Category Archives: Life’s Little Extras

What’s Cooking Wednesday? Super Simple Pineapple Cake

“Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” ~ Proverbs 15:16
pineapplecake

For the last few years, my husband Chris and I have hosted a movie night for our church. God placed a dream in our hearts to provide local families with a positive, clean entertainment venue, an alternative to the many ungodly opportunities Satan provides. Fortunately, our preacher jumped on our offer and helped us get the ball rolling for this ministry. Every first Friday of the month, we can be found serving homemade desserts and providing fellowship to whoever walks through the door. After the food and socialization, we settle in to watch an inspiring movie. Last month, we had thirty-nine people join us.

As this is our ministry, we provide the snacks. I try to do four to five different options to accommodate differing palates. You can imagine with close to forty attendees, this can get expensive fast, but today’s recipe has been a real life saver! I won’t take any credit for this one though; all credit belongs to a good friend. Several months after we started our ministry, I was sitting with my friend Denise talking about the desserts I planned to make for an upcoming movie night. She reached over, took my hand and said, “Honey, I’m going to give you the best tip you will ever get.” She proceeded to give me the following recipe with directions for baking.

You will need non-stick spray, a white or yellow cake mix and a 20 oz can of crushed pineapple.
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Mix the cake mix and pineapple.
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Spray a disposable cake pan with non-stick spray, and then pour the cake mix into pan.caketobake

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for one hour.
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Serve cooled.
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Amazing! And cheap. And fast. And hardly any mess. And did I mention, AMAZING?! Thank you, Denise, for your super simple pineapple cake; it truly has been the best tip ever! And if you’re wondering about the verse with this recipe, it’s just a reminder because this cake is sooooo good! Don’t eat it all, or you will get sick. LOL :) Enjoy!

Be sure to check back in after you have made this cake to let me and other readers know what you thought!

What’s Cooking Wednesday? BBQ Meatball Recipe

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ I Corinthians 10:31
meatballmeal meatballs
At our house, we love finger foods. We don’t want to wait for a party or get together to enjoy them, so sometimes I’ll make appetizer type finger foods as our dinner. One favorite is BBQ meatballs. I serve them with homemade cornbread, cooked carrots, and a baked potato. Talk about comfort food!

Heidi’s BBQ Meatballs Recipe

Minutes to Prepare: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Number of Servings: 48+ meatballs

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/3 cup ketchup (divided)
3 tablespoons bread crumbs (panko)
1 egg
2 tablespoons onion flakes
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup of light brown sugar (can do 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 honey)
6 oz can tomato paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp hot cayenne pepper sauce
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(disclaimer: accidentally had A-1 instead of cider vinegar out)

 
Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Combine meat, 1/3 cup ketchup, panko, and spices in bowl. Mix thoroughly and shape into meatballs. I use my melon scooper to make 1-inch ones all consistently the same size.
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3) Bake in oven until brown (18-23 minutes).
4) Transfer meatballs to crockpot.
5) Mix liquids with tomato paste and sugar and pour over meatballs. Stir gently. Cover, cook on low for 4 hrs.
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Enjoy! What strange food tradition does your family have? What did you think of the meatballs?

 

Weekend Warrior Challenge: Try Something New!

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“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

God created a new universe out of nothing. He saved His fallen creation with an unprecedented move of sending His own Son to die for our sins. When we become saved, He creates in us a new creature. See a pattern? I really believe God loves NEW things! So today’s challenge is to try something new.

You should know that Chris and I don’t do things in halves. When we commit to something, we don’t just stick our big toe in and test the water. We take a running start, arch into position and complete a full bomb dive. That’s just the way we are. Well, several years ago, Chris and I went on a journey to rid our home of all toxins. We decided this journey was both spiritual and physical. We didn’t want anger, negativity, disappointment and hurt (all toxoids) to control our attitudes and emotions, to destroy our marriage and to infiltrate the lives of those who entered through our door. We didn’t want carcinogens and parabens to hide in our hygiene items. We didn’t want food like substances that have absolutely no nutritional value to enter our bodies through our diet. And we didn’t want cancer causing, poisonous cleaners to kill some germs on our surfaces while doing other damage to our bodies. We decided it was time for a change and took on the pursuit of a greener, more natural lifestyle. It started in a day, and we were going to change everything. We were no longer going to eat processed food, buy store bought cleaners, use pre-made, carcinogen filled hygiene items. Exhausting, right?!

Changing everything overnight is not a journey that I would encourage any of you to embark upon. What I would encourage you to do is to start taking baby steps. Today’s weekend warrior challenge is to try something new. We’re going to make a common household cleaner out of all natural products.

Rather than go out and buy 50 new products you may or may not use to bring about a more natural lifestyle, I simply want you to collect three items you probably have in your house already. Gather distilled water, rubbing alcohol, and white vinegar. If you don’t have distilled water, you can boil water, let it cool and use that. I also add essential oils to mine to mask the smell of the alcohol and vinegar but this is purely cosmetic and does not alter the cleaning capabilities of your product at all. (I didn’t list in the three original ingredients because I realize not everyone has this at home.)

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For this recipe, simply pour each ingredient into an empty 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 1 cup of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl).
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Add 1 cup of distilled water (or boiled water, then cooled).
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Add 2/3 cup of white vinegar.
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Add 30-40 drops of lemon essential oil.
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Now, shake, shake, SHAKE your bottle! And in less than 2 minutes, homemade window/glass cleaner.

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To print off the recipe used today, click HERE. Simply cut off the extra two and share them with someone you love!

Challenge Part Two

If you are the ultra-ambitious type, I want to extend your challenge. Once you have your window/glass cleaner made, I want you to count the number of rooms you have in your house and multiply this number by four. Now set your kitchen timer for that amount of minutes. For example, we have seven rooms multiplied by four. I will set my timer for twenty-eight minutes. Now get in there and speed clean the glass in your picture frames and mirrors. In less than a half hour (give or take a few minutes depending on house size), your entire house will have clean glass and mirrored surfaces! Ready, set, go!

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What about you? Have you ever made your own cleaning products? If not, what’s holding you back? If you completed either part of this challenge, check in below and tell the rest of us how it went. Also, if you have additional glass cleaner recipes, you can share those below.

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Ropa Vieja Recipe

ropa“Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.” ~ Proverbs 15:17

Ok, so I need a little more than just herbs to make me happy, but I love the sentiment of this verse. It doesn’t matter how fancy (or not fancy) the meal is if there is love; it’s still way better than the best meal where there is hatred. Our dinners are not overly fancy or complicated, but there is always love here!

Last week on our tenth wedding anniversary, I needed a meal with a whole lot of love! I didn’t need fancy. I didn’t need tons of sides. I just needed delicious! Since grass-fed, hormone free red meat is so expensive, we do not eat it very often in our house. But this was a special day, so I decided to give us a special treat of ropa vieja. A loose English translation from the Spanish favorite is “dirty laundry”. The idea is that whatever you have left will be good enough. A true reflection of Proverbs 15:17. With just a handful of ingredients, it’s fast, inexpensive and so good!

 

Heidi’s Ropa Vieja Recipe

Minutes to Prepare: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 hours
Number of Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pound of beef flank steak (or stew cubes)
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 cup of beef broth (or water)
1 jar (1 pound, 10 oz) of Ragu chunky tomato sauce ( I do the chunky tomato, onion, garlic)
1 green bell pepper or poblano pepper (seeded and chopped)
4 oz can of chopped green chilies
1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes (more for hotter, less for milder)
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Directions:
1) Sprinkle sea salt/pepper on meat and then sear meat in oil.
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2) Chop pepper and combine all ingredients except meat in the crock pot.
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3) Add meat and cover with sauce. Cook on low for 10 hrs (or high for 5 hrs).
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5) Serve over rice, with baked potato, or with side salad.
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Enjoy! And be sure to check back in and tell me what you thought of this dish!

Tuesday’s Tidy Tip: Suit Up

clothing“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.” ~ Proverbs 16:20

As Christian women, it is our duty to strive to run our homes wisely. Now our definitions of wisely may differ, but for me, a wisely run home is a well-organized, clean but comfortable house. I want my home to be clean enough that guests can stop over unannounced but not so clean that my family and friends worry about messing something up just because they kicked off their shoes, grabbed a quilt, and settled on the couch to read a good book or watch a movie. This is home. Comfort you can feel. Surfaces you can see.

How do you reach this point of having a wisely run household? Well, that’s a process. One I like to chat about here on the site and in my classes. The process may take some time, but I always remember the cliche “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither was creating the atmosphere I want in my home. Today, is not about the whole process but rather one minute detail that helps me to reach the desired end result. Today, I want to talk about using wisdom in the running of your household.

Any wise woman will tell you that the key to running a home is the correct tools. You cannot take a shower without a shower. You cannot sweep the floor without a bag in your sweeper. You cannot wash dishes without water. You cannot dust a surface without a dust rag. You cannot run a household without the proper wardrobe! Say what? Some of you are cheering — clothes and accessories are your dear friends! Others of are you more skeptical, but I wan to gently encourage you to hear me out on this one. If you want your home to be run with wisdom (and your view of a wisely run home is similar to mine), then you need to achieve the highest level of success when you schedule cleaning time. The “tool” here is dressing the part.

If you have a big interview for an executive position, you would wear a suit to the interview. You would want the interviewer to see that you were a serious candidate, one who understands the significance of the role and the value of presentation. If you work in a doctor’s office in any of the positions where you  help the patients, you are required to wear scrubs. If you came into the room in jeans, a t-shirt and flip flops, the patient probably wouldn’t take you seriously and wouldn’t allow you to examine them. Clothing matters simply because it tells people the nature of your position.

When you are cleaning your house, you need to convince yourself that YOU MEAN BUSINESS, that your productivity matters. As I already said, the right clothes help put you in the mood or the mindset of whatever you are doing. If you get up and start working in pajamas, when you get a little bit tired, it will be very easy to hop back into bed or lay down on the couch for a few minutes. Before you know it, the day has slipped away. Pajamas put you in the mindset of rest. Instead, you need to jump into the work. Nothing makes that easier than “suiting up for the job”. To do this, you want to put on real clothes (it’s ok if they are work-out clothes), comb your hair and put on lace-up tennis shoes (not the kind you can kick off).

Outfits are not complete without shoes and tennis shoes make or brake this outfit. In addition to making you feel ready to work, they allow you to do the 100+ little jobs that you would put off if you weren’t wearing shoes. The trash bag is full, so you can carry it to the car. The bills need to be mailed, so you can run around the corner to the post office drop box and mail them. You have a box of yard sale items priced for next month’s yard sale, so you carry them on to the garage and out of your living space. You have a bag of clothes ready for the Goodwill, you can load them directly in the car. Finally your tennis shoes make you less likely to climb in bed or settle down on the couch and put your feet up. You would have to take them off first which gives you time to evaluate if that really is the best direction to take or if you would rather keep cleaning just a little bit longer.
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Today’s lesson is simple but oh so powerful. Tell yourself that you are ready to move mountains and show yourself you mean business by dressing the part. Today’s Tuesday Tidy Tip is to suit up and jump into running a wise household! Try it and tell me what you think!

 

Weekend Warrior Challenge: It’s Driving Me Crazy!

couch3“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1

We all have that one thing (maybe more than one for some of us!) in our house that is driving us crazy. Laying in bed at night, you are thinking about it. First thing in the morning, it pops back into your mind. In the middle of a conversation, someone says something and an image of your issue floats through your line of vision. Some of us toss and turn all night long because it is wearing heavy upon us. Some may even dream about it. I know a few years ago, the mess in my house tormented me so greatly that I had nightmares of unannounced, horrified, condescending visitors!

Lately my “crazy spot” has been the couch in the library. A few weeks ago someone was at my house, and we were sitting on the couch. In the course of the visit, their pencil rolled between the cushions. Offering to get it, I reached my hand under the couch. I expected to feel the cool touch of the mechanical pencil’s plastic; instead I got crumbs, change and a paperclip. Pretending not to find these things, I pulled out the pencil hoping it wouldn’t be covered in loose debris. Thankfully it was not. We left after that and I didn’t have time to deal with the mess I had felt. I haven’t really had any time since then to deal with it, and yet now it’s tormenting me.
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Well, today’s the day we do something about it! This week’s Weekend Warrior Challenge is to tackle your “crazy spot.” Look at your calendar and schedule an adequate amount of time to get in there and destroy your crazy. I’m keeping it simple today so there are no excuses. Just get in there and get busy!
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As some of you have asked for this, I will try to give you a little bit of a preview to some of my Upcoming Posts. I may not catch everything, but here’s hoping! Tuesday I will be discussing the importance of wardrobe selection in regards to household maintenance and Wednesday, I have a delicious recipe you won’t want to miss!

Meanwhile, what’s your “crazy spot”? How long will it take you to conquer the chaos and reclaim the space? Be sure to stop back by and update the rest of us on your progress.

 

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.
earrings bracelets gear

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 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!
cleanoven

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

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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.
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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.
baskets10 baskets9 baskets8 baskets2   baskets11

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.
jarsclothespins cottonballs

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.)
envelope

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.
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.
hooks hooks2

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.
icetray

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.
deskjars

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.
kleeenex

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.
lingeriebag

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.
magrack

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.
napkinholder

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.
picher wire

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.
pillowsincase

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.
canisters canisters2 canisters3

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).
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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).
hat  coats coatrack

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.
underbed

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?

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