Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The are finally starting to bloom!!! I love my dahlias. They make the most perfect bouquets.

I get my dahlia bulbs for free. Yes, I said free. They come from Carpooler Michelle. (Side story: When my son was little there were three Michelles in his life. There was Auntie Michelle, Haircut Michelle, and Carpooler Michelle. He's now 9 years old, but she is still Carpooler Michelle in our house.) Carpooler Michelle's mom grows lots and lots of dahlias. Now, those of you who grow dahlias know that you are supposed to dig up the dahlia tubers every year, divide them, and store them in a dry place until you are ready to replant in the spring. That's just too much work for me, so I just leave mine in the ground. Most of the time I get lucky and they come back the next year. When we have really wet winters, sometimes the tubers rot. Sad. But then Carpooler Michelle comes to the rescue and gives me dahlia tubers BY THE BOX FULL! This year I was even able to make requests for certain colors. Reds, yellows, oranges, and whites are my favorites.

Thanks Carpooler Michelle! Happy gardening!
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Another Job I Hate

"Honey, are there any lids for the small containers?"

"Mom, where are the water bottles?"


I love an organized home, but every few months this is what my tupperware cupboard turns into:

Ahhhh! Much better.

Happy organizing!
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

My New Cleaning Supplies

I'm so excited! My new Shaklee cleaning supplies have arrived.

At the beginning of the summer my kids were doing their chores and my son told me that he couldn't stand cleaning the bathroom because the smell burned his eyes and nose. He was right! Those bathroom chemicals are really strong and cleaning with chemicals is really not fun. (Cleaning really isn't fun anyway, but the chemicals just make it worse.) Then there was my husband... I was shampooing the carpets and set the bottle of carpet cleaner on the counter while I was filling it by the sink. He came home from work and very nicely told me that having a bottle of chemicals on the kitchen counter, where we prepare food, freaked him out. He was right too! So, I was on a mission to reduce the chemicals I use in my house. I'm so excited to try the Shaklee cleaning products. I'll let you know how they work!

That meant that I had to find a home for the cleaning products. Oh, I'll just put them under the kitchen sin..... oh wait. There's no room under the kitchen sink. (Don't be fooled by my neat and tidy rooms that appear in my pictures. I have messes just like everyone else. I just usually don't take pictures of them and post them on the internet.)

I pulled everything out, cleaned out the container I keep supplies in, and washed down the disgusting liner at the bottom of the cupboard.

Just the things I really needed went back in.

Cleaning out under the kitchen sink is right up there with scrubbing toilets on my list of jobs I really hate. Well, I checked that off the To Do list and now I don't have to think about it for a while.

Happy Cleaning!!!
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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home and Family Friday

It's time for Home and Family Friday. This is the place we share all projects home and family related. We love to see new projects, furniture makeovers, great recipes, and things you've been up to with your families.

I'd love it if you'd grab my button and become a Follower!

Thanks for linking up! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Touch of Fall

I'm not ready, but I know it's coming whether I'm ready or not. Even though I'm still wearing tank tops and flip flops, I'm noticing that the leaves are starting to fall from my maple trees. It's not quite as light out when I wake up either. It's coming, so I might as well embrace it.

Today I got out a touch of fall.

The velvet drapes are hung, creating that warm and cozy dining room I love. If you'd like to see the post about the spring/summer look, click here.

I have two of these fall quilts that I draped over the backs of my chairs. When I finished my master's program my friend, Christy, gave me some fall fabrics. She told me that I would finally have time for a hobby again. My fall quilts are my absolute favorite quilts I have made. I absolutely love the colors in these quilts, but I think the reason I adore them so much is that they remind me that hobbies other than work and school are good.


Nothing says fall like a little wheat.

I don't have pumpkins lining my doorstep yet... just a touch of fall.
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blue Nail Polish and a Six Year Old

What do you get when you mix a six year old with a bottle of blue nail polish?

Let's see. New back to school outfit, please meet...

blue nail polish. I know it's my own fault. First, let me say that it was her birthday so I let her wear one of her new back to school outfits. Then she opened the nail decorating kit (thanks Sarah). I should have supervised, I KNOW!!!

I didn't even take a picture of the blue nail polish all over the shirt, because honestly I didn't believe there would be any sort of an after picture. You can imagine what the pink shirt looked like with a lovely smear of royal blue.

I immediately tried nail polish remover, which did absolutely nothing. Then I tried scrubbing, Oxy Clean, hairspray (I read that somewhere), and Shout. Nothing. Then I got online and read that bug spray had worked for tons of moms! I promptly got my can of Off, and sure enough, you can't even tell it was there. Amazing! If someone can explain how bug spray takes nail polish out of clothes, I'd appreciate it. For now, I'm just reeealllly happy.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Loving What You Have

When we moved into our house 5 years ago I had grand plans right away. My hubby and I thought the area above the three car garage would be a perfect space to add a bonus room.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing layout, how to reconfigure the hallway, and design from the outside. I even started collecting pictures so I'd have some ideas to show an architect someday.

Everyone wants a bonus room, right? You have the family room connected to the kitchen (where you spend most of your time), a formal living room for entertaining, and a bonus room for movies, video games, kid clutter, craft projects. I had images of Pottery Barn Kids dancing in my head.

One day I was watching HGTV and my friend Genevieve (okay she doesn't really know me, but I feel like she's my BFF because we spend so much time together) told me that I really don't need any more space than I already have.

She said that so many people think they need to build an addition, when really they just need to learn to use the space they have. Hmmmm, I was thinking she may be on to something. We went from a 1,500 square foot house to a 2,600 square foot house and I thought I needed more room??? Time to rethink.

This aha moment happened last summer around the same time as the CHAIR incident. That's when I decided to let go of the formal living room. I sold the formal lamps and replaced the "look but don't touch pillows" with kid friendly pillows. I did some rearranging and was able to fit a cabinet with the kids' games and puzzles in the space. One year later, I find that it's a favorite spot to curl up and read books in the evening. There are usually an assortment of princess puzzles on the floor. The open space is perfect when you need to build yourself a fortress as protection from Nerf gun bullets. Mom doesn't yell, "Not in the living room!" Now the living room is a room to live in, messes and all.

The idea of building a bonus room has now been crossed off the To Do list. Just like that we have saved ourselves $50,000, a lot of headaches, and a ton of stress. We are perfectly content to love what we have, live in all of our space, and enjoy our home just the way it is.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting Ready for Back To School

School starts around here after Labor Day, so that means it's time for me to start organizing. As a teacher, I know first hand that there is a direct relationship between how organized a child is and how well they do in school. Every day I see kids who are rushing in with no backpack, folder, or snack. Then I see the kids who are prepared, calm, and organized. I know which kid I'd rather be. (And which kid's mom I'd rather be.) Don't get me wrong, we have chaotic mornings around here too, but there are a few things I like to have in place to help fight off the craziness.

The Homework Station and Art Cubby
This week I reorganized our art area. My kids like to do their homework at the kitchen table. Our art cubby is on the backside of the kitchen cupboards so it's the perfect place to store everything they need for special projects, writing assignments, and book reports.

If you haven't noticed, there are a few school supply sales out there right now. NOW is the BEST time to stock up on school supplies for your home as well as school. I always restock my kids' home art supplies in the fall, but I also buy enough so that when the markers dry up in February, they are ready to go. Guess what, if you buy them in February they will cost 3 times as much.

I need to say one more thing about homework. The kids in my school, as well as my own kids, have a folder that they bring home every day. THAT FOLDER NEEDS TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL EVERY DAY! It's really important and drives teachers CRAZY when kids don't have their folder. So, have kids put their folders in their backpacks as soon as they are done. Nothing screams, "My parents and I are so disorganized!" like a kid who never shows up to school prepared. (Stepping off my soapbox now.)

Entry Way Organization
That brings me to entryway organization. This week I also made sure the coats, bags, backpacks, and shoes were ready to go. I put away the swim bags that used to hang here. Sadly, they don't need to be ready to go anymore. This is the room the backpacks are hung in. Let me tell you, my daughter's folder is already in her backpack, ready to go. Yep, it's that important!

Library Books
The coat room is also the place for library books. The brown bag is filled with books ready to go back to the public library. The white bin stays there. It's for library books we are still reading or haven't started reading yet. Let me just tell you how devastating it is for a five year old when all of their classmates get to check out library books, but they can't because they couldn't find their book before school. Keeping the books in one central place helps kids have less chaos as they are heading out the door for school.


Reference Papers
Teachers send home lots of papers. With two kids in school now, I know I'll have lots to keep track of. I bought one of those magnetic, stick to the fridge, file holders at Staples. Then I bought five folders and labeled them. I have one for each kid, one for me, one for my hubby, and one that just says Home. That way when I need to know what time my son has football on a particular day, I know the schedule is right there. I also keep classlists, teacher contact info, PE days, and all that good stuff in there.


Home Management Binder
That brings me to my favorite part of my back to school organizing week.

My home management notebook has so many wonderful forms and checklists in it. I have dividers for menus, shopping lists, chores, emergency contacts, babysitter information, family birthdays, and much more.

I think I'm well on my way to an organized start to the school year. Then the Holidays will get here and everything will be thrown into a tailspin. Oh well, at least in September and October we'll be organized. I even organized my junk drawers earlier this week.

What is your best back to school organization tip? Leave your best ideas in the comment section. We can all use all the help we can get!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home and Family Friday

It's time for Home and Family Friday. This is the place we share all projects home and family related. We love to see new projects, furniture makeovers, great recipes, and things you've been up to with your families.

I'd love it if you'd grab my button and become a Follower!

Thanks for linking up! Happy Friday!

Small Changes

Last week I gave up Swiffer dusters. That was a big step for me. I LOVED my Swiffers. I had several handles (the kids love to help dust)and a box of Swiffer refills was always on the Costco list. I decided to go Swiffer-less for two reasons. A)We are creating less garbage. B)A one time purchase of a micro-fiber duster is a lot less expensive. Small changes, right?

That brought me to my next small change. We now use cloth napkins instead of paper. We'll keep paper napkins on hand for things like school lunches. Right now my kids think the cloth napkins are pretty fancy. I just hope I can keep up on the laundry so this small change will be a keeper.


One more small change is real plates instead of paper. Usually when I'm feeding a boat load of kids, I'll break out my paper products from Costco. Paper is quick and easy, but real plates mean less in the garbage and less out of my pocket. (By the way, this picture looks like I'm feeding my kids a ton of processed brownish orange food, but there really are fresh peaches and carrot sticks on their plates too.)

What small changes have you made recently?
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Homemade Brownies


This is the brownie recipe my mom always made for us when we were growing up. It's straight from the good old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. We never had boxed brownies growing up. I didn't even know boxed brownies existed until I was in junior high. As much as I enjoy them, there is nothing better than this recipe for homemade brownies. I ALWAYS frost my brownies too. It would be a sin not to.

Fudge Brownies

1 Cup Butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares
4 Eggs
2 Cups Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Flour
Add a handful of chocolate chips to the batter, just because they're yummy.

Grease 9x13 pan.

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, beat lightly until just combined. Stir in flour.

Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let them cool and then frost.


Happy Baking!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Kitchen Junk Drawers

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are four thousand.




Enough said. That's how I spent my day. Look quickly because it won't stay like this for long.
(Drawer dividers from Storables quite a while ago.)

Happy organizing!
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