Friday, February 23, 2018

Back to Basics - in the Kitchen

Back to basics.  This has been the theme to my un-decorating journey I talked about on Instagram.  You all know how much I love to decorate and freshen up spaces through out our home.  I truly believe it's an important part of homemaking.  When we create spaces for our family that are welcoming and inspiring to be in, we are blessing our family and all who enter.

Over the last year I feel like our house went through a bit of an identity crisis.  It sounds kind of funny, but it's true.  When we first moved here, I was all about farmhouse style everything - and I still love it, but I've found that I love other styles too. I was drawn to so many different styles that our home became a bit of a cluttered up, confused mess.

I just didn't like it. I decided I had been over decorating. I had fallen back into the habit of buying something because I thought I liked it, rather than carefully planning out our spaces.  It's so easy to fall in to the trap of trends.  It really is.  We are constantly being bombarded with new trends and fads in home design and it can make one feel the need to constantly keep up.

I decided enough was enough and put a new plan in place for the way I wanted our home to look and feel.  I put together a list of what I love and my vision for our home.  I de-cluttered like crazy and got rid of so much stuff that didn't fit my new list.

I'm definitely not a minimalist, but I do desire simplicity in our home.  Every item in our home should be something we truly love, enjoy, and use for a purpose.  When we can find items that serve a purpose and bring us joy at the same time, that's even better.  An example of this for me is my cleaning supplies.  I enjoy cleaning so much more when I love what I'm using to clean with. Making my own cleaners and using pretty glass bottles is fun for me.  I also purchased a new broom, dust pan, and duster and I have them on display in my laundry room.  They are both useful and pretty to look at. My old plastic broom used to drive me batty because it was such an eye sore, yet I needed it out all the time.  This is so much better!

My vision for our home:

Light, neutral, and cool toned back grounds (walls, curtains, bedding).  I found a neutral shade of gray paint that I really like and I've been slowly but surely painting each room of our home this color, with the exception of the kid's rooms.  I've found that I like when all the rooms in our home are cohesive and painted the same color.

Contrast.  I really love contrast.  I love the combination of bright white and rustic wood.  I love the combination of our painted dining set and our wood hutch.  Another example is our painted cabinets paired with the barn wood surrounding our island.

Natural texture.  I've realized I have a thing for baskets,  jute rugs, and woven shades.  These things are constants through out our home.  Old baskets, new baskets, I love them all!  I also love that they serve a purpose and they look nice.  I've found some really amazing baskets at thrift stores and yard sales.  Baskets and wood pieces here and there add warmth to our cool toned home.  These items help our home feel cozy despite all the white.

Meaningful and unique decor.  Some of my most favorite decor items are things that have been passed down to us or items I've found at thrift stores and yard sales.  I really love a home that looks as though it was carefully pieced together over time rather than a home straight out of a magazine ad.  This kind of thinking also keeps me from impulse buying things I know I don't really need or won't enjoy for years to come.

Pops of blue.  I'm not a huge fan of tons of color in our home, but I do love pops of blue here and there.  Our antique blue mason jar collection is one of my favorite things.  The canisters that sit out on our counter were a gift from my sweet Audrey, and you will notice a few of our doors have been painted a happy shade of teal.  These are a few ways I like to add in subtle color to our otherwise neutral palate.  I love the idea of choosing a color that speaks to you and sticking to it, in various shades, through out your entire home. This is a great way to add to the cohesive flow in your home.

Now moving forward, I stick to my list. I finally feel like our home has found it's identity, and I've realized that it doesn't exactly fit a specific style.  I like that.  Do you have a vision for your home?  I would love for you to share it with me!

Have a Blessed weekend,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Creating a Homemaking Routine

Creating a routine for my days has really saved my sanity, but it did take some planning to get there.  I would love to tell you that this idea was my own, but it wasn't.  This method of homemaking dates back many years ago, in fact, Laura Ingalls wrote about Ma managing their home this way in her book, Little House in the Big Woods.

I want to share with you a couple of resources that really helped me figure out a routine for managing our home.  Large Family Logistics is an amazing book full of useful and practical information.  Don't let the name fool you, the principles found here apply to families of all sizes.  We are a family of 4 and I loved this book! There is even a newer version available now.

The second resource I want to tell you about is my friend Stacy's homemaking e-course.  This course is what really helped me put all my new knowledge into action and actually formulate a plan I could stick to.  Once you buy the course, you have lifetime access, and you can go at your own pace.

 This is not about creating an unrealistic schedule that is difficult to follow.  This is about creating a routine - a flow to your days, that allows for unplanned and unexpected things to pop up, because let's face it, it happens.  A schedule doesn't allow for those kinds of things.

find recipes here
The idea is to create a few "must do" daily maintenance tasks and then assign a more specific chore or task to each day of the week.  This way your housework is evenly spread out through out the week instead of hitting you like a ton of bricks on the weekend! Not fun.

On Instagram, I did a series of videos to share how this looks in our home. 

Here's a quick run down of my routine.  Keep in mind this is not about perfection, rather it's a system to keep us from feeling overwhelmed.  I promise, it works.

I like to accomplish certain things each day to help things run a little smoother and help me have the right attitude for the day.  I call these my daily maintenance tasks.

Daily quiet time
Work time
Overall house tidy/pickup
1-2 loads of laundry (start to finish)
At least one kitchen task

Each day of the week is assigned a different task, as follows. 

Monday - catch up day 
Tuesday - errand day 
Wednesday - upstairs cleaning day
Thursday - downstairs cleaning day
Friday - office day 

Creating a routine for my days has really helped free up more of my time. We all know housekeeping is a never ending job, but when we divide it up into bit size goals, we can feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Since I began working from home, I've found it's really hard for me to be intentional with my time if I don't have a plan.  I found myself feeling very scattered and out of sorts.  I felt as though I was working all day, yet nothing was ever really "done".  Have you ever felt like that?

These same principles apply even if you work outside of the home.  I always say if you have a home you're a homemaker, and regardless of what your job is, you still have to manage your home and it can get overwhelming pretty quickly.

Tackling certain tasks each day, either before or after work, or a little bit of both, will allow for a much smoother week and a more restful and fun weekend. Your day off may not fall on the weekend, but whatever day you have off, this will keep you from having to spend that day taking care of all your housekeeping tasks.

I know it seems a little daunting at first, but once you get into the rhythm, you'll be so thankful and relieved that you have a plan in place for your days.  Creating a routine for your home creates freedom.


Friday, February 16, 2018

DIY Tub and Shower Cleaner

I have another recipe for you today.  As many of you already know, we have hard water here at our farmhouse, and that can present a few challenges when it comes to cleaning.

I once felt that the only way I could get our bathrooms really clean was to use traditional cleaners.  My brain was trained to think that "clean" smelled a certain way.  I know I've said this before, but do you know what clean really smells like?  Yep, that's right, it smells like nothing.

When it comes to cleaning our tub and shower, I've found a solution that works well and it only consists of natural ingredients. It also leaves our bathroom smelling lemony fresh. Score!

Here's a simple walk through of how I tackle our tub and shower on cleaning day:

First, I spray down the entire shower with my soap scum cleaner.  This consists of distilled white vinegar plus 30 drops of YL Lemon essential oil combined in a 16 ounce spray bottle. Once this is done I sprinkle on a mixture of baking soda plus course sea salt (combined in a jar). I let this sit for just a few minutes before scrubbing it all clean with a scrub brush.  I then rinse it clean.

Here's a bonus tip! Did you know you can actually wash your plastic shower curtain liner in your washer?  For years I would throw these away every time they got a little grungy, but I now have a better and much less wasteful way!

Fill your washer with warm water and laundry detergent as usual, then add a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide, 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 6 drops of Lemon essential oil to the wash.  Add in your shower curtain liner along with a couple of towels. Sometimes I'll wash the actual shower curtain in the cycle instead of adding the towels.

After the spin cycle is complete, immediately hang your liner back up and allow it to dry.  Once the liner is completely dry, I hang the shower curtain back up too. This has been working like a charm for us! I've had the same liner for over a year now and I wash it every 3-4 weeks.

I hope this is helpful and helps you save a little money too!

Have a blessed weekend,

Monday, February 12, 2018

DIY Toilet Bowl Cleaner

I've mentioned my favorite toilet bowl cleaner recipe several times.  It has quickly become a favorite and I'm so excited to share it here today.

Creating a healthy home environment for my family is very important to me.  While I'm not 100% there, I am continuing to take small steps forward and enjoying the learning process along the way!
  For this recipe I used an old honey squeeze container and so far it is working just fine.  The great thing about this recipe is that the consistency is a little thicker allowing the cleaner to stick to the sides of the toilet bowl.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner
1/2 cup water
1 cup baking soda
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup liquid castile soap
1 capful Thieves cleaner
10-15 drops Tea Tree essential oil

Wisk all the ingredients together in a bowl and then funnel the mixture into a squeeze bottle. Old dish detergent or honey bottles work great!

Squirt the cleaner around the rim of your toilet and let it set for 5 - 10 minutes before scrubbing clean with a toilet brush.

This is enough cleaner to last me for several cleaning sessions.  I do still keep traditional toilet bowl cleaner on hand for those times when I run out of my homemade version and I'm short on time.  I may try doubling up on this recipe in the future.

Hope you have a very Blessed day!