30 January 2015

Organizing Friday { Week 5 }

Our coat closet was a multipurpose area during the holidays. We kept everything in it, wrapping paper and gifts, coats and shoes. It was a bit much. You can see the mess here.

Spent a little time while the baby was asleep just taking everything out and not putting it back in. Most of it didn't belong in there anyway. My mother and father in law were getting rid of this shoe rack, it fit so we were happy to snag it!  Still have all my aprons and baby wearing stuff in there. They need to be easy to access.

This week I am going to focus on our Homework Cabinet. I don't really know what else to call it. It's in the dining room and has all kinds of stuff the kids use after school. Work books, crayons, pencils etc.  It's a mess, although I did do a little work before I took the picture.

 I have a couple friends that just have the best set up for their homework areas and art supply storage. I am going to see if I can find anything this weekend to inspire the kids to keep it tidy.
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27 January 2015

PB Cinnamon Toast Treat

I don't even know what to call these other than delish!
 These treats were super easy to toss together. Just like Rice crispy treats, except there is a little less butter I think, and I added some PB.

4-5 Cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal (or similar)
3 TBSP Butter
1/3 C Peanut Butter
1 Bag Mini Marshmallow

1 lined 9x13 baking pan

Melt the PB, Butter and marshmallows together, either in the microwave or stove top.
Add the cereal and stir to coat 
Smoosh down into the baking sheet
let it cool and set, cut and enjoy

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23 January 2015

Organizing Friday~Week 4

This week was crazy but I managed to get a few things done.
I decided to move the grey table in front of the crawl space, cause it was just a big ol' eye sore. It's not THAT much better but better than it was.

Drawers all cleaned up and rugs stuck down and I fixed the front window curtain.

This week I am working on our coat closet! We are not used to the less space and no place for shoes! 
This is how we started out.

I have a lot of aprons, even after getting rid of more than half. I use them most days and I have a hard time parting with them.

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22 January 2015

Gold & Pink Party Inspiration

Usually this time of year is full of Birthday planning. But being in a smaller place and we weren't sure if we would be here or in the middle of moving etc. We decided to do things super simple this year. We are having a joint party for our oldest 2, their birthdays are 1 day apart. We rented the local swimming pool and I am getting a Costco cake. It's really whats best for us this year but makes me a little sad. I wanted to do a pink and gold party. I don't like gold that much but I love it on party supplies!! Just sharing some ideas I had floating around and some great sources for cute stuff!
I have a feeling I won't be so eager to do Gold and Pink next year. 
I always start with decorations, stuff like a banner or picture.
This DIY one is nice and basic
This one is more my style. I prefer less straight lines and more whimsy

But THIS is my favvvvvorite!

And outfits, ahh soo many!
Everything from over the top to super casual and super adorable

Supplies, things like silverware, napkins, think of everything you can do with some gold glitter!
And SO many cute treats and cakes!

Sad that we probably won't get to make this one happen, but if your little girl loves gold or pink and glitter, check out my Pinterest board  HERE for all of these links and more :)

Can't wait to see where we are for next years birthday parties! I feel like I am running out of themed parties for these big kids, they are growing so fast!
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21 January 2015

Haven Checklist

 I shared before some of the things I know my family appreciates at home. The obvious stuff, but I also want to think more about the little things and make an effort to do them more often too!

Not likely these will all happen everyday. but I work well with a checklist, even if it's just for the occasional reference. On an ideal day where no one loses their lunchbox, spits up 30 seconds before we have to walk out the door or has a meltdown over lunch, I could get these all done everyday. It's not a long list but doesn't include any tidying or cleaning.  

Does it Smell Good?
We use 2 types of smell good stuff. Scentsy and Wall Flowers from Bath and Body Works. I pretty much stick to just 1 smell from each place. I use Happy Birthday from Scentsy and whatever the current Salted Caramel, Creamy Caramel, Caramel something from Bath and Body Works. I try to change the scentsy every week if the smell has faded. I don't use more than 1 of either. Some people are scent sensitive and I don't want it to be overpowering.

What is there to eat?
Goodness gracious do our kids come home hungry everyday?! The way they instantly go for a snack would make you think they haven't eaten all day. I have really been slacking on the snack department lately. I am working on getting back to having homemade snacks more often. I don't like to buy or give the kids the prepackaged stuff. We did find an organic all natural brand that isn't as expensive but it's still not my favorite thing for them to have. 
Our kids all have a sweet tooth. I don't want to give them dessert for a snack, but I do think something on the sweeter side 1 or 2 days a week would be a nice surprise.

No one really LIKES to do homework, me included, but it needs to be done. Keeping the homework stuff prepped and supplied helps make that afternoon chore a little easier.

Healthy Yummy Meals
Depending on which kid you ask about a meal will depend on the answer you get about if it's yummy. I am not about to make 2 different meals for the kids. They have the choice of eating what we are having or the alternate (and very similar) meal. My mom is a super picky eater, I am pretty picky but getting better, hubby is picky. I was never forced to eat anything, accept by my sweet great grandma. It was horrible, and I remember feeling anxiety about eating around her. I would rather our kids not have that anxiety and trust me when I tell them they might like something. Dinner is just not the time to argue over stuff like veggies anymore. If they don't like the veggies, I don't stress anymore. I just sneak it in a smoothie and don't tell them. It's a win win win. They win by not having to eat something they really dislike, I win by getting them the veggies anyway, the family wins because it tends to keep dinner time a little more peaceful. 

Has anyone seen where this print is from? It's adorable, love the colors!

Open the windows on nice days
We don't have a lot of those right now, but every once in a while, and as we get closer to spring, a lot more days. I love the fresh air and it just feels better to have the windows open!

How's it sound?
I try to put music on that no one really dislikes, pleasing all of us at once will be tricky, but there are some Pandora stations that don't play songs any of us have expressed a dislike for. 
My favorites are The Civil Wars Station, and The Avett Brothers Station, depending on what kind of mood I am in.

And I could read this BLOG all day, well if I didn't have a million other things to do. It is full of great ideas and the contributors are all sweet! I love the Hospitality Series they have done.

Speaking of Hospitality. I want to check both of these books out! Have you read either?
*affiliate links

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19 January 2015

Apple Pie Energy Poppers

Just tried these for the first time last night, they went really fast! Super tasty and super easy to throw together!

3/4C Dried Apple Rings
1C Pitted Dates
1/2 C Oats
1/2 Tbsp Cinnamon (I used Pumpkin Pie Spice)
**If I was a little more awake when I made them, I would have added some flax meal and some walnuts would have made them even better!

Dump all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until doughy.
Roll into balls (I used about 1 Tbsp. per ball)
Put on a parchment paper lined tray
I set ours in the fridge for a bit, then moved them to an airtight container.

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16 January 2015

~~Blessing Jar~~

Our kids are pretty sweet in general, but to encourage them to look for opportunities to be a blessing to each other and to others I made this jar. Nothing fancy, just a mason jar and a little tag.

I have a stash of these Pom Poms (even in Valentine Colors!)

and rather than only verbalizing how proud I am of these kids, I want them to see how much they can do and how quickly it will fill up if we are looking for chances to help each other. I might even swap out the things we use as filler, to match the season.
When it is all full we will do something special!

This sweet heart baby was SO excited to put some in this morning. Look at that face!
He is in PJ's today because big sister has pajama day at school, and the orthodontist. Mr. felt like he needed them all day too. I am about to go out looking like a bad mama dragging her kids all over town in PJ's hehe.

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Organizing Friday Week 3

This area takes the most abuse by our kids!

It wasn't too hard to fix up though.
First I went through all the shoes, again. We have lived here 2.5 months and already they have outgrown more shoes!

Then I just made them each a cute tag for their basket. Finnley sometimes has a hard time remembering which is his, or at least that is what he claims. No excuses now.

And yes that is the start of a wee basket for the baby. He will need a bigger one, but for now that little one we had on hand is storing his teeny little hats.

I was going to work on the laundry area next, but decided I should tackle the area we use a LOT, the entryway. Right now it is a disaster, a pile of stuff I need to take out to my car, and 4 drawers that have seen better days.

That rug is making me crazy! It slides all over, fixing that is on my list for sure!

We let each kiddo have a drawer, they can keep whatever they want in here as long as it's not liquid and won't spoil.
It's funny how different each one is. Ramsey has random change, his sports magazines, gum and iPod and a few random Legos. Carsyn has a drawer full of lip gloss, diaries and hair bows, right next to the grody flavored Harry potter jelly beans and tooth fairy $. Finn has more garbage and unsticky stickers than anything else! 

We don't make them tidy their drawer very often, as long as it closes they can keep it as messy as they want.

I will probably encourage a quick tidy of them though. 
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14 January 2015

Deeelish Mac 'N' Cheese

First I want to apologize for the lack of pictures. It smelled SO good that I think it was out of the oven for all of 5 seconds before there was a fork full, or 5, out of the pan.

I really never cook with a recipe because so many of the people here are picky eaters. I was a little more aware when I was making this about ingredient amounts!

A BIG bowl is a requirement and if the cottage cheese thing scares you, I am the ONLY person in this house that likes cottage cheese. I didn't tell anyone it was in there and no one asked or questioned it.

1lb pasta. I used elbow noodles
1/2 C Flour
2 Tbsp. Butter
2-3C Milk ( I didn't measure)
1C Cottage Cheese
1/2 C Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 C Cheese, shredded  I used 2 C smoked Cheddar and 1C Cheddar Jack
1 Sleeve Ritz or Townhouse Crackers
1 Tbs Butter 

Preheat oven to 350
While the noodles were cooking
Make a white sauce, a little thinner than gravy with consistency with flour, butter and milk.
Once that is done I added the cottage cheese and greek yogurt.
Drain the pasta
Combine the pasta with sauce
Add seasoning
Stir in Cheese 
Pour into 9x13 " Pan
I used my ninja to make the cracker crumbs
cover the entire top with cracker crumbs
melt the last 1 Tbs of butter
Pour over the top

Bake, uncovered, for 40-50 Minutes at 350
The edges get just a little crispy and the inside is gooey and super! NO ONE complained about dinner. That is pretty much a miracle around here!!
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Why Cleaning Matters to Me

Why it matters to me that is. I want to serve and be a blessing to our family. As a wife I should serve my husband and as a mom, our kids. When we have guests, my job as a hostess is to serve. It's one way I can show them love. Striving to be a good and CHEERFUL servant in that aspect. Keeping things tidy because it's more pleasing than a disaster. Keeping it tidy around here allows me to spend more time on what really matters, the people in our life!
I don't ever want to be ashamed or embarrassed about what our home looks like if someone comes over, or decline the offer out of fear of what it looks like here. Worrying about the crumbs on the floor and the dishes in the sink can really be distracting and I don't like to be that type of friend. I want to be present in the conversation, 100%.  I want to show my family and our friends how important they are when they are in our home.
 Cleaning, even though it sometimes feels like a thankless job is how I can show them.
What motivates you to keep your home tidy?

 Some other reasons why cleaning is important to me?
I sleep better when things are in order and I am more creative and productive when my surroundings aren't in shambles.

I can tell you it is NOT easy! Everyday I have to remind myself why I should be managing our home. Some days I don't convince myself and those days happen to everyone once in a while. Thankfully, with the right 'tude we can get back on track.
 I really kind of got out of my weekly routine when we moved. This first month I think the only real cleaning I did besides dishes was when I moved stuff it maybe got some of the dust knocked off of it!

I don't want to waste another day where I could serve the people around me and show them how I care. I feel like these last 2 weeks I have done a much better job, getting more into the routine of it. Trying to be thankful we found a place for now that is safe and works for us. Being cheerful even though it is the 3rd time I have swept in 2 days, when it feels like NO ONE appreciates it. I have to remind myself I am not doing it for the recognition from anyone. I do it to serve, plain and simple. When I stop expecting appreciation to be verbalized or shown by a certain 5, 7 and 9 year old, it's better!

“Whenever you get opportunity to serve, serve with all your heart.”
Lailah Gifty Akita

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13 January 2015

What makes a house a HOME to you?

Focusing on being content where we are in life right now. It's not easy but I am going to make the most of it. Some of the things that make a house a home to me are

~Tidiness (not spotless)
~Organized common areas
~It's gotta smell good!
I can never smell our house smell but I know it smells good because I get comments on it every time someone is over. I think I have become nose blind to it.

I want our kids and hubby to come home to a soft place to land as some call it. A place they look forward to coming home to after school and work, where things are just easy and where they can just be and feel at home. Some things I know that the kids appreciate are

~Snacks, easy snacks!

~Less Chores

~Time with Mommy

~Things in their place so they can get onto playing with them

~A clean place to do homework

Some things I know hubby appreciates are:

~Snacks, especially if dinner is not ready when he gets home

~Time to unwind after work

~Less hustle and bustle and more downtime

We aren't here just yet but slowly working on it.

I'm going to try and share a little bit each week how I am getting us to this place where Home is a Haven and the place we all want to be. 

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12 January 2015

How We QUICKLY Built Our Baby Emergency Fund

When we sold our house our property tax wasn't showing paid at the assessors office yet (it was being processed) so we had to pay it AGAIN at closing for the deal to go through. We had to use almost all of our emergency fund to make that happen. We got it back as soon as the tax office showed an overpayment, but it took just over a month.

During that month I was on a mission to build our Baby Emergency Fund ($1000) as fast as I could without it affecting our budget. This is Step 1 if you follow Dave Ramsey's plan. I was able to get us almost all the way back up to $1000 before we got the money back. This is how we did it.

Goodness did we have a ton of excess! So much so that I was able to sell stuff at a great deal for other folks but enough to be close to our Baby Emergency fund.
Be real with your needs. Do I LOVE drinking glasses, sure do, but did we need 5 different sets? NOPE. It wasn't fun and wasn't a 1 time process. The first go around I eliminated 1 set and made some $. A few weeks later, did the same thing and was even more real with our needs. We hadn't used all that we had so 2 more got sold!

Use Your Skills
Maybe you can sew, paint, watch some kids? Whatever it is, put yourself out there and create something you can make money from. It doesn't have to be a full time or long time gig, just enough to get to that baby goal.

Put it away RIGHT AWAY!
This was sometimes the hard part for us. Sell $100 rug, and it can be SO tempting to go DO something, or get something with that cash. Having a designated SAVINGS  spot for it before the bank and WRITING IT DOWN is really what helped us. That ongoing tally of cash was a good visual.

Other ways, not as quick as others but still efficient
  • Set up a savings account, automatically have a % from each paycheck directed there. Out of site, out of mind. Even if it's only 2% that will add up 
  • Cash in your change. Maybe it's only $20, it will still help
  • Cash in your gift cards. I didn't know trading in my gift cards for cash was an option until recently.   
And because we were able to build it mostly back up before we got the refund, when we did get the refund we were able to put that directly to some debt!
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10 January 2015

Homemade Marshmallows~ Fun Treat and Gift

Friday is usually my least busy day, last Friday I had just enough time to whip these up!

We are packaging some up for a couple of friends and enjoying the rest. They are SO much better than store bought! This particular recipe doesn't use corn syrup, that was a plus for me!

I found the complete recipe here
Pretty basic ingredients
3 Packets of Gelatin
Evaporated Milk
Powdered Sugar
Corn Starch

I did add something, it really makes all the difference! This 1 little ingredient makes them so whimsical and perfect!
Edible Glitter! If only the pictures showed all the sparkle!
You can see a little but not nearly as much as in real life!
These would be perfect at a princess of FROZEN party! 

 *Olaf Approved Snow Bricks

We just packed some in a mason jar, perfect for your hair lady, neighbor, get well soon, etc. Easy and homemade and who doesn't love marshmallows?!
You can alter the flavor by swapping vanilla for other flavors. I wanted basic vanilla this time.
You can add some food coloring into the first step for colored marshmallows too!

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09 January 2015

Organizing Friday~ 4 Easy Steps!

I am going to share with you what I did last week and what my plan is for this week is, but first, the basic steps I take when organizing.
1. Stuff that goes together or is the same, stays together. 
All the CD's are in one place. All the cleaning supplies, all the linens etc.

2. Give it a HOME
A place for everything, everything in it's place (sometimes)

3. Make the space work for you
If you need a basket, storage, whatever it takes to make it work in it's designated space, do that.

4. Label, tag, name
Whatever you call it, don't leave a box or bin full of unknown. Save yourself some time later on, label that bin or box or basket.

That's it! Those are the only 4 steps it takes to organize anything.

I maybe shouldn't have called it organizing, it was more just put together. We don't use our front entry much, we typically use the garage, but I am thinking I could do a little more sprucing up out here to make it feel a little more inviting, maybe a basket underneath the bench or something. I will have to see what I can find at the thrift shops.

This week I am working on the kids drop zone. 
It's a makeshift mud area in the garage. It has been used and abused for months now. Hasn't been set straight since we moved in. 

Those shoes need a good purge and sorting. The whole thing needs some cleaning and I need to follow my own advice and LABEL the baskets and bins. The boys especially don't care which basket they throw their mittens and gardening gloves into.

Before long this might be too small! Once Hawkins needs a shoe bin we might need to reconfigure this set up. But for now, in this rental, we will make it work.

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08 January 2015

Prepping for a Good Morning~Night Routine

Today I am sharing how I prep to make my mornings smooth,well smoother anyway.
In my planner I use these super cute daily docket pages from Miss Tiina.

There are 6 areas besides water on the page. I like to use them for 
~To Do's for the day
~Looking forward, appointments etc.
~Encouragement, quotes, scripture
~Everything else

Some of these are partially filled out before hand but I like to do as much as I can while I am wide awake the night before, I am less likely to miss something that way.
I have HORRIBLE penmanship.

 Anything to make mornings run smoother. These are a few things I do at night. It doesn't take long, only about 20 minutes total, including tidying the kitchen. Waking up to a mostly clean kitchen is SO worth the 5-10 minutes it takes at night.

  • Fill out my Daily Docket for the next day (also throughout the day)
  • Prep my coffee
  • Lay out clothes
  • Set out breakfast stuff
  • Write in notebooks
  • Get laundry ready
  • Pack some of lunch stuff
  • Quick kitchen tidy 
  • Check dinner plan, anything need to thaw?

 What can you do in the evening to make your morning better?

Maybe only once a week prepping is more your style? Living Well Spending Less shared this 3 hour Sunday prep that might work for you!

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07 January 2015

Morning Routine for busy Mom's

My routine hasn't changed much over the years, it works for me for the most part.
And NO way does this happen everyday. Anyone who says every morning runs this smooth is fibbing or has super powers. This is how my morning runs on a perfect day. Most days there is a varying amount that gets done, out of order some days and none of it on those bad days. Those are all ok with me. I just like to have a vision of what the perfect morning would be like. How can you work towards something if you don't know what it is. Right now, with a 3 month old it's really hit or miss on what happens in the morning.

That is my basic morning, I have a much more detailed list in my planner. But it's probably too detailed and specific to work for anyone else.

What does your perfect Mommy morning look like? Ya know, other than sleeping in. Do you have a routine? If not, here are some tips on getting started!

1. Write down what MUST be done before it's time to go, detailed.

2. Figure out how long that will take you (then add 10-20 minutes just to be safe) 
If you have to leave by 8 and it's 90 minutes worth of work, you know what time that alarm needs to go off!

3.Write down the things you WANT to do in the mornings. Adjust your time to reflect those items.
If that leaves your alarm at an hour you just cannot accept, some of those want items can wait.
Try prepping some of those MUST do items the night before, leaving time in the morning for some of those WANT items!

4. Practice, refine and make it work.
For me it wasn't easy to just pop up at 4:45 one day. I slowly started moving it back about 30 minutes until I had it easier most days then moved it back again. 

I am going to share my weeknight prep list soon!

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