living life, choosing joy

Category Archives: Challenges

Hello Friends.

This past week was a little off for me. My kiddos were sick/recovering from a nasty fever/cough that they kindly decided to share with me and Nathan. Yuck.

Here are my two kiddos being silly this past week…gotta love the no pants 😉

My two little rodeo clowns :)

Rodeo Clown 2

Despite being under the weather, I was pretty on it about eating leftovers and eating up stuff before it went bad (not so on it about posting early in the week as promised), and I tried really hard to follow my own advice that I shared in my last post.

But first, a sad thing happened to our fridge last week. I opened it on Thursday morning and it was warm.

Say what?!

The freezer was defrosting too.

Oh Lord have mercy. Not today!

I was able to salvage the freezer stuff (mostly) and take it to the deep freeze we have in the garage. And since the freezer was cooling like a fridge, I moved all the food from the fridge to the freezer. But alas, there were still some casualties. I failed to get any pictures (there was A LOT going on and I was in no mood to take photos at 7 am!!).

So food lost from a failing fridge isn’t really MY FAULT, right?? I don’t think so, but I will report the loss anyway, even though it was definitely out of my control.

The casualty list is as follows:
• 2 Gallons of Milk, each about half full. (We have two different types of milk)
• Most of the quart of Half & Half
• A bag of chopped celery from the freezer
• All of the lemon juice ice cubes from the freezer (they were stored on the door and were leaking out on to the floor. Yuck.)

All in all, it wasn’t so much to lose, but it was frustrating. Thankfully the fridge was repaired later that day and is currently back to normal working order. Apparently it was a broken thermostat.( If only it was the compressor…we could have a new fridge by now!! 😉 )

Food to eat up right away!

Food to eat up right away!

On Monday morning (trash day), I dutifully pulled out the food that needed to be eaten. I changed my meal plan for the evening to include the foods that we needed to eat up. And it was a good move on my part because dinner was delicious! I modified this recipe and I think I will be making it again soon. Nothing like bacon to make cauliflower amazing!

dead salad. boo.

                       dead salad. boo.

The only thing that hit the trash can on my (intentional) watch was a bag of salad and 1 lb of some very gross mushy raw carrots (not pictured). (Didn’t know they got mushy? Funny, neither did I!). Two things that were on the list of waste last week too. Fail. The salad is just not the same the next day. Making too much? I don’t know. We have some more salad in the fridge as we speak. I will have to make sure I eat it TODAY so I don’t have to take another photo of dead salad in a few days.

So there you have it. Less waste than last week, but still room for improvement.

How did you do last week? Are you having trouble getting certain foods eaten before they go bad?


So I guess it has been another year since I last posted. My oh my, the days just do not stop or slow down or anything! So much has happened since I last posted…I have though many, many times about something I’m doing that would make a great post, but then I get busy and I don’t sit down to write. sigh. I just keep telling myself it’s a season. And I know that it is. But still. Anyone with me?

So instead of lamenting my absence, I want to jump back in today to talk about food waste.

I could not be more mad at myself for the $$ I am literally throwing in to the trash. Some of it I didn’t even remember I had…could have made some good meals too!

All of this is headed for the trash...

All of this is headed for the trash…

  • Enough prepared salad for at least 2 people
  • 3 Heads of Romaine (enough for a side salad for the entire family)
  • Several pounds of cut up carrot sticks (they had gone bitter. boo.)
  • Healthy portion of fruit salad
  • Homemade tartar sauce from weeks ago
  • About 1/4 jar of organic spaghetti sauce
  • 1 pint homemade stir fry sauce

All of it bad.

All of it in the trash.

On the up side, I have plenty of space in my refrigerator 🙂

But being forced to throw all of this food out got me thinking. I am always looking for ways to save money on groceries, I try to meal plan carefully so I don’t waste what I have…and then this happens and I literally throw out about $10 of (once-upon-a-time) perfectly good food??!

So without further ado, I have come up with 5 simple ways to STOP wasting food and use up what I have before it goes bad.

1. Think before I buy (esp. produce).

This sounds super simple — and it is, which is why it’s first. I am guilty of getting caught up in buying more than we can actually eat (carrots and lettuce, ahem.) within a reasonable time frame. (For goodness sakes I go to the store a minimum of once a week – do I really need 6 lbs of carrots . But sometimes the deal is just SO good it’s hard for me to bypass it. BUT if we can’t eat it — even if carrots are $0.30/lb — then I have wasted $1.20 if I end up having to throw out 4 lbs.

2. Have a plan to use up the leftovers at the next meal.

Made a big pot of mac n cheese for dinner? Made too much salad? Then have the leftovers for lunch the next day. Already have lunch plans for tomorrow? Then change your meal plan for lunch the following day to make sure you are using it up. Physically write it on  your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. Don’t waste it!

3. Re-purpose if possible.

Above we had several cups of leftover fruit salad. It could have been “soggy” as early as the following day and not a very interesting dish by itself. But if I had remembered, I could have thrown it in the blender with some yogurt and peanut butter the following day and gotten a nutrition packed treat for me and the kids. The extra pasta sauce? Use it for dipping sauce with grilled cheese or on top of an omelet (super yum). The extra tarter sauce? Use it up in my tuna salad sandwich within the next few days.

4. Freeze it.

Don’t have time to think? The freezer can help you. It has been helping people delay making the decision to throw food out for decades. (Think about it. There is a machine in your kitchen that literally stops time. I mean, whoa.). I’m usually better about using this option to save food from the trashcan. Depending on how much I feel up for, I have been known to separate the “stuff” (beans, carrots, corn, etc)  in salad from the plain lettuce and put it in my “leftovers for soup” container in the freezer (a great way to re purpose small leftover servings, btw.). Then, if the lettuce is till OK, I will flash freeze it and bag it for lettuce soup later. I could have also chosen to freeze and label the extra stir fry sauce, pasta sauce, fruit, carrots (diced, for side dishes, soups, or pot pies), and lettuce. When it comes to freezing things, the cucumber is really the limit (the only food I have not been able to freeze and reuse. seriously.). Just don’t forget to get back to a plan for the frozen sauces and food. Otherwise you may eventually have to throw it out anyway and then you have also wasted a Ziploc.

5. Second Chance Buffet

About once a week, I try to have “Second Chance Buffet”. Usually on the weekends, we pull out all the leftovers to eat up. Sometimes it’s just a serving or two of one dish, leftover vegetables, two tortillas, a scoop of beans. Whatever you have, put it out and eat up! Everyone makes a plate of what they want (and/or supplements with a grilled cheese, tuna sandwich, etc) and that’s dinner. Easy-peasy. Because really, what’s easier than letting the microwave be the cook for a night?

Side note: I’ve learned through trial and error that if some of the more “unpopular” dishes are passed over for the second time, it’s time to institute numbers 2-4 on it, or go right to freezing it. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. If you don’t, that dish will be in the trash four days later and you will be kicking yourself. Ask me how I know 😉 .

So there you have it. Some practical tips for not wasting food. You may have already known most or all of them, but are you actually implementing them regularly??? I know I could use a reminder now and again (obviously!).

So for the month of August, I am going to commit to following my own advice and waste as little food as possible. To help me be accountable, I will post a photo and list all the food I am throwing out each week (probably on Tuesday, since I typically clean out on Monday – trash day!). I’m hoping this will keep me motivated (read: embarrass me enough) to STOP wasting food!

How about you? Are you up for a no food waste challenge? What are some changes you can make to your normal food routine to waste less?

I’m participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge  over at Money Saving Mom. The challenge: Donate, Trash or otherwise get rid if 7 things in your home each week day in May. Wanna join in? Check out the challenge on the Money Saving Mom site, or post a comment below with what you got rid of today!

Well, I’ve been bad this month – not participating in the challenge like I wanted to…

BUT, I think I have a really good excuse!

We are pregnant!! YAY!!!!! We are all very excited 🙂


This is how we “announced” it to our families on Mother’s Day {my sister took the photos of Benjamin — and made sure to sneak in one of them too!}

I have been having mostly bad days of nausea, etc., and just haven’t felt up for clutter-busting or blogging. But I have really missed it! I’m still not feeling great, but I’ve been better at managing it for the past few days.

So here is what I got rid of today:

IMG_13682 shirts that Benjamin has outgrown

2 bottles of lotion

1 tube chapstick

1 necklace

1 pile of papers to shred

Benjamin was being so cute today. He brought me his shoes which usually means he wants to go out. So I helped him put them on {even though he wasn’t dressed} and let him run around the house. I just couldn’t resist snapping a picture!


Oh, to be a baby again!

What did you get rid of today?

I’m participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge  over at Money Saving Mom. The challenge: Donate, Trash or otherwise get rid if 7 things in your home each week day in May. Wanna join in? Check out the challenge on the Money Saving Mom site, or post a comment below with what you got rid of today!

I took the opportunity to weed out Benjamin’s clothes this morning, and here’s what we will be getting rid of:

photo (2)

11 items of outgrown clothing – only 3 of which will be put away for a future child. The rest will be taken to the Mom’s group I attend at my church. We have a “Take It or Leave It” Table (started by yours truly) where moms can bring in any baby or kid stuff they don’t want anymore (Leave It), and take something else that they can use or need (Take It). So far it has been successful, with lots of coupons, toddler shoes, baby food, and formula being “exchanged”. The clothes seem to be moving slowly, so if they aren’t moving in a few weeks I think I will find a new home for them.

What are you getting rid of today?

I’m participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge  over at Money Saving Mom. The challenge: Donate, Trash or otherwise get rid if 7 things in your home each week day in May. Wanna join in? Check out the challenge on the Money Saving Mom site, or post a comment below with what you got rid of today!

I got a rare opportunity today to get some stuff done today. My sweet angel of a child took a THREE HOUR NAP!!! Hallelujah! I took the opportunity to get A LOT done around the house and clean through a box of papers.

Here’s what I am getting rid of today:


1 stack of papers to shred

4 sets of earrings (actually 3 1/2, but I’m counting them as 4)

1 earring card

1 empty rubber stamp package

Not as impressive as yesterday, but I’m happy to have found at least 7 things to purge.

And after I was done, here’s what else I found…


my sweet little guy waiting patiently in his crib after taking a 3 hour snooze 🙂

Did you purge anything today?

I’m participating in the Clutter-Busting Challenge  over at Money Saving Mom. The challenge: Donate, Trash or otherwise get rid if 7 things in your home each week day in May. Wanna join in? Check out the challenge on the Money Saving Mom site, or post a comment below with what you got rid of today!


I’m a day late getting in on the game, but I decided better late than never :).

I didn’t think I had much to get rid of…I really thought that even SEVEN items would be a challenge. Little did I know, EIGHTY items were lurking in my home!!

Here’s what I’m getting rid of today:


I am counting the cardboard boxes because they have been lurking for a while. I also purged magazines and a bunch of buttons (of the pin variety), some old makeup and a few toys, etc. Far to much to detail in a list here…you would be very bored reading it if I did!

I thought seriously about saving some to purge tomorrow, but is that cheating?? I wasn’t sure so I decided to count it all for today and try for 7 again tomorrow :).

And here is what Benjamin was doing while I was busy clutter-busting:

photo(12)A true boy, playing a game on the kindle. 🙂

Did you purge anything today?

msm cleaning

Challenge #30 (the LAST challenge!): Clean all the electronics (computer, TV, iPad, iPod, smartphones, etc.). 

It’s the last day of the challenge, and I can’t say as I was super excited about this task. Not that I don’t think that its something that needs doing, but it just sounded BORING!

But I decided to focus on my laptop anyway and knock out the task quickly. The screen and in between the keys was in need of a cleaning.

Here’s what it looked like in between the keys BEFORE:


Pretty dusty and yucky.

I would have loved to use some Dust-Off or something, but I didn’t have any. My husband suggested trying q-tips and rubbing alcohol.


I got each swab moistened in the rubbing alcohol and ran them in between each key.

The computer was off when I started, but then I must have pushed the right combination of buttons (not the power button) and some different screen came up. I didn’t pay much attention to it until I pushed another button and it changed it to a different language!


I turned off the computer and finished up my cleaning with the q-tips and then wiped everything down with a rag and cleaned the screen too.


These are the very gross looking q-tips when I was finished – yuck!

And here’s a close up of the keys AFTER:


Not 100% dust-free/factory new, but still, quite an improvement. And anyway, I’m not really sure how else I could have cleaned between the keys.

In other news…

I stopped at Big Lots today (a new one just opened up nearby) and I found a great deal on some snacks for Benjamin.

IMG_11602 Earth’s Best Organic Happy Snax for $1.00 each! I consider that a deal, so I snapped up two of them.

And he was quite a fan :).


How did you do on the last task?? Any tips on how to clean your keyboard??

msm cleaning

Challenge #29: Clean one thing (such as a dresser drawer, microwave, oven, etc).

Today I chose to clean out my craft cupboard. You have already seen the craft suitcases, but there is more (oh so much more!) craft stuff. It’s not really that the cupboard is so large or so badly disorganized. It’s actually the opposite problem. It’s quite small and it doesn’t take much to get it looking bad!

The cupboard does double duty as the changing table in Benjamin’s room.


In case you are wondering, that’s a monkey pillow pet for him to rest his head. He seems to do much better when it’s there. (Thanks Aunt Lynn!!).

I have the doors secured, but so far he hasn’t seemed interested in getting in to the drawers.


Inside the cupboard: BEFORE


Inside the top left drawer: BEFORE


Inside the top right drawer: BEFORE

The drawers’ “unofficial” main function is basically to hold anything that I’m too lazy to put away in to the proper bin, or something that likely has no home. As such, they are generally a mess.

I didn’t clean through every bin in the cupboard. They are pretty well labeled and organized inside. Instead I tried to stay focused on putting away stray items and cutting out some stuff that either can go back to the suitcases (larger paper scraps and cutouts) or to the bin in the garage (contact paper, old books to be used for a yet-to-be-determined project, and a few empty (but useful) boxes). And I did throw out/put in the donate box a handful of things that I have not used or needed to use in a long time.

So here’s the after (about 30 minutes of sorting):


AFTER: Labeled bins, photo albums and paper – that’s it!


AFTER: Top left drawer. I think I might make this my “project in-process” drawer

I put the paper cutter in the drawer because I use it often and wanted to make it easier to grab.  The two packages of felt are (supposed) to be used for busy bags, and the heart picture frame will eventually have a photo (or similar) in it and be hung on the wall in Benjamin’s room because it color-coordinated well.

And those things in the back left….


A small collection of “lids” from baby wipe packages. I have been saving (some) of them with the intention of doing something. I think maybe a busy bag? All I know is that they are good for something because Benjamin LOVES to open and close them. But for now, they stay in the drawer.


AFTER: Top Right Drawer – just a glue gun, extra glue stick and a large package of popsicle/craft sticks from Dollar Tree

I am happy with the fruit of my labor. Now the real test will be to see how long I can keep it that way…

In other news, Benjamin got some “new” hand-me-down blocks from a very kind friend, and he LOVES them! If he isn’t dumping and throwing them, he is dragging around the wagon full of them.


Doesn’t he look happy?? 😉

What did you clean out today? Any ideas on what to use baby wipe lids for??

msm cleaning

Challenge #26: Surface clean a bedroom or the bathroom(s) or you can vacuum and/or sweep the floors in the house

I can’t believe there are only a few more days left in this challenge! I have really loved the motivation not only to clean but to blog daily about something :).

I wasn’t sure which task I wanted to chose for today, but then Benjamin decided to give himself an oatmeal shower at breakfast this morning (not unlike any other morning really, but this time it happened to involve peanut butter), so there was definitely a bath in his future. So while the little guy was having a good old time in the tub, I decided to take advantage of my mandatory lifeguard duty and clean the bathroom at the same time. I can’t say that it was super dirty or anything, but I hadn’t been keeping up with my daily wipe down either. This challenge has really forced me to keep the floors cleaner (woohoo!), so this ended up being super easy. I just sprayed everything down, scrubbed out the toilet, wiped up the dust/hair on the floor and cleaned the mirror. And that was it! Done before bath time was over :).


Bathroom – BEFORE


Bathroom – AFTER

I also spent a few minutes sweeping the kitchen/dining room tile and putting away some clothes that ended up on the couch.

Now I get to spend the rest of the day enjoying the beautiful weather and playing with Benjamin. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the weekend :).

Which project did you choose today? Are you happy or sad that the challenge is almost over??


msm cleaning

Challenge #25: surface clean or deep clean your kitchen and/or living room

OK, so I should have looked a head to today, and then I could have saved cleaning out under the kitchen sink for today instead of doing it yesterday!

Oh well. I guess now I get to be creative.

I made a plan to set the timer for 20 minutes and do the following:

  • Clean kitchen windows inside & outside
  • Clean dining room sliding glass doors inside & outside
  • Sweep Tile (again!)
  • Spot clean anything dirty or sticky on the tile
  • Clean stove top (as best as I can in the allotted time – it’s pretty bad, so who knows??)
  • Move everything and wipe down counter tops
  • Straighten up utensil drawer

Stove Top – BEFORE


Utensil Drawer – BEFORE

And here is after a bit of work…


Stove Top – AFTER

The stove top is not as good as it could be. I mainly just got the “gunk” off the drip pans. I don’t know how to get the baked on stuff off…any suggestions?? I have tried many, MANY different things, and still…nothing. Maybe I should just get some new drip pans??


Utensil Drawer – AFTER

I finished everything else on the list too, and had a clean kitchen once again.

And then Benjamin…


his after-nap smile 🙂


…what happens when mommy asks “where’s your belly button?” and he’s wearing a onesie 🙂


his favourite seat in the house – right by the (clean!) dining room doors.

Did you spend any time in the kitchen today? Any tips on cleaning the stove top drip pans??(I seriously need some help!!).