3 in 30 Week 16 Update

Here is this week’s 3 in 30 progress for my Finish Year goals. {Yes, I realize I failed to share details on our Space Needle trip – something a super saavy blogger would have posted for the 50th anniversary this weekend!}

Spring Cleaning

Now I can reveal the real reason I did not complete a lot of major tasks earlier in the month: I was waiting until SkipperClan was out of town! He surprised his dad a few days ago by flying down to Florida for a huge surprise party his mom had planned. It was a huge success. Why did that matter? It is SO much easier for me to do the deep cleaning when he’s out of town. One year I completely purged the kids’ rooms when he was working 24 hour shifts. We removed everything from their rooms except the furniture, cleaned, and only put back what they wanted. I took carloads to Goodwill that week! I don’t expect to clean on that level this year but the principle applies: I can handle the temporary chaos a lot better than he can. I will be working from top to bottom in the house, and in each room using checklists and tips I have found on Pinterest and have in my family binder.

My Dad (not the Birthday Dad), SkipperClanJr, & SkipperClan

Updating Contacts

I got some mailings ordered for my business and entered some new customer info, but this coming week will be the final merge…not really looking forward to this part. Do you know of any tips/tools for merging Outlook and gmail?

Simple Blogging

Once again, this reading seems to be on my Sunday night agenda. Starting next week, one of my goals is to post my 3 in 30 Updates on Saturday, with Sunday being blog-free.

Have you accomplished Spring Cleaning or Blogging goals this month?

3 in 30 Week 15 Update

My weekly progress for my April 3 in 30 goals is late this weekend, because I was going places like this…

And seeing people like this…

I will tell you more about our trip to the Space Needle later this week, but for now, I’ll share my progress on my goals this week.

Spring Cleaning

I challenged myself to feed the family from the pantry this week so I could clean out the fridge. Mission accomplished. We used up a few random items and ate at home all week. Even SkipperClan took lunch to work all week. I also tackled most of the items from Tuesday’s list including cleaning the interior of my vehicle. I’m planning on doing the deep cleaning tasks over the last two weeks of the month.

Updating Contacts

I am very happy with my progress on this and have found it to be a great example of how we need to adjust our goals sometimes. I thought I would tackle this by purging and matching contacts letter by letter through the alphabet. It turned out to be a lot easier to tackle each database individually. I have completely purged old contact info from Outlook and gmail, which is linked to my phone. Finally, I started updating my customer database as well. All that remains is to merge my Outlook and gmail contacts, then finalize my customer lists. I am right on track with this goal for the month.

Simple Blogging

This one fell by the wayside this week. I’m a quick reader and hope to read the next few chapters tonight before the week is officially over.

How did your week go?

Ten Places to Declutter Before You Spring Clean

I like having clean spaces, but I do not enjoy the process of actually cleaning. Some people do, really! This week we have already cleaned out the van and underneath the kitchen sink, but my main focus is to declutter. It is a lot easier to complete seasonal cleaning chores if you aren’t spending half your time moving things around. Here are ten places to think about decluttering before you Spring Clean.

  1. The Pantry/Freezer -I was actually surprised that I was able to plan normal meals for this week just from what we had on hand. Sometimes eating from the pantry and freezer makes for a lot more interesting fare.
  2. Bathroom Cabinet – We tend to have makeup we should toss, prescriptions we no longer need, and towels that are more bare than thread.
  3. Kids Shoes – While our teenagers don’t outgrow their shoes at the rate they did as toddlers, they still seem to keep them in their closet long past their usefulness. Do a quick check to see what fits or what’s beyond repair and recycle or donate as needed.
  4. Linen Closet – We keep two sets of sheets per bed plus a set of flannel sheets for wintertime. We also stock our small stockpile of sale items like toothpaste and deodorant here. If anything needs to be replaced, add it to your shopping list.
  5. Coat Closet – Right now it’s Spring time, so it’s a great time to ask yourself if you really need all the coats in your closet. This is an area I definitely need to purge. Think about what is appropriate for where you live. While it’s nice to have options in my wardrobe, there are a lot of people who would be grateful to have even one good coat. This helps me let go a little easier.
  6. Vehicle – I routinely empty my vehicle as part of my daily life. If there is trash in the van and I’m walking into a store with trash cans out front, I empty it then. I don’t even wait til I get home!  I have a small tote in between the front seats since there is no console, but everything else normally comes inside when I get home. This is a habit carried over from FlyLady. However, I rarely sit behind the front seat, so I found lots of interesting things when I emptied all the storage cubbies yesterday – including a sock that belongs to my friend’s daughter.
  7. Files – It’s easier to keep track of paperwork year round for tax purposes, but at this time of year it’s a must-do item. This week I will be tackling my inbox and purging old documents from the drawers for both our family and my business.
  8. Flat Surfaces – It seems that no matter what the surface is made of, clutter is attracted to the flat surfaces like a magnet. {My desk included} Again, FlyLady tricks work here: after you declutter a surface put something useful or pretty there to help encourage everyone to maintain it. I put out place settings on our kitchen bar this week to help fend off the keys, mail, and projects we all were piling there.
  9. Schedules – As we are in the final stretch of the school year, I am asking myself what worked well and what did not. Do any of us have commitments we need to reconsider before next fall? Are there graduations, weddings, or recitals we plan to attend? Many organizations are selecting leadership now for the next school year. Do not blindly say yes, but pray and discuss with your spouse what is best for your marriage and family.
  10. Craft and Office Supplies – After reorganizing my office last year, I have begun using a lot more of the supplies I have on hand. However, these supplies seem to be the kind that multiply by themselves! If you have smaller children, get out a stack of misprinted computer paper along with their markers and let them toss the ones that no longer work. Is there a local MOPS group that could use the scrapbook supplies collecting dust on your shelves? If you don’t have much to donate or toss, maybe you need to schedule time each week or month to use what you have on hand.

Tackling these areas is not about a complete reorganization, but a quick check. Is anything obviously trash? Is there anything not in use in your home that you could donate instead of letting it live rent free? You can tackle all ten on a Saturday, especially if you have your family pitch in, or you could tackle one per week for the next couple months. If you work from home, pick two per day and you’ll be done in a week.

What areas of your home will you be decluttering for Spring Cleaning?


Menu Plan Monday {Cooking from the Pantry}

The best way to clean the fridge or pantry is to empty the contents onto the counters before you start cleaning. I have six square feet of counter space in my kitchen, so the best thing for me to do is to use up as much as possible before I tackle the spring cleaning tasks. We are almost out of the food I canned last summer but we still have a few jars on hand. Sounds like the perfect week to try making meals only from what is in the pantry and freezer; here’s the {not super healthy} menu plan.


Breakfast Burritos
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
Grits and Eggs
Pancakes from the Freezer


Leftover Hamburgers
PB&J or Lunchmeat Sandwiches
Leftovers from Dinners
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Frozen Meals
Hard Boiled Eggs


Roast with Red Potatoes, Beer Bread and Veggies
Homemade Pizza
Chili and Cornbread
Fish Tacos
Biscuits and Gravy with Scrambled Eggs

Sides, Snacks, and Sweets:

Coffee Cake
Granola Bars
Fruit Smoothies
Single Serve Chips

We’ll have our weekly delivery including milk, eggs, and juice but my goal is no other shopping for the week. I’m linking up with Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan MondayWhat’s on your menu this week?


3 in 30 Week 14 Update

We are wrapping up Spring Break and enjoying a beautiful weekend, I hope you are too. Here is my progress so far for my April 3 in 30 goals.

Spring Cleaning

We kept up with our regular weekly cleaning and tackled a clogged drain. I have been saving ideas on Pinterest for checklists and homemade cleaning solutions to use.

Updating Contacts

No progress on this but hoping to sit down after sunset tonight {since we are actually supposed to have sunshine today} and tackle the first seven letters to get caught up.

Simple Blogging

I read the first few chapters of the book this week and have been thinking about the questions she poses. I also wrote posts four out of the five weekdays this week which was one of my goals.

Having a week without all the rushing was exactly what we needed, so I am happy with my progress so far. You?

3 in 30 Week 13 Update

No joke, March is over and April is here. Time for another 3 in 30 Goals roundup and decision time for the new month’s goals.

Memorize James Chapters 1 and 2

Totally missed this for March, but I am still going to work towards my goal to memorize this book in 2012. I believe using the notebook I assembled last week is helping tremendously, but I will no longer be tracking my progress here on the blog. Hopefully before the year is over I’ll be able to share my success in reaching this goal.

Increase Monthly Income

I did not reach this goal either, but my efforts have increased my momentum and helped me finish last week strong. I also added new team members and have a separate project in the works that will increase future income. I completed April’s budget in advance and believe working on both income and spending decisions will help us reach our goals. I even made new cash envelopes to use for a couple of key categories.

Utilize My Family Binder

I did read more this month and completed my weekly tasks more consistently. I also went through more of the monthly tasks than I had in previous months. I’m considering this goal reached; not because I did everything on the lists, but because attempting to do so helped me realize what systems work well for me. I also completed 25 of the 33 items on my Bug List. This girl loves putting a line through completed items on the to do list!

Let’s talk about April’s 3 in 30 Goals

I will continue working towards my Finish Year goals of reaching my monthly income target, running 3 miles, and reading 24 books. Each month needs focus though, so I have chosen three goals that will help simplify my life.

Spring Cleaning

I plan to work through the entire house, literally top to bottom, purging and deep cleaning.

Updating Contacts

My email programs and business records need to be synced and purged. I plan to go through one letter of the alphabet each day.

Simple Blogging

This month I’ll be working through the Simple Blogging e-book with the other bloggers from the 3 in 30 Challenge.

That’s the plan here, what are your April goals?

Waiting For the Repairman

“We can have someone come out between 9am and 1pm.”

Repairmen seem to have a special pass when it comes to punctuality.

I really don’t know how couples who both work outside the home ever get their cable installed or the washer fixed, but even working from home doesn’t mean I’m actually home all day. Since I know I’m not the only one rearranging my schedule for repairs, I came up with a list of ten things to work on while we wait.

The key is these activities must be able to be stopped on a moment’s notice so you don’t miss the knock at the door. Many companies charge you a fee for not answering the door when they show up sometime in that five hour window.

  1. Read one of the books from the stack on the nightstand {or one to your child}.
  2. Repair missing buttons from clothing.
  3. Wipe down all the light switches and doorknobs in the house.
  4. Write thinking-of-you or thank-you cards. By hand. Stamp and mail.
  5. Sort, file, and shred one stack of paperwork or mail.
  6. Pick a new recipe to try and add any missing ingredients to your shopping list.
  7. Call and schedule routine appointments: physicals, haircut, massage.

Oh wait, massage isn’t a routine appointment for you? Me either, but a girl can dream .

8.   Journal or write.
9.   Spruce up the entrance: sweep the porch, wipe down the front door, etc.
10. Pray for others.

How do you keep busy while waiting for “scheduled” repairs?

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

3 in 30 Week 12 Update

There is only one week left in March, but I plan to work on my goals with just as much intensity as I did during the first seven days of the month. Instead of telling myself I only have one week left, I’m focusing on the fact that I still have one week left.

Memorize James 1 and 2

It is clear I will not reach this goal by the 31st since I have yet to finish memorizing even the first chapter of James. Missing a goal just means I am aiming high enough to stretch myself. The challenge to memorize the entire book of James is a big goal for 2012 and one I know I’m not capable of in my own ability. This challenge may in fact be the ultimate test for my Finish Year focus. I think I’m starting to move past frustration and into stubbornness. Persevering in this task will surely spill over into other areas of my life, so I can’t even consider giving up. Just this week I read a great tip at The Peaceful Mom on using an index card notebook to aid in Scripture memory. I’ve already gotten my own and will place the current verse inside the front pocket until it is complete.

Increase Monthly Income

This week was challenging. Appointments postpone and calls don’t always lead to sales. This is one of the trade-off’s of working for yourself. The month as a whole still looks like it will be an improvement over the prior month, which is the purpose of tracking this. It also really helps that I absolutely love spending time with the women I meet at appointments. I am so grateful that many appointments I held over the last few years continue to contribute to our family income. Ultimately, I will reach this goal when I spend time meeting the needs of women God places in my life.

Utilize My Family Binder

In addition to completing most of the weekly tasks in the midst of a busy week, I exterminated several more items from my Bug List. However, I have realized that I truly procrastinate when it comes to cleaning our bathroom. I’m seriously considering keeping our cleaning supplies in that room and not even coming downstairs on Tuesday until the job is done. That, or I’m just going to decide it’s really okay to only deep clean it every other week. I’ve also found a very comprehensive Spring Cleaning list that I think I’ll be using to track one of my April goals.

One of the biggest benefits of tracking my 3 in 30 goals this year is that I’m able to see where I want my focus to be the following month by the time a new month is drawing near.

What do you want to finish before the calendar moves from March to April?

Soapnuts {Laundry Detergent Update}

I told you before about a making homemade laundry detergent that worked. My only complaint was the space involved in storing the detergent. Part of my motivation in making the detergent was to save money, but I wanted simplicity too.

I like the benefits of homemade items and saving money with coupons, as long as doing so helps me enjoy the rest of my life even more.

So as I used my {very effective} homemade detergent, I started reading more about soapnuts. The biggest appeal to me was how little space was needed for the storage of these little dried berries. When I found a package deal on Open Sky, I ordered a starter kit.

The soapnuts are the little dried berry husks you see above. You just put 3-5 of them in the little muslin bag with your clothes in the washer. You can use that same bag for several loads. You can even add essential oils to give the laundry a fragrance of your choosing. They are sold by weight, and the 100g bag you see above lasted me 2-3 months.  They naturally soften clothes, but you can always add a little vinegar to you machine to help for items like towels. I like to add a little oxygen cleaner to brighten the whites at least every couple of months as well. After soapnuts have been used several times in the muslin bag, you are left with a pile of dried and broken shells that can be added to a compost pile.

Or you can use them to make a liquid cleanser!

The problem I encountered when researching this method of using soapnuts, was that the recipes all indicated that the resulting liquid could go bag if not stored properly. One of my readers commented that she overcame this by freezing the cleaner into ice cube trays, adding 1-2 cubes per load. Since my freezer is on the opposite side {and floor} of the house, I knew that was not going to work for us.

Then I found this recipe which preserved the liquid with a canner.

Since I canned several foods last summer, this truly was simple for me. I was able to stretch the use of both my canning supplies and the soapnuts. Not only does this stretch my original expenses across more loads of laundry, but it is simply being a better steward of the resources we have.

The liquid cleaner made from soapnuts can be used for laundry detergent or general household cleaner.

Start by bringing water to boil in the water bath canner and a large pot. The second pot of water will be used to fill the jars.

Place about 1/2 cup of used soapnut pieces into each jar

When water is boiling in both pots, add enough boiling water to the jars so they are filled, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims and add lid and ring, as you would for regular canning.

Process for 30 minutes in water bath canner then remove to cool until you hear that wonderful POP of your lids sealing. Before using the liquid, make sure to filter out the soapnut pieces and discard.

According to Laundry Tree, “Soapnuts are a totally natural dried FRUIT with natural cleaning properties. You can use them to clean your laundry! Yep, it sounds crazy — but it’s TRUE! Soapnuts aren’t actually a nut at all, they are simply the fruit of a tree (Sapindus Mukorossi), found primarily in the Himilayas. And they are an EXCELLENT alternative to traditional laundry detergents and cleaners.”

While I waited for the water to boil, I got out the rest of the supplies and reloaded my dishwasher. While the jars processed in the canner, I worked on other household tasks. My actual time at the stove to make and clean up from this was not more than 15 minutes. The jars fit easily in the drawer under the washer, taking up 1/3 the space the previous homemade liquid used.

How do you stretch your dollars at home?


The Good Wife’s Guide

I really enjoyed about Candace Cameron’s book, Reshaping It All, both for the content and the format. The latter aspect of that book was done by Darlene Schacht. When Darlene offered a copy of her new e-book for me to review, I could not refuse.

Despite how traditional I am about family roles, I have to admit the title made me do a double take. I did not want to read a book that condemned working mothers or insisted I was the only parent capable of washing dishes. Anyone who has dined with our family knows my husband is a much better cook than I. Women do not need a book that makes them feel incompetent. Having followed Darlene for some time on Twitter and at her blog, I knew that would not be her intent, so I read the entire book with this question in the back of my mind:

Would I want my teenage daughter to grow up and live by the principles inside this book?

When I opened the virtual pages, I read these words inside, “I believe as women, we are innately designed to be caregivers, nurturers, and lovers, and when we stop standing on our self-righteous principles to seek God’s word, we’ll find joy in serving those roles where we never thought we could.” Then soon after, “I cherish vintage values, and yet I understand they are simply a means to an end. Yes they are to be cherished, but unless I couple those values with strong conviction based upon the Word of god and what is right in His sign, they are nothing but tradition, custom and practice.”

No standard for my role as wife is justified by tradition or current culture, but only by the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The first part of this book shares Darlene’s own experience in finding her place as help meet to her husband. She leads us to consider what has shaped our expectations for our role as wife. The second part gives her detailed plan for both maintaining and deep cleaning key rooms. Whether you are looking for some spiritual encouragement for your journey as a wife, or the practical checklists to tackle Spring cleaning, you will find it here.

You can find Darlene’s house cleaning schedule free on her blog but I think you’ll enjoy reading through her encouragement in the book as well. You can see my weekly routine here.

So yes, I do hope my daughter grows up to live by the main principle of this book: Seek God for the expectations for your marriage and your home. May God bless your marriage and your home as you seek Him.