Monthly Archives: April 2014

Live Simple: Limit What Enters Your Home

flowers
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” ~ Matthew 6:21

I love to go to antique stores. They are filled with the most wonderful treasures: quilts, old books, tea cups and saucers, enamelware, primitive wooden utensils, crocks, Raggedy Ann’s, baskets, bears. The list goes on and on! Just thinking about them gets my heart rate going! I am particularly fortunate in that my husband is as crazy about antiques as I am.

I have to be careful though because this particular blessing could be our undoing. Acquiring new items means additional time, effort and money. I must find the time to clean the item regularly. I must find the effort to place the item where it will look the best. I must spend the money to maintain the item so that it does not lose its value and detract from my original investment.

Theory:
I have learned that just because I like something does not mean I need it. And just because I want it does not mean I have to have it. Re-read those two sentences if you need to fully grasp the meaning. Now whenever I am considering purchasing anything, I ask myself three questions.

  • Do I absolutely love this item?
  • Will this item improve my life or the lives of my family?
  • Do I know exactly where I will put this item in my home?

If I answered no to any of these questions, I do not purchase the item. This new approach has helped to limit the number of items I bring into the house. An additional rule we have implemented that helps to keep life simple is that if we bring something into the house (other than perishables like food, toilet paper, etc.), we must get rid of something. For everything that comes in, something must go out.

Practice:
A few weeks ago my husband and I met my sister and my niece to go through our favorite antique mall. I saw several things I wanted—all from sentimental collections attached to memories of my deceased mother. Also, all of the items were priced really reasonably.

The first thing I found was a small Steiff bear. My collection of these bears started with inheriting my mother’s collection upon her death. I have added to mom’s collection and am always looking for a few more. The bear in question was $18.

bears(A display of bears in our library)

Next, I found a set of 6 six hand-painted tea cups in pink and flow blue. When my mom was alive, we spent an entire summer hunting for these hand-painted items at yard sales, flea markets and auctions. Also, as a tea addict myself, I love to drink out of pretty tea cups! The set of tea cups was $45.

pinkflowers (The tea cups match this chocolate pot)

Finally, I inherited a collection of vintage, handmade quilts from my mother. Mom quilted and I cross stitch, so the old handmade items have a special place in my heart. At the mall, I found a beautiful quilt that totally matched my library colors of mint green and raspberry pink. The quilt was $100.
quilt (Couch quilt in our library)

Apparently it was my day! And yet, if I purchased all of the items, I would be straying away from my budget of $50 a month for home decorations. If I purchased the items, where would I make the adjustment? In groceries, utilities, or tithes? I decided to apply my questions to the items I so very much wanted at the antique mall.

With the Steiff bear, I answered yes to all three questions. With the tea cups, I answered yes to the first question, maybe to the second, and no to the third. With the quilt, I answered yes to all three questions. However, even though I loved it, I did not love the one section on the bottom that was completely torn and unrepairable; my little Chihuahua loves quilt batting and will eat any that is exposed.

I bought only the bear. I made the right decision for a number of reasons. First I stayed on budget and didn’t cost my family any inconvenience or financial tension. Second, even though I would have really liked having the tea cups, I really didn’t need them and would have had to get rid of six other items to bring them home. Finally, with the torn area of the quilt exposing batting, I am certain Duke would have eaten it, making himself sick and damaging the quilt further, reducing the value of the item.

bear (Small one is the new addition)

The bear is adorable in the library and adds to the coziness of the room. I use this room for visiting and extending grace and hospitality to guests. I also use it as my work space. Its cheerfulness inspires me and keeps me focused on my work. I didn’t need the bear but it adds to the enjoyment of our home for us and for those that cross our threshold. I would have enjoyed the tea cups and the quilt, but I didn’t need them and couldn’t justify the issues that purchasing them would cause.
quilts (A shot of our library)

Looking back on this experience, I can’t help but remember Christ’s words in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” May we remember those words and choose daily to Live Simple!

Planning Outdoor Wear Storage

“Let all things be done decently and in order.” ~ I Corinthians 14:40

cornercoatrack

Problem of Storage:
I would love to enter my house from the back door and enter into a mud room. Or maybe, if I had to enter in the front, I could have a beautiful entry with a fabulously organized, seasonally sectionalized coat closet. These dreams are far from my reality. You enter my 1900’s bungalow from the front door, which leads directly into my 24-foot library and office space. This is the first impression guests have of my home, and it needs to be kept tidy. The greatest challenge I have in this area is outdoor wear items.

The main living area of our home has only three closets: one master bedroom closet (super small under the steps), one linen closet in the master bath (bathroom has pedestal sink so it is the only bathroom storage) and one utility closet (all the way in the back room of the house). There is no closet in the library.

When we first moved into the house, I intended to store all outdoor items in the utility closet in the back of the house. This plan has not worked out for two reasons. 1) There is not enough room to leave everything out all year long. 2) Having a coat closet at the furthest point from the door where we enter the house means that there are too many places to stop and lay coats and accessories before reaching the closet.

Daily Solutions:
I want to address the second problem first. I hit the door with coat, purse, keys, etc. and everything usually finds its way to the couch across from the door while I remove my shoes. Wouldn’t it be nice to say that 90% of the time, I would remove my shoes and then pick up the other items and put them away properly? It would be nice to say but it would be a lie! Maybe 5% of the time, I put my items away. I needed a change. Since I was not adapting to the storage location (the utility closet in the back of the house), I needed to adapt the house to fit my needs.

If you are planning your own outer wear storage, you’ll begin by evaluating your needs. Then you will address each need to plan a solution. Finally, you will implement your changes. To show just how easy the process is, I will apply the process to our situation.

1) Evaluate Needs: Our home needs storage for everyday outdoor items. This storage must be convenient for grabbing things on the run out the door and also needs to be close in proximity to the door so that items actually make it to their homes. Additionally, what items will be stored there? As it is spring and heading into summer, we will need to store a lightweight rain coat, an umbrella, shoes, purse, keys, a sun visor, and a zippered sweat shirt.

2) Plan solutions: At first I considered building a closet in the library, but since there wasn’t an available wall for one, that idea was out. The second idea was to convert an old kitchen storage cabinet already in the room into a wardrobe. The top part of the cabinet wasn’t long enough for coats but I thought maybe I could fold them and put them on the shelves? The bigger issue with the conversion was that the piece houses all my office equipment; if I changed its purpose, where would all of that go? Finally, I realized that if I moved the piece from being centered on the wall, I could fit a tree stand next to it. The piece blocks most of the view of the tree stand so it wouldn’t look too aesthetically awkward in the space and everything would have a home.

coatrack

3) Implement Change: First, I hung a hook (yard sale find for apx $5) behind the coat rack for my keys.Then I placed the coat rack ($10 flea market find) along the wall. All the mentioned items from my planning found a home(rain coat, an umbrella, shoes, purse, keys, a sun visor, and a zippered sweat shirt).

keyscoatshat  purse  umbrella

Then I placed a bucket at the base of the tree stand to hold a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of casual shoes. If I’m running out of the house for a quick errand, one of these two pairs of shoes will usually work for me without me going back to the bedroom to retrieve shoes from my closet. I ended up sticking a tray behind the bucket. If my feet are wet from rain or snow, I pull out the tray and leave my shoes on it until they dry. (As I collect enamelware, I already had the bucket and the tray.)

shoes   wetshoes

Bonus: I never really had a designated storage place for my church tote. My husband and I teach the teens Bible lesson once a week and I teach the women’s Bible study once a month, so I keep a bag of all items (books, pens, folders, etc.) together. This bag has now found a home on the tree stand too.

church  bag

These new solutions have worked great for me, and I only spent $15 in the process! The solutions met all of my daily needs and then some but they didn’t work for everyone in the house. I had to adapt my storage plan to accommodate my husband’s personality. My husband is far neater than I am. He would never take his coat off and drop it on the library couch (directly across from the front door). He doesn’t seem to notice or mind walking the items to the bedroom. He likes to store his items in there because when he puts them on, he wants a quick look in the mirror to see if they are straight, collars down, etc. When I tried to force him to adapt to my coat stand, his coat was usually found on the floor in the corner of our bedroom. This did not work for me! Applying the previous process again, I found what does work.

1) Evaluate Needs: My husband needed a place to store his coat(s) in our bedroom.

2) Plan solutions: Chris’s needs were fairly simple. He needed a hook for a heavier coat and one for a more lightweight windbreaker.

3) Implement Change: I hung a coat rack (a $10 T.J. Maxx find) on the inside of the closet door for his coats. In winter, he prefers to store his gloves directly in his coat pocket.

chriscoats

Out of Season Solution:
Now I want to address the issue we had with out of season items. As I said we didn’t have enough storage in the house to justify storing items that we are not going to use for several months at our fingertips. There are things we need to use far more often that need that space. Fortunately, we do have a basement. With ceilings less than 7-foot tall and concrete floors, it isn’t space that can be used for living but it is great for storage.

As I’ve shared, living in Indiana means having and storing unique items for the four seasons. We have very distinctive seasonal items: rain slickers and umbrellas for spring; flip flops, sun screen, and hats for summer; sweaters and light scarves for autumn; and boots, scarves, and gloves for winter.

If the outer wear is not in season, I store the items in plastic bins in the basement. Each family member has a bin with their name on it. Since our spring/summer stuff is out right now, the labelled bins in the basement contain autumn/winter items. To set this storage up, be sure to check out the post Spring Clean: Outdoor Wear.

label  winterstoragecoat hatscarf

What about you? Does your outer wear storage work? Have any tips for the rest of us? Are your wheels spinning on changes you can implement? What are you planning?

Restoring the Broken Heart

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“But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.” ~ Psalm 5:7

I was angry and hurt. I had said what needed to be said and I was justified. He hurt me. He lied. He broke a sacred trust. For the thousandth time, I reviewed the facts leading up to the argument. I relived my disbelief, my hurt, my anger. I replayed his justifications; I replayed my own. He put us here. He was in the wrong. This was his fault. Not mine.

Broken and empty, I fell before my Savior. I uttered words similar to David’s in Psalm 5:2 when he said, “Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.” Repeatedly I prayed that it was all a bad dream that I would wake up and it would never have happened, and yet my prayer seemed to fall on very deaf ears. Mumbling under my breath, I reiterated. This was his fault. Not mine. I wasn’t the one who jeopardized our marriage. Then why did I feel so bad?

Sometimes in life, the people we love hurt us. They show their imperfections, and they fail us. For me, as a bride of nearly 7 years, I knew my husband wasn’t perfect. I knew that he was just a man, but I centered my world around him and around the love we felt for one another. When my focus should have been on God, it was on him. When I should have been striving with him to serve our maker, I sought to become his everything. He had become my everything, my core, the center of my existence. In my own way, I had come to worship him. And he had just plummeted from my 10-foot tall, shiny white pedestal seat. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was human, but I was. I was devastated by him.

In the silence of the library perched on the couch, I felt the voice. Deep inside, inaudible to the ear. I glanced at the cat, she still lay unmoving. Clearly she didn’t hear it but I did. “Be still and know that I am God.” Immediately I stilled. Hurtful words tumble through my head. Words hurled at the man I love. Words spoken to a friend who I knew would sympathize with me. Words that never should have been spoken. Then there were the other words. Words I’d heard preachers use about having no other gods before God. Maybe he wasn’t the only imperfect human in our marriage.

Guiltily, I picked up the Bible. Thumbing to the book of Psalm, I thought to look for solace from David, a man who would understood my shame. A guilty murderer. A filthy adulterer. Another ten commandment breaker. A man who loved God. David did not disappoint. “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” Psalm 5:7.

This was me. Falling at the feet of my savior, crawling “in the multitude of [His] mercy”. The heart that just minutes before had been set on a human being. The heart that had been broken and had then sought to wound another. This heart was returning to the master potter. He mended the cracks and put back the pieces. He forgave the misguided worship. He replaced the anger, hurt and humiliation. He restored.

Dear Lord, I realize that all too often I can place my affections on the things of this world and forget what really matters. I sometimes replace you with people. When they don’t measure up to you, I allow my own sinfulness to rule my actions and I lash out to try and injure the people I love. Help me to keep my focus on you, Lord, for I know if you are my focus, my actions will follow suit. Amen.

Spring Clean: Outdoor Wear

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

winterstorage

I live in Indiana and that means that the four seasons of the year bring four very different weather patterns to our area. We have very distinctive seasonal items: rain slickers and umbrellas for spring; flip flops, sun screen, and hats for summer; sweaters and light scarves for autumn; and boots, scarves, and gloves for winter. In a perfect house, I would have a huge entryway complete with a fabulously organized, seasonally sectionalized coat closet. Ah, my house is a far cry from this.

We live in an older house. The main living area of our home has only three closets: one master bedroom closet (super small under the steps), one linen closet in the master bath (bathroom has pedestal sink so it is the only bathroom storage) and one utility closet (all the way in the back room of the house). There is not enough room to leave everything out all year long so instead I have a plastic bin for each person’s out of season outdoor wear, stored neatly on a shelf in the basement.

When cleaning or organizing something, I always follow the same simple process. If you are doing it with me, you will need a small trash bag and 2 boxes. The boxes are 1) for donations, 2) for items that don’t belong in the area I’m cleaning out. For this particular project, I needed the bins that we use for storage in the basement.

1) Collect & Sort: Start by gathering up all the winter coats, shoes, and accessories. I sorted mine quickly into piles of like colors and tossed into the washing machine. I laundered all garments before returning to the project of spring cleaning coats and accessories. Once everything was laundered, I resorted into piles for each member of the family. While I was washing the winter items, I went to the basement and collected our bins with the out of season outdoor items in them.

2) Trash: Go through and toss out anything that is no longer usable—gloves without matches, scarves with holes, tears or stains, etc.

3) Give Away: Next think about what you don’t use anymore. Maybe you have a black scarf that just isn’t your color, or you have a coat someone has outgrown. Quickly move anything you don’t use, love or need into the give away box.

4) Put Away Somewhere Else: Take the 2nd box, the items that didn’t belong in your coat closet or entryway (or wherever you store these items for daily use) and return them to their proper homes throughout the rest of the house.

5) Put Back: For me, the items that I am putting back are the items that I retrieved from my out of season bin from the basement. I have an umbrella, windbreaker/rain slicker, and visor to block sun rays from face. Once I have the spring/summer items put away properly, I pack the winter items in the now empty basement bins.

boots coat hatscarf winterstorage

6) Label: Before returning the out of season outdoor wear box to the basement shelf, I make sure that each bin’s label is still readable. If necessary, I use my label maker to make a replacement label. If we needed to purchase anything new, I write what we need on a 3 X 5 card and tape it to the outside of the box so that next season when we are preparing, I will know at a glance what we should purchase.

label

Bonus: As seasons are changing, now is a great time to do a little clearance rack shopping. I really wanted a particular scarf this year but it was $58. I couldn’t justify spending that money on something that I could buy for a lot less money somewhere else. I used my old scarf this year even though it was a little shorter than I liked. When checking the clearance racks last week, I found the scarf I had wanted for $19 so guess who has it in her bin for next year?! That was the only item we needed to pick up for next winter, so our bins are card free. Now that the bins are labelled and new needs addressed, I carry the bins to the basement. We are finished with them until September or October.

salescarf2

With just a little bit of work and a dose of patience as I waited for my winter items to wash, I am finished. We are ready for this new season!

My “Fave 5” Kitchen Gadgets

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“She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.” ~ Proverbs 31:14-15

I love to study the Proverbs 31 woman. She’s the idea woman who gets up while everyone else is still sleeping to bring great food from all over the world to her family. Ok, so I’ll never be her but a girl can dream! Part of my mission as the Christian wife is to provide those in our home with healthy, delicious meals. I absolutely love to cook but I don’t like to use a lot of kitchen gadgets. In this post, I will be sharing my “Fave 5” tools for the kitchen.

Before I start, I need to explain why I don’t like gadgets. I have limited kitchen space and don’t have the room to store them. If I store them outside of the kitchen, I lose the time it takes to retrieve them when I could have been cooking already. Secondly, I feel that most gadgets complicate the cooking process. I can usually do the job in less time than it takes me to get out the right tool, set it up and use it. Finally, I don’t like gadgets because I often feel they take too long to clean. As I’ve said in other posts, less is more. Less gadgets make a more productive kitchen. Yet, there are a few kitchen gadgets I absolutely must have on hand for daily use!

1) Plastic Colander: I use to have several colanders or strainers—one stainless steel, one wire, one that stretched across the sink, and one vintage enamelware. All were a pain! When used for starchy things like potatoes or pasta, the food would get stuck to them, get pasty, get sticky. I bought this handy plastic one and it’s a breeze to clean. It’s smaller and stores more easily. I now use it for pre-cooking to wash vegetables, rinse beans, etc. and I use it for all pastas and vegetables after cooking.  The best news is that all other colanders and strainers went out the door (except the vintage one that now sits above the cabinets purely for looks) and this is the only one I have to store.
strainer2strainer

2) Vegetable Chopper: I use to chop all vegetables by hand, but then I got this handy gadget. It is a small handheld vegetable chopper. We use it for onions and no watery eyes. We use it for garlic and no smelly hands. We’ve used it on mushrooms and lunch meat for lightning quick chops to put in omelets. We’ve let kids use it and no cut fingers. It disassembles quickly and washes in less than a minute. It stores easily and conveniently in the same cabinet where I store my spices.
chopper

3) Kitchen Shears: I use to cut all raw meats with knives, cooked meats with knives or forks (to pull apart) and pizza with a pizza cutter. Now, we trim fat and blood from raw meats with these. We cut larger meat into chunks for stews and soups. For pulled cook meat like chicken for chicken salad or pulled pork, I simply toss the meat in a bowl and stick the shears in to snip the meat. It’s much faster and I don’t burn my fingertips! I even cut pizza into slices with them because they are far easier to clean than the pizza cutter and they make less mess during use. They make perfect cuts in grilled cheese and pb&j’s without smooshing the bread or causing spillage of the good stuff. I’m sure there are even more uses for this one that I haven’t tried yet.
shears

4) Knives: There is no substitute for good knives. When we decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle, we found that good knives were essential to chopping peppers, potatoes, carrots, fruits (pineapples, melons). Good knives are expensive but the good news is you don’t need a ton of them. In our house where ¾ of our diet is fruits and vegetables, we use a good paring knife, a chef knife and one nice serrated knife (predominantly for tomatoes).
knives

5) Cutting Board with Rubber Grips: At one point, I had 3 unusable cutting boards. The first was a huge plastic one weighing close to 15 lbs. I never wanted to get it out, and at almost 2 feet long, it took up way too much space. I used it one time. I had a wooden one that was a nice size. It stored easily, and it didn’t weigh too much for me to pull out. It was about an inch thick and didn’t slide around on the counter, but due to fear of botulisms and things growing in the wood after use, I used it only a handful of times. My third cutting board was a 99 cent piece that slid off the counters during use, seemed to peel off in chunks from use, and never seemed to come clean in washing. Most of the time, I would pull out a Corelle plate and chop on that. It was too small and the curve of the plate made cutting difficult. Not having the right tool made chopping vegetables something to be avoided. My current cutting board is a thicker, sturdier cutting board. It does not peel. The rubber edges keep it from sliding around on the counter. It’s small enough to store easily and since it is plastic, it washes quickly and easily.
cutting board

With my 5 favorite kitchen gadgets, I’m able to whip up some great meals that our family loves. I no longer stress about meal preparation and am able to serve meals in the spirit of kindness and love. That’s what it’s all about! Be sure to check in with your favorite gadgets and the reason why.
kitchen5a

Bonus: I have a favorite kitchen gadget that I NEVER use in the kitchen. It’s my egg timer. When I need a timer in the kitchen, I use the one on the oven or the microwave. Whenever I’m in a room other than the kitchen, I use my egg timer. Each day, I speed clean for three 10-minute intervals. This helps with regular home maintenance allowing me to pick up and put away items that have been left out, straighten couches and pillows, Swiffer the hard wood floors, load any dishes that were left in the sink, or empty trash cans. Scheduling regular home maintenance means cleaning time is actually spent washing, dusting, and sweeping.
eggtimer

 

My Hope Is in Thee

hope in you

“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.” (Psalm 39:7)

Alone. Empty. Alone. Dead. Alone. Over and over these words echo through my mind. I know they aren’t completely true but I can’t hide from the truth that is in them. Every year at this time, I deal with heartache all over again. As glorious as spring can be, it is also a terrible reminder of what is no more. Her birthday is in spring. Easter, her favorite holiday, is in spring. The holiday devoted to celebrating her (Mother’s Day) is in spring. In spring, we would be vamping up for our favorite season—yard sale season. In spring, we would be enjoying the beautiful flowers that are coming back to life. And yet, she’s dead. I feel empty. I used to talk about it with dad but he’s gone now too. No one understands and I feel so alone.

Seven years ago, my mother passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. All these years later it still hits me. I still long to see her, hear her voice, seek advice from the person who I take after, the person who gets me. Heartache knows no time and the passing of years hasn’t healed the hurt.

In Mark 9, I met two men who see my heart. The one echoes my tears, hurt and frustration, while the other shows understanding, love and compassion. In this passage, Christ has been on the mountain preparing for his crucifixion (the transfiguration). When he returns to his disciples, he finds a desperate father who pours out the story of his demon possessed son. “Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb spirit; And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us” (Mark 9:17b, 18a, 22).

Jesus tells the father that if he just believes, all things are possible. “And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). This is my cry on days like today. I don’t understand why my mom had to suffer such a debilitating illness. I don’t understand why she passed away at only 54. I don’t understand why some days I am overwhelmed by grief. I don’t understand why I suffer, but I can fall at the Master’s feet and cry out “Help thou my unbelief.” Jesus could have condemned the father and me for our lack of faith, but instead he understands our humanity. Like He does in the Biblical account, Jesus offers compassion and comfort.

God has given me hope. “And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee” (Psalm 39:7). My circumstances have not changed but my attitude has. Instead of focusing on our past, I look to our future where because of His gift of salvation, I have an eternity to spend with my loved ones. Instead of focusing on the years that we have lost, I am grateful for the years we had together. Some days I need a reminder, but Jesus patiently provides that time and again. Today started in darkness and yet light now shines through. My heart sings, my hope is in thee!

hope in you

Spring Clean the Bed & Linens in Six Easy Steps

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“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1

I live in Indiana and if you follow national weather, you know we had an exceptionally hard winter. Snow piled up, arctic cold winds raged, and temperatures plummeted to well below zero. But spring is in the air now. The beginning of the week dawned with 70 degree weather. Kids played outside, people walked dogs, car washes had long waiting lines.

I really want to enjoy every moment of this spring, so it is going to be crucial that I get a good night’s sleep. With this in mind, I’m concentrating my first spring cleaning efforts on spring cleaning the bed. I challenge you to tackle this area as well!

1) Strip the Bed: Start out by stripping everything off of your bed. As this is spring cleaning, go all the way down to your bed slats.

2) Launder Bedding: There will be quite a bit of laundry with this task, so start with the bottom. Wash your dust ruffle, mattress pad, quilts, comforter (if you use one), pillows, sheets (assuming you are using a different set than the ones currently on the bed; if using the same set, move up to after mattress pad and before quilts), and then any blankets, you are going to be storing.

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3) Clean Surfaces: While you have everything off the bed, grab your furniture polish and a dust rag. start with the top of your bed posts and work down. Do the side boards and the bed slats. When you finish that, grab your sweeper and sweep under the bed.

4) Flip, Rotate, Put back: Put your box springs back on the bed. Before putting back your mattress, grab your dust ruffle from the laundry. If you need to, iron or steam out the wrinkles. Once this is back in place, decide if you need to flip or rotate (or both) your mattress. Once you have done this, you are ready for your mattress pad.

5) Make Bed: Once your mattress pad is back in place, you can make your bed. Start with fresh sheets and then add your newly laundered quilts/blankets, comforter, and pillows.

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6) Store: Now that your bed is made, it’s time to store the winter items you won’t need for the next few months. One tip to ensure freshness is to stick a few laundry sheets in envelopes and tuck them between the folds.

blanket

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That’s it. You’ve conquered your first spring cleaning task! Be sure to check in and report your progress and any tips you would like to add.

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Bedroom Linen Storage & Purging

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“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.” Titus 2:7

Bedroom Linen Storage & Cleaning

We live in an older house. The main living area of our home has only three closets: one master bedroom closet (super small under the steps), one linen closet in the master bath (bathroom has pedestal sink so it is the only bathroom storage) and one utility/coat closet (double duty). I have had to be creative in finding storage solutions, but I have also had to learn the lesson that less is more.

If I have more items, I have to clean more items. If I have more items, I am more likely to lose more items. If I have more items, I am likely to forget what I have and waste money re-buying the items. If I have more items, I am likely to leave more items out of order causing a mess which will result in an emotional strain for me. So, back to my original premise, less is more.

How many quilts, sheets, pillows, etc. does a household need? The answer varies based on the household and the number of occupants. I look at the question by focusing on just one room. Start with the master bedroom and then apply the same theory to each of the bedrooms in the household.

Sheets:
Quantity: If there is only one bed, you need only two sets of sheets. The first set goes on the bed and the second one is in reserve to use when the first set is dirty. If you live in an area that has cold winters, one flannel set of sheets may be necessary. In Indiana, we love our flannel sheets! We store them nine months of the year and only have them at our fingertips for about three months (more on that below).
Cleaning: I recommend that you wash your sheets once a week. It is estimated that we spend 1/3 of our life in bed. Not to gross you out, but if you looked at your sheets under a microscope, you would find dead skin cells, oils, sweat, bodily fluids, and possibly food crumbs. Not washing your sheets regularly leads to asthma issues, allergic reactions, and weakened immune systems. So WASH those sheets! :)
Storage: In our house, we don’t store sheets in a central linen closet. You lose too much time going to get the sheets from a linen closet and then carrying them through the house to the bedroom. Instead, we store sheets in the actual bedrooms where they will be used. In the master bedroom, our extra set of sheets is stored in one drawer of an antique apothecary. I have seen people store them in dresser drawers, night stand drawers, a plastic bin with a lid under the bed, or on a shelf in a closet. Our flannel sheets are stored in a trunk at the foot of the bed with our other winter bedding items.

Quilts/Comforters:
Quantity: In our home, we have one quilt we use on the bed normally. We keep one additional quilt in a trunk at the foot of the bed. It’s out of sight and out of mind but it’s still close enough that we can grab it on a particularly cold night. During the cold winter months, we have a very thick blanket we add to our regular bedding.
Cleaning: I recommend washing your quilt/blanket(s) once a month for the same reasons you wash your sheets regularly. If you use a comforter that does not regularly have contact with your skin, I recommend washing it quarterly. It still has access to dust mites in the air and the particles that are on your regular bedding even if you don’t sleep with it.
Storage: We store bedroom quilts in the bedroom and not in a linen closet because it is more convenient and takes less time to retrieve when you need them. As mentioned previously, we store the one extra quilt at the foot of the bed in a trunk. We also store our winter bedding items there.

Pillows:  
Quantity: We have stacks of pillows on our bed. If we are reading or watching a movie, we like to be propped up and have back support. When sleeping, we use only one pillow each.
Cleaning: I recommend that you wash the pillows you sleep with every 6-8 weeks. (The pillow cases are washed weekly with the sheets.) The additional pillows that are used for recreation should be washed quarterly. When washing pillows, always refer to the manufacturers’ recommendations (printed on the pillows’ tags).
Storage: We don’t store extra pillows that are not in use, but we do store the recreational pillows nightly while we are sleeping. I recommend storing them up off the floor so they don’t have access to additional dust mites. For us, this means that they go on the trunk at the foot of the bed.

 

Bedroom Linen Purge

If you have too many bedding items, you may need to do a purge. If this is the case, you will need a trash bag and two boxes: 1) for donations and 2) for items that don’t belong in the area.

1) Collect & Sort: Start by gathering up all of the bedding you use in one area (whether you are doing the master bedroom, a kids room, or a guest bedroom). Once you have everything in one place, then sort all items into stacks of like items. All sheets together, all quilts together, all winter items, etc. You get the idea. Once your piles are made, you will have a better understanding of what you have.

2) Trash: Go through and toss out any sheets that have holes or stains.

3) Give Away: Go through each stack and decide what you are giving away. Remember, no more than two sets of sheets (excluding one flannel sheet set which actually goes in the winter pile and not the sheet pile), two quilts, one comforter, and only the pillows that you use. Give your extras to friends, family, or a local charity.

4) Put Away Somewhere Else: Take the 2nd box, the items that didn’t belong in this area (perhaps a set of sheets that you want for your guest bedroom?), and return them to their proper homes throughout the rest of the house.

5) Put Back: Arrange the items that you are keeping in the storage area you have designated for them. Optimal storage locations include dresser drawers, night stand drawers, a plastic bin with a lid under the bed, a trunk at the foot of the bed, or on a shelf in a closet.

6) Label: If you are using a bin or basket as part of your storage, label it.

trunk