Monday, January 30, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean- Rinse and Repeat, Week 4: Fridge, Freezers, and Floors

OK friends, we are still moving our way through the kitchen and hopefully by now you are starting to feel in better control of this area.  After all, let's face it, it is a place we spend an awful lot of time.  By now you should have covered your Pantry, as well as Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers.  Don't lose your momentum quite yet, we are almost done!  
We have loved seeing all the pictures this week, and appreciate you all helping us out by posting in one area.  And I love all the chatter and cheering each other on.  Not only are we taking back our homes one week at a time, but we are building friendships!  I love it!!
As we proceed with 34 Weeks of Clean, keep in mind our goals- deep clean all those surfaces, de-clutter what we don't need or simply do not use anymore, and re-organize.  Last week was the first week where you had the chance to really start to de-clutter.
Hey, I KNOW that the de-cluttering part is the hardest.  I get it, really I do!  But hear me out.  Things that clutter our homes also clutter our hearts and heads.  Life should not be about things.  Things are nice, but people are better.  Much better.  Clear out what you don't need, you will not regret it.
This week you can add your photos here! 
And because of all those pictures we have quite a few people in the running for our prize at the end.  AND, we have added a new prize to bless you...details at the end of this post!  You are going to love it!

This week - Fridge, Freezers, and Floors! 

For some, this will be a fairly easy project.  For others, it may be a challenge, as I realize that many of us have multiple fridges and freezers.  Not to mention I loathe getting down on my hands and knees to do floors, but yes, we are going to do it- together!  Here we go!

So, some tips-

  • Start high and end low!  In other words- fridge and freezer first, floors last. Here is why-

  • Which leads us to the second tip - do not put open cans back in your fridge.  Take the time to put the contents in sealed containers.  Not only safer food storage, but cleaner!  If you need to cover leftovers, we have found these cloth type coverings to work best.  Ashton made this set I own, but I know you can buy them (try searching "reusable food cover" or "reusable bowl cover" on  When they get dirty I just pop them in the wash!

  •  If you are amazing and do this on a regular basis, clean out when your stock is at its lowest.  Make your life easier by having less to move out while you wipe down shelf surfaces and bins! 
So that being said, yes, you guessed it- take it all out!  Empty your fridge and your freezer, putting anything you are afraid might melt into coolers while you work!

Take any bins, drawers, or dividers out and wash them with soapy water.  Again, I use this homemade multi-cleaner, but do what makes you happy. Do every surface, inside and out, and do not forget the dusty top.  Yes, even the top!  I know, scary, right?!

Beware! (Being completely transparent here)  When you remove the drawers, you may find a mess like this.  Obviously the kids spilled something and I did not see it because it was under the drawer.  And yes, I did just completely throw my kids under the bus! ;) 

Don't worry, it did come clean!

And here's the final product.  Now tell me exactly why we have to put stuff back in that beauty?  I mean, look how nice and tidy it looks!  And why do the people who live here have to ALWAYS eat?

  • Yes, it is time to put it all back in!  Well, maybe not ALL.  Check expiration dates when returning things to the shelves.  I did not find one expired thing - but then again, my mom just spent a month with us so no telling how much she threw away when I wasn't looking! ;)

  • Designate a space for things!  This is what happens when you do not -

Leftovers get lost in the clutter, do not get eaten and then have to be thrown out resulting in WASTE! Please tell me I am not alone in this!
  • For those of you with large freezer and lot of frozen foods:  make an inventory of your freezer space.  This may not be an issue if you keep little frozen food on hand, but for us, I have seen it is a must.  Usually I am a paper kind of gal, but after seeing our farm friends' method, I was sold! 

Yep, dry-erase lists on the outside of the freezers!  At a glance I can see what I have and, if I can ever remember to leave the marker there, I can quickly change the amount when I take something out. Someone remind me to attach a pen with a string to the door handle or something!

Final fridge-


Freezer done!
  • I will say I am not a fan of things all over the front of the fridge.  For me, it adds to the clutter and makes me start to feel a little crazy after a while.  What about you?  Do you have layers of things taped to the fridge that have been there for decades? This may be a time that you want to clear off all the stuff hanging on your fridge for a nice clean look, or at least a clean slate for the new year.
  • And then - the floors.  Yes, most of us do our floors weekly, at least, but remember, we are trying to do some deep cleaning this time!
         -Stick the rugs in the washing machine!

        -Move out anything that is on the floor!
        -Do the baseboards first, then the nooks and crannies.  Since our steam cleaner does not always  seem to hit those spots, we did the floor by hand this time around.

  • And an extra throw in at the last minute- we took this time to wipe down the trash can on the outside and clean the inside.
YOU ARE DONE!!  Way to go!
So, about that new prize!

Our friends at Redeemed, an online handmade sign shop, have graciously offered this sign for our drawing. 

If you post a picture or pictures of your progress each week, you will be entered into a drawing for that as well as a $50.00 prize package to 621 Gifts and, you get to choose your own goodies!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Putting the Fun in School- VCF Week 5

Welcome to Week 5 of the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair, hosted by Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds.  Last week we talked about Science, History, and Geography- some pretty heavy subjects.  But for our final week we get to have some fun with the subject of Seeking Beauty, the Fine Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty into our Homeschools.

Beauty?  Can there even be beauty in our homeschool day?  Is there time for that?  Is it even allowed?

I ask those things in jest, but let's face it- when we have to get in Math, Literature, Grammar, History, Geography, Science and more just to fulfill the state's requirements, sometimes the "fun" subjects, the beautiful ones, get pushed to the side.  I have to admit that for us they are the ones that often get skipped because mom is just too tired at the end of the day!

One way we have found to combat this is to dedicate a day or just an afternoon for subjects such as art, music, foreign languages, and other electives.  It often works for us to do those things on a co-op day if we are out of the house only part of the day.  In the past, we have deemed Fridays our "Fun Fridays," teamed up with another family or two, and done these subjects in more of a group setting, even adding music lessons to that day.  The glory of homeschooling is that you can change your schedule from year to year or even semester to semester to fit your family and situation.

We have used a lot of different things (we have been doing this 18 years remember) but I do want to share a few of our favorite programs with you.  There are so many great curriculum choices out there that it is often hard to choose!

BIBLE- Yes, we actually do Bible everyday, but it is for sure something that brings beauty into our day! Starting with God's Word and the reminder of His love for us is not only a perfect way to begin any day, but it often helps us re-adjust our attitudes before we start into heavy schoolwork!

  • Veritas Press Self Paced Bible- Because we LOVE Veritas Press Self Paced History with a passion, I figured I would love this one as well!  I was right!  It is aimed at younger children with the online activities, but the information taught is by no means watered down.
  • Grapevine- With a tagline of "Stick figuring through the Bible" how could you go wrong?  Really, these lessons are very thorough and will keep a hands-on kiddo quite engaged!
  • Apologia's What We Believe Series- This series of books teaches a Christian Worldview better than many I have seen.  They even have student notebooks if your child likes that kind of thing.

  • Creating a Masterpiece- This program is relatively new to me, but wow!  The lessons are so much fun and the results I see from people using it are simply amazing.  We cannot wait to get started and hope to write a review of it soon
  • ArtAchieve-  This online program uses inexpensive supplies to teach art from around the world, so your kids can learn a little art history as well!


  • Kinderbach- A fun program for younger children!  At a highschool level I do require a semester of Music Appreciation, but honestly, it looks different for each child.

FOREIGN LANGUAGES- OK, here is where I could go crazy, but I will try to restrain myself for your sake.  Also, we learn Spanish at our house, so that is what I will share, but know that many of the programs offer other languages as well!

  • Elementary- Song School Spanish- It is just FUN and a great way to expose younger kids to Spanish!  Flip Flop Spanish- Again- just so fun!  Exposes kids to a ton of vocabulary!
  • Middle School- Classical Academic Press' Spanish for Children
  • High School- Middlebury- They actually have levels for all ages, but we are using it now for high school.  Great at covering grammar and cultural information as well speaking and listening comprehension.
  • Homeschool Spanish Academy- In my opinion, the best possible way to learn a language is from a native speaker.  Our experience with this company has been stellar and I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about learning Spanish!  You will love them!

That's it friends.  Well, that probably just skims the surface really.  If you are new to homeschooling, I pray that the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair has been a blessing to you, introducing you to a wide variety of curriculum that is out there to choose from.  I encourage you to find what you like and what works for your kiddos, and forge ahead!  The best is yet to come.  

For fellow veteran homschooler who have joined us, I pray this month you have been renewed in your choice to homeschool and reminded that you are not alone!  Let us continue to fight the good fight, knowing it is worth it in the end!

Be blessed!

Now I invite you to visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about seeking beauty in their homeschools:

Links will all be live by Monday at 12 noon EST.
Living & Loving Art by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Putting the Fun in School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Art Fun In Our Homeschool by Amanda @Hopkins Homeschool
Fine Arts Is The Fun Part by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Washing Dust Off Our Souls by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Bringing Beauty Into Your Homeschool Through Poetry by Dana @ Roscommon Acres
Seeking out the beauty... by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Joy in Home Education by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Teaching Drawing (When You Can't Draw) by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Homeschool Art for the Artistically Challenged by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Jesus, Peace, Freedom & Our Homeshool by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos
Fine Arts Options in High School by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Reluctant Artist? What do you do? by Annette @ A Net in Time
Making Fine Arts a Priority by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Creative Pursuits by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Arts and Crafts in Our Homeschool by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Where Do You Find Beauty? by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Looping our Beauty Topics Saved our Homeschool by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

Friday, January 27, 2017

I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug- Children's book review and giveaway

Yes, another children's book has found its way into our house.  I know, I know, we do not have little people around here anymore, but a gal can hope right!?  Someday, God willing, I will get to hold little people in my lap once again and read all these beautiful books to them.  Until then, my sweet 9 year old indulges me and lets me read to him every now and then.

Our new book?  I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney. The first time I saw the cover I knew I had to have it for two reasons.  One, we are a hugging family around here.  Get near us, and we will surely give you a hug, whether you want one or not!  We are from the south, after all.  And secondly, I have a daughter who has a fear of bears.  True story.  So I tease her often with books with bears in them. Because I am nice like that! ;)

Even she cannot be afraid of this bear!  Look how cute!  Illustrator Tim Warnes did a beautiful job making Caroline's characters come to life using brightly colored pages filled with whimsical animals and children.  They are sweet and engaging illustrations!

And the story!  Well, I even caught our 9 year old reading this book on his own a few times.  In this 32 page hard covered book, aimed for ages 4-8, Caroline tells the story of all the different types of hugs you can give, from bear hugs to horse and whale hugs.  The cute rhymes are sure to hold a young child's attention, and because there are only a few lines on each page, you can read it quickly or linger on each page to discuss what you see!

Colby's favorite hug was, you guessed it, the bear!  Mine was the whale-

"I'm going to give you a whale hug.
A high tide, Ocean wide, Take me for a sail hug."

And the perfect ending for your child's day,

"Say your prayers and kiss good night, Way beyond compare hug!"  

As always, Fly By Productions is offering one of our readers a chance to win this adorable children's book!  Just leave me a comment and we will choose a random winner next Friday!

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Where's Riley?

No worries, I DO know where she is! ;)  NOT HERE!  Excuse me while I pout some more.

That being said, we were spoiled by having her home for an entire month over Christmas break!  Yes, an entire month.  My heart was full having all my peeps under one roof again.  A mom could get used to that kind of bliss!

His favorite person is home!
THEIR favorite human is home!
We had family dinners, played games, sang songs, had dinner out, saw plays and movies, cooked together, decorated, celebrated her 19th birthday, and just snuggled in together for the holidays.  It was glorious!


Thanks to an ice storm (which was not as bad here as expected but disrupted travel none the less), she almost got an extra day at home, but we did finally get her on her flight and back to Mississippi.  She may never want to fly again after that excitement.  Oh wait, that's me!

So she is back at school- her second semester, but technically her sophomore year thanks to online duel crediting.  She has a busy semester planned.  She is soon headed to a theatre festival for a few days and landed a part in a play which performs in late March.

We will head down mid March to spend Spring Break with her (Navarre Beach here we come) and then she will be home early May.  I told her this semester will fly by!  And just like that she will be a junior in college.

As a dear friend of mine says, hug your babies!  Time flies and they take off on dreams of their own.


Monday, January 23, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean- Rinse and Repeat, Week 3: Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Welcome back friends!  So, how are those pantries looking from Week 2's assignment??  I hope sparkling and organized.  Hey, our meals may not all be stunning, but at least our pantries can be, right?

And let me just say, you guys are really doing well.  I have been blown away by the pictures you all are posting! So much so, that I am having a hard time keeping up with everyone, so here is our new plan.  Each week I will post a comment on the Family Faith and Friday's Facebook page that says  Week 3 Assignment for 34 Weeks of Clean.  If you would be gem and leave all of the pictures there it would really help me out.  Right now you can find pictures of pantries in about 5 places (including my personal FB page) and my head is swimming! ;)  Don't forget, this post will be on our Family, Face and Fridays Facebook page and from here on out, only pictures on those posts on that page will count!

Remember, by posting a picture of your progress each week, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 prize package from our friends at 621 Gifts!  If you need help choosing from their products, another one of our favorites has been the Buckaroo Brownies!  They are gluten-free and yummy!

Next up- Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers.  Now, I know that for some of you that is a lot of ground to cover.  No worries, you have a whole week.  Rome was not built in a day, nor will our homes be transformed in a day.  Slow and steady wins the race, I promise.  Hold off on all those recipes, as well as the stove and fridge- don't worry they are coming up soon!  Some of you, I will NOT name names but you know who you are, are so excited to make changes you are like a racehorse on a mission.  I applaud you, but want to remind you we want to make changes that stick.  Don't wear yourself out so quick that I cannot find you in a few months!

Remember our goals- deep clean all those surfaces and de-clutter what we don't need or simply do not use anymore and reorganize.
Helpful hints-
  • Take everything out of the cabinets and drawers.  (See, I told you to get used to that!)  You may want to dedicate one day to cabinets and one to drawers if you are overwhelmed or just do 15 minutes a day, but yes, take it ALL out!

  •  Wipe down all surfaces, inside and out.  Don't forget to clean places like silverware holders and baskets and such.  For me "the such" includes containers under the sink that hold cleaners.  You would think that if they hold cleaners they would be clean, but think again! ;)

You can tell by these pictures I did this on two days!  One day was for the inside of everything and one for the outside!

  • Once everything has been cleaned, put things back neatly, weeding out any unneeded items. Here is where you need to stop and think! Do I need it? Do I use it?  Do I love it?  Is it just taking up space? Is this the best location for me to put it in? For example, we have lived in this house a year now and a few things still were not right in the kitchen.  I changed the location of a few things and it just works better.  Knives are closer to the stove and the drawer with placemats is closer to the table. I know if the waffle maker is at arm's reach, I will use it!  If it is tucked way back in a cabinet and hard to get, it gathers dust.

  • If you have a gravy boat you use faithfully every Easter and Christmas, by all means keep it! If you have a springform pan that you may use ONE DAY to make a cheesecake that has been waiting for that time for the past 10 years, maybe it is time to pass it on to some other chef-wanna-be!  Again, do you need it, use it, and love it?  Or can you just borrow from the neighbor or make do without?
  • If you store cooking ingredients in your cabinets now is the time to check expiration dates and toss what is old.  Do not skip this step, seriously!  Sauces and such do get old and we tend not to notice them as quickly because we do not use them as often. Also, label, label, label!  If you do not know what it is, you will not, or at least, should not use it!  I had several jars of UFOs and I could not remember what they were. Sad, but true.
  • Got two of something? Try to consolidate.  One exception to this rule is cooking utensils, but do not use that as an excuse to have hundreds!  Really, no matter how many you cook for, you can only use so many at one time. 
  • Going out on a limb here- but re-think your plastic storage.  It can absolutely take over your kitchen and rumor has it that it is not healthy for you anyway. ;)  I now have 2 large ones I use, and the other times I use glassware.  All those plastic cups you bring home from restaurants- throw them out, and don't allow any more in.  We have found that mason jars are great to drink out of and you can use the little ones for the little people in your life.  You can even get cool tops for them now!  We keep two water bottles for each family member and yes, those coffee things are my kids'.  No comment from me. ;)


  • Throw out old spices!  They do not keep for years, no matter what anyone tells you! And organize and consolidate!  You do not need three of each and if you cannot remember what they are, you are never going to use them.  I love my old Tupperware organizer, but use whatever works for you.  I do have a few new spices in a basket now (who else LOVES Penzy Spices?) simply because I have run out of room in my other containers.  And yes, I DID get rid of the ones I do not ever use.

  • Match your pots and pans with all their lids and stack neatly.  If you have non-stick pans, make sure they are in good shape.  For health and safety, if they are peeling, throw them out.
  • This week is a good time to throw away old dishcloths and scrubbie things!  You can do it. Once a year is not too often to just start fresh.  We buy a stack of white washcloths and white towels for washing and drying dishes as well as our hands.  We also use cloth napkins, so we keep those in drawers as well.  Each person in our family has their own color.
  • Throw those crusty pot holders in the washing machine and clean or wash the decorative rugs while you are at it!
  • A note about junk drawers!  Do you have one and why are they usually in the kitchen??  I would love to tell you that this is one thing you do not need, but let's face it, that is not the truth.  Go ahead, open it up, throw away all the stuff you do not need and at least make it look neat and tidy.  To help with the clutter, I keep a file folder in that drawer that houses flyers and odd papers I need to reference in a hurry.  It just helps keep things more contained and neat looking.

Once every space has been emptied, cleaned, decluttered, and reorganized, it is time to step back and admire your success!

Rest up; a new assignment will be posted next Monday!  We are making progress, my friends!