Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

I have never had a truly clean and organized closet until I started my fashion capsule project. Had I known that I could have been making considerable cash this whole time, I might have taken the endeavor a bit more seriously. Today I want to share with you some resources I have discovered for making money while cleaning out your closet. Not only do you have the power to make some serious cash, but you also have the opportunity to transform lives by paying it forward to charities in need.

First things first, let’s talk about my purse clean out that netted me $80! 

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Start With Your Purses- I Made a Ton

I have a terrible habit of switching my purses and never taking time to clean them out. Not only did I find a lot of great lipsticks to wear, but I also discovered that I had a lot of credit card gift cards with small denominator amounts on them that I didn’t know what to do with. Do you know that you can transfer all of these tiny gift card amounts to an Amazon gift card with no minimum balance? I headed over to this page where you can quickly reload your balance with NO MINIMUM amount. After kicking myself for all of the cards that had been sitting there expiring, I was happy to see that I now had $80 of credit that I can use towards my shopping.

Sell The Things You Aren’t Wearing

It has been brought to my attention since minimizing my wardrobe how little I really do need and how little I really do wear. If your items are brand name and in gently used condition consider selling them to make some extra cash or to put towards wardrobe items you really would love and wear.

Here are a few resources you can check. I know there are more, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with: 

Twice

Twice- This has been my #1 resource for pulling together my capsule wardrobe, but it is also my #1 resource for selling my gently used items. Twice will send you a selling kit within 4-6 days of your request that includes a bag and prepaid postage sticker for your items. If you are really excited to just get started though, you can grab a box from your recycling and fill it up with a label you print from your computer. Once you send in your first shipment they will give you $10 of credit towards a purchase so you can buy something you really love. Here is a list of the brands that they accept. Once they make an offer you can decide if you want to accept it or not.  If you don’t like the price, you pay $4.95 for return shipping. In contrast, thredUP charges $12.00 to return your items.

Keep in mind that this is not a consignment shop so they pay you once the item is accepted. No need to wait for your items to sell.

Threadflip

Threadflip- Threadflip is a new discovery for me and I am so excited about using this for my next capsule wardrobe. Threadflip is more of an online consignment shop for your clothing so that means you get paid when your item has been sold and shipped. That being said, they charge a mere 20% commission on your items so that you can pocket 80% of the profit. 

Much like Twice, they will send you an envelope with a prepaid shipping label for your items. Once you send it to them, they will list it for you by their team of professionals, saving you the hassle of trying to photograph and style your item. There is also the option to list the items yourself if you don’t want to send the items in. For me, the profit is the same so I would much rather have their team list it for me, but that one is totally up to you.

Poshmark

Poshmark- Poshmark & Threadflip are very similar in nature and the site is one of my new favorite places to browse for items for my capsule.  It is an app available for iPad and iPhone that allows you to shop, sell, and engage with virtual closets full of pre-worn or new pieces on one simple platform.

You list the items yourself- some take their own pictures while others utilize the photos from the website of where they purchased the item. They also charge a 20% commision fee on your items allowing you to pocket 80% of your profit. 

I will say from a user perspective, despite adding my sizing and storing it, I find the site a bit like going to a high-end garage sale. You have to really scan through all of the listings and even when sizing is set, it still pulls items that are not in my size or unrelated to my searches. Since users set their own pricing, you can find some steals though and I still love the thrill of a good hunt so I am sure thrifty shoppers will be ready to embrace your gently loved clothing.

thredUP

thredUPAll of my friends have been raving about thredUP and after joining to try it for this article, I can see what the fuss is about. Not only can you clean out your closet to make money, but you can also make money on your kid’s stuff and maternity items too! As with some of the other places I have listed, you can order a bag with a prepaid shipping label to start your closet clean out. Their fashion resale professionals review your clothing and then pay up to 80% of the resale value. You can earn thredUP shopping credit, or simply cash out with PayPal. Items that they don’t accept go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. They can also be mailed back to you as part of their Return Assurance program for a $12.99 shipping fee. Be sure to check their quality standards before sending. Here is $10 of credit to spend on your first purchase. 

eBay- eBay has been around forever and is actually featured a lot in my It’s the 3 Little Things because I find some really killer deals on there as a buyer.  Although I have never personally sold items on eBay, I have had many friends who have with great success. There is a seller fee that you can read more about the eBay seller fees here. The nice thing is that you can sell items individually or you can sell them as a lot grouping instead.

Make Money Organizing Your Closet

Give Away The Rest

If you don’t love it, you aren’t wearing it, and you can’t sell it…share it with someone in need. There are so many fantastic charities to give to and if the items aren’t the wildly popular name brands or you just don’t want to hassle with the sale, consider paying it forward and giving your items to a worthwhile cause.

Here are a few options to consider:

Women’s Shelters- By far my favorite place to donate is to our local women’s shelters. This link helps you browse your state and find a shelter closest to you to give.

Dress For Success- Help someone look and feel their best for their job interviews. Their greatest need is larger size suits and apparel, but any business attire will do! Check here for locations.

Pick Up Please- The Vietnam Veterans of America is a respected charity that gives aid to all of America’s veterans, not just those of a particular age group or war. By donating used clothes, shoes, appliances, and other household items, you help generate funds to take care of the soldiers and service men and women who help keep America safe from harm. See if your state participates by visiting here.

Churches- Growing up our church had a room where guests or members could shop. Check with your church to see if they offer this or if they are partnered with any shelters in town where they could recommend sharing your donation.

Goodwill- Goodwill provides employment and job training to those in need of job assistance. Donations couldn’t be easier thanks to the drop-off boxes. Check here for locations.

Once you have your closet cleaned out, let’s get it organized!

Try a Capsule Wardrobe (here are my Fall & Winter capsules) to Minimize- Read more about what I have learned from minimizing my closet.

Tips & Tools for Organizing Your Closet

Have you made money selling items in your closet? Leave your experience here with the different services and be sure to share any resources that I might have missed!

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Back to School Organization Ideas

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

 

*This post is sponsored by the Post-it Brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It is such an honor to be working with the Post-it Brand for the back-to-school season.  I am so thrilled that you loved our DIY Homework Stations we created for our family and today I wanted to continue along that theme and share with you some additional ways that we keep our kids organized for back-to-school.

Since we live in a small home, organization is truly necessary to keep our small spaces functional.  I also am someone who prefers to not have a lot of visual clutter and appreciates smart hidden storage for our homework area rather than bulky caddies that can take up a lot of space since we don’t have a lot of storage space in our home. With that in mind, here are some of our ideas for organizing for back-to-school in a small space.

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

Designate a Small Area for Homework Organization- I recently created a bar cart for our shed bonus room and this cart has become the hub of this room for our back-to-school organization this year.  I purchased a chalkboard for tracking our to-do list, a small globe, and then stackable hollowed books for school supplies storage. This little area is efficient and has just what we need to stay organized.

A hub can be created in a corner of your own home, tucked away in a closet, or even just a designated drawer of supplies. The key isn’t how much space you have to organize, but just that the space is functional and that you always have on-hand what your child needs to complete their assignments.

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

Put Them in Charge- I can admit that I am a bit of a helicopter mom and it is hard for me to let my kids be in charge of their own tasks. This year I am really going to work on helping them to be more independent and make them be in charge of their own to-do lists and schedules.

Imagine if they went to college and wondered where their mother was to keep them on task.

This could get a little embarrassing.

I purchased this chalkboard and each child can jot down their own to-do list on Post-it Study Super Sticky Notes to attach to the chalkboard to remind themselves of the important tasks they need to accomplish for the week. I am loving the new Post-it Study Collection because it offers a fantastic new line of Notes, Notebook Kits, Flags, Tabs, and Page Markers that stick securely to papers, notebooks, folders, and more, yet remove cleanly. The products all work together to help your family stay organized on-the-go.  In this case with our Study Super Sticky Notes, once the task is accomplished, they can remove it from the board. As new tasks and assignments are added, they can create their own reminder list to attach to the chalkboard.  Each child gets their own color of Post-it Study Super Sticky Notes so that they know exactly whose task is whose, eliminating the need for two boards and creating a visual area for them of necessary items to accomplish.

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

Make Those School Supplies Part of Your Décor-  Pinterest has many ideas for creating storage caddies of homework supplies for your children which is great, but we don’t really have somewhere we can store it when those items are not being used. I happened upon these hollowed out books for storage at our craft store and realized that this was the perfect spot for camouflaging our homework helpers and adding visual interest to a room.

Inside the smallest book I stored crayons and glue sticks, the middle storage is for pencils and pens, and the largest book holds our Post-it Study collection homework helpers like Study Super Sticky Notes, Study Grid Notes, and Study Message Flags. This also houses our extra Post-it Super Sticky Notes for our chalkboard to-do list.

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

Back to School Organization Ideas from MomAdvice.com.

Cut Down the Distractions- The reason I love our bonus room for our homework area is that this area is screen-free and there is absolutely nothing in this room to distract them. I can be in the room with them to help them work through problems in a distraction-free environment.  The DIY Homework Stations we created for this room help each child to stay in their own zone and keep focused on their own list of tasks. Once everything has been completed, the kids can exit the space and head off to their technology-filled lives.

I really hope you enjoyed this fun series on back-to-school organization that I created with the Post-it Brand. Thanks to this job, I feel more confident than ever that we will have a successful and truly organized school year! To purchase some fun Post-it Brand items of your own, you will find that they are available at office superstores and mass merchandise retailers nationwide!

 

This post is sponsored by the Post-it Brand. I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

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How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room (Tour Our Shed!)

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Today I wanted to share with you how we transformed our outdoor shed into a bonus room. Shed makeovers are one of my favorite things to look at, but I had never considered our own shed a bonus room until this summer.  This transformation from a shed that housed our chaos and clutter into a multi-purpose retreat is one of my proudest makeovers we have ever done on our home.

I partnered with Walmart on this project to showcase a unique idea for outdoor living. Since they partnered with me, I did my best to utilize items from their store while weaving in handmade items from some of my favorite Etsy sellers.

Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s take a tour of our shed before the makeover. As an FYI,  I did not gloss this up for you one bit. This is exactly as awful and as embarrassing as it looked. It took me twelve hours to organize our garage, six donation runs, and a whole day to empty this shed. I am ashamed how bad it had gotten, but I wanted to be honest about all of that with you. This took a lot of preparation for me to empty this and rid my life of a lot of junk to execute this space. It was worth every moment of effort.

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Our home is a late-sixties tri-level that had an attached shed on the home.  Although the shed is attached to our home, you do have to step outside to access it, but it is close enough that easy access is possible. This might be unlike  other sheds that might be residing further out from your property. After talking with our neighbor who has been a longtime resident here,  I understand that this wasn’t originally part of the home, but was an addition that had been made later to our house. Over the years, as other homeowner’s owned it things like insulation and electrical were added. The space had good bones to be a room, but no one had gotten any further than that. We have resided in this home 12 years and it only occured to me this summer that maybe we were missing out on a golden opportunity to have a unique bonus room.  After getting estimates and ideas from a few contractors, we hired All Pro Renovations to assist in transforming this dumping crowd of chaos into the room of my dreams.  They were able to address getting our space up to code and also got my vision for what I wanted to accomplish with this room.

My idea for the space was that it could be a retreat for my children during the day and a fun entertaining spot in the evenings. The most important aspect for this project was that we utilize every single inch of this 8×12 space in a thoughtful way. I wanted a bar that could fold down, flush to the wall when it was not in use. I wanted to utilize all the space that we could behind the door to house storage. I wanted furniture that could be stacked or wall mounted for entertaining.  Most of all, I wanted it to feel very modern and light-filled with a glass door and a window.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We painted the door with a bright coat of teal paint that I loved so much that we decided to paint the front door too.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We quickly figured out that when the kids were in this room that I couldn’t necessarily see that they were in there and would be hunting in the backyard for them. I added a plastic Open/Closed Sign from Walmart that I attached to the trim of the door with a 3M hook so the kids could let me know if they were in there. If they are inside it is open if they go back out to play in the yard, they flip it to closed. My daughter loves to also leave a time on the clock to let me know when she will be back.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Since our home had aluminum siding, All Pro recommended adding light with a skylight (which cost the same as adding a window), because if we damaged our siding, we would not be able to find matching aluminum siding for this home. They found a glass door that we could use for the space. They recommended doing an epoxy-paint floor with neutral tones that would be durable and ideal for this outdoor space. To warm up the floor, I added this outdoor rug in a 5’3×7’7 (an absolute steal at $77.58)   The room was drywalled, painted, and trimmed to finish out the bones of this room.  My color choice for this space was Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl for the walls (which I now what to paint my entire house in) and Benjamin Moore’s glossy White Dove for all of the trim.  Although the original intent was to add canned lighting, our ceilings were too low for the space so track lighting was installed which adds to that modern retro feel that I was going for.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

A built-in was added behind the door to make sure that every inch was used. Wine glasses, a rack, and opener are on the top shelves for evening entertaining. On the lower shelves, we have coloring books, crayons, and books. I also added a few of my favorites from our record collection and they fit perfectly on the bottom so we can use our turntable out there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The focal point of the room is this beautiful Providence Outdoor Day Bed (priced at $399) from Walmart for the back wall.  This canopy bed is so beautifully made that I almost fall asleep every night on it while I am out there. It is generously deep and the canopy element really adds an eye-catching detail to the room. I switched out the pillows with a more modern printed pillow covers that I scored on Groopdealz as one of their deals-of-the-day. I also added this Too Legit To Quit pillow from Michelle Dwight Designs to add a splash of fun to the bed. I found inexpensive pillow forms from Walmart to create cushions with style for the back of this bed.  The pillow forms are two for $5.15 and feel like expensive cushions.   This bed not only is the perfect spot for a reading nook, but it also can double as a guest room year-round for our guests. I kind of want to stay here as a guest myself.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

 

The bar can comfortably seat four people and I found retro Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools in red (2 for $159) from Walmart to complete the look.  I actually placed an additional order for two more now that I could see how many I can fit here.  All Pro Renovations created a bar that could be folded down and added a stripe of teal on the edge of my bar to add a little splash of color.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

 

We added these modern floating shelves (only $19.95) and I filled them with a few fake succulents and wove in a few of my favorite books and a fake orchid.  It creates a soothing and maintenance-free splash of color over there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The turntable I was gifted from my amazing girlfriends was placed on this pedestal table from Home Decorators and it was just the right size for this small space. I added this beautiful 30″ handmade arrow from Junk Art Gypsyz to the wall. We also added a beautiful typography piece that has the lyrics from Elton John’s, “Tiny Dancer,” to that wall.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Your question might be how we are keeping the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter? I have a great solution for you. We discovered that Walmart offers a Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit that not only act as an air conditioner, but a one piece solution for air conditioning, heating, and dehumidifying. The best part is that it can be set on a timer so you can set it for the day and it will automatically shut itself off.  All-Pro got the unit to drain outside of our home and installed a flap for the hose so that the unit is maintenance-free. This was the priciest of the purchases at $471.81, but eliminated the need for multiple units in such a small room.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Shed Makeover Shopping List

1. 30″ Marquee Arrow {Junk Art Gypsyz}

2. Too Legit To Quit Pillow {Michelle Dwight Designs}

3. Arrow Apache Blue  & Fynn Cool Grey Pillows {Groopdealz}

4. Tiny Dancer Typography {Concepcion Studios}

5. Safavieh Courtyard Outdoor Rug {Walmart}

6. Chloe Side Table {Home Decorators}

7. Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools {Walmart}

8. Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit {Walmart}

9. Providence Outdoor Day Bed {Walmart}

10. Danya Floating Shelves {Walmart}

11. Pellon Homegoods Decorative Pillow Inserts {Walmart}

12. Open/Closed Sign {Walmart}

Benjamin Moore Paint Choices

 

Paint Colors Used In Our Shed

1. Benjamin Moore White Dove (Glossy, Trim)

2. Benjamin Moore Blue Spa (Exterior, Door & Edge of Bar)

3. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (Semi-Glossy, Walls)

 

I hope you enjoyed touring our shed.  I have found this room to be so good for my soul. It is so quiet and peaceful in there and is my new favorite place to unwind. Since the room is designed so differently from our home, it truly feels like I am going somewhere else in the evenings. The absence of clutter and our busy everyday life has been very calming to me.  I have been counting down the hours until my kids go to bed so I can escape. I also look forward to entertaining in here with my girlfriends, hosting book clubs, sharing a cup of coffee with good friends, writing alone,  and having a retreat for our kids on rainy days.

I’m thankful to All Pro Renovations for making all my dreams come true and exceeding my expectations for our former junky shed. Professional, courteous, on time (or early) every day, and quick to create smart solutions for this design challenge.  In ten short days, they created a space that I am so proud of and were as equally excited seeing it all come to life. They even came to my rescue when my daughter had a meltdown that her chalkboard door was disappearing and cut it to size for our garage door to surprise her while we were on vacation.  How amazing is that?

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

I could not have asked for more! I am already working on vision boards for other rooms in our home I would like to tackle with them again.

I hope this space inspires you and I’m thankful that Walmart gave me the chance to share about their beautiful outdoor options with you!

walmart_mom_disclaimer

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5 Ways to Use Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover #mommusthave

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

5 Ways to Use Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

*This post is sponsored by Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

This was a big year for our family because we adopted a beautiful little kitty named Lulu from the shelter.  Our kids fell madly in love with her and we were so excited to bring her home and make her a part of our family. The kids even threw her a birthday party this year! When we got her home though, we soon realized that Lulu had some difficulty adjusting to our family.  She had some accidents and seemed nervous and stressed around us. She didn’t like being alone and she let us know how unhappy she was when we had been gone all day.

We had testing done at the vet clinic and even had a meeting for behavioral therapy. Having a pet that is struggling to adjust in your home and is wreaking havoc on your house is extremely stressful. After some behavioral therapy, we were able to modify her behavior, which has relieved a lot of stress for all of us.  She is doing so much better and we are so thankful, but removing pet odors and feeling at peace in my home again was tough.

When Kids ‘ N’ Pet contacted me, I knew that we would be the perfect family to test their Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover.  Not only did we have a history of pet stains, but I have two messy kids who could help me test their cleaner. They sent me the cleaner to try and I have been using it for the last month on my house with wonderful results.  I am genuinely excited to share about this product with you and can’t recommend it enough.

Kids N’ Pets cleaner is non-toxic and biodegradable,  made from high speed natural enzymes, isopropyl alcohol, surfactant Ordenone, water and a natural citrus scent.  Thanks to this formula it is safe to use around your kids and furry friends without worries.  The cleaner is also one of those great all-in-one cleaners that doesn’t take up a lot of space on your shelves, but packs a punch by performing a multitude of tasks including removing stains, odors, boosting your laundry, and cleaning carpets.

Today I want to show you 5 ways we used Kids ‘ N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover in our home this month!

5-ways-to-use-kids-n-pets-cleaner

  • Spot Clean Your Couches- Do you get MYSTERY stains on your couches that you wonder if someone may have used your couch as a napkin or as a tissue for their nose? I don’t either. That’s disgusting. If you did though, I would tell you that this cleaner works fantastic on those types of stains on your couches and leaves your couch looking and smelling fresh. You will want to test for colorfastness by applying the cleaner on a hidden area and allowing it to dry first, especially if you are the kind of family that buys fancy couches. We are the kind of family that knows that our couch is going to be used as a napkin and a tissue on occasion, so that is why we used this with no problems at all.  The product also gets out red wine and coffee stains…if you are that kind of mom sitting on your couch after the kids goes to bed trying to soothe yourself. Again, this is completely hypothetical.

Bissell_DeepClean_Premier_Carpet_Cleaner_Review_2

  • Freshen Up Your Carpets- As I illustrated in my story above, our carpets really needed freshening up and if you are dealing with pet stains, you want to make sure that your pets are not coming back to their spots of habit and wreaking more havoc on your home. We have used other products, but often the overly powerful scents meant to mask the urine odors were just as painful. While this has a citrus scent, it dissipates quickly, leaving everything smelling fresh. You can treat stains on your carpet directly with Kids ‘N’ Pets or you can put sixteen ounces of the cleaner per gallon of water in your Carpet Cleaner and freshen your carpets up in one fell swoop. After cleaning up Vomitfest 2014 from my cat this weekend, I can attest that this cleaner performs beautifully, but I really wish that I could not attest to that scenario at all. The cleaner also works like a dream on hardwood or on tile.
  • Get Your Laundry Really Clean- As you know, I love to make my own laundry detergent and I try to use cleaners and products that are safe for our family in our home.  When doing a load of whites, my homemade detergent needs a little boost and Kids ‘N’ Pets works great in our laundry loads. You just add a cup of it to your regular wash load and it helps get your whites whiter and your colors brighter.  If your child also likes to carry around pencils in his pockets and didn’t empty them and everything got marked with pencil, this cleaner also works wonderfully to remove stains, even after they have gone through the load. Ideally, you want to pre-treat them and spray them on the stains and let it work for a few minutes, but you can also spray after, like my scenario, and leave it on for an hour or more to really cut through tough stains. It might not help with your angry yelling when you see the pencil on top of your load and your new workout gear covered in pencil. suitcases
  • Freshen Up Your Suitcases- Did you loan your best friend your suitcase to take to Mexico? That might have been a mistake. Instead of crying about how bad baggage claims messed up your luggage, consider spraying it down with Kids ‘N’ Pets to make your luggage look like new again.  Spray generously, wait ten minutes, and blot up the stains with a cloth. Within twenty minutes, my luggage looked almost like new and ready for another trip to Mexico…or not.
  • Care for Your Fur Baby- Sharing our struggle with you about pet stains is embarrassing, but I am sure our situation is a common one for pet owners. Not only does Kids ‘N’ Pets get out urine stains, but it also can be used to clean pet cages (hello, guinea pig owners!), can be used to clean out your litter boxes, and can clean the areas in your home your pets frequent. Have a pet bed that needs a little freshening? Give it a spray with Kids ‘N’ Pets and allow it to air dry. It will smell fresh in no time flat!

I also love companies that support great causes and Kids ‘N’ Pets works with participating pet adoption organizations nationwide, providing products and services that help pet foster families and pet adopters! As someone who just adopted a shelter animal, that really makes my heart happy!

I love this cleaner and I hope you can give it a try in your home- I consider it a #mommusthave. You can find this product at Amazon or Walmart!

*This post is sponsored by Kids ‘N’ Pets Stain & Odor Remover

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How to Stain a Picnic Table

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever stained a picnic table before? This was our first year staining our table and I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stain a picnic table so you can enjoy it all summer long.  Thanks to a coat of stain, our table looks and feels just like new and I can’t wait to show you just how easy it is to do.

Walmart challenged to me to showcase an idea for a Spring project and I knew that this was one of those projects that I really needed to complete on my to-do list, particularly after such a brutal Indiana winter.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Have you ever spotted something in a magazine and just knew you had to have it… yet, you could find it nowhere! Many years ago, I flipped through a magazine and spied a picnic table that Katie Brown owned that was in her backyard and I just knew I wanted a table like that. After inquiring on Facebook, we found a gentleman in town who makes picnic tables and after telling him what I envisioned, he built this beautiful table for us that comfortably sits eight to ten people.  When I look out my window, this makes me so happy and the meals shared at this table are what summer is all about.

To keep her looking good, we decided to freshen her up for another year of family meals.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed:

Thompson’s WaterSeal Waterproofing Stain (we did our table in Nutmeg Brown in Semi-Transparent)

Drop Cloth

Knit Rags

Paint Tray

Foam & Paint Brush

Sandpaper

Heavy-Duty Cleaner

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

Directions

1. Before we begin, we need to prep our surface. Using a heavy-duty cleaner, spray and wipe down your table to remove any dirt and grime. Be sure that you clean the entire surface well and then wait 10-15 minutes, or until the table is completely dry, to begin staining. You never want to stain the table while it is wet so be sure that you are not trying to stain after a heavy rain.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

2. Since our piece was in good condition, it did not require any sanding. If your piece needs to be smoothed though, use a medium grit sandpaper sanding in the direction of the grain. This can be done with a small palm sander or can be done by hand. Once you are done with that, finish with a finer grit of sandpaper to smooth out any rough areas and give the table an even, smooth finish for the stain. Once it is sanded, make sure to use a tack cloth to remove any sanding.

3. Once your piece has been cleaned and prepped, it is time to begin applying stain.  With the Thompson’s Water Seal Waterproof Stain you do not want to thin this.  Make sure that you shake well and shake, stir or mix thoroughly before and occasionally during use. Before you begin staining, make sure you try a test run with a small trial patch in an inconspicuous place, like the underside of your bench or table, to make sure that the stain is the color you are going for.

Apply using an exterior paint pad, brush, roller, or even a rag to begin applying the stain to your table.  If you are doing the legs and underside of the table, lay down your drop cloth and invert your piece and do the bottom first. Allow the bottom to dry, it should take less than two hours to be fully dry, and then begin staining the top.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

5. Use your foam brush to get into the detail parts and legs of your table, using a rag to remove any drip marks on the ends.

6. Allow your table to dry for two hours.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

 

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

How to Stain a Picnic Table from MomAdvice.com.

This table looks just like new again and it only cost me $30 in supplies. Since picnic tables do reside outside, they are exposed to all of the weather elements, which means you need to stain your table from time to time.  This stain typically will last two to three years, but possibly less time than that, depending on if your picnic table is in direct sunlight. The properties of  sunlight can dry out the stain and cause it to weather much faster.  It also has a lot to do with how much freezing and thawing happens, which in our area, seems to happen often! 

I’m so proud of my table and I hope it inspires you to freshen up your own picnic table for Spring.  Speaking of staining,  I am still SO proud of this stained table I created for our office. If you are looking for tips on indoor staining, be sure to visit that post!

Too intimidated by stain? Check out how I spray painted my side table and how we painted our kitchen table that is STILL going strong after all these years. And it never hurts to reupholster those chairs while you are at it!

Have you ever stained a picnic table or deck? What tips can you share on this?

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How to Style Your Bookshelves

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

How to Style Your Bookshelves from MomAdvice.com.

The art of styling bookshelves had never really been important to me until I started perusing pictures on Pinterest and saw the carefully curated collections and beauty in the organized book spines. Of course, I don’t have an unlimited budget where I can add decorative books in one carefully choreographed color or an unlimited budget for fantastic looking odds-and-ends to update my bookshelves. That is why I am excited to share with you some easy ideas for updating your bookshelves with Goodwill items and a few budget-friendly craft materials.

Head on over to the Goodwill Tips Blog to grab some budget-friendly styling ideas for your bookshelves!

 

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Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

It’s been a long time since I have shared some pictures of our home. I have been in the thick of organizing my craft room and today I wanted to share with you some ideas for organizing your own craft space in your home.

For my part on the Walmart craft team, they requested that I tackle a craft project. I made a special request that I could share with you today my organized craft space and see if I could find any fun additions to my space at their store and they agreed. So today instead of crafting it up, I am showing off what I have been up to in my space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Let’s start from the very beginning. Three years ago, this was our space that I envisioned turning into our office space. We have a tri-level home, now lovingly called a quad now that we finished this fourth level, and this was what we started with. This space was where we threw our stuff that we didn’t know what to deal with. We had to majorly declutter and we had to save enough cash to make the updates to our home. We were able to accomplish both (loan free!) and create the space I had been dreaming of.

I am starting with this picture to show you that maybe there is an area in your home that could be your special space and you just don’t know it. Maybe it just requires a fresh eye, a bit of decluttering, and a few smart craft solutions to carve a space just for you.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Here is my craft and office space today. When I post these types of pictures, people ask me where I found certain things. Here are some of the things you will find in my space.

Floral Chairs- Found at a local Value City (no longer available-sadness)!

Green Side Table- A side table we owned, but spray painted & distressed

Owl Lamp & Burlap Lamp Shade-  Walmart

Record Table- Thrift Shop Find Stained & Painted

Swivel Metal Stool- Home Decorators

Knitted Leaf Centerpiece- Handmade

Everyday I’m Hustling Pillow- Michelle Dwight Designs

Record Frames- H&M

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Crafting and organization do not go hand in hand for me.  I spent a good month getting this room organized and trying to figure out the best solutions for my space. Here are some of the solutions I found inexpensively at Walmart.

Glass Jars- I had all of my craft supplies tucked away in baskets. This meant I spent a lot of time digging through baskets and trying to figure out where I tucked all my crafting odds & ends. Glass jars truly helps me visualize what I have and where it is. I found the smaller jars for just $4.97 and my giant 2 gallon glass jar is the perfect home for my ribbon collection (priced at $9.97).

Clear Clipboards- As a craft blogger, I always have a running to-do list for my site and craft projects. I utilized this to-do list printable (previously featured in our DIY Homework stations) and mounted them on these clear clipboards ($3.88)  with 3M hooks ($3.67) on my wall. I also have my favorite Mead Wall Calendar I buy every year to keep track of when all my projects are due ($7.97).

Metal Bins- Over in the closet solutions, I found a metal tub that I could use to organize my knitting needles. When you start really building up your knitting needle collection, you may have four or more different sizes of the same size needle. I was constantly digging through baskets to find the right needles. I decided to use manilla envelopes and label them #0-15 and then put my needles for each size in these envelopes. This saves me tons of time hunting for the right needles and makes it easy to see what I might need to buy. I put all of these in this metal tub ($9.74) and it is on top of my newly organized craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

Two things we purchased to finish out my crafting space was a crafting table and a crafting cart that I could roll out into the middle of our office when I needed to do my crafting. We found this Martha Stewart Collapsible Crafting Table & Crafting Cart on Home Decorators. If you are struggling with a small space, this is a dream come true. You can fold down one side if your space is small or open it all the way out if you need a large surface to work on.

This space also doubles as an indoor photography studio when the weather isn’t cooperating. I have my photography backdrops stored in the gift wrap center and can really spread my work out, if I need to on this space.

I spent an entire weekend whittling down my craft supplies to what I truly needed in my craft cart. I now everything I need right at my fingertips. I had to keep reassuring myself that it was okay to part with some of my craft supplies. If it hadn’t been used in the last year, it was definitely something that could be donated to free up precious space in my craft cart.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.comAs you can see, I can wheel them over to corners in our office so they don’t get in the way. I am so thankful for these smart solutions for our space. I am also thankful that I finally feel organized in this space.

Smart Solutions for Craft Room Organization from MomAdvice.com

And as a good old-fashioned reminder that all good things should be enjoyed in moderation, I found this old-fashioned closed sign over in the office supplies at Walmart ($1.97). I mounted a 3M clip upside down and hooked it on the back of my computer. This now offers an in-my-face reminder of how I should be spending my evenings.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my craft space! Feel free to ask me any questions and I promise to try to help!

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$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverThis Fall I am committed to ridding my home of some unnecessary clutter. My bookshelves were in need of some true organization and updating. Today I am sharing a fabric-lined bookcase makeover to update a tired bookcase and some ideas for adding a little budget-friendly seasonal beauty to your bookshelves.

I work with Walmart and this project update can be done with $15 of supplies found at your local Walmart store.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverLet’s start with a before picture of my bookshelves. As you can see, they are brimming over with far too many books and clutter than you could ever imagine. One side housed a million books, while the other housed random junk in our house. Since this is the front room in our house, it really embarrassed me that they had gotten this cluttered.

The first step was to remove EVERYTHING from these bookshelves and figure out what to do with them. One pile was to keep, one to donate, and some were relocated into better places (cookbooks in the kitchen, productivity/work books in the office, etc…). Once you have cleared your shelves, it is time to make them pretty with some inexpensive fabric.

Supplies

2 yards of fabric (to cover two bookshelves- definitely measure for your own bookcases. This houndstooth fabric I found was only $4 per yard!)

General All-Purpose Spray Adhesive (I had some leftover from last month’s diy homework stations)

Glue Gun & Glue Sticks

2 Binder Cliips

Optional: Gold Spray Paint & inexpensive items in Seasonal Supplies

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

Directions

1. Take the back off of your bookcase on top of your fabric. Cut around the bookcase leaving approximately one inch of fabric all away around to tuck on the back.

2. Once the fabric is cut, flip the fabric with the right-side out. Clip the fabric to the bookcase at the top, using two clips. Be sure you double check the front of the fabric to make sure it lines up if it is patterned.  Relocate your project outside to spray it with the spray adhesive.

3. Lifting the fabric up, spray the entire bookcase side with spray adhesive and then carefully lay the fabric back down, doing your best to keep the fabric even and flush to your bookcase.

4. Flip the bookcase back over and using your hot glue gun, add a dab of glue along the seam and pull the fabric tight behind the bookcase. Continue adding the glue down the seam of the fabric until it is all secure. Fold the corners in just as you would wrapping a present, and glue those to secure them.

5. Secure your bookcase back to your bookcase and begin assembling the items for your bookshelves.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase Makeover

I wanted to add a little nod to the season and another little nod to the Gold trend right now so I picked up another can of spray paint and a two little pumpkins and an owl that I found over in the Seasonal supplies for only $2.49 each and gave them a shiny new gold finish.

Did you catch my spray painted side table tutorial I did this summer? I am such a spray paint addict.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverHere is a close-up of my, “new-to-me,” shelves for Fall. The books at the top are among my favorite. I read East of Eden this summer for the first time, my childhood copy of Secret Garden from my great-grandma is in the pile, I’m Hemingway obsessed, and each year I am collecting one new reissued pretty classic from Barnes & Noble for a holiday gift to myself. My little $2.49 owl fits perfectly in there next to a few of my very favorite books.

The second shelf is simple with yarn and tiny bamboo needles I rarely use along with a few of my very favorite knitting books.

The bottom shelf is just for my hubby with his Harry Potter books and a golden pumpkin.

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverThe top shelf in this photo holds a few of my favorite cookbooks, a golden pumpkin, and my little Pie Bird that I think is oh-so-sweet and reminds me how much I love a good piece of pie.

My copy of Wuthering Heights (which I read this winter) rests beneath the beautiful China teapot that my grandfather gave me before he passed away. Behind it is the last picture I took of him with my grandma. That shelf makes my heart ache.

The last shelf holds my galley copy of my first book, a picture of my sweet boy when he was little in the beautiful Tin Man costume my mother-in-law made for him, our Boston Drivers Handbook which was a gift when we moved to Massachusetts and were terrified to drive, and my hubby’s copy of, “Understand Rap,” from his sister. It is always a great conversation piece.

Can you see the theme? They are ALL special and ALL mean something to me.

The mess before…how could we even see the gems in there? 

$15 Fabric-Lined Bookcase MakeoverHere are some shots of my beautiful bookshelves now. It is one of those projects that I sit and look at over and over again because it makes me so happy. The fabric completely transformed these and the clutter removed from them brings a lot more peace and order to the room.

Looking for more bookshelf styling ideas? Check out these ideas for decorating bookshelves and this post for bookshelf styling tips!

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DIY Fabric Softener Sheets

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

For years I have been making my own DIY fabric softener sheets and today I wanted to share an easy process for making your own homemade fabric softener sheets for your laundry. These DIY fabric softener sheets will stretch your bottle of fabric softener much further, there is nothing to throw away, and when they finally begin to lose their effectiveness,  you simply repeat the process and can continue using them again. Pairing these with a jar of my homemade laundry detergent really can keep your laundry budget down!

How Can I Make My Own Fabric Softener Sheets?

When making your own fabric softener sheets, visit the housewares aisle of your favorite store and look for the brightest colors of washcloths to use. By picking bright fabrics, it will be easier to spot the softener sheet to pull out and reuse after you are done with your load of laundry.

Choose your favorite fabric softener and pour it into a bowl. Soak your washcloth in the softener and then wring it out well. Hang the washcloth to dry overnight.

That’s it. Done.

How Many Times Can You Reuse Your DIY Fabric Softener Sheets?

You can reuse your dryer sheets on up to twenty loads of laundry before you need to repeat the process. If you make a set of these and alternate them with your loads, they should last a long time. The best part about this sheets is that they perform better than putting fabric softener in your washer compartment and you don’t have to worry about any staining on your fabrics.

Are There Any Green Alternatives to Fabric Softeners?

Seventh Generation (affiliate) offers a green alternative to fabric softeners and could be used to create your own DIY fabric softener sheets. The best part about that one is that it still offers a scent, but this version is better for the environment over the other commercial brands.

I also was sent a bottle of the Method fabric softener (affiliate) and used that with fairly good results on my loads of laundry, although I did find that my loads still had a little bit of static in them, particularly if they needed to be refreshed.  The unique thing about the Method cleaner was that you sprayed it directly onto your fabrics and the tumbling of the dryer dispersed the softener throughout the load. It never stained my fabrics and also offered a fresh scent to them.

If you are looking for a frugal and green method for fabric softener, you can use vinegar to replace your fabric softener. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar in your fabric softener compartment of your washer or during the Rinse cycle of your load.

Using vinegar will help to soften the fabric, but it doesn’t always perform effectively in reducing the static in fabrics. You can either crumple aluminum foil into a ball and use that as a dryer ball, buy a store-bought dryer ball alternative like this one (affiliate), or even make dryer balls from yarn.

What Should I Not Use Fabric Softener On?

This might come as a surprise since those fabric softener commercials always seem to be about fluffy towels, but you really shouldn’t use fabric softener on your towels. Fabric softener can reduce the absorbency of your fabrics so avoid using it on your towels.

If you are a big fan of cleaning with microfiber cloths, like I am, you should also avoid using fabric softener on those. I just wash them with my towels so I know they won’t get mixed up into my other loads.

5.0 from 2 reviews
DIY Fabric Softener Sheets
Author: 
Recipe type: Cleaning
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
An easy DIY fabric softener sheet that will save you money on your laundry loads!
Ingredients
  • Brightly colored washcloths
  • Fabric Softener (your favorite variety)
Instructions
  1. Pour fabric softener into a bowl.
  2. Submerge your washcloth in the fabric softener and soak it for a few seconds.
  3. Wring the washcloth out and and hang it to dry.
  4. Allow the washcloth to dry overnight.
  5. To begin using, just throw it in your dyer with freshly washed cloths.
  6. You can reuse the same DIY fabric softener sheet on up to 20 loads before you need to repeat the process again.

 

 

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How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent (A Picture Tutorial)

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Homemade laundry detergent is one of those things that is both easy to make and can save your family a lot of money at the grocery store. Today I wanted to share with you my recipe for homemade laundry detergent. Making homemade detergent is easier than you might think and the cost comparison makes it worth the small amount of effort required to make this.

Walmart challenged me to take on a fun Spring project and today I want to share with you a recipe and some ideas for spring cleaning your laundry routine by making your own homemade laundry detergent.

How Much Does It Cost to Make a Homemade Batch of Laundry Detergent?

Homemade detergent is made up of three ingredients: Fels-Naptha or Ivory Soap, Washing Soda, & Borax. The current pricing on these three ingredients is:

Fels Naptha Soap- $.97 per bar

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 ounce box)- $3.24

Borax (76 ounce box)- $3.38

One batch of laundry detergent takes one cup of the borax, one cup of the washing soda, and one bar of soap. Dividing the total materials required to make one batch of soap means that it would cost $1.81 total to make a batch. At one to two tablespoons per load, it comes in at a mere $.04, compared to $0.17-.0.21 per load  like the other name brands. That’s a pretty impressive savings! When you multiply that savings by a billion loads a week (if you live in our house), that is some serious savings!

Where Do You Find Borax, Washing Soda, & Fels Naptha Soap?

These supplies are all right in a row in at your local Walmart and are located on the opposite side of the laundry detergents, over by the stain removers! Why am I sharing this information? Simply because I could not find it and wanted to save you the trouble of walking up and down the detergent aisle like a lost little child like me!

Is Laundry Detergent Hard to Make or Time Consuming?

Some of the most time-strapped people I know are making their own detergent. I was able to make a triple batch of this soap in about fifteen minutes and that is along with taking pictures for this tutorial. The real time-consuming process of it is grating the soap, but if you have a food processor, that can be accomplished in no time at all.

How Do you Grate the Soap?

You can definitely use an old-fashioned cheese grater, but the soap can clump up and not completely dissolve in your load unless you grate it extremely fine. I allow my food processor to do the work for me because it is much easier to do and gives you the opportunity to also double or triple your batches of laundry detergent, in no time flat.

The process of grating the soap is easier than it sounds. You simply want to cut your bars of soap in half lengthwise so that you can feed them through the shoot of your processor. Assemble the processor with your cheese grater attachment and feed your soap in slowly and gently through the top shoot. Once all the soap has been grated, dump it into a bowl and remove the cheese grater attachment. Reassemble the processor with the basic blade and then put the grated soap back in. Spin it again until the soap resembles fine small pellets. That is it! Your soap is ready to be incorporated in your laundry detergent!

Is Homemade Detergent Safe to Use With High-Efficiency (HE) Washers?

The true beauty about this homemade detergent is that it doesn’t have a lot of suds. The main reason you can’t use laundry detergents not made for HE washers is because of the suds factor. Thanks to the small amount of suds and the minimal amount of soap you need to use to wash your loads, it is the perfect detergent to use with your HE washer! You can use this homemade laundry detergent with confidence!

Is This Homemade Laundry Detergent Septic Friendly?

The ingredients in this soap contain zero phosphates and zero fillers (like montmorillonite clay) that cause commercial powder detergents to clog lines. I am sure other items that you have lurking in your home are less septic friendly than this one so this is a perfectly safe product to make and use.

Now that you know all about it, let’s get started on our project!

Supplies Needed:

1 box of Borax

1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap (or more if you plain to double, triple, or quadruple your batch)

Measuring cups

Jar for Storage (found in the kitchen supplies)

Coffee Scoop (found in the kitchen supplies aisle, optional, but is great for perfect measuring of your detergent)

How to Make Your Detergent

4.8 from 5 reviews
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
Homemade laundry detergent can be made with just three ingredients! Try this simple recipe and enjoy the savings!
Ingredients
  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha)
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda
Instructions
  1. Shred your bars of soap as shown in the tutorial above.
  2. Mix one cup of borax, one cup of washing soda and the grated soap in a large bowl until incorporated well.
  3. Use 1 tablespoon per load (or 2 tablespoons for heavily soiled loads).
  4. Store in a glass jar or well-sealed plastic container.

Do you make your own laundry detergent? What is your winning recipe for the perfect homemade laundry detergent? Feel free to share your tips!

 

 

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