Quick Tip: Is It Stationery or Stationary?

I don’t like to brag, but I’m a pretty good speller. I even came in third place in a junior high spelling bee once. (Until a few years ago, I always thought I was first runner-up, but my mother corrected me. Still not a bad finish.)

Despite all that, I do have words that trip me up to this day. One, or should I say two, of those are stationary and stationery. One means immobile or at rest, and the other is something you write on. I know the difference, but I’ve almost always had to look them up to make sure I’m using the right spelling. Until now, that is.

stationery

An envelope, which begins with an ‘e‘, is a type of stationery.

So simple.

And should you need a visual, the a in stationary, could be represented by a stationary bike. It should be noted, of course, that it’s the bike which is at rest, not the rider. :)

stationary

This all came in very handy a couple weeks ago when I gave away an old stationary bike on Freecyle and didn’t have to look up the spelling before posting the listing. :)

What spellings trip you up? Have you found any easy-to-remember solutions for those?

Organizing Receipts

I’m still here plugging away at my organizing tasks, one small step at a time. This week I decided to tackle a long-time nemesis, receipt clutter, and found a delightfully simple solution.

For my own simple purposes, I have three categories of receipts:

  1. Business receipts
  2. Big-ticket purchase rceipts
  3. Everything else

I have good systems in place for the first two categories:

  • Business receipts go straight to the tax folder or, in the case of reimbursable client purchases, into the client folder to await the next invoice. Easy-peasy.
  • Big-ticket purchase receipts get taped to the instruction manual or a large sheet of paper and placed in a folder labeled, oddly enough, “big ticket items”. (I never said I was particularly creative.)

messy pile of receiptsThose work well for me, month in and month out.

For that third category, Everything Else, I’ve played with different methods but hadn’t found a really sustainable solution. Whether I used a file folder, an envelope, a plastic bin, or whatever, I still ended up with receipts tucked in every nook and cranny of my desk and purse. Receipts both old and new were all intermixed in these little tucked away bunches. Messy and disorganized, not to mention totally unnecessary.

Most of my Everything Else receipts are for necessary consumables: groceries, gas, etc. Once I’ve verified they appeared correctly on my credit card statement, there’s really no need to keep them. What I really needed was a simple, short-term storage method, and I think I found it in an post on Homestead Revival. (Who said Pinterest was a waste of time?)

It is with great pleasure I give you my version of Amy’s desktop storage solution:

receipts in a jar

This was my grandfather’s tobacco jar. I remember watching with fascination as he went through his ritual of filling, tamping, lighting and then savoring his nightly puff. He seemed to spend much more time preparing than he did puffing. :)

I’ve had this jar for 25 years, using it to store a variety of household items. Now, it sits on my desk to hold my current month receipts. Each night, I take any receipts from my purse, and if they’re not business or big-ticket receipts, I put them straight into the jar. At the end of the month, they’ll get moved to an envelope in my desk drawer until the next month’s receipts get transferred, and then the oldest will be thrown away. No keeping them for a year (or longer)

Besides having a neater purse, I’ve found another simple pleasure in this method. I love having my grandfather’s jar on my desk! I rarely saw it when it was used for other storage, but now I see it several times a day and use it at least once. The little clink I hear when I replace the top on the jar takes me back to those long ago days of my grandfather’s nightly ritual. And that makes me happy.

Workable and practical storage solutions don’t have to be complicated. This one is certainly simple, and I’m hopeful that it continues to be both effective and enjoyable.

How do you store/organize your receipts?

Where’s Your Gas Tank?

Have you ever pulled into a gas station and forgotten which side of the car your gas tank is on? If you’re like me and in a one-car household, it’s easy to remember. (Well, usually.)

But if you have more than one car in your family or you use rental cars, it can be a problem.

Here’s an easy way to quickly identify which side of the car your gas tank is on:

gas gauge shows gas tank location

Look at the gas gauge on your dashboard. You should see a small arrow (mine includes an image of a gas tank) indicating which side of the car your gas tank is on.

I’ve had my car for eight years and I never noticed this before! I only read about it last week in one of those local “weekly shopper” type newspapers I read while on a road trip break last week. Thank you, whoever you are!

The Best New Trivet I Already Had

This one is embarrassingly simple. It’s also somewhat embarrassing in that it highlights how infrequently I cook.

I actually did cook the other day and needed a trivet to put a hot pot on, only I couldn’t remember where I put my trivets. So I grabbed the next best thing: a cake cooling rack.

cake rack as trivet

Not a great photo, but you get the idea. The rack keeps the hot pot from damaging the cabinet, and that’s really all I needed.

I really do have trivets, though, and I’ll be keeping them (assuming I find them) for use when company is here.

Spice Rack as Office Storage

To know me at all is to know that I’m not much of a cook. So NOT a cook that I now buy most of my spices by the tablespoon from Whole Foods’ bulk bins and store them in their tiny little bags in a tiny little basket on my shelf.

When I adopted this “streamlined” storage method a few years ago, I decided to put my spice rack to use in a more helpful way:

spice rack as office storage

Rubber bands, paper clips, thumbtacks, post-it flags, pencil refills, etc.–these jars are perfect for anything small. I also like that I can see the contents of each container and that the rack doesn’t take up much space. It also works well for this disorganized gal in keeping things neat and orderly.

Recommended: 07/22/2012

One thing a heat wave is good for is enabling me to catch up with my reader!

HOME
All That’s Frozen Isn’t Good [Lonely Gourmet]

As a committed batch-and-freeze cook, I’m forever discovering a freezer container that has worked its way to the back of the shelf to hide, and then I have to wonder, “Is this still good?” This article has some good tips for freezing foods.

RECIPES
No-Knead Bread [The Smitten Kitchen]

Easy, but time-consuming recipe. Well worth the effort, though. I made bread this week and detailed the experience on The Tippy Toe Diet, but here’s a little peek at my results:

no-knead bread

If I can do it (even with errors), anyone can!

FINANCE & FRUGALITY
Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Better Business Bureau [Lazy Man and Money]

The first thing I do when I want to check out a business or repair person is hit the BBB site. According to this article, the BBB isn’t as reliable and impartial as I thought!

PRODUCTIVITY
But I Don’t Want To: Secrets to Self-Motivation [Wisebread]

As so often happens, this appeared in my reader on a day I really needed it. Good advice in a well-written article.

SELF

Sometimes a simple quote teaches me more than any article or essay.

 

MADE ME SMILE

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead!

Two-fer Tuesday: Outdoor Projects

I’m taking advantage of some mild-for-Memphis weather to knock out a few outdoor projects this week. Here are a couple of tips I’ll be trying for the first time:

one
My patio cushions are mildew-free (thank goodness!), but they could do with some freshening. I’m going to try a trick I heard about that involves stuffing the cushions in a large trash bag along with some kitty litter (unused!) and seal it up for a couple days. Supposedly the carbon in the litter will absorb odors. We’ll soon see!

two
I’ve got a couple (or three) paint projects here that were waiting for warmer weather. I like painting, so that’s no problem. What is a problem is that the warmer weather brings bugs–bugs that like to land upon my freshly painted surfaces! Last week, when I was at the hardware store, I overheard a tip that may help with that. Supposedly, adding a few drops of citronella oil to a gallon of paint will to keep the insects away and won’t affect the paint finish. *Fingers crossed!*

Have you had any experience with either of these two tips? Or do you have another method you’d like to share?

Two-fer Tuesday: At the Grocery Store

I’ll make a wild assumption here that I’m not the only person trying to stretch her grocery-shopping dollars these days. If you’re like me, some months the elastic gives out.

Here are a couple of tips that may help, one I use now and one I’m starting next week.

grocer y sack 1If you need only a small amount of a certain type of produce, check out the salad bar at the grocery store for the pre-cut version. Yes, it costs more per pound, but if you only need a tiny amount, it’s fewer dollars out of pocket and you don’t have to worry about using up the leftovers or worse, tossing them. (Tossing = BAD, in my book.) Buying from the salad bar is also helpful in one of those pre-vaction periods when you don’t want to be stocking the produce drawer before an extended absence.

grocery bag 2As I passed the gift card aisle at Kroger the other day, it occurred to me that a good cost control mechanism might be to purchase a store gift card in the amount of my monthly budget and then make all my purchases using the gift card.

This won’t cover all my food purchases since I shop at a local produce market for my fruits and veggies. My produce store doesn’t have gift cards, so I’m going to try the envelope method for those purchases. I’ll just put the budgeted cash in a clearly designated envelope and pay from there. Oooh, and I can write my expenditures on the envelope to keep up with where the money goes! (Some days, my genius astounds even me! LOL)

If nothing else, this will keep me mindful of the necessity of choosing certain foods. Like, say, Bear Naked’s Chocolate Granola.

Have you tried any new grocery budgeting ideas recently? I’d love to hear about them!

Two-fer Tuesday: Tomato Time!

I eat tomatoes year-round, but there’s nothing as good as a summer tomato! Thanks to the unusually warm spring, we’re already seeing market tomatoes from farther down south, and they are delicious! The only thing that makes me happier is knowing that my father has 57 tomato plants in the ground and is more than willing to share his harvest.

In honor of the early start to tomato season, I’ll share a couple of my favorite tomato tips!

tomato1If you’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of tomatoes, as I will, and want to can them, prep is super easy! Just cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato, plop (no splash!) into a pot of boiling water for a minute, then move them to an ice bath. The skins will practically jump off! Well, with a little coaxing from a sharp knife.

tomato2If you’ve picked or purchased some slightly less ripe tomatoes, place them in a warm window a day or two before you plan to use them to heighten the flavor.





Do you share my tomato love?