Tag: home

Six simple things to do Sunday for a successful week

April 6
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The last few months I have started getting into a great Sunday habit that I feel has really led to better weeks. I am calling it one habit, but my Sunday habit really is a set of six goals that I try to have met each Sunday before I go to bed. Sundays are generally my day off to myself as my husband works them so it is a great time to me to knock out some important errands. Depending on your schedule, you may have another day you do these tasks. Do it when it is best for you. For most of us Sunday is the day before the start of our workweek.

Meal Plan

One of the first things I do Sundays is meal plan. For me, meal planning is picking out dinners for the week as well as ensuring my husband and I have leftovers or other meals for lunches. I like to be realistic so I plan easy meals for busy nights and more elaborate dinners for nights when I am off or actually have time. I also take my husband’s schedule into account so if I know he is working late Thursday night I may make that a leftovers night instead of trying to cook a full meal just for myself. You know you and your family. Make a plan that works for you, but also be flexible with it. Want to grab tacos on Tuesday? Go for it, just make Tuesday’s meal on Wednesday! 

Shopping

After I have my meals I put together my grocery list. I add items for meals as well as check the staples in the pantry and fridge. I also text my husband and get any ideas from him. This is a great time to check the bathrooms and storage as well to ensure you are stocked up on toiletries and paper products. My goal is to have everything for the week purchased so I don’t have to make extra trips to the store during the week. After the list is made I do my shopping and put away my purchases.

Clothing

Next I walk into my closet and plan my outfits for the week. When I tell people I plan my outfits they are usually a little shocked at first, but after I explain my process a little more they get it. Yes, I do plan my work outfits, but I am not super strict about it. I will hang them in an area of my closet in order Monday, Tuesday, ect, but I am very flexible on when I wear what. I also look at my planner to see if I have any important meetings I need to dress up for or any other plans that might affect my wardrobe choices. I also like to glance at the weather as well. This really makes getting ready in the dark in the morning easy. Just grab a set and go.

As I mentioned, these outfits are hung in order in the front of my closet. If camisoles are needed I grab them and put them on the hangers. Going through my drawers looking for the hot pink camisole at 6:30 am is not fun.

Generally my laundry is already done by this point, but if there is an item I need for the week now is the time I’d toss it in the wash and do a load.

Lunches

Back to food again. I know it sounds silly, but having all the meals thought out really does set me up for a better week. I like to pick up my snacks for the week at this time. Granola bars, fruit, and hard-boiled eggs are my current favorites. Usually I eat a small snack in the afternoon at work to tie me over until dinner.  Now is the time I cook any rice, quinoa, or beans my husband or I need for lunches.

The Car

One my last to dos is to check my car. I clean out anything left from the week before and ensure it is gassed up for the next week. Getting gas Monday morning is just not fun.

Straightening

The last thing I do is more of just a generally habit. I like to take a few minutes in the afternoon and just pick up anything around the house or the kitchen. It is great to go into the workweek with a clean house; it really helps me mentally prepare for the week.

I like to have all this done by dinnertime so I can make dinner and enjoy the evening before the workweek. Keep in mind, this system works well for me but please optimize it for your own use. Maybe you don’t pack a lunch or you wear a uniform. Skip those steps and feel free to add anything else you need. Also don’t feel like you need to spend an entire day getting ready for the week. You of course do need to grocery shop every once in a while, but the rest of this is easy stuff that does not take a lot of time. Enjoy your day and plan to have a great week!

 

Six Simple Things

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DIY Painted Kitchen Cart

March 8
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A few months ago my husband ran across this cute little kitchen cart at a yard sale. He knew that I was looking for something like this for a corner of our kitchen/dining room area and so he grabbed it for me. I loved the little cart, but I felt that it was a little lackluster and didn’t go with the room so I decided to fix it up a bit.  I recently got a new teal rug for the dining room so I decided to paint the base teal and use an antiquing wax to give it an interesting look. Our kitchen cabinets are a red oak so I purchased a stain for the top of the cart that matched this color.

Materials:
Minwax stain
Chalk paint
Antiquing wax 
Paint brush (These are supposed to be great)
Polyacrylic
Painter’s tape
Fine sandpaper
Electric sander (Optional, but totally worth the $30 investment if you’re going to be doing a lot of projects)

I purchased my paint and wax from Michaels however for simplicity I have linked to products at Amazon.

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The top of the cart is a butcher block and was a little worn so I went ahead and sanded the top down a little bit.  I used a fine grit sand paper. After sanding I wiped down the piece thoroughly so that it was nice and clean and then followed up with a dry cloth.

I chose to start with the stain as I knew I’d be doing several layers. The stain I used stays on for 15 minutes and then is removed with a cloth. Read the instructions on your can in case it is different. Use painter’s tape (or washi tape in a pinch) to keep the stain off unwanted surfaces.

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After staining I started painting the body of the cart. Originally I wanted the exterior of the drawer to be stained to match, however because the wood was different from the top of the piece the stain did not sink in well so I painted over it. I did two coats of paint and then did some touch up in a few places to make sure it was good.

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I chose to use an antiquing wax on this piece to give it a distressed finish. It also muted the color a bit which fit my room better. I found this YouTube video on how to use the wax very helpful.  Remember to read the instructions on your wax, with mine I went back the day after and buffed the piece to finish it.

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The last step was to apply a clear coat of Polyacrylic to the top. This is a clear water based sealant that will protect the surface. You may want to do two or three coats of this.

Overall this was a great project and a great deal. We spent way less on this piece and the supplies as we would a nicely painted new version of this product and we got it in the color we wanted which looks great in the dining room area.

DIY Calk painted kitchen cart. This piece was stained and waxed with an antiquing wax.

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Early 2017 Faves

February 24
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Hey guys, I know I haven’t been doing regular favorites posts lately but I wanted to jump in and share some things I’ve been crushing on lately.

This is my version of the street tacos

 

If you know me, you know I love Mexican food and of course tacos.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking my taco making skills up to the next level with two AMAZING new recipes.  First I made these yummy Beef Street Tacos, and more recently I tried out these Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa.  Spoiler alert: They were both great and I can’t wait to work them into our meal rotation.

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In other news, I’ve been working on my dining room lately. One of the new items I have added is this great teal rug from Walmart. Yes, Walmart! I was in there picking something up the other day and saw it and it was only $80 which was great.  I love the bold color, but if I get sick of it in a few years I can just replace it as I didn’t spend a ton of money on it.  Now that I have that rug in there I am going to be working the rest of the room around those colors.

I know I’ve got valentines colors in here, I’m working on that.

 

Both January and February found me visiting Antique Extravaganza at the Rennigers Flea Market here in the Orlando area.  First of all, (as I am sure you are wondering) yes, it is big enough of an event to be called an extravaganza. Anyways, I picked up two new cute home decor pieces; a window and a dough bowl.  I know these are both trend items and the bowl is reproduction, but I think they are super cute and really work in my dining room. (Which, as you recall, I am working on.)

 


I think it must be the early nightfall or the cool air, but I have just been loving curling up on the sofa after work with a good book and reading until bed. When I get out of the  habit of reading physical books I don’t miss it, but once I start back up I swear they are as addictive as coffee and Publix cookies. (Oatmeal Raisin of course.)
Not a favorite yet, but I am considering trying Lipsense. Have you tried it? Do you like it? I am looking for an Orlando area consultant so I can try it before I buy it. Not sure what Lipsense is? It is a long wear lipstick that appears to really stay for 18 hours. It is only sold via direct sales so ask around in your area for a consultant.

 

Anyway, I hope you liked this collection of a few random things I am enjoying.  Loving anything awesome? Share it with me in the comments! Want to see more things I love? Follow me on Instagram!

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The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

July 20
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The move part 3-Tips for searching for your new home

Form a solid relationship with your realtor

We were very lucky with our first home purchase in that we were able to team up with a super awesome realtor who understood us, our needs, and our personality.  If you don’t mesh and the realtor does not understand your needs it will be very difficult them to help you find your home.  When building that relationship be sure that you both are able to communicate clearly and in a timely manner.

Know your price range

Before even starting the home search most realtors will require you to get a pre-approval from your lender to ensure you are ready and able to purchase a home in your price range.  Remember that just because you are approved for a loan of a certain amount does not mean that you can actually afford that home.  Keep in mind that as a homeowner you will incur many more expenses that you may have not needed to worry about as a renter. (Repairs, replacement appliances, maintenance, ect.) Purchasing a condo or townhouse? Don’t forget to factor the HOA fees.

Know your community

Once you’ve decided you want to buy a house the next thing you need to decide is where.  Use sites like Realtor.com or Truilla.com to get an idea of what houses go for in the areas you are interested in.  Be  very clear with your realtor about the areas

Know what you want

So you know what you have to spend and the area you are interested in; now its time to decide what you need.  Generally speaking, its not financially wise to purchase a home if you plan on moving in two or three years; so when you put together your requirements think about the future.  Decide how many bedrooms and living areas you need as well as if you need a garage, yard, pool, patio, ect.

Know what you can live without

Depending on your area of the county and your price range you may have to make some sacrifices.  Maybe to get the three bedroom home you want you may have to settle for only a one car garage or a house without a patio.  Sit down and discuss what items are very important and what is non-essential. This also means be realistic; you can’t get everything on a shoestring budget, but you can get something.

Once you start the search be diligent with reviewing homes regularly

Right now we are in a seller’s market. Homes are going fast (Mine sold in hours.) and you don’t want to fall in love with a home but wait too long to put in an offer and lose it. Keep up to date with new homes in the MLS that meet your needs and plan to see new homes regularly.  Once you start looking at homes be ready to put an offer in the moment you find one you love. Even after you’ve put in an offer (before it is accepted), keep an eye our for your next option.

Have a plan for your offer

When you find the perfect home and decide to make an offer, time is of the essence.  Have documents from your lender ready as well as easy access to however much you plan to put down as earnest money.  This is money towards closing costs that the buyer puts down when they sign the contact.  This money is generally held in escrow and most often can be returned to the buyer if the deal falls through. Know any contingencies you must place on the offer as well as how long of a closing period you need.

 

After that its a waiting game!  Check back next week for my post on sealing the deal and getting your next home under contract.   Follow up Facebook for updates on new posts!

 

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Spring DIY round up

February 26
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SIX Super Simple DIYs for Spring

Spring is in the air, or at least it feels like it here in Florida.  I love to get a little crafty in the spring and put together some simple decor for my home.  I am not the most skilled crafter, and really anything more that some glueing can be problematic so I am sharing super simple ideas in the hopes that I can make one of them myself successfully.  Click through to the creator to find the instructions.  Enjoy!

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Recycled Bunny Vase by Weekend Craft

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Five Minute Umbrella Wreath by One Good Thing

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Mini Frames Spring by  A Diamond in the Stuff

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Easter Chicks by Myrtle and Eunice

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Spring Mason Jars by I Heart Naptime

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DIY Printable letter banner by Shanty to Chic

 

Did you make one of these crafts?  Show me!  Comment below or tag me on Instagram  @_amberdowns.

 

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9 deals at Ikea you need to know about

February 20
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Like this post? Follow us on Facebook for updates!

The 9 deals at Ikea you need to know about. Hacks, products, and the best deals for your budget. AmberDowns.net
 
KOPPLA – 2 pack extension cord $5.99

I am always looking for another one of these.  2 for six bucks?  Great to grab just in case.

NACKTEN Bathmat $2.99

This simple mat is great to have as a spare. Grab two at that price


NACKTEN Shower Curtain $1.99

I know they sell shower curtains at the dollar tree, but have you used them?  They are too thin.  For two bucks you can get something decent that is totally disposable.  Perfect for a drop cloth, craft, or something you can toss if it gets dirty.

 

 ALKALISK Alkaline Batteries 10 pack  $1.99

Ten batteries for two dollars.  Do I need to say anything more?  Perfect for flashlights and toys.

 

 RAJTAN Spice Jar four pack $3.49

Although one of the more expensive items on my list, these jars are super cute and great for crafting, storage, gifting, and other uses.  Less than a buck each.

 

 PROPPMATT Chopping board $6.99

Again not the cheapest item on the list, but this is a great deal for a cutting board if you need one.  I doubt you’ll find a wooden board for less.

 

 TOKIG Salad Spinner $3.99

I love this supper simple, super cheap spinner.  When not spinning, this is great for popcorn bowl.

 


TRYGG Serving Bowl  $2.49

An Ikea staple, this large bowl is a must have item for entertaining.  A trifle would look great in this.


SMACKER Flatware Tray $.99

This lovely tray is a steal at a dollar.  An easy update for your kitchen that could also be used in a bathroom or office.

 

Want more Ikea info?  Check out my Ikea tips post here.

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The 8 best Ikea tips and tricks

February 11
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Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!  

 

The 8 BEST IKEA tips and tricks for a fun, quick trip.  Ikea hacks for the family, how to save money at Ikea.

Everyone, I mean everyone loves Ikea, and it’s not just the cheap furniture that we love. Its everything.  The food, the displays, the odds and ends, the new ideas, and of course how little we paid for it all. However, if there is one thing that everyone hates about Ikea, it is getting in and out without spending the entire day.  We’ve all done it, walked in for a pillowcase and ended up spending three hours and $250.  Today I want to share my secrets for getting in, out, and on with life.

exit1. Enter through the exit.

I know this agains the “rules,”  but entering through the exit means you can skip the displays out front and you will end up choosing a better parking spot for when you want to leave.

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2. Check out the As-Is room first.

The as-is section of Ikea really is a gold mine of opportunity. Last year, when the husband and I went to purchase new desks were were upset to find that what we had wanted was not in stock anymore. We had picked out alternate options but were a little disappointed.  Right as we were about to check out we stepped into the as-is are and found two even better desk tops for a fraction of the cost.  We ended up only spending $35 when we had gone in planning to spend at least $80 on them.

Think outside the box when you are in this room.  Although an item may not be in perfect shape for its intended use it still could be great for something else.  Also, a good cleaning and a coat of paint go a long way. Don’t forget to check again before you leave in case there are new items.

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3. Check for an as-is sale

Often times there will be an additional sale on the as-is items.  See which category is on sale and save even more in the as-is area.

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3. Skip the display area.

Know what you want when you go in and just skip the tempting  display room.  Chances are you’ve already seen the item in in action and know what you want.  Not sure where it’s located?  Look it up on your phone ahead of time.  The ikea website has all of the items and the furniture location information as well as the probability that it will be in stock.

4.  Know your measurements

Know the measurements of the areas that you are looking for furniture for.  Write these down or put them in your phone.  You may want to also take photos of the area or room so that you can try to visualize the piece in your home.

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5. Skip the weekend!

I know we love to go to Ikea on Saturday morning but you know the place is packed.  Consider working out a way to go in the week, even in the evening. (Preferably Monday- Thursday)  Of course, you may have to wait until the weekend to build your purchases but you will actually have all weekend.

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6. Bring the right vehicle.  Don’t suddenly decide to buy a new dresser when you’ve driven to Ikea in a Prius with two car seats.  Think you need a bigger vehicle?  Ask a friend to trade for a day or consider a quick Uhaul rental.  If your vehicle sports a hitch you could rent a trailer for a little as $20 a day.download7. Join IKEA Family before you go to the store.

Ikea Family is a free store membership that allows you to receive discounts on selected products, more free time in the kids area, a free cup of coffee, and other benefits throughout the year.  Register at home and have them text you your card number so you don’t have to waste time signing up at the kiosk.

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8. Kids eat free Tuesdays

Have to bring the kids with you?  They eat free every Tuesday at the restaurant.  (Up to two kids per paying adult meal.)  Also, there is alway free baby food with adult meal purchase. If you all have to be there you might as well eat.

 

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. Have another one?  Add it in the comments!   Also, don’t forget, a lot of Ikea items are on Amazon. Sometimes, especially if you have Amazon Prime, it may be quicker and easier to just order items there.  Keep in mind these are all sold via 3rd party resellers.

Enjoy your trip!

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Valentines DIY round-up

February 2
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Easy DIYs for a crafty Valentine's day. These crafts are a perfect way to spruce up your home for the holiday. Budget and kid friendly too!

Although I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, I do love me some DIY.  I went ahead and gathered up some of my favorite super simple Valentine’s Day DIY’s for the home.  If anything, it’s a great excuse to put up some pink and red around the house.

 

blue i style - ValentinesLoveScrabbleCoastersAre these coasters from Blue is Style not the coolest thing ever? I need a few coasters so I am going to use her idea for sure.

2321I love a good art print. These are perfect for any room or a gift. They are from A Night Owl.

candleI am in love with these candles from Artzy Creations. Also would make a great gift!

wrSeriously, why didn’t I think of this? I know I have a roll of burlap ribbon around here somewhere. Thanks Craftaholics Anonymous.

treeThis little recycled tree from Vicky Myers Creations is perfect for kids room.

 pillowThese pillows from Ribbons and Glue are awesome!

DIY-Book-Page-Flowers-3Not into pink? Try these book pare flowers from Busy Being Jennifer.

I hope some of these links inspired you to do a little holiday decorating.  Are you going to make one? Comment below or tag me in a photo on Instagram.  I’m @_amberdowns

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Office makeover part 1- DIY painted desk accessories

January 30
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DIY Spray Painted desk accessories

When we moved into this house three years ago I claimed what had been the formal dining room as my office and craft room. This was the only room in the house that was completely new. Yes, I had a desk but we had no additional furniture for the room. We’ve slowly been working on the room. We purchased awesome hutches and last year we got new desks and a storage cube. Now I am ready to take the final plunge and make this room awesome. I have decided I want to go with a simple gold theme. I am keeping the dark blue rug, but I want to be mostly neutral with the rest of the room. I had a pink trash can and pencil holder that just were not going to work with the new scheme but I was not ready to buy brand new ones, they were perfectly fine! So I grabbed a can of Krylon Metallic Gold spray paint and went to town.

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When you’re looking to paint items in your home take a second to consider how well the paint will stay.  I like to paint items that are accent pieces and not too large, and items that if I ruined them, would be ok.  I purchased these accessories on clearance and really could live without them if they don’t turn out well.  I also like to pick items that don’t get touched too much and don’t have moving parts. (That’s why I skipped the scissors and hole punch.)   These items were the perfect candidates.  Don’t have anything to paint? Check out a thrift store, yard sale, or other resale.  Ask your friend and family if they have old metal office accessories, chances are somebody, somewhere, is still holding on to the 70’s.   Not metal?  Plastic and wood are ok too. With wood make sure it’s sanded if its not finished or else it won’t look smooth.

This is after the first coat of paint.

This is after the first coat of paint.

As with any spray paint project find a nice spot outside out of the wind.  I like to lay paper down so that my grass isn’t colored for a week or two.  (If it’s too windy for paper it’s probably too windy to paint.)  Shake well and keep the tip at least a 8 inches from the object.  If you can see the paint puddle up on the object you’re too close.  You will be able to see it later and it will be likely to chip.  Instead of heavy close sprays do quick passes to give a light coat.  I like to do this process in three steps.  First I set the items up and do my first passes.

After the second coat.

After the second coat.

This is the longest step and where most of the painting happens.  I then go in  the house for 20 minutes and come out for another pass.  If the surface still needs more I go again, if not I will place it on its side or upside down and do another angle.  Depending on what you’re doing you may not need to do the bottom at all.  For these items I needed to do the curves of the bottom to ensure the pink was gone.  I then go back in and come back out one more time for a last coat.  Be sure to remove any grass that blows onto the items so that it does not get painted on.

Almost done!

 

So here we go. Not bad for $5.  Step one of my office makeover is complete!IMG_2097

 

This post was shared Costal Charm Show and Share #299.  Stop by and see what else bloggers are sharing!

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Upright freezer organization

January 20
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Organize your freezer with dollar tree baskets. DIY budget friendly deep upright freezer organization. Keep your freezer clutter free on the cheap. Perfect for couponers, buying in bulk, families, and anyone else.

I have to admit it, my upright freezer is one of my most prized possessions.  This is of the modern marvels that really makes my days easy.  I do a lot of couponing, so when I find a great deal I love to stock up.  This saves me money and time.  I love having a stockpile of items on hand to make whatever dishes I desire.  Because of my freezer, I can do this.

 

 

I keep items in my freezer organized in plastic bins from Dollar Tree.  Before you go out to buy your bins be sure to measure the size of your freezer to ensure that the bins you purchase will fit your shelves.  Also, check the width if you want two side by side.  I purchased these bins over the last year at my local Dollar Tree.  Check yours to see what they have but make sure they will fit.  Target, Walmart, and other discount stores will also have bins of varying sizes.  If you like, you can make labels for your bins.  I just keep them in the same spot so I don’t need them.

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I divide items in my freezer into five categories.

Meat
Veggies (these take up 2 bins)
Fruit and veggies for smoothies
Dairy (shredded cheese and butter freeze wonderfully)
Meals (frozen meatballs, ravioli, turkey burgers, ect.)

I keep the bottom shelf in my freezer bin free.  This is where I keep our frozen lunches.  When I cook a dish I freeze several servings in individual containers.  My husband and I then use these for lunches at work. I like to keep anywhere from 2-12 servings of meals on that shelf and on the door.  We also keep other random homemade frozen items on the shelf such as our meat and bean taco mix and our salsa. I also keep bulk meat purchases on this shelf.  As you can see, I recently ran into a sale on ground turkey.  I have rain checks to pick up more when I get more space.

I chose a chilly winter day to organize my freezer because I live in Florida and the food will start to melt any other day.  Anyways, go through your freezer and toss out anything you deep down you will never use or is just too old to be any good.  I recommend thoroughly going through your freezer every 6 months to toss anything that is too old or you no longer need. Also, this is a good time to check if it needs to be defrosted.  My freezer is a frost free model, but they all still should be unpacked and looked at.

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My last piece of advice for your freezer is to invest in a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.  I keep mine hanging right in front.  This way, you can open your freezer and feel safe knowing it is working properly.  If you ever see that mercury (or whatever they use these days) rise, then you know you might have a problem on your hands.  I keep my deep freezer at below 0 degrees fahrenheit as is recommended by the FDA.  As you can see my thermometer has a nice bold line to remind me of the temperature to keep. It really helps!

 

You may also want to consider investing in a freezer alarm to alert you if the temperature drops.

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