Sunday, March 17, 2013


Greetings readers,

You will be able to get the latest posts and updates from Homemaker For All Seasons at our new home over here on Wordpress.  Please bear with me as I figure out the new writing platform and get our new site up and running.  I am very excited about the move and you can expect to continue to get regular posts every week over here at our new home.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Fun!

This post has been moved to our new site over at Wordpress!  Click on the link to be taken to Homemaker For All Seasons at our new site.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Organized Linen Closet: Purge Project #1

Linen Closet Before

An organized linen closet is a wonderful thing!  

    Come check out my before and afters!  As I mentioned in the intro post for this series, I would do the linen closet as the first organizational item to tackle.  have started the first project in the Purge Project series where I will go and organize/ purge 4 different areas in our home and post before and after pictures.  This week's project was the linen closet.  I had organized my linen closet plenty of times but always found that it quickly got into disarray in a short time after all my efforts.

I needed a system

     My problem was that I didn't have a system to neatly store my linens and other items in any kind of consistent manner.  Most linen closets at least have shelves that the home builder installed and that is a start.  Oftentimes, they are too deep and there never seems to be enough room.  Stuff you don't use regularly gets pushed to the back and forgotten about until the next linen closet tidy-up session.  I needed to figure out how to keep the linens separated from each other and avoid the untidy stacks of towels, washcloths, and sheets.

Keep it separated

     Adding the baskets really brightened up the closet and made it easier to keep things from piling up into each other.  After deciding which items to keep and which to toss and donate, I determined what would easily fit into these baskets.  I bought mine at our local Supercenter and you can find things like this just about anywhere.  I have even seen some pretty good basket organizers at our local dollar store.  Before you buy something, check to make sure you know the dimensions of your shelves and door opening.

Linen Closet -After (Top half)
Linen Closet -After (Bottom half)

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Add some color

I chose red ribbons to affix the labels because after I sorted through the linens and towels I had, I realized that most of them were red, white, blue, or tan.  I picked the red because it is bright and cheerful and goes well with the red towels and other linen items I have.

Add some extra storage

Towel rods on door
I installed some cheap towel rods on my door.  Our house was built with hollow core doors so when installing the towel bars, put them into the solid parts of the door.  This is usually located in the middle near the handle and sometimes at the top.  I used the wall anchors included with the towel rod package and it seems pretty sturdy to me.  If it starts to get loose, I'll re-install them with molly screws.



The Process with guidelines for what to keep

The most important and beneficial part of the entire process was completely emptying the closet of everything and taking a good hard look at what I was going to keep.  I ended up getting rid of about a third of what I had.  Animal shelters can always use extra towels and blankets that are unsuitable for charitable donations.  Extra baby blankets make good donations.  There are lots of ways to recycle!

Here are the guidelines I followed when deciding what to keep:

2 sets of sheets per bed  (really no need for more)
2 towels per person + 2 for guest use (this might even be a little bit much but it made my shelves look prettier)
Plenty of washcloths so I filled the entire bin with them
1 set of guest sheets
1 blanket for each bed (to be used in Winter)
extra toiletries for guests.

Guest towels are hung on the rods on the inside of the door to keep them separated from the common-use towels.

I created a large space for storing club-pack sizes of toilet paper since we always seem to be running out
Cleaning supplies and rags are on the floor in a matching bin next to the toilet paper

Linen Closet - After
The bottom line is that a linen closet is managed much easier when you have less "stuff" in it.  I would love to hear about your linen closet adventures.  Do you have any spectacular after pictures that you are proud of?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think of my closet!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Purge Project - Bigger Life, Fewer Things

     Minimalist living:  one member of my extended family has it down to a science when it comes to living minimally.  After their kids grew up and moved out, they finally ended up in a condo that is all of about 950 square feet.  They live well in that space and everything is functional without a single superfluous item to be found anywhere.  There is a place for everything and everything is in its place.  It is relaxing and simply lovely to be in their home.  Could you imagine purging enough stuff to fit all of your worldly possessions into a much smaller space? Most of us would have quite a bit of difficulty parting with so many of our possessions. 

       A couple of weeks ago, our pastor gave a sermon about financial responsibility and used Matthew 6:19 as one of the focal verses.  "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  Matt 6:19.  He asked one question that has stuck in my head ever since about the successful public storage industry here in the US.  "Why do we continually store more things that we may pay extra to store some other place because we don't want anyone else to have them?"  I had never heard it phrased exactly that way before and the last clause ..."because we don't want anyone else to have them"... really grabbed me.  I immediately thought about my overstuffed linen closet and garage and the conviction fell heavily upon me.  Why should I keep all this stuff?  Some of it has not been used in years.  Why shouldn't somebody else benefit from it?

       Clutter is draining.  Having too much stuff  wastes our time and prevents others from benefiting from the use of those items that we keep stashed away in storage areas where they remain for years, often forgotten.  In upcoming posts as I mentioned while on vacation, I will start a series this week that I'm going to call "Purge Project" where I will go throughout my house and systematically purge, donate, toss, and organize the contents of some of my more excessive living spaces in an effort to reduce the amount of useless stuff we have and show you all the finished results along the way.

     Join me in this project and submit pics and links of your own organizational efforts.  This week, I'll be starting in the linen closet and will post before and after pics of how I organized it and got rid of all the excess.

Jump to next post in the series.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spiritual Fitness Sunday - Balaam the False Prophet

     In my personal Bible reading, I have been making my way through the book of Numbers.  I know, some of you may not spend a lot of time in the book of Numbers because it is, well... full of numbers and lists of data that, at times, can be difficult to figure out how to apply them to every day life.  I am here to tell you, please don't neglect this book.  If you do, you will miss out on one of the more interesting stories in the first five Old Testament Books.  As I initially read the story of Balaam the false prophet, I had planned on continuing on with my reading in the following chapter the next day, but I could not get the story out of my head.  Consequently, I went searching on the internet for a Bible study on this particular story.  Here is an excellent study from that really goes into some depth on the story.  Some may be familiar with the story about how the false prophet, Balaam, was hired by King Balak of Moab to put a curse on the Israelites.  Some interesting events occur, including a warning from a talking donkey, and culminating with Balaam's blessing of Israel much to the dismay of the King of Moab.  By the way, the Moabites were distant relatives to the Israelites and were Lot's relatives. (Genesis 19:30-38)

1.  This story demonstrates for us the importance of being forthright with God.  God sees and knows all things and attempting to hide one's motives from Him for personal gain is futile.  

2.  We can see that Balaam was not a true prophet of God because he apparently did not fear God enough to obey His command to not go with King Balak's men in order to curse Israel.

3.  God's permissive will is demonstrated in the story when He allows Balaam to sin by following Balak's men back to Moab in order to curse Israel in disobedience to His first command.  God will be glorified regardless of whether people obey Him or not.  In this story, Balaam's sinful disobedience of God's first command to him ended up blessing the Israelites, thus God was glorified despite Balaam's sinfulness.

So, go and grab your Bible.  Check out this story and the study from

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vacation in February!

Ah, the smell of the cool Winter air and the overcast skies over the lake.  This week, we decided to take a week-long break and went "camping" at the lake.  I know, February is not your typical vacation month but the price was right and we had not been anywhere in awhile.  Aside from the fact that we started our drive while we still had flu-sick people, it ended up going all right and we made it safely to our destination.  One of the benefits of homeschooling this year is that we were able to just pack it all up and do school while on vacation. 

I love the sound of my little people busily making mud-pies in the front yard of our rental cabin while I bake the cookies

The sunset above the lake is breathtaking in the afternoon

Living here this week has definitely made me appreciate a more laid-back, minimalist lifestyle.  Next week starts the first post in my Purge Project series.  My first project will be tackling our overstuffed linen closet.  Check back in to see the finished results of this organizing project!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fussy Toddlers: The Tantrum - Adventures in Parenting

Our little baby, K, is growing so fast.  She learns new things every day, most of them are a wonder to watch; however, one particular behavior she has adopted is definitely less than wonderful to us.  Baby K is an expert at throwing tantrums and her prowess for "pitching a fit" as we say here in the South is second to none.  My husband had recently been traveling for business and was gone quite a bit over the last few weeks and I was finding myself frustrated and exhausted at the end of the day.  All the rest of us had come down with the flu and the fussiness just seemed to stick around after that.  At first, I just thought baby K's residual fussiness was just a part of the flu recovery with it's running nose and cough that all of us currently have.  However, her propensity to fuss started before that.

     As a sometimes harried and busy Mom, my plate was full and I had inadvertently gone into baby pacification mode, thinking this was just a phase or a passing behavior.  Baby K has been my "easy" baby and surely she couldn't be manipulating me in this manner; she is just too cute for that....or could she?  All of my children hit a growth spurt right around the 15 month mark.  With this growth spurt came the ability to form multi-word sentences consisting of both baby babble and real words.  They have also been able to repeat words we "teach" them.  For me, this growth spurt marks the  transition from being a baby to being a toddler. With this growth spurt, she has also found the ability to gain attention by being "cute" and doing things purely for the reaction from others.

     Recently, my husband had been away for business and upon his return and during our lake vacation, he immediately noticed the increased fussiness in little K.  This fussiness has reared its head in each of our children but at different ages.  Our oldest daughter didn't start in with it until she was right around 2 and our son didn't start until he was well into his 2s.

     Since our other children started trying this behavior at older ages, they each had a greater ability to reason than little K does at her tender age of 16 months.  I know reasoning with someone who is only 2 years old is also not always possible but a child understands more at that age.  To me, 16 months is right on the outer edge of babyhood and I had not thought some sort of disciplinary action such as a time out would have much effect.  My husband thinks otherwise and tried it and it worked.  So, we are going to be implementing this tactic with her.

     Little children are always more prone to having tantrums if they are hungry, tired, overstimulated, or bored so taking measures to avert these situations will also go far in tantrum prevention.  We are currently on vacation and the act of traveling and setting up our household in a different location with an irregular nap schedule has definitely contributed to her increase in tantrums as well as some habits she may have acquired during our flu weeks due to a lack of parental involvement due to sickness.  It will be an interesting time and I am curious to see how trainable she is at this age and if we will be able to successfully shape her behavior away from tantrums and toward better communication in the near future.

    How do you deal with young toddler behavior?  What methods have you found that work best at preventing those tantrums?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ugh...the Flu Strikes

As of today, we are all down and out with the Flu.  My wonderful friend from our church homeschool group kindly brought over some herbal tea that she concocted and I am supposed to drink it every hour to help with flu symptoms.  So far, so good and I didn't even add the honey she suggested (can't taste anything right now anyway because of a stuffed up nose)

We have more hours than I would care to admit in front of the tv and I have eaten pancakes for 2 out of 3 meals today and ice cream for the other.  One of the three little ones has seemed to have made a full recovery as he got sick first.  This is the 5th day of sickness for baby K and I and my older daughter started off the day with a fever so she will be longest in recovery I think.  I hope we get over this in time for our upcoming lake trip.

What things do you do to comfort your sick ones?  Do you have any good home remedies to share?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How to Shorten a Table and Save Money

Several years ago, we purchased one of those trendy counter-top height tables.  I really like the table.  It has a butterfly leaf that hides in the center.  Unfortunately, now that we have small children, what seemed like a good idea at the time is all of a sudden become a safety hazard.  After one too many falls out of our uber-tall chairs, I decided to do something about it.  The only problem is that our table has tapered legs and if I was to saw through them with a miter saw as I had originally planned, we would end up with funky angles at the bottom of each leg, which would cause some major unevenness in the table.  That would be no good.  After much research, I decided the best way would be to tackle this project with a hand saw since I didn't really trust myself to be able to calculate the angles and the bevel on my saw.

I like to use the hand saw and ours is nothing special.  We got it at our local discount tool store and I have used it for quite a few of my projects.  I never thought it would be something I would use in order to modify a piece of furniture, but surprisingly it makes a pretty smooth, clean cut.

Step 1

Tape one of the legs all the way around.  (I know my table leg is pretty dirty huh?) Does this tape look familiar to you?  It is the tape from my recent painting project! - Note the line drawn level across 2 sides of the table leg.

Step 2
Keeping the table leg attached to the table, with the table flipped upside down, measure 29 -30 inches from the table top to the bottom of the leg you have taped and mark the edge of the taped leg.  Use a level to mark straight lines across 2 sides of the table leg.  This will allow you to align your saw up properly for a nice, level cut.

Step 3
Remove your table leg and take it over to the place where you will be doing your cutting.  I used my garage stairs because it is nice and low and I am better able to pull the saw smoothly since they are low to the ground.  Clamp your table leg to the stair in order to secure it.  I used C clamps (an 8 inch C clamp to fasten the leg to the stair.)

Don't forget to use some wood scraps as padding between the clamp and the work surface to prevent scratching of your table leg.

Step 4
Clamp a 2x4 along the edge of 1 line, leaving space for your saw blade to cut right next to the line.  Clamp either another 2x4 or (in my case I used my metal carpenter's square) across the top line, leaving the same amount of space for your saw blade.  The cut made by your saw blade is called the kerf and in woodworking, you always need to make allowances for the kerf.  In my case, I have my table leg clamped in such a way that the edge of the kerf will line right up next to my drawn lines and will be cutting through the end of my table leg that I am discarding.

Step 5

When you saw, go slowly!!! I say again: go slowly!  This is key to getting a nice clean cut.  If you have wrapped your tape all the way around the leg, this should also help to prevent splintering and give you a great cut with your handsaw.  Start by lining your saw blade up with your guide and pull back smoothly and gently to get a notch started for your saw blade.  Once the notch is started, grip your saw by making a U-shape between your thumb and first finger of your cutting hand.  Line your finger up while holding the saw and pointing your 1st finger toward the tip of the blade in the direction you are cutting in order to guide the saw.  Stabilize the saw with your Thumb on the other side of the grip (also pointing the tip of your thumb toward the end of the saw blade) and pull the entire length of the saw blade smoothly and at a steady speed as you cut.  I got my best results when I didn't try to push the saw blade or dig in too deep as I was sawing.  I just let the weight of the saw and a consistent sawing stroke help me cut.  It takes more time but believe me, it is worth it in the end.

Once you have successfully sawed off the end of one leg using the above steps, take the long part of the leg you sawed off and unfasten another leg in order to initially mark it for your next set of cutting lines.  I actually momentarily unfastened each leg in order to put my first pencil mark on  the corner between 2 sides where I was going to draw my cut lines.  In order to make sure that I drew level lines, I ended up re-fastening the leg back to the table and using my level to draw my two cutting lines before taking the leg off the table in order to cut it down to size.  I just wanted to make sure I was accurate to how the leg sits in the table so I didn't end up with a wobbly table and uneven legs. 

Use that same first cut leg as a pattern to measure every cutting line for each of the other 3 legs.  Mark it with a piece of tape or a sticker.  If you are not consistent in choosing to use that same leg as your pattern leg, you will gradually end up cutting your legs longer or shorter because of slight cutting inaccuracies that will end up compounding your error with each cut.

Here it is...the finished product.  I put my chairs that originally came with the table in the background so you can see how much I took off the height of the table.  Make sure you have some nail-in furniture sliders to put into the bottom of your table legs or try to salvage the buttons off your original legs by prying them out with pliers or a putty knife.  I was able to do this and it really helps finish it off nicely.  Congratulations, you have just saved several hundred dollars on the purchase of a newer and shorter table!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Get the Edge on Painting the Perfect Stripe

Painting stripes and other designs on walls that resemble wall paper is all the rage now and the effect can be quite dramatic if done correctly.  I learned this technique from my own Mom, who is quite the decorator.  She, in turn, learned it from talking to some of the professional painters who were painting the hospital where she worked.  After seeing her apply this technique in her own decorating endeavors, I could not wait to try it out on my own walls.

This brings us to the bathroom.  For quite some time, I have been wanting to do a little something more daring on my walls.  In my opinion, the bathroom is the perfect place to try things like bold colors or interesting paint techniques because they are usually small, easily painted, and if the chosen paint effect is a little overwhelming or bright, at you can close the door on your artwork!

I decided to paint horizontal stripes in a pearlized glaze (found at my local big blue hardware store).  After painting the base coat in my color of choice, I waited until it was completely cured (wait at least several days) and began to tape up my design.  Here is the step-by-step process that anyone can follow in order to get perfect painted stripes.  This technique works for any color or type of paint.  I just happened to use the pearlized glaze.

You will need:
masking tape (does not have to be the expensive blue stuff!)
level (preferably a longer one - 2ft) this makes it so much easier to get straight stripes
quality paint brush
paint in both colors (ie. base wall coat and stripe color)

Step 1
Tape your stripe onto the wall.  The size and position possibilities are endless.  This is the most boring part in my opinion and it takes the longest.  Please take extra care in taping because it will make or break the looks of your striping.  I did not draw my line on the wall with a pencil because my stripe paint is see through.  If you are using an opaque color for your stripe, you could probably get away with marking your stripe with a pencil. Seal the edge of your tape by running your finger along the edge to ensure it sticks and that there are no bubbles.  

Instead of using a pencil, I used the level and little pieces of tape to mark out where I wanted my line to go.

I then taped over those little bits, ensuring my long tape marking my stripe's edge was level.

Step 2
After you have taped your stripe, pull out that can of base wall color.  In this case, I used the blue because that is my base color.  I know it looks lighter here but it will dry to the same color as the wall.  We are sealing in the edges of the tape here.  By painting over the inside edges of the tape stripe, you are creating a barrier between the tape edge and your wall.  If you have textured walls, this is the key to preventing leak through of your stripe color.

Wait until your edge painting has dried completely (at least 2 hours)

Step 3
Paint your stripe color in between your tape lines, taking care not to paint over the outer edge of your tape...keep a wet rag on hand to wipe up all spills promptly.

Step 4

When your stripe is dry, peel off that tape and admire your perfectly sharp looking stripe.

I was able to reuse some of my tape for my other stripes by using this technique.  You don't need to buy the most expensive painters tape.  It would work with any masking tape.    Happy painting!