Friday, November 27, 2015

DIY Thieves Floor Cleaner

Hey there! It's been so long since I wrote up a post! My journal has a long list of blog post ideas and I couldn't wait any longer.  This season in our family is crazy, busy, and doesn't leave a lot of room for writing (or other creative outlets) but that's ok.  That's what this is about. Sharing the crazy lives we live, things that work, and lessons I'm learning.


I love coming up with natural cleaners that I can easily make with simple ingredients I can have on hand. BUT....they have to work better than the cleaners I typically buy to win me over.  I finally came up with a floor cleaner that works great! Adding Thieves essential oils not only makes the house smell great but it adds an antiviral and antibacterial boost to the cleaner.  

Note... This is technically a tile floor cleaner. I have used it on my wood floor a couple of times with no troubles. However, I don't know for sure that it is safe on wood. Just sayin'. 

I use a spray bottle that I had on hand. It holds 17oz .

Thieves Tile Floor Cleaner
1 tsp hydrogen peroxide
2 tsp vinegar
1-2 drops Thieves
water

What are your favorite DIY cleaners?


Try my DIY Grout Cleaner to get that grout under control again!



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Monday, September 28, 2015

Pottery Barn Knock Off

What? It's almost the end of September?! It feels like just yesterday it was August and we were starting the school year. Whew.  I've caught my breath and we're in our rhythm.  (Now that I say that...something will change) 

I have had the chance to paint some signs and work on a few projects that I'm excited to share!

This Pottery Barn knock off was so fun to paint and couldn't have been easier to do.  This isn't a detailed how-to... more like a 'this is how I did it' kind of post.

Did you know that Lowe's will make your cuts for you?  For free?  How awesome is that! I use this service all the time. Thank you Lowe's guys!

The hardest part of this sign is spacing. I knew I needed 4 lines for words, so after I painted the board navy, I used chalk (I'm very visual) and sketched out and roughly sketched the words out. Then I measured to figure out the height  of the letters and how much space I wanted in between the lines. Once I had what I needed, I wiped the board clean and measured it out again, marking with chalk in several places. Using a straight edge, I made guide lines to work with and wrote the words in chalk, erasing and fixing anything that didn't look quite right.

Once the sign is laid out, lightly erasing (but not completely) gets rid of some of the chalk dust. This makes painting over the chalk letters easier. After a few touch ups I added a coat of wax for protection. Add hanging hardware to the back and you're done!


Hope you are all enjoying the beginning of fall! We're ready for some cooler weather around these parts. Bring on cozy fires and hot chocolates!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Blueberry Muffins

I'm We love blueberry muffins!  They are a fun change in the usual breakfast and are pretty quick to whip up.  

Kayla made these for us this morning. I have been trying to give her some freedom in the kitchen.  I want her to grow up knowing how to cook, along with other skills that our culture is letting slip away, so I've been incorporating that in my school plans. 

I love that I (or she) can make these quickly with no mix!  
Blueberry Muffins

1 egg
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries

Mix dry ingredients, allowing small amount to coat berries. Beat egg, then add milk. Mix into dry ingredients.  Add floured berries and the melted butter. Stir just enough to moisten (do not beat). Bake in muffin pans for about 25 minutes at 400 degrees. 




Thursday, July 9, 2015

Taking Time to Let Your Soul Breathe




Usually I'm a night person. I love that chunk of time at night when the kids are all in bed, the house is picked up...and I have an almost guaranteed amount of time to work on something I want to work on. But this past week I've discovered something magical. 

My soul can breath in the morning.

I have always known that getting up before the rest of them is a good thing. I know that my day goes better when I do but I have been out of that habit since just before Joe was born. That time in the pregnancy when you are tired again and just not ready to greet the day but your kids demand it...

I woke up and opened the windows to listen to the rain and smell the fresh. Soak in the quiet. There is a peace in the early morning. I'm able to think because my mind hasn't started with my to do list or more so what didn't get crossed off.

I took the time to read. I felt close to God, like I was snuggled up on the couch with Him. It was peaceful. Quiet. Calm.  I didn't want the time to end, but slowly it did.  The house started to wake up. Life started to happen.

Why can't there be a little of that in our every day? How can we make this happen in the middle of all the things life and the day have in store? 

How can we give our souls time to breath when life can demand so much?

It takes being intentional. Sitting and watching the kids play. Noticing their joy. Their honest love. 
Sitting and quieting my mind during the day. No plans or lists. Relaxed so I can feel God's presence and see the things He wants to show me.

'You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you'
-Isaiah 26:3

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fourth of July...and Fifth


The Fourth of July has come and gone. The kids were so excited to hang out with neighborhood friends and light off fireworks with Jason. 


We have a good friend who LOVES this sort of thing. He came fully prepared for a great show.


Then it rained.


The next night we set up again and had a great time. 




The glow sticks were a big hit with this guy. 


Hope you had a great Fourth (or fifth) with your bunch!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

5 Things I Learned in June


1. Parenting is tiring.

This is nothing new, but what I realized is how it changes as they get older. Parenting older kids is mentally exhausting.  Multiply that by 10 if you have been blessed with a strong willed child. Throw in a baby and now you're physically tired as well.  

Boom. 

Exhausted by the end of the day. 

I am DONE by the time the kids go to bed...which has been hard for me. That used to be my time to stay up and get things done and then do something I wanted to do.  I stay up to get the house back in order (which takes a while these days) but that's it.  

I am finally realizing that I don't have to do it all.  I simply can't. And I don't need to feel guilty about that. I am enough.

2. My husband doesn't see the extra baby weight.

He gave me a shirt for my birthday and it was way too small.  In the past it would have fit me. I know that I haven't lost all the baby weight (and weight from a crazy year) and I was letting that bother me. I was feeling very guilty for that. 

I realized that he picked up that shirt, looked at it, and thought it would fit. He sees me as the same. He doesn't look at me and think "she needs to lose weight". There is freedom in that!I don't have to hang on to guilt. It will happen when the time is right. 

3. Summer is almost half over.

I finally felt like it was summer this week. It has taken me this long to get my mind into summer mode. The Fourth of July marks the middle of the summer and I'm not ready for that. 


4. Sometimes I forget to laugh.

I want my kids to remember a mama who would smile as she looked them in the eye and really listened to them and laugh with them without care. Without worrying about and pressing through the to do list.


5. Curling your hair with aluminum foil works!

We tried it for Kayla's dance recital at the beginning of the month and it worked great! The second time went smoother because I knew what I was doing. Have you tried it? Here is a great tutorial!












Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Slow Summer Days: Why Our Kids Are Not Signed Up for Everything


Summer is in full swing here and we are taking full advantage of the time off from school.  We aren't filling our time up with summer camps and classes, but instead we are intentionally staying home.  Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that almost everything has a summer program.
We could easily sign our kids up for something every week we are off. 

But you know what? I'm not signing them up.

Well, Kayla is signing up for one dance camp so she can try a different style of dance. And the kids are going to Vacation Bible School. But that's it. 

Aren't they bored? Don't they get on your nerves?....Yes, sometimes. But that's ok!  I actually want my kids to be bored. If my kids are bored, they will eventually find something to do.  If they don't, they are bored all day. Let me tell you that it only takes one or two long and boring days before the figure it out and start to get excited about their free time and all the possibilities. 

 They end up using their imaginations and creating something out of a fort or a box. Cardboard boxes are a hot commodity in this house.  They will spend hours making something out of a box. When we bought our book shelves, they used the boxes to make a movie theater. Really it was a puppet theater but they called it a movie theater. They made little puppets out of paper and popsicle sticks for several Disney movies. They had a blast!  

Another time it was a drive-in. 


Imagination has been taken out of everything. It isn't encouraged in school and at home we often don't give it time to develop.  Our society is so quick to fill our kids' time. We think they need to be busy all the time.  And video games. Even if they are limited, they can become a crutch.  Playing games...even educational ones, don't require any imagination. It's all there and done for them. 


I am also trying to add in a few adventures.  An adventure can be anything out of the ordinary. Maybe a spontaneous trip to the lake (20 minutes away for us). A surprise ice cream run in pajamas. A super messy craft or experiment that I wouldn't normally do. Even as simple as playing outside later than normal. We live in the south and it is H. O. T. during the day.  I love bedtime and I am usually pretty strict about sticking to it. But you know what? It feels great to play outside in the evening after dinner. Sometimes they even sleep in the next morning!



We are spending the summer soaking up the free time together.  We only have 18 together with each one.  Kayla is turning 10 this fall...so we have 8 left. We're making them count!


And here's this cutie just because he's cute. So squishy!

Are you having any little adventures with your kiddos this summer?  I'd love to hear about them! 


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tips and tricks

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sidewalk Paint

Sidewalk paint is such a fun activity for the kids!  All you need is cornstarch, water, and food coloring. 
This is by no means a picky recipe. I just eyeball it. I added cornstarch and water to each muffin cup and mixed. It should be pretty watery. Then I let the kids add the coloring. 
The trick is to stir the paint with the paintbrush when you dip the brush brcause the cornstarch settles. 

Hope your summer is off to a great start!

Monday, June 8, 2015

5 Things I Do When I Feel Overwhelmed

As mamas we have so much on our plates. Our to-do lists are endless and it is so easy to feel overwhelmed and slip into survival mode. 

I can't possibly do all things well and with a great attitude. I know that I need God to do all that through me. 
 

Here are 5 things I do when I'm feeling overwhelmed. 

1. Clean the Kitchen
Do the dishes and wipe the counters down. I make sure I put away anything that doesn't belong as I go. 

2. Vacuum
For me, vacuuming makes a big difference. The floor gets picked up quickly and the vacuum lines make me feel like the room is so much cleaner. Vacuuming is a quick way to make a difference. 

3. Declutter a room
All I do is grab a grocery bag and quickly walk around getting rid of things we don't need. Most of what I pick up is just thrown away but if someone could use it, I just put it in the donation bag in my closet. 

4. Clear off your bedroom surfaces
Having my dresser and nightstand a cleared when I go to bed feels so good.  I don't want the last thing I see to be something not done. I sleep much better (or at least I think I do) when my room is uncluttered. 

5. Make a to-do list
I take a couple of minutes at night to write down what I need to do the next day. I try to be realistic. I know I'm not going to get to 5 projects.  I also wrote down something just for me. Something I like to do. 

Here is a bonus.... I don't sort the laundry. Well, at least not as carefully as usual. My goal is to just get it done.

My babies are blessings. I need to remind myself to enjoy them and see them as that even on the days I am in survival mode!   

Here's to a great week!



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tips and tricks



Friday, June 5, 2015

4 Things I Learned in May

Ok. So I have been following The Nester for a long time and recently started binge listening to the Hope*oligie  podcasts at night while I'm cleaning up. 

Love it. 

Wish there were more.  

Since I started listening, I began following Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky and found a fun monthly link up. 

Here's my list. 

4 Things I Learned in May. 

1. Playing mind tricks on myself works. 

Since Joseph arrived in January, I have been in an almost constant state of behind. I'm behind on laundry. Behind on cleaning. Behind on cooking. 
I'm mostly ok with it. This is just our life with three kids who are usually at home with me. I know I need to give myself a little grace. Or a lot. 

I started playing mind tricks with myself to feel like I'm ahead.  At the end of the day I have a routine for getting the house in order and then myself ready for bed.  Doing something early that is usually at the end of the routine makes me feel like I'm ahead. I'm doing the same amount of work, I know. But I feel like I'm done early. 
Makes me smile every time. 

2. 15 minutes can be all it takes to stay sane.

I love to create. It is usually some form of hand lettering. This month I started taking at least 15 minutes a day to work on something. Usually it's just writing in my idea notebook but doing something I love to do feels good!

3. I like the quiet.

I have a child who, when she's in a good mood, will talk, make noise or sing...constantly. I asked her if she just really likes to use her voice (nice way of saying 'is it hard for you to be quiet') and she said yes, giggled, and went about her singing. 

I don't. 
I like for there to be quiet. I like to think. Our second child is like that. 
Jury is still out on the third, but I have hopes. 

4. I am horrible at texting.

I have a very quick trigger finger when it comes to texting. I hit send so fast that I don't even have a chance to notice that I type things like "these lightning notices are really creaking me out" to my friend during a storm. Or no oroblem instead of no problem. And I always feel I need to fix them with another text even though I know the person I'm texting is capable of figuring out what I meant. I can't help it. 

The best example happened the other day....technically in June, but it confirmed what I began to own in may.  I have kids. I'm busy. So I dictate a lot of my texts.  The other night I was getting all the kids ready for bed when a friend was expected to come pick up a sign for the dance recital. I set the sign outside in case I couldn't get out there when they arrived. I don't know her TOO well yet..which made this much more embarrassing.  I was trying to say that I saw them pull up but I had a naked baby on my bed. We had just finished bath time. INSTEAD my pone decided to tell her that I saw her but I had to MAKE a baby on my bed.

Not at all the same. 
Totally different.

Totally embarrassing.

There you have it. 4 Things I learned in May.


Hope your weekend is great and all your texts are correct!











Wednesday, June 3, 2015

We Grew Crystals!


At some point during the year I asked the kids what they wanted to learn about.  Kayla chose crystals. So a quick Pinterest search and we came across this tutorial.  
All you need is alum and water.  We learned that alum is a sulfate that is used to make pickles crunchy.  Next time I can a batch of pickles I'll try it!

Start by stirring in a teaspoon of alum in about a cup of hot water until it dissolves. Continue this until it no longer dissolves.  Just to give you an idea, we were in the 12-14 teaspoon range.  

Now you have a saturated mixture.
We kept a science journal this year (when I remembered to have them add to it) and we kept an almost daily record of this experiment. On the first day I had the kids write just a couple of sentences about what we did and they drew a picture. 

That's it for day one. 

Day 2.  You'll see a bunch of tiny crystals covering the bottom of your jar.
After the kids check it all out, have them pick out a big one. (it's still tiny) Now tie a piece of fishing line to it. This was the hardest part of the whole experiment. Tie the crystal to a pencil. 
Before you return the crystal to the liquid, clean out the jar. Pour the liquid into a second jar. You will have to do this on an almost daily basis from here on out. You want your crystal to be the only one in the liquid so it can grow as big as it can. 
Now that you have clean liquid, lay the pencil across the top of the jar and let the crystal hang in the liquid. Make sure it isn't touching the bottom or sides.
Don't forget to record your steps and observations in your journal!
Check on your crystal every day. It will grow quickly! Remember to clean out any new crystals that you find. You can retie your crystal to keep it from growing around the fishing line. We left ours while we were out of town and they grew over. No big deal. 
Record your observations!
The picture above is just a few days into the experiment. The picture below is a few weeks. At this point we were only journaling once a week. 
See how long you can keep your crystal growing. We left ours for a while and a new crystal had formed under the main one. 

Over the years I had tried different ways to grow crystals. This was by far the best result!

I post pictures and updates regularly on Facebook and Instagram. Follow along and see what we're up to!





Saturday, May 23, 2015

We Made It: Our Last Day of School

Yesterday was our last day of school.  Our last day of our first year of homeschooling. As with anything new, this year has been learn-as-you-go. 

Our last day included a game over breakfast,
finishing up our dinosaur unit

a hula hoop contest during a break when it was clean no one wanted to do their work,
  and celebrating the end with a whipped cream pie eating contest. 



 
It has been a crazy year for us...but we made it. Not without a few tears, 
but also with a lot of joy.

Are you celebrating the end of the school year?  I'd love to hear about it!





Sunday, May 17, 2015

Meal Planning

I'm trying to be more intentional about what I'm feeding my family. Planning and making healthy dinners has been hard for me since we had Joseph. I think it's a combination of lack of time and the fact that there is always a list of things I need to get to. Meal planning has been pushed aside.  

Here's what I came up with this week.
Breakfasts:
Cereal
Frozen waffles (kids make these on their own)
Cinnamon Pancakes 

(I let Kayla make her own batch since without cinnamon. She loves to cook by herself so I'm trying to get her in the kitchen when I can. We just half the recipe and freeze the extra batter)

3 1/2 c flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
4-5 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
2 1/2 c milk (I use whole)
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients last, adding melted butter in slowly while mixing. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix until incorporated and let sit while griddle or pan heats up.  I love cooking pancakes in my cast iron pan over med to medium-high. They are ready to flip when they bubble and start to look dry. 
We serve our pancakes with butter and a dusting of powdered sugar.


Lunches:
Sandwiches
fill-your-own-plate
Some days I take out fruit, cold veggies and ranch, pepperoni and lunch meat, chips or some other type of fun food. I give the kids a plate and they fill it up making their own choices. 
one on-the-go lunch

Dinners:
Crockpot Chicken Taco Soup

1-2 lbs chicken breast
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can seasoned black beans
1-2 cups frozen corn
1/4 cilantro (I use freeze dried from the produce section)
3 green onions, chopped (when I forget to pick these up, I use freeze dried chives
1-2 cans chicken broth (I just use the big carton and fill with enough to cover the chicken plus a little extra
Taco seasoning: (use for this soup, or in a skillet on taco night with one pound of meat)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste 

Add all ingredients to crockpot and cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken easily shreds. Shred chicken and cook for 1/2 hour longer. Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, and avacado.

Hot Dogs, tater tots, and veggies for kids and leftovers for us
Chicken, rice, veggies
Steak with bleu cheese salad
one dinner out

Is meal planning something you do? I'd love to hear what you are cooking!