Archive | March 2012

Saturday Project: Travel Toiletry Holder

When we travel, somehow someone always sticks a wet toothbrush and a half-open tube of toothpaste in the side of a bag and I end up cleaning up the mess when we get home. I was so excited to see this easy sewing idea for a travel toiletries holder. While you can buy ones that look like this on I got to thinking that I could make my own fairly easily. Here are the steps:

#1. Select a terrycloth wash cloth or hand towel. Size will be determined by what you want to keep in it. For us, we used a hand towel.

#2. Lay out the items that you want to put into the organizer. Toothbrush, travel toothpaste, comb, etc. on the towel and fold the bottom up to make one large pocket. Mark between each item to create several small pockets.

#3. Sew along your marks and the outside edges of the towel to create the pockets.

#4. Add a decorative ribbon to tie around your bundle when it is rolled up. Tack it down with a quick stitch in the middle. Make sure the ribbon is long enough to easily go around your bundle and tie.

#5. Embellish with buttons, fabric paint, etc. as desired.

FREE e-book: Preschool Play & Learn: 15 Fun Activities for Easter

FREE e-book from Preschool Play & Learn: 15 Fun Activities for Easter

As always, be sure the purchase price is $0.00 before you click buy! Enjoy!


10 Things To Do Today to Improve Your Marriage

The most important part of being an organized wife is the fact that you are a wife. Your marriage has to be a priority above your children and house. Titus 2 makes it clear that the order for our relationships should be God, Husband, Children and we must work to keep those things in the right order. So here are some quick things you can do to improve your marriage and show love and respect to your husband:

#1. Write him a letter telling him things you respect and appreciate about him and mail it to his work.

#2. Make sure he knows he is needed by letting him help you. Maybe he doesn’t do the kids’ hair or dust the same way you do it, but if he gets the job done, let him do it. We wives often have a tendency to be able to multitask and do many things and that can leave our man feeling a bit left out and unneeded.

#3. Plan a date doing something you know he would enjoy. Take care of getting the sitter for several hours (or even better – overnight). Switch kids with another family to keep the costs down. Then go do something he likes. Is he into movies? Dinner and a movie. Maybe he likes outdoorsy things so go hiking or canoeing. Head to the shooting range. Whatever is an activity that he enjoys, especially if it is something that you don’t normally get all that excited about.

#4. Praise him to his face and to other people. It will get back to him when you speak highly of him to other people and it will improve their opinion of your husband.

#5 Never gossip or badmouth your husband to girlfriends or family. If you have a problem with him, deal with him. Don’t speak ill of him to others.

#6. Read a book that helps explain man and what they need in marriage. See Must Reads! for ideas.

#7. Initiate sex. Don’t wait for him. Let him know you love him and are interested in him.

#8. Greet him at the door when he comes home. This is so important for husbands. Stop what you are doing, greet him with a kiss, and let him know you are glad he is home.

#9. Kiss him like you mean it. Pecks are for girlfriends and grandmas. When you kiss your husband, do it in a way that tells him he is your husband!

#10. Decided right now to stop fighting with your spouse and fight for your marriage. Make sure that what your say and do is filtered though the idea that he is not the enemy and you are in a war to save and keep your marriage!

For other cool ideas, check out We Are That Family: 100 Ways to Make You Marriage Rock


Week off 4/2 Dinner Menu

Here is the grocery list for this week’s menus: 4/2 Grocery list

Monday: Beef Burgundy – in the slow cooker combine stew mean and veggies with 1 bottle of Pinot noir or other burgundy wine with 2 cups stock. Cook on high 6-8 hours. Before serving thicken with a roux if desired.

Tuesday: Spaghetti, salad

Wednesday: Hot Dogs, green beans

Thursday: Pizza Cups. Line muffin cups with wonton wraps and fill with your favorite pizza ingredients. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until brown

Friday: Chicken Marsala – in the slow cooker combine chicken, mushrooms and Marsala wine with 2 cups stock. Cook on high 6-8 hours. Thicken with a roux before serving with mashed potatoes and a salad

Saturday: Hamburgers & Veggie sticks

Sunday: Tacos

Week of 4/2 Breakfast Menu

Here is the grocery list for this week’s menus: 4/2 Grocery list

Monday: Pear Muffins

Tuesday: Whole Wheat Pancakes

Wednesday: Scrambled Eggs

Thursday: Banana Muffins (use that recipe, pour in muffin tin and reduce baking time)

Friday: Chocolate Zucchini Bread (use that recipe, pour in muffin tin and reduce baking time)

Saturday: French Toast

Sunday: Cheesy Egg Tacos

Money Saving Idea: Take Your Own Sports Team Photos

So every season we are met with paperwork to purchase an individual and team portrait for about 10 times what it should actually cost. In past years we have succumbed to the pressure and purchased the photos only to be disappointed. So several years ago we started doing our own group and individual photos and not only have we saved all that money, but we have ended up with better pictures too! Here are the basics:

#1. Do not do this on team photo day! That day is already too crowded and busy. Don’t add to the chaos by trying to fit in your own pictures.

#2. Do take photos after the game. The look of having already played makes the photos more authentic and doesn’t disrupt the pre-game routines.

#3. Use props that fit the sport (ball, bat, base, soccer goal or goalposts etc.)

#4. Pay attention to how the professional photographer posed the pictures at picture day and copy that. Have kids kneel for individual shots. Pose group shots in front of the side of a brick building, goal or backstop.

#5. Don’t zoom in too closely. You can crop it later when you print or publish it.

#6. Create a team site on Shutterfly or similar place for free and ask parents to post their pictures of the team in action. These are often better than posed shots.

#7. Remember the point is to capture your kids and their team being themselves and enjoying their sport or activity. Don’t over-pose people. You can edit red-eye, cropping, and even color balancing later.

About Me…or How I Became a SAHM #12

Life in Taiwan was exciting and sparked a sense of adventure in me that I had long abandoned for the “sensible” life of kids and family. Not only was a rediscovering my more adventurous side, but God was forming in me a desire to help wives and moms grow in our God-given roles as family managers. Adding home schooling and cooking from scratch (with just whatever we happened to be able to get at a store) was taking my household management to another level that just 5 years ago would have shocked almost anyone who knew me.

Christmas in Taiwan is very understated because it is not a Christian nation (we were luck that it fell on a Saturday, otherwise Husband would have been required to work). However I was determined to give our kids a great celebration. We hosted all the foreign teachers in our county (kind of like a state) for a huge Christmas party. We spent Christmas Eve baking my famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies in a 9×13 inch toaster oven with new friends. On Christmas Day we served an Italian feast for 20. It was definitely one of the most memorable Christmas Days ever. And I learned an important lesson on making food with the ingredients I have not always what the recipe calls for. Because we were forced to experiment and find substitutes for ingredients easily available in the US but not Taiwan, my cooking skills grew quickly from following recipes to creating my own. By the time 2011 rolled around, I was very comfortable making up things as I go when I cook.

But an organized wife’s work is never done. As Chinese New Year and Lantern Festival rolled around in February I realized that while I was really feeling comfortable in the kitchen, and the household chores were running smoothly, we had an almost 3-year-old to potty train and our school experience needed some schedule tweaking. So after the amazing experience of Lantern Festival literally 2 blocks from our house, we buckled down to figure out how to manage and enjoy home schooling and not just survive it.

To Be Continued…

Re-Use Idea: Yogurt Containers

We eat a lot of yogurt in our house and the yogurt containers, both small 8 oz. size and the larger bulk sizes, are filling the trash. So I got to thinking…how can we reuse them? Here are some of my ideas…

#1. Measuring Cup -8 oz. yogurt container is 1 cup. Mark off half and quarter cup lines and you have an instant measuring cup. This is especially good for times when kids will be in the kitchen with you so that each kid can have their own “tools”.

#2. Popsicle Molds – fill with Kool-Aid or other drink mix and add a popsicle stick or straw and freeze for great summer popsicle treats.

#3. Food storage (large ones with lids) – Use the bulk sizes that come with lids to store leftovers. You can even use these to freeze leftover foods for future use.

#4. Stackable toys for toddlers – clean 10-12 (or more) and let your toddler or preschooler build away.

#5. Office, Workshop, or Craft storage –  use the individual serving sizes to store small office, workshop, or craft items (staples, screws, beads, etc). Or set a few on a desk for pen, pencil, crayon, or marker storage. You can cover these with scrapbook paper or fabric to match your decor.

#6. Sand Toys – Let your kids use various size containers to scoop and mold sand or for sand and water play.

#7. Seedlings – Fill with soil and use the small containers to start plants for your garden.

#8. Paint – Use the small ones for older kids who are less likely to spill for paint. Use any with a lid for younger kids. Simply cut a X in the top for them to stick their paintbrush through.

#9. Bathroom – Use them to hold toothbrushes and other bathroom items or as drinking cups. Cover them with fabric to match your decor.

#10. Camera – Use a yogurt container over the flash of your camera to diffuse the light or limit the flash from actually spreading light over your image while still causing the shutter to quickly open and close.

How do you reuse yogurt containers? Share your ideas in the comments section!

Saturday Project: National Laundry Day

Today is National Laundry Day. Now around our house every day feels like National Laundry Day! But in honor of this day, why not tackle a laundry-related project. Some ideas to try:

#1 Organizing your laundry room

#2 Making your own laundry soap

#3 Mending clothes by making your own denim patches from old jeans

#4 Creating a hanging and drying rack in your laundry room by using an old ladder.

Happy Laundry Day!

Pantry Essentials

An essential part of home organization is having the right items on hand and knowing where they are when you need them. People waste money buying things they already own but cannot find because of clutter and disorganization. In order to be responsible with the management of household finances, we must eliminate this habit.

The first step to reducing this waste in your kitchen is to keep a well-stocked pantry that is organized so that you can easily find what you need. Here is a list of my kitchen Pantry Essentials.

Before you run out and buy everything on this list, shop your pantry! Take everything out of your pantry, spice, and supply cabinets and go through what you have. Mark off whatever you already have. The goal here is to figure out what you have and then buy the rest. In the next post we will talk about organizing everything so that you can easily see what you have and get to it.

Do you have a pantry essential item that isn’t on the list? Share it with us by commenting on this post below!