Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You don't even want to know...

March just keeps getting crazier and crazier around here. I am thinking that God really wants me to have a penitential Lent. I hear you, Lord! You can take a break for April, OK? Maybe a little one?

Anyway, I'm just going to post some of my 40 Bags, 40 Days pics, and then go back to more purging while I comfort a 16 month old who has a double ear infection AND a badly sprained ankle (possibly a "hidden" fracture).

This is our "Big Cabinet" in the kitchen, which previously collected small appliances, and odd paperwork, and an old calculator (?), etc. In the "before" shot, you can see all of the junk wonderful treasures on the counter below. After I cleared it all out and threw away a whole boatload of weirdness, I decided to think about how to better organize our kitchen so we can maximize efficiency (ha!). With that in mind, I decided to make this Big Cabinet our cups/glasses cabinet and also store our blender there.

So, what happened to the cabinet that previously housed the cups?

It is now our "breakfast cabinet"! I put all of the cereal, bowls, mugs, k-cups (for my beloved Keurig!), sugar bowl, creamers, and tea in this cabinet. So, for the majority of family members, this means going to only one cabinet in the morning and the fridge to fetch the milk and half-&-half. Easy-peasy! I'm a GENIUS!

And, here is my OTHER cookbook cabinet! I have a lot of cookbooks, and I really do use most of them on a regular basis, so it's nice to have the space to see them all clearly.

OK, now I'm going back to play nursemaid to my brood. Did I mention that 4 of them have Spring Break this week? This is after most of them were sick all of last week and when I picked up the 2 "un-sick" ones on Friday, the teacher said, "Have a wonderful Spring Break!". I did a perfect imitation of a deer in headlights, thinking "WHUCK the WHUCK?!? I didn't know it was Spring Break!". But, it is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm still here!!

I haven't disappeared OR stopped doing my 40 Bags, 40 Days Challenge, LIFE just got super-busy (kids got sick, brother's wife had their 1st baby, etc) and I haven't been able to post for a couple days week.

So, I have a few "after" pics to share because I forgot to take the before pics I didn't want to overwhelm you with too many pics in 1 post. *I'm nice like that*:

And, now to prove how much I really needed to do this challenge, here are some before and after pics:

Yes, we are now the proud owners of a sad, little liquor cabinet which cannot begin to contain the vast amounts of liquor bottles now stored in our basement!

And, I have begun a 2nd "Cookbook Cabinet" which will also serve as my "hide candy from the kids" cabinet and my "small, fragile vases for which I never receive flowers"  cabinet.

Today, I am hoping to tackle the DVD wallet and rid us of all those scratched DVDs (why do we put them back in there after we've determined that they are useless?) and I would also like to tackle the large wall cabinet in the kitchen (which is the middle section of the new liquor cabinet, the 1st & 2nd cookbook cabinets, and the 1st Aid cabinet). We shall see.

How is everyone else doing this Lent? Spring sprung here last week, then went back into hiding (deep sigh....) for another week or two. So, to keep up my spirits I'm channeling a little bit of "Annie".

More later!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We have a WINNER! Oh, and some helpful tips.

Without further ado, the winner of the Purex Complete Crystals giveaway is Noelle! (Noelle, I will be messaging you later on where to send your free coupon!) CONGRATULATIONS!

Later today, I'll be posting 2 days worth of my 40 Bags Challenge, but while you're sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for that, I wanted to share these awesome tips with you from Sarah over at Clover Lane. I could not have said it better myself!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 5

Here are yesterday's pictures from the 40 Bags Challenge. We (my 2 daughters & I) worked in the girls' room, specifically on the changing table and their dresser. We purged SO many clothes and baby blankets (little sob from Mommy). Of course, I realized that the day I have to go through all the clothing bins in the basement will be even more work now, but it's all worth it!

Here are the before/afters of the changing table:

The before/after pics of the dresser are not too dramatic, as most of the work occurred inside the drawers and, for some reason, the pics don't tell the story very well. Here you go:

All tolled, we got rid of 1 bag of trash and packed away 2 garbage bags full of clothing. Whew! Now, I have to start on today's Challenge..... More later!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Days 3 & 4 (Did 2 in 1 day!)

Let me preface these "before/after" pictures by acknowledging the fact that our 1st floor bathroom is horrifying. Horrifying in style (a mixture of the original 1920s bungalow/1950s salmon pink/mid-80s blech/early 2000s HELP!). Horrifying in condition. Horrifying in size. Horrifying in all ways. That said, we do realize this fact, and keep it very clean (or try to!). That seems to be our compromise until we can afford to rip it to shreds and make it gorgeous. In our defense, 4 years ago we had a 2nd bathroom put into our basement and it is GORGEOUS! Of course, the basement surrounding it is unfinished and, well, horrifying...

OK, ENOUGH of that! Today, I did 2 days from the list (not in order) because we will be out of town tomorrow -- the lunchbox cabinet & first-aid cabinet and the medicine cabinet & bathroom sink cabinet.

Lunchbox cabinet-Before

Lunchbox cabinet-After

First Aid Cabinet-Before

First Aid Cabinet-After

Under sink-Before

Under Sink-After

Medicine Cabinet-Before

Medicine Cabinet-After

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Day 2 of The 40 Bags Challenge

OK, I should have taken "before" & "after" pictures of the first day, but I didn't. So, you'll just have to take my word that my phonebook cabinet is now sparkling and organized (It is!). I also threw out two bags of garbage, so I'm technically ahead of the game!

Today is Day 2, and I did take pictures! This is the Icebox cabinet my husband made for me as a wedding gift, and we use it as a book cabinet, mostly.

Here are the "befores":

And here are the "afters":

You'll have to pardon the cranky 15-month-old toddler in the After pics, as she is not a big fan of Mama doing this 40-day-purge.

I purged 3 bags of books (going off to the lake house!) and 1 bag of trash. I am feeling lighter already!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It Smells Like Spring In Here! AND.. A GIVEAWAY!

I am going to break with my regular-type of posts and give a review of something that I think everyone who does laundry will want to try. Boring? Maybe. But, in my house of 8 people, doing laundry is a daily evil chore necessity and anything that makes it more pleasant is a winner in my book!  Today's post also comes with a give-away (yay!)! And, if we all play our cards correctly, I may just be able to do a bigger give-away in a few weeks which would be stinkin' AWESOME!

I definitely recommend products that I use and love. I also warn people about products that are awful. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I will not steer you wrong on anything that has to do with baby/child items, books, food, or cleaning products. I'm also a big proponent of anything natural. So, when the wonderful people at Purex sent me a free sample of their latest fabric softener, Purex Complete Crystals Softener, I was intrigued. Skeptical, but intrigued.

There are a lot of products out on the market that claim to be "natural" and "work just like magic!", but very few pass my personal test. They either end up being not-even-close to natural, or they are 100% natural and can't perform the task they were "so perfectly designed for". So, I read the ingredients and the fact sheet that Purex sent along with the product. Here's what I learned:

  • Purex Complete Crystals are 92% natural. I respect their honesty. They are not 100% natural, and they are upfront about it. 
  • Purex Crystals are not oil-based, like most traditional fabric-softeners.
  • Oil-based softeners can reduce your towels' absorbency, as well as effect other fabrics adversely.
Being a dryer-sheet-kind-of-girl, I really didn't want to like this product, but I thought, "What the heck? It's free. Give it a whirl!". Yeah, I really like to live on the edge.

So, the next day, my 10-year-old daughter and I decided to try out these crystals (she, also, has a bit of the wild-child in her). The directions were simple enough: pour the crystals with the clothes and the soap into the washing machine drum. *Side note: We performed a "sniff test" to check out the aroma and were underwhelmed.*
When the load was finished, we went downstairs to switch it to the dryer. What we first experienced when we opened the door of the washer was quite pleasant. It smelled very fresh and clean, and not at all like the crystals in the bottle had smelled. "Interesting,", I thought, "but will it make my clothes soft and deal with that garsh-awful static cling?" (Really, I thought that. Well, maybe "garsh-awful" was a bit milder than the original version)

Fast forward to the dryer signal buzzing. I marched downstairs and opened the dryer door with a flourish that said, "OK, dazzle me. Prove me wrong!". I was immediately greeted by a slightly more powerful (but not over-powering) aroma that was similar to what the laundry had smelled like in the washer, but now reminded me of what laundry hung outside to dry smells like. Dare I say, fresh sunshine and warm summer breezes??? And, I wore a dress with tights the other night, and had ZERO issues with static cling.

Anyway, it's been about a week since I've started using the crystals and my bottle is empty. I feel the need to purchase more. My kids are burying their noses in the laundry basket when they are doing their folding chores and my husband and I have caught each other smelling our own clothes.

  • I appreciate not having those little leftover, worn-out dryer sheets lying around.
  • My towels are really soft, although I can't say I've noticed a difference in absorbency.
  • I like the fact that we are using less chemicals on our clothes, therefore less chemical on our bodies.
  • I like that the crystals don't stain my clothes like liquid fabric softener does.
  • Laundry is more exciting to do when you add "crystals"; like a medieval witch's brew or a mad scientist's experiment! (Trying to appeal to the under-13 crowd, folks)
  • I am still having a tiny issue with measuring and pouring the crystals into the washer and trying not to spill everywhere, but that might just get better with time.
So.... Who would like to give these Purex Crystals a whirl? The kind folks at Purex also sent me a coupon for a free bottle of crystals, and I'd like to spread the joy! Kindly leave a comment below about laundry or fabric softener or summer breezes or mad scientists (you get the point!), and next Tuesday, I will randomly draw one name as the recipient of the coupon for a free bottle of crystals! Also, I'd like to hear back from that person after he/she tries the crystals and compare notes.

Maybe, if we get enough people to post comments AND start following the blog, the lovely people at Purex will send more free coupons and we'll have a real humdinger of a giveaway!! Pass this blog link on, share it on Facebook and Twitter, tell your grandma!

40 Bags, 40 Days Challenge

I learned about this challenge over at Faith & Family Live a couple of years ago and have wanted to incorporate into my Lenten sacrifices ever since. This is the year!

What is the "40 Bags, 40 Days Challenge"? Basically, for each day in Lent (Sundays don't count!), you commit to throwing out/donating 1 bag of items you don't want/use/need anymore. In essence, a physical 40 day purge of your household. Added bonus? Your Spring Cleaning will be finished by the time Easter arrives!

I've divided my home into 40 areas (because I am a list-maker!) so that I have a definitive plan-of-attack every day. I've posted my list below, if you'd like to get an idea of how I'm attempting to tackle this challenge. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay on track and not transfer some of my mess from one area to another!

In addition to the "40 Bags", I'm also giving up Facebook for Lent for the 3rd year in a row. And, every Easter I wonder why I'm going back to that time-waster... Maybe this will be the year where I also learn how to temper my excessive need to use Facebook as a way to avoid household chores. Maybe not.

So, what are you doing for Lent this year? Giving up sweets? Saying a few extra prayers every day? In the past, what has helped you get into the true Lenten spirit? Is your family participating as a group, or is it "every man for himself"?

Here's to a blessed and beneficial Lent for all of us!

My 40 Day List:

1) "Phonebook Cabinet"
2) Book Cabinet in dining room
3) Lunchbox cabinet & 1st Aid Cabinet
4) Front hall coat closet
5) Girls' Dresser and changing table
6) Medicine cabinet and 1st floor bathroom sink cabinet
7) Medicine cabinet in kitchen & spice cabinet
8) Play-doh/plastic bag cabinet
9) Big boys' closet & dressers
10) Little boys' closet
11) All hanging clothing in basement
12) Front hall junk closet
13) Large wall cabinet in kitchen
14) Junk drawer and "lids" drawer
15) Little boys' dressers
16) Toy cabinets in dining room
17) Toys/arts-n-crafts in girls' room.
18) Gift card & battery cabinet
19) Glassware cabinet
20) Clothing bins
21) White cabinet in Master bedroom
22) Jewelry box
23) China cabinet drawer
24) Toy bins in basement
25) Toy bins in basement, part deux
26) Big drawers (lids, etc) in kitchen
27) Entertainment center
28) Laundry room shelf
29) Basement fridge and deep-freeze
30) Kitchen fridge
31) Food cabinets
32) Kyle's dresser
33) My dresser
34) Downstairs bathroom closet & sink
35) DVD collection
36) Linen closet
37) Holiday shelves
38) TV area in basement
39) Dining room table/computer desk
40) "Store" in basement