Monthly Archives: June 2014

10 Tips for Better Laundry Efficiency

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” ~ Colossians 3:17

IMG_0611 1)  Sort clothing the moment you take it off. Have separate hampers/bins for light, dark, and red clothing as well as one for towels (whites in our house). In our house, I use an assortment of vintage crocks and baskets to meet our hamper needs. Additionally, we have a basket set aside for items that need to be washed individually or by hand.

2) Empty pockets, remove belts, and inside out your clothes before you place the clothes in the hamper. No one wants to handle someone else’s dirty socks and underwear any more than they have to, so each person needs to take care of this themselves!I don’t inspect clothing before loading in the washer. I expect this to be done by the person wearing the clothing. I simply pull clothes from hamper and toss in the washer.

3) Use vinegar as fabric softener. It’s safer and cheaper. Plus vinegar sets colors in so they won’t run, and vinegar does a better job of helping your washer rinse soap residue out of clothes (which makes clothes last longer). Additionally, it prevents static cling and removes mildew smells from towels, swims suits, etc. I pour white vinegar directly into the fabric softener dispenser of the washing machine. Mine has a fill line, but my old washer didn’t, and I used 1/4 cup. If the clothes were mildewed, I used 1/2 cup instead of 1/4 cup.

4) Have assigned laundry days.  In our house, I wash laundry all day on Wednesdays. I pick this day because it’s the day my husband and I teach youth group. Laundry doesn’t require much though, so I can spend my time folding/putting up laundry in meditation on the lesson or prayer over the class and its participants.

5) Buy underwear in different colors. No matter what color load you are washing, you can include a few pairs, and you’ll never have to worry about having clean underwear again.

IMG_06136) Use white towels and wash rags. Ever notice how every hotel uses white towels? It’s because they can be bleached and will look bright and new again.

7) Shake out wrinkles as soon as you remove clothes from the dryer. As soon as I pull clothes from the dryer, I carry the load to the bed and dump. I shake out the wrinkles in each item and then lay it as flat as possible. Once all things are lying flat, I gather needed hangers and hang clothing up or fold. This ensures all clothing is wrinkle free, requiring little or no ironing.

8) Fold laundry standing up beside the bed. It’s faster than when you are sitting. It doesn’t hurt your back bending over (if you were folding on couch). And you are more likely to put it away if you are already in motion.

9) Pre-treat laundry as soon as it gets stained. I carry tide pens in my purse for when we are away from home, but if we are at home, I will simply take stained item, spray it down, and then wash it pretty much immediately. This prevents multiple washes or stains setting into garment.

10) Keep baskets near washing machine to corral loose items. Next to the washing machine, I keep 2 baskets. One is for clothes that need treatment (hand wash items, items that bleed, items that have stains, etc.). The second basket is for any miscellaneous things. Sometimes someone strips by the washer and empties pockets, leaves shoes, etc. When I see things on or by the washer, I pick it up and dump in miscellaneous basket. Additionally, I keep a box going all the time for clothes that no longer fit. The box is labelled free store, and we put any donations into it (clothing, kitchen items, etc.). When the box is full, I carry to car and drive to the free store.

Bonus: Have a wrinkled ribbon, collar, or some other minor area? Use your hair flat iron as a quick fix for minor wrinkles.

What do you do to make laundry easier? What’s your best tip?

30 Fast Chores Conquering 5-Minute, 10-Minute, 15-Minute Time Intervals

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” ~ Proverbs 6:6-8

30 fast chores

In life, all things are not created equal, yet time is equal. All people have the same 24-hour day. What we do with that day, how we spend our time, how we waste our time is our choice. Successful time managers recognize this fact and then utilize as much time as they can. They make the most out of 5-minute, 10-minute and 15-minute windows of free time. What can you do in such short time intervals?

image5-Minute Time Intervals

  1. unload dishwasher
  2. load dishwasher
  3. wipe down counter tops
  4. sort daily mail
  5. pay a bill
  6. empty trash can and carry to curb
  7. make bed
  8. clean bathroom sink
  9. fluff pillows, fold blankets, put couch back together
  10. start laundry

 

 

hangingclothes10-Minute Time Intervals 

  1. fold/put away one load of laundry
  2. room straighten (collect what doesn’t belong and put away)
  3. sew on a button
  4. straighten pantry
  5. clean out one refrigerator shelf
  6. clean microwave
  7. straighten closet
  8. make homemade shampoo (3 week supply)
  9. order an online birthday present
  10. sweep front porch and sidewalk

 

 

cleanstove15 Minute Time Intervals (stove top)

  1. run vacuum (I can sweep 3 rooms with area rugs in 15 minutes if the rooms are already straightened)
  2. deep clean stove top
  3. mop kitchen floor
  4. change sheets/make bed/start sheets in washer
  5. dust one room
  6. clean toilet
  7. clean shower
  8. make homemade laundry detergent (1 year supply for us)
  9. clean all door knobs and light switches
  10. an organization project

Ok, so these are not the only things that you can do in 5-minute, 10-minute, and 15-mintue periods of time, but they are enough to get you started.

What are your favorite 5-minute, 10-minute, 15-minute chores?

Change Barriers to Stepping Stones in 3 Easy Steps

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

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Reflection:
Have you ever noticed how procrastination turns an ordinary task into an impassable mountain? The longer you wait to do something that you need to do, the more likely your opinion will shift about this project. For example if you needed to paint a room, it might seem like a boring, one-day task. The longer you wait to get started, the more you dread the project. Soon instead of thinking about the task as a one-day painting project, you start to think about the job as a day of painting the room, a day of painting trim,  a day of painting touch-up. Now, you don’t want to attempt the task until you have a three-day window because it seems so much bigger. You hate the idea of giving up an entire three-day holiday weekend, but you decide you better wait for one instead of starting the job this weekend like you had planned.

Not only can procrastination change the feel of a job for you, but it can also change the scope of the project. Let me explain. Imagine that you really needed to wash laundry, but you dreaded the task so much that you couldn’t get started. The two loads of laundry you had grew to four loads, and the four loads grew to eight loads. Pretty soon, you would have more laundry than was physically possible to wash in one day.

If allowed, negativity will dictate behavior patterns. It will lead us from putting a task off to absolutely dreading and completely ignoring the project. Negativity leads to failure and frustration.

 

Challenge:
We’re going to tackle this problem today. First identify three things you need to do. Then beside each item, write two to three reasons why you haven’t done the project. Once we recognize what is holding us back, we are going to shift our thinking. Change your negative roadblocks into positive stepping stones.

One of the greatest reasons for failing to begin a project is that there is not enough time to complete the project in one setting. Instead of looking at the whole project, break it down into smaller, more manageable segments. Using our previous ideas of painting and laundry, I will show you how this works.

Painting Example:
Step One: Identify need.
I need to paint the living room.

Step Two: Recognize two roadblocks.
I don’t have three days to accomplish the full project.
I don’t want to start something I cannot finish.

Step Three: Change roadblocks to stepping stones.
If I split the job into separate categories of painting walls, painting trim, and painting touch up, I can split job into three days of manageable tasks.
I can finish painting the walls if I only focus on one of the three jobs at a time instead of all three.

Note: If I only do one job for three consecutive Saturday’s, the dreaded project will be completely finished in less than a month.

Laundry Example
Step One: Identify need.
I really need to catch up on washing laundry.

Step Two: Recognize two roadblocks.
I don’t have the time to wash all the laundry today.
I don’t want to start something I cannot finish.

Step Three: Change roadblocks to stepping stones.
Instead of seeing the laundry as one task, I’m going to break it down by load. I need to wash, fold, and put away five loads of laundry: one of darks, one of lights, one of reds, one of sheets, and one of whites.
I have three hours, which gives me enough time to wash, fold, and put away two loads of laundry. With the time I have, I will complete the whites and the darks.

Note: I have completed 40% of my overall project, so now I only need to find another four and a half hours to complete the remainder of this project.

 
Encouragement
Now it’s your turn. Today is your day. Turn your roadblocks into stepping stones. Remove the barriers and soar! Let go of failure, and embrace the watershed moment!

What are some of your roadblocks? How can you change them into stepping stones?

Fast Treat: Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:25

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Too much To Do List and not enough time. I try to keep up with everything, but sometimes I feel as if I cannot complete everything I need to do. I run in different directions and worry about passing myself coming or going. I’m sure you can relate. Most women can.

Two weeks ago, I had a writing deadline, bills to pay, a house to clean, grass to mow, and dinner to cook—all in one night. Did I mention that I also committed to hosting family movie night at church? A big part of family movie night is snacks and fellowship, yet I didn’t have time to bake a lot of snacks. Pulling out my recipe book, I scoured the pages for recipes with few ingredients and short preparation times. I made several things, but the biggest hit of the night was the homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars. As this snack took about 5 minutes to prepare, one hour to chill, and used only 7 ingredients (plus non-stick spray), I wanted to share it with all you busy ladies!

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Ingredients
1 cup butter (2 sticks – melted)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (honey graham)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
½ tsp vanilla
1 (11 oz) bag milk chocolate chips

Directions
1) Grind graham crackers into crumbs. (I used my meat tenderizer and did by hand.)

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2) Combine all ingredients except chocolate. Mix well.

3) Spray non-stick spray into a 9 x 13 pan. Pour in mixed batter and smooth.

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4) Melt chocolate chips in microwave for 3 minutes. Pour melted chocolate over peanut butter mixture, spreading smooth.

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5) Refrigerate one hour. Cut after chilled.

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What’s your fast, go-to dessert to take to parties or church gatherings?

3 Habits to Change ASAP

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. ~ Titus 2:4-5

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Last week, we discussed How to Change Habits in 2 Easy Steps, so this week I want to talk about three habits that you should be working to change ASAP. These small habits yield great results.

Habit One: Losing Your Car Keys & Purse
The first habit will make your daily routine run more smoothly. We have all had that morning where you get up, get ready and are leaving the house 15 minutes early. Until you realize you can’t find your keys or purse. You start out calmly, but as time ticks by, you start to panic. Thirty minutes later, you head to work. Late. On the flip side, what about the morning where everything went wrong, and you were already running 10 minutes late when you started searching for your keys? Only 20 minutes lost searching, and now you are a half an hour late. Stop both of these scenarios by applying the process (How to Change Habits in 2 Easy Steps) that we learned last week.

Step one involves surrendering your problem to God. Explain your past failures and ask for His help in initiating a more calming morning routine. Step two means planning a replacement habit. If you lose your keys and purse because you set them down at a different place every night (sometimes across from the door, on the couch, in the bedroom, on the dining room table, on the kitchen counter), you need to plan a permanent solution. I added a key hook and a coat rack (where I place my purse) just a few feet from my front door.

keys purse cornercoatrack

Habit Two: Leaving Laundry in the Washer and/or Dryer
Leaving clothes in the washer and driver costs you time, energy, and money. When you leave clothes in the washer over night, they smell and need rewashed. When left in the dryer, they wrinkle and need to be refreshed by a quick spin in the dryer or rewashed (if hopelessly wrinkled from days spent in the dryer). Who has the time to redo a job you already did once? Who has the money to waste on soap, water, and electric for washing/drying clothes a second time? Consider the fibers of your clothing. Added washing and drying doesn’t do them any favors either.  Stop this downward spiral by using last week’s process (How to Change Habits in 2 Easy Steps).

Start with surrendering your problem to God. Pray that He will help you to better use your time, money, and resources so that you can be a better witness for Him. Step two replaces your negative habit with a positive one. Plan your change by viewing folding and putting laundry away as a part of the washing/drying process. If you do not have time to do all the steps, do not start the process. If I have 5-10 minutes but not enough time for the whole process, I will set up the washing machine by sorting clothes and loading the clothes and detergents in the washing machine. I will wait to start laundry until I have the time to dry, fold, and put away.

hangingclothes laundrysoap

Habit Three: Leaving the Kitchen a Mess
If my morning greets me with dirty dishes and smudged counter tops, I start the day feeling behind. It grants me two choices. I can ignore the mess and deal with it later, but if I choose this route, I know the dishes will hang over my head clouding my view for the day. The second option is to jump in and wash the dishes right then. If I do this, I may make myself late for something else. To ensure that my day starts with a positive, fresh outlook, I need to break this habit by utilizing last week’s process (How to Change Habits in 2 Easy Steps).

I start by surrendering the feeling of being a failure homemaker to God. I ask for His help in starting the day fresh without any mistakes in it. Next, I plan my replacement strategy. At night, when I’m doing my evening routine, I add a 10-minute step of a “Kitchen Walk Through”. In this walk through, I wash any dishes or pans, load dishes in the dishwasher, dry and put away pans, and wipe down counter tops and stove. With this done, I go to bed knowing that when I get up, I won’t find left over work that I didn’t do the day before waiting on me. I go to bed at peace knowing I closed out this day and will wake tomorrow with a clean slate.

cleanstove cleancounters2 cleancounters1What habit is on your change ASAP list?

How to Change Habits in 2 Easy Steps

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

habit
My mother always told me, “It takes 21 days to make a habit.” I grew up hearing that sentence repeated by her and experts in medicine, organization, etc., yet it wasn’t until recently that I fully understood how to make or change habits. I applied two new concepts to my life and change resulted. Before I get to that though, allow me to share my journey.

Sure, if you would have asked me ten years ago if I wanted to have a clean, organized home, I would have said yes. If you had told me that you would give me $100 a week for having a clean home, I would have tried my hardest. I wanted to change. I willed myself to change. I failed over and over again.

I failed because my scope was too narrow. I thought to make a habit (like making my bed or cleaning the kitchen every night) meant that I simply had to will myself to do those activities for a 3-week period. I would be so enthusiastic. I would go several weeks without missing a day, and then inevitably life would happen. I would forget my good intentions and drop my new task. Several times I made it through my 21-day cycle only to “lose” my habit on day 28 or 35. A lot of times I failed simply because I knew I would fail; I had seen myself fail too many times.

Step 1: Surrender
First off, I learned to surrender. When you cannot see beyond the sum of your past mistakes, it is time to look up and call upon God. I achieved success by surrendering my previous failures to God. Like David in Psalm 30:10, I cried out “Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.” Once I humbled myself and fell before God, he opened my eyes to see a new picture. In this picture, I was not a failure. I was capable of change. I was a treasured daughter who received encouragement from her father.

Step 2: Replace
In addition to surrendering my past to God, the second concept I learned was that to stop a habit, I needed to replace it. I realized that my willpower would always fail me when I had pneumonia, when I had to work 60 hours in a week, when a beloved relative died, etc. To truly succeed in change, I had to replace a negative behavior with a positive one. If I simply planned to stop something, I would fall back to the habit if I wasn’t doing something else. I needed a replacement. I needed a plan.

Let me show you how this works.

Habit: Stop Eating Junk Food
First, I surrender my past to God. Lord, you know I’ve tried on my own so many times before, but now, I am asking for Your help. I recognize that my body is Your temple, and I need You to help me protect it. Amen.

Secondly, I recognize that at 3:00 pm I always go scrounging for a snack. If the conditions are perfect, my willpower may stop me from grabbing a candy bar, but if I have had a bad day, I’m probably going to reach for it anyway. I am planning on hunger, so I pack an apple, or a cup of strawberries, or some homemade trail mix. I recognize what my body will want/need, and I plan my change.

Habit: Stop Paying My Utility Bills Late
First, surrender my past to God. Lord, You know we don’t have the money to waste on late fees. You know I mean well but usually forget. Please help me to fine tune my mind and learn to pay things in a timely manner. Amen.

Secondly, I recognize that when I place my bills in a folder to pay later, I forget. Willpower might help me to check the folder for the next few days, but the next time I work late and get in just before bedtime, I’ll probably forget. I plan on forgetting, so instead of using the folder method, I pay my bills the day they arrive. If I don’t have the money to pay the bill that week, I paper clip the bill to my calendar page so that it is in my face every single day until it is paid. I recognize my limitation of forgetfulness, and I plan my change.

Change is not always easy, but by surrendering your past and by planning your replacement, it is attainable! I am living proof of that!!! What about you? What habits do you need to drop? How will you replace them?

 

 

 

Calling for a Help Meet

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” ~ Genesis 2:18

tweat

This past week, my husband has really been struggling. He’s been working lots of hours, so he has been tired, sore, and just a little bit cranky. He has had to miss teen Bible study (which we teach together), family movie night (which we host at our church), and several other important things.

I take my calling as Chris’s wife very seriously. As Genesis 2:18 states, I am called by God to be my husband’s “help meet.” What exactly does that mean? It means that I am here to help him when life throws a curve ball, to build him up when he’s down, to defend him when he has been wronged, and to support his decisions. I always say that we live our lives as a puzzle. When one of us is lacking something, the other steps in and fills in the piece. If I need strength, Chris stands strong; if Chris needs peace, I choose to tread lightly, etc. In the case last week, Chris needed comfort.

Whenever Chris needs comfort, I try to shower him with love. This entails a realization and response to Gary Chapman’s “five love languages”. I spend the most time on Chris’s primary language, but I’m sure to hit the rest as well. I start with a process I like to call TWEAT, to ensure I fill all his needs. Let me explain what I did, so you can apply the concepts to your man.

T—Time: Make sure you are available for some quality time. It wasn’t easy, but I rearranged my schedule to provide Chris with at least one hour of quality time a day last week.

W—Words:  Try to use words of affirmation during your quality time. I tried to point out a different good thing about Chris each day. Additionally, I sent him a text message every day while he was at work affirming something about him or our relationship. I knew he left his phone in his car during his shift, but I sent the messages anyway to let him know I was thinking about him.

E—Equip: Purchase a gift for your husband to equip him for whatever he’s facing. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or even fancy. As Chris’s spirits were low, he was tired, and he was feeling dejected I wanted to get him a little something to help in those areas. I got coffee to give him energy, chocolate to remind him he is loved, and a new cd to lift his spirits during his hour drive.
tweat2 tweat3 tweat4

A—Act of Service: Think of something that you can do that normally your husband would do. I was going to mow the grass, but the lawnmower wouldn’t start. I loaded it up and took it to the shop for repairs. Then I hired a youth group kid to mow the grass (since the lawnmower was going to be in the shop for 5 days before they could get to it). Plus, I made all of Chris’s favorite meals last week.

T—Touch: Make time for human contact. This one was the hardest for me. When Chris gets home at 3 am and I have to be up by 6 am that leaves little time for contact. Whenever I did see Chris, I tried to hold his hand, rub his shoulders, and give him a little hug as we went our separate ways.

What about you? When was the last time your husband needed a TWEAT? What did you do for him?

Heart Healthy Lasagna Skillet

“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” ~ Proverbs 15:7

serve

My husband’s job is sometimes first shift and sometimes second shift, what they call a swing shift. What that means is they work two weeks on one shift and then swing to the other shift for the next two weeks. The whole factory operates this way. The plus side is that no one gets stuck with a bad shift all the time. The downside is that your body has a hard time adjusting to a schedule because it keeps changing.

Well, anyway, my husband has been on the shift we are not crazy about, the second shift (4:30 pm to 1 am). Additionally, they have been working an extra hour or so a day plus Saturday’s. My husband’s struggling with missing church on Wednesday nights, family movie night on Friday nights, community outreach activities on Saturdays, etc.

In an effort to lift his spirits and show him how much I appreciate his efforts, I wanted to make him one of his favorite dishes. I wanted to take his mind off his work, his fatigue, his stress and give him some pleasant relief, so I thought I’d make lasagna. Food is love, people! Unfortunately, it is one of his favorite dishes, but we do not eat it very often because of his dietary restrictions. Since we do not eat processed food, I had to make the lasagna from scratch. As my husband doesn’t eat a lot of cheese anymore, I made a few adaptions and came up with this healthier, savory skillet lasagna recipe. We loved it, and I hope you do too!

Heart Healthy Skillet Lasagna

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Minutes to Prepare and Cook: 45
Number of Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 pound ground turkey
1 small chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2 (14-ounce) cans of no salt diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup water
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
6.5 brown rice lasagna noodles broken
1 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1/4 cup fat-free grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded baby spinach

*could add shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese, basil and/or pepper for garnish

Directions:
1) In a large skillet, cook onions until translucent. Add turkey and garlic. Drain grease after cooked.

meat

2) While meat is cooking, mix parsley, basil, oregano and sea salt.

spices

3) Add tomatoes, water, tomato sauce, and spices. Once mixed, stir in uncooked pasta.
Bring to a boil.

tomatoes added    spices added    noodles added

4) Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. While everything is simmering, combine cottage and Parmesan cheese and set aside.

cheese mixture

5) At the end of the 20 minutes, mix in spinach and cheeses with pasta mixture. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

spinach added       cheese mixed

6) Add garnishes and serve.

serve    serve2

Health information:
(based on actual products I used and for 1 of 4 servings)
Calories: 473
Fat (g): 14.1
Cholesterol (mg): 100
Sodium (mg): 1132.1
Potassium (mg): 814.3
Carbohydrates (g): 46.9
Sugars (g): 10.3
Protein (g): 37.2
Vitamin A: 70.4%
Vitamin C: 63.1%
Calcium: 25.5%
Iron: 23.3%

The Shelter of His Wings

He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings shall you trust: his truth shall be your shield and buckler. ~ Psalm 91:4

clouds

It’s a very stormy day today. The sun seems to have disappeared completely. Dark gray clouds hover just above the houses. Booming thunder roars and lightning bursts keep providing glimpses of light. I love this kind of storm because I know it is washing the world clean, helping our local farmers, watering the flower and vegetable garden, etc. I’m such a fan that I would take a cup of hot tea and head for the back porch to immerse myself in the grandeur of this storm.

I would go except that the three pets in our home are not as happy about the storm as I am. The two cats are perched along side of me, one on each side, while our Chihuahua will not let me out of his sight. I tried to run to the restroom, and he followed me in there. I sat down, and he hovered between the back of my legs and the base of the toilet. He shakes, whimpers and refuses to sleep.

I sat down on the couch with my lap top and grabbed a quilt. He went under the quilt but has to have his head out so he can see what is going on. I wish he wasn’t so afraid. I wish I could explain to him that the storm is raging outside but that here, in the shelter of the house, we are safe. I think he feels relatively safe as long as he’s in my lap. At least the shaking and the whimpering stop when he’s there.

His reaction to this particular storm got me thinking about me. When the storms of this life roll in (and they do and will), how do I respond? Do I rush to the back porch to watch what God is doing up and close and personal? Or do I cringe in the corner, trembling and frightened? I guess we would all like to say we are the brave, faithful Christian marching out into the storm, but the truth is that I am the corner croucher. Today though, I want to learn a lesson from my dog.

I don’t want Duke to be afraid. God doesn’t want me to be afraid. I can see the bigger picture and know that the storm will have many benefits that Duke can’t see. God sees the bigger picture and knows the benefits I can’t see. Duke is safe provided he stays in the shelter of our home. I am safe provided I stay in the shelter of God’s wings. I will hold Duke and offer comfort and security when he crawls into my lap; God will hold me, offering comfort and security, when I come to Him and call upon His name.

Even though I may not run out to face the storm, I can stop cringing in the corner and climb into my Daddy’s lap. I can stay close and find comfort from the storm. I can draw my strength from the very one who made the storm. As I lovingly pet Duke’s head and whisper calm assurance, I can see God doing the same for me. And that, dear sisters, is enough!

 

 

Clean Out Card Storage

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. I Thessalonians 5:11

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This is my dining room, and I have to say after seven years, I still love it. It houses our china, many of our small appliances, platters, canning jars, candles, and many non-kitchen related items. Living in a house with very few closets means creatively purchasing and strategically placing furniture in a way that allows it to meet our storage needs.

One of my greatest finds of all times was the beautiful blueprint map chest (featured above) that I found at an auction. It cost only $40 dollars and houses 18 drawers full of stuff. The drawers are just a few inches high but are extremely deep and extremely long. From table cloths to wrapping paper, it has met many a storage need in our home. The drawers on the right side tend to be kitchen or dining room items, while those on the left tend to be gift related (ribbon, paper, gift bags, etc.). Each drawer is labelled so that anyone can find what they need in an instant, and yet in recent days, the map chest has been housing a dirty little secret.
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I think cards are an important way to build up a struggling sister in Christ, and yet I don’t even attempt sending one out when I can’t find what I’m looking for. Unfortunately, that seems to be where I’ve been lately. I’m thinking that perhaps it’s the unsorted, mixed up mess in the card drawer or perhaps it’s because the drawer was so messy that overflow cards have found their way to a new home in a different room and I can never remember where exactly to look for them?
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Maybe you are like me and you have been putting this task off for far too long. If so, great, we’re tackling it today!

As this is already something that was set up in my home (though clearly not functioning properly), I will be using my normal Cleaning Strategy. If you are doing it with me, this means you will need a small trash bag and 2 boxes/bins/or baskets. The bins are 1) for donations and 2) for items that don’t belong in your card storage.

Step One: Collect & Sort
Start by removing all the cards you currently have. As I had an overflow selection, I had to collect cards from both locations. Then sort everything into categories. For me, that means cards for Christmas, blank, Thank You, Get Well Soon, Birthday, Peace (Encouragement), Friend, Graduation, Wedding, Valentine, and Love.
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Step Two: Trash
Go through and toss out anything that is no longer usable—outdated cards, cards with messages you no longer like, cards without envelopes, and cards with wrinkled corners. I’m ashamed to admit it but I was holding on to cards that I had started, made mistakes in and ended up not using.
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Step Three: Give Away
Next think about what you don’t use anymore. Maybe you have wedding thank you cards or kids’ party cards. Quickly pull the items you no longer use and put them in the giveaway basket or bin.

Step Four: Put Away Somewhere Else
Take the 2nd box filled with the items that didn’t belong in your cards and return them to their proper homes throughout the rest of the house. I had eye glasses. Why? No clue!
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Step Five: Put Back
Now all that should be left in your space are the items you want to keep in your card organization area. Before we put them back, think about how you can organize them. I love clothes pins (working on an article with 100 household uses for clothes pins), so I labeled some clothes pins and used them to keep my cards in their neat stacks.  I placed the stacks I have the most of in bins (thank you’s, Christmas, and blank cards). For the rest, I placed the ones I use the most in front (birthdays, friends, peace, and love). The rest of the cards moved into the second row.
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Here’s my finished product.
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In case you don’t have the room that I have for storing cards, I took all the pinned categories and dropped them into a standard photo box to show you what that would look like. They fit nicely and take up very little space.
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What are your thoughts? Any tips or tricks on greeting card storage to share with the rest of us?