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“clut-ter:

1. A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble”

One of the most effective ways to keep your life simple is to purge your home of clutter.  People spend hours upon hours managing their “stuff,” and for what?  Most of it is stuff we don’t even need or use!  I want to spend my time and efforts on my family and my life, not on the care and keeping of the junk in my life.  This kind of flies in the face of my thrifting obsession, but not really.  I try to employ a “one bag in, one bag out” policy in those situations.

I found this great idea this morning, and although Lent has already begun, I think I may be able to catch up.  My basement and closets desperately need to be purged.  What a lovely way to ensure a clutter-free Easter!  Just in time for a nice Spring Cleaning!  I have 2 bags filled just from my linen closet!

One decluttering method that works very well for me is “puttering.”  If you don’t putter around your house and actually look to see what areas need help, you will just continue to add to the pile and it will grow into an insurmountable problem.  Puttering is my answer to that.  First, I either turn on some music or call a friend/sister.  This gives me something pleasurable to focus on while I putter around my home.  Then I get started.  Often the distraction is so helpful that I get off the phone or emerge from crooning along to my favorite songs to realize wow, I just cleaned this whole room and I don’t remember doing it.  This may just be testimony to how 4 kids in 5 years makes you lose your mind, but I prefer to think of it as distraction working quite well, thank you.  An example of puttering could be reorganizing your bathroom cupboard, decluttering your work desk, cleaning out your fridge or organizing a closet.  I usually choose jobs that I seriously detest doing, not my usual daily cleaning tasks.

Living in a small home means we simply cannot hold on to every little thing we’ve ever owned or ever will own.  That includes the clothes that our kids grow out of.  For awhile I labeled and stored every item of clothing my children wore, but as our family grew, this became too much.  I switched to saving only the things that were in perfect condition, but even this became too much to hang on to.  The truth is, even if I did have a baby of the same gender as 0ne of the older children, there were no guarantees that the seasons would be correct anyway.  I began handing off clothes to friends.  So far things seem to find their way back, often mixed with outfits from other families as well, when a new baby warrants it.  I’d rather have my kids clothes used by others than stored in a basement.  It works well for us.

The best part of keeping your home clutter-free is how quickly you can clean your home, and how long it stays clean.  I can usually tell when my children have too many clothes and too many toys by how messy their rooms are.  Obviously they are children and are going to make messes, but if my daughter can throw 25 shirts on the floor in her quest for the perfect outfit, there is something wrong.

Here is a quick list of suggestions:

2 sets of sheets per bed. – this may not be necessity if you are single and tend to wash your sheets and put them right back on, but having kids can mean middle of the night messes.  Its nice to not have to do laundry in the middle of the night!

2 towels/washclothes per person in the family.

Keep your kitchen counters clear of appliances.  Keep only what you absolutely need and make sure each item has a “place” in the cabinet. (coffee makers may stay out).

File your papers/bills/bank statements weekly to cut down on surface clutter.

Employ “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Try to have “only” 1 junk drawer.

If you have a spouse who is prone to setting his/her random clutter all over your house, get a few baskets and set them around.  That way it doesn’t look so awful, and you can quickly grab the basket and put the things away when you get a chance.

Recycle, yet, but don’t be afraid to throw things out.  Socks with holes?  Toss.  Old toothbrushes? Toss.  Some of these may be a given, but if you are like me and really don’t like throwing away something that might be useful, it can be hard to figure out what to do.

As an organizational/large family thing, I like to have certain items in gender-neutral tones to cut down on what we have to have on hand.  Mittens in multiple sizes, snow boots, hoodies, etc., I prefer ones that are red, navy or grey so everyone is willing to wear them.

This post is entirely too long.  Please feel free to post any additional tips!

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There are loads and loads of laundry to be washed, bathrooms that really could use a good cleaning, beds that need to be made and a glorious pile of dress up clothes that threatens to swallow us all if not sorted through soon.  There is dinner to be thought of and made, kitchen floor in need of mopping, toys scattered hither and yon and art supplies from the ceiling to the basement.

And yet…

Weekends are for making babies laugh, letting kids fingerpaint, cheering on Mario Kart championships, braiding hair, singing songs, reading poems, watching the snow melt, eating cookies, writing letters, embroidery, holding close, slowing down, laying in a sunspot,  watching Spring unfurl, visiting Grandma and gathering up the moments in a big bouquet of happiness.  You know, the important things.

Its easy for me to be distracted by the work of life and forget to embrace the messy chaos of every day miracles.  Today I’m focusing on what matters.

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Big news!  I have a plan in mind for my next review/giveaway.  I am working with a work-at-home mama to 4 lovely children to bring this next giveaway to you.  Be prepared to have fun!  Also if you have any ideas for a giveaway that you’d like to see in the future, please comment or send me an email.  I always love hearing from you!

I’m generally a “can do” person.  I see things others do an I think “hmmmm I bet I could do that!”  I credit my Mom with this positive attitude and outlook on life.  It has come to my aid many times over the years and helped me to excel at things (with the necessary dosage of elbow grease, of course).  However, in one area I think I may need to admit defeat.  Here is my confession:

I can not for the life of me make a cake.  Believe me, I’ve tried!  I love to bake and to work around the kitchen, and generally I am a pretty good cook.  When it comes to cakes, I don’t know what happens.  They almost always stick to my nonstick pans, despite me greasing them up an/or using parchment paper.  After that they begin a slow crumble while I feverishly work to get them assembled.  Then they further crumble while I try to frost them, little bits of crumbs mixing with the frosting to decorate the cake.  UGH.  I had such a horrific cake wreck last year on my husbands birthday that I called my cousin in tears, telling her I wasn’t sure what message my dilapidated mess would convey to my dear husband (“you WRECKED my life”? “I think you are a disaster”?  Too horrible to think!).  I jokingly told her I wasn’t sure my marriage would survive such a disaster of a cake.  She came to my rescue with strawberries and whipped cream to hide what was now 2 halves of a cake.  I should have taken a picture.  If my skills weren’t so pathetic and sad, it would almost be funny.  So now, of course, it is Valentines Day, and its been just long enough since my last cake wreck that I was feeling stupidly confident.  “Lets make a cake and surprise Daddy!”  I wish I could surprise him with a beautiful Valentines cake.  As it is, we may have just enough time to cut out paper hearts to stick all over it to disguise the monstrosity that lies underneath.  I will continue to live in fear of baking cakes, asking my relatives to bake birthday cakes for my kids, or even ordering them from a bakery!  Admitting defeat.  One thing I simply cannot do: Bake a cake.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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We’ve had a few wild and crazy days (emphasis on the crazy!).  February is indeed here, with all of its lovely cabin-fever charm.  It has definitely been a challenge to keep the kids directed towards meaningful pursuits and away from using one another as entertainment.  I have to say I am incredibly thankful for the SNOW we had this week – it has proved to be a hot commodity with my children, a happy diversion.  Today alone they have been out at least 5 times each, coming in to warm up for a bit before heading out again.   I know I say this a lot, but my heart longs for Spring!

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Well it is finally Wednesday so I can show you all what I’ve been working on.  First, we have F’s birthday dress.  This is technically still a WIP since it lacks straps and the elastic threaded through the bodice.  It was an insanely quick knit.  I made the size 2T based on chest measurements.

Still unblocked, so a bit odd looking

a “Little Red” for F

These are my current “WIP”‘s.  I’m hoping to dig out from all of this crazy snow and head to the fabric shop for some elastic thread so I can finish F’s dress.  Then I’ll cast on for D’s and start all over again!

We were hammered with snow last night so today it is a winter wonderland outside!  F loves snow so much, she couldn’t want to get out in it.

The rest of us decided to stay indoors where it is warm and work on some Valentines.  D is my artist, so she was working especially hard.

So much love…

In the kitchen, I made some wonderful Snow Day soup.  We eat a lot of soup, stew and chili here, especially during the winter months.  My family loves soup and I love that most of it is very healthy, can be made inexpensively and can be altered to fit whatever you have on hand.  Today I used a few leftover chicken breasts, cut up potatoes, onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, garlic and added some chick peas as well.  I used chicken stock I had leftover and saved (always save your chicken stock!), although you could use some bullion cubes.  I love that soup can be left simmering all day and eaten whenever someone is hungry.  This helps a lot during our Midweek when mealtimes are not as regular as during our normal weekdays.  Add to it some homemade bread or biscuits and you have a lovely warm meal for a cold snow day.

Off to enjoy my family!  Happy Midweek!

While everyone else in the working world is anxiously looking forward to 5pm and the beginning of their weekend, I am slogging through what is now my Monday.  Although it usually takes me a bit longer to get moving on Mon(Fri)days, I’ve been trying to transform my perspective from “Manic” to “Marvelous!”

Getting back into the swing of the week is not only hard for Mamas, but can be for the kidlets as well.  They are coming down from a Midweek full of snuggling with Daddy on the couch watching movies, playing and largely ignoring chores (would that I could be so lucky!).  Beginning a day of picking up where we left off, cleaning up after lots of lazy fun and refocusing our energies on what needs to be done can be quite a drag to little people.  I’m trying to raise spirits of everyone by baking some yummy treats, reading through our stack of library books, taking a jaunt through the neighborhood and hopefully giving every one naps (or at least quiet time!).

In the kitchen, I’m making a simple bean and ham soup for dinner with some baking powder biscuits to go along.  We still have some leftovers from a few nights this week, so those will probably be making a (re)appearance tonight as well.  Last night I actually pulled off a Teryaki Chicken stir fry, which I’ve never made before.  It was quick and easy and so delicious!  I made enough  for J to take for lunch as well as some extra for me.  It was a bit spicy for the kids, but the adults loved it!

Beans soaking, waiting to be made into soup!

I’ve been having a lovely mail week full of packages!  First a love package from my older sister in Connecticut full of novels, a new corduroy skirt and sweater, makeup, chocolate and of course something for the littles.  Next, my beautiful stack of Anna Maria fabric just begging to be made up into something cozy and warm.  Lastly, a big box full of yarn, not all for me, but still so pretty and full of possibilities.  So excited to see what it all becomes!

Oh so pretty!

drool!

Lastly, I wanted to share a few projects I finished in the last few days.  First, I adapted this hat from a sweater pattern I have made.  I love the button closure.  It is so incredibly stretchy, I tried it on every single one of my kids and it fit!  Albiet a bit snug on the 6 year old and a bit loose on the 10 month old, but still, pretty impressive!

on the 2 year old

on the four year old

on the 6 year old

I also quickly knit up these mittens.  The Cestari Merino is nice and thick, so they are super warm.  I think if they were lanolinized they would also be pretty water proof.

All in all, fun little projects.  Now that the yarn is here though, no more fun and games!  I have to make the girls’ birthday dresses and have about 6 weeks to do it in.  Stay tuned!


Our “Midweek” is really our “Weekend,” meaning Wednesday and Thursday are when Daddy is home!  Here are some of our Midweek Meanderings from yesterday.

A successful trip to our nearby Thrift Store yielded this lovely find!  Betsy Tacy and Gone Away Lake, both on my previous List of Books for Girls, 20 cents a piece.

Some of our finds at the local Library.  I was especially thrilled to find “The Creative Family” By Amanda Blake Soule, which I had been wanting to take a peek into.

I stumbled across this set up this morning, before my sleep head girls were even up for the day.  I love finding the evidence of imagination taking place around my home!

I’ve got some WIPs that I want to share with you, but other things are demanding my attention at the moment!  I will get some pictures and put them up later.

Have a lovely Midweek!

On this, the first day of the worst month of the year, when the chaos and cabin fever reached a new level while I was (un)successfully attempting to prepare for tomorrow’s co-op (which I did not procrastinate on, oh no, not me…), we stumbled upon buried treasure.  You see, someone was neglecting their children (wouldn’t know anything about that…) with the electronic babysitter all.day. and it was no longer working.  Worse, said person was feeling just a tad bit guilty that “homeschool” today meant “leave mama alone, she’s working.”  Then I remembered something.  Something I forgot I had.  Something I had put away for a “rainy (do tears count?) day” when the kids were old enough not to mess with it.  Well, they may not be old enough yet, but I was desperate.  I rushed down to the basement, nearly capsized a colossal mountain of boxes and then finally found it, blew the dust off the box and carried it upstairs.  I turned off the TV, took both girls by the hand and sat them down on the carpet.  And then I set this up:

Complete with about 25-30 books and records.  Do you remember these?  I had the cassette tape version when I was growing up.  My Mother in law gifted this to us a few years ago and we had tried it once with our oldest…he had messed with the record player too much so I put it away.

Nostalgia hit me as soon as we opened the box.  I remembered rainy days, laying on my stomach and pouring over a book, dutifully turning the page “…when you hear the chimes ring, like this *chime*.”

I so enjoy reliving my childhood through them.

(ignore the blurry feet, they were furiously kicking)

Something tells me that this February might not be so bad.  If things do start to go south, I’ll just whip out our buried treasure.

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