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Keep everyone on the same page

By on May 27, 2012

Organizational tools can help family schedules run more smoothly. Items such as a household notebook, folders, totes, baskets, bins, a dry erase board and checklists work well.
The first reader tip shares another helpful tool:


Handy calendar:

I buy a big desktop calendar at the dollar store, attach a couple magnets to the back with glue and hang it on the fridge. I add all the birthdays, anniversaries, appointments and important dates, then have all the kids write what they have going on as soon as they know what their schedules are. It’s big enough to hold a ton of info, which saves time, as everything is in one spot. There’s also room on the bottom to add notes. I check the calendar each night before bed, and again first thing in the morning, so I know who is doing what for the day. — Patty, Utah

Reuse milk cartons:

I often mail a dozen cookies to my sister using an empty milk carton. I wrap the cookies in plastic wrap, then use wax paper to fill any remaining space. It always arrives whole. Being waterproof helps, too. — Sue, Massachusetts

Reuse plastic ice-cream tubs:

I save them up and we use them at the food bank to pass out laundry soap and shampoo. — R. Sullivan, email

Flea control:

My parents used to put a hot plate in the middle of the room to get rid of fleas. The fleas seek heat and make a satisfying “ping.” You have to keep pets and small children out of the room, of course; and it doesn’t do anything about the fleas on the pet. — F.W., Michigan

Price Book app:

If you have a smartphone, you might be interested in an app called Price Book. It’s my new best friend. The app asks for the name of an item, the number of units (as an example, I tracked my milk in ounces because there’s so many different containers and they all have an ounce listing), the price you paid for the item, what store you found it in and whether it was on sale. The next time you click on the item, Price Book brings up a list of all the places you’ve seen it, with the price per unit arranged from lowest to highest. Very helpful for frugal shoppers! — Nishu, California

Sticker greetings:

On holidays like Valentine’s Day, I put themed stickers on the fruit in my kids’ lunchboxes. It’s a fun and inexpensive way to say “I love you.” — Carrie, Indiana

Homemade vegetable bouillon:

5 ounces leeks, sliced
7 ounces fennel bulb, chopped
7 ounces carrot, chopped
5 ounces celery, chopped
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
3.5 ounces shallots, chopped
3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
6 ounces fine-grain sea salt (more or less to taste)
1.5 ounces fresh parsley, loosely chopped
1.5 ounces fresh cilantro, loosely chopped

Wash, chop and weigh your vegetables. Puree the vegetables in batches in a food processor. Combine everything in a large bowl and mix in the sea salt, which will act as a natural preservative and keep the mixture loose. Store some in the fridge and the remainder in the freezer, as this makes an extremely large amount of bouillon. To start, use 1 tsp of bouillon for every cup of water. Do not add salt to your soup or stew until your recipe is complete, because the bouillon will add plenty of seasoning. — Angel, forums

photo by dafnecholet

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