Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving

Do you want to know my secret for a stress-free Thanksgiving? (or any big family meal for that matter…)  Yeah? Okay. Just have your Dad, who loves to cook, prepare all the main dishes and Turkey, then all you have to do is bring along the dessert. 😉

While this is a realistic scenario for our Thanksgiving and special occasions, (my dad is the best!) I’m sure it’s not for most families.  We can get away with this because we usually have a maximum of 8 people to serve.

Since I know big family meals can be hectic (I’ve experienced many of my husband’s extended family get-togethers), I thought creating a checklist would be really helpful to those of you that want to cut back on some chaos.

This checklist doesn’t tell you what to cook (I trust you have your family favourites) but I’m hoping it will give you a guideline for when things can be completed.  I realize that Canadian Thanksgiving is just mere weeks away, but I think this checklist can be used for any holiday dinner. Simply click on the image below or click here to download your free Checklist for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Checklist, Stress-free thanksgiving

How do you lessen the stress of big family meals?  Also, I’d love to hear what goes on your Thanksgiving menu in the comments!

How to Get a More Organized Kitchen in Just 15 Minutes a Day

The kitchen is one of the easiest spaces to allow clutter to pile up. Since it is one of the busiest rooms in the house, full of appliances and cooking tools, and there’s lots of counter space for stuff, it can quickly become overrun. So how do you enjoy a more organized kitchen without investing a ton of time? Luckily, there are a few tasks you can do each week in 15 minutes or less to help you keep a clutter free kitchen. Look at these tips on how to get a more organized kitchen in just 15 minutes a day and see what a difference they can make.

How to Get a More Organized Kitchen in Just 15 Minutes a Day

How to Get a More Organized Kitchen in Just 15 Minutes a Day

1. Assemble baskets for mail and paper work.

Kitchen counters can be a catch all for mail and school papers. Instead, place baskets on the counter for these items to go in. Then, check in with these baskets daily so you can read letters, discard junk mail, and sort through papers as needed.

2. Remove all non-kitchen essentials.

So many non kitchen items end up in the kitchen through out the day. Take a few minutes each day to remove these items that have crept in. Have everyone in the household help you return these items to where they belong. Toys, clothing, books, and other items that aren’t used in the kitchen can all be removed.

3. Choose one drawer a day and organize it.

Trying to tackle every drawer at once can be exhausting. Instead, choose one drawer a day and go through it, tossing what you no longer use or need. Use simple drawer baskets to keep the remaining items organized and easy to grab and go. Once you make your way through the drawers, take on one cabinet at a time and do the same thing.

4. Comb through Tupperware and organize tops and bottoms.

Storage containers tend to make a mess of kitchen cabinets. Take a few minutes to go through the storage containers and match up the tops and bottoms. Discard any pieces that don’t have a match or have been overused and showing a great deal of wear.

5. Arrange spices and cooking ingredients by alphabet.

Make your cooking ingredients easier to navigate when you organize them alphabetically. Organize your spices and dry goods by alphabet and line them up neatly so the next time you need them, you aren’t playing a game of hide and seek.

6. Clear counters as much as possible, utilizing drawers and cabinets.

Remove all non essentials from the counter and place these items in drawers and cabinets. Keep your counters as open and clear as possible. Any item that isn’t used daily can be stashed away where it is out of sight and won’t take up a ton of room.

Are you ready for a more organized space? Consider these tips on how to get a more organized kitchen in just 15 minutes a day and see how simple getting organized can be.

What’s one area of your kitchen that drives you nuts? What are you going to tackle first?

10 Dollar Store Road Trip Hacks You Need to Try

Will you be heading on the road with your family this fall? Road trips can be a great way to spend time with your loved ones or to get a brief respite from this crazy world. Whatever your reason for the trip, planning is key.

One of the most challenging things for a family road trip is just getting to your destination. Anyone who has taken a trip with kids knows there are constant stops for snacks, bathroom breaks and meltdowns over a toy or blanket that may have fallen beyond their reach. If you prepare for the situations you can control, your trip to your destination will go smoothly (and hopefully with as few stops as possible).

Before you hit the road, be sure to make a stop at the Dollar Store. They have a variety of inexpensive items that can be used to make your trip run as smooth as possible. Here are some hacks made from dollar store items that will ensure your next road trip adventure is a success.

10 Dollar Store Road Trip Hacks You Need to Try

Shower Caddies

These mesh plastic caddies are great for snacking in the vehicle. Use the compartments to put a juice box or water bottle, bags of snacks, napkins and utensils. Each person in the car should have their own. No more making stops to get everyone their snacks. They can help themselves as you drive.

Mesh Pop Up Hamper

These small hampers fold up into a disc so they don’t take up much room in the car. Pop one up to be a catch all for larger toys or put a plastic bag in it and place in the back seat with the kids so they can throw their trash in it (and not on the floor).

Elastic Sheet Straps

Elastic sheet straps have little tabs that affix to fabric on each end. Tired of your kid losing their blanket and you have to pull the car over to find it? Do you want them to have a sweatshirt or jacket readily available? Attach one end to their clothes or fabric of their car seat and attach the other end to the blanket or jacket.

Plastic Mattress Protector

Plastic mattress protectors are a must have in your road trip arsenal. You can use them as a picnic table cover in a pinch if you stop to eat at a rest area or park. You can also use them to catch sand and dirt in the trunk or cargo area on gear, clothes or shoes. If your lodging on the way to your trip isn’t up to your usual standards, you can use these mattress protectors to keep you and the sheets separated.

Mesh Bags

Mesh bags are great for road trips. Most dollar stores sell them in a pack of two or three and they have so many uses. You can tie one to the back of a headrest and put your child’s blanket and pillow for easy reach. You can also use mesh bags to air dry wet items or collect dirty laundry.  

Accordion Files

Sometimes your car can become a dumping ground on a road trip and before you know it you find yourself looking for everything from sunscreen to bug spray. Accordion files can keep everything in one place. Place the item in a gallon size plastic bag and label the top. This also works for games, coloring sheets, puzzles and other activities for the kids. Empty the pieces into a gallon zipped bag (you can get them cheap at the dollar store), label and place in each compartment.

Stacking Pill Organizer

When you take a road trip, space can be limited. One way you can save space is by using the stackable pill bottles. Put your eye cream, toothpaste and lotions in them to avoid having to bring larger containers. You can put over the counter medications in them. Or if you like to bring your favorite spices along, you can put them in there too. The possibilities are endless.

Fishing Lure Box/ Small Hardware Storage Box

These boxes can be used to keep things together in the car during travel, whether it is small parts for crafts, spare change or earbuds to your devices.

Shower Trays with Suction Cups

Are you tired of picking up Legos or small toys and want to keep them together and in arm’s reach of your kids? Suction holders can be the perfect solution. Just suction the trays to your kids’ window and they have a place to store their favorite things.

Shower Caps

Shower caps are also a great staple to have on hand. If you make stops and your kids get their shoes dirty, you can place them in the shower caps. Or if you don’t want to take their shoes off, place the caps around their shoes. If you stop to have a picnic, you can also use these to snap around a plate to keep the bugs away from your food.

Clip-on LED Light

For night driving, you may get distracted by turning the overhead lamps on for the kids to read. The clip-on LED reading light can come in handy. Clip onto seat belts so kids can have a reading light at their disposal. Clip onto your kids if you have to get out of your car at night to stretch your legs or go into a dark rest stop. These are portable and give just enough light for them to read, but not enough that it will distract you from driving.

Do you have any road trip tips to share? Leave them in the comments below or share a picture to our Facebook page!

7 Free Printable Weekly Meal Planners That Will Knock Your Socks Off

7 Free Printable Weekly Meal Planners

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of meal planning (and think you should be too 😉 ). It puts deciding what to cook on autopilot all week long. No more last minute trips through the drive thru or slapping together a so-so meal that everyone will complain about anyways.

Jotting down your list of meals in a plain notebook or a scrap of paper is great, but did you know you can totally up your meal planning game? How? Well, with these 7 free printable weekly meal planners that will knock your socks off. I found some pretty amazing printables! All different kinds so there should be something to suit your specific needs.

Check them out and let me know which one is your favourite.

Free Printable Menu Planner

From Little Coconutty.

This one is great because it offers spaces for planning breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus, there’s a spot to jot down your shopping list.

Sticky Note Meal Planner

From Planning Inspired

I love this one! The sticky notes make it so flexible and fun! Don’t want meatloaf on Thursday? Switch it with the Tacos!

Weekly Menu Planner

From Miss Information

I like this one for its simplicity. It would be great up on the fridge! It even includes a separate shopping list that would be helpful.

Weekly an Monthly Menu Planners

From I Heart Nap Time

I love the colours on this menu planner. Tons of room to plan each meal of the day. I even love that there’s a monthly menu planner included!

Coloring Weekly Menu Planner

From Artsy Fartsy Mama

Maybe meal planning is cathartic to you? Spend some extra time each week planning and coloring with this printable!

Laminated Meal Planner

From Where the Smiles Have Been

Now, this is a great idea! Use a dry erase marker to write out your menu for the whole week with this planner. Then, once the week is over, wipe it clear and start fresh for next week.

Visual Meal Planner

From Pennies and Pounds

I’m liking this unique twist on the usual weekly planner. It’s a visual planner that allows you to plan the main dish and side dishes. Neat!

Whether you’re new to meal planning or you’re just wanting to liven up the way you’re doing it, any one of these free printable meal planners will do the job perfectly.

Let me know what you think of these great meal planners!

 Find this great menu planner pad made by Knock Knock over at Amazon.ca.

How to Organize Paper Clutter

Nothing can make a room look messier than piles of paper. Somehow dining room tables, desks, kitchen counter tops, and dressers become magnets to all things paper in a family’s home! Bills, magazines, children’s artwork, and product warranties just pile up, creating “organized confusion” even for those of us who swear we have a system. It’s not only messy-looking; Paper collects dust and can attract bugs. It’s not exactly environmentally friendly, either. So what’s the solution? Here are a few tips for how to organize paper clutter.

How to Organize Paper Clutter

How to Organize Paper Clutter

Create paper-free zones.

Regardless of what fantastic method you put into place, you’re bound to drop a piece of paper somewhere when you’re in a hurry. Tell yourself right off the bat that there are certain areas this is simply not allowed to happen.  In the past, my dining room table often become a drop zone, making my otherwise (semi) clean home look disheveled. My new rule is no paper clutter on the table or in the living room. At least this way, I always feel ready for company and always have room to eat and play with my kids.

Deal with it right away.

Put paper clutter in its proper place as soon as it enters your home. Open the mail, recycle what you can, shred what you can’t, and file bills, receipts and children’s paperwork away immediately. Rip out the articles or recipes from magazines you are saving and put them into plastic sleeves in a binder. Drop your collection of magazines and catalogues off at the hair salon, gym, doctor’s office or schools. Whether you hang it on the fridge, utilize an inbox, or stick it in your planner, get into the habit of sorting incoming paper right away.

Go digital.

Opt for e-billing statements and invoices when you can. Minimize the flow of paper that comes in to begin with by opting out of all mailings you have control over. Save documents as PDF’s instead of printing them. Take digital photos of your children’s two-dimensional art projects, and recycle the originals. (Admit it: not everything is worth saving, and no, they will not want it when they’re adults…unless it’s hilarious!)

Make a filing box or cabinet your best friend.

For the remaining paper you absolutely have to keep, purchase a filing cabinet or box, depending on how much you have. A single person can often get away with a simple, plastic file box. These days, you can find a lot of Pinterest tutorials on how to give the larger, metal, filing cabinets some personality. You can even get colorful folders for inside. (Do whatever you have to do to encourage yourself to use this thing once you’ve got it!) Create specific categories for the folders, such as yearly tax folders versus a single folder, overflowing with general tax documents. Designate a folder for each child and pet in your home. Separate everyone’s medical records and school papers. Don’t forget to go through periodically and shred outdated documents. Toss product warranties and instruction manuals for items you no longer have.

I’d love to know, how do you keep your paper clutter under control? Let us know in the comments below!