Book Review: The Complete Guide to Getting…. *Winner announced*

Title:  The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized
Subtitle: *Manage Your Time *Eliminate Clutter and Experience Order *Keep Your Family First
Author: Karen Ehman
Publisher’s Synopsis: The key to good organization is not a one–size–fits–all method. It is a unique plan that considers personality type, lifestyle, income level, and family schedule. Author and speaker, Karen Ehman believes that with her simple step by step process moms can recognize their own personal style of managing their households successfully and develop a unique plan that gives them the freedom to:

  • manage their time wisely
  • de–clutter and organize their homes
  • plan menus, shop more efficiently, and become more comfortable and creative in the kitchen
  • get children involved in pursuing an ordered life and home
  • avoid the trap of overcommitment
  • use practical tools to assist in organization

Getting and staying organized means more time for the important things in family life—concentrating on cultivating a close, personal relationship with the Creator, drawing His word into every aspect of living, and ultimately tying their children’s heartstrings to God.

Every December (that I remember anyway), I go over to and sign up for their SantaThing.  This is just a fun gift exchange thing that involves books.   This year, they used and due to snowy conditions, the big pond, extra screening in the US thanks to an irritating little pipsqueak of a terrorist, and US weather, I didn’t get mine until almost February!  (or was it after?  I don’t remember.  It’s a blur.)  This was one of the books I received (along with Stephen King’s On Writing and a Kathy Herman novel that, unfortunately, I own).

Ok, now I’ve read more organization books than anyone should be allowed to read.  Let’s face it, most of them say the same things.  Get rid of clutter, put like things together, and put it back when you’re done with it.  My favorite advice I’ve ever read was, “If you have to choose between easy to get out or easy to put away, always choose easy to put away.”  YES!  So, I wasn’t sure what I’d find with this book.

First, the book is a casual fun read.  There aren’t a lot of lofty ideals that people with real lives couldn’t make work.  She has worksheets to help work through the ideas she presents.  She’s honest.  The book isn’t going to do the work for you, and she doesn’t pretend that it will.  A fun addition are the little notes from her daughter about helping kids organize and getting the kid’s perspective on it all.

There are room by room lists of things to consider when organizing, and even little blurbs by others giving little hints of what works for them in certain areas.  I enjoyed the personal anecdotes and related stories throughout the book.  It is always fun to get a glimpse of life in someone else’s family.

She moved from room by room organization to things like commitments, time wasters, conquering paper, and the always obnoxious meal planning and shopping.  And of course, she ends with a chapter on how to maintain now that your home is in order again.

Did I like it?  Sure!  I love books on organization.  Was there anything in there that I’ve never heard of?  Not really.  However, the relaxed way she writes, the encouragement she gives to “get in there and get it done,” and the way the book is laid out as a step-by-step process makes it a great choice if you’re ready to tackle your home.  Frankly, I think Kaye from my Confessions of a Decluttering Junkie needed this book.  She could have followed step-by-step, saved a lot of money, and she might have learned a lesson or three about not exasperating your family in the process.  My biggest recommendation for this book would be for people who know they need to do it but feel overwhelmed with where to start.  This book will walk you, without shoving you head first, through the steps to getting your home back under control.

So, as proof that I do learn from all these crazy books I read, I’m going to pass this book onto a reader.  Just post a comment and let me know what area in your home makes you most desperate for change. Congratulations, Vanessa!

Craft Challenge: Week Eight Results

Week 8: Organize Your Stuff

This was another “No Brainer” week for me.  You see, this week we’re supposed to organize all of our unfinished scrapping projects.  Well, I don’t have any.  I don’t have any unfinished card projects either, so there was nothing to organize.

I did decide that if I ever do have UFOs, I’m going with this kind of idea.

So, that was easy.

Onto the next.

Craft Challenge: Week Seven Results

Week 7:  Ideas

Well, this was the easiest week for me.

1.  I have no idea books.

2.  I don’t intend to buy any.

3.  What I do have in the way of ideas is this handy little thing called Google.



Craft Challenge: Week Five Results

Week 5–  Scrap Paper

First, I want to tell you all to pick yourselves up off the floor and give me a bit of a break.  We had two weddings, clothes to procure, we were out of town for one of them, I got sick… things happen.  Deal.  Just because someone has to put something on the back burner now and then doesn’t mean they aren’t going to finish.  It’s called a delay.  (So those who read my housewife workout blog, I’m STILL tryin’ to work it off.  Just sayin’.)

Well, I didn’t think I had much scrap paper to worry about.  I envisioned myself with one or two of these puppies…  I liked the folksy look, the bright cheerfulness, and, of course, the tote-ability.  In my workspace, it’s essential.  See what I mean?  Perfect right?  Yeah.  One problem.

I had more scrap paper than I thought.  You see, I decided to follow “Wookiemouse”‘s definition of scrap as being anything under 12×12.  So, all my 8.5 x 11” paper needed to go in here.

So, I ended up with something not quite so cute.  Enter, “The Lug”.

If you don’t know what a “lug” is, just look at this thing.  It’s black, it’s boring, and it has no appeal whatsoever.  Why did I buy it?  Well, because it will work.  Mine is kind of like the one on the right.  Except it’s all black.

I have lots of room for more stuff.  While I sorted scraps, I also cut any pieces I could into strips for cards.  It’s great.  If it used to be 12×12, I cut all the cards I could for it (usually only one, but a couple of times 2 when only a tiny piece was gone from one) and voila!  Yippie!

Now I actually want to make something.  I would too except for one thing.  Gulp.  I bought more stuff that needs to be considered.

So now I only have to decide what to do with “scraps” like these.  I don’t have a lot but I don’t know what to consider them.  Are they embellishments, scraps… what?  Things like this keep me awake at night.  Things like

Watercolor paper squares like this from Stampin’ Up!

And these little mini notes also from Stampin’ Up!

Well, and these beauties from… well…  Stampin’ Up!

Are these scraps?  Are these embellishments?  Did I succeed in my quest for finishing week 5 or am I still workin’ on it?   Just curious.  Next week…  Week 6.  (Brilliant observation of mine, isn’t it?)  Photos.  Oh. Joy.

Life Lesson #2924820

So… you’d think after all these years, I’d have learned this little ditty.  Guess what?  I didn’t.  I get it now, but ummmmm well, ummm… ok, so I’m just stupid.  Sue me.

Ready for it?  Just because you buy something new, remodel something, replace something… doesn’t mean it won’t need to be redone, repurchased, or maintained.

Example?  Sure, I’ll give you one.  My new kitchen.  I designed it for an easy to clean, simple to organize, and to be a well-oiled machine.  For some idiotic reason, I forgot that I’d have to clean out cupboards, wipe them down, reorganize, and repair things when they got dinged.  I don’t know why, but for me, doing that huge job seemed to tell my brain, “There you go, you’re done. ”  Ummmmm yeah.

I’ve done this with a lot of things.  Couch.  I bought a new one 10.5 years ago.  Guess what?  It’s shot.  I remember when I bought it, I told myself, “This’ll last us about ten years and then we’ll need to replace it.”  So why am I so irritated that I was right?  I thought people were supposed to like being right.


So, I’m off to organize and clean one corner of the kitchen.  I’ll just do a few sections at a time, tossing what doesn’t make me happy, keeping what does, making everything pretty… it’s a good life.  I need to let myself enjoy it!  And I need to quit thinking that once done means over.  Why do I never learn that one?

Craft Challenge: Week Four Results

Week 4- Paper

Erm.. yeah.  See, remember, I don’t have a huge paper craft mess yet.  I’ve just gotten started in this gig, so we’re good, right?  Yeah.  Well, see this picture…

One thing I learned in this process is that those drawers and I don’t mix.  Nope.  No way, no how.  Ain’t happenin’.  You see, in those drawers, I have to pull everything out, look at it, think about it, and then put it all back.  It’s not exactly conducive to efficient crafting.  Sure, it’s easy to put away… but it’s horrible to get out.  The point isn’t to hoard paper– it’s to use it for cryin’ out loud! BTW… if you have a paper collection that is collecting dust, reread that italicized sentence again.  Once a week if necessary!

So, those drawers had to give up the paper.  That’s good, because I’m thinkin’ that’d be a GREAT spot for… yep, you guessed it (work with me here)… RUBBER STAMPS!  YIPPEE!

Yes, you too can have an amazing rubber stamp collection in nice little drawers designed for paper!

So, what did I put my paper in instead of those drawers?  Well, first I took all paper (including the stupid Martha Stewart ones with the over sized pads that didn’t fit in drawers) and tore them all out of any books, packaging, etc and separated by colors and patterns

I had the following color sets:

  • Pink/Red
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Purple
  • White/Tan/Yellows/Black
  • Mixed

I separated all the printed first and put them into stacks.  Then I separated the solids and put them behind the printed in each color set.  Now I was ready to put them in my new container.  Here’s the funny part.  Sunday night, I didn’t do my usual prepare for this week’s crafting.  Dumb move.  I was knee deep in formatting and editing my book and was too engrossed to think about the fact that Monday I was going to be where you can actually buy stuff for this kind of project.  So, I got down to the LA area and had a wealth of products at my fingertips… and didn’t know what this week’s challenge was.  I thought it was paper, but I wasn’t sure.  I looked at several options, but since I didn’t realize I was coming home to DO it… I didn’t buy anything.  Dumb.

So, today I opened up the challenge, checked out the job, and sighed.  Then, I got to work.  I moseyed over to Wal-Mart… nothing grabbed me.  Staples had lots of options, but nothing fit 12×12″ paper.  EEK.  Then, just as I was ready to give up, I found these things on the clearance rack!

There are three racks in each one.  I bought both of the ones that our Staples had and have begged my internet buddies to do a search at their stores to see if I can get two more.  Right now, my two are not packed to the gills, but they are reasonably full.  I want to have matching things for later if I get more.

Now, my room and such is all white.  That black isn’t going to cut it, so I need to figure out how to cover it.  What do you think?  How should I cover it?  Find contact paper?  Paper mache?  Cloth?  Any ideas out there?

Here is my paper in its new home.  I think it looks happy, don’t you?

Now, I have to figure out what to do with my 8.5 x 11″ paper.  I don’t have a lot now, but I am going to have more as I do more card making.

Any suggestions?

Now, all I have to do is make it pretty (cover it somehow– off to do research for ideas for that) and decide on the 8.5 x 11″ paper.  Since it’ll likely be mostly solids, I’m seriously considering putting it in an accordion file and leave it at that.  We’ll see.  Meanwhile, share your ideas.  All I know is that I want VERTICAL storage.  Horizontal and I don’t match.

Craft Challenge Week Two Results

Week Two– Brainstorming

Ok, so the first thing she does in week two is gets you thinking about your “dream space”.  What would you have if you could have anything in the world?

This was an eye-opener for me.  Once upon a time, my dream space would have been a 12×14 or 13×17 room that was ALL mine, possibly detached from the house, that no one but me ever went in.  Then I got that dream space sort of and I discovered that I do not like being separate from where my children are.  As much as I CRAVE being alone much of the time, I don’t crave the negative things that crop up in my children’s behavior and habits when my eyes aren’t on them.  So, not now, no.  Someday.  Maybe.

What I actually want now is highly organized space that is pretty.  Something that doesn’t look utilitarian when I am not there.  I want to pack as much as possible into in as small a space as possible without creating a situation that looks perfect when all put away but if you move one thing, it creates chaos.  I like white painted wood with fabric.  I also like a little splash of color which might mean that my thread drawer gets painted red instead of white.  I have to think about that.  I keep trying to decide what I want most.  I like parts of this

But honestly, what seems to grab me are the cubbie/basket combinations.  Whatever I do, my sewing/crafting corner is in one corner of my bedroom.  I have another wall I can get some from, but not much.  One thing that I really appreciated was her mentioning if I craft standing up or sitting down.  I would have tried, automatically, to design a sit-down space.  It’s what naturally comes to mind, but you know what?  I like to do my paper crafting half-standing.  That was a stunning revelation to me.  Once I saw island height work spaces in several craft rooms, I realized that when I made tags for the gifts at Christmas, I did it sitting at a bar stool, half standing, and I liked it.  You see, I have a gateleg craft table in my bedroom that usually stands against one wall at only a little over a foot wide.  However, lift a large leaf and pull out the “gates” for legs, and voila.  One medium sized table.  With just a flick of a wrist and a jerk of the table and I can have a very long space to work on if I choose.  It looks like this

However, mine is not red, but boring white laminate.  You can learn more about this table at Rowecraft. I can’t tell by the picture of that one, but mine is waist high like a counter top.

The next thing you do after you envision yourself, is get your list from last week’s scrap/card making and see how things would be in this room.

This is my list from last week with expanded notations based upon if I was doing things from my dream space rather than my actual space.

What works–

I have stuff to do it.

I could find my

  • pens———–Yes, I could find these last week, but honestly, I’d rather have had them stand out more.  It worked and worked well, but it would be nicer if I could just grab a container and go rather than unpack a whole box.  I had each of my boxes lined up on the end of my bed last week and it was easy to grab what I needed but it did all have to be repacked when I was done.  So, for colored pencils, markers, pens, etc, I would prefer to have them in a bucket– even if I have to look at it.
  • stickers———Ok, I don’t use stickers often, but if I could have a perfect system for them, I’d want them in a binder in sleeves so I could just flip through the binder, grab the sheet out of the sleeve, and move along to the next.  A binder could be covered in fabric, oilcloth, or decoupaged for fun and prettiness.
  • glue/tape——— I think this is fine as it is.  I just have a box, but I don’t use a ton of different glue tape things and they all fit in the box easily so I can just dump and go when I’m done.  Of course, a pretty basket would be more fun, but hey.   I could take or leave how I have it now.  I’m good either way.
  • punches———– The only change I’d make is put a sample of each one on the shoe bag that holds them.  Otherwise, we’re good.
  • stamps———– Now this… let’s just say I consider it frustrating as all get out and love it at the same time.  It works.  It works well.  Again, a box, this one 12×12″ and 3 or 4″ tall, packed with the goods.  Hard to put away but I’m anal enough about this stuff that I do it.  Definitely.  I’d love two things.  First, another binder or two for acrylic stamps.  It could sit with the sticker binder.  As for rubber stamps, I don’t know.  Honestly, I just don’t know.  Man, dream speaking, I’d buy printers trays and lay them out in those or something.  Cool stuff.
  • ink———- Well, if they didn’t have to be stored flat, I’d love a basket where they stood on end and I flipped through them like CDs.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way.  Right now, they’re in a box, it works, but man, my DREAM idea would be to have a mini cabinet with a door, where you open, pull out the color du jour, and voila.  Done.  As it is, they work great in the box I have, but I do have to lay them out on the table to find the one I want.  Not a big nuisance, but if I’m dreaming, I’d change it.

What I couldn’t find/use were

  • photos———- Right now, my photos are in one of two places.  They’re either inserted willy nilly into regular albums or are sitting in zip lock baggies.  I’d LIKE to have some kind of order so I could pull out a photo box, flip through it, and voila.  Even better, I’d LOVE to, while watching movies or something, sort them into page ideas so I can store them with dividers.  That way I pull out a group of pics and know that if I scrap those, they go together.  voila.  Done.  Next?  If I had my dream room, in one of those cubbies I showed in the link up there, I’d have a few photo boxes, labeled by year or subject (I’m thinking subject with year on the back of the photo), and ready to pull out and have at it.
  • paper————- It’s funny, I tried thinking of a dozen things, and they all had charms.  every sheet in a page protector in a binder would be nice but come on, I’d never keep it up.  But, that’d be my FIRST choice.   If the room came with an organizer that kept things how I like them, sure!  Perfect.  However, it doesn’t work that way so it ain’t happenin’.  I have drawers, but I hate going through them (and they’re shallow drawers! Hmmmm note to self:  Might be good for stamps though! What I finally kept coming back to was an accordion type folder that would let me flip through each page etc. I would also love to have lots of cards precut so I can grab a basic card and then grab scraps or coordinating paper to go with it.  I think maybe scraps is the idea for my paper thing.  I could easily sort scraps into that.   So, that’s what I’m thinking is best for me.  Not my idea, but realistic.  I’m never going to keep up the ideal.  Snort.
  • pages to work ON———– I don’t have a preferred album.  I’ve always used Creative Memories, and they just don’t impress me anymore.  After years of almost zero use (we don’t look at them often because the first few times they felt flimsy), the page protectors fall apart, the binding feels loose, and I hate that cardboard spine cover thing.  It annoys me to no end.  So, I didn’t HAVE an album or pages to draw from but it was a problem so I wrote it down.  I think I’d want pages in one of those drawers– maybe where the paper used to go.  That’d be an easy peasy way to grab pages and go.  I’d also want a cubby with finished and in progress albums so I could pull it out and know if I’m on a two page layout situation or a one page beginning/end kind of thing.    I’d LOVE suggestions for albums– any but Creative Memories.  I am simply not interested in theirs.
  • embellishments——– Ok, so I have embellishments everywhere.   Little glass jars, little lunch boxes, little paint cans covered in pretty paper, little metal tins, yeah… you get the picture.  The problem is, I like that set up from an aesthetic point of  view.  So, I need a balance of pretty and easy to find.  I’d like to know exactly where they are and it be easy to grab and put away.  I think maybe if I simply had a photo of the embellishment containers with what is in it written on the photo so I could glance at the book and reach for the right container, before long,  I wouldn’t even need the picture.
  • Tools——- last week, I didn’t put this down because I didn’t try/need to use them.  However, I need a place for my heat gun, all embossing stuff, die cuts, machine, etc.  I really see me using a basket for die cuts and flip through like a CD holder.  Grab what I want and go.  Ideally, each type of tool would have its own basket that sat on a shelf.  I grab said basket (I’d love to find a really cute labeling system for these baskets so that when my daughters use them, it’s easy for them to put things away again), get to work and then put back on the shelf.

A few other ideas that I have are new things.  Right now, if I get something new, it’s a pain and a half because I’m liable to lose it before I find a home for it.  So, one of the number one things I want is to have room for new things.  I see it as a two part solution.

  1. I need to make sure I don’t max out my space.  I need my ink box, for example, to have room for more ink.  I need more room in stamp storage, ribbon storage, or whatever for those things when I get new stuff.
  2. I also need a place to put new things when I get them until I have time to put them away.  I’m learning that this might be a good idea for a lot of my home.  For example, if I buy Lorna new unders, I don’t give them to her until she brings me all of her old ones.  So, while she gathers them up from laundry and drawers, I need a place for those unders that isn’t lying on the table.  My decor style isn’t early unmentionables.  Just sayin’.  The same is true of a new stamp set or die for die cuts.

I’m supposed to take a picture of my space, but my husband is asleep so I’ll have to do it tomorrow.  This is what my space looks like when I am on top of the clutter.

For more pictures, see the rest here. There, week two is done.  Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Craft Challenge: Week One Results

Ok, so this week I was supposed to make a page layout.  Well, I don’t paper scrap at all anymore so technically, nothing worked.  I don’t have pictures organized in any way that I could find them if I wanted to.  Furthermore, I don’t even own a scrapbook with pages etc.  I did try to “pretend” to do a page though and I made a card.   Here are my lists.

Scrapbooking/Card Making

What works–

I have stuff to do it.

I could find my

  • pens
  • stickers
  • glue/tape
  • punches
  • stamps
  • ink

What I couldn’t find/use were

  • photos
  • paper
  • pages to work ON
  • embellishments

So there you have it!  Week one done.  Whether I do more or not will depend on how the week goes.  I’m working on other things this week too, soooooooooooooooo

Craft Challenge~

So, I was trying to avoid work tonight and happened across this blog

She has twenty-nine (that’s 29!!!!) weeks of scrapbook supply organization.  I don’t know if I’ll need every single week, but that’s ok, that week can either be a week off OR… I get to move along faster.  I assume some weeks will take more time and others less, but hey, that’s good.  In the process, I’m thinking that it’ll be fun to actually use things that I have once I have an easier time knowing how to find everything.  So, I’m going to try it.  I may find out that it’s not for me after all, but it’s pretty impressive.

First, I’m going to list every post about it here so that I have my own ready reference.  My intention is to blog about my success or failure for each week’s task as well.  Just because I can.  Who knows if I’ll actually do it.  I find that every time I think I’ll start a blog series, I fail.  So, I’ve been trying to create the series FIRST and then start posting.  Yeah, you’ve seen how successful that is too.  But hey, I’m going to try.

Craft Organization Challenge


Week 1–  Space Audit

Week 2–  Brainstorming

Week 3–  Start Small or Go for Broke

Week 3–  Bonus for Overhaulers

Week 4- Paper

Week 5- Scrap Paper

Week 6– Photo Organization

Week 7– Ideas

Week 8– Projects and UFOs

Week 9- Embellishments

Week 10–  Alphas

Week 11– Stickers & Rub-ons

Week 12– Ribbons & Fibers

Week 13–  Stamps

Week 14– Cropping Supplies (This is what she’s calling “your take it with you when you work with friends” kit)

Week 15– Ink Pads & Embossing Supplies

Week 16–  Paints, Glitters, & Stickles (whatever that is)

Week 17– Punches

Week 18–  Tools

Week 19– Chipboard

Week 20– Die Cuts

Week 21– Pens & Pencils

Week 22– Dies (no, this isn’t what happens to you if you do all this!)

Week 23–  Templates

Week 24– Memorabilia

Week 25– Negatives

Week 26– Two Part Week.  (1) How are you going to keep it clean and (2) Organizing Albums

Week 27– Fonts

Week 28–  Card Storage

Week 29–  Make it Pretty

One thing she puts in every single post is her list of “rules of organization.”  I thought they were excellent so I’m sharing them now.  Please note, these rules belong to the brilliant blogger at “My Love Affair with the Label Maker” and not mine.

1. Label your containers.
2. Be consistent in your methods.
3. Don’t be too specific – your search for your items within your space should be short and simple.
4. Your organizational method should be easy to take out AND put away.
5. When organizing, break any large piles into smaller groupings. Have a 2 foot tall stack of paper to sort? Do it in 1″ high chunks, it will be easier to handle mentally.
6. If it’s something that you use on almost every project, then keep it within reach of your main scrap area.
7. Don’t stress your containers. Get a new system or purge your stash.
8. For most items, product packaging adds bulk. Toss it. One exception – rub ons.
9. Repurpose when you can – almost anything can be painted or covered in paper/fabric.
10. THE GOLDEN RULE – FIRST choose an organizational method, THEN choose a container that fits your space and style. Always shop for containers with a list in hand – a beautiful container is simply clutter if it doesn’t have a dedicated purpose in your space!
I figured out (after going through the entire thing) that this blog is ONLY about this challenge so I can’t tell you that there are any great other things there, but maybe she’ll come along and add other fun stuff for us organizational junkies.

The whole thing has me spinning wondering if I could do something similar with my sewing gear.  If I do it, I’ll let you know.

We Have a Winner!!

Ok, so it’s time to do the drawing for the coolest book on housekeeping to hit the market since Martha Stewart got out of the slammer.  If she’d had this drill sergeant on her side, she might never have found herself behind so much iron and concrete (being too busy keeping her house running in ship shape to have time to goof around with scary things like insider trading (why does that always sound like organ transplants to me?) and such.

As always, I use my trusty favorite integer generator, to determine the winner.  Well, except for the times when I’m getting entries from more than just comments on a single blog post.  Then I do the old hat trick.    I digress.  Anywhooty, off I went to aforementioned and punch in the numbers…

I want 1 integer between the numbers of 1 and 39.  It spits out…

Well, lookie there.  Number 28 is the charmer this time.  So, who is going to have the cleanest house in the neighborhood?  I don’t know.  Shall I look?  Of course I shall!

Off I go to check… count carefully.  Count again to be sure because I don’t want to risk the wrath of militant dust bunnies who dare to fight the attack of the Drill Sergeant, Heidi!

Well, look at that.  Jennifer.

Now, I don’t exactly know which Jennifer it is, but it’s not my Gabby gal from what I can tell.  This Jennifer has an msn email that references underbloomed items of a floral nature.  Just sayin’ to help you figure out if you are the winner.

Me, I’m off to upload this baby so you can download it.

The rest of you, get thee to Lulu and buy said download copy and get your houses ship-shape before the drill sergeant comes and makes you drop and give her 20!

Book Review: Bootcamp For Lousy Housekeepers *WIN COPY!*

Title: Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers

Author: Heidi Schapp

Publisher’s Synopsis: You’re buried under piles of unfolded laundry. You can’t set the table because all your dishes are dirty. You need to dust, but every countertop is covered in newspapers and last month’s unpaid bills. Every drawer in your home is a junk drawer. Does this sound familiar? Do you want to manage your home better, but just don’t know where to start? Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers is the book that can help you transform your home from “messed” to “blessed” in a month (or less!) and keep it clean FOR GOOD!

Drill Sergeant Heidi Schaap teaches you what to clean, how often to clean it, how to maintain your newly-cleaned home and more!

Ok, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart.  After all, I have another blog where I try to remember to keep a daily journal of my “weight loss through housework” progress.  In addition, my daughters were actively involved in the finishing of this book!  My daughter Braelyn took the cover photo while my daughter Kaylene posed trying hard to look like a mean drill sergeant while she wanted to laugh.  That’s just how those things go don’tcha know.

This book was inspired by the old fashioned notion of a day’s work for each day of the week.  Ma Ingalls and her “Wash on Monday…” and so forth.  So, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you open it up and find the week broken up into neat and tidy days for the reader to do her work.  There’s a laundry day, a town day, a garden day… you get the picture.  Chock full of forms, ideas, and even a reminder to polish those shoes (as every good Drill Sergeant would do), Heidi has created a book that’ll kick your butler into shape!

This book also comes with lots of hands-on help.  The author, Heidi, has a helpful BLOG where you can keep up with the daily chores, ask questions, and get new tips for making your home run as smoothly as meringue in a mixer on baking day.

As helpful as it is, this book isn’t for everyone.  If you struggle with thinking ‘organizationally’ you might need a lot of help in how to implement the program.  What is easy for one person isn’t always clear and understandable to another.  Look at the book previews, see the samples, and ask questions.  However, if you just need a book to help you organize your work and get it done, this might just be the book for you.  Caveat:  The book will help you plan and organize it.  I am very disappointed to discover that it doesn’t work like house elves and do the work while you sleep.

I bought a digital download for review purposes and as a giveaway.  I want a hard copy for my library because, after all, my kids are involved and I’m a mom.  I need a hardcopy!  However, I wanted to give someone else a chance at this marvelous book.  The book will be permanently deleted from my computer once I know the winner has received it, so Heidi isn’t going to lose a penny!  No worries!

Leave a comment and tell me the one job you love and the one you hate to be entered into the free drawing for this exciting book!  (Well, as exciting as you can get over housework!)

Declutter Challenge: Day 3- Wednesday

Today it took me a while… I got sidetracked with this little thing called life.  So, it’s nearly Thursday, but I’m finally getting to this.

I tossed:

3- tubs of dry moon sand

1- plastic toy thingie that I have no idea why I have it or what I’ll do with it.

1- CD for something that is no longer an issue

1- Book that I sold

1- Plastic container with cards that are for who knows what.

1- Paperback book in the garbage– I don’t know how it got in my home but it’s gone now.  Blech.

1-  Stack of mostly or fully used spiral notebooks.

1-  Old ATM card that I’ve replaced (and since lost.  Anyone seen it?)

When I go to dump the trash, I’ll take a picture of the one with the moon sand and stuff in it.  Thirty things gone from my life and a cleaner living room shelf to boot!

Lovin’ My Nook and Cranny~

Well, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve made a concentrated effort to create a craft nook in my bedroom.  Without one, I’m kind of stuck for sewing options.  I don’t like taking up living room space and I really don’t like not sewing.  The alternative was removing the piano, which we gave to a friend’s mother, and rearranging my room.  After many hours of work, this is what I have.

Here I show my little plant.  I decided that I needed some greenery so I bought a little plant and repotted it.  I might put a ribbon around it… or not.

I had to put these pictures on the little corner shelf I had left over from when we had bookshelves in this corner.  I kept a shelf here in order to keep things from falling down the corner.

Kaylene immediately asked why I “had” to put her and Nolan’s watermelon picture on the shelf.  She kind of has issues with things like that, but I love that picture and had absolutely ZERO intention of not displaying it where I can look and smile at my little “non-existent” children.  Well, at least until the State of California decides to recognize them.

One of the first things I wanted to do was put up a peg board for easy access to my things.  I eventually want to create a “cupboard” door to cover it so it’s not so ugly and utilitarian, but until then, I’ll just be satisfied.

Note to self:  See if the Quilted Quail has my 6×24″ Omnigrid ruler in stock yet.  This replacement for my broken ruler is not my idea of a good ruler.  I miss the yellow and black lines.

You also can’t see it, but there is also my little Ikea metal pail that used to be in the kitchen.  I love it in here and now there’s actually something in it!  I have my seam rippers, fray check, and measuring tapes in there.

My cupboards!  These are just simple little crate cupboards from Target.  In this one I have two distinct things.

1.  The upper shelf holds the fabric I intend to sew up “this week” (it’ll change per week or two depending on how much I sew up.  My goal is that as I clear the shelf, I’ll go out to my totes, pull in another stack of fabric, stitch it up, and voila!  Another week or two’s worth of work.  In this shelf there are several t-shirts for appliqueing.  I may have to bring in matching fabrics from elsewhere, but we’ll see.  I see Jenna’s skort and t-shirt, Creed’s jon-jons, Jenna’s skirt/skort and t-shirt.  Lorna’s t-shirt and then fabric for bottoms.  I’m thinking about cutting a very short pair of shorts and adding tiers to them to give it the appearance of a skirt.  I see the gingham for skirt/skort and shirt… some vintage pillowcase fabric for a vintagey dress… I’m thinking something apronish.  My Amy Butler bag fabric…  some corduroy for a fall skirt.. some daisies that I have no idea what to do with, a dress to cut into a skirt, and who knows what else!

2.  My plastic drawers.  In these are zippers, spools of thread and bobbins that don’t fit in my thread drawers (eventually I’ll only have thread in my thread drawers but for now, this is ok), and an empty one.   On top is a vintage embroidered pillowcase to sew into something cool, a blank linen dress to embellish, and to the right, canned air and the “trap” for the serger.

In the left cabinet, the top shelf holds my smocking pleater… and four little tins.  Those tins hold hardware and other trinkets for paper crafting/card making.  I can now find my brads, charms, and other metal works easy peasy!

Below that are four photo boxes that hold paper craft supplies.  In the boxes are…

1. Adhesives
2. Rubber Stamps
3. Stamp pads and markers
4. Punches and scissors

Of course, as you can see, I also keep my iron and ironing sprays in here.  (Sprays are behind the iron… kind of hard to see.)

I’ve been in and out of those boxes several times already and it really wasn’t a big deal.  Easy to get in and out and once I make the labels, I won’t have to guess which box I need.

Note to self: get on that label making!

See!  My punches and scissors from one of those boxes.  I just reach in, and voila!

Seeing them makes me want to start creating.  Let’s see… which font should I use….

Name that movie!

Below that  shelf, is the paper part of my crafting supplies.  The top box I know has sticker sheets, scraps of paper from other projects and such.  I’m not sure what’s in the others… I’m thinking stamps are in one…

Below that is a plastic set of drawers.  I have different things in each set… patterned papers, solids, etc.

Two of my paper packs didn’t fit in the drawers (they are slightly too wide for some reason, so I just set them on top.

Again, I plan to label it all.

To the left are my Stampin’ Up! catalogs and if you look very very carefully, to the left of those are my two paper cutters.  I love my paper cutters and I LOVE how they slide in there so easily.  They stay nicely out of the way, but I’ve already pulled them out twice and it was so easy to take them out and then put them away again.

A close up view of the drawers opened and ready for use.  It’s so easy to sit at the counter, reach down, flip through the drawers until I find what I want, and then close it up again.  I’m amazed at how easy it is to keep everything clean.

Note to self:  MAKE LABELS!

To the right of those cabinets, is the other wall.  On that wall I have one long shelf that holds four blue canvas baskets.  In those baskets are projects in progress, trims, sewing machine parts and accessories, and… um… I don’t remember.

Note to self:  Are you ever going to make said labels?

Below that is my peg board.

To the right of that, a nice metal strip that holds pins, needles, and safety pins.  I have two empty ones for the future.

My trusty Bernina is waiting there for me.  I can’t wat to clean her up and use her!

Below the counter on the right is a cubby that supports the counter and holds the fabrics for my bedroom and the boy’s room.    As soon as I’m done sewing those projects, I’ll put other things I’m working on down there.  That’s kind of exciting for me.

I will eventually buy a white chair for that corner and pad it.

This is what the other side looks like!

The shelf above them holds my pretty cans. In the cans there are buttons, grommets and eyelets, and I can’t remember what else. On the left of that shelf is a new white 12×12 box for whatever I need in the future with my Tiffany’s box on top for fun. I know, I’m a nerd. I kept the box my gift came in. Sue me. It’s probably the only thing I’ll ever get from Tiffany’s and is one of my most treasured possessions because of who sent it and why. (you know who you are and I think of you and thank the Lord for you every time I see it). To the right of the cans are 2 plastic handled metal latching boxes. One has all my Wrights packages. Bias tape, rick rack, piping etc. Anything still in a package. I have a second one next to it and when I find the REST of my packages, I’ll need it. I want to decoupage something on them but I haven’t decided what yet.

The brown drawers have already been moved to the left of the counter on the book case under my windows.  The metal basket was going to be my trash can for the room before I decided to go “craft” in here.  Now I’m going to get a regular trash can and get rid of that.

On the right at the bottom are two shelves. The upper holds serger thread and patterns currently in use. The lower holds the same.

And here is the corner look… just because I can show it.

Now, my serger is in place of my “oh Brother” back up machine.  I have to find a home for that thing.  It did its job while I needed it, but I’m very happy to have my Bernina back and a part of my sewing life.

All in all, I think it’s a very nice little corner.  It has everything I need on a day-to-day basis, and anything else I need, I can get from the garage and return there when I’m done.

I can do pretty much anything I need to in this corner but

1.  Iron

2.  Cut

3.  Quilt anything of any significant size.

So there she is… my pretty little craft nook.  I’m so excited about it!!

A Schedule? HORRORS!

Ok, so I have this thing about schedules.  They are not my friends.  I’ve tried every single solitary one and sabotage myself before the second segment is gone.  I pick up from where I should be and it fails again.  Woe.  Is.  Me.


The other day, I went to Google reader and found it much easier for me to use than Bloglines so I signed up and now I keep up with more blogs than I ever knew existed.  I love the “suggested blogs” and have found some I would have loved to know about for the past year or three.


Once I was familiar and using it, I saw this little ditty, “Google Calendar.”  I clicked.  I am hooked.


First,  this online calendar is easy to use, can be adapted to YOUR lifestyle, and you can have multiple calendars going!  My first thought was, “A way to shedule blog posts so that I’m not neglecting any of my blogs.  You see, I have a lot of blogs.  Thought you oughtta know.  What was that?  You knew?  Well good.  All the best people do.  Snort.


See, I’ll be talking to someone on IM, reading a message board post, or something equally intellectually stimulating and a blog idea will occur.  If I do not, immediately, start writing (and once I start I can’t stop) I’ll forget it until I’m somewhere that I can’t start writing and then I get irked and let’s face it.  That means said blog post ain’t a gonna happen.


So, I hustled back to that nifty calendar thingie and started to set me up a blog thing but I didn’t.  I put down a reminder to read The World of Captain John Smth to the kids, every day at 1:00 pm.  I tend to forget.  Shame on me.  Ths book which should have taken a maximum of 4 weeks to read is taking four months.  Times two.  Shame on me.


Well, that spiraled.  Next thing I knew, I had a menu up there, a reminder to clean the fridge, call about insurance, and my sewing projects listed.  On it went until I thought, “wow, I’ve been organizing my life and I might actually do it!”


Well, it’s Thursday.  No, everything on the list wasn’t done exactly according to schedule but most was and more was done than i’ve gotten done in a LONG time.  WAHOO.


Then, on Monday, I remembered the blog calendar.  You know, that thing I decided I wanted that took me to Google in the first place?  Snort.  I went there, did my thing, and now, I have a nice list of scheduled blogs to write about… including the one I am typing right now. These very words were decided on way back on Monday.  I didn’t know if I’d be writing that I like what it does or if I hated it, but hey.  Soon, I’ll have them written in advance.  WOAH.  Talk about organized.  I’m not sure I can handle it.  hee hee


Tuesday, I had another thought.  I could make the reading thing, be a school thing. YIPPEEEEE.  I planned and now have a nice little reminder for sevral things.  Books to read, tests to give, oh the things they’ll learn!


So, what have I accomplished this week and what have I learned from it?


  1. To read aloud about 15-20 pages in a book like The World of Captain John Smith takes me half an hour.  I am going to time it for sure and then adjust my schedule.  No reason to alot an hour if it consistently takes me less.  Then again, the hour might just be necessary for handling interruptions.  I don’t know.  But I coudln’t have told you last week if it took 10 minutes or 50.
  2. I can edit 5 portraits per hour as a general rule.  I would have thought double that.  I would have WAY underestimated the time it takes to do photo editing.  This is important since I do all of Braelyn’s photo editing at this point.
  3. Planned cleaning only works if the related areas are accessible.  I can’t plan to oil countertops if they’re cluttered and I can’t polish the floor if it is loaded with junk and dirty.  I need to make a note for the hour previous to any job for the kid of the day to get it prepped for me.  This is exciting news for me.  WAHOO.
  4. I do not like to stop sewing and put things away.  That being said, I think I must learn to do it as part of self-discipline because I DO like working in spurts instead of long stretches.  I didn’t used to enjoy that but I do now.  When our room is done, we’ll be able to have my machines left out and this will not be a problem.  YIPPEEEEEEE
  5. My children need more direction in their free time.  In the past year or so they’ve grown lazy in their pursuits and choose to sit in front of a tv or a computer far too often.  Time for a wake-up call. 


This might call for another calendar or eight. 


Schedules are supposed to work for you.  They’re a tool that you use to effectively run your life.  They’re not suppsed to run you.  This is working so far.  This is cool. 


In closing, I’d like to add one more little plug for this ingenius program.  Ten minutes before any change in activity, a neat little box pops up on your computer to remind you.  Yes.  It does.  Isn’t that SMART.  I am convinced a normal person with forgetfulness designed this dandy little program.


Go forth and conquer.  Get a Google Calendar or twenty today! 


P.S.  You can even make it public so that friends and family can add to it!  I didn’t.  I have enough to do without someone else giving me more things to do!