their days there. Becuase of this, they are usually cool even on the hottest days.

If you don’t have a pond, no worries. A small pool will work just fine for a couple of ducks.

The main tip here is to change your water so it doesn’t get too filthy (ducks are far from neat) and to make sure you have it under some sort of shade so the water does heat up.

Goats

Luckily goats are all able to sweat and pant so they always tend to cope with the heat better. With that being said, I still like to take precautions. I have fans suspended from the ceilings over each of my main pens in the barn. This also helps with air flow which is incredibly important in a stuffy barn.

 

My bucks who are housed outdoors have a shelter that will get them out of the sun. We also have a nice shade tree that we keep mowed down tight as a reprieve to get to while grazing.

All of my goats get fresh water 3-5 times throughout the day. Above all things, it is incredibly important to remember….water, water, water. Keep it fresh and keep it cool.

The last thing we want is a warm glass of water on a hot day to keep their water cool to encourage them to drink. Have plenty of options as well.

Want to do just a little bit more? Ad some ice cubes! Goats love to play and it’s comical to see them dunking for cubes while they are drinking.

Finally, with my dairy gals, I like to shave them at the beginning of summer. Yep, shave them all the way down. I do this while they are eating in the milk stand and use my pet clippers (people ones are durable enough) leaving the attachment off.

I do one side at a time so it does take a few days to get everyone done but this will really do a lot to keep them cool. No one wants a winter coat during the summer and having all that hair off is something they love. No more fence itching!

How to keep animals cool in the summer – final tips.

Tip #1  Offer fresh water throughout the day.

Change out warm water several times on a very hot day. Yes I know, it takes extra time to change the water out but this one small step can keep your animals cool and healthy.

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It’s crazy how busy we are sometimes. Heck, who am I kidding….it’s crazy how busy we are ALL THE TIME. If you are anything like I am then you have a lot of different areas of your life pulling at your pant legs. Family, work, the house, the bills, the kids, the spouse, the laundry, the shopping, the cooking…I could go on and on. I used to spend my days literally running all day long being what I thought was busy when all I was doing was spinning my wheels. One day I was introduced to Block Scheduling and my whole world completely changed. Please close your eyes and imagine angels singing. Yep, it was pretty much just like that.

Before I learned about block scheduling I tried to do things my way.

I started out using lists, but when your weekly “to do’s” cover several pages it is hard to focus on what is most important. Next, I tried setting up specific daily tasks, and although this was helpful things were still falling through the cracks…important things.

So I got the brilliant idea of doing it my own way and just winging it, and I won’t go into detail on how badly this method failed.  Let’s just say that when something important falls through the cracks that involve family or money the results are never EVER good.

I am sure this story sounds familiar. You have tried so many schedules, tips, and techniques for time management but nothing is ever the right fit.  It is time to learn to work smarter not harder. And this handy saying really is the key to getting more done. When you work smart you zero in your attention on specific areas at specific times. Working this way will not only help you to find balance so your days are filled with productivity but you will no longer live your days on autopilot just trying to survive.

Okay, so I might be getting a little dramatic here but you see my point.  We need to give you a game plan. One that will work specifically with your and your schedule of how your day flows.

This is where block scheduling comes in to play.

Okay, so block scheduling is nothing new, in fact, it’s been around for a long time and there is a reason for this.

Simply put…..it works.

Block Scheduling – The Productivity Game Changer!

If you have never heard of block scheduling let’s go over that first. Simply put, block scheduling is blocking off specific periods of time throughout your day that you devote to specific tasks. Actually, you block schedule right now.

You have a certain time set aside each day for cooking and eating dinner. No matter what, you know dinner will get made at or close to that time and will get eaten at or close to that time as well.

What you want to do now is adapt that to every area of your life for each day of the week.

Step #1  Section your life into focus areas. To help explain this easier I am going to use myself as an example. My focus areas are

  1. My blog-writing/technical/promoting/sharing
  2. My home-cleaning/cooking/financial/seasonal projects
  3. My farm-animal care/barn work/outside chores
  4. Personal-family time/me time/self care/fun

These are the main areas of my life that need to have some attention paid to each and every day.

Step #2  Before the new week begins, make a list of what needs to be done in each area.  This will allow you to devote the right amount of time.

Be ruthless here. I am talking total brain dump.

Not every single thing will get done on your lists, but being aware of everything will help you better prioritize what exactly does get done.

I like to do my list making every Sunday. For me, that is the best time since my head is clear and calm. I simply cannot make a list if I am stressed out dealing with things and neither should you. Choose a time that is relaxing so you are at your best self and better able to see the week ahead.

Step #3  Once all the lists in each area are written up it’s time to get focused. Grab yourself a yellow highlighter and choose the items that are a top priority and need your attention this week.

This is my favorite part because it is up to me to decide what makes the cut. If I am overwhelmed there is no one to blame but myself. If you have been asked to help out at the school bazaar but you see on your list that you need to get the car fixed, take the dog to the vet and fill out papers to refinance your mortgage then you will know you simply cannot help at the bazaar. Make the call and say no. It’s not your fault you simply do not have time.

See how life changing this system is!?

No more will you be spreading yourself too thin.

Step #4  Now that you have selected a list of specific goals you want to accomplish this week, you will want to get things down on your calendar. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to use a daily calendar that has the times set up for you. This picture shows you my planner pages. I just love these pages because they are all-inclusive. Time slots for a full day, room for your daily menu and 3 main goals to focus on each day.

Pssst!!! If you love these planner pages, you can get your very own copy below!

To set up your weekly block schedule you will want to look at each day specifically. Since there is no rhyme or reason to what pulls are our attention on a given day you will want to block out each day separate from the other.

So, for example, you have an appointment at the back on Tuesday at 1 pm. You will therefore not want to scrub your floors right before you leave for that appointment. This is where this type of schedule is so genius. You can set it up so it works and flows within each day. I would instead suggest that your work on your bills for that week, write up your weekly menu and shopping list, or another low energy task.

READ:  HOW TO MAKE A WEEKLY MENU

Well, that is pretty much the basics, if you are ready, let’s get you all set up. By the end of this article, you will have a block schedule all set up for the week ahead.

BOOM

Setting up a weekly block schedule.

So, if you are ready to take the Block Scheduling plunge, here is a quick list of how to get started.  And of course, a few printables to help you on your way! (The downloads you will find next are my old Block Scheduling sheets and I no longer use them. However, they are great if you are just starting out with this system since they really help you to set up a plan for the week ahead.)

Step #1  Make a list of areas you are responsible for.

At first, this list might be pretty large and don’t worry that is completely normal. As you begin to implement block scheduling you will streamline your areas merging smaller ones together for easier scheduling. When you have all your areas listed out you will want to grab a pad of paper and list each area at the top of its own new sheet of paper.

Your goal is to have only 4 focus areas. The reason for this is to not overwhelm you and to keep your week schedule easy to read and use. If you have too much going on even on your planner pages you will be tempted to quit before you even begin. 4 areas are our goal and that is what I want you to work towards.

Step #2  Make a list of what needs to be done. 

Now that you have your areas written down you will want to do a good brain dump. Take the time to list out all the things that need to be done in each area. This step although a bit time consuming is also the most liberating part of block scheduling. By getting all that clutter and mess out of your head and down on paper you will feel so much lighter and not just mentally. I cannot even tell you how nice it is to get that mess down on paper where it belongs, where it will get specific attention and most importantly where it will GET DONE.

This list once completed will be known as your master list. You will revisit this list each week to add to and check off items. It is the secret behind this system so keep it someplace that you will always know where it is. I like to keep mine in my Weekend Basket since this gets looked at every Sunday. Not sure what a weekend basket is? Find out more!

READ:   10 WAYS TO DECLUTTER YOUR HOME (jump down to tip #3)

Step #3   Choose what needs to be done in each area in the week ahead.

Now that your head is cleared out and you have all those little to-do gems down on paper, you will want to decide what needs to be done this week. Take a highlighter and go through each area’s list highlighting tasks that you know you will need to get done in the week ahead. This one step not only gives you a chance to review what you have down in each area but will also help you better decide how much time you need to block off each day.

Transfer over your those highlighted tasks to your planner pages. This again will keep things streamlined so you can easily see what needs to be done when the block of time comes up.

Step #4   Write in any commitments.

Before we begin to block out time slots you will need to make sure you have all your commitments in first. Soccer practice, Doctor appointments, dinner dates. Get everything in so you don’t over schedule yourself.

Ninja tip:  If you have a dinner date planned make sure you section out time for getting ready as well. I have blocked off time right up until we needed to leave completely forgetting I had to shower and dress. The key to this system, in the beginning, is to be overly thorough. As you get better at scheduling in blocks of time you will not need to be so strict. 

Step #5   Block off your time in each day of the week ahead. 

The trick here is to only work one week at a time. Going too far ahead will only make more work for you later since schedules are always changing.

Look at each area to better familiarize you with what needs to be done and then start with your first day. You can either block off small amounts of time for each area or a large block of time for just one or two. This is especially helpful if you have a project that will require a larger block of time such as freezer cooking or painting the family room.

Using a different color (if you find this helpful) section off times for each day of the week. Remember to write in meals and other routine tasks that get done daily. Sounds silly I know, but I blocked right through dinner every day that first week!

Step #6   Make sure to schedule your whole day.

This part was key for me. I put personal on my list for a reason because I needed to make sure I wasn’t always working. Time with my boys, Hubs, friends, and just plain “me time” is super important and therefore needs to be on my list.

You will want to make sure you are blocking all the way to bedtime. This will ensure you are not working 24/7 risking burnout. This will also give you a gentle reminder to stop working and focus on what is most important…your family!

Step #7   Back Burner Tasks.

Do you have items on your list that have been there forever? So do I! I like to call these Back Burner Tasks or BBT’s.  BBT’s are basically items that you hate to do, and therefore they never get done.

All that changes now!  

Choose a day each week to do at least one BBT. Saturdays are a great place to start this if you are unsure of the best day. Usually, a BBT requires a larger chunk of time, so pick a day that will give you that.

Step #8   Use your schedule the right way.

Make sure when you are in you are in your focus area’s time block you are only doing things off of that corresponding list. The key to making this work is to use it the way it is intended. Time parameters will be the secret to your productivity success so work with it and not against it.

Step #9   Turn off and tune out.

Another key ingredient to this system working is to turn off the distractions. Yep, put that smartphone away kids! You only have so much time to get your area done so use it wisely and focus.

Ninja tip:  Worried you will miss a call from your kids or your spouse? Set up ringtones specific to each person. That way if you hear a ring you will know exactly who it is calling and whether or not you need to stop what you are doing and take the call.

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The biggest complaint I hear over and over with decluttering is “I work my tail off cleaning out a room and before I know it it’s right back to a mess again.”  And I totally get it, really. Cleaning out a room or even your entire home is just part of the process. You then need to maintain that home to ensure that things do not get out of control again. You worked hard to get things cleaned up so now I want to teach you how to work easy to keep it that way. This list of 10 minute decluttering tasks is something you can do in 10 minutes or less to keep your room or even your home neat and clutter-free. 

That is the craziest part of the clutter. We go about our days minding our own business and the clutter sneaks it’s way back in. We get up early, run all day long, and the piles begin to reappear. Our once neat and tidy kitchen counter is slowly getting buried once again under a mass of random piles. 

And this can be more than just annoying, it can be costly.

It costs us time and money. And those are two things that are too important to just let slip away.

And that is what this article is all about.

A list that will save you time, countless amounts of money and your sanity too.

10 Minute Decluttering Tasks  Task #1  Clean out a junk drawer (5 minutes)

It just might surprise you to know that I have a junk drawer. To be perfectly honest I actually have two of them. One for me and one for my Hubs.

Listen, being clutter-free does not mean you are living under strict rules that forbid junk drawers. Actually, the opposite is true.

Being clutter free means you have a place for everything and everything has a place. This is the basis behind every single decluttered home out there. And sometimes the place is simply a junk drawer or as I like to call it, my Miscellaneous Items Drawer. 

I have one of these drawers in my kitchen and inside I keep things that help me to run my day. The center hub of our home is the kitchen so for that reason, I have a drawer in there that holds a few key items that I might need to use but do not need to dedicate a specific space for.

Here are a few examples:

#1.  Pens, pencils, highlighters

#2.  Scissors, tape

#3.  Post-it notes, a pad of paper

#4.  Large black magic marker

#5.  Clothespins (I use these everywhere. They are simply the best invention ever!)

#5.  Notecards, paperclips, rubberbands

#6.  Nail file, band-aide, chapstick

As you can see these are items specific to me that I like to have on hand but not devote a specific area for.

The key to a clutter-free home is a junk drawer or misc. items drawer has a specific purpose and for that reason, you need to clean it out to ensure the clutter doesn’t find it’s way in there.

This literally should only take 5 minutes and it looks something like this.

  1. Remove 1/4 of unnecessary items that you know have a specific home somewhere else in the house. Put them in a small dish or another container to put away when you are done.
  2. Organize what you have left. I love these small drawer baskets. My drawer is very small so I can keep a better handle on things not getting out of control. These skinny baskets are dirt cheap and come in three sizes all in one set of 8! (seriously, I just bought another set while typing this!) They work so great to organize my items into categories. Now I can get in, find exactly what I need, and get out quickly.
  3. Clean things out a bit with a rag or Clorox wipe. Ha, I love these babies too!
  4. Put away any items you removed from this drawer. AND DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!

Done.

Task #2  Clean out your coat closet (10 minutes)

This is one area of my home that if not kept an eye on can get out of control and quick. And to be honest I really have no idea why. I mean a coat closet is for coats only. The name even confirms it. So how on earth soccer balls, shopping bags, and pet toys find there way into our closet is simply beyond me.

If your home is like mine then this room needs you to keep an eye on it. And you can do this in just under 10 minutes with this 2nd 10 minute decluttering task.

Cleaning out your coat closet.

  1. Remove any items that have a specific home somewhere else in the house. Grab yourself a clothes basket like this one, yet another of my favorite organizing tools.
  2. Remove any out of season items and put them in a tote or guest bedroom closet if that is where you keep your seasonal outerwear.
  3. Organize quickly what you have left.
  4. Put away all the items you have in the clothes basket. AND DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!

Done.

Task #3  Organize your silverware drawer (3 minutes)

When I first help a newbie declutter I always have them start here. It is a super simple drawer to declutter and an even easier drawer to keep that way. But that doesn’t mean we never have to clean it out again. I bet if you take a peek inside of your drawer right now you can find a few things that do not belong. A plastic fork, bread ties, a spatula, a pen, bread crumbs. (never really sure how those end up in there but they do in our house!)

Organizing your silverware drawer.

  1. Pull everything out.
  2. Wipe done the inside and get all those little crumbs out.
  3. Rinse out your silverware organizer and quickly dry. I used to have a plastic organizer but for some reason I found it stained up quickly and just looked awful. I then switched to this steel mesh one and I just love it! It is super easy to keep clean and looks nice too.
  4. Return on the items that belong.
  5. Toss the trash and put the other items away right now.

Done.

Task #4  Delete photos or videos from your smartphone. (10 minutes)

This is my favorite decluttering mini-task for passing the time. Are you stuck waiting for your son to finish up football practice? Or are you sitting in the orthodontist office for the 2nd time this month? These are perfect places to work on this decluttering task! Now, I realize that for some of you 10 minutes just won’t cut it. You have thousands of pictures on your little phone and you just might need days to get through them all.

So, this for you just might be an ongoing task that you will work on in 10-minute chunks whenever you find yourself with a few minutes to kill.

There are few ways to organize and declutter these types of files quickly on your phone.

  1. Quickly go through a just delete the bad, unfocused or duplicate photos. This one step alone may be just enough to really clean things out.
  2. Delete any photos that you no longer need. Screenshots are something I use quite often on my phone but I never remember to delete them.
  3. Photos I have sent to my computer or have printed out to keep.

Once you have the excess off then you can organize what you have left.

  1. Set up files on your phone sorting things into categories. This option will only work if you have a phone that supports this. If not you can instead send those pictures to your computer and organize them there.
  2. Set up an account in Icloud to send and organize your photos.

Done.

Task #5  Email cleanout (10 minutes)

It is amazing how quickly an email account can fill up with spam and useless clutter. Here too I try to spend a few minutes each week or day even to keep on top of things. Then on Sundays, I will spend even more time cleaning things out.

You can take this tip one step further and each week or month unsubscribe from all unnecessary emails. Even though this is a time-consuming task, it is one of those tasks that have a big return on investment. The less useless emails you have coming into your account the more time you will save.

Task #6  Cleanout your makeup (10 minutes)

Depending on how much makeup you have this 10 minute decluttering task might only take 7 minutes for me, this task only takes 3. I am not a big makeup wearer so that means I do not have a lot of makeup at all. This area still requires my attention. This is the key to keeping a home clutter-free. There simply is no fix it and forget it clutter remedy. You need to keep on top of things, all of the things, so you do not find yourself in a huge mess.

How to organize your makeup

  1. First and foremost toss any makeup that is expired or dried out.
  2. Clean out the container or drawer where you keep your makeup.
  3. Put it all back in an organized way.

Done.

Task #7  Organize your movies. (7 minutes)

In our home, we do not have subscription television. We live in the country so the only option available to us is satellite TV. And let me just say that the cost of a basic package is nuts! Years ago we cut the TV cord and have never looked back. This decision saved us thousands every single year. If you want to read just how we did it you can do so here.

READ: HOW WE DITCHED CABLE AND STILL WATCH GREAT TV

A side effect of no subscription television is we have acquired quite a few DVDs. I have a nice system all set up for our movies, but as you can imagine things can get out of order quick. I find if I spend just a few minutes every week I can keep things in a system so that our movies are really easy to find.

How to organize your movies

  1. Set things up into genres. We have ours set up into 5 sections (remember we have a lot of movies here!)
    1. Set’s-this includes trilogies or boxed sets
    2. Thriller
    3. Sports
    4. Comedy
    5. War
    6. Romance
    7. Vintage
    8. Kids
  2. Gather any movies that are piled up. It just amazes me how these piles magically appear overnight.
  3. Check each movie quickly to make sure you have the correct disk inside.
  4. Put each movie back in its genre.

Done.

Task #8  Clean your shoes (5 minutes)

Whether you keep your shoes in your closet or in your mudroom/entry room you will want to do this task routinely. Shoes are something that gets messy easily but takes minutes to fix.

How to organize your shoes

  1. Have an everyday area. We all have our favorites so keep those shoes in a place that are easiest to get too. A boot tray like this one works perfectly.
  2. Keep the kid’s shoes close to their coats. If you are able a hook on the wall is perfect for coats and bookbags with a basket below to corral their shoes. This will make getting out the door in the mornings so much easier. 
  3. Keep dress shoes or other shoes that you wear sparingly in a bedroom closet.
  4. Remove any shoes that are unwearable, do not fit,  or you no longer love as you are doing this.
  5. Find a spot for outdoor shoes. If you have a barn or garden you may want a place in a garage or mudroom to house messy boots or shoes.

Done.

Task #9  Gather up that trash (7 minutes)

This is by far my favorite decluttering hack out there. So many times quite a bit of our clutter is simply trash. Trash that we fully intended to toss but just never got around to. Take a bag or a waste paper basket and start walking your home.

Gather up all the crumpled papers, read newspapers and/or magazines, junk mail, kids papers, flyers, useless receipts, empty plastic shopping bags, food containers and anything else you can find. Recycle what you can, shred what you should, and toss what is left.

Done.

Task #10  Purge the unmentionables (10 minutes)

It might sound silly, but this 10 minute declutter task is another one of those decluttering chores I just love to do. I cannot tell you how many clients of mine have an issue with socks and underwear. Whether it’s their own or another family members this quickie task is important to do but doesn’t need to be done too often.

How to clean out and declutter the unmentionables.

  1. Toss anything that is stretched out, stained, or torn.
  2. Toss anything you no longer like or doesn’t fit (and sadly never will again).
  3. Toss any socks that have lost their mates months ago. At this point, there is probably little hope of a reunion.
  4. Do this with your younger children and even your spouse if they are okay with that.

Done.

And there you have it. Decluttering a home can be a bit tricky but keeping a home decluttered is simply with this list of 10 minute decluttering tasks.

If you are brand new to decluttering and totally lost as to how to even begin, check out a few great reads below to get you started.

READ: 50 THINGS YOU CAN REMOVE RIGHT NOW

READ: HOW TO STOP CLUTTER WHEN YOU ARE PARALYZED BY THE MESS

The post 10 Minute Decluttering Tasks You Can Do..

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This post will teach you how to grow peppers in containers. When it comes to gardening and growing your own food there really aren’t any rules. No more is it required for you to have acres of land or even a huge backyard so you can give your family a kitchen full of fresh veggies.

All you need is some dirt, a bucket, and a few seeds.

Yep, it’s true you can grow just about anything anywhere and that is great news.

The most important thing to remember when you grow your produce in containers is water. With limited space, things can dry out pretty quickly. Get yourself on a good schedule to ensure your plants never dry out. I prefer to water in the morning. This will encourage a healthier plant and avoid the evaporation that the sun can do wif you water in the afternoon. Try to avoid watering in the evening unless you have to. Watering at night will encourage disease and even pests. This is why I prefer morning watering. 

If you are a lover of all things hot then peppers must be an item that can always be found in your kitchen. Adding a few varieties of this wonderful veggie is a great way to round out your patio garden. Since their characteristics are very similar to tomatoes they pair nicely and even look great on any porch. 

READ: HOW TO GROW TOMATOES IN POTS

Grow Peppers in Containers – The Jalapeno Pepper

This hot pepper is a great addition to any patio. It is perfect for salsas, tacos, chili, and omelets. Even though most people consider this a hot pepper it is actually considered a mild to medium heat. The heat you get all depends on the amount of membrane you use since that is where the majority of the heat is held.

Sun

With these peppers, the most important thing to remember is they love to be warm. Make sure your soil is 70 degrees and your plant is in full sun.

Water

Water often to prevent the soil from drying out. When you are watering try to keep the water off of the fruit and leaves. This will deter any diseases from forming. Adding a layer of mulch will help to keep your plants from drying out too quickly.

READ: MULCHING YOUR GARDEN – THE WHY AND THE HOW

Harvest

Harvest your peppers when they are firm and bright green. If left on too long they will turn red. Red jalapenos are sweeter and not quite as hot but perfectly fine to eat.  

Grow Peppers in Containers – Bell Peppers

A wonderfully sweet pepper this is by far my favorite one to grow, freeze, and to cook with. When choosing a spot pick an area that is at least partially protected from the winds. As fruits begin to develop you may want to add support to your plant to help reduce strain on the base of the plant.

READ: HOW TO FREEZE PEPPERS

A good tip for Bell’s is to pinch new growth regularly to promote a bushier plant that will do well in a pot.

Sun

Bell peppers also like it warm but not as much as Jalapenos. 60 degrees is a good temp to grow a nice healthy plant along with at least 6 hours of direct sun.

Water

Keep your plants watered regularly so they do not dry out. Since they are in pots you will need to water more often but a layer of mulch will help to keep things moist.

Harvest

When your peppers are a nice shiny green they are ready to harvest. If you leave the peppers on the plant longer the colors will change to red, orange and even yellow.

Grow Peppers in Containers – The Banana Pepper

The banana pepper is a yellow and medium-sized pepper and a member of the chili pepper family. It is a long, slender fruit that resembles a banana with waxy skin and minimal seeds.

This pepper has a nice mild yet tangy taste with some varieties that offer a nice level of heat. I love to use these in omelets, sauces, on pizzas or in our homemade hotdog relish. If you like pepper rings this is a great variety to use for that.

Sun

These plants also enjoy warmer weather and require at least 8 hours of sun. Again you will want to keep them protected from heavy winds.

Water

Keep your soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Using mulch will allow that soil to keep from drying out too quickly in the hot summer sun. 

Harvest

The most common color for these peppers is yellow but if left on the plant they will turn orange or even red. The sooner you harvest the more heat you will have. If you want a sweeter pepper orange or red is your color.

Grow Peppers in Containers – The Red Chili

This is a great hot pepper that is perfect for many dishes that require a kick of heat that you might not get from the jalapeno. These peppers come in a long range of heat so pick the best level of hot when you are choosing your plants. I like the long red chili and find it is easy to freeze or dry to use throughout the year.

This variety can fill up completely with peppers so you may want to stake it for extra support. If a plant has enough room you can easily expect 100 peppers or even more!

Since these plants can grow quite large you may have to transplant into a larger container so be aware of that.

Sun

Since these plants hate cooler weather I would suggest keeping them indoors at night until the normal overnight temperatures are over 60 degrees. During the day a good 6 hours or more of sunlight is best for this plant. Again keep it sheltered from high winds.

Water

Make sure you have really good drainage and water often especially when the days are really hot. To keep things moist you will want to add a nice layer of mulch and replace throughout the growing season as needed. Chili’s do well with dry/wet times so you do not have to water every single day unless the plant is completely dried out.

I read this tip online but have yet to test it out to see if it actually works. If you are looking for a hotter pepper hold back on the water just a bit and that is just what you will get.

Harvest

You can harvest at green, red, or yellow each giving its own distinct flavor and level of heat. 

How To Grow Peppers In Containers – Patio Gardening 101 Step#1  Choose the best pot

Choose a pot that is at least 15” wide and deep enough to allow those roots to grow. Anything can be used as a pot. A bucket, tote, washtub, feed sack, even a very large bowl. If it’s big enough and has good drainage you can grow a pepper in it!

Here are few ideas just in case you are short on the above redneck options!!


Step #2  Drainage

Make sure you have ample drainage in whichever pot you choose. If you are using a bucket you will want to drill a few holes in the bottom to ensure water does not gather risking possible rot to the roots.

Step #2  Soil

Put in a nice layer of organic potting soil. I like to use Burpee’s Organic Soil for my plants especially with my vegetables. This soil is perfect and even works great in containers. Using as much organic matter as possible is important to ensure I am growing the best peppers I can.

Step #3  Compost

Add in some compost if you have any available. Compost is the black gold of any homestead but if you are a city dweller you may not have any on hand. Now composting is easy to do no matter where you live and I encourage you to give it a try.

I am absolutely in love with this adjustable compost bin by Geobin. It is super lightweight, will work just about anywhere and it’s a great way to create your own compost even in the city.

READ: COMPOST 101- THE BLACK GOLD OF THE GARDEN

Step #6  Fertilizer

When you grow peppers in containers you will want to add some organic fertilizer at this point. Again I really love Burpee’s Organic Fertilizer since it is long lasting and begins working immediately. Pepper plants are heavy feeders and really do require some type of fertilizer to grow well.

Step #4  Planting

Gently remove the plant from its pot and loosen up the roots a bit to encourage rapid growth. To do this just rub your hands over the roots and gently give a squeeze or two. This will allow those roots to grab on quickly to the new soil and create a nice strong plant. 

Step #5  Positioning

Place the plant into the center of the pot and add more of the organic potting mix until. Press lightly to secure the plant into place. Don’t worry if the soil covers a few of the small lower leaves, this will not hurt the plant at all.

Step #7  Support

As the plant grows you may want to provide additional support. A tomato cage or wooden stake will work perfectly. Be sure to secure the plant gently and loosely to allow for more growth. 

I absolutely love how more and more folks are moving their gardens up onto their patios. Learning to grow peppers in containers is perfect if you want a patio garden too. Even though I still have my larger garden down below by having a few of these wonderful plants close by will help me to use more of my produce before it goes bag.

Front porches, back porches, pathways, and patios are all perfect areas for growing many types of vegetables.

Get yourself a pot and get planting today!

The post How to Grow Peppers in Containers – The City Garden appeared first on Simple Living Country Gal.

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This article contains my top decluttering tips for beginners. Decluttering your home can be a pretty monumental task. Nothing can be more frightening than the thought of going through every one of your things and deciding whether to keep or remove them. When faced with your home and all the drawers and closets and cabinets and shelves ….sometimes it is easier to turn a blind eye, close the door, and just continue on with your day.

If you are a frequent visitor to Simple Living Country Gal then you know how much I love decluttering and simplifying. It is my goal to help anyone who wants to remove the excess so they can live a peaceful satisfying life without the noise or the chaos.

I am also aware that the getting started part can be half the battle. That is why I created the 2018 Decluttering Calendar. This calendar will give you simple actionable tasks that you can complete in 10 minutes or less. Even little steps can move a mountain when they are allowed to build on one another.

You can get your very own copy of the D&S Decluttering Calendar just by clicking the box below.

Now before we go any further I understand there are different levels of clutter and not every post will help you to make progress.

If you have your home pretty well cleaned out and you just need a little help with the finishing touches you can jump to this post and get started now!

READ: MY BEST DECLUTTERING TIP!

For the rest of you, we are going to come up with a game plan that will get you on your way to “wanting” to declutter your home.

Well, maybe not quite as excited as my friend right here but pretty darn close!

You see, I used to HATE decluttering. I hated the tediousness of it all. But then something happened. I finally finished my first room. And once I saw that room, once I FELT that room, I was hooked.

That’s because when you declutter a home it is contagious. Once that very first room is cleaned out and set up in a way that makes sense to you and your family you will be hooked too.

Now, notice I did not say a cleaned out and decluttered home. That is not what this post is about.

This post is meant to be more than that. This post is meant to be a tool. A tool to help you get started. To take that first step even when you simply don’t want to.

Whether you have one room that needs your attention or an entire house that needs a full-on overhaul you can get control of your things with one simple and easy rule.

Remove the clutter one item at a time.

The problem with decluttering or any cleaning task really is we tend to look at the whole picture. When you picture your entire home when you are getting ready to begin you can quickly lose any motivation and fast. You see, you are setting your sights too big. You are only picturing and planning for the finish line rather than the journey.

I want you to only think of your journey.

And with any journey, it all happens just one step at a time.

Just like with a marathon you need to train yourself to look at decluttering differently.

It isn’t a “show up for the long strenuous race and be done with it forever” project. You are going to work on this every single day. But it’s more than that. You are going to instead change your daily and weekly habits to incorporate decluttering and cleaning out into your schedule.

As you remove things slowly and intentionally you will, in turn, teach your mind to look at your things as just that.

THINGS.

These things are NOT people we love. They are NOT friends we cherish They are NOT events in our lives.

Sure they may represent those things but they are not and never will be replacements for those things.

Okay, so I know what you are thinking. This is all well and good but HOW do we do it then?

I am so glad you asked because I am going to show you.

Right now.

Decluttering Tips For Beginners. Tips you can use when you are stuck.  Step #1  Plan and Schedule

I want you to look at this as part of your daily routine. Eventually you will make this weekly but for now daily is how we are going to approach this. Remember we are training for a marathon and to do that we need to introduce things nice and slow.

As you begin to see how purging makes you feel. How it frees you from the stress that too much stuff naturally brings, you will, in turn, train your mind to WANT to remove the extra.

To start I want you to plan on spending just 20 minutes every single day working on your clutter. I even want you to take it one step further and put that 20 minutes onto your calendar. 

In PEN. Yep, set that baby in stone so you can’t ignore it.

20 minutes? Well that’s is easy enough, right?

Heck when you think about it, you can do just about anything for 20 minutes.

Get a root canal. Watch a painfully boring presentation at work. Walk on a treadmill. Get your oil changed. Yes, when you know you just have 20 minutes committed it is much easier to get through it.

Set that time and get your head in the game! My partner in crime, my decluttering BFF is my Echo Show. 

All I have to do is say, “Alexa, set the timer for 20 minutes” and it’s done and I can get to work. Better yet I can have her play my Timer Playlist. My top songs that take, you guessed it, 21 minutes to play! Winner-Winner!

Step #2  Get up and Get Going

Yep, it really is that simple. You need to get up off of your duff and get moving.

It’s just 20 minutes.

It’s for your own happiness. It’s for your family’s happiness. And….it’s NOT GOING TO KILL YOU.

Get out of your head where you are surrounded by excuses and just get up and move.

Like cooking dinner, approach this task as something you MUST do in order to eat.

It is as simple as that.

Step #3  Set the Timer

I love a good motivator and a timer is just that. A motivator. Maybe not at first but as you begin to find your groove you will see that time ticking away is a great motivator and a perfect way to get more done faster.

That timer will force you to focus. To zero in on what needs to be done and work quickly at doing just that.

Getting it done.

I want you to set that timer and as soon as it begins to count down get busy. Get focused. Get to work.

Do you need more than that? Okey dokey….here you go.

  1. Set the timer for 20 minutes
  2. Grab a bag or a box that you can fill in that time frame
  3. Start selecting things that you can easily and without emotion remove from your home.
  4. Move quickly choosing items walking randomly around the room.
  5. The object is to fill your box or your bag before the timer goes off. Don’t think. Just do.
  6. When the timer goes off take the box and put it right now into the trunk of your car.
  7. Next time you out drop all the items off to the donation center.
  8.  Repeat this process every single day.

Step #4  Save the hard stuff for later

Hey, I get it. Sometimes there are items in those piles that have meaning. That bring with them a pleasant memory or is a reminder of a time you simply don’t want to forget.

Here is a little tip for you. 

Save those items for later.  They deserve your time and attention so if letting them go is not something you can deal with instantly set it aside to deal with it later.

This list is to help you GET STARTED. As you declutter and learn how to declutter you will train your mind to better handle those difficult items you have saved for later.

For now, just set those items off to the side and focus on the simple. The easy.

Step #5  Declutter as you go

For me, this was the easiest way to handle all that clutter in my home. When I decided to weave decluttering throughout my day I was not hit in the face with the hardness of it. The difficulty of removing all those things from my home.

I simply removed my clutter as I came across them while simply living out my day. So, when I was cooking and I needed to reach for a spatula I would take just a few seconds to go through my cooking utensils and remove those that I knew I no longer needed.

This way of decluttering was so incredibly simple it was almost funny.

  • When I dressed in the morning I took 20 seconds (yes I said seconds) to sort through my socks.
  • As I put the dishes away I would remove excess Tupperware and mismatched containers without lids.
  • When I cleaned up the bathroom I would remove torn sheets and pillowcases from the linen closet.
  • As I picked up the kids toys I filled a bag of random toys at the bottom of the toybox that the kids hadn’t touched in a long while.

By decluttering this way I was not started this monumental task of cleaning out my home I was simply removing a few random things here and there as I came across them.

I turned this huge job into a simple chore that I tackled without much effort at all.

Pretty amazing isn’t it!

Step #6  Nothing comes in unless something goes out

Okay, I really can’t take credit for this decluttering tip for beginners. But the brilliance behind it is so crazy I can’t help but love it. By adopting this one tip you can assure yourself that your home will never get any worse than it is right now. Right, this very minute.

If you go out shopping for new clothes then before those clothes can go into your closet you will need to remove the same amount of items and give them away.

If you purchase a new kitchen item you will need to remove an item from your drawer before you can put this new item in.

Did you buy new toys for your kiddos? Great! But first, you need to gather up the same amount and send them off to your donation of choice.

Step #7  Declutter as you clean

Another of my favorite ways to remove the clutter and one I still use to this day. It is a great way to stay on top of your things and to ensure they never get out of hand again. When I dust specifically I will take the time to go through my nick nacks. I will remove those items that no longer bring me joy. Now, don’t panic. I am not telling you to toss that souvenir from a trip you took 10 years ago, but why not give it to your son or another family member so they can carry on the tradition of its memory in their own home.

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