Monthly Archives: May 2015

3 Brilliant DIY Jewelry Storage Solutions

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Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. ~ Philippians 2:2-3

Houses have feelings, and we want our house to feel harmonious. We want to be united with God individually. We want to be unified together as a couple, and we want the house to feel balanced and peaceful to all who enter through the door. Harmony. A beautiful idea, but sometimes easier said than done. Especially when the following formula takes over.

Limited Storage + Stuff = Clutter and Chaosjewelry

Determined not to let chaos steal our harmony, I try to let go of items and limit what enters our home. For what we keep, I search out creative storage solutions. I always employ the following simple procedure to plan any storage area.

1) Evaluate Needs. 2) Plan solutions. 3) Implement Change.

One area that was particularly problematic was my nightstand. The top of it filled with jewelry that I never put away. I had a store bought jewelry organizer but since everything became tangled in it, I never used it. Using the previously mentioned procedure, I came up with 3 ways to store my jewelry items.

 

1) Evaluate Needs: I needed to store necklaces, earrings and bracelets in an easy to get out, easy to see what I have kind of way.

2) Plan solutions: Looking through the house for solutions, I decided to use two of my dad’s fishing gear organizer boxes for the earrings and bracelets. This is perfect! You can adjust the size of the compartment to fit the jewelry piece that you have and you can separate your earrings by pair. The boxes are only a few inches high so they store easily in the short top drawer of my nightstand.
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For the necklaces, I found some unused space in our bedroom. I keep my clothes in a vintage wardrobe, it has a top shelf, hanging bars, and floor space under the clothes. I use all of that, but I wasn’t using the doors. With a handful of small finishing nails, I hung my necklaces on the inside of the door. No more tangles! Plus, I can see all of my options and match the necklace to the outfit of the day.
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Finally, I decided to place a shallow, vintage bowl on my nightstand to temporarily house anything I take off right before bed. I recognize that when I am tired, I am no longer thinking about keeping my house clean. It’s far too easy to drop things wherever I am and crawl into bed. So I plan for this. One simple item can house a handful of loose items to make sure they don’t get lost and to keep the space from looking cluttered and unkept.
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3) Implement Change: I filled my storage bins and hung my necklaces.

What creative jewelry solutions do you have? What potentially untapped storage option could you be using to solve your jewelry storage needs?

How My Dog Taught Me to Be a More Godly Wife

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” ~ Galatians 5:13

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I never wanted a dog, but one day my husband showed up with a present for me. He held the tiniest little puppy I had ever seen. A 6-week old Chihuahua that fit in my hand. We debated names. Chris wanted our little guy to have an intimidating name like Killer; I wanted a floral name like Sweet Pea since our cats are named Daisy and Lily. We agreed on the tough name of Duke, honoring my childhood hero John Wayne.

Anyway, my husband didn’t want Duke to sleep with us, but it tore my heart out the way he whined the very first night he slept alone. I did not last an hour. I slept on the couch with him curled up on my pillow. Chris’s determination not to have Duke in our bed lasted about 5 weeks. I slept every night with Duke. Finally he recanted, and Duke and I moved back into the bedroom. The first two years of Duke’s life, I worked from home providing him constant care and affection. Even now when I work full time outside the house, he still adores me. I am the sun of his world, and his little puppy dog life revolves around me. Plain and simply, he loves me unconditionally. Through Duke’s actions toward me, I have learned a number of ways that I can be a more godly wife.

1) Greetings: Each day when I come home from work, Duke is waiting at the door. He jumps up on the couch where he is more my level. If I take too long to put up my keys, purse, etc. he barks excitedly. His whole body shakes in anticipation as he cannot wait to spend time with me. He’s never angry. Never greets me with problems. Instead he greets warmly and affectionately, genuinely pleased to see me.

Now to us, when was the last time that you greeted your husband at the door with a smile and a kiss? What about a dab of lip gloss and a dash of perfume? Do we show him that he is the most important human in our world and that we are just happy to see him? Or do we ignore his arrival? If we do make the effort to meet him at the door, is it so we can greet him or so we can let him know that one of the kids is sick, the bathroom sink is leaking again, or someone stole our debit card number and it had to be cancelled? Certainly, you husband, your partner in life, needs to know the issues that have arisen, but give him a chance to de-stress from work first.

I’ll be honest; I am always in the middle of cooking dinner when Chris gets home. Instead of rushing to greet him as I did in the early days of marriage, too often I think, he’ll find me. What message does that send to him? How would he respond if I was a little more Duke and a little less Heidi when he returns home after work?

2) Snuggles: Duke rarely sits still. He wants to play; He wants to run and chase. His favorite game is tag by the way, and he totally gets that he chases you and you chase him. He loves squeaker toys and likes you to fight over them with him. He’ll growl and act like he is so upset, but since we play the game often, I know how to cheat. All I have to do is lean over and kiss the top of his head. Instantly the growling stops and he drops the toy. Instead he wants to snuggle, to have me pet his head and speak gently to him. He soaks up my affection. I’m kind of a brat so I love on him just enough to steal the toy and go back to the game. He falls for it EVERY SINGLE TIME because one minute of mommy’s time is worth more than any game. No matter what he is doing, where he is at, who he is playing with, if Chris says “Want to give Mommy some loveys?”, he is done. He is never too busy to love me and always anticipates the time when he can.

Now back to our men. Chris and I love to banter with each other. We like to tease and torment but do we stop long enough to offer love and affection? Do we simply tease each other and then turn our backs on other areas of our relationship because they are too difficult or might take longer than 20 seconds which is time we do not have? Life brings many hardships and many issues, but it brings many blessings and good times as well. Do we get so caught up in the game of life that we forget to give each other some uninterrupted, quality snuggle time?

I will give an example from my marriage. Chris often asks me to sit down and watch a movie with him. Most of the time I’m too busy. If I stop, the laundry will not get done, the checkbook won’t get balanced, dinner won’t get cooked, the floors won’t get swept, and my list goes on and on. But when I am too busy to spend time with my husband, what story does that tell? I have learned that being too busy for Chris (even if I am busy serving him through housework) sends a dual message to Chris. First, he is not worthy of my time and second I am too busy with what I want to do to fit him in. Not my intention. So nowadays, I say “You get it set up, and I’ll be right there.” While he is setting it up, I gather tasks I can do in front of the TV – laundry, the checkbook, etc. As we watch the movie, I work on whatever. Towards the end of the movie, I make sure I put everything down and snuggle up. Chris knows he is number one and doesn’t feel neglected.

3) Sees You: After dinner, Chris will usually spend a few minutes on his iPad or watching TV. I wash the dishes. It usually only takes ten minutes or so. Whether he is in the family room or the bedroom, I walk in there (with Duke at my heels) and tell him to stay so I can clean the kitchen without tripping over him. The first five minutes I’m out of sight, he whines for me. Then he settles in with a bone and waits. I’m never gone longer than fifteen minutes. When I walk in to the room, he drops the bone, stands to greet me and the tail starts wagging. One of Duke’s most commendable attributes is his tunnel vision. It doesn’t matter if my hair is uncombed and I’m still in my bathrobe, all he sees is me. It doesn’t matter if I’ve only been away two minutes, he’s still excited. When I walk into the room, he lights up. He doesn’t see the imperfections or faults that I have. He just sees me.

Now to us, when your honey walks in to the room, do you notice that his jeans are filthy, and you are going to need to wash yet another load of laundry? Do you worry that if he sits down on the bed or couch in those jeans that he is going to get something dirty? Do you notice that he forgot to shave this morning and his neck could use a little TLC? Do we point out the problems or do we offer a warm greeting? Maybe the physical things are not what you notice but instead you think about his faults and ask how that worked for him today. Or you think back to last night’s fight and relive the most painful parts. When we criticize our husband’s flaws, we tell them in so many less words that their imperfections are more important to us than who they are as a person. Completely opposite of Duke’s message.

By now, you know two of my faults. I cannot stop EVER, so the first thing I see is the grime. Secondly, I am not always the best at keeping my mouth shut. Both of these things have caused a fight or two in my marriage.  But I’m trying. If I absolutely cannot stand the factory dirt Chris often brings home with him, I try a different approach. Instead of attacking Chris for his clothes, I might suggest that he come in, slip into comfy clothes, and put his feet up while I make him a glass of ice tea. At least in this way, he doesn’t feel judged the moment I see him but instead feels served. He knows that I love him and have his best interests in view.

4) Forgives: When Duke misbehaves, I employ a variety of punishments. He gets sprayed with a water bottle, gets put in a crate, or gets completely ignored–depending on his crime. He doesn’t like any of these punishments, but the great thing about him is that he forgives instantly and easily. I can punish him, and he can sit sulking in the corner. But the second I click my tongue for him, he comes running with tail wagging and tongue licking. He is ready to show me I am forgiven, and he loves me despite what I did to him.

What about your attitude with your husband? Can he trust that after a fight you will forgive him? Does he know that you will never mention the hurtful actions again? Or are you the kind of wife who feels the need to dredge up the past and remind the man you married of the many times he has failed you? If you are an excavation expert, how is that working for you? I’m guessing not very well. Proverbs 27:15 warns that “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”

I have found that when I nag or complain, my husband’s coping mechanism is to turn me off. He doesn’t like who I am being at that moment so he shuts down. All the screaming, yelling, brow beating in the world won’t do me any good if he’s not listening. If a situation arises where we actually have a real problem and not one that is compounded by the inner voices of my head, it is better to sit down and patiently discuss the problem without pointing the finger or nagging that he has done this type of thing hundreds of times over the years. I need to remember Duke in these conversations and when he apologizes (or in some cases simply changes his attitude), I need to let go and forgive instantly and completely. It’s done and it’s not barging into my marriage again.

5) Protects: Duke is a little guy. He weighs under twelve pounds, but when it comes to me, he knows no boundaries. A couple years ago we went to Tennessee to visit relatives. As they have a lovely place out in the country, we decided to take Duke. I was sitting on the porch in a rocking chair with Duke sleeping on my lap when Aunt Libby’s gentle, old golden retriever loped up the steps. Instantly Duke was awake. As long as Pumpkin was on the far side of the porch, he was okay but the second he crossed over to our side of the porch, Duke was up growling. That big dog wasn’t going to hurt his Mommy! Duke’s actions were so intimidating that poor Pumpkin left her own porch with her tail between her legs.

Do you have your husband’s back? When you are at a family function and someone demeans your guy do you laugh and add your own complaint or do you stand up for him? When you are out with your girlfriends and they get started on husband bashing, do you join the conversation with a list of his faults? What message are your conversations about your husband sending to others and to him? Do they say that you respect and honor the spiritual leader of your home or do they say that you have a few hundred miles to go before you resemble anything remotely Christ-like?

Now, I’m not suggesting that you cannot joke and tease with your husband, family and friends. But I am saying that when your comments are made in spite, cause feelings of failure or hit just a little too close to home that you should not be making them. Those things are not funny and should be left unsaid. I’m also talking about what goes on behind your spouse’s back. My husband is far from perfect but I want others to see the good in him. I don’t want them to pick his flaws apart. If I am complaining about his issues, I give them the fuel to judge him or think negatively about him. Instead I want to build him up with other people. If they have never met him, I want them to form positive opinions of him so that when they do meet him, they look forward to it instead of thinking this is the jerk who does a, b, c. Your husband should rest in the knowledge that you are his helpmate and that you will protect him in and outside of your home.

We’ve got our work cut out for us. Being a godly wife may not always be easy, but as Christian women it is our calling. Embrace your calling, and learn that simple steps, courteous actions, and constant care build a stronger, more enjoyable marriage. Remember the lessons little Duke teaches and offer the same kind of loyalty and unconditional love to the man you married!

What lessons have you learned from your little furry friend(s) that has helped you become a better, more godly wife?

How to Clean In Between the Glass on Your Oven

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I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. ~ I Timothy 5:14

I am often teased that when I am not at work, I am at home cooking with my 1940’s dress, heels, apron and string of pearls. That is not the case! And this post is going to prove just how NOT “perfect wife material” I am!
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For a few years now I have been strategically using a tea towel to hide the spots in my oven door. A couple years ago, I was removing a hot pan and burned myself. I jumped and sloshed hot liquid down the oven door. I cleaned the outside and the inside, but it didn’t help. The door was still dirty because the spill went between the glass of my oven door. This past Saturday I fixed the problem. As I cannot be the only one to do this, I took pictures planning to share with you how to clean this difficult to reach area.

Let me first say that after doing online research, I tried the wire coat hanger with a rag through the holes at the top method. It was totally ineffective. First of all, you have to find your thinnest, most ragged rag to fit through the very tiny space. Second, you have zero mobility for reaching the areas that you want to tackle. Third, you cannot put elbow grease into a hanger. I needed a real solution and this wasn’t it. That being said, the area is transformed now!

Here is the oven before I started. Ewwwww!!!!!

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You start by opening the oven door. Unscrew the torx screws on the inside of your door. (Some have two; others have three.) I didn’t have a screwdriver shaped exactly like them, but my Phillips worked fine. As you unscrew them, your door will separate in two parts like this. Seeing this picture totally proves I’m not Suzy Homemaker, right?

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If you have lots of crumbs inside, you may need to take a vacuum hose and sweep them up first. Next, take your favorite window cleaner and clean the glass. You will be surprised to find that the spots wipe off easily because, unlike the interior of your oven, foods and liquids haven’t been cooked on.

Now, screw your door back together. You’re finished!

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I feel pretty silly for letting the door bother me for so long and not cleaning it sooner, but I really didn’t know how. I thought it would be more difficult! Excuses, excuses! Well I don’t have one for this job any more. Sooooo simple!

So, when are you going to tackle yours?

10 Quick Tips to Master Your Closet

closetorganization

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. ~ I Corinthians 14:33

I love how God designed each person differently! No two people look, think, act, react and process life exactly the same. We have different motivations for what we do and different goals for our lives. As I’ve shared a time or two, one of my personal goals is to get organized so that I have more time to serve God and more time to spend with my family doing what matters most to us. My dreams and pastimes may not be the same as yours, but I believe since you are here, you care about becoming organized and being a better steward of your time.

In this post, I want to share ten quick tricks that have really helped to keep my closet organized.

1) Keep your clothes sectioned by type. In my closet area, I have my clothes broken down into work, play and church. My work clothes are broken down by dress pants and then by dress tops. My going out or play clothes are broken down by short and long sleeve shirts. Finally, I have my church skirts.
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2) Color code your clothes so that you can find what you need in mere seconds. I often wear brown pants; I like to pair the pants with a pink shirt and a brown sweater shell. Because my clothes are sorted into sections and then the sections are color coded, I can distinguish the pink and brown sections at a glance and can easily select a garment from these color families. In case you need a little help in this area, here is a color coding rainbow.
ColorWheel2

3) Use consistency to reduce chaos. Be sure you hang your clothes the same direction and use the same type and color of hanger throughout your closet. When you look into your closet and see things hanging in any direction on a hodge podge of different hangers, your eyes have trouble focusing on just one thing, and you may struggle to select an item. I’m not suggesting you go into your closet and throw out all the hangers that you have and go buy new. I am however suggesting that you start sorting the existing hangers you have for differing family members. For example when I first tried to make our closets consistent, each time I did the laundry, I removed the empty white hangers from my husband’s clothes and hung my clothing on white hangers. I then removed the dark hangers from my closet and used those for my husband’s clothing.
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3) Think outside the closet. Maybe you can’t solve your closet issues because your closet is so small. This was the case for my husband and me. We shared an under the steps, ultra-tiny closet, and it just wasn’t working. For a time I stored my clothes in the corner of the utility closet in the family room, but when a teenage boy was living in the family room this was not a feasible option either. Eventually I found an antique wardrobe for our bedroom and now have the most beautiful clothing solution from OUTSIDE the actual closet.
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4) Implement the one in, one out rule. For every piece of clothing item that enters your house, get rid of one clothing item. You can donate your clothing to a friend, Goodwill or a women’s abuse/rehab shelter. Our county has a Free Store where anyone from the county can come, browse clothing, and take a few needed garments. If you spent a lot of money on the clothing item and just can’t bear the thought of giving the clothes away and losing all of your investment, consider selling the items at a garage sale, on eBay or through a local consignment shop. You won’t get back what you spent on the item, but you will recoup some of your money, more space and a healthy dose of sanity!

5) Limit the number of items that you allow yourself to keep. In our house, we have what we call the 50 hanger closets. You guessed it! I have 50 hangers in my closet and my husband has 50 hangers in his closet. We only own the number of hangers that we are allowed to have items for and really have to weigh whether we want or need an item. Now, I cheat a little. I live in an area that has very different weather cycles during the different seasons, so I need a variety of heavy, moderate, and light weight items. I keep an additional 25 hangers for out-of-season clothes which I store outside of my tiny wardrobe area, but that’s it. 75 hangers–50 in the bedroom and 25 not in the bedroom. No additional clothes. Basically, I house 25 items that are strictly winter, 25 items that are strictly summer and 25 items that can go either way (3 quarter length or short sleeve tops that looks good with long-sleeve shirts under them). The 25 universal items stay year round while the 25 in-season get changed for winter or summer.

6) Use bins or baskets to corral loose items. In my closet area, I have bins for purses, wallets, and flip-flops. In Chris’s closet area, he has bins for pocket knives and ties.
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7) Consider investing in some high quality hangers. I don’t like high-necked shirts. Most of what I own has a scoop neck which falls off the hangers. For years I kept a bowl of clothes pins in the closet and would simply pin my shirts to the hanger. This worked okay, but it had several problems. 1) The clothes pins made the clothes stick out further and took up more space. 2) Delicate items and sweaters can be misshaped by the clothes pins. The solution? I discovered velvet lined hangers. They are slim and take up less space but equally important, the fabric lining keeps clothes from falling off the hanger. They were not super expensive (especially when you consider I could only have 75). They’re available at discount stores like Big Lots, TJMaxx, and Marshall’s.
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8) Create space in the closet by adding a few hooks. My husband wears jeans or shorts most of the time and occasionally wears dressier pants or khaki’s, but he rarely wears a suit.That being said, he still needs the suit. It’s perfect for weddings and funerals. We noticed that it takes up a substantial amount of space in his closet, so I solved this issue by putting a hook behind the closet rod. It hangs on the wall behind the regular clothes–totally out of the way. Hooks in Chris’s closet also hold his bathrobe, my bathrobe, belts, a fabric travel bag and my full length dresses. My wardrobe isn’t tall enough for the dresses or the robe, but I don’t feel bad about stealing a little of Chris’s space because it’s wall space that wasn’t being used for anything.
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9) Keep a bowl of clothes pins in the closet. I wear 5 sweaters and 5 solid color shirts a week to work. With only 50 garments to choose from, this is 20% of my clothes. A fairly significant portion. The problem is that I often forget what I wore earlier in the week. The clothes pins solve the issue. When I hang a shirt up (whether it wasn’t dirty or I just washed it) that I wore this week, I put a clothes pin on the hanger. On Saturdays I just pull off the pins and drop them back in the container. Less than 10 seconds. If you were ultra-organized, you could spray paint your clothes pins different colors (or buy the plastic ones that are already color coded) for different purposes. One color could mean clothes you have worn in the week while another color could mean reminders like clothing item needs mended.
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10) Add just a touch of whimsy to your closet. I am too old for stuffed animals, but a couple years ago someone I love dearly bought me a teddy bear. The bear has a breast cancer ribbon embroidered on it and since I lost my mother to breast cancer, they thought it was an appropriate gift. I actually love it but what can I do with it? I stowed it on the top shelf of the closet in front of items I barely use. Believe it or not, this person has seen the inside of my closet and was so pleased to see it lovingly perched inside!
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So what do you think? What’s the first change you are going to make in your closet? :)

ABC’s of Storage – Full List with Pictures!

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

The week of my one-year wedding anniversary was the week I buried my mother. At just twenty-three-years old, I felt completely lost and alone. I sank into severe, debilitating depression. I managed to go to my job and pretend that everything was ok, but beyond that, I let go of my normal life.

I had never been a very good house wife, but at my lowest point, I completely gave up. You couldn’t walk through my house. I feared people coming over. I went inside my head (not a pretty place to be!), and I shut the people I love most out of my life. I plunged into despair and knew I’d never be “normal” again. The guilt I felt about our house made matters worse, yet the worse things became, the more paralyzed I became. This period lasted over five years. The truth is ugly, but that’s just it. It’s the truth. No gloss and no cover-up.

Eventually, when I learned to turn things over to God, I rose from the pit. Little by little, I broke out of my self-imposed barricade and reclaimed my life. I am not the perfect homemaker. I struggle EVERY single day. But as the name of my site suggests, I am a new creation. I embrace the role that God has given me and find joy in serving my husband.

I don’t like to spend too much time looking through the rear view, yet I see so many women in the world today trapped as I was. Situations differ, but the despair and loneliness remain the same. Depression’s grip has left them feeling overwhelmed and lethargic. They don’t know where to begin. If you are one of these ladies, I compiled this list for YOU. My prayer is that with small changes, you can dig out of the pit that you are in and reclaim your home and the life God intended for you!

A—Aesthetically Pleasing Containers: If you are short closet space, store your item in aesthetically pleasing containers that can be left out on display. I store products to make my personal hygiene items in a beautiful old bread tin, which sits out in the open on the top of a piece of furniture. Bread sits out in the kitchen in a lovely old bread box.
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B—Baskets: Baskets are great for storing like items together. In our house, a collection of baskets sit atop the fridge storing our pet supplies.
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C—Candy Jars: Vintage candy jars make great storage options in bathrooms. Cotton balls, Q-tips, and clothes pins all look adorable in jars, but more importantly, they are easily accessed.They also serve the laundry area well by housing laundry detergent, baking soda, etc.
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D—Drawers: A great tip is to put casters on the bottom of an old drawer and slide it under the bed. With the drawer handle, it pulls out easily and is a great storage solution for purses, bags, shoes, jeans.
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E—Envelopes: Taping a large envelope to the back cover of your recipe book can be a great place to stash recipes you intend to try in the near future. (I don’t file a recipe in our family recipe book until I know it’s something I like and will make.)
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F—Furniture: This sounds like a given, but when you are buying your furniture, strategically choose items that have great storage potential. In our house, we have some unusual storage items. An antique pie safe houses our toy collection for little ones. A map chest for architect’s blue prints houses our gift wrapping station (wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, scissors, tape, gift bags). An apothecary serves as a utility closet holding light bulbs, extension chords, and flash lights.
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G—Gear: My dad’s old fishing gear has been the perfect solution for jewelry storage. One small tackle box holds all my earrings (divided by pair of course) while another tackle box houses my bracelets.
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H—Hooks: Everyone knows hooks can be used to hang traditional items like keys, measuring spoons, towels, and housecoats, but hooks can also be a very creative storage solution. I hang our broom, Swiffer and stick vacuum on the wall going down the steps to the basement.
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I—Ice Trays: Ice trays are the perfect storage solution for small collections. Craft or sewing supplies can store easily in an ice tray inside of a drawer or cabinet and can be easily brought out when working on a project.
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J—Jars: Office supplies can be stored easily in a variety of jars. In my office hutch, I have jars for colored pencils, highlighters, and bookmarks.
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K—Kleenex Boxes: An empty Kleenex box is a great way to store plastic bags. The bags are easy to get out and the box takes up little to no space.
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L—Lingerie Bags: Instead of using lingerie bags solely for washing personal items, you can use them as toy storage organizers. They can separate Lego’s, plastic blocks, plastic kitchen/dishes. An added benefit is that when you want to wash the collection of toys, you can throw the entire bag—contents and all—directly into the washing machine or the dishwasher.
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M—Magazine holders: Cardboard or plastic magazine holders make great upright storage solutions for haircare items like curling items and straighteners. They store easily on shelves in bathroom or linen closets and take up only inches of space.
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N—Napkin holders: Napkin holders can be used to create a cell-phone station on the kitchen counter, to store dryer sheets in the laundry area, or to serve as a mail sorter when mounted sideways on the wall.
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OOpen  containers: When storing everyday utensils in my kitchen, I store them in an attractive open container—a vintage pitcher. The attractiveness of the container allows me to leave them out on the counter and the open top of the container allows easy access while I’m in the throes of cooking.
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P—Pillowcases: Storing a set of sheets inside one of the pillowcases is a smart way to ensure that the entire set of sheets stays together all in one place.
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Q—Quality Square Canisters: Several years ago, we traded in our mismatched collection of canisters for a set of quality clear canisters. They are square which makes stacking around them easier. They’re also uniform in their base size. Some are taller. Some are shorter. But they are all the same width and stack nicely on top of each other.
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R—Racks: Wire racks hung inside the kitchen cabinet make excellent storage for spice jars. Matching spice jars make the space uniform while alphabetical listings make spice locations easy to pinpoint.
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S—Shoe Organizers: Shoe organizers make great organizers in every room of the house for everything but shoes! In the bedroom, they are great for socks, belts, ties, bras. In the bathroom, they are perfect for hair clips, bobby pins, lotions, deodorant. In the kitchen, they make optimum under the sink storage for scouring pads, magic erasers, dishwasher pods, Jet dry, etc. In a utility closet, they serve as the ideal organizer for flashlights, measuring tapes, batteries, cleaning supplies. In an entryway, the possibilities are endless. You could set each family up with their own row and their cubbies could be separated into hats, gloves, scarves, umbrellas, ponchos (wait until dry).
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T—Tree: As we have no closet entryway, I use a coat stand/tree to store seasonal outdoor wear (coats, umbrellas, etc) and items that will leave the house with me (purse, briefcase, etc).
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UUnder-the-Bed Storage Bags: Zippered under-the-bed storage bags serve as unique toy bins. They stack nicely and store easily. They could be stored under-the-bed (as they were intended) or stacked on shelves. In our house, they are stored on the shelf of a pie safe.
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V—Vessel: Serving vessels can be used in more ways than in the kitchen. In my office, I have a hutch that holds my office supplies. Inside the hutch, I have an enamel casserole dish that holds all the normal desk items—tape, stapler, pens, pencils, etc. I have a serving bowl that houses my post-it notes.
deskdrawerservingpiecesfurniture

W—Wire Baskets: In the upstairs guest bedroom, I have a wire basket holding guest washrags. In our bedroom, I have several wire baskets in the wardrobe that holds my clothes. The baskets hold a variety of purses and wallets. Also in the bathroom, a wire basket contains our extra toiletry items. In the kitchen, one wire basket sits on the counter storing our apples while another rests in the fridge corralling small dairy items (butter sticks, cream cheese, whipping cream).
wirebasket2 wirebasket3 wirebasket4wire

XXtra Shelving: When you have hardly any closet space, you have to find ways to create attractive storage. In our house, I have done this by creating xtra (Ok, so extra 😉 but there are hardly any x words) shelving. In the bathroom, I built a shelving unit to go in front of one of the 2 doorways. In the kitchen, I built a shelving unit to hold the microwave and in the laundry area, there is an extra shelving unit for cleaning supplies.
shelf1 shelf2 shelf3

Y—Youth Cookie Tin: I received a vintage youth cookie tin because of its imagery of Robin Hood and my love for classic literature. The tin sits out in the open on top of a shelf. The tin contains a collection of special birthday cards, funeral cards, and memorial bookmarks.
tin tindecorated

Z—Zippered Baggies: To avoid the black hole syndrome in your purse, buy a handful of zippered makeup bags in varying sizes. Use them to categorize the contents of your purse. One might be hair care, another makeup, a third for oral needs (mints, pills, dental floss).
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What is your favorite new storage solution? What are you going to change? What tips can you give to the rest of us?

Making Your Own Disinfectant Spray

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The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. ~ Psalm 24:1

My journey in embracing my role as a wife and homemaker led me to examine green cleaning supplies. I read article after article on the poisons found in traditional store bought products and decided to do a little experimenting in this area. I never dreamed where this would lead! At this point, we use only natural cleaners in our house and I believe I could “whip” up a batch of laundry soap, wood cleaner, or glass cleaner in my sleep! The statistics I could give on harmful chemicals, the rant I could have about the companies selling these products… But (give a sigh of relief) this is not the post on that excursion. This is a post on the very simple process of making your own disinfectant spray.

If you plan to make your own disinfectant, you will need: borax, liquid Castile soap, distilled water, white vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, and lemon essential oil.
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I know that sounds like a lot of ingredients, but you only use a small portion of each and it will last you a really long time! For this recipe, simply pour each ingredient into the spray bottle directly and at the end (after you put the lid on of course), shake the bottle!

If you can follow a recipe, you can make your own cleaners.

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Start with 2 cups of distilled water.

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Add 1 teaspoon of borax.

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Add 1/2 teaspoon Castile soap.

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Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

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Add 1 tablespoon of alcohol.

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Add 1 tablespoon of peroxide.

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Finish with 15-20 drops of essential oil. Pick your scent; personally, I like lemon.

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Now, shake, shake, SHAKE your bottle! And in less than 5 minutes, homemade disinfectant cleaner.

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Have you ever considered making your own cleaning products? What is stopping you?

An Unexpected, Uninvited, and Unwanted Houseguest

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“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” ~ Isaiah 41:10

Living in our house, we have my husband, my niece, myself, a chihuahua named Duke and two cats–Daisy and Lily. Normally, Duke and I are the first to bed, then Daisy, then Meg, then Chris and finally Lily.

It came as no surprise last night at 11pm that Lily was still up wandering. When she was a kitten, she stayed up all night long playing and exploring. Thankfully, she has mellowed over the years and usually settles in by midnight. Well, anyway, by 11pm, Duke and I had clocked out; Chris had just settled in and was trying to fall asleep.

Then the blood curdling scream. Jolted awake, I sat up in bed. Meghin! Dashing upstairs I called out, “Meghin, honey, are you ok?”

A tiny little girl voice squeaked out from my almost 21-year-old niece. “No, something flew at me.”

A few tense moments passed and then the intruder circled the room. Poor Meg, she had a bat! It took almost fifteen minutes to coax her out from under the covers and downstairs to the living room. Calming her down, I got the story. She was sleeping and heard a noise. Guessing it to be Lily, she clicked her tongue and patted the bed inviting Lily to jump up. Instead the bat swooped down. What a surprise for poor Meghin!

This got me thinking. How many times in our lives do we expect a friend, call for them, anticipate their response, only to have the Devil swoop down instead?

Living in America, it is all too easy to forget that every day of our lives, there is a spiritual battle raging around us. In I Peter 5:8 the Bible gives us this warning, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”. The imagery terrifies, yet somehow in the midst of dinners, diapers, laundry, work schedules, homework help, emotional crisis, we forget. How very dangerous! If you forgot about a wild lion and turned your back on him, what would happen? You’d be dinner! Forgetting the Devil and turning our spiritual back to him makes us susceptible to his attacks.

This was me last Sunday. Last week was a crazy week. I worked six days, led two organizational workshops, attended adult Bible study, taught teen Bible study, hosted a church family movie night, wrote two articles for a magazine–all in addition to the normal dinner, dishes, laundry, etc. Stuck in survival mode, I forgot my enemy and let my guard down.

I was tired. I was weak. The time to strike was now. He wasted no time in planning his assault. His strategy was simple. Remind me of my losses; remind me of my unfulfilled dreams. Remind me of my failures. He didn’t need to do more than that; I would take over the rest.

“Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus said this in John 8:44, and yet somehow I forgot that Satan was the father of lies.

I wasn’t anticipating the attack, and I fell prey. I listened and I repeated. Everyone who loved me is dead. I am alone. Unable to have children, I have missed my greatest desire and am a failure as a woman. The progress I had made in homemaking has been lost by a tough week with too many activities. I can’t even keep up. All lies. All things I repeated.

As Sunday afternoon progressed, I slumped back to a familiar hole. I didn’t want to get up and clean the house. I didn’t want to spend quality time with my husband. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to forget. I wanted to be someone else. As time for the evening church service approached, I told Chris, “My head hurts so I think I’ll stay home.” I didn’t want to go. What if the people there felt the same way about me as I did? I couldn’t bare the thought!

After some not so gentle prodding, I reluctantly agreed to go. We were late. It didn’t matter. God showed up. The singers sang words of reassurance reminding me where so many of my family members are today. The preacher spoke words of life. He reminded me of my calling and of God’s promise that He will never leave me nor forsake me. My walls lowered. He talked about Satan and his attacks. He reminded me where Satan is today (roaming to destroy) and where he will be in the future (cast into the lake of fire). I shoved the walls down.

Are you like me and Meghin? Have you let an unexpected, uninvited, unwanted houseguest into your life? If so, then it’s time to let go. To follow the instructions in James 4:7 and to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I pray you release today and find yourself standing tall, resting in the shadow of the Almighty!

ABC’s of Storage (Letters N – Z)

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“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” ~ Colossians 3:23

Welcome back to the ABC’s of Storage. The second post in this series gives you some potential storage solutions for items from the letters N-Z. The final post of this series will show you pictures of the ABC items. It is my most sincere hope that some of these solutions will be the panacea to your storage problems. Enjoy!

N—Napkin holders: Napkin holders can be used to create a cell-phone station on the kitchen counter, to store dryer sheets in the laundry area, or to serve as a mail sorter when mounted sideways on the wall.

OOpen  containers: When storing everyday utensils in my kitchen, I store them in an attractive open container—a vintage pitcher. The attractiveness of the container allows me to leave them out on the counter and the open top of the container allows easy access while I’m in the throes of cooking.

P—Pillowcases: Storing a set of sheets inside one of the pillowcases is a smart way to ensure that the entire set of sheets stays together all in one place.

Q—Quality Square Canisters: Several years ago, we traded in our mismatched collection of canisters for a set of quality clear canisters. They are square which makes stacking around them easier. They’re also uniform in their base size. Some are taller. Some are shorter. But they are all the same width and stack nicely on top of each other.

R—Racks: Wire racks hung inside the kitchen cabinet make excellent storage for spice jars. Matching spice jars make the space uniform while alphabetical listings make spice locations easy to pinpoint.
spices spices2

S—Shoe Organizers: Shoe organizers make great organizers in every room of the house for everything but shoes! In the bedroom, they are great for socks, belts, ties, bras. In the bathroom, they are perfect for hair clips, bobby pins, lotions, deodorant. In the kitchen, they make optimum under the sink storage for scouring pads, magic erasers, dishwasher pods, Jet dry, etc. In a utility closet, they serve as the ideal organizer for flashlights, measuring tapes, batteries, cleaning supplies. In an entryway, the possibilities are endless. You could set each family up with their own row and their cubbies could be separated into hats, gloves, scarves, umbrellas, ponchos (wait until dry).

T—Tree: As we have no closet entryway, I use a coat stand/tree to store seasonal outdoor wear (coats, umbrellas, etc) and items that will leave the house with me (purse, briefcase, etc).

UUnder-the-Bed Storage Bags: Zippered under-the-bed storage bags serve as unique toy bins. They stack nicely and store easily. They could be stored under-the-bed (as they were intended) or stacked on shelves. In our house, they are stored on the shelf of a pie safe.

V—Vessel: Serving vessels can be used in more ways than in the kitchen. In my office, I have a hutch that holds my office supplies. Inside the hutch, I have an enamel casserole dish that holds all the normal desk items—tape, stapler, pens, pencils, etc. I have a serving bowl that houses my post-it notes.

W—Wire Baskets: In the upstairs guest bedroom, I have a wire basket holding guest washrags. In our bedroom, I have several wire baskets in the wardrobe that holds my clothes. The baskets hold a variety of purses and wallets. Also in the bathroom, a wire basket contains our extra toiletry items. In the kitchen, one wire basket sits on the counter storing our apples while another rests in the fridge corralling small dairy items (butter sticks, cream cheese, whipping cream).
wirebasket2 wirebasket3 wirebasket4

XXtra Shelving: When you have hardly any closet space, you have to find ways to create attractive storage. In our house, I have done this by creating xtra (Ok, so extra 😉 but there are hardly any x words) shelving. In the bathroom, I built a shelving unit to go in front of one of the 2 doorways. In the kitchen, I built a shelving unit to hold the microwave and in the laundry area, there is an extra shelving unit for cleaning supplies.

Y—Youth Cookie Tin: I received a vintage youth cookie tin because of its imagery of Robin Hood and my love for classic literature. The tin sits out in the open on top of a shelf. The tin contains a collection of special birthday cards, funeral cards, and memorial bookmarks.

Z—Zippered Baggies: To avoid the black hole syndrome in your purse, buy a handful of zippered makeup bags in varying sizes. Use them to categorize the contents of your purse. One might be hair care, another makeup, a third for oral needs (mints, pills, dental floss).
IMG_0272 IMG_0255 IMG_0279

Be sure to check back on Tuesday, May 12, to get the third and final post of the ABC’s of Storage! If you are in the mood for a little change of heart, check out my recent article, Stop Hitting the Snooze Button on God and be encouraged to pursue God’s call for your life.

What creative N-Z storage ideas do you have?

ABC’s of Storage (Letters A-M)

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

So anyone who knows me can tell you I LOVE to organize! It’s a passion and a pleasure! If you and I were chatting in real life, we might be talking weather, husbands, kids. Yet somehow the conversation just might drift to houses, and voila, you are in for it! My eyes sparkle. My cheeks flush. I may have been exhausted just moments before, but now I resemble a kid in the candy store!

As I re-launch and reinvest my time into this site, I thought it would be a great idea to give you the a three part series on some ABC’s of Storage. Today, I give you storage ideas for A-M. Post two will give you storage ideas for N-Z. Post three will give you pictures of each item or category. Enjoy!!!

A—Aesthetically Pleasing Containers: If you are short closet space, store your item in aesthetically pleasing containers that can be left out on display. I store personal hygiene items in a beautiful old bread tin, which sits out in the open on the top of a piece of furniture.

B—Baskets: Baskets are great for storing like items together. In our house, a collection of baskets sit atop the fridge storing our pet supplies.

C—Candy Jars: Vintage candy jars make great storage options in bathrooms. Cotton balls, Q-tips, and clothes pins all look adorable in jars, but more importantly, they are easily accessed.

D—Drawers: A great tip is to put casters on the bottom of an old drawer and slide it under the bed. With the drawer handle, it pulls out easily and is a great storage solution for purses, bags, shoes, jeans.
underbed3 underbed underbed8

E—Envelopes: Taping a large envelope to the back cover of your recipe book can be a great place to stash recipes you intend to try in the near future. (I don’t file a recipe in our family recipe book until I know it’s something I like and will make.)

F—Furniture: This sounds like a given, but when you are buying your furniture, strategically choose items that have great storage potential. In our house, we have some unusual storage items. An antique pie safe houses our toy collection for little ones. A map chest for architect’s blue prints houses our gift wrapping station (wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, scissors, tape, gift bags). An apothecary serves as a utility closet holding light bulbs, extension chords, and flash lights.

G—Gear: My dad’s old fishing gear has been the perfect solution for jewelry storage. One small tackle box holds all my earrings (divided by pair of course) while another tackle box houses my bracelets.
bracelets earrings gear

H—Hooks: Everyone knows hooks can be used to hang traditional items like keys, measuring spoons, towels, and housecoats, but hooks can also be a very creative storage solution. I hang our broom, Swiffer and stick vacuum on the wall going down the steps to the basement.

I—Ice Trays: Ice trays are the perfect storage solution for small collections. Craft or sewing supplies can store easily in an ice tray inside of a drawer or cabinet and can be easily brought out when working on a project.

J—Jars: Office supplies can be stored easily in a variety of jars. In my office hutch, I have jars for colored pencils, highlighters, and bookmarks.

K—Kleenex Boxes: An empty Kleenex box is a great way to store plastic bags. The bags are easy to get out and the box takes up little to no space.

L—Lingerie Bags: Instead of using lingerie bags solely for washing personal items, you can use them as toy storage organizers. They can separate Lego’s, plastic blocks, plastic kitchen/dishes. An added benefit is that when you want to wash the collection of toys, you can throw the entire bag—contents and all—directly into the washing machine or the dishwasher.

M—Magazine holders: Cardboard or plastic magazine holders make great upright storage solutions for haircare items like curling items and straighteners. They store easily on shelves in bathroom or linen closets and take up only inches of space.

Be sure to check back on Monday, May 4, to get the second half of the ABC’s of Storage, letters N through Z! If you are in the mood for a little attitude adjustment, I’ll be sharing about loving the unlovable person this afternoon at The Bottom Line.

What creative A-M storage ideas do you have?