Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

How to Keep a Cleaner House

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

I’m over-the-moon excited to have my friend, Meagan Francis, here sharing with us her wisdom and tips to keep our homes cleaner with less stress. I love these ideas and know you will, too!

Advice and tips for keeping a cleaner house

A while ago, my sister-in-law Jenna and I were hanging out in my living room when she remarked, “You know, you sure are a lot cleaner than you were in college.” 

I might have been insulted by that remark except that Jenna was also my college roommate and every bit my partner in slovenliness. A massive laundry pile dominated our dorm-room floor the entire year. Mugs with dried cocoa and bowls cemented with oatmeal rolled under the bed and desk and were never seen again (until we moved out, that is). There were probably bugs, but they were buried under so many layers of crap we never saw them.

If there was a song title that best described our living conditions that year, it would be Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “That Smell.” Our dorm wasn’t just messy, it was downright gross.

I’d like to say that I grew out of my sloppy habits as soon as I moved into my first “adult” home, or even after I had children, but that wouldn’t exactly be true. It took me several years to get a handle on the mess a family of small kids could create in a small apartment.

The first time I maintained a truly clean-enough (by my standards, anyway) home? The year or so when Jon and I were separated and divorced. Living alone (well, without another adult, anyway) taught me a lot about keeping up with a house by myself, and forced me to figure it out and take responsibility for the state of my surroundings.

And even though my home still gets messy from time to time (right now, the bedrooms could really use some help…) I no longer feel the sinking sense of panic I used to feel, like I would never get on top of it again. Because now I know that I can, and I will.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to keep a cleaner house:

1. Stop resisting.

I figure I have two basic choices: drag my feet and resist every this-is-what-it-means-to-be-a-grownup task that comes my way, like doing the dishes or changing another diaper or getting dinner on the table…or, I can accept that the sooner I roll up my sleeves and get it done, the less fuss I make, the easier the job is in the end and the quicker I can get back to what I really want to be doing.

At some point I decided to stop hating the fact that I had to clean (and then re-clean and re-clean). It’s a fact of life. Doing it makes my surroundings nicer. I’m not exactly dancing around with a dust mop over here, but I don’t waste energy grumping about cleaning up anymore – which means I also don’t allow things to pile up and make me more overwhelmed in the end.

Embrace the endlessness. You’ll never be truly “done” cleaning, so try to find a way to accept it.

embrace the endlessness
2. Don’t wait around for someone else to make your home the way you want it.

I’m a big fan of delegation. I also believe that male spouses should take responsibility for helping to keep a household running. But I learned that waiting around for somebody else to do the dishes, vacuum the rug, or make the bed is a sure-fire way to grow angry and resentful while also having to live in an increasingly messy house.

Instead, I’ve embraced the realization that having my house function in a certain way is much more important to me than it is to Jon, just as updating software on all the family’s devices, while also a valid and worthwhile task, is more important than Jon than it is to me. And if something is really important to you, you need to take the responsibility for making it happen. (This is why Jon updates the software on all the family’s devices.)

That doesn’t mean I do every single cleaning-the-house-related task. I just accept that either I manage the delegation and oversight of said tasks…or, I accept that they won’t be done as often or as well as I’d like. And I choose #1 because living in a neat and functional house is important to my wellbeing.

I should mention that, in my house, part of delegating means hiring part-time cleaning help. I first hired a service when I had three young children, was pregnant with Owen and freelancing from home full time, while Jon was working in another state. We definitely didn’t have a lot of money, but I was desperate, so we canceled the cable and made it happen.

I don’t “need” help in the same way as I did then, but I really like not having to do the floors, deep cleaning the bathrooms, and dusting (I never seem to notice dust until it’s taken over.) I definitely still have to do a lot of cleaning, but it’s nice to know I can mostly focus on tidying, laundry, the kitchen, and bathroom touch-ups.

Sometimes just taking a few tasks off your plate can make the rest of it seem much more manageable. If you can’t delegate or hire help, you might choose some things that just aren’t as important to you and put them on the “don’t do now” list. If you know you don’t particularly care about dusting light fixtures, you can focus on the things that really make a difference and are more manageable for you now.

clean, dirty, window

3. Stay in motion.

There is no secret to keeping a clean house – it’s more a matter of accepting the job and taking action. And once I did that, I realized that my former #1 obstacle to keeping things under control was inertia. I’d avoid, avoid, avoid until I faced down an epic mess that would take me an entire week to clean up. Then I’d avoid, avoid, avoid again until the next time I got desperate.

Now I just keep moving. If I’m walking from the living room to the kitchen, why not make a few trips and return all the empty cups while I’m at it? If I’m bending down to pick up a toy in my path, I might as well repeat the action and pick up those abandoned socks, too.

I like to veg out on the sofa as much as anyone, but I find that once I’m down, I tend to stay down. So before I settle in, I try to make a few laps around the house to tidy up, load the dishwasher, or throw in a load of laundry. Then I can really enjoy my break…and the much neater house around me.

You know what’s funny? Looking at my list above it’s clear that what transformed me from a total slob into a decent housekeeper has nothing to do with complicated organizing systems, speed-cleaning tips, or buying new products.

It’s all about attitude.

Which means anyone can be a decent housekeeper, right?

Trust me: if I can do it? So can you.

top photo: Carissa Rogers, via Flickr Creative Commons

My Favorite ePantry Items

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

My Favorite ePantry Items from MomAdvice.com.

This week we won’t have our weekly happiness since I will be sharing my favorite reads with you tomorrow for the month! Instead, I thought I would share my favorite items that I order through ePantry. In case you missed my announcement this week, now through November 1st (9PM EST)  you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents hand soap, dish soap, and multi-surface cleaner, plus a Full Circle renewable dish brush with any $20 minimum purchase! Not only that, but shipping will also be free (scroll down to cash in on that offer!)

This offer is valid for new ePantry customers only, however, existing customers can add a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap to your next order through this link. If you already signed up, be sure to snag your freebie! 

Not sure what to spend your $20 on? I have tried just about every item that ePantry offers and I want to share with you my absolute favorites!

My Favorite ePantry Items from MomAdvice.com.

Yes To Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes

I am big on washing my face every night, but since the evenings have been so chaotic lately, I have gotten out of the habit of a good facial routine. I purchased these Yes to Blueberries Brightening Facial Wipes and I absolutely love them to get my make-up off before I head to bed. I love the smell of these and they do a great job getting my make-up off without drying out my skin. If you have gotten out of a good skin routine, these are awesome! Although I had hoped to like the Cucumber ones, they actually made my skin flare up (I’m not sure why) so I stick with the Blueberries one for my sensitive skin! ($5.49 for 25 wipes)

My Favorite ePantry Items

ACURE Moroccan Argan Oil

My latest obsession is Argan Oil for my sensitive skin and after about a month of doing this, I see an incredible difference in my skin. After  I wash my face, I apply two pumps of Argan Oil to my face while it is slightly damp. I then layer on a thick layer of nighttime cream before I head to bed. I noticed that ePantry started offering Argan Oil recently and I purchased some and I am in absolute amazement at how good my skin looks. Fine lines appear to be more smooth on my face and my skin has never felt softer. The bonus is that you can use this on dry hands, cuticles, and to calm down frizziness in your hair- all especially necessary in these long winter months. I swear, it’s my new beauty miracle! One bottle lasts me about a month with daily use. ($10.95)

My Favorite ePantry Items from MomAdvice.com.

Grove Orange Thyme & Cardamom Candles

If you are looking for a great smelling candle for the holiday season, I am absolutely in love with the Grove Orange Thyme & Cardamom Candles. It really smells like you are baking something absolutely delicious in your kitchen and the scent is powerful, but not overpowering. Although these candles look small, weighing in at just eight ounces, these burn over seventy hours! That is about twice the length of time of most of the candles I have purchased that were much larger than this one. ($12.95)

My Favorite ePantry Items from MomAdvice.com.

Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste

If you would have told me I would become a natural toothpaste lover, I would have laughed. I absolutely made fun of people that purchased this! When my usual toothpaste wasn’t available through ePantry, I substituted with this and now that I have tried it I will never go back.  I have sensitive gums and teeth and this toothpaste delivers on getting clean teeth without the use of harsh chemicals. I worried my kids wouldn’t like the switch, but they haven’t even said one thing about it so I guess we all adapted easier than we thought and I apologize to anyone I may have made fun of for making a purchase like this! I am a believer now!

My Favorite ePantry Items from MomAdvice.com.

Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent

When I don’t have a batch of my homemade laundry detergent on hand, I have found that Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent works incredibly well on our clothes. I use this and the Method Fabric Softener (also available through ePantry) in the Lavender scent and everything comes out smelling so good with only a tablespoon of detergent per load! The bottle doesn’t seem that big, but it actually is enough for 68 loads!  In all honesty, I have discovered that if Mrs. Meyer’s makes it, I know I will love it! ($16.64)

That is exactly why I want to be sure you get to take advantage of the Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Bundle! 

Mrs-Meyers-Seasonal-Bundle

Cash In On This Exclusive Offer!

Now through November 1st (9PM EST)  you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents hand soap, dish soap, and multi-surface cleaner, plus a Full Circle renewable dish brush with any $20 minimum purchase! Not only that, but shipping will also be free.

This offer is valid for new ePantry customers only, however, existing customers can add a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap to your next order through this link.

1. Sign-up HERE for Cranberry, HERE for Orange Clove, or HERE for Iowa Pine (you can mix & match once your get to your basket, too). Click on the “get started” button (new customers only).

2. You’ll be asked a few questions to personalize your account a little better. (This only takes about 30 seconds.)

3. After answering the questions, a customized dashboard will pop up with a set basket of suggested items for this deal. You’ll see the Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents and Dish Brush included. On the right, you will see the discounts for the freebies and free shipping.

What the basket will look like upon checkout

4. Modify your basket to your liking and preferences. Your minimum order amount just has to be $20 or more to get the bonus free products. You can choose any combination of seasonal scents for the freebies, too.

5. Shipping is free.

After the freebies, it’s like paying just $2.33 per item shipped!This is a such a great opportunity to save on festive cleaning products for your home during the holiday season!

Here is a breakdown of pricing:

bundlebreakdown

Remember that this offer is valid only through November 1st (until 9PM EST)! Happy Holidays!

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

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

How could I not share my “She Shed” with you again to go along with our Transform Your Space M Challenge? It remains my favorite transformation. ever. I hope you are inspired to take back space and make it work for you!

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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Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!)

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

When I say that my life has felt a little disorganized, I mean it! One sore spot in my house has been my spice cabinet and pantry. Thanks to the gentle shove (ahem) of The Magic Art of Tidying Up, I am trying to transform those sad corners and joy-robbers into more thoughtful spaces. I figured that I can’t be the only one with a disorganized spice rack so I wanted to offer free printable spice labels and pantry labels that you can use to spruce up your own space too, designed by our own MJ from Pars Caeli!

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

Here is my cabinet before I tackled it. There were several spices that had empty jars (why? who helped me on clean-up? WHO?), several duplicates (who does the grocery shopping? who? oh wait…), and there were some that had labels as far as back as 2008 (THE SHAME!). There were also spices lurking in a few other corners in the pantry that were, of course, duplicates. Hunting for spices in a million spots and then trying to not get a black eye from knocking myself out with one as I dig around was a nightly occurrence.

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

I absolutely love the clean design of these labels and they couldn’t be easier to print. You will need to purchase a package of this style of label to print on. We kept the design simple and light to keep the ink waste to a minimum.

If you have spice jars you can reuse, by all means do it! About five years ago, I asked my in-law’s for two sets of these jars since I intended to redo my spice cabinet. I found them when I organized my scary storage side of my basement this weekend while binging on podcasts. It felt like Christmas all over again. This decluttering has really been paying off!

I used a small funnel to funnel the spices that still had life in them into these new fresh jars and then attached the new labels. How easy is that?

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

For pantry items with a larger volume, I used some mason jars that I already owned that had been gathering dust on a shelf. These are the perfect holders for these items and the labels work really well on this size jar too!

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

free-spice-label-printables-7

This corner is making me so much happier and it made prepping for our dinner hour so much easier this week! I didn’t realize how much frustration I was having and how much time I was wasting hunting for these spices each night!

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

Organize Your Spice Rack (FREE PRINTABLES!!) from MomAdvice.com

Get the Labels!

If you are interested in receiving 14 free home management printables and these beautiful pantry labels (see the small sampling above), just input your email below or in the sidebar and we will send you the link to your packet as our thank you for being a subscriber (look for it in the final welcome email). Subscribers will have access to our additional printables as they become available.

Note: if you already subscribe to the Mom Advice Newsletter, be sure to look in your inbox for a special email that contains the link for your set of these printables! If you can’t seem to get the form to work with your browser, just look over to your right in the sidebar on the site. You will see a handy form there too that works with all browsers! We appreciate you so much! Thank you! 

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The DIY Laundry: Detergent & Fabric Softener Sheets

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

The DIY Laundry-Detergent and Softener Sheets

Have you ever thought about making your own laundry detergent and dryer sheets? While it’s not specifically around our M Challenge of Loving Your Home, thinking about our home made me think about the DIY projects that have helped to create a better environment for my family – one of which is our DIY Laundry! I love the control and confidence I have in making our own laundry essentials – it’s better for the environment and results in major savings with minimal time invested.

Ready to make your own? Here’s a little more on each project with a link to the original full article where you’ll find complete tutorials with photos and recipes:

DIY Fabric Softener Sheets

DIY Fabric Softener Sheets

I have been making my own DIY fabric softener sheets for years – it’s an easy process that will stretch your softener further with nothing to throw away! Plus, they actually perform better than putting fabric softener in your washer compartment and you don’t have to worry about any staining on your fabrics.

They are also reusable – you can use each sheet about 20 times before they lose their effectiveness. But then it’s an easy step to repeat the process!

Go here for the steps to make your own fabric softener sheets – plus tips on other options if you don’t want to use commercial fabric softener:

DIY Fabric Softener Sheets

Homemade Laundry Detergent

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. It’s naturally low-sudsing, making it perfect for using with HE washing machines and because it contains zero phosphates or fillers, it’s septic-friendly as well.

This homemade detergent is made up of three ingredients: Fels-Naptha (or Ivory Soap), Washing Soda, and Borax, which can be bought for around $8.00 total. Dividing the total materials required to make one batch of soap (the soap bar and 1 c. each of the remaining ingredients) equals a cost of $1.80-$1.90 for a batch. At one to two tablespoons per load, it comes in at around $.05, compared to $0.17-.0.21 per load of name brand detergents.

It also takes less time than you may think: 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!

Go here for a picture tutorial of how to make your own laundry detergent, including photos of all the ingredients (and where to find them):

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Do you make any laundry items for your home? Have you made either of these after the original postings?

 

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DIY Reusable Floor Pads

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

DIY Reusable Floor Pads from MomAdvice.com

Are you as in love with your quickie mop as I am? I have been feeling guilty about the amount of disposable pads we were going through to tidy our hardwood floors and I was super unhappy with the streaky finish we were getting on our flooring. In an effort to have streak-free floors AND be a little more loving towards our environment, I have the quickest and easiest tutorial to DIY both the wet and the dry pads for your floors!

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog today to get this quick recipe and tutorial for all of your cleaning needs. As a bonus, these also work brilliantly for wiping up messes on your countertops or bathrooms!

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Declutter Your Space & Rid Your Life of Clutter Forever

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

How to Declutter Your Home from MomAdvice.com

This year I went on a journey towards being truly serious about decluttering our home of unnecessary items. I would conservatively say that we have reduced our belongings easily by 50% and I still feel that there is more that we can do this year. Is your dream to declutter your space this year and rid yourself of clutter forever? It is a common resolution and I am living proof that this is achievable, although I will always be a work in progress. Please avert your eyes from my basement storage area & garage for a bit (ahem!).

Today I want to share with you a few resources that have helped our family on the journey towards reclaiming our home- the transformation is so worth it! These are the resources I used to start the journey towards a clutter free space and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Join me on the Goodwill Tips blog today to learn how to declutter your space & rid your life of clutter forever!

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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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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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