Monday, January 28, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! 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 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 - 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.  (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!) 
Have I mentioned I loathe getting down on my hands and knees to do floors, but yes, we are going to do it- together!  Here we go!
Your assignment-

  • Start high and end low!  In other words- fridge and freezer first, floors last. Here is why- open cans are your enemies, plus let's face it, not the safest practice!

  • 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 door handles and dusty top.  Yes, even the top!  I know, scary, right?!

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

Please 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 those cloth type coverings to work best.  Ashton made the 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!  I also started using mason jars a few years ago and they are great!  They also pop into a lunchbox easily for quick reheat!

  • Designate a space for things!  We have a shelf for dairy, one for meats and leftovers, one for drinks, and at this stage in our life a shelf that is just for my adult daughter's groceries.
I added a piece of parchment paper to the bottom of this drawer, we will see how it works.

  • 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!  While I do not have this setup currently, I am still dreaming of the day when we can fill the extra freezer with a cow, pig and chickens.  Well, the apple pie filling wouldn't be too bad either!

Yep, dry-erase lists on the outside of the freezers!  Admit it, for an outside freezer that no one else sees, it is a great idea!

Final fridge-


Can you tell I buy meat in bulk and freeze in portions?

  • 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.

Yes, this is from last year.  No was around to take a picture of me this year! ;)

  • Last thing for the week- take this time to wipe down the trash cans on the outside and clean the inside.
YOU ARE DONE!!  Way to go!

Next week is a smaller assignment and one I really enjoy - see 'ya back soon!


Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations
Week 2-The Pantry
Week 3-Kitchen Cabinets and Drawers

Monday, January 21, 2019

30 Days to Understanding the Bible Review

I am always thrilled when I get invited to review Bible resource material.  Between our family devotion time, my quiet time, and time spent in church and numerous studies there, I spend a lot of time in God's word.  But that is not necessarily how I grew up and therefore I often still feel behind the power curve when it comes to basic Bible knowledge.

There is no place better to go to learn about God and His word than to His book - the Bible!  But often times, it is helpful to gain knowledge from those who have gone before us and spent much of their lifetime studying.  How blessed we are to have people like that in the world.

30 Days to Understanding the Bible is the brainchild of pastor and author Max Anders, who has spent many years studying the Bible.  This 385 page, paperback book is his attempt to pass along general Bible knowledge in an easy to read and understand way.  While he admits that 30 days is not enough time to learn everything, he suggests that in 30 days, about 15 minutes a day, you can learn about key people, events, and doctrines in the Bible, as well as a basic framework to increase your knowledge.

Book sections include-
  • The Story of the Old Testament
  • The Story of the New Testament
  • 10 Great Doctrines of the Bible
  • NanoSummary of the Bible
  • How to Master the Bible So Well the Bible Masters You
  • Teaching Plans
  • and Bonus Chapters

Each of those sections, of course, are broken into numerous chapters, most being 6-10 pages long.  Specifically, about a 15 minute read.

Included in many chapters are charts, maps, pictures, and more.  There are places for you to treat it like a workbook and fill in the blanks and at the end of each chapter is a self test to see how much you can remember.


How we are using this book-
If our family had chosen to work through this book daily, we would indeed be done with it.  Instead we have taken a slightly different approach.

We chose to read one chapter a week out loud as part of our family devotions.  We take turns reading as well as answering the questions.  Then throughout the week we review as needed and test each other's memories.

There is no doubt if you were going through this book alone you could indeed read it in 30 days and have gained a lot of knowledge.  But if you are like my family, or maybe just me, you need more time to chew on the facts, memorize them, and make the yours.  The extra time has also allowed us to dig  deeper, often bringing in application- how does that affect me?  What do I think about that?  Why did it happen that way?  What else does the Bible say about that?

 I love this gem of a book!  While written for older teens and adults, it is easily adapted for younger children and be be read alone or with a group.  Think of it as Sunday School on steroids!

And know that while your head knowledge of the Bible increases, God is most certainly at work increasing your heart toward Him as well!

Here is a great promo video to give you a glimpse of 30 Days to Understanding the Bible.

“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."


34 weeks of Clean 2019! 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 and the ideas you are sharing.

Real quick before we dig into this week's assignment.  Here is a quote I have been pondering this week from the Minimalists-

 Possessions had become the great distraction in my life. And the best way to recenter myself on the things that mattered most was to remove the excess from my home. Since then, I’ve been asked countless times if I think minimalism is just a phase. I always answer the same, “Absolutely not. Never underestimate the importance of abandoning crap you don’t need. It has the power to change your life dramatically.

Ladies, I am just going to put this out there.  With all the recent talk about what brings us joy, we may easily veer off course from the real issue.  Our JOY should NOT be in our stuff!  Period.  There are many things in my house I love and they make me happy to look at, but even then, there is a danger in that.  Too much stuff is TOO MUCH STUFF!  Let's don't justify our mess!  If you have a family of 10 and USE 10 spatulas then do so.  But if you have 10 spatulas just because they "bring you joy", you may need to re-evaluate a few things.  I am not trying to be ugly. but I am trying to be honest.  There are true hoarders in this world that think their stuff brings them joy that have a hoarding problem.  If that is where you are at, please, let's talk.  I would love to chat with you and try to help.

Up this week- the 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, de-clutter what we don't need or simply do not use anymore, and reorganize if needed.
Your assignment-
  • 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" is underneath the kitchen sink.  In our new home, it is a very small space due to the water filter system, but it was still a mess.

  • 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 few months now and have found a few things still were not right in the kitchen.  I changed the location of those 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.

  • How many dishes do you have?  I am asking for a friend, of course?  Dishes could be my downfall, but I assure you ours get used!  I have gone through them all and decided if they are not being used they went out.  Even gave a few to a young friend of ours recently.  It was freeing and hopefully blessed her as well.

  • 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 might 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 containers of wheat products we cannot use anymore that had to go. 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. (Unless they are from Rudy's, your husband's favorite restaurant.  Just keeping it real. folks!  Sometimes it is not a hill worth dying on!)  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!  


  • 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 reasonable for everyone.  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 plastic container in our hall closet that houses flyers and odd papers I need to reference in a hurry.  It just helps keep things more contained and neat looking.
All of our keys stay in this drawer as well as pens and paper for notes.
Let's also take one more minute to discuss these little plastic things.  I am sure they are from Satan.

Several of my shelves were at weird heights and I wanted to change them.  Easy right?  With pegs!  But NOT those little plastic things.  I will not share how long I wrestled with getting them out, but I did eventually win!  And now the shelves are where I want them.  I now know why no one bothered to change them before!



Once every space has been emptied, cleaned, decluttered, and reorganized, it is time to step back and admire your success!  I realize this is a hefty assignment, but you can do it!  Let's see those pictures!!

Rest up when you are done- a new assignment will be posted next Monday and it is one of my least favorites!  We are making progress, my friends, I hope you are starting to see it!


Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations
The Pantry

Monday, January 14, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 2- The Pantry

Oh my word!  You all are amazing- your excitement has absolutely thrilled me and your comments have blessed me.  I love to see you all cheering each other on and your sharing of our posts has helped spread the word across the United States!

If you are just joining us, we are so glad you are here. You can find week one, Holiday Decorations, here if you want to start from the top!  If this is your second week back, YAY you!   Know that we are cheering you on as well. We really are so excited to hear about all the people across the country who are determined to take back their houses with us - one week at a time!  Let us see those pictures by posting on our Family, Faith and Fridays Facebook page. It really helps to know you are not alone.

So how'd you do with week 1?  Hopefully your trees are at the curb and your lights are taken down. Trust me, your neighbors will appreciate your effort! And as someone said this about week, it is freeing.  As much as I love the pretty decorations, there is just something about starting the new year with a clean slate.

Up this week, The Pantry!

Why start with the pantry?  I can only speak for myself here, but the holidays seem to be a season of food, more food, and even more food.  And a lot more junk food than normal.  Anyone else?  I found myself opening the pantry, throwing something in, and shutting the door as quickly as possible to avoid the mess.  Yep, I am THAT kind of gal during the holidays.  And then add my husband's Sam's Club runs to the mix and well, you can see what happens.  But guess what ya'll?  Eventually, that mess starts trying to come out on its own.  So even if your pantry does not look as bad as mine, (and please do not tell me if it doesn't) it surely could use some sprucing up as well, right?  Plus, we are in a new house this year, and let me tell you-  obviously I was more concerned about just getting it all unpacked than I was making it an organized space.

Remember- our goal is to deep clean, de-clutter, and reorganize.
Here we go!

Your Assignment-
This week we are concentrating mostly on the food.  If you have food in other areas of your kitchen as well, don't leave it out!  Spices and such will be covered next week, as they reside elsewhere in my kitchen.  You can thank me later!
  • Pull everything out!  Yes, just do it.  I will wait.  And get used to it, because you will see that instruction at the beginning of every week.  We will pull EVERYTHING, yes EVERYTHING, out of a space to start with.  I promise, it works, just trust me!

 I do not know how all this stuff possibly fit in the pantry!

Yes, we have a water bottle problem!  We got rid of more than a few, I promise.

  • Check expiration dates and throw things out.  One of our goals should be to NOT poison our families this year with bad food. Hey, did you know that even clear gelatin has an expiration date? Whoops. Who knew?!

  • Wipe down all of the shelves, wood or otherwise.  Between sticky honey drops (anyone else?) and dirty handprints, those things need to be cleaned!  If you are an all natural kind of gal, you can use my favorite natural cleaner recipe.  If you use store bought stuff, no worries - I won't tell anyone!

  • Wipe down the floors of the pantry and the walls, any light switches, and baseboards as well. You know women did not design all those fancy doors with little rims and grooves!  Sometimes it takes nothing short of a Q-tip to get those clean.  Yes, go ahead and get out your Q-tips!

  • Decide a plan of attack BEFORE you put things back.  I try to keep like things in one area, so in our case cans are on one shelf and boxed foods on another. You get the idea.
  • Put things back with purpose- do you use something only occasionally?  Put it higher up. All of our snacks are together, with smaller items in a basket, and then breakfast foods are near the bottom for easy access.  Have something in there that doesn't belong?  Put it where it does!  Have extra stuff you do not use or need?  Get rid of it!  Like water bottles.  Just saying.

  • Use glass jars when you can!  I admit, I love glass jars.  Here's why - I love the uniform look, I love that you can see exactly how much of something you have left, and I get so tired of looking at half opened boxes and bags.  This is especially true of things like flour and sugar.  I seriously would put our potato chips in a glass jar if I thought I could get by with it.  (For now those are all in the wood bin.)  I also use Tupperware for staple items that need to be airtight.  After living in Florida for several years, I gave in and invested in containers that would keep the humidity and bugs out.  20 plus years later they are still reliable.  

Finished result-

This project is a little quicker for most than last week's!  Regardless, don't forget, if you cannot do it all at once, no worries!  Set a timer for 15 minutes each day if you have to and work until it goes off.  Slow and steady wins the race.  You have a whole week so don't fret!  When you are done, reward yourself with a cup of tea and some chocolate.  Because who doesn't love chocolate?

And because a few of you have asked - nope, I am not going to give you a list of all the weeks in advance, though if you really want it, it is not hard to find! ;)  I remain convinced, and I saw from our first run of 34 Weeks several years ago, that it is best to only share each assignment as we go.  I think our tendency is to go in strong to a project like this, push too hard, and then fall off the wagon from exhaustion.  It's kind of like that rush at the gym every January. This way you can truly concentrate on the task at hand and not be weighed down by what is to come. 

So, I think that is about it!  This should not take you all week, but go on and get started.  There is never a better time than the present! And don't forget to post pictures of your progress, we love being able to cheer you on.


Intro Week
Week 1- Holiday Decorations

Friday, January 11, 2019

Let Go and Love People

I can't remember when it all got started- this desire, this NEED of mine to downsize but it may have been about the time that I wrote this.  Go ahead, read it.  I will wait!

Time to Let Go and Move On

We had come off living in two very large homes, one that was a historical 5000 square foot base house, and I think I was just tired.  Tired of stuff and tired of what it took to take care of said stuff.  When you are a military family that moves a lot you get used to keeping stuff "in case,"  You never know what the next house will be like and those curtains, or that piece of furniture, might fit.  Or even those coats and boots and snowsuits might finally get used again.  True story!

Fast forward years later, and after several years of writing about 34 Weeks of Clean, and I still feel the same way.  OK,  maybe even more strongly about cleaning, de-cluttering and organizing.  But also about this-

I want to love people more than things.

Yes, I want my house to be beautiful, but I want people to be first.
Yes, I want to spend time cozy in my home, but I want to spend more time with people.
Yes, I want to love the things that surround me, but I want to love people more.

Love God, love people has become my mantra these days!

May I put it to work as much as I say it!

How about you?  How are you loving people?  I would love to hear your ideas and experiences!