WFMW: Keeping track of earrings

This morning, I decided to finally do something about my scattered-all-over-the-house earrings.  My earrings end up all over the house, mainly because I don’t have any one place to keep them organized.  It usually doesn’t phase me to pick up one of those handy dandy earring things., and, to be honest, it’s not usually very high on my priority list.

Well, today I repurposed a plastic plate and made a temporary earring holder.  It stores nicely on top of my cosmetics basket in the bathroom cabinet.

Works for me!  Find out what works for others at We are THAT Family.


Posted in Clutter, The Home | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Progressive Dinners

I am so excited!  Christmas is coming and I hope to gather 20 or 30 of my closest friends and put on a progressive dinner for the girls in our youth group and their moms and sisters.  I have no idea how it’s going to go, but last year was a pilot “program” and it went pretty well, so this year I want to do what I’ve wanted to do from the beginning – a progressive dinner!

I’ve sent out a somewhat controlled mass email, and I hope that will generate some interest in the next couple of days so that I can gauge the scale of the thing and get going on some planning.
Fun, fun, fun!!

Posted in Church, The Unknown | Tagged , | Leave a comment


It’s quarter to 8 in the morning.  I should be spending time reading my Bible and praying right now while the house is still quiet, but I made the mistake of looking up the search string “Help organizing someone else’s clutter”.

Ha!   There are people in my life who would laugh and ask why I’m looking for help organizing someone else’s clutter!  Trust me.  If I lived alone, I would be organized more often than not!

Here’s an interesting blog post on the subject of other peoples’ stuff: 10 ways to manage someone else’s clutter

One of my huge organization projects is to pare down any excess clothing.  One of the major contributors to chaos in this house is excess clothing.  I never, EVER thought I’d be able to say that.

My Mom did the best she could with the resources she had in terms of making sure we had clothes to wear.  I wore the same couple of pairs of jeans all week and my clothes were yesterday’s fashions more often than not.  I rarely asked for anything in junior high and high school because I knew my parents didn’t have the money.  What often happened when I did ask for things is that my jeans would become so worn out or my hair would get so out of control that I’d suddenly recognize that something needed to be done, and I’d panic.

“Mom, I need a new pair of jeans!”

“Mom, I need a hair cut.  My hair looks sooo awful!!”

My Mom would assess the situation and usually I was right.  My jeans were falling apart (beyond what was acceptable!) or my hair was beyond looking nice – we’re not talking keeping up with trends here; we’re talking basic grooming gone awry.   She’d scrape up what money she had and we’d go shopping for deals.  Because I was often too distracted to keep track of the state of myself and failed to plan ahead, we usually ended up paying full price for things.

Fast forward to my adulthood.  I now have kids who need to be fed and clothed, and try as we might, The Sgt and I have struggled financially for years, so the clothing thing continued to be an issue until about 5 years ago.  I trusted God to meet our needs, and He always did.  The kids always had suitable clothes, and they were usually hand-me-downs.  I’m okay with hand-me-downs.  The only problem is that you can’t plan very well if you have to rely on someone else’s kid outgrowing their clothes and giving them to you!  Sooo, I would leave it in God’s hands when I didn’t have the money to go out and buy new clothes. God always provided right when we had a need!

For a while, I tended to hoard clothing, but by the time it fit my youngest, it was the wrong season.  My older two boys could share clothes, and the middle child could wear most of his brother’s hand-me-downs, but my youngest was a season ahead of his older brothers,  so most of the time, their clothes didn’t work for him.  That was frustrating, but during that time, I felt convicted that it was wrong to hang on to so much excess – and there was a lot of excess with the hand-me-downs that were too big – so I kept a size or two of up-and-coming clothes and donated the rest.  I figured that God would not bless a stingy spirit, and why not give someone else a chance to wear those unused clothes before they went out of style?  God had provided before and He would do it again. And He always did.  Friends or family members would pass along their kids’ outgrown coats just as my kids needed them.  I can remember thinking several different times that I didn’t know where the money was going to come from to buy the boys coats for winter, and then a couple of weeks later, someone would hand me a big bag of clothes that didn’t fit their kids.  Sure enough!  There would be coats in the bag!  So I would get rid of anything that my kids could not wear within the next year (to the best of my knowledge) and wait on the Lord to provide what was needed after that.

Gosh, that really sounds pathetic, but it wasn’t, really!  It takes more time to type it out than the time it took to think about it when it was happening!

Five years ago, a friend tipped me off to thrift stores.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I knew about thrift stores, but my previous couple of experiences had been that the thrift stores were still out to make a pretty penny and they charged more than garage sale prices and their stuff was junk.  My friend told me about how to plan my thrift store trips around their sales.  (“Thrift stores have sales?!”)  What a difference a shopping strategy can make!

I thank God for that “chance” conversation with my friend!  I have never had much luck finding decent clothes for at garage sales, and buying them a fully stocked wardrobe brand new ain’t gonna happen.  I was resigned to buying everything new as the need arose or waiting on God to provide hand-me-downs, but because of that conversation, I have been able to outfit my husband, my kids, and myself for a fraction of the cost of buying the stuff new.   They are boys and boys are rough on clothes, but we have been able to keep them stocked in pants, which seem to be the first to go, and their wardrobes can look somewhat fresh with far less expense.

Anyway, ever since that time, we have had an abundance of clothing.  Wow!  What a blessing!  I still cannot believe I’m saying that!  Thank You, God, for the abundance!  But now it’s time to be better stewards of our blessings and to make sure someone else can wear whatever is excess and still in good shape.

Last weekend, a couple of the boys and I did a ton of laundry and laid out all of their pants and t-shirts and had them pick a specific amount of each to keep.  I had to buy pants for those two for a long mission trip, so I got them pants from thrift stores.  I was shocked to discover that one of them had 14 pairs of pants?!?!?!

See, when you have too many clothes, it is impossible to keep up with them all.  There’s no reason on earth that one 16 year old boy should have 14 pairs of pants, and he didn’t even remember that he had them!  What good is it to have all of this stuff if you never use it and don’t even know you have it?  No wonder the laundry is never done!!  We now have several bags to go to various places and the boys know what the have and where it is.

Last time, I shared my proposed clothing list. This morning, I found several other lists.  Isn’t that funny?  I think God wanted me to do what works for our family.  I have never been able to find lists before this morning, but now that I’m doing what God has laid on my heart for our household, I’m finally using the right search string or something:

From “Living on a Dime”: How Many Clothes Should We Have?

From “Notes from the Frugal Trenches”: Just how many items of clothing do we need?

From “Se7en: The life and times of a homeschooling mom of se7en +1”: Project Simplify: The Closet…  (I LOVE her attitude!  “Always in my head is: if it doesn’t fit someone else could be wearing it. ”  Amen, sister!)

Well, off I go to do what I started out to do and then to cull more clothes!

Posted in Clutter, The Home | Leave a comment


No WAY!!  Where did summer go and why don’t I feel rested and refreshed???

Ah, well.  What can you do?

School officially starts Tuesday for us.  I’m excited about it, but I’m not so sure about the kids.  🙂 The Sgt is excited about school, too, but his classes don’t start for a couple more weeks.

I’m probably not going to start any craft or deco projects in the near future, but I have a list of them waiting in the wings.  A couple of projects that I am going to work on slowly but surely are my bedroom and the basement.  Both have become Storage Hell.   I hate when that happens!  It doesn’t get that way overnight and it doesn’t get fixed overnight, and unfortunately, I look at it and decided to think on it overnight instead of working on it!

We’re currently trying to pare down our wardrobes to a manageable amount of clothing.   I don’t think any one person needs 90 t-shirts.  Call it a hunch!  I kid you not.  Someone in this house had more than 90 t-shirts!

I had a great aunt who was a hoarder and had boxes and boxes of stuff sitting around in her house.  What a mess!  I do NOT want to fall into the trap of being possessed by my possessions.  Our laundry area is a disaster.  We have all of these clothes, cramped places to put them, and too many to reasonably keep clean and put away, so we’re donating, rag-bagging, or pitching those things which we do not need, starting in the laundry area!

I would love to get some feedback on what type of clothing you think is necessary and in what quantity and why. The following is a preliminary list I made before we started thinning out clothing.  We haven’t gotten to the bottom of the dirty laundry pile yet, so we haven’t finished donating and pitching, and therefore I have no idea if my list is reasonable.  If anyone has any suggestions, by all means, share with the rest of the class.  (This is supposed to be worded flexibly enough to work for either a dude or a chick.)

2 sweaters
2 sweatshirts
6 decent t-shirts and 1 really grubby one for working
2-3 pr decent jeans and 1 grubby
3-4 pr decent shorts
6 church shirts – 3 long sleeve, 3 short sleeve.
3 pr church pants/skirts – 1 black, 1 blue, 1 tan/khaki
2 pr dark dress socks, clothes pinned together when not in use
4 pr shoes – 1 athletic, 1 casual, 1 dress, sandals/flip flops

Cool weather – 2 heavy coats, 2 light jackets – 1 each for looking decent, 1 each for outdoor chores
1 snow pant, 5-7 pr warm socks, 2 pr boots – 1 decent, 1 work

Posted in Life and Living, The Home | Tagged | Leave a comment

Transformation Tuesday – The living and dining rooms

Much better, thanks to some dear friends and my Mom!  Previously, the dining room had white on the top half of the walls with a floral border at chair rail level and then dark pinkish-red on the bottom. It took two full days to do both rooms, but they look so much nicer!  (Gotta get that bulkhead and ceiling fixed and painted!)

The living room was just plain, dirty white.  Another friend told me about using canvas drop cloths for slipcovers, so  that’s what I did with the couch pictured.  It looks really nice when it’s tucked and fulled and pinned here and there, and it’s really comfortable.  Unfortunately, Mr. Chew the House to Pieces One Couch at a Time tore into the slipcover.  GRRRR!

The walls are Behr Coastal Mist.  The trim is Behr Ultra Bright White. It was the kind with the primer in the paint.  It went on really well!

Last week, I painted a clock that was given to us.  It was an anniversary clock from one of my parents’ employers.  It was supposed to be brass-looking, but it was made of plastic – because nothing says “Good Job” and “Happy Anniversary” like plastic – and wasn’t shining up very well, so I decided to experiment with some leftover spray paint I had.

The Clock - Before

I had some leftover black enamel spray paint from who-knows-what.  My friend who knows way more about home deco than I do let me pick her brain about colors.  I’m so not a home deco aware person!  Anyway, we thought black might be a nice accent.  Turns out it was a wee bit too much black.

The Clock - After (the first time)

I do not love black, but I like it as an accent in small amounts, but this was not a small amount, so I jumped headlong into repainting it.

The Clock - After (the second time)

I’m much happier with this color!  It looks much nicer with the theme I’m trying to achieve – a cottage at the beach.  Not a busy, flesh market, party til you drop type of place, but a Great Lakes peaceful getaway type of place.  Partying is optional but not necessary.

I also painted that $1 tray I picked up brand new on sale.  I almost think it was JoAnn‘s.  Yep, I’m pretty sure it was JoAnn’s.

Did you notice the bamboo place mat on the buffet? I saw a bunch of those at Dollar Tree and they really “pop” in the dining room.  I love the touch of bright green and yellow in the room full of “coastal” blue.

I have recently learned that now that my house is getting to be the way I like it, we’re going to sell it!  I’m not sure whether to be thrilled that we’re hopefully moving to a bigger house or disappointed that after all of that work, I’m not going to get to enjoy it for long!  Well, I think I’m learning contentment.


Posted in The Home | Leave a comment

Last week, I planted …

Hydrangeas!!  It’s the middle of the night and I can’s sleep, so I’ll blog.

Thanks to my friend who told me about a greenhouse that has good plant sales at this time of year, I was able to get a couple of hydrangeas and a hibiscus for 50% off!  The stems and leaves on this hydrangea look a lot perkier today but the other one’s dinna look so good.

While I’ve reveled in the peaceful solitude, I have had time to think about, look at and rethink about my yard.  I’ve struggled with what kind of a witness I am that I can’t keep up with my yard.  I mean doesn’t every good Christian keep everything neat and tidy all of the time to show that God gives us superhuman strength and endurance to accomplish everything we want to do and to accomplish it in a timely manner?

The short answer is no!

The longer answer is that sometimes we take more upon ourselves than God intends and waste a lot of time on things that don’t matter.  And let’s face it.  Sometimes it’s the yard that doesn’t matter.  Sure, it irritates the property value nazis, but there are things that are more important than how the yard looks, like spending time doing something fun for once with the kids who haven’t seen their Dad in months.

Anyway, when I moved into my little cottage, there were plants and “weeds” everywhere, mostly perennials.  The grass hadn’t been mowed in a couple of weeks or longer.  There were dead trees that looked more like planted sticks along one side of the house.  Everything was overgrown, and it was a mess!  I think the woman who lived here was a single mother of a teen.  I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all of the plant life without help!  I would totally understand if she moved into an apartment!

It took a few days, but I eventually got the “weeds” pulled and the rough edges clipped into submission for the time being.   This place had lots of potential back then. Especially as long as my Dad was willing to let us borrow his lawnmower.


Thankfully, this place still has potential.  One plant that was abundant back then was the hosta.  I had no idea how much more I would come to appreciate hostas in the years to come than I did in the beginning.  We have hostas that came from plants that were originally planted on this property in the 60’s.  That variety was well established and so pretty when we got here!  Lots happened that caused them to dwindle. (Can you say “dogs”?)  Thankfully, while they never completely died out here, I had shared many of them with my mother, and she gave me a couple of clumps to bring back. She had considered mowing them down at one point, but I talked her out of it and brought some home.  I was so glad that she took them way back when we built our dog run.  I offered them to her because I hated to see them get trampled by the dog and I didn’t know what else to do with them.

With all of my food issues, while I was not what I’d call “sickly”, I was sick enough to not really care about much of anything outside of my house for quite a while.  Four years ago or so, I was told about gluten by my doctor, and since eliminating that, soy and a couple of other things, I have regained some energy.  At that time, I started thinking about my yard again and what I could do to rein it in.  I had been thinking about my favorite hostas and what a shame it was that they were all gone.

Well, I discovered that there was one clump left, still within reach of dogs (the whole yard was fenced by then), but in a rarely used path, so as soon as I had time (I made time!) I moved them to a safe place where they absolutely thrived that spring and summer.  I was thrilled!!  I needed them to continue thriving long enough to put them back where they once were before dogs.

In the meantime, a friend had given me some of her hostas and I had moved some others in my yard to other places just to see how they’d do.  It has been an uphill battle and lots of plant shuffling to get this yard into some semblance of order – and still far from “there”. But it is so worth the time and energy!

This picture was taken in the beginning of May.  The clump of tall hostas are nearly twice as tall and have gained about a third of the width you see here.  I ❤ those things!

Next week, we paint.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Transformation Tuesday – July 5th

It has been a while since I’ve even looked at this blog!!  Last time I was here, I planned to make a sofa slipcover for one of my couches.  What I ended up doing was buying one at Big Lots for one of them and then buying a 12′ x 15′ canvas drop cloth from Lowe’s for the other and trimming and hemming it by hand.

It looks so much better in my living room when both slipcovers are on and clean and neat!

One problem I had not anticipated is that my son’s dog would attempt to shred both slipcovers almost right off the bat.  Stoopid dog!!!  I was stumbling through my basement one day and the kennel caught my eye.  Aha!!  That’ll fix you, Mr. Ruinator of The Few Nice Things In This House!

I had a couple of the boys rearrange the dining room for The Ruinator’s kennel and then they brought it upstairs and got it situated for him.  The very first time his master said, “Go nigh-night,” he went right into his kennel and sat down.  However, the very first time we locked him in there when we were gone, he peed outside of the thing and onto my floor!  That was pretty frustrating, but he has not done it since.  I am very relieved about that.  The Sgt won’t let us live without dogs, and I cannot bear the thought of being stuck with a dog that is bent on destroying my house.  It’s bad enough without their contributions!

Last fall, I painted my front entryway.  What a difference!   and I am thrilled to use it for something other than passing through!  It’s the one place on this entire property that doesn’t get trashed.  I can just sit there and read if I have the time.  I have been spending a lot of time out there trying to read lately.  For more than a year, I have felt like my “On” switch has been over used.  It feels like I have had to be at the beck and call of everyone else all hours of the day and night with fewer resources than needed for almost the entire time.  I am so glad for graduation, summer and that the two mission trips are coming to an end in the near future.  The pace at which things have come at me has seemed non-stop and rapid fire.  That has been exhausting.
Anyway, I’m feeling so refreshed without some of the responsibilities I had carried all school year.  I’m almost refreshed enough to plan school for the fall semester.  Almost.
May God bless you and remind you in big ways and small that He cares for you. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment