Friday, March 30, 2012

The Review is In :: For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn

While at MomLife Boot Camp earlier this month, I picked up several great reads. I've already finished one of them, For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn, and for the sake of your current or future husband, I highly recommend reading this book. In fact, I've already got a sign-up sheet for future borrowers - shall I add your name to the list?

In For Women Only, wives or current brides-to-be are given insight into the most important things in a relationship that matter to men. Whether you are just starting your lives together or you have been married for ten years, all women can glean something from this little book.

Shaunti wrote her book based off of a statistical survey as well as personal and written interviews of hundreds of men. She crunched the numbers and presents her findings to the intimate questions and their responses to the reader, while giving insight into the inner feelings and thoughts of men.

The topics touched upon in For Women Only include respect, love, sex, burdens, man's visual nature, romance, our appearance, and more. Some of the answers revealed in this book may surprise you; others may not. Depending on your own self-confidence, some may tear you down, while others may have you saying, "Yes, I already do this."

The chapter that seemed to open my eyes the most was on respect. I've always respected my husband; and I hope he knows that, but after reading Shaunti's words I'm not so sure I have shown enough of it. I'm sorry Jake for always second-guessing driving directions or safety issues. I never knew that was a sign of disrespect to you.

How many times have you asked your husband to pull over for directions? Or asked, "Honey, are you sure?" You see, for women, those types of questions make us feel secure, but for our men, it tears them down, little by little, as they feel we have no confidence in them.

This book will change how you perceive what you say or show to your husband. I never really knew how different husbands and wives truly interpret things.  Ladies, I guarantee you will learn something new from For Women Only. I encourage you to read through this book to better understand your spouse's needs and wants.

As a side note, for those whom have boys, this book also has implications into their lives as they grow older. Moms should always want to build their boys up to be great men, so we need to know what they think and feel as well.

The $10 Challenge :: Update

I gave this challenge to my son last month after reading about it on Biblical Homemaking. My eldest son really took an interest in the project and made two great purchases. He bought a wooden photo album from AI Paper for $4 in excellent condition and the Dangerous Book for Boys Board Game for $4 in brand new condition. He spent $8.66 on his purchases, including tax.

He received $5 for Valentines Day from relatives and decided to add that to his challenge money. So, he now had $6.34 for his spending budget.

I love the fact that he took his recently received $5 and decided to invest it as well. He was beginning to show real interest in this challenge.

He sold his photo album for $10; and then explained to me how he had already made his initial investment back, as well as a $1.34 in profit. He was thrilled!

We then headed out for him to make his next purchase. What he found was a treasure and a history lesson.

He purchased two professionally matted and framed, signed and numbered Artist Proofs by the famous Amish photographer Bill Coleman. In fact, Mr. Coleman's gallery is the place these two photographs were framed.

My eldest called the gallery and while they could not assess the value, informed him they were from Mr. Coleman's earlier works and were quite prized. I do apologize for the photo, as it does not show the true beauty of these photographs.

My son researched Mr. Coleman and learned he was one of the only people to ever to take pictures of the Amish lifestyle while in their community. His gallery website has amazing images of this unique culture.

I've been informed, that these are for sale. If you are interested, please let me know!

Have any of you participated in The $10 Challenge? If so, how is it going?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cleaning 101 :: Tip #4 : Color Coordination of Towels or Rags

When I clean, I prefer using greener products or at least repurposing things I have on hand. When I clean the bathrooms, I use terry cloth rags; I do the same with the kitchen and other areas of the house. I use micro fiber clothes when I dust. I also have adorable kitchen towels I use for the day to day spills as well as dish and hand drying. When those cute kitchen towels get old, they get repurposed into the cleaning towel supply.

You might be wondering how I keep all these towels and rags straight? While it is not hard for me, it can be challenging for the males in my household. Since I do the majority of the cleaning, I know the purposes and places specific towels and rags are used. So, how can you make this easier on everyone else? Easy!

Tip #4

When purchasing new rags or towels, keep in mind to choose certain colors for certain tasks or rooms. By creating a color scheme chart or just informing everyone, bathroom rags won't end up drying the dishes!

For example, white towels/rags in the bathrooms; green for outdoor use; blue for appliances; yellow for kitchen; and so forth. You don't have to create a rainbow; but pick colors you enjoy and will help you to remember their cleaning zones.

For those worn-out adorable kitchen towels, use a sharpie marker and write their cleaning zone or purpose onto them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

MomLife Boot Camp Recap :: Part 1 - The Meaning of the Churro

I'll be honest. I wasn't sure exactly how this event would turn out. Initially, I was enthusiastic about going to the first-ever MomLife Boot Camp, but as the time got closer to attend the conference, I was starting to feel less excited. My husband had just returned home from a business conference last Friday and I was headed out the same afternoon. Adding to the anxiety I felt creeping slowly up, was the fact I had not been away on my own ever. Well, at least not since I got married and had children.

I was offered a reprieve when my friend, Stacy, decided to join me on this first (one of my many firsts this year) on-my-own adventure. I picked her up and we headed to Tyler, stopping for a sweet tea from McAlister's. We didn't have to drive long before we reached Pine Cove, the Christian camp overlooking Lake Palestine. Little did we know, there were women attending from Nebraska, Wisconsin, and even Michigan. I could not believe so many ladies had come from so far away.

At check-in, we were given a map of the camp and a little envelope. Stacy and I both thought the envelope held our cabin key inside, but we were surprised when instead it was a little note welcoming us, thanking us, and praying for our own unique opportunity that weekend. Every lady received their own special note, no two were similar. Mine read:

"We are really excited that you are attending the FamilyLife MomLife Boot Camp. We pray that it will be a refreshing time for you. We appreciate all the hard work and sacrifice you do for your family every day. God Bless, Brian and Tonya Devine."

A stranger appreciated my hard work and sacrifice? Wow! The weekend was off to a good start! A prayer for refreshment? These people know me! I definitely needed refreshment, too.

Our cabin was adorable. With 4 sets of bunk beds and squeaky clean restroom and shower facilities, this was the cabin equivalent of a 4 star hotel. Our bathroom had been decorated with burlap pennets and cutesy felt flowers. There were even chocolates laid along the sink (definitely my kind of place!).

After making our beds and putting away our luggage, we noticed little blue boxes sitting on the shelves at the head of each bunk. The MomLife staff had left little Survival Boxes for each of us. Inside were: Mom mints, a hair tie with a felt flower attached, hand sanitizer, more chocolate, an adorably odd clip, and tissues. I was thrilled at the thought of a random gift awaiting my arrival. 

The first time we all came together Friday night, we met in the dining hall for dinner. We were introduced to our program director and leader as well as some of the college kids serving us throughout the weekend. The dinner menu included beef and chicken fajitas, rice, beans, salad, and churros. The minute I saw the churros, I laughed out loud. I had to explain the meaning of the churro to Stacy.

The night before, I had a dream about going to two different places looking for churros. I had such an intense drive in my dream about finding a churro that the dream itself felt like it went on all night. In all actuality, it probably lasted only a few minutes. However, it was such an odd dream, that when I awoke I remembered how much I had to have a churro.

When we lived in San Diego, the boys and I would walk all the way to the back of the San Diego Zoo to see the Polar Bears and buy a churro. In fact, I'll go so far as to say those were the best churros I've ever eaten. But, since San Diego, I have only had a churro or two in the past three years. It's not something I typically crave or even see now that we live in East Texas. And yet, I dreamt about it and then had it for dinner.

So, you may be thinking, "What can be gleaned from a churro at dinner?" Let me tell you. I was not a hundred percent sure I had made the right choice to attend MomLife Boot Camp, especially since my husband just came home. But here was God, smirking, and basically saying, "Michelle, you are exactly where you need to be." 

Do you ever feel like sometimes what you think isn't the way you should go, in fact, turns out to be the best direction to turn your feet?

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs... Isaiah 58:11

Weekly Goals :: 3/25 - 3/31/2012

Last week I posted a few of my weekly goals. I've crossed out and added to the goal list. Did you get your goals accomplished? Did you set new ones?

Goals for 3/19 - 3/25

1. Plan the rest of the garden beds & work along the side of the house
2. Weekly cleaning check-list
3. Give husband honey-do list

1. Help with this week's memory verse ~ Psalm 46: 10-11
2. Putt-Putt with Dad!
3. Have meals and activities planned for Dad and boys weekend
4. 4H fashion show

1. Programs Committee Meeting
2. Meet with a caterer for fundraising event
3. Wednesday night children's church
4. Junior Master Gardener class

1. Pack for MomsLife Boot Camp Women's Conference
2. Pilates class and running
3. Finish new Pinterest Production and Experimental Recipes
4. Go to a reader meet-up with Crysal Paine of I didn't make this one, but I did get a chance to speak with her : )

This week will be amazingly busy! Stay focused and take each day one at a time!

Goals for 3/25 - 3/31

1. Get house back in order from the boys' weekend!
2. Weekly chores
3. Help youngest organize his room, again...
4. Redo my reading nook

1. Help with this week's memory verse
2. Take Duchess to be spayed - Bob Barker would be proud!
3. Begin getting items made for Easter baskets
4. Make a new sensory tub for Easter
5. Finish reading the story of Odysseus.

1. Bylaw committee meeting
2. Board meeting
3. 4H Fundraising Car Wash
4. Work on grants
5. Help with Wednesday night's children's program at church

1. Finish reading For Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn
2. Make sure I am working at my friendships - playdates for Moms : )
3. Pilates and running
4. Improve my scheduling for my time
5. Head to Ulta's Brow Bar

Friday, March 23, 2012


Today is the day I head to Pinecove Christian Camp for Mom Life Bootcamp! My friend, Stacy, will be traveling with me and I know we will have a wonderful time. 

I'm excited to get a chance to meet some amazing real-life inspirational women and get a fresh view on being a Mom and a homemaker. I'm really looking forward to the great fellowship and enjoying this beautiful Spring weekend with fellow campers.

I won't be blogging from the camp this weekend, but I will take lots of pics to share with you all and hopefully share about the lectures and activities.

And while I'm away, my husband and boys get to do a little male bonding as well. It's a win-win weekend for everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Springtime Adventures :: A Wildflower Hunt

Springtime in Texas yields amazing blooms, especially after all the rain we have received. So, once the drizzle stopped and the blue sky returned, we headed outdoors for a wildflower hunt.
This year, I thought we would do a different type of flower collection in an effort to preserve nature’s beauty; and easily share our collection with others. Instead of the typical ‘pick the flower and press’ mantra, the boys and I are creating a digital flower journal - photographing living flowers and incorporating all the pertinent information about them to form a compendium.
We started out on the Paul G. Boorman Trail in Longview this afternoon. Along the way, we snapped a few splendid beauties. The neatest aspect of our hunt included finding birds’ nests, butterflies, a variety of feathered friends, and even a gentleman on a unicycle.
Our two mile trek, peppered with conversations about animals’ habitats, types of airplanes, and even waterfalls, was a nice break from the daily routine. There was even a reference or two made about the Hundred Acre Wood and the Lorax. It is often interesting what other learning takes place while on a simple walk observing flowers. The boys became Naturalists today.
 While we still have more flowers to discover, we are off to a great start. I can’t wait to share the finished collection with you.

Do you have a special wildflower hot-spot you visit each year? I’d love to hear about it!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games Triology

Have you heard about the girl on fire? She's all over the internet and in the hands of over 2.9 million readers. Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games trilogy, has even been brought to life by Hollywood. Written by Suzanne Collins and marketed to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, it’s the only book series on the lips of youth since the Twilight saga, and it seems to be the next best thing. But, is it? I had to find out.

After reading the trilogy last week, I have to disagree. While definitely fast paced and almost made-for-movie like, The Hunger Games fell short of greatness. As a cross between The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell, and Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Hunger Games series misses its mark at truly being a well written piece of prose. The author rushes the books in order to bring the series to a close, leaving the third book, Mockingjay, seeming hastily written.

As an adult reader, I could handle the over played, graphic concepts of murder, oppression, psychological strife, deceit, materialism, denial, among others. My eldest son, however, has no business reading this series. The first book alone has 22 characters murdered in the arena; two fathers dead because of a mining accident; and all other sorts of vile concoctions to engage the readers. Katniss, herself, comes under great mental duress throughout the series due to the unbearable idea of murdering others. How does this affect the child reader?

Sure, one might say Shakespeare’s works have most, if not all of these aspects embedded throughout scenes and acts; the Greek tragedies are riddled with these elements as well. Yet, these stories are not set in our time, in our country, with our children.

Today’s youth have been born into a society very challenged with in-your-face media and instant technological gratification at their fingertips. They see so much of the world at a young age without proper understanding or guidance; and as a parent, I could not hand these novels to my son and say, “Happy reading.” The subject matter is beyond his scope. The idea of children murdering children for sport is psychologically disturbing.

I do not believe in censorship of books. I do believe, however, in knowing what your child can handle per their age and emotional level, as well as walking your child through novels to deal with such grown-up topics. We will read The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies when the time is right. We will analyze Medea and Agamemnon when he is much older and more mature. There will be discussions on many “hot-topics,” but not yet.

I urge caution when allowing your children to read this series or any all the rage novels without reading or researching them first. I would have been mortified to know I had allowed my son to read this series, for I would have let him down.

Weekly Goals :: 3/19 - 3/25/2012

Last week I posted a few of my weekly goals. I've crossed out and added to the goal list. Did you get your goals accomplished? Did you set new ones?

Goals for 3/12 - 3/18

1. This week is Spring Cleaning!

1. Help with this week's memory verse
2. Let's play Putt-Putt (I'm thinking Friday!) It ended up not being a good allergy week for this event...saving it for Dad!
3. Take Duchess to the vet for next round of shots

1. Set up online fundraiser
2. Secure prizes for event
3. Work on extra items for organization

1. Back in the gym - pilates and running and maybe, just maybe, a zumba class.
2. Blog each weekday.
3. Take some down time for myself

Goals for 3/19 - 3/25

1. Plan the rest of the garden beds & work along the side of the house
2. Weekly cleaning check-list
3. Give husband honey-do list

1. Help with this week's memory verse ~ Psalm 46: 10-11
2. Putt-Putt with Dad!
3. Have meals and activities planned for Dad and boys weekend
4. 4H fashion show

1. Programs Committee Meeting
2. Meet with a caterer for fundraising event
3. Wednesday night children's church
4. Junior Master Gardener class

1. Pack for MomsLife Boot Camp Women's Conference
2. Pilates class and running
3. Finish new Pinterest Production and Experimental Recipes
4. Go to a reader meet-up with Crysal Paine of

This week will be amazingly busy! Stay focused and take each day one at a time!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Recomendations for Baby Items :: Any Suggestions???

This year has been joyous in so many ways, but one of the most joyous occasions will occur in November...and we are all just giddy about it!

My littlest sis-in-law and bro-in-law are expecting, which makes me grin every time I think about it. We haven't had a baby in the family in over seven years, and there has not been a baby girl in over twenty-one (She smiles and crosses her fingers).

I can't imagine the elation of both sets of grandparents, because I know I'm pretty excited and I'm just the Aunt.

With all the new products available to babies and their families, I'm not sure I've kept up very well since our family passed that stage. I have friends who use cloth diapers, feed babies avocados, and do baby yoga. I breast-fed as well as many of my friends, so I'm glad to see the advocation for such a beneficial idea is still going strong. Car seats and strollers have changed and designers are making all sorts of interesting clothing and accessories. Organic cotton is in and a little squeaky giraffe made in France was a top-seller last year. I've even seen wooden teething rings.

So, I am curious; what are you using with your babies or grandbabies? What products do you swear by; which ones would you not recommend? Please help me to find some useful and great items for this special little family, because I finally get to be an Aunt and I am very much looking forward to it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Song of Songs 8:6-7 :: Love & Marriage

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.

It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot wash it away.

Song of Songs 8: 6-7

Love is all-consuming. What would you do for love? Would you be the epic hero of lore and lay your life down for it? Would you be the classic martyr and give everything up for it? Would you devote yourself to one person for the rest of your life?

Yes, yes, I would. For it burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame, and no matter the triumphs and toils, my love for my husband will not be quenched.

In marriage, there is happiness, enjoyment, disappointment, and anger. There is hope, encouragement, pleasure, dismay, and sadness. There are times of joy and times of sorrow. But more than anything, there is love.

I think thanking your spouse at least once a day is a must; saying I love you not only when jovial, but also when hurt is a have-to. A smile, a gentle touch, and the first and last kiss of the day are necessary. Forgiveness is always a priority, as we are all faultful.

Marriages take work. There is no easy path to a successful marriage; and many of those have hit a rock along the way. It is how you accommodate for each other, how you hold each other up when tested, that lay a firm foundation and continue the building.

Keep your marriage sacred and show your love in whatever languages your spouse understands; know emotions and actions before judgement or blame. Encourage each other; be your spouse's biggest advocate.

But more than anything, just love.

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Note: You must place two separate orders and use one code per order for this deal to work.

courtesy of MoneySavingMom

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Pinterest Production :: T-Shirt Skirt

Ok, Pinterest, I'll admit it - I'm hooked! If you know what the terms pins and boards mean, and have a list of categories, you are more than likely hooked too. And for those very rare few whom have not heard of Pinterest, you really should check it out!

Like many muses before, Pinterest sparks my creativity. It pushes it into overdrive and screams, "You really can do this!" It makes me think of how I can create decorations, enticing recipes, and beauty within my life and my home.

My boards are now overflowing with pins, and its definitely time to put them to use. Each week or two, I'm going to offer up A Pinterest Production in hopes to deliver a quality creation. I'll share the original Pinterest link and then show you my own finished product. Feel free to follow in the creativity and share your own finished piece!

This week's Production: DIY T-Shirt Skirt

This pin has been laying around my board for months! I'm so excited it is warm enough in Texas to start wearing skirts again. This pinterest production was not only affordable, but also one of the simplest sewing projects I have made to date.

Originally pinned by Melissa of Sew Like My Mom, this is one of those frequently pinned items. She made it very simple to follow along, and I loved her take on shirring.

I think the hardest part of this production was finding the t-shirt. I had to go to two different thrift stores and finally scored a Men's XL Lands End tee. Make sure when you are fitting yourself for the tee, you hold it up to your waist. If it goes around your waist and has an inch or two left over, you've got the right size. Not all tees will fit you the same, so check everyone of them!

If you don't already have elastic thread, you will need to pick some up at your local fabric store. Also, make sure you find the same color thread as your t-shirt.

Sew, let's get started!

First, you will need to cut across the tee at sleeve level. The bottom half of the tee will be your skirt. I used a piece of chalk and ruler to aide in the process. You don't have to cut perfectly, the shirring will hide any flaws. I will suggest you align the bottom hems of the shirt together to ensure even length.

Once you've cut your shirt down, thread your bobbin with the elastic. This might prove difficult for your first bobbin but you'll get the hang of it! I made two bobbins per skirt. If you run out of elastic thread before your finished with a complete row, reload and keep going.

It is best to start in the same place for each row of shirring. When you begin, start close to the edge, about 1/8 inch. Hems are not needed as your shirt will not fray. Instead of the traditional way of shirring, Melissa suggests, "backstitching after I begin sewing and once I make it all around the skirt, I backstitch again." This method worked wonderfully and saved time.

As you begin your next row, start it with the right side of your sewing foot on the last row and proceed until the entire row has been completed. This will keep your rows straight and will save time from marking them.

As you shirr, make sure you are applying a moderate pressure as you pull your material through your sewing foot; keeping the fabric as smooth as possible.

You will lose about 2 inches of fabric while shirring. If you find you are loosing too much, adjust the tension of the machine.

This is the inside of my skirt.

You will end up making 7 to 12 rows depending upon your skirt size in proportion to your body size. I have large hips, so I only completed 7 rows; when in doubt try it on before adding another row.

This production took approximately one hour, including threading bobbins, cutting out the skirt, and shirring. I will admit, this was my first time shirring. I thought it would be difficult, but it was simple, quick, and fun. I also had to play with the puppy every now and then, so I imagine I lost a little production time!

Total Pinterest Production price: $3.39
($1.36 for the elastic thread and $1.99 for the t-shirt. I already had the thread.)

This Pinterest Production gave me great satisfaction. I haven't made anything to wear in a long time, in fact, since high school. I had shopped all the major box stores this afternoon for some new spring clothes and just couldn't find anything I loved - until I made my T-Shirt Skirt!

FYI - This could easily be adapted for girls and expecting mothers, just adjust the shirt size you buy.

Pin It

Spring Cleaning :: Update

I hope everyone's Spring Cleaning is going strong! Don't get discouraged if you are feeling a little overwhelmed. Take a break, get a drink, and relax for twenty minutes, than get back to work!

I did want to mention how wonderfully the hand-made non-toxic wood polish worked. It was very simple to make and my kitchen table and chairs have never looked better! I can't wait to use it throughout the house. I am curious to see how often it must be reapplied, but for right now, I am completely satisfied!

Have you found out any great new tricks, cleaning supplies, or hints to help others? I'd love to hear about them!

Experimental Recipes :: Fish Tacos

After perusing through How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, I came across a recipe for fish tacos. I just had to make them. Ever since we lived in California and I got the taste of a fish taco, I've always wanted to be creative and put one together.

While the following is not completely like Mark's it is a close adaptation. I hope you enjoy it as much as the boys and I did!

1 medium onion, diced
2 jalapenos, diced
8-10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro

6 to 8 cod fillets (I purchased Sam's Club frozen cod fillets)
a dozen corn tortillas (or flour if you prefer)
salsa and other toppings (sour cream, cheese)
shredded cabbage or coleslaw
lime wedges

First, rinse and dry all produce. Then, puree the cilantro; make sure to remove any large stem pieces from the puree. Combine the onion, jalapenos, and tomatoes, and cilantro into a separate bowl. This will form the pico de gayo. I also reserve some of the pureed cilantro for my boys as they are not found of pico de gayo.

While you are making the pico de gayo, bake the cod fillets according to the directions on the box. Do not overcook.

Lightly heat the corn tortillas on a skillet. Do not overcook, just warm to the touch.

When the cod fillets are cooked to temperature, chop them into bite size pieces. Then build your fish tacos. We enjoy cabbage (sometimes coleslaw if we have it in the fridge), sour cream, pico de gayo, and a Mexican variety cheese. For a authentic flavor, squeeze a lime wedge over your tacos. Enjoy!

I served the fish tacos with a side of canned black beans topped with Mexican cheese and cilantro.

Time: 25 minutes
Pin It

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekly Goals 3/12 - 3/18/2012

Last week I posted a few of my weekly goals. I've crossed out and added to the goal list. Did you get your goals accomplished? Did you set new ones?

Goals for 3/5 - 3/11

1. Tackle the Garage (You know you can do this!)
2. Purchase cleaning supplies needed for next week's Spring Cleaning.
3. Organize youngest's room with him.

1. Help with this week's memory verse.
2. Let's go play Putt-Putt! This will have to be saved for this week; the weather has been horrible!
3. Assign Spring Cleaning duties.

1. Drop off LEGOs for exhibit.
2. Secure prizes for event.
3. Purchase materials needed for first JMG meeting.
4. Help with Wednesday night Church classes. We were out sick this past week, too.

1. Pilates class and running. Being sick definitely affects your ability to get to the gym!
2. Blog each weekday.
3. Read next 3 chapters in The Only Grant Writing Book...
4. Read the first 4 chapters of Hebrews.

Goals for 3/12 - 3/18

1. This week is Spring Cleaning!

1. Help with this week's memory verse
2. Let's play Putt-Putt (I'm thinking Friday!)
3. Take Duchess to the vet for next round of shots

1. Set up online fundraiser
2. Secure prizes for event
3. Work on extra items for organization

1. Back in the gym - pilates and running and maybe, just maybe, a zumba class.
2. Blog each weekday.
3. Take some down time for myself

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cleaning 101 - Tip #3 :: Bathroom Mold

Every now and then, we all experience the unsightly bathroom mold or mildew; it lingers in our tile grout and sealant lines. Besides using brand name chemicals, how can you get rid of it? Here are several options.

Tip #3:

Make a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to two parts water in a spray bottle. Spray onto areas with mold or mildew. Wait one hour before rinsing.

Another cleaning solution, involves equal parts vinegar and water sprayed onto the area.

Or, if you prefer, 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Again, spray the area. Rinse thoroughly, followed by a light vinegar wash and a final rinse.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Super Hero Cape :: Owl Man

Faster than a cat on a hot tin roof...Braver than any sidekick...It's Owl Man!

A friend of mine posted the cutest link on How to Make a Super Hero Cape, a few weeks back. It has been on my list of things to do since then. Tonight, my youngest son and I made a quick run to Hancock Fabric and picked up just the right material to make his cape.

As I made the cape, I took photos of drawing and cutting out the cape; pinning, sewing, and turning; as well as, adding Velcro and the final owl applique. However, I did all of this without an SD card in my camera, so alas, my tutorial version is non-existent.

Lara from How Does She has a great tutorial on making this cape. I did have to adjust the length for my son, as he is quite taller than hers, so keep that in mind!

 Other than the missing pictures, this product is very simple. In fact, I can't wait to make more! Each cape can be individualized to the child and I loved taking my son and letting him pick everything out. He even grabbed the lime green thread we used!

Total time on project, including a trip to the fabric store - 1:30 hrs.
Total cost - $12.50 (although, costs will vary depending on fabric types and applique)

Homemade Cleaner Recipes ::

Spring Cleaning begins this next week. (Are you excited yet?) I've got my supplies, my lists, and my favorite music lined up on Spotify. To help with getting things in order, I'm going to make my cleaners using Baking Soda, Borax, Lemon oil, Kosher salt, liquid soap and vinegar. Some cleaning formulas I will be using this week can only be prepared right before use, but there are a couple I can mix in advance to save time.

Below are the cleaning recipes I will be using (some of these I've used before, others will be my first time experiencing). I'm going to put them in their own plastic sprayers. Make sure you label each bottle according with ingredients to avoid any mishaps. Also, if you use commercial cleaners as well as homemade ones, be sure to double check ingredients and labels for any possible caustic reactions. As with all things, before you apply a homemade or commercial cleaner to your stove, sink, bathtub, etc. test it in a conspicuous place to determine if it is suitable for your materials. Be sure to keep out of the reach of children.

All Purpose Cleaner - make ahead of time

Mix 1/2 c. vinegar and 1/4 c. baking soda (or 2 tsp. borax) into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.
Non-Gritty Scrubber - best made the day of use

Simply pour about 1/2 c. of baking soda into a bowl, and add enough liquid soap to make a texture like frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge, and wash the surface. A great cleaner for the bathroom.

Window Cleaner - make ahead of time

1/4-1/2 tsp. liquid soap
3 Tbsp. vinegar
2 c. water
Spray bottle

Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand. The soap in this recipe is important. It cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you might have used in the past.

Wood Polish - make ahead of time

1/2 tsp. olive oil,
1/4 c. vinegar or fresh lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into the solution and wipe onto wood surfaces. Cover the glass jar and store indefinitely.


As I go along in my cleaning, I will post special tips and other cleaning recipes, so stay tuned to this week of Spring Cleaning!

When all else Fails, Make some Cookies ::

I'm not sure if it is Spring Fever or a simple lack of want-to, but I do know, my lists are piling up, spring cleaning is upon me, and I just want to sip tea and watch the rain fall.

But then, it stopped raining and the tea was all gone - "What now?" I asked myself with a furrowed brow.

"I have no idea," I responded.

So, when all else fails, make some cookies! A sublime mantra to live by.

Simple No-Bake Cookies

1/2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. milk
4 Tbsp. cocoa

1/2 c. peanut butter
3 to 3 1/2 c. quick-cook oats
2 tsp. vanilla

Add the first four ingredients to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Allow them to rapid boil for 1 minute. Then, add the three remaining ingredients. Stir and remove from heat. Once completely mixed, spoon cookie mixture onto foil or wax paper. Serve when cooled.

This is one of the easiest cookie recipes I know. My grandmother would let me make them every time I went to her home as a child. Maybe that is why I go to this recipe when things get a little chaotic or I need a pick-me-up. They're easy to make and they put a smile on my family's face. Plus, they remind me of memories formed at least two decades ago. 

Now, my boys help me make these no-bakes. Although, they've changed the name. And being boys, (please understand!) they call these cookies, 'dinosaur poo.' Yes! They are of the definite boy variety!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring Cleaning :: Are you ready for the task?

Every year, I attempt my version of Spring Cleaning. Most of the time, I am fairly successful at getting everything accomplished, but I always need help. Reason #216 Why I Enjoy My Boys! No, really, children make great helpers. Just be sure to give them easy and simple tasks; make a game out of cleaning; ensure no contact with chemicals; and praise or reward them for their hard work. Don't forget to reward yourself too!

This week, I've written out the Spring Cleaning Checklist for March 12th - March 16th. I like to put my checklist in a plastic sleeve; when you've completed a task, simple use a dry erase marker to cross it off the list. You could also laminate your list or leave it on your computer and use the strike-through key.

While the principle of Spring Cleaning has many roots in ancient history, it was first used in America during the month of March because the climate allowed for a warm breezy day to aid in the removal of dust from the home. Insects were typically at their minimum, as well.

I know if this were a Summer Cleaning, instead of a Spring Cleaning, I wouldn't even think about participating; especially here in Texas.

Do you have any great Spring Cleaning solutions? Do you use a special product or have a recipe for homemade cleaning supplies? Let me know! I would love to give them a try.

Spring Cleaning Checklist


1. Wipe every surface down - cabinets (inside and outside), top of refrigerator, stove (inside and outside), dishwasher (inside and outside), microwave (inside and outside), and all other appliances and items on counters (Keurig, canisters, KitchenAide Mixer).

2. Refrigerator/Freezer - Tthoroughly wash every bin and shelf. Clean along the gaskets. Pull out from the wall and dust. Add fresh baking soda. Discard freezer food past use.

3. Pantry - Organize. Remove expired food, if any. Replace any broken canisters. Relabel canisters as use changes.

4. Sink - Use boiling water to thoroughly clean the drains. Oil garbage disposal. 

5. Clean and sanitize the trash can.

6. Double check the battery/light bulb stock 

7. Replace any broken or lost dishware, Tupperware, and icing tips.

8. Dust fixtures.

9. Vacuum and mop floor.

Dining Room

1. Table - Double check the mechanics of the leaf; oil/grease of needed. Wax and polish.

2. Dust fixtures and ceiling fan.

3. Dust and repair blinds, where needed.

4. Vacuum and mop floor.

5. Dust the tapestry.

Living Room

1. Dust all surfaces - lamps, coffee tables, pool table legs, ceiling fan.

2. Clean leather furniture and apply protector.

3. Sweep out fireplace and dust the screen and mantle.

4. Book cases - Remove all books; dust the spines and tops. Dust the entire case (shelves and top).

5. Brush the pool table.

6. Check the wine supply - order more!

7. Dust and clean the curio.

8. Vacuum and mop floor, vacuum air vent.

9. Fluff chair cushions.

10. Go through magazines and save items for My Idea Book.

9. Re-adjust the automatic thermostat.


1. Sort through and file all loose papers. Add to Homekeeping Notebook, file cabinet, or shred.

2. Double check printer's ink and paper supply, purchase more if needed.

3. Dust computer and clean keyboard. Ensure anti-virus program is up to date.

4. Ensure filing cabinet is in a neat order.

5. Review and update inventories, contract, and other policies.

Entryways and Hallways

1. Clean indoor and outdoor rugs/mats.

2. Wipe mirrors and art.

3. Vacuum and mop floors.


1. Routine cleaning - toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks.

2. Wipe mirrors and art.

3. Check on toilet paper and toiletries stock; restock where needed.

4. Wipe and dust cabinets and counters.

5. Throw out expired medicines.

6. Wash all bath maths.

7. Clean and sanitize the trashcans.

8. Dust fixtures.

9. Vacuum and mop floors.

10. Reseal tub and shower if needed.


1. Change and launder sheets, duvet cover, mattress pads, and pillowcases. Replace with warmer weather sheets and blankets.

2. Mattresses - rotate, vacuum, and possible sun, depending on the weather.

3. Launder pillows.

4. Dust all surfaces - furniture, art, wall hangings, light fixture, and ceiling fan.

5.  Dust and repair blinds, where needed.

6. Vacuum and steam-clean the floors.

Throughout the House

1. Wipe down all switch plates, windows, and glass doors for fingerprints and pet smudges.

2. Vacuum window moldings and windowsills.

3. Wipe all doors (interior and exterior) and trims; oil hinges.

4. Wipe baseboards and moldings.

5. Replace AC filter.

7. Reseal grout.

8. Wash all windows and screens; oil hinges.

9. Wax wood furniture.


1. Dust shelves.

2. Vacuum and mop floors.

3. Organize. Purchase new undergarments if needed. Purge old, out-sized, or unwanted items.

4. Rotate wardrobe for Spring and Summer seasons.

Laundry Room

1. Vacuum and mop floor.

2. Wipe cabinets.

3. Clean washer and dryer. Check dryer vent.

4. Double check cleaning items supply; restock if necessary.


1. Inspect all pet toys to make sure they are safe; discard unsafe items.

2. Double check pet food and medications, restock if needed. Throw away expired items.

3. Inspect all cages and crates to ensure safety.


1. Organize. Discard unwanted items.

2. Check on spring planting items and needs; restock if needed.

3. Check sprinkler system. Replace broken parts.

4. Organize freezer. Discard out-dated items.

5. Straighten work bench and tool area (leaving for the husband!)

6. Organize school closet.

7. Check tire pressure in bikes; replace tubes if necessary.

8. Grease garage door.


1. Clean patios and siding - sweep, pressure wash.

2. Check gutters and repair seals.

3. Prune and fertilize roses.

4. Clean flower beds.

5. Check facets and outdoor electric plugs.

6. Replace water hoses if needed.

7. Clean outdoor furniture.

8. Clean grill and replace grate, if needed.

9. Clean ceiling fan.

You know, I think that's all! Now, how to break this down into a 5 day cleaning mayhem? First, I really need to look at cleaning supplies and make sure I have enough. I know I put that under laundry room, but it may have to be the first thing I do. Good luck to everyone and their Spring Cleaning! Let me know how it goes.

If you would like your own copy of this list to tweek as needed, please email me and I'll share!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Weekly Goals :: 3/5 - 3/11/2012

Last week I posted a few of my weekly goals. I've crossed out and added to the goal list. Did you get your goals accomplished? Did you set new ones?

Goals for 2/27-3/4

1. Tackle the garage (It proved to be a little larger than expected last week!) And it has still proven to elude me for two straight weeks - this is the week, I just know it!
2. Make a master Spring Cleaning plan  The plan will be online in the nest few days!
3. Finish "puppy-proofing" the living area and kitchen

1. Sit down and discuss chores and responsibilities
2. Create a menu for the next two weeks
3. Go see a movie : )
4. Help with memory verse ~ Proverbs 19:21

1. Board meeting
2. Help with Wednesday Night church classes/Potluck
3. Begin planning for a wedding shower with friends
4. Continue fundraising efforts
5. Help with World of Wind & Air program

1. Begin Pilates class   I can't tell you how much I enjoy this class!
2. Finish my new DIY Pinterest Production
3. Begin reading first 3 chapters of The Only Grant Writing Book You'll Ever Need 
4. Get a haircut! 
I called an rescheduled 3 times!!! : )
5. Book puppy training classes at PetsMart or Petco

Goals for 3/5 - 3/11

1. Tackle the Garage (You know you can do this!)
2. Purchase cleaning supplies needed for next week's Spring Cleaning.
3. Organize youngest's room with him.

1. Help with this week's memory verse.
2. Let's go play Putt-Putt!
3. Assign Spring Cleaning duties.

1. Drop off LEGOs for exhibit.
2. Secure prizes for event.
3. Purchase materials needed for first JMG meeting.
4. Help with Wednesday night Church classes.

1. Pilates class and running.
2. Blog each weekday.
3. Read next 3 chapters in The Only Grant Writing Book...
4. Read the first 4 chapters of Hebrews.