This poor series has been dragged on for nine months (it’s not a coincidence that it’s as long as I was pregnant, either!), but here: here is the final installment!  My last word about cloth diapers! (Please excuse the lack of pictures)

Since I dispelled some nasty misconceptions about cloth diapers and explained why cloth diapers are so beautiful to me, I’m now going to explain pretty much everything else I can think of about cloth diapers. 

If I leave some questions unanswered, please ask them and I will try to answer!

How We Use Cloth Diapers (. . . and some other info)

1. What cloth diapers do you use?

We use (only because a dear friend of mine uses them and I figured she’d done enough research for both of us! ;) Fuzzi Bunz one-size diapers.  There are about a thousand different types and brands to use, but I love our Fuzzi Bunz!  The reason we opted for one-sized diapers is because we didn’t want to have to buy more and more diapers as Luke grew.  Instead, our diapers grow with him.

I’ve heard that they’re too bulky for newborns (and so leaking is an issue), but we used disposables for the first 3 months of Luke’s life (because they are just easier) and so I had never tested them on him as a newborn.  After having tried to use them with our new little girl, Elizabeth, I would have to agree with what I had heard–we won’t be trying her in cloth diapers for a month or so more.

Do you use a different type?  A different brand?  Which cloth diapers are your favorite?

2. How many cloth diapers do I need?

We had 18 with one child.  We need to change Luke’s diaper about 4-5 times each day, so 18 diapers lasts us about 3 days.  Of course there are blowouts and extra poopies and whatnot, but 2½-3 days was about right.  That’s good enough for me!

Now, with Elizabeth, we need some more.  We’ll probably get about 6 more, for a total of 24, once we start using them on her.  That will mean laundry about every other day, which will only last for a time, so it’s okay with me! :)

Of course the more diapers you have, the less laundry you will do, so you just have to decide how often you’d like to do laundry.

How many do you have?  What works for you?

3. Ok, that’s a lot of laundry.  Isn’t it really expensive to use all that water and energy?

. . . I don’t know.  This is a concern that one of my closest friends brings up every time we talk about cloth diapers and I honestly haven’t looked into it at all.  It seems like it just can’t cost so much extra electricity and water that it makes disposable diapers and cloth diapers cost the same in the end.

In a previous post I figured that you make up your money in about a year by using cloth diapers.  Oh, and you can use them for more than one child.  Oh, and you diaper a baby for more than 1 year.  I can’t imagine that the cost of electricity and water (from doing those extra laundries) would cost so much that it wouldn’t be worth it in the end. 

Has anyone done the math?  Is it still worth it?

4. What system works best for you?

We have Luke’s stack of diapers in a box on his changing table.  They are already set to the proper size.  Usually the inserts are not in the pocket, but it’s easy just to slip them in when it’s changing time.  We use both the big insert and the small insert every time.  We double up the small insert so he has three layers of inserts in the front of his diaper.

After the old diaper comes off, we set it aside and diaper him up.  Then, if the old diaper is dirty, we take it to the toilet, drop the poo in the toilet, take the inserts out, rinse the diapers in cold water in the bathroom sink, then take the diaper (and the inserts) to the utility room where we deposit them in a trashcan (with a lid).  We have 2 Planet Wise washable diaper pail liners we use as trash bags.

When the trashcan is full (or we’re running out of diapers), we dump the contents (with the liner) into the washer, wash with hot water, rinse twice with cool water (this is to be sure to get any build-up rinsed out–this has helped us eliminate any leaks), then dry on low.

When they’re done drying we organize them into three piles: 1. diapers, 2. small inserts, 3. big inserts, and then put them back in their proper place on Luke’s changing table.  It’s as easy as that!

Do you use a different system that works for your family?  What do you do?

5. What detergent do you use to wash your cloth diapers?

We use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, but there are several other good detergents.  Often the cloth diaper company you use will sell a detergent that they endorse.  Charlie’s Soap is also good.  Basically you don’t want any additives, softeners, whiteners, brighteners, and such.

I’ve used the Dr. Bronner’s based solution that I use on our clothing on the diapers before and it seemed to irritate Luke’s skin.  So now I just use straight Dr. Bronner’s on the diapers (about a ¼ cup per load).

What do you use?  What’s worked for you?  What hasn’t worked?

6. All this talk about natural diapers–what do you do for wipes?

Until very recently we just used disposable, commercial wipes.  With all the traveling and ups and downs of the last year, worrying about cloth diapers alone was enough for me.  Wipes can get expensive, though, and I was always a bit concerned about what was actually on the wipes and what I was wiping all over Luke’s booty.

We have a couple cloth wipes that were given to us, but we only have two or three and obviously it would take a lot more than that (like 2-3 dozen) to use them for real.  If we had more, though, I would store them in water with a squirt or 2 of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild solution in an old wipes container.  After each use I’d just throw them in with the cloth diapers.  Easy peasy. :)

A few of my friends have done something very similar to the above and have made their own cloth wipesHere’s how Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking made hers.

Several months ago I found a great homemade, disposable, frugal alternative to store-bought wipes.  I found it on Pinterest, but here’s the link to the original post.  It’s really so easy:

Homemade Disposable Baby Wipes

You’ll need:

  • 2 tupperwares (I use the Rubbermaid Lock-its 7 cup container)
  • 1 roll of paper towels (word is that Bounty Select-a-size is by far the best choice)
  • a clean, large, sharp, non-serrated knife
  • 4 cups water
  • a Tbsp. or 2 of coconut oil (if it’s in its solid state, heat it up with a bit of the water on the stove til it melts)
  • a squirt or 2 of a safe baby wash (this is optional, as the coconut oil is anti-bacterial, microbial, and fungal–but, I would use a tiny bit of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild if I used anything else at all)
  1. Cut paper towel roll in half. Set aside.

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  2. Make the solution: Combine water, coconut oil, and baby wash (optional) in a bowl and stir gently.
  3. Pour the solution evenly into the two containers (about 2 cups into each).

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  4. Place the paper towel rolls (cut side down) into the containers.  They seem too big, but they’re not!
  5. Scrunch the paper towels down and shut the lid.  Turn the containers upside down and walk away for 5 minutes.

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  6. After 5 minutes open them up, gently pull the saturated cardboard rolls out from the centers.

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  7. Pull the inside towel out a little bit so you can easily grab it.  Close the lid and you’re good to go!

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I love these wipes because they’re easy, super frugal, and they last for a long time (this recipe will last 1-2 weeks).  The original author suggests only making two containers at a time–more than that and they may get yucky.

So what do you think?  Have you tried something like this before? Do you have suggestions?

7. What (if any) diaper rash cream do you use?

Well.  On Christmas Eve we spent a few hours in the E.R. because Luke’s groin area was super red and super swollen and seemed like it hurt a LOT.  The doctor prescribed an oral antibiotic and said we should use Desitin.*  So we did.  The rash went away quickly using the Desitin and the swelling subsided because of the antibiotics.

Obviously, these remedies were not my first choice, but it was pretty serious there for a while.

When we’re not afraid about whether we’ll ever have grandchildren or not, we use coconut oil mixed with a few drops of lavender essential oil.  The essential oil keeps the coconut oil in a paste form and it works quicker than anything else we’ve ever tried (Eucerin, Butt Paste, etc.). Oh, and it’s really inexpensive!

What do you use? 

*A note about cloth diapers & Desitin: DON’T DO IT!  The Desitin leaves the cloth diapers smelling like fish (cod liver oil, to be exact), and it’s nearly impossible to get out.  If, like we were, you’re wondering how to get the nasty smell out of your cloth diapers, the best way is to scrub (for several minutes . . . like 15-20) the diapers with the original blue Dawn dish-washing soap.  Then wash them several times.  You may need to do this more than once.  What a pain!

8. What about traveling?  How do you use cloth diapers on the road (or just out and about?)

Whenever Luke’s going to stay with someone else (including when he’s in the nursery at church) we use disposable diapers & commercial disposable wipes.  These sweet friends are doing us a service and if they’re not used to cloth diapers (or even if they are), no one wants to deal with someone else’s kid’s poop more than absolutely necessary.

But, around town or when we go on trips as a family, we still use cloth diapers.  These are the items we have to make this possible:

  • 2 washable wet-bags- Ok, trash bags would work for this, but that’s a lot of trash bags, which can add up!  Planet Wise makes washable wet bags that are super cute.  Here’s a link to making wet bags yourself, if you’d rather.  We keep 1 in the diaper bag/car and just throw the dirty diapers in them to deal with them when we get home.
  • travel sized wipes container- We put some of the homemade wipes in the travel sized container.  It seals tight enough that they stay fresh for long enough.  If the trip will be longer than just running around town, we bring a whole tub of the homemade wipes with us.
  • If we’ll need to wash the diapers while away from home (like when we’re on a vacation lasting more than a couple of days), we bring the Planet Wise diaper pail liners, sometimes the trash can (although you obviously wouldn’t have to), and a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds.

There! I believe that I have officially dispensed all of my cloth diapering knowledge on you.  I’m sure I missed some things or was confusing.  For that reason, here are a few links to two of my favorite blogs (Passionate Homemaking & Desiring Virtue) to help round-out my series:

Helpful links about cloth diapers:

So there we are. This poor little series is done!  I hope you learned something and if cloth diapers have grossed you out in the past, maybe you’re giving them a second thought.

Did I leave anything out?  Do you have suggestions?  Questions?  Please leave them in the comments!

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Now that the excitement of Christmas is over are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of money you just spent on all that fun!?  We are–that’s for sure.  We were not exactly what you’d call frugal (or prepared) this past year for the myriad of things Christmastime asks us to spend money on.  This year, though, things are going to be different! (or at least that’s the plan ;)

Last year my sweet friend, Monica, at A Godly Heritage, featured this great Christmas budget that she found over at Simple Mom. It has a line for pretty much every item that you will ever need (and a bunch of “others” that you can fill in yourself) within every category you could ever think of.  It’s amazing.

I remember when Monica originally posted the budget.  I thought, “Wow, that’s great!  We should use it!”  And then we didn’t.  And now we’re hurting.

But this year!  This year will be different!  It’s only January!  That means we have 12 months to save for Christmas 2012!  I’m excited to see if we can be disciplined and actually save each month–we shall see! :)

Do you budget for Christmas?  Do you wish you did?  What system works for your family?

Three months ago, before I fell off the planet, I began a series about my most favorite frugal find for babies–cloth diapers.  “Find” makes it seem like I’m one of the only people in the world who know about them.  Not true.  In fact, cloth diapers seem to be making quite a come-back.  If you’re curious about them and all they entail, this is the place for you.  First, check out my post on the Ugly Misconceptions about cloth diapers that I tried to Expel.  Today I’ll simply be discussing why they are so beautiful to me.

The Reasons Cloth Diapers are so Beautiful

1. They save a TON of money

Last time I discussed in detail how cloth diapers save us money over the “normal” disposable diapers.  Here is what I wrote on the subject then:

The average cloth diaper, after tax & shipping & whatnot, is about $20 each.  For one child you need about 18 (for two, I’ve heard 24 works well).  So that’s $360.

Now think about disposable diapers.  Each package is like $50 for 275 diapers (and that’s a pretty good deal).  So you can buy 2,000 disposable diapers for the same $360 you could buy cloth diapers for.  How long will it take you to go through 2,000 disposable diapers?  Let’s say you change a diaper every 3 hours and your baby sleeps for 12 hours each day.  That’s 5 diapers a day (this is a low estimation).  So in 400 days, which is about 13 months, you’d easily make up the money you’ve spent on cloth diapers.

Remember, though, you’re going to use more than 5 diapers a day and this was just for 1 child.  (For instance, if you use 6 diapers a day, those 2,000 disposable diapers will only last you 11 months for one child).

If I were honest, this is really the only reason we decided to go with cloth diapers.  That is, that they were less expensive than disposables.  And really, I think that’s reason enough that they’re beautiful.  However, after having used them for a year, there are a few other reasons they are so lovely to me.

2. I just feel good using them

There’s just something about not creating a million pounds of waste that makes me feel good.   Re-using things (in this case, diapers), just makes me feel helpful.  That’s all :)

3. They’re just so darn cute

I mean, seriously, they are so cute.  I love picking out a color that will match Luke’s shirt and letting him run around in just a colorful little diaper all day (in the summer, of course).  They’re just fun, ok!? :)

4. They keep little bottoms from getting diaper rashes

Because they’re natural and don’t have who-knows-what in them, little booties are much happier!  If you’ve ever been around a baby with a bad diaper rash you know how sad it is–it’s our experience that cloth diapers keep Luke from getting near as many rashes as he does when he wears disposable diapers.

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to sell these in any other way.  The main reason cloth diapers are so wonderful is because they are so frugal, and like I said–that’s reason enough to use them!

Do you have any questions?  Comments?  Suggestions?  Tell us why cloth diapers are beautiful to you!

Next time: How we use cloth diapers

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  Yay for Thanksgiving!  I admit I’ve done absolutely nothing that I wanted to do in preparation for this holiday!  Oh well, this just isn’t the year for it.  At the end of this post I’ve listed two articles with ideas that I can’t wait to implement next year and I hope will be helpful to you in cultivating a thankful Thanksgiving.

Our Perfect Turkey

I have never been a big fan of turkey.  It’s always been dry and chewy to me.  This includes when people say, “Oh, here, this is the best turkey you’ll ever taste.”  I just very rarely like it.  A few years ago my dad began frying our Thanksgiving turkeys and while it was much better than the traditional roasted type of bird, we used a lot of oil to get that thing cooked.  This year he’s trying a no-oil frying method.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m excited to taste it.

H-E-B has had a deal for a few weeks (it ends on the 24th!) where if you buy a spiral sliced ham, you get a 12 lb. turkey for free!  As soon as we heard about it we ran to H-E-B, bought the best ham ever, and got our turkey for free.  I found what promises to be the best way to cook a turkey here, and I must say: it turned out mighty yummy!  And so here are the instructions, for you, if you’d like to try Our Perfect Turkey. :)

The main difference between this recipe and all others is that with this recipe, when you cook the bird, you put it breast side down.

You will need:

  • 1 turkey
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil or butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery
  • 2 carrots
  • parsley
  • sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (optional)
  1. Bring turkey to room temperature.  Let it sit out in a pan (in the original plastic) so that any juices will fall into the pan and not onto your counter.
  2. Remove plastic wrapping.  Remove the neck and giblets (I know . . . ).  The original recipe has a link on how to use the heart and gizzard to make stock for stuffing and links on how to use all the gizzards to make gravy or a turkey soup.
  3. If the turkey has plastic ties holding the legs together, you probably don’t need to remove them to cook (check the package instructions).  If you take the ties off, you should tie the legs back up before cooking with kitchen string.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400  degrees F.
  5.  Wash turkey and pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Lather the inside with the juice from half a lemon.   Rub a small handful of salt all over inside.
  7. Also inside the cavity, put half a yellow onion, peeled and quartered, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery.  You may need to lay a piece of aluminum foil in there to keep everything inside.  Make sure the legs are tied tight, the wings are tied up close to the body, and the neck cavity is tied closed.
  8. Rub olive oil or butter all over the outside of the turkey.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on the outside as well.
  9. Put the turkey breast down on the bottom rack of your oven in a roasting pan.  Cooking it this way makes all the juices fall down into the breasts.  Add a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme if you have them to the outside of the turkey.
  10. Check the cooking directions on the original packaging.  This is the tricky part.  For our 12 pound turkey we cooked it for 3 hours. (That’s 15 minutes for every pound.) For the first half an hour it baked at 400 degrees.  Then for the next hour and a half, we lowered the temperature to 350 degrees.  Then, for the final hour, we lowered it even more to 225 degrees.
  11. Start taking the temperature (using a meat thermometer) every once in a while from about an hour before the turkey should be done.  Check the dark meat (the thighs) and the white meat (the breasts.)  The dark meat needs to reach 175 degrees F eventually, while the white should be 165 degrees F in the end.  Because the turkey will continue to get hotter after you remove it from the oven, you can take it out of the oven when the dark meat is 170 degrees F and the white 160 degrees F.  If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut deep into the breast–the juices should be clear, not pink.
  12. Once you take the turkey from the oven, let it sit 15-20 minutes, turn it breast side up, carve, serve, and enjoy!

Fabulous Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes.  I really do.  They’re such a wonderful treat and so good for you, too!  The following isn’t really a recipe as much as it is the easiest thing you’ve ever done to make the best sweet potatoes of your life–sans marshmallows!

  • about 1 1/2 sweet potatoes for each person eating (for instance, if you’re serving 6 people, you need 9 sweet potatoes–you’ll have left-overs, but that’s the point of Thanksgiving dinner, right ;)
  • butter
  • cinnamon
  1. Boil sweet potatoes.  (You can either peel them, leave the skins on because they’re good for you, or wait and peel them after they’ve been boiled)
  2. Place quartered or sliced sweet potatoes in enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Drain right away.
  3. If you left the skins on and want to remove them now, submerge them under cold water and they should come off easily.
  4. Mash the potatoes all up in a bowl or right in whatever you’re going to serve them in.
  5. Add butter–I don’t know how much–they taste wonderful without butter, too, so it doesn’t really matter.  Just put a little in, taste it, and do whatever you want!
  6. Sprinkle and mix in some cinnamon to taste.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

I love this recipe because it’s so easy and it tastes so good and it’s relatively good for you (depending upon how much butter you add, of course).

Some Thanksgiving Reads

Just because I haven’t done anything special for Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean I haven’t read about things other people are doing!  Here are two great articles dedicated to focusing on being thankful during Thanksgiving:

That’s all for this week!  I’ll be spending the rest of the week celebrating with my sweet family.  I pray you focus on all the blessings God has given you (mostly, Jesus!) this week as you cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in your home.  Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is linked to

Menu Planning Mayhem

over at Desiring Virtue.

Probably for most of you when you think about cloth diapers the last thing you think about is beauty.  However, for those of us who have experienced cloth diapering, “beauty” really isn’t that far off from the truth.  There are so many wonderful things about clothing those cute little booties with soft, soft cloth and bright, sweet colors!  Not convinced?  Well maybe I can help.

Today I’m going to expel some ugly misconceptions associated with cloth diapering, next week I’ll explain how beautiful it really can be, and the following week I’ll give you the 401 on how to use cloth diapers–which ones we use, why we use them, how we use them, etc.  I’ll even show you some options that we don’t use!  My hope is not necessarily to convert you to a life of cloth diapering, but just to educate.  

Some Ugly Misconceptions Expelled

1. You have to touch poop all the time.

Ok, so it’s true that you have to deal with poop more than you might while using disposable diapers, but it’s really not nearly as bad as you might think.

When there’s a dirty diaper you simply drop the waste into the toilet (without touching it) and then rinse the diaper under cool water.  You might sometimes need to scrub a bit and your fingers may come into contact with some poop, but seriously.  That’s what soap is for.  It doesn’t take long to get over it, either–trust me.

2. You have to constantly be washing the diapers.

This was the thing I was most concerned with.  I mean, I really don’t care for laundry.  However, we have 18 diapers and I wash them every third(ish) day.  It doesn’t seem like that often at all.  It’s a quick load and it’s easy to grab them out of the dryer and put them back where they go.

3. You have to hand-wash them.

I suppose there may be brands of cloth diapers out there that you can only hand-wash, but for the brand we use (and all of the ones I’ve ever looked into) this is not the case.  I have used my washer and dryer to clean our diapers for almost a year and they are still in great condition.

4. You have to use super-expensive soap to wash them.

Ok, it’s true that the brand of cloth diapers we use recommends using a detergent that is not full of chemicals.  But since I use a natural detergent for my laundry anyway, we already have the proper soap on hand.

I think the thing that worries people about natural soap is that it is too expensive.  However, that’s just not the case.  Natural soap, although it often comes in large quantities and so might be more expensive up-front, is almost always cheaper in the long run (and better for you anyway).

5. They get really gross and dirty looking really fast.

I suppose if you let them sit for days cloth diapers might end up getting bad stains on them and looking gross after a while, but my diapers still look almost new.

6. They give babies diaper rashes worse than disposable diapers.

I’ve heard this, but I don’t understand it.  It just doesn’t make sense and it’s not my experience.  The only thing I can think is that a new little booty might get a bad diaper rash if the cloth diapers being used are getting washed in a detergent that is too harsh.  Our experience is that Luke gets far more rashes when using disposable than cloth diapers.

7. They don’t hold as much waste as disposable diapers.

There might be something to this if you keep a diaper on for hours and hours.  However, we’ve had the same number of “blow-outs” or “leaks” you would expect with disposable diapers when we change the cloth diaper every 3-4 hours.

It’s true that for a while we were getting leaks on the inside thigh, but we figured that out: I wasn’t rinsing them well enough and so there was build-up.  (gross, I know . . . I’ll explain more about that later in this series)

Overnight is a different story, though.  In fact, because Luke pees so much and sleeps so long during the night we’ve started using a disposable at night.  Even that one diaper a day, though, still keeps the cost under what we would be spending if we only used disposable diapers.

8. They are too expensive.

This, I think is the misconception I’ve heard most.  They are expensive up-front, it’s true.  The average cloth diaper, after tax & shipping & whatnot, is about $20 each.  For one child you need about 18 (for two, I’ve heard 24 works well).  So that’s $360.

Now think about disposable diapers.  Each package is like $50 for 275 diapers (and that’s a pretty good deal).  So you can buy 2,000 disposable diapers for the same $360 you could buy cloth diapers for.  How long will it take you to go through 2,000 disposable diapers?  Let’s say you change a diaper every 3 hours and your baby sleeps for 12 hours each day.  That’s 5 diapers a day (this is a low estimation).  So in 400 days, which is about 13 months, you’d easily make up the money you’ve spent on cloth diapers.

Remember, though, you’re going to use more than 5 diapers a day and this was just for 1 child.  (For instance, if you use 6 diapers a day, those 2,000 disposable diapers will only last you 11 months for one child).

A Note on When We Don’t Use Cloth Diapers: I feel like this is necessary to explain while I’m talking about the expense of cloth vs. disposable diapers.  I’ve explained that we use one disposable at night.  We also use disposables when Luke stays with someone else, or we have a babysitter over, or when he’s in the nursery at church.  While it’s our preference that he use cloth diapers, there’s no reason to make other people deal with them.  We want to bless those who love us and our little man enough to watch him, and so we don’t make others who have not chosen to use cloth diapers use them.  This increases the number of disposable diapers we must buy.  We usually use (including the night-time diapers) 14 disposable diapers each week.  This comes to about 56 disposables/month, or about $10/month.  This $10 is worth it to us to bless those who take time to bless us!

These are the ugly misconceptions I’ve heard most about beautiful cloth diapers. Have you heard others?  Do you have any questions/comments/concerns?  Leave a comment!

Next time: The Reasons Cloth Diapers are so Beautiful

If you’ve spent any amount of time in any store, watching any television station, or talking to any woman (or man, I suppose . . . you know, those ones who like to cook), then I’m sure you’ve heard of how the latest kitchen gadget will change your life.  There seems to be a great desire to find the one perfect gadget that will instantly make whatever task is at hand easier than it’s ever been before.

Well, I’m not a huge fan of kitchen gadgets.  I tend to believe that what worked for hundreds of years, will probably work for me, too.  In addition, in the name of simplifying–which is my theme for the summer, don’t forget–I’ve tried to scale back my kitchen gadgets to just the necessity (or at least the necessity for me).  Also, I do not have all the money in the world to buy the most fantastic blender, for instance, ever made by man.  That being said, I do have a few items in my kitchen (whether you’d classify them as “gadgets” or not, I’m not sure) that I love to use because they do make my life easier.

The following is a list of the items that I use in my kitchen.  This is not a perfect list.  I wish I had a better blender, for instance.  However, this is my list.  My favorite items in my kitchen.  I hope it helps you, gives you ideas, and inspires you simplify and organize:

1. The Coffee Maker

I love our coffee maker.  We’ve had many different kinds of coffee makers and they always broke.  We’ve had this one for three years and it’s still working just fine!  It’s the Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Black with Stainless Steel Programmable Coffee Maker.  I love it because it stops brewing if you take the pot out to pour a quick cup, you can regulate the strength and temperature of your coffee, and you can set it to start brewing in the future using a built-in timer.  In addition to coffee, I sometimes brew tea in it as well and have never had any problems doing so.

2. The Mixer

My mixer is awesome.  I have a standard mixer attachment, a bread hook, and a beater attachment.  It works fabulously and has made so many things that used to be daunting relatively easy–or at least feasible.  It’s the KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer and it might be a bit more expensive than you’d like it to be.  Never fear, check out Craig’s List–they’re on there all the time!

What The Mixer takes the place of:

  • a hand mixer
  • a bread machine

3. The Waffle Iron

Ok, this, I guess, is an actual “gadget.”  We love our waffles on Saturday mornings, and although I tried for several months to talk Tim into getting rid of said gadget, I’m very happy that we held onto it.  There’s just something about waffles on a Saturday morning.  Stay tuned for my whole wheat and gluten free waffle recipes!

4. The Magic Bullet

You’ve seen it advertised.  It is pretty fantastic and it does do all the things the advertisements say it does.  It’s really very helpful in making all sorts of different things and I love that I have one item to do the work of three.  I even have a blender attachment and so now I use it as my blender as well.  The only thing I wish is that I could blend more.  Many times I have to blend half the recipe, pour it out, and then blend the second half because the blades are just not strong enough to blend more than about 3 cups of ingredients.  Even still, the clean-up & simplicity of the Magic Bullet is incredible.  I’ve had it for a year and I really do love it.

What The Magic Bullet takes the place of:

  • a blender
  • a food processor
  • an electronic chopper

5. The Bottle Warmer

This is not a necessity.  Many a bottle has been warmed just fine in a bath of hot water or over the stove.  However, the Munchkin Deluxe Bottle and Food Warmer just makes life easier.  It takes four minutes to warm.  It warms using steam, and it beeps when it’s done.  We also warm frozen baby food jars and you can (although I haven’t ever) sterilize pacifiers as well.  We take it with us and it makes the quest for scalding hot water and a large enough cup (at restaurants, for instance) non-existent.  All we have to do is find a plug!

6. The Bottle Dryer/Organizer

Again, another un-necessary item, although, it’s made life much simpler for us.  We don’t have a dish washer, so we use the Sprout Drying Rack as our bottle rack (this keeps the bottles from taking up space in our dish rack).  We also just store the bottles in the organizer.  Once they’re dry they just stay there on the counter until we need one of them!

7. The Oven

Ok, so this might seem like an odd item to place in a list like this, but it’s true that I love my oven.  I don’t have a particularly special oven.  In fact, it doesn’t even have a self-cleaning function, but it’s changed the way we eat and the nutrients we get from our food.  A few months ago I moved our microwave into our utility room.  We still use it for a few things, but for almost everything we use our oven.  The thing we use the oven for now that we always used the microwave for before is heating up left-overs.  It’s remarkable how it really doesn’t take that much more time, how much better the food tastes, and how easy it really is.  In addition, and I haven’t done enough research on this myself, I think that microwaving food might actaully nuke the nutrients and leave you with worthless food in the end!  (Here are some articles all about that: Microwave Menace, Vegis Lose Antioxidants in Microwave, & Hidden Hazards – Microwave Oven).  Either way, I love my oven!

What The Oven takes the place of:

  • The microwave
  • The toaster (almost always.  The jury’s still out on whether I can really get rid of my toaster . . . I may look into a toaster oven, but that’s just one more item!)

8. The Monthly Calendar/Weekly Schedule/To Do List Frame

If I don’t have a plan I will get nothing done.  Days, weeks, even months will pass me by and nothing will have gotten accomplished.  That is why the frame on my fridge is one of the best things about my kitchen.  Each month I change and print out this calendar.  The left side is a monthly calendar and on the right is a weekly schedule.  I put it in a frame with magnets on the back and put it on the side of my fridge.  Then I write whatever I need to on the glass in wet-erase markers.  It keeps me organized and helps me to actually see what I’m supposed to be doing at any given time of the day.  Stay tuned for a post just about this item.

What The Monthly Calendar/Weekly Schedule/To Do List Frame takes the place of:

  • a hanging calendar
  • a weekly schedule that has to be written out new every week
  • scads of tiny pieces of paper with item “to do” on them

9. The Everything Basket

On the counter in my kitchen is a basket.  In the basket is mail, stamps, rubber bands, pens, markers, batteries, etc.  This frees up my old “everything drawer” and keeps me from throwing things in there that really don’t need to be kept–I’ve found if I have to look at what’s in there I’m better about keeping only the necessities in it.

What The Everything Basket takes the place of:

  • The Everything Drawer

10. The Homemaking Binder

My Homemaking Binder is very much a work in progress.  Stay tuned for a post about just it.  It hangs out on my counter next to my Everything Basket and inside it are booklets, notecards, sticky notes, recipes, ideas, etc.  It, right now, needs a serious over-haul, but the idea is to keep almost everything you need to take care of your home in said binder.  I’m having trouble deciding if this needs to be a binder or if I could use a digital program (like Evernote, for instance) for this purpose.  More on all that once I figure it out.  Nevertheless, my Homemaking Binder is a necessity right now!

What The Homemaking Binder takes the place of:

  • many different sheets of random lists
  • scads of cookbooks
  • crazy amounts of different sized recipe index cards

11. The Latch-Lock Air-Tight Plastic Containers

These Better Homes and Gardens Flip-Tite plastic containers have changed my refrigerator.  Everything is organized, I can see it all, and it all stays fresh.  We even store Luke’s homemade baby food in these containers.  They come in several different sizes and they’re actually quite inexpensive!  I’m hooked!

What The Latch-Lock Air-Tight Tupperware takes the place of:

  • every other lame-o type of plastic container ever invented

12. The Clear Plastic Tubs

I LOVE baskets.  I know all about plastic, and I’m not a big fan, but I’m guilty–I use plastic tubs to organize.  My kitchen cabinets are full of many different sized plastic tubs with all sorts of random items in them.  They keep me organized and make items easier to find.

What items in your kitchen do you love?  Which are you not so crazy about?  Helpful hints?  Tips?  Ideas?

Sharon is back with tips to save your yard this hot, dry summer!  Remember last time she told a story about wishing her grass was as green as her neighbors?  Well, the Lord was good to bless her!  Also, Sharon will share a sweet devotional written by Charles Spurgeon.  Spurgeon’s heart is just exactly where I feel the Lord leading mine.  I know his writing will greatly bless you!

Praise God that He saw fit that I not only would I learn a lesson in humility regarding my neighbor’s grass but then to top it off, and just like the Lord, after repenting He blesses me with an email sharing that I had won a $100 gift card to Houston Garden! Thank you, Jesus. I had forgotten that I had signed up at the cash register back in March for the chance to win a $100 gift card; as I was waiting in line, I happened to notice the entry box and kind of as a joke, I thought, “Well, why not? I will not win and hopefully I will not start receiving junk garden mail, but here I go.”  Lo and behold, I actually won! I just wanted to give God the glory in this. I am so blessed by my Savior that He would see fit to surprise me with a present—and not just any present, but FREE PLANTS!

A note about the drought: If you haven’t already guessed it, we are in an extreme drought. We have had the driest winter, spring, and summer on record so far. What normally happens is we get our good spring rains to prepare our landscapes for our blasting, hellish-heat in the summer. However, we did not have these so we are left to the mercy of running our own sprinklers (bye-bye water bill). With that said, make sure you are watering three times a week for at least 30 mins. -1:00 (for large portions of grass) and three times a week for at least 15-30 mins. (for raised beds). Our raised beds and grasses here in Texas need good, deep watering so watering just three times a week for 10 minutes is not going to cut it. The roots need time to soak up the water. And only water between 1-6 a.m. If you water between 7-10 p.m., you attract disease—which is no good. And if you water between 3-7 p.m. during the day, most of the water is evaporated due to wind and sun. You need a good inch of rain or a little more each week during this drought.

Early Summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Time to do your summer application of Nitro-Phos Super-Turf Fertilizer (15-5-10) or 3-1-2/4-1-2 controlled release fertilizer of your choosing.
  • Be on the look out for cinch bug (tiny black bugs with white wings) damage to your yards. Look around the turf nearest to the sidewalk and driveways. The best line of defense is good watering practices (since they hate moisture), following the fertilization schedule, and mowing tall. Best method of attack if you sense a problem is to apply Permethrin, Cypermethrin, or Bifenthrin every 7 days, up to 3 applications.
  • Ants a problem? Make your own ant killer with a blend of garlic, liquid dish-soap, hot peppers, and water; strain and pour over the mound. “Hasta la vista, baby!”
  • Consider night lighting your yard to add light for outdoor, nighttime fun!

With your plants & flowers:

  • This is a good time to walk your yard and make notes of what is working and not working with all this heat. Is there a plant getting too much sun or too little (like roses need at least 6-8 hours or sun to bloom)? Plus, some plants might be overgrowing their bounds.
  • Plant a Hibiscus. They love heat, but not in afternoon, late day sun. They perform better in morning to early afternoon sun. Enjoy all the colors and textures. I personally like the double-blooming ones. You can special order these. They will freeze if your Hibiscus is not a Hardy Hibiscus, so if you want to still have it for next year, don’t forget to cover it up when temperatures fall.
  • Feed tropical plants like Hibiscus and Bougainvilleas with tropical plant foods, but not bloom-boosters, which have too much phosphorous (or high middle number). You can feed them Nutri-Star food specifically formulated for Hibiscus and Bougainvilleas. They are slow-release fertilizers as opposed to liquid fertilizers such as Miracle Grow.
  • Keep your azaleas well-watered, especially in this drought. They are setting blooms for next year. But don’t over-water.
  • Plant some heat-loving annuals such as coleus (pinch the flowers off that pop up), cosmos, mistflowers, pentas, zinnias, or vincas.
  • If your plants are looking yellow (especially with green veins on the leaves but yellow tissue), then you should put out some iron/soil acidifier supplements. You can get these almost anywhere.
  • Hit insect-infested plants with a strong spray of water under the leaves early in the morning.
  • Sprinkle earth worms on beds and lawns. They do wonders.
  • You can re-apply your shredded wood mulches to help retain moisture and cut down on weeds.

In your vegetable garden:

  • Pick your okra quite often. The bigger they get the harder they are to eat.
  • Put a bird bath near tomatoes to distract the birds looking for water from your tomatoes. Or you can hang red coke cans on your stalks like my mom used to do. Pick the tomatoes at first pink blush and set them in the window to ripe.

I read the following a few weeks ago from Morning & Evening by Charles Spurgeon. If you don’t currently subscribe to a free Blue Letter Bible devotional, such as Mr. Spurgeon’s classic Morning & Evening, then you are missing out. Check out what the Lord showed to Spurgeon that touched my heart! Enjoy.

Evening Reading

 I am come into my garden, my

sister, my spouse.

 —Song 5:1

The heart of the believer is Christ’s garden. He bought it with His precious blood, and He enters it and claims it as His own. A garden implies separation. It is not the open common; it is not a wilderness; it is walled around, or hedged in. Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that,” thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity. A garden is a place of beauty, it far surpasses the wild uncultivated lands. The genuine Christian must seek to be more excellent in his life than the best moralist, because Christ’s garden ought to produce the best flowers in all the world. Even the best is poor compared with Christ’s deservings; let us not put Him off with withering and dwarf plants. The rarest, richest, choicest lilies and roses ought to bloom in the place which Jesus calls His own. The garden is a place of growth. The saints are not to remain undeveloped, always mere buds and blossoms. We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Growth should be rapid where Jesus is the Husbandman, and the Holy Spirit the dew from above. A garden is a place of retirement. So the Lord Jesus Christ would have us reserve our souls as a place in which He can manifest Himself, as He doth not unto the world. O that Christians were more retired, that they kept their hearts more closely shut up for Christ! We often worry and trouble ourselves, like Martha, with much serving, so that we have not the room for Christ that Mary had, and do not sit at His feet as we should. The Lord grant the sweet showers of His grace to water His garden this day.

Mid-summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Have you ever seen those fairy-ring mushrooms pop up in your yard after a rain (LOL…not lately, though), then rest assured. Those are signs of good organic matter in your soil.
  • Drink lots of water yourself when working out in the yard!

With your plants & flowers:

  • Mist plants in the morning. They try to go dormant with all the heat and will wilt in the evenings, which is normal. They will perk back up when temps drop.
  • Roses can be pruned lightly to keep them productive and vibrant during hotter summer months.
  • Watch for signs of lacebug damage on azaleas, indicated by a mottled, washed out leaf. Treat with systemic insecticides like Acephate, Merit, or Disyston. Also, do at least one application of liquid insecticide, like Bifenthrin, on the undersides of the leaves.
  • Check your azaleas, hydrangeas, and magnolias for pale leaves due to too-alkaline soil. Use soil acidifiers and/or mulch with oak leaves and pine needles.
  • Don’t over water azaleas and camellias. Some wilting is normal at this time.
  • You can try to extend the blooming season of Crape Myrtles by pruning off the expiring bloom heads. This can encourage a new– albeit somewhat smaller—flush of blooms.
  • “Dead-Head” or pinch off non-budded branches or old-budded flowers on annuals and perennials to encourage bushier growth and more blooms.
  • Divide crowded perennials like summer phlox or day lilies.
  • Try rosemary and wormwood to deter snails; catnip, chamomile and wax myrtle for fleas.
  • Don’t water bulbs with no greenery showing. They are dormant, and you will cause them to rot.
  • Cut utility bills with vines on a trellis to shade the west side of your house! Try black-eyed Susan vine, coral vine, mandevilla, Mexican flame vine, passion vine, or trumpetvine.

To your trees:

  • Hold off on any major pruning of larger trees and shrubs. December through March is considered the best time to perform major pruning or even planting of trees and shrubs for that matter. Light pruning of hedge shrubs is acceptable.
  • Keep pecan trees well watered to protect developing pecans.
  • Open tent caterpillar webs in trees. Birds will eat the worms. Worms won’t kill healthy trees.

Lastly, I thought I would share a good article from Kathy Huber, writer and Houston Chronicle contributor to the gardening section. Currently, we are trying to save our only Bradford pear tree in our yard that is dying due to the heat. I am praying for the tree and hopefully it will not die, but if it does, then the Lord has something better for us in store, like maybe an Aristocrat Pear tree. LOL. Alas, I am not looking forward to removing a huge tree. Anyways, this is a link to a good recent article on trees and drought.

Late Summer To Do List

In your yard:

  • Start thinking about building a compost pile. This will accommodate all your fall leaves and grass clippings during the fall.
  • This is a good time to control nutgrass/nutsedge with a selective herbicide called Mange. I know why they call them “nutgrass.” They drive me nuts!
  • If Brownpatch was a problem in your turf last year, be prepared to start a monthly treatment of systemic fungicides as early as August.
  • If you missed your early summer lawn fertilization, please don’t do it this late because it’s too HOT, like 100+ degrees. However, you can add iron supplement if there is a general yellowing to the grass because of all the irrigation.

With your plants & flowers:

  • Give perennials, annuals, and roses and fall-blooming shrubs a light feeding and slight haircut.
  • Work ½ cup of Epsom salt around roses, hibiscus and other bloomers for more flowers.
  • Watch for hummingbirds and keep the feeders clean every 3-5 days.

To your trees:

  • Consider (I know I am) deep-watering of your established trees.
  • Prune deadwood from trees. Hurricane season is upon us!

In your vegetable garden:

  • Set out fall tomatoes (plants), green onions, cucumbers, corn and green beans.

Finally, remember to just take a break and enjoy your garden, but definitely early morning or late evenings due to extreme heat!

What a blessing to have an experienced gardener help those of us just beginning our gardening journeys figure out what we should be doing!  If you have any questions for Sharon or if you have any suggestions yourself, please comment!  How strange is it that the next time we hear from Sharon it will be autumn!

This year is flying by–I can’t believe it’s already July!  The older I get the more it seems like if I don’t stop and think about what I want to be doing with my life the days will turn into weeks, which turn into months, and pretty soon an entire year has gone by and I haven’t really done anything that I wanted to do.

Well, my hope this summer is to make the most of it!  Yesterday we took a walk to our neighborhood lake where we ate a picnic lunch.  After lunch, Luke had to take a nap, but when he woke up from his nap, and after dinner, we all put on our bathing suits, grabbed our inflatable rafts (and Luke’s inflatable kiddie chair) and we walked back to the lake and just spent some time enjoying each other and the warm water as the sun dipped down further and further towards the horizon.  It was so peaceful and Luke had such a sweet time kicking his little legs and attempting to drink his weight in lake water.

Now, that may not be something amazing to you and your family, but it was for ours.  My point is, decide what you and your family enjoy doing together and then do it!  Here are some tips for making the most of your summer:

  • Decide what it is you and your family like to do together.  It helped us to actually write it out.  Tim and I each made a list of about 20 things we each enjoy doing as a family and then we compared lists.  It’s helped us from just doing the same three things over and over and over!
  • Pick a time (or maybe a few times) out of the week where you plan to do one of these things.  Maybe Sunday afternoons are generally free for your family.  Perhaps there’s never anything happening on Thursday evenings.  Make that your weekly “family time” where you make the most of your summer!
  • Think about others.  It’s usually the most fun to see others having a good time.  When you plan these activities for your family think about what they would enjoy doing.  Or maybe plan an activity for your family to bless another family.  Invite the neighbors over for dinner and board games.  Or maybe you have an abundance of roma tomatoes growing in your garden.  Send your kiddos over to the neighbors’ houses to give them a bunch of tomatoes!
  • Keep it simple.  If you live 2 hours from the beach or the zoo or wherever, maybe it’s not the best idea to attempt to get there once a week!  Your plans don’t have to be elaborate–just fun!

Here are some things that we plan on doing this summer to make the most of it:

  • Spend the morning outside.  Every morning Luke and I sit out on a blanket in the backyard and I read to him a story from the Jesus Storybook Bible.  If it’s not already too hot, this is also where we do our Slow and Steady, Get Me Ready activity.
  • Go swimming in the lake.  We’ve decided this will be our default activity when we have an hour or more to spare!
  • Visit the library.  Luke is finally old enough to gain something from going.  So during the blistering hot middle-of-the-day that’s where we’ll be once a week!
  • Take a walk in the morning or evening.  It doesn’t get dark until after Luke’s bedtime these days, so we’ve added a walk around the block to his bedtime routine.  Sometimes we (Tim and I) take smoothies with us!
  • Do a fun and new activity each week.  I have a year’s subscription to Disney’s Family Fun magazine which provides me with all sorts of great activities.  In fact, I’m keeping the really great activities and making a folder of things that will be fun in the future (Luke is only 9 months old, okay!?)  But you don’t have to have a subscription to gain awesome ideas from this magazine!  Their online magazine is just as great!  I mean, really, it’s awesome!
  • Read a book every two weeks.  (This is my goal)  I have so many great books that I want to read, but for some reason I always find other things to do!  Since it’s so hot anyway, I have little to no energy by the afternoon, and so Luke’s afternoon nap is a great time for me to rest and read!

You don’t have to have a ton of things to do, in fact, I would recommend NOT having a ton of things to do.  Just set a few new goals that would be fun for your family and do them!  Don’t look back in the middle of September and realize you didn’t really do anything with your summer!

Does your family have a fun summer tradition?  What are some new activities you’re going to try to make the most of your summer?  Share them with us!

Today, just a quick reminder that I thought I’d pass on:  If your household is anything like ours, each of you has a different set of duties around your home.  If you’re a stay-at-home wife or mom your “chore” list might be much longer than your husband’s, but I’m guessing there are still some things that you expect him to do–no questions asked.  This might be taking out the trash, feeding the dog, or walking the dog.  Maybe he folds the laundry.  Perhaps he washes the dishes since you fix the meals.  For some of you maybe he mows the lawn.  Whatever your husband’s duties are around the house, it doesn’t really matter–the point is, he has them.

Well.  My husband has them, too.  He takes out the trash, tends to the vegetable garden, mows and edges the lawn, sweeps the driveway and patio, and occasionally washes the dishes or puts away the laundry.  Sometimes he’ll ask me how else he can help and I might ask him to feed our son, generally neat up, vacuum, or turn over the laundry.  Sometimes one or more of these chores goes undone for several days–I know, it’s startling! :)

Regardless of whether the chore going undone is “my” chore or “his” chore, I’ve come to the following revelation (which may not be much of a revelation for you): Titus 2 calls me to be a “worker at home.”  It doesn’t call me to be a “worker at home except for the few random things my husband has told me he would take care of.”  And so, if my sweet hubby is too bogged down with school work to get the trash to the curb on a Tuesday morning, why do I let the garbage man drive by our home while our very full dumpster hangs out under the carport!?  Am I incapable of pulling the trash out of the can, dropping it in the dumpster, and dragging it to the street?  Am I incapable of watering the garden?  Is weeding just beyond me?  Is there a law against women mowing lawns?  Certainly not!

The problem: I’m lazy.  It’s so much easier to watch the garbage man pass me by and think, “Yep!  He forgot trash day again!”  It’s so painless to let the sink pile up and think, “Now, he said two days ago he would help me with the dishes!”  It’s so much nicer (and cooler) to watch our grass grow to jungle-like proportions and think, “I wonder when he’ll get around to mowing the lawn?”

So, ladies, join with me in becoming (less lazy) Christ-honoring workers at home and help your man with “his chores!”

so that they [older women] may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (bold mine)

Titus 2:4-5

We’ve made it!  Our living areas & kitchens, bedrooms & offices, utility rooms, dining rooms, & bathrooms are cleared out, organized, and redecorated–simplified, that is, and now the only thing that stands between us and completely simple homes are the outside ares–the garage and/or tool shed.

This may be a Saturday job.  This may be a weekend job.  This may even be a whole-other-week job, but it’s a job that needs to be done!  In addition, if your husband is anything like mine, he’ll probably want to be intimately involved in this project.  In fact, he’ll probably want to just DO the whole project, which is fine by me because I hardly use the stuff in there anyway! :)

For the last time, here are the General Rules We Follow for All Rooms:

Our front yard

  • We always have a trash bag with us.  That way if there’s something we want to throw away we can do it right then.  This eliminates the second-guessing and the huge trash pile in the middle of the room.
  • In addition, we always have a second trash bag, a box, or a special place in the room to put things that we want to give away.  These are things that we know a certain person or family could use or would want.  When we’re done with a room we move those items that we’ve cleared out to a central place and bag them up (we use old grocery bags).  The name of the person or family goes on the bag and those bags get put in our car.  Then the next time we see them we already have their bag in our car! The same goes for things we’ve borrowed from others that we find when clearing out.
  • If we’re planning on having a garage sale we’ll have a third trash bag, box, or special place to pile items to sell in the garage sale.  Again, when we’re finished in a certain room, we’ll move those items to a predetermined “garage sale” area (sometimes a bag or box to be put in the attic if the garage sale will be several weeks from then).
  • We always start at the door of whatever room we’re clearing out and work our way clockwise until we end up back at the door again.
  • We try to just make a decision right then and there about everything we touch.  There are really only four categories we work with: keep it, toss it, give it away, and garage sale.  If an item lands in the “keep it” category but is in the wrong room we immediately put it in the proper room.
  • If we haven’t used an item for over a year (and it’s not something that logically doesn’t need to be used in that amount of time–for instance, it makes sense to hang on to pregnancy/baby stuff if you’re planning to have more children even if you haven’t used it in over a year) then we get rid of it (throw away, give away, or save for garage sale).

One last note before we get started: You must be in the mood to do this.  If you’re not in a “clearing out” mode, it’s just not going to work and you’re going to spend all day going through a room and when you’re done it’s going to be exactly the same.  Make sure you actually want to clear out your home!

most of our backyard (from the patio, with the tool shed on my right)

Remember:  The name of the game is Simplify!

  • I think out of all the areas in our home it’s the tool shed that holds the most “what if” items.  What if we ever need this spool of chicken wire?  What if there comes a day when we just really need a broken broom handle?  What if a natural disaster hits and we need those ten gallon jugs of water?  It’s so hard to find the balance between hanging on to junk for no good reason and legitimately holding on to things that really might prove useful!  The best way we’ve found to weed out is to bend to the space we have.  Does everything we want to hang on to fit in the space in an organized and easy-to-get-to way?  No? Then certain things need to go.
  • First, try to keep almost everything off the floor.  If you have a shelf or a knob or a hanger for every single item it means less mess and less opportunity to start piling items in corners.
  • Keep the items you use on a regular basis.  This is obvious.  The lawn mower, the edger, the broom, the rake, the tool box.  Keep them.  Mount them on the wall.
  • Add a shelf and put baskets on the shelf that have smaller like items in them.
  • Why do you have two lawn mowers?  Two edgers?  Two rakes?  Two . . . almost anything?  Give away one of each thing you somehow have unnecessarily collected two or more of!  Similarly: how many ice chests do you really need?  I mean really?
  • Keep items that get used together together.
  • Wrap up hoses and cords and wire and string!
  • Consider resting some things on the top of the rafters (i.e. lawn chairs, canoes)
  • Throw away bits and pieces of string and wire that are probably too small to be used anyway.
  • And finally, make room for your cars.  A garage is for cars.  It’s good for your vehicle to be covered.

A final note about your yard: I thought this would go without saying, but maybe not.  Your yard should not be a dump.  If something needs to be taken to the dump–take it there.  That goes for side yards, too.  There should only be outside equipment outside (i.e. lawn chairs, picnic tables, swings, jungle gyms, umbrellas, trampolines, kiddie pools, pool equipment, maybe even a tub–with a lid–full of outside toys).  Here’s a good test: If the box it came in didn’t have a picture of some grass or of the sun it doesn’t belong outside.  The way we treat our belongings tells our kids how they should treat theirs.

I hope this week proved helpful.  I encourage you, if this week just wasn’t the right week for you, to come back to these posts when you do have some time to go through your home.  It’s so liberating to live simply!