Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beauty on Sunday

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
~Philippians 4:8~

Happy Sunday, Friends!

We had a productive day around our house...

It was a simple and peaceful day!

(recipe tomorrow)

Borders have been added to the perimeter of this quilt!

This was my first time to add borders.
Next weekend, I plan on finishing the back and putting together the quilt sandwich.

I hope, you too, had a wonderful weekend and were able to create something lovely.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday's Tip #2 (Timing Yourself to Complete Tasks)

Good morning and Happy Tuesday!

This week's "Tuesday's Tip" has to do with motivating ourselves to complete those tasks that we procrastinate on because we don't enjoy doing them.  Often times, we make excuses as to why we can't dust/mop/vacuum/clean toilets, etc. because of a time constraint.

But have you ever really timed yourself to see how long a task actually takes to complete?

Me neither.

Until my dear friend, Lori, suggested that I stop complaining about my untidy house...set a timer...and get to work!

Now, the tasks that we procrastinate on are different for each of us.
For me, it  is vacuuming stairs (we've got two full staircases because of our finished 3rd story attic space) and emptying the dishwasher.  

The dishwasher is the most problematic because by ignoring and/or procrastinating on this one, dirty dishes then build up in my sink gets counter tops begin to get cluttered with drinking cups and snack plates, leftover lunch dishes, etc. and then the whole kitchen goes down the drain!  (Pun intended!)  

This drives me bonkers.  But, for whatever reason, I hate emptying the dishwasher.  (I have no idea why...they're clean dishes for heaven's sake!)

But when I set the timer for 3 minutes I find that I can actually "beat the clock" and be finished with anywhere from 30-seconds to a minute to spare.  

Really?  It only takes me two minutes to empty my dishwasher and yet, I put it off causing more work and time loss as the day goes on...

Staircases are another cleaning task where I procrastinate...

Dragging out the vacuum...using takes forever...

Actually, it too takes me about two (2) minutes to complete this task!

So there you have it... using a timer we can motivate ourselves to complete tasks that we put off leaving ourselves with a home that feels more like a haven.

NOTE TO SELF...must.paint.stairwell!  At first I thought that was shadow markings on the painted wall...but now I see that it is greasy little hand prints.  :)  While a sweet visual for this mama that her babies and toddlers are growing up and now walking up and down stairs like big-kids...a not-so-sweet visual for visitors!  LOL  

Linking up with the lovely ladies over at A Bowl Full of Lemons

A Bowl Full of Lemons

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Has Officially Arrived

Although I start thinking "Fall" on September 1st, I know that it does not officially arrive for several more weeks.  And in Kansas, we often have the heat to prove it.

But by the Autumnal Equinox, we are typically done with 90+ degree days and this year is no exception.  

We enjoyed a beautiful of the best in several years, with highs only in the upper 70s and low humidity.  A perfect weekend for opening up windows...hosing off the remnants of summer from our front and back porches...and enjoying time together in the outdoors.

Slip and slides were rolled up and packed away for their debut at next year's Memorial Day...inflatable toddler pools were deflated...water guns and bubble makers with missing and broken parts were thrown  out...sea shells that migrated out of the sand bucket were added to past years' collections...

Yes, summer was good to us, but it is a new season, and it is by far my favorite!  Looking forward to checking off many of these suggested "Fall Bucket List" items.

What's on your "bucket list"?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Beauty on Sunday

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
~Philippians 4:8~

Happy Sunday, Friends!

I hope you had a beautiful weekend and were able to create something lovely.

I washed...and swept...and Windex-ed a lot this weekend, but now I am able to see God's beauty outside of my windows!  Our wrap-around porch was "de-summer-ed" and has been prepped for Fall.

In addition, I did work on piecing my daughter's throw quilt. 
(It's still a work in progress, but I got a great start on it!)

Here's a sneak peek...  


Friday, September 20, 2013

I *heart* Quilting

Lest you think me boring...or having nothing else to talk about besides housecleaning...I'm here to prove you wrong!

I love quilts.

I mean, I really love quilts.

And I own several and have been gifted a few,

but I have yet to finish one on my own.

I'm hoping to change that this month!

Tonight I purchased this "layer cake" Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics,

(I buy a lot of Bonnie & Camille...their fabrics just speak to me!)

and this weekend I plan on piecing together a simple throw quilt.

(The boys are going to a Kansas City Royals baseball game tomorrow night and so #1 daughter and I plan to have a sewing party!)

One of the reasons that I have never actually finished a quilt (although I have started many) is because I am a perfectionist.  And while one might think that perfectionism would translate to beautiful finished really just causes me paralysis.  "My seams aren't rows aren't lining quilting isn't binding stitches are visible..."

You get the idea.

I can be really hard on myself...and rather than learn from my mistakes, or allow myself to revel in an accomplishment, I rip out stitches or quit the project halfway through...

(I love paisley!)

So, since I am posting publicly tonight...and this new blog of mine is really helping me to hold myself accountable...I'm thinking positively that this month I will actually FINISH my first throw-size lap quilt!

Happy Friday Friends!

What are you piecing with needle and thread?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"It's FALL Y'ALL Cleaning Challenge" Day 4

This new blog of mine has done nothing if not kept me honest and on-track with my Fall Clean-Up!

I'm still a day behind on my cleaning-schedule, but the majority of the first floor of our home has been deep cleaned.   Friday night (with the hubby on-duty) I can clean late into the evening...especially after the littles have been put to bed!  That means cracking open a cold one or pouring myself a glass of wine (I'm not particular!), cranking up the "Big Band" era music and cleaning/organizing to my hearts content.  Sounds like an exciting Friday night, huh?!  :)

Anyway, today, I managed to get my First Floor Half-Bath and Laundry Room deep cleaned.  Here's my accountability checklist...

First Floor Half-Bath

  • Dusted Circulating Vent
  • Dusted Hanging Shelf
  • Cleaned Toilet Bowl
  • Cleaned Back of Toilet/Cleaned Around Toilet Base (ugh!)
  • Cleaned Pedestal Sink
  • Refilled Toilet Paper Basket
  • Emptied/Freshened Wastebasket
  • Vacuumed/Dusted and Wiped Down Baseboards
  • Mopped Hardwoods

As you can see, I have a theme going in my house...blah, blah, and more blah.  It hasn't been until I started systematically photographing each room that I realized how very little decorating I've done!

One thing I can say is that as I have aged, I have become more confident in what I like and what I don't like.  I no longer feel confined by certain decorating rules or that I need to conform to the style du jour.  Rather, I feel more confident in my ability to mix what I love...with what I already have...and with what I hope to purchase and/or re-purpose in the future.  

And with a new job...and PAYCHECK...that means I can begin to decorate and update our home without feeling guilty about dipping into the grocery or dance class budgets!  :)

And...while it may be "blah"'s clean!  Right?!!!

Laundry Room
  • Vacuumed Ceiling/Walls (I plan to paint this room first in our home update projects!)
  • Vacuumed Back of Washer/Dryer
  • Wiped Down Tops of Washer/Dryer
  • Scrubbed Stainless Steel Wash Sink/Wiped Down Counter Top
  • Wiped Down Cabinetry
  • Vacuumed/Dusted and Wiped Down Baseboards
  • Mopped Linoleum Floor (UGH!  Hate the linoleum...why did we not do tile like our builder suggested???!!!)
Couple Features of Note About Our Laundry Room

This room is a nice size, but it is long and narrow...not very little space between the walls and the washer and dryer.

The washer and dryer are one of the original sets of Front Loaders that came onto the market.  To know my hubby is to know that he LOVES anything innovative.  I think they've made major improvements to these HE machines over the past 12 years, but I still think that many people also like top loaders for better performance.

The backpacks and hoodies hang from an ORIGINAL SCHOOLHOUSE COAT RACK that was part of the elementary school that my sister-in-law (brother's wife) attended as a child in Chillicothe, Missouri.  The school (I think it was well over 100 years old) was eventually demolished, but not before local townspeople were able to claim pieces of history.  My sister-in-love...knowing my love for education...thought that the coat rack hooks would make the perfect birthday gift and would fit well in my laundry room! She was right. They've hung in my laundry room for over 10-years now.  LoVe!!!

I SWEAR I'm deep cleaning my kitchen tomorrow night!  :)

Hope you had a great Thursday...looking forward to the weekend!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"It's Fall Y'ALL Cleaning Challenge" Day 3

You know what they say about the best laid plans...

...well, yesterday got away from me and I found myself unable to stick to my original cleaning plan!

Yesterday, I was supposed to tackle my Family Room, but I had a "to do list" a mile long for my job and so I was unable to clean before I went into work.

*side note*  After being a stay-at-home mom for the past five years, I recently returned to the classroom...the Special Ed classroom, more commonly referred to as "the Resource Room".  I am only working 12-hours a week...while my youngest is at preschool...but it is still an adjustment for everyone.  (I plan to do a series of blog posts on getting yourself and school-age kiddos organized as a new working mom.)

Anyway, an after-school staff meeting delayed me even further and so today I need to double up on my Fall Clean-Up tasks.  I don't want to get too far off track because if I do, I won't get it all accomplished before this weekend..and I promised to put up fall decorations with the kids!

So without further ado, here is my accountability list for getting the Family Room deep cleaned this morning.  This afternoon, I will tackle Thursday's to-do list (laundry room and half-bath), which will leave my kitchen for day off!  :)

Family Room

  • Vacuum/dust Ceiling Fan
  • Vacuum/dust Fireplace Mantle (including wall)
  • Vacuum/dust Cold Air Return vent
  • Take Down/Shake Out Window Treatments
  • Vacuum/Dust Miniblind Slats
  • Vacuum/Dust Baseboards
  • Wash Windows (interior and exterior)
  • Wipe Down/Polish Coffee Tables
  • Organize Game Shelves (located in flat screen TV stand)
  • Windex Flat Screen TV Stand Doors
  • Vacuum Couch Cushions/Rotate Cushions
  • Vacuum and Mop Hardwood Floors
  • Move and Vacuum Area Rug

Any tips for cleaning your fireplace glass a real wood-burning fireplace?  The fire hubby is a "real wood-burning fire" fanatic during the Fall and Winter months. I hate how dirty the glass doors get and how the hearth has become discolored.  

Cute preschooler who didn't want to move for my photo session.  :)

I hope you're having a fantastic Wednesday!  I sure am enjoying my deep cleaned rooms and they're actually inspiring all of us in the family to pick up after ourselves in the other rooms.  Win-Win!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday's Tip #1 (Systematic Cleaning of a Room)

Tuesday's Tip
(Cleaning, Organizing, & Home Maintenance Tips for Making Your HOME a HAVEN)

As I work my way through my home's living spaces to tackle my "It's FALL Y'ALL Clean-Up Challenges", I realized that I systematically work my way around the room.

I always start at the top of the room and work my way down, saving floors for last.

I dust hutches, buffets, and curios before dining room table tops and/or side tables.

This way, as I vacuum air vents...dust crown molding and/or chair rails, table tops, etc. any dust and dirt that does fall or doesn't get collected by the vacuum attachments goes onto the floor or next lowest surface that hasn't been cleaned.

  By saving the floor for last...I do not have to go back and repeatedly mop and/or vacuum the hardwoods or carpet.

Simple...and logical...(but sometimes logic defies me!)  :)

Linking up with the ladies at...

"It's FALL Y'ALL Cleaning Challenge" Days 1 & 2

Good morning!  

Well, yesterday was the first day of my 7-day self-imposed cleaning challenge and it feels great to have accomplished my Day 1 tasks (cleaning my front formal and dining).

Here's a checklist of what I did for each room to make them sparkle and shine.

Formal Dining Room
  • Washed Dining Room Windows (interior and exterior)
  • Dusted China Cabinet (interior and exterior)
  • Dusted Cookbook Shelf/Curio Cabinet
  • Dusted Chandelier
  • Vacuumed Cold Air Return Vent
  • Vacuumed and Wiped Down Chair Rail
  • Wiped Down/Polished Dining Room Table (top and base)
  • Vacuumed and Wiped Down Baseboards
  • Vacuumed Carpet (moving small furniture pieces...chairs, plants, etc.)

Following are a few photos of our "formal" dining room.  I use that term loosely!  When my hubby and I built our home 12-years ago, we chose a "Greek Revival Farmhouse" design out of a "house plans" book.  (That would be code for...didn't really comprehend the size of the rooms!)  Our "eat-in" kitchen is SMALL, and so I decided many years ago that the "formal dining room" (fairly LARGE space) didn't really meet our needs as a formal room, and instead would be converted into our everyday dining room.  

 As you can see from the pictures, I prefer a "farmhouse-style" for decorating.  (More to come in a future post about the decor plans for this room.)  

For now, here is a glimpse into our everyday dining area.

Formal Living Room

  • Washed Living Room Windows (interior and exterior)
  • Vacuum/dusted Cold Air Return Vent
  • Dusted Top and Sides of Armoire
  • Dusted/Wiped with Damp Cloth Leather Couch
  • Moved Couch/Dog House for Vacuuming
  • Dusted/Wiped Down Baseboards
  • Dusted/Windexed Glass Top Ladies Writing Desk
  • Cleaned out Piano Bench
  • Dusted Piano and Photo Frames
  • Vacuumed Carpet
This room is sorely lacking in any particular design style and/or decor, but again has some beautiful pieces purchased and/or inherited (piano) over the years.  

Since I began blogging (five years ago...I have a family blog) and perusing Pinterest, I've become inspired by all of your beautiful home interiors and plan to make some decorating decisions for this room!  First up...some window treatments!  :)  

In the meantime, though, both of these rooms are clean!  

Today's challenge is our Family Room.  This room is positioned in the back of the house and is open to the kitchen. It gets the dirtiest as it is lived in the most.  After seeing how beautiful my front rooms look with just a simple deep cleaning, I'm inspired to continue on with the rest of my tasks.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 16, 2013

7-Day "It's FALL Y'ALL" Cleaning Challenge

Twice a year, I love to "deep clean" my home in anticipation of the changing seasons.  

Just like a "Spring Cleaning", I do a major "Fall Clean-Up" around the inside and outside of my home.

This September is no exception, and I've chosen this week to prepare our home for the upcoming Autumnal Equinox...or First Day of Autumn!

Here in the Midwest, we experience four distinct seasons and Fall is my absolute favorite.

  (In fact, my husband and I even got married in the Fall because I love this season that much!)

There's just something about crisp-air days scented with burning leaves and long dark nights cuddling with my husband and little ones before a roaring fire, that makes me happy, happy, happy.

So, to prepare for the upcoming holidays...the entertaining...the decorating...the cooking/baking...
 ...I plan to tackle each room and deep clean from top to bottom, thus creating a 
"7-Day 'It's Fall Y'all Cleaning Challenge"

Here is my cleaning schedule for the week...

Monday:  Formal Front Rooms (Living and Dining)

Tuesday:  Family Room

Wednesday:  Kitchen

Thursday:  Laundry Room/Half Bath

Friday:  Master Bedroom/Master Bathroom

Saturday:  Kids Rooms/Guest Room/Hall Bathroom

Sunday:  Front/Back Porches/Entry Way/Exterior Doors

As I make our home a haven for Fall, I will share with you my "cleaning checklist" for each room.

My kiddos are eagerly anticipating bringing out the Fall/Halloween decorations and so I'm planning on sharing with you a little virtual "Home Tour" after we get our decorations out.

What about you?  Do you deep clean for Fall?  I'd love to hear your schedule and/or any cleaning tips and tricks you might have.  Do you decorate seasonally?  I love to bring the natural beauty of  the outdoors inside.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making Ordinary Things Extraordinary

"Take a little time to make ordinary things extraordinary."

~Emilie Barnes~


I'm so glad you're here.  

My name is Valerie and this is my blog dedicated to all things home.
I believe that our homes should be a haven from the outside world...  

...where our little ones feel safe and secure...

...where our husbands feel loved and appreciated...

...and where we (as mothers and/or wives) can feel relaxed and rejuvenated!

“It's sad if people think that's (homemaking) a dull existence, 

[but] you can't just buy an apartment and furnish it and walk 

away. It's the flowers you choose, the music you play, the 

smile you have waiting. I want it to be gay and cheerful, a 

haven in this troubled world. I don't want my husband and 

children to come home and find a rattled woman. Our era is 

already rattled enough, isn't it?” 

~Audrey Hepburn~

(One can't help but love Audrey Hepburn!)

While I would love to say that my home is always a haven...

...sadly, it is not.

All too often, I find myself staring down a pile of dirty dishes in the sink (the dishes always win out!), picking up random LEGO pieces off the floor, or scrubbing off sticky cavity-fighting toothpaste from bathroom counter tops and sinks.  

And always at ten 'o clock at night.  

Can you relate?

"When life gets too cluttered, we neglect the important things."

~Emilie Barnes~

As a busy working mom of three (ages 3, 6, 9) and wife to a full-time fire fighter (read...24-hour shifts),  I have decided that it is time to get serious about household organization and management.  I don't want "the clutter" to get in the way of loving on my husband and children.  (And clutter makes me cranky!)

I want my house to be the kind of home that is warm and welcoming...neat and tidy...but comfortable and lived in.  

The kind of home where pearls and plaid easily mix with aprons and heirlooms!

So, again, welcome!  I hope that you will join me on this journey of making my home a haven.