Friday, November 20, 2015

homemaking hack: spray everything off with this

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but I think survival may trump necessity. And you know I'm in all-out survival mode these days! :D

Remember the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the father uses Windex for everything {including pimples? ha!}? I think I'm starting to have that kind of relationship with Dawn dish soap. :D

My favorite new hack came about only on accident! The kids clean off the counters every night, and one night they had refilled our lemon cleaning spray with dawn and water and were spraying it everywhere. It was one of those moments where I frowned initially and then realized they were actually little geniuses. :D

Now I use their little cleaning hack on a daily basis!! :D

With watered down Dawn in a spray bottle I can spray the insides of soaking dishes while they're still warm beside the sink, I can clean the sink after I do the dishes, I can wash the stove top and the microwave off like 5x better, and thanks to Rob I figured out Dawn also works amazingly on our concrete floor if you dry it with a dry towel right away! I think it cleans everything better because it cuts through the grease instead of just sanitizing it like some cleaners I've bought in the past. 

Another crazy awesome use for spray Dawn is washing toddler hands- I can cover Zane's hands one-handed without overdoing the soap! 

I'm telling you spray Dawn is my new Windex. :D 

Maybe you do this already and I'm way behind, but it was a new idea to me so I had to share! :D I keep our spray soap by the sink ready at all times now. :D

p.s. this is not in anyway motivated by any sort of sponsorship, I just think it's an awesome combo and is now a mom-necessity. :D

Okay, now you must tell me if you have any more uses for Dawn that I don't. I'm sure I could love it even more! :D I know I've probably forgotten something! :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

life lately {4 a.m. and daily life edition}

Ah. Life is wonderful. :D Wonderfully full, wonderfully busy, wonderfully messy... and it's all wonderfully hard work.

Right now my hands are free {!} and I'm excited to get a chance to write something. It just happens to be 4:06 a.m. and I've been up since 2 a.m. when a certain little girl had a nightmare. The baby is sleeping but I'm completely awake. :/ Something terrible always happens when I am startled in the middle of the night- I never can go back to sleep. In this case, maybe it's a really gift because the extra alone time is a good thing. :)

I may not make any sense at this hour, but at least this time I get a chance to share some of what life has been like lately! :D

This picture sums up every weekday pretty much since we started school:

My life from 8-3 these days is holding two babies while homeschooling. :) Someday I hope to show you, but in our new house plan we built a den connecting to the schoolroom so I could sit on a sofa and nurse the baby while reading with children and it has been one of the best things ever. If I sit in an office chair all day holding a baby my back kills me! Comfy couch = big win.

Many of the other hours of my day are {of course} spent being a short-order chef/baker/food plater:  :)

I usually keep it pretty simple unless I get a craving for a good cookie. :D The other day I made some citrus butter cookies {from the Pioneer Woman's first cookbook} and improvised with lemon and lime essential oils. I have no idea what the original recipe would taste like but these were pretty good:

I don't know how many times I've said it now, but somehow after 12 years of motherhood I'm still shocked at how much my kids can eat. We go through a loaf of bread in one meal and that's without me eating any! :D

Of course, lots of food= lots of dishes. I have to say though, I'm super blessed to have this view in the daytime and a husband and son who do the dishes after dinner. :D 

It's still very warm around these parts- even for November, so we've spent more hours outside during lunch and right after school. I'm glad for the 75-80 degree range, and when it gets down to the 60's every now and then we {Texans} pull out the scarves and boots. We may be sweating but hey it's almost Thanksgiving and we're going to wear fall clothes, by golly.

Oh, and is it just me, or does homeschooling make you love daytime appointments too? Even if it means taking everyone to the eye doctor, it feels like field trip... :D 

Probably the two questions we get asked the most when we go out are "Are these all yours?" usually followed by "Do you want to have more?"

The look on almost every single face is complete surprise when we answer yes to both. :)

Is this season easy? No way, man.

Does getting in and out of the car feel a little like torture? Yes, if I'm being honest.

Is homeschooling tough? On its best day.

Is all this daily, tedious, exhausting effort worth it? 

When I see these precious faces I instantly know the answer...

Yes, yes, and YES.

It's not only worth it-- it is truly a blessing from the Lord Himself. :)

I'm so thankful for this crazy, busy, awesome life as a mama/wife/homemaker/chef/teacher/housekeeper.

Not to say I'm not totally looking forward to the day we get a 12-passenger van. :D

{p.s. you may never think that will happen to you... just wait until you have 6 kids :P}

Thursday, October 08, 2015

our living room in the new house + tbt to the old ones

Since we have lots of work left to do in our house and have had babies being born and such, decorating has definitely taken the back seat {and I'm talking a 15-passenger van kind of back seat}. :) 

It's just not in the budget to go all out {and probably never will or should be!} but we have made progress with what we have and a few new and new-to-us items.

I always hesitate to show things unfinished {and right now everything is} because I know it needs this or that or paint or whatever, but for now here's the incomplete, less-than-perfect version of our living room: :D

I was so excited to score two of these leather chairs for $75 each and the oh-so-ubiquitous but way fun geometric pillow is from IKEA:

And I'm not sure I ever told you about the linen sofa- it's my favorite Craigslist find. It sounds silly to think God would give us a gift of the sofa of my dreams, but He really did, and I'm still in awe. By some crazy miracle, we got this huge comfy sofa for $200 last year!!

One of my painting/fun projects a few weeks ago was this giant chalkboard, and we pulled the gray slipcover out of the storage building for a fall-ish change to the IKEA sofa:

This $8 chair and eBay pillow were from years ago but I never thought to combine them until we moved:

I'm loving the houseplant trend- I have always had a thing for plants. :D We had this big struggling plant for years that we finally threw out when we moved, and I replaced her with this one I'm hoping to keep alive:

{Rob had to work late one weekend so I spent the night cleaning under the couches and quickly taking these pictures. :) Fun times! Of course- life with kiddos means my little buddies are always close by and Legos were kicked out of the picture... :P}

We are still deciding and saving for detailed trim work, but we finally decided to mount the tv over the fireplace about 6 weeks ago and it's actually been much nicer than the big entertainment system. :D I'm liking the modern, minimalistic look right now:

I'm still continually tweaking things and trying to find just the right items for the wall, but so far I like how it's going. The bright rug really pops and makes me happy! :D

I'm okay with being a slow decorator- it definitely saves money to wait to find things used, doesn't it? And it's so nice when you can add a pop of color with a rug or a pillow. :D

It's also fun to go back and see how your style has changed, and find new ways to use your old stuff. Here's our last living room in the old house- it's still one of my favorites:

We still have everything in the picture, just in different places now. :D 

And here are the older versions of our living room from the past 5 years:

And going way, way back- here was our living room 8+ years ago where I started this blog{!}:

I get such a kick out of looking at our old pictures. :D We finally sold that leather sofa before we moved last year but we still use that $100 leather chair, the mirror and the black and white Target rug right now! :) So fun.

Do you stick with the same style or has it changed? How do you find frugal ways to make your home comfy? :D

Are you a slow decorator too?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

a crazy view, I finally did it, and life is messy

You know what's crazy about this time of year? 

I get to see this view every morning from my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room windows: 

It's beautiful, and the best part is that I only have to get up by 7 to see it! ;) I'm loving that. And another bonus of rising with the sun? ;) Having to start school early every morning has forced me to be creative with my frequently unwashed hair. :P 

Did I ever tell you I can't french braid? I've never done it on myself with any success, and I won't call this a success but my hair did stay in place:

I was excited. :) 

We start school at 8 this year, and the kids have been doing really well with getting up and starting on time:

I had high hopes of having an easier year during our first week {cough *naive*}, but after the first few days we went back to having to read every single problem with one of these little people. I'm not sure if it's a really a reading problem, or a personality/character issue {I'm sure it's sometimes both} but it's pretty much a patience killer and I'm feeling over this stage that has continued for.... um... all of our homeschooling years. {ha!} I thought we were this.close to getting past it, but so far this particular child takes up most of every subject period needing "help" and I'm still the helper most of the time. 

We even did eye checks a couple of weeks ago just to make sure there weren't underlying problems and one we didn't expect needed glasses {!!}, but this particular child could see quite well. Sigh. 

From my few years of experience, you just have to wait for the magical day that it all clicks and suddenly they can read super well and never ask you anything. :) I'm just feeling a little impatient after 6 hrs/day of one-on-one tutoring for a few years. ;) I would have laughed if you told me this a decade ago, but reading with a learning reader is without a doubt one of the biggest challenges I've ever experienced in parenting! ahhh. :) What's really amazing is that when I have a good attitude and praise them for their good reading, they always do so much better. I just have to remember that on a daily basis! :) 

crazy town central from 8-3
Life has been pretty different this year in other ways though! I've never been one to have a lot of structure in the day, but since we have been sticking to the school schedule we've done a lot more with our time. It's so good, but I've just been busy trying to keep up with the house and exercising after school is over.  Even with all the challenges, I'd say we all really, really like the schedule so far. It's like working out- it's never easy but it's worth the effort. 

Last time I shared about finding time to get this kind of organizing done:

I did get most of that list crossed off but it took over a week. :) I'm slowly seeing progress! We hung our kitchen shelves too {and have added even more details since then!}:

One thing Rob and I were talking about late last night was that we have so much left to do, but we'll really never be done. I forget that constantly- do you? My dad was reminding me of that the other day- he told me a story of how my wise uncle reminded him that all of life is work, and it's messy, but it's just life. :)

I was reading in Ecclesiastes for the past week and Solomon said it too- all we have is to eat, drink, and enjoy our labor as we fear the Lord and keep His commandments. And joy in our work comes from the Lord. It's hard, for sure, but there is enjoyment to be found in accomplishing our tasks! What a gift this life is, and what I miss out on when I think the joy is to be found after the end of what I have to do, because I'll never be done!!

There is joy in it now- seeing a toilet cleaned, cooking another meal, washing another load of clothes.  Smelling the cookies being baked, getting my hands in soapy hot water, sweeping off the porch- it's all a gift if the Lord lets us enjoy our work. It's just I have to remember that instead of rushing to be done with the next thing. Life on this earth is just doing the next thing, and there will always be more to do.

Every morning I get to see the sun is a gift, and thanks to my sinful nature, a fight to see things with joy instead of wishing them over. But the Lord is good, and He thankfully overcame my sinful nature through His Son.

And each morning I'm allowed to rise, the Son gives me all the new mercy to do what I need to do... 

and enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

thrifty finds: boutique clothing at garage sale prices

You know you've hit the thrifting jackpot when you keep smiling every time you see your score. :D

I felt that way after I got this outfit at a garage sale (!!) the other day:

The girl who was hosting the sale actually owned a clothing boutique, so the top was new with tags and a name brand, and the pants were a really good brand as well- one of my favorites for how long they last too! The flowy top fits now {with an undershirt} but the jeans will have to wait a little while. :D I looked both items up and they would have cost around $250 new together.

The total for both items thrifted? 


It was one of those garage sales where you get there and can barely decide where to start shopping. :D It reminded me of the time I felt like I went shopping at an Anthro garage sale. {even stranger coincidence? They were on the same street and I posted about it 2 years ago this very week! Weird. :P}

What good deals have you scored lately? {and are they still available? LOL}

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