Friday, January 30, 2015

Week 4 - The Fridge, Freezer, and Floor!

34 weeks of cleaning with friends
I will honestly say I was not sure I was going to have anything to report on this week's cleaning and decluttering journey. This week life was full, a field trip, an afternoon event with an author, an overnight job assignment, and an annual meeting to attend. I was beginning to think I was never going to get around to tackling Michele's challenge of cleaning the rest of the kitchen. Guess what? I didn't. Thanks to the girls though, I have good news to report. 

Earlier in the week Emily scrubbed the kitchen floor, the trash can, and the wall behind the trash can. Is anyone else ever amazed at how much stuff misses the can and sticks to the wall? The problem was, I didn't have any time to devote to the rest of the assigned tasks - you know, the fridge or the freezer?! So Thursday morning before I left for work, I asked the girls to take some time after lunch and clean the fridge for me. I knew Kurt would be sleeping almost all day since he works nights, so they wouldn't be bothering anyone. This is where I LOVE having home educated teenagers! They did a great job on the fridge, and I can even see through the glass shelves... they sparkle! 

34 weeks of cleaning with friends

Alas, they did not clean the freezer. I guess that means I need to get myself in gear and clean it myself tonight while they're out with their friends and Kurt is at work. Still 2 out of 3 things cleaned by the girls (and not me) isn't bad right? I'm here to encourage you that even if you don't get everything on this week's list done - keep going! Each part of your home that gets deep cleaned and decluttered will bring you a little closer to your goal. I know our home will not look like a Better Homes and Garden cover, but that's ok, because we really DO live here. Feel free to adapt the list as it fits your life for that week, just keep moving forward towards your goal!

34 weeks of cleaning with friends

I know I'm going to cringe one of these weeks when Michele suggests we organize our book shelves - since we have at least 12 of them here in our house. Yikes - maybe I should start doing one each weekend... Eventually I want to get them organized so we can actually find a book the first time we look for it. Right now that's not a highly likely outcome. We have a lot of lovely books, some of which we probably will never read again, so I need to find them and then they need to find new homes. I think I'll sell some of them in our Molly Green shop... but you'll have to come back next month to learn more about that. I digress.

Back to cleaning. I am finding the same thing true in each area we've cleaned: small steps make huge differences! Whether it is your junk drawer, your inbox, or the fridge, if you take small steps to keep it decluttered each time you use it, you'll find it easier to keep organized. (And no, your email inbox was NOT one of the assigned tasks - but I bet it needs some TLC too!) Put the veggies in their drawer, make sure everyone can see the open gallon of milk, put the extra tools away when you're finished, small steps to a big change. If I keep being intentional about cleaning up after myself, the girls will have a better example to follow. I'm hoping that means by the time Spring comes our home will be much cleaner and we can spend most of our free time outdoors instead in indoors sorting and cleaning.

So how did you do this week? Leave a comment and let me know what you found when you cleaned out your refrigerator!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 1/29/15 - Photographs

Photographs can transport you back in time, they can remind you of a person, an event, or even just the weather. Photos give us a glimpse into the past, and tie us to the present. A simple photograph can have the power to remind you of an emotion or even a smell. I love to take pictures because I love to look at photographs and be reminded of all the many ways God has blessed my life.

I am thankful for photos. In the midst of winter, I can pull out my photos and remember the warmth of the sun on my face, or the way a particular flower looked on a sunny day. I can look at a photo of one of my friends and be reminded about how much I love their testimony. That same picture that reminds me of a day or a smell can also remind me of the people I shared it with.

Some days I just want to run around and hug all my friends because I am overwhelmed with how good they are to me. I am overwhelmed by their love and compassion. I am thankful for the words of truth they speak into my life. I am thankful for their smiles. I am truly blessed!

thankfulness, photographs

If its been a while since you last slowed down enough to look at your photos, why not make time to do it now?! Be reminded of a momentous day in your history, perhaps your wedding, or the birth of a child. Be reminded of a family vacation to a big city, or a quiet place of solitude. Be reminded that God has given you a long life, and a full life. Be intentional about taking a few photos of your family and friends, then allow God to use those photos to remind you of how greatly you've been blessed!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Week 3 - Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Cleaning kitchen cabinets and drawers
This week's cleaning and decluttering challenge was to work on our kitchen cabinets and drawers. I though it would be easy since Kurt and I just organized our cabinets last month... but them Michele mentioned the Junk Drawer. 

Technically, our junk drawer is in the dining room. . . but I knew it needed cleaned out. So I thought about it, and even took a picture of the mess, then I procrastinated. The odds and ends ended up here because when we purchased out home, there was only one drawer in the kitchen... and it was broken.  In all reality, this is probably the best the drawer has looked in the 11+ years we've lived here, still it needed work!

Hidden Junk Drawer

Our junk drawer tends to be the place to hide things we don't really want to take time to put away. . . especially those things that belong in the basement! While it's ok to keep a couple screwdrivers or pliers handy, we don't need all of our hand tools hanging out in the dining room.

I think it's called the junk drawer because no one used to use the word stuff. They called items by their real names. . . now we call it stuff. So in reality, it should be called our stuff drawer, because it is where we stuff our stuff instead of dealing with it. So let's deal with it already.

Ready, set, go!

All of this was in the drawer. I don't think I need SIX screwdrivers and TWO measuring tapes, or the ponytail holders the girls haven't worn in a decade in my Odds and Ends Drawer.

I put away the extra tools and caulk in the basement, threw away trash, cleaned out the drawer itself. Oh - what's this?! On the bottom of the drawer is the historical information about my china cabinet. It was purchased by my Great-Great Grandfather in 1891. Cool!

Now it's all clean and still has space for an extra set of house keys. Thanks for the encouragement to clean out my no more junk drawer Michele!

No more junk drawer

Much better don't you think? Did you get into the nitty gritty of cleaning this week? How are you cabinets and drawers doing? Hope you're joining in on this cleaning and de-cluttering adventure! Earlier this week the girls and I dropped donations off at the local Christian Center from the items we weeded out the end of December. I'm sure we will need to make another trip soon, since we're only on week 3 of this cleaning adventure!

In answer to your question - no - I didn't clean out the rest of the china cabinet this week. Remember - it's not in the kitchen?! This week was the Kitchen cabinets. I'm hoping Michele has the dining room scheduled for later this year. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 1/22/15 - Sunshine, and the Library

This week the sun has come out - a lot!  It's not that we live in a place that is always cloudy, but rather the simple truth that when it's been cold and dreary, the sunshine helps my mental state tremendously! I am thankful for the sunshine. I am thankful that the snow and ice are melting off and that it is warm enough to go outside without bundling up like you live in Siberia! This week it hit 50 degrees. Considering the low last week was -4, that's a huge thing to be thankful for!


The weather can make us thankful, but so can other things. Like our library. We used to go to the library every single week, but now that the girls are older and their schoolwork takes more of the day, we don't go as often. I'm thankful for all the things our library offers, and I'm thankful we can put books on hold for pickup on the weeks when we're too busy to go browse. During this week's visit I spoke with two other home educating Moms who were at the library. Both conversations gave me reasons to be thankful, and added to my prayer list. In case you're wondering, neither conversation was about home schooling. :)

We live in a world with libraries and sunshine. In the midst of a trying week, God used both things to remind me how much He loves and cares for me. Have a wonderful week!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Week 2 - The Pantry

Pantry organization
Where do you store your extra food? Do you have a shelf, a cabinet, a pantry? We are blessed to have 2 small pantries. One is a cabinet under the back stairs (which is cold all winter long,) and the other is  a narrow upright cabinet style one we purchased at Lowe's a few years ago when we had our kitchen updated. We also have a few kitchen cabinets. Whatever your storage methods, this week's cleaning challenge was to organize your pantry.

I was actually happy to see that this was the challenge for week 2 because Kurt and I had spent an afternoon near the end of December organizing our cabinets. I opened the door to the back pantry and most of it was still fairly organized, but a few things had been placed in the front in a hurry (probably because it's so cold back there.) Just a minute or two and it was neat again. We only keep cans and jars out here, because, well, in a 100+ year old house, I don't want to attract any critters to my food.  I will just say this once - I HATE mice!

pantry organization, Home Sweet Life blogThe one problem we've always had with this back cabinet is how dark it always was. While we've discussed options for lighting over the years, we never got around to it -- you know, old house - other repairs always came first. Then in December of 2013 Kurt's parents gifted us with these awesome anywhere lights. I promptly came home and installed one in the pantry. It has made it SO much easier to find things this past year!

The inside pantry was still ok, but I rearranged a few things because I knew I was planning to go shopping soon and wanted the most room available to put groceries away. This inside cabinet is for all the things we use regularly that don't belong somewhere else in the kitchen. It's a little, tiny kitchen, so we have to keep it organized to find anything. Every shelf in this pantry was assigned a purpose when we bought it. One shelf is for lunch boxes, one for bread, tea, and extra flour or sugar, one shelf for cereal keepers, one shelf for baking tools (cooling racks, pie pans, muffin tins,) and the main shelf for food. This main shelf is the one that needs attention the most often. Peanut butter and olive oil get stored here, along with anything I don't want to freeze in the back pantry. This storage area is easy to clean, and one giant box in shape, so there's no entry way for critters.  One of my favorite new things is kept here - popcorn oil. It turns a good bowl of popcorn into an excellent one!

pantry, Home Sweet Life Blog, 34 Weeks of cleaning

So how did you do on organizing your pantry this week? Hopefully getting it organized has given you some meal ideas. Did you find something you forgot you had? Fit it into your menu plan for next week. 

I wonder what week three's challenge will be?! 

Keep checking in with us each week. We plan to keep going - hopefully for all 34 weeks!

If you'd like to know how other bloggers did on organizing their pantries, click on over to Michele's blog and see all the link-ups. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 1/15/15 - It's the little things...

Thankful Thursdays, thankfulness
How often do you feel thankful? 

Could our busy lives and hard hearts be the reason why we're not thankful more often? Perhaps in this world of microwave popcorn and drive-thru restaurants we have forgotten how to slow down, how to be still, how to be thankful. Last night at church we were reminded that the gifts God has given us are for the building up of the Body of Christ. When was the last time you focused on building up someone other than yourself? I believe the two are often intertwined. If we stop and take time to think about the many, many little things we have to be thankful for, will that not spill over into us encouraging others? Would you like to be an encourager? I would.

What were the little things that God did for you this week that encouraged you? Are any of them things you have shared with your friends to encourage them? Have you rejoiced this week? Why not sit down right now and write out five things that encouraged you this week. Five things to be thankful for.

I'll go first:
1- the beauty of yesterday morning's frost - swirls and swooshes all over my vehicle
2- our girls made bread - warm, yummy, slather it with butter bread
3- Kurt told me he loves me... twenty years into marriage, it's still great to hear it often!
4- the house is warm
5- God is still on His throne, and He loves me! Through Christ's amazing sacrifice I have been forgiven and accepted.

These are all things I can talk about. These could each be an encouragement to someone else if I just take the time to tell about them, if I just take the time to slow down and recognize that there are people around me who could use some encouragement.

My friend Joy sent me a small package this week. It was a scarf. It isn't something that was a life-or-death need, yet it encouraged me. It reminded me that she thinks about others and wants to build them up. 

Won't you join me this week in being thankful for the little things and using them to build someone else up? God wants to use us - let Him!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

This thing called blogging . . .

What is this thing called blogging anyway? That was my thought several years ago when people started mentioning that they read a blog. Nowadays there are so many blogs, and YouTube channels, social media platforms and other ways to spend your time it makes my head spin. 

technology limits

Are we using all of this technology wisely, or is it using us? Does your smart phone help you work smarter or is it a temptation to check out of reality and play another online game? These are real questions we need to ask ourselves often. None of us wants to end up with a technology addiction, yet very few people actually want to live off the grid. Finding a balance is crucial. 

Like all areas of our lives, we need to look to God for guidance when using technology. Right now it is the depth of winter here. For the past week it has been below zero degrees Fahrenheit for a part of almost every day. That's not the type of weather to lure me outside to hike or garden. So I needed to make an extra effort to not let technology take over. I've made a conscious effort to limit my time online. Setting a timer is good for me. It reminds me there are other things to go do. . . like love on my kids or talk to my husband!

Right about now I need to finish up my musings and go sort some paperwork. I can sort receipts and think about ideas for the blog for next week. In the meantime, know that I enjoy having you stop by and read this blog, and I hope you receive some encouragement from something we post!

Whatever the weather is like where you are, and whatever your circumstances, know that God is there with you. Spend some time this week away from the technology and with God.


Do you use Pinterest? Do you find it interesting? Pinterest is still fairly new to me, but I'm finding ways to make it work for me. Like any other tool, we need to have a plan, and hopefully some instruction when using Pinterest. Several of my friends (and many fellow Crew bloggers) have been quite helpful as I learn this new platform. 

I'm trying to be selective about my pins on Pinterest, because I don't like messy. Please don't misunderstand me, I like to DO messy things: like bake, garden, or work with pottery, but I don't like a mess just to say there are more things there than were there yesterday. So if you pop over to Pinterest and look at my boards you'll see there are only a large handful. Here are a few of them:

I'm trying to sort out what I want to pin into realistic categories. There is a board of "Elementary aged ideas to share" because I have so many friends with littles. Even though I don't need any ideas for this age anymore, I want an easy place for my friends and readers to find them. (Hope you find something YOU like there because there are SO MANY cute things to do with your kids...and they have instructions and pictures... unlike when our girls were little and you just hoped it turned out right.)

There is a board of recipes I want to keep, and another board for sweets - because, well, no matter how much I like sweets - they're not a necessity. I've also added one more recipe-ish board - this one for household things or other non-food recipes. . . things like play-doh, essential oil blends, and beauty care items.

Pinterest can be interesting, if we remember that it is a tool, and that we need to step away and spend more time with our family and not very much time online. You'll need to set your own limits on using Pinterest. What works for me may not work for you. 

Oh, don't forget. . . your home and projects do not to be "Pinterest-worthy" looking to be great. Get some ideas, and then get to work making messy memories with your family!

Have a wonderful week!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Week 1- Let's Get Started!

My friends Michele and Kemi have challenged. . . umm, invited us to join them in "34 Weeks of Clean" over at Michele's blog. Did you join in with us? I'm going to try to keep up with it for the whole 34 weeks. The girls and I spent a large part of the last 3 weeks of 2014 de-cluttering our house, specifically their rooms and a couple of book shelves. I want to join my friends (and encourage my readers) in this plan to keep the stuff from taking back over our homes.

If you haven't done any cleaning or de-cluttering yet don't worry. Michele's plan is for us to each work on one task a week, and then check in each week for a new task. By the end of the 34 weeks, we should each have a cleaner, less-cluttered home. This week's task was organizing and storing the holiday decorations.

If you'll think back, we didn't put up a lot of decorations this year. . .but we still had some de-cluttering to do. The girls brought our totes back up from the basement, and we went through the other decorations first. We came up with a small bag of things to donate, and a medium-sized pile of things to throw away. Once they were organized, we took down the decorations we used this year, and packed them into the totes. The ceramic tree went back in its box and we returned them to the little spot in the basement.

34 Weeks of cleaning link-ups

Since we didn't put up our artificial trees this year, stow-away was easy. Now that the ornament are organized, and the stockings are on top, getting everything out again in December should be easy too.

How did you do this week? Feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you did!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Thankful Thursdays - 1/8/15 - The Wonders of a January Sunset

This week I've gotten back into being my alter ego of a work-away-from-home-Mom as the new year takes off and my vacation is over. It's a different life than many lead, this being a home-educating Mom and a Mom with an outside job. This week God had plenty of wonderful surprises in store for me to show me I am right where He wants me to be.

I am thankful for God's small reminders that give me hope and courage for each new day. On the way to work Monday morning I saw a rainbow. No rain here, it was too cold for that,  just ice crystals in the air making a rainbow. :)

On Tuesday evening, as I was returning home and getting ready to make dinner, there was this wonderful sunset. Another reminder that I was exactly where I needed to be.

On Wednesday, I got to enjoy a clear, cool sunrise (from inside the house) while I was getting ready for work. Today, I get to spend most of the day inside a warm house, while the windchill outside is terrible. My out-of-home work is done for the week and I get to spend more time with our girls.

God is so faithful to provide just what we need. I am thankful beyond words for His loving care of our family! 

(Just in case you're wondering how this can all work and still homeschool, right now Kurt is working nights, and I'm working days, the girls ARE getting their schoolwork completed, and God is working out all the details. We try not to stress out about it, we just go with whatever curve life throws our way for this season.) 

It's never easy being a parent, but God is always here working out the details - for that we will be eternally thankful! What do YOU have to be thankful for today? Need some help keeping track? My friend Marcy over at Ben and Me has a freebie for her subscribers, a printable 2015 Grateful Journal. You should pop over and visit her - and tell her I said "Hi!"

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Need Some Cleaning Encouragement?

Now that the New Year is here, do you find yourself staring at your house and wondering "Just what happened to make this mess?" If you're wanting to get a handle on your house, and clean it up to make a home, it always helps to get a plan and follow it.

My friends Michele and Kemi have teamed up to help us all keep on track to getting a cleaner, more organized home in 2015. Michele is hosting 34 Weeks of Clean over on her blog, and Kemi (a true queen of organization and printables) is making sure we all have the tools/ checklists we need to figure out what we have once it is put away.

I'll be following along with Michele's weekly tasks, and invite you to join us. I love the idea of one task a week. That means if you've already done the task, you're done with heavy cleaning for the week and just need to maintain your home. This week's task is to put away your holiday decorations. I invite you to pop on over to Michele's blog and read about this week's task and her great suggestions for decoration storage.

34 Weeks of Clean Linkup

Our family only put out a few decorations this year, so it should not take us long to get this week's task completed. I hope to see you on Friday, when I'll post up a photo of our completed task, plus perhaps a couple tips of my own.

We've spent the past three weeks de-cluttering our house, but there is still a lot left to do. I look forward to joining with my friends and getting our house better organized. Who's going to join us?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thankful Thursdays -1/1/2015 - A New Year!

Today I am thankful for a New Year! 2014 had a lot of challenges, and many struggles. Through it all God showed me again and again how He cares for us, how He is faithful to provide for us, and how much He loves us! 

Early in 2014 God really started talking to my heart about transformation, and about how transformation is something that only HE can do. He has been working on my heart. While I can feel the transformation beginning, I know He has so much more to do in my life. 

I do not know what 2015 will hold for my life or my family, yet I have learned that God will always be there with us!

It is traditional to wish people a Happy New Year, but because happiness is so fleeting, I want to change that greeting this year. I want to wish you a joy-filled New Year! May your hearts be open to being transformed by God's love, and may your lives be overflowing with grace and peace.

Have a wonderful 2015! Thank you for reading along with us on our journey!

New Year blessings