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10 House Hacks- Organization Made Simple

organize

In the spirit of Spring, I not only thrive in channeling my inner Danny Tanner (turbo cleaning machine), but I also love organizing. There is nothing like having a place for everything at home- and having it done in style! Organizing can make life so much easier and allow your home to operate much more efficiently. In all honesty, how many of us often spend extra time searching for something we’ve misplaced? Or find ourselves flustered by clutter?

But before you spend your money on pricey, commercialized organization systems, there are stylish, economical organizing hacks that can be accomplished using simple household items. Don’t have these items at hand? No biggie- just pop into your nearest Dollar Store the next time you’re out. Savings and style? That’s what I’m all about!

1. Repurpose Magazine Holders. This is such a clever and versatile hack! The storing possibilities are endless! The flip flop bin?  C’mon! Admit it- you’re impressed! I know I am!

 

 2.  Put A Lid On It.  Your thinking- why haven’t I thought of this before? Sorting through pot and pan lids gets old fast!  This creates an easy system to locate the one you need and saves on space so your cabinet isn’t bursting at the seams.

 

 3. Get A Handle On Plastic Bags. Plastic bags. We all have them and they come in handy for a lot of other needs once they have fulfilled their shopping destinies. But rather than organize plastic bags in another plastic bag, repurpose on-hand items, like empty tissue boxes and wipes containers to provide practicality and style.

 

 4. Round-Up Your Junk Drawer/Cupboard. There is always that one pesky catch-all drawer in the kitchen. It’s the land of the unknown. Who knows what lies within. But you can create purpose and function to this drawer with a simple solution by using some labels and utensil bins. Add character by spray painting or wrapping in a fun printed paper.

 

5. Sort it Out. Laundry sorting is something we don’t typically enjoy, but has to get done none-the-less. Create an easy sorting system using laundry’s most obvious companion- the laundry basket. Add labels to make this system even more user-friendly! Hey, maybe the kids and even the hubby would catch on. One can only hope.

 

6Quit Your Wining. We received a wine rack as a wedding gift, but contrary to my Irish ancestry, we actually don’t drink alcohol, including  wine.  As you may know, I’m more of a chai tea lover. But I am in love with this idea of converting your unused wine rack to store bathroom necessities. I especially love the towel rack hack! I just like my towels rolled up- I do not know why.

 

7. It’s the Small Things in Life. Tackling tiny organization presents a challenge. Staples, rubber bands, paper clips…one can go mad sorting through these things when they have no designated space. This eliminates that problem! One less headache to worry about! Use a muffin tin or ice tray to keep small things in their place!

 

8. Marvelous Mason Jars. I simply adore mason jars! I will try to fit as much as I possibly can into a Mason Jar. Seriously- with so many ideas, it was hard to narrow the examples down to only 3! I could have dedicated an entire blog post about them! Maybe I should!Truly the MVP of organizing hacks!

 

9. Be Crateful. Crates are another creative way to keep away the clutter. Organization doesn’t have to mean cookie-cutter plastic totes. Bring a rustic charm to your organization- something that looks as good as it is functional. As someone who has quite the impressive collection of wrapping paper, this hack is perfection!

 

10. Life’s A Beach. One summer staple dollar store gem are those multi-colored beach baskets. These are commonly used to tote around towels, sand shovels, and sun screen. But here, they also serve the purpose of toy bins. Label or color coordinate for simplicity. If you live in a house with stairs, this will help your kiddos tremendously! We all know how toys migrate from the bedrooms to the living room. That’s why I’m particularly fond of the idea to label a basket for each kid and place them on the steps. Then at the end of the day, they can collect their toys and carry them upstairs.

 

So many of these hacks are affordable, decorative and functional. Don’t overthink and become intimidated by organization.  The keys to optimal organizing is to be creative, simplify and streamline.  Conquer the clutter and enjoy the clean!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Home

No Muss-No Fuss Spring Cleaning

spring-cleaning

Ah, Springtime! A time of year when the trees begin to bud, floral patterns are back in season, and we can (hopefully) store away the winter coats, gloves, and scarves.  With all the new beginnings Spring offers, there is one that delights me the most…Spring Cleaning! I realize that my love for cleaning is not normal, and I can live with that. But today, my obsession is your gain because I am bringing you the ultimate cleaning guide that will make Spring cleaning a breeze!

This time of year is often daunting for most people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While I understand that not everyone can share in my affection for cleaning, it doesn’t have to be chore. In order to avoid sounding like Mary Poppins here, instead of making a game out of my chores, I have found throughout my cleaning chronicles that having a detailed outline for what needs accomplished is the best strategy to tackle these projects, without causing my head to spin.

One of the reasons we tend to get overwhelmed with the idea of Spring cleaning is because we forget the purpose of this cultural traditional.  The goal is not to clean the entire house from top to bottom- although that sounds fun. The goal is to clean the aspects of the home that commonly get neglected during the course of the winter. This excludes the normal day-to-day routine tasks that should be completed. We’re strictly focusing our efforts here on the details.

The most efficient plan of attack on your Spring cleaning is to go room by room, then handle the general chores, otherwise it’s easy to get lost in a trail of tasks and become easily sidetracked and discouraged. I like to start with tackling the kitchen first. It’s the heart of the home- a lot of love is created and shared in this space, but also a lot of mess. It’s one of the heftier jobs to clean, which is why it’s also best to get it out of the way first while motivation is still in its prime.

This list provides all the chores that need done in a 2 week timeline. So grab your sponges and roll up those sleeves. And welcome Spring with pristine! Happy Spring Cleaning!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

the-ultimate-spring-cleaning-checklist

 

 

 

 

Home

5 Affordable Ways to Completely Re-Vamp Your Bathroom

bathroom

If the kitchen is affectionately coined the heart of the home, what does that make the bathroom? As a mom, the obvious titles that come to mind would be: the battle at the sink, the mirror of smudges, and the land of misfires. Add a 60’s inspired peach tile and drab décor, and you’ve surrendered this territory as a lost cause.

It’s hard to imagine a space surrounded with such offenses  as potentially being something peaceful- your own in-house oasis. You dread the one inevitable question of guests, “Where’s your bathroom?”  And you often attempt to conceal it by closing the door- all in hopes to discourage the opportune view of onlookers passing by, including yourself.

While no home improvement project can promise your 5- year old son will always aim directly into the target or that your sink will have the power to repel the unexplained large amounts of toothpaste from adorning  the sink bowl, there are ways to make your bathroom a space you can enjoy  on a humble budget.

  • Add a Printed Wallpaper. Wallpaper is an inexpensive and simple solution to make a statement in your bathroom. It adds a boldness, but elegance to the space. Choose a safe and simple color scheme and pattern or make a statement with a large print design and color. Check out wallpaper you’ll love by Wayfair! Bring a touch of sophistication without compromising your budget! $50.

 

  • Substitute Beadboard for Paintable Bead Board Wallpaper. Get the nostalgic, farm-house look of beadboard, but at a fraction of the cost. I love the textural and detailed charm that beadboard offers. It tactfully blends the combination of modern and whimsical. I suggest using Martha Stewart Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper. This product has been highly rated and user friendly! Keep the classic white beadboard look or paint to compliment your bathroom. $30.

 

  • Paint Out-dated Tile. A tile gut job is not exactly my idea of a simple bathroom re-vamp. But a bathroom covered in powder blue tile is not an ideal situation either. If the tile is still in good shape, you don’t have to replace- you can paint it! It’s very easy and, of course, affordable! I stand as a witness that you would never know the tile had been painted. And the blue will be a thing of the past! Check out The Home Depot’s options of  Tile Paint to select the color that suits your suite’s needs! $45.

 

  • Stain or Paint the Vanity. You probably could have guessed by now that I’m a huge advocate of painting. The transformation from paint never ceases to amaze me. Most older vanities are solid pieces of wood- structurally sound and in perfect working order, but lack modern appeal. Old vanity, meet paint…(cue the music) instant friends for life! Choose something ultra modern, like Black. Bring warmth with a mossy green. Freshen and brighten the vanity with a classic white or soft gray. Or add a punch of personality with a charming blue. Stop in at your local hardware store or choose from the HGTV’s Fixer Upper- approved collection by Magnolia Homes. It’s Joanna Gaines…you can’t go wrong! $35.

 

  • Transform Your Countertop. Another undesirable element of an out-dated bathroom is a distasteful countertop. But buying a new countertop can cost several hundreds of dollars. Thanks to modern advances in remodeling, you can change your countertop without replacing it.  Countertop Transformation Systems can save as much as $400 or more. Groundbreaking, right? $150.

 

 

With inspirational remodels like this, you can proudly leave the door open when guests come to visit or indulge in a private home retreat with the door closed and relax in a tranquil, Spa-like bathroom ( children compliantly sleeping sound not included).

Who says you can’t have the bathroom of your dreams on a humble budget? These ideas prove to be just that- attractive and affordable!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Food and Recipes

Head Over Heels Chicken Over Biscuits

chicken-over-biscuits

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This theory was proven true with this all-time comfort classic! It’s the recipe that won the affection of my husband (aside from my whit and charm, of course). It was love at first bite! He was head over heels…for me and this dish! It was the first meal I ever made for him and it is still a cherished family fav. Think of an open-faced chicken pot pie. Chicken.  Simple veggies. A rich, creamy sauce. And flaky buttermilk biscuits. It’s food for the soul.

This was a staple for me growing up. It’s one of those beloved recipes that never gets old and will always have a coveted spot in the family cookbook. Since I believe good things ought to be shared, I’m letting you in on the family secret! It’s just too wonderful to keep to myself! Helpful hint: sweat pants recommended, but not required.

The ingredients are probably right in your kitchen already…

For the Biscuits

4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/3 Cup Cold Butter, Cubed

1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk

2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/3 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Stir together. Add the shortening and cold butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork until combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn dough out of the bowl and roll 1/2 in. thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

For the Chicken, Veggies & Sauce

5 Tablespoons Butter

1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into 1-Inch Pieces

1 Red Pepper, Diced

1 Yellow Onion, Diced

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 Cup Frozen Peas

5 Tablespoons Flour

1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper, to Taste

Heat butter in a large skillet. Place chicken in the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the skillet. Shred chicken, leaving some pieces thick. Add red pepper and onion (seasoning with every step) and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken back into the pan. Add frozen peas.  Sprinkle flour, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir until combined. Allow sauce to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir. Season with more salt and pepper.  You may add some chicken bouillon for more chicken flavor and color. Slice the biscuits in half. Pour a generous amount of chicken and veggies over the biscuits.

Get the family excited about dinner tonight with this delicious one-of-a -kind comfort classic!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Family Life

Parenting in the Trials

holding-hands

One of the predictable things about life is its unpredictability.  At some point, we all inevitably find ourselves in the midst of undesirable circumstances- job loss, financial setbacks, illness/injury, and even simply just being overwhelmed with life’s demands.  But even while our circumstances are ever-changing, our parenting does not have to be subject to our stress.

Easily angered. Lashing out. Yelling. Harsh words. All these indicate a problem beneath the surface. Perhaps telling our kids for the 100th time to clean their room can bring about this hostile side in us all, but most often, these symptoms stem from two frames of mind: Fear and Anger.  We are either afraid or anxious about what could happen or angry about what is happening in life.

I’m not referring to the irrational fears we can sometimes conjure up (like plugging your common cold symptoms into Web MD and wonder how to tell your family you have 6 months to live), I’m talking about the logical, real circumstances that bring out our innermost insecurities within our lives. 

As a result, our children become the captive targets of our stress-induced behavior. Our impatient and unwise words fly through the air like fiery darts to the soul.  It burns. it aches. It hurts. It leaves a lasting scar. You feel defeated. You feel guilty. You feel frustrated. You wonder- how does God expect me to act (and parent) when life is difficult?

One of the most wonderful attributes about our Heavenly Father is that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is not shaken by circumstance and thankfully, He is not moved by emotions. If we desire to mirror God, we first must understand His nature. He is Good. He is Faithful. He is Joy. He is Grace. He is Patience. He is Peace. He is Gentleness. He is Love. He is Constant. As His Daughter, I have full confidence in Him, knowing He always remains the same.

It is easy to feel like a failure when life is weighing heavy on your heart. But even though we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can control our response. God does not just demonstrate His goodness, He offers us the grace to continue to faithfully persevere and rise above the trials.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.” -Colossians 3:12

We must gird ourselves daily with gentleness and patience. This is required of parents every day, but especially when facing trying situations, we have to remind ourselves to exemplify our Heavenly Father. He is so patient with our shortcomings. He is firm, but gentle with His corrections. And when we mess up again and again, He continues to reveal His compassion as He picks us up, dusts us off and leads us forward. When times are trying and parenting is testing your patience, don’t fly off the handle at every chance. And when your children desire to cling to you, just as we do our Heavenly Father in times of need, don’t give in to your emotional urge to be alone by pushing them away, but lavish them with love. God never turns His back on us when we seek Him.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” -Proverbs 12:18

When we eagerly speak without careful consideration of our words, we will likely regret them. God wants us to use our words wisely, because the tongue is powerful. This is why the Bible encourages us to be “slow to speak” (James 1:19). Our words can bring about two possible outcomes: they have the power to speak death or speak life. As parents and followers of Christ, we are called to speak life! Don’t be so quick to be harsh with your children as a result of your own frustrations. Even when we fail, God  reminds us of His sufficiency and love, not our imperfections. Consider the grace that God has abundantly bestowed upon you before you speak to your children.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10

Paul charges us to be “content in all circumstances,” (Philippians 4:11) because in EVERY situation, God is in control and He is our source of strength. Do not allow the difficult situations rob you of the joy of being a parent. Being a parent is a blessing, since “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). Enjoy your children through every season of life, no matter what struggles you are facing. We don’t get this time back with our kids, so don’t spend it sulking in your stress, but choose to operate in the joy of the Lord.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6 & 7

Prayer is our strongest defense in times of trouble. When we lean on God, His sustaining power guards our hearts and minds so we can focus less on our circumstances and more on the important callings He has for our lives- ministering to our family.

  Remember, fellow moms, that in every situation, we hold the power of Christ within us to rise above. Persevere in your parenting through the trials. Be good. Be faithful. Be joy. Be grace. Be patience. Be peace. Be gentleness. Be love. Be constant in the parenting of your kids no matter what you are facing. They depend on our hands to guide them, our words to train them, and our behavior to be the reflection of our Heavenly Father.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Family Life

How Much Help Should I Expect from My Husband?

super-mom

I have talked to several stay-at-home moms, as well as working moms, who desperately wish their husbands would help more around the house.  Women, in no doubt, have a lot on their plate- we prepare healthy meals, clean ALL THE TIME, sort endless piles of laundry, quiz the Kiddos on their spelling words, and make the 30 cupcakes for the school party.  We’re drained. We’re tired. We spend every waking hour (and even night hours) pouring into the lives of others constantly until we’re running on coffee fumes and sometimes we just need a little help.

One day, after Jesse had left for work and I already dropped Joanna off at school, I performed my usual morning tasks. I made the beds, did some general straightening, and prepared to start a load of laundry.  As I entered our Master bedroom, something immediately caught my eye. I glanced over at our hamper. Much to my dismay, I found my husband’s dirty clothes sitting precisely on the floor, right in front of the hamper. I’m certain I don’t stand alone in this phenomenon.  This is a typical occurrence in which I usually oblige, but today…today, I snapped.

“Really? Like opening the hamper and placing the clothes inside is too much work? Is it too much to ask?!!!” I quickly snatched up the clothes, opened the hamper and forcefully dunked them in like I was LeBron James, and slammed the lid shut.

I wrestled with  resentful thoughts throughout the day. I just need a break. I feel like I’m doing everything and everyone expects me to be Superwoman. I just don’t feel like wearing the cape today. Where’s Superman? I need his help! I’m being defeated by little people and housework . But since Superman was up, up, and away at work, I decided to take a breath and talk to God.

It’s funny- when I approached God’s Throne, He always answers me, but usually in ways I was not anticipating. This time, He was very quick to remind me of a few things:

  • The Lord God Said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.” -Genesis 2:18

I am Jesse’s wife. I am the helpmate. God designed me specifically for this purpose- to help my husband. Me! I’m the helper, not my husband. The Bible doesn’t say “husbands, help your wives.” It’s not to say they can never help, but God called us to be the helpmate. If picking up my husband’s clothes and putting them into the hamper helps him in even that small way, I need to be willing to do so.

  • “Older women…urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” -Titus 2: 4,5

Be busy at home. The context of this phrase is specifically charging women to not be idol at home throughout the day, but work to maintain the home. Again, this charge was given to women, not men. It’s not like men are forbidden to do housework, but in God’s original design of family, the men go to work to provide, while the women stay home and care for the house and children…sorry, Feminists- please don’t explode!

  •      “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” -Colossians 3: 17

Sometimes, it is easier for me to go about work when I think of working as unto the Lord. Not my children. Not my husband. But the Lord. The Lord deserves our devoted faithfulness and He desires for us to have a servant heart. Nothing is too trivial or too insignificant to be done in the name of the Lord. And yes, even picking up laundry (without grumbling) can be done in the name of the Lord. And what’s even better, He sees us and the work we do with our hands when we do it for Him! Even if your husband fails to recognize that you picked up his dirty laundry, the Lord- the one who really matters- sees you and your heart. So be mindful of the condition of your heart!

  •   “Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…do everything in love.” -1 Corinthians 13: 5,14

I realized my attitude was not the reflection of love Christ desires for me. I allowed anger to stir up within me. I was recalling every time,  picking up the same clothes in front of the hamper day after day after day. I had unknowingly been keeping a record of “wrongs.” I began to be self-seeking: “why can’t he help me? Why is everything left to me? Maybe I should just leave the clothes here for him to pick up. How do you like them apples?” I was not acting out of love.

  •  “Remember, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8

God reminded me to place my focus on what is admirable about my husband. He’s a hard-working provider, a loving partner, a dedicated father, and the most patient, resilient human being I have met on the face of the earth.  He fearlessly leads our home and our family faithfully. He’s my most beloved blessing. He’s my best friend.

Suddenly, the clothes in front of the hamper didn’t appear to bother me as much as they did before. I no longer felt angry. I felt foolish. I felt humbled.

I have learned time and time again, when I come to God with a problem, the solution is not found in my husband, but in Him. And it often requires a change of heart in me.  I was humbled, yet again, by God’s grace to work in MY heart. To refine me. To make me like Him. He grants me the strength to do my tasks faithfully. HE IS MY HELP. I can call on Him and He never hesitates to respond. I was reminded that I love my Superman, but I need my Savior.

God doesn’t call us to be Superwomen. He calls us to be the helpmate. Even when I tire of my role,  His grace is sufficient in my weakness.

Do not get weary in doing what is good, for after a while, you will reap a harvest of blessing, if you do not get discouraged and give up.” -Galatians 6:9

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Budgeting, Food and Recipes

The BEST Starbucks Copycat Recipes!

copycat-recipes

In a budget blog I recently wrote, I suggested cutting back on the extras to put some more cash in your pocket. But I have to admit, that in many cases throughout my blogging chronicles, I am either speaking from experience or preaching to the choir- the choir being myself, in this case. As a frequent drive-througher ( yes, I just made up the word “througher”) at my local Starbucks, I came to terms with my love affair for Chai Tea Lattes. And knew very well that spending a shameful amount of money each month on a drink- no matter how perfectly prepared it was with its irresistible cinnamon- spice flavor and foam- is not being the best steward with our resources.

But it was too much to let it go altogether. And yet, still too expensive to continue purchasing. It all seemed too unfair. To top it off, the chai withdrawal brought out a rather tired, pathetic side of me I had yet to experience. Pretty sure my family felt the tension too. I knew things couldn’t go on like this, so I decided to embark on a little journey. A journey I like to call “Search for The Chai Tea Recipe Holy Grail.” Along the way,  I was also pleasantly surprised at how many copycat Starbucks recipes existed in the world- and with ingredients I already had on hand! It was a miracle! An answer to prayer!

With these easy recipes, you are no longer left to choose between depriving yourself of enjoying your favorite caffeinated indulgence or saving…you can have both! And it’s nothing short of amazing!  Homemade Starbucks saves an average of $125/ month (and your sanity)…so these recipes are extra sweet!

  1. Chai Tea Latte The song ” You Are So Beautiful” comes to mind. As well as images of rainbows, sunshine, and all things perfectly made. It happens to be my personal favorite and the unmatched champion of anything served in a mug.

chai-tea-5

 

2. Salted Caramel Mocha Salted. Caramel. Mocha. Three amazing words that together, make one amazingly tasty cup of coffee.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

salted-caramel-mocha

 

3.  Peppermint Mocha Ahhh! Chocolate and peppermint are a match made in heaven in this scrumptious peppermint mocha recipe!

peppermint-mocha

 

4. Pumpkin Spice Latte Enjoy your favorite flavor of fall anytime of the year! It’s a sip of spicy-sweetness that is the very definition of delicious!

pumpkin-spice-latte

 

5. Hot Chocolate A rich, decadent indulgence of one of life’s greatest simple pleasures: chocolate. Hot chocolate is the perfect pairing to a warm blanket, slippers, and your cozy PJ’s.

hot-chocolate

 

6.  Vanilla Spice Latte Vanilla. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  Seriously, there are no words! I simply adore anything vanilla and this is no exception…it’s only exceptional!

 

vanilla-spice-latte

 

7. Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte Never has ice been so happy. Something warm-tasting, yet refreshing. This beverage exceeds the expectations of both!

cinnamon-dolce-latte

Enjoy these favorites in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Knock the socks off of your husband, friends, and even yourself with these taste-worthy recipes, without breaking the bank!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker