Monday, April 24, 2017

~The Keeper of Home Series: Mindfulness & Keep it Simple~

It took me a great many years of keeping our home to understand the art of mindfulness and keeping it simple.  I feel these two skills are a crucial part of running a well tuned home.  The definition of mindfulness is; the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.  When we are mindful when running our homes, we are giving thought to the task at hand.  It is all too easy to just fly by the seat of our pants and just do things in a rush.  Many times this causes stress and we do not enjoy our home life as well.  One place I like to practice mindfulness is in the kitchen.  When we plan our meals ahead of time we are sure to have all of the ingredients needed to make the meal.  We also can choose to use better quality ingredients and feed our family a healthier meal than if we just grabbed fast food.  Tristyn and Kaylee got married on Friday, so I knew we were going to have house guests.  I planned this simple breakfast of home made blueberry muffins and fresh strawberries for people to enjoy.  Of course there was plenty of coffee and tea as well.  I choose to get up a bit early, so that this could be already prepared and I could enjoy visiting with loved ones.  Being mindful about this gave me a stress free experience.  I also practiced the art of keeping it simple.  I could have attempted to make a huge breakfast, but that would have taken away from actually spending quality time with loved ones.  

I like to practice mindfulness when decorating our little home.  There may be something I like and purchase, only to find it looks too busy in our little home.  I may try something out for a day or two, but when I come to see it is too much, I will choose not to use it.  

Here is an example of something I really liked in the store, but once I put it in our home, I saw it was just too much.  I used it for a while to put under my wax melt, but finally realized,  that it looked too busy, and I passed it on.  I think it is very important when decorating your home to make sure the items you choose you not only love, but that they fit in your home decor.  Even if I have spent money on an item, or been gifted something; if it does not look right, I have to pass it on. 

It is so very important to practice mindfulness when spending time with our loved ones.  Moments shared in our homes create memories that will last a lifetime.  We can choose to create good memories or bad ones.  Even if we are not in the best of moods, learning to control how we treat others in our homes is so very important.  Being mindful of that precious time we get to share with those we love and truly making it a positive experience, is such a good thing to learn to do.  We just have to try to look at the big picture and put our emotions or moods aside in order to create those positive memories.  They are truly worth more than all the riches this world has to offer, and it does not cost anything to have.  Just a little mindfulness!  
The art of both mindfulness and keeping it simple is so very important when planning your family's days.  I have found that our life has a lot better quality when we keep our schedule as simple as we can.  This is not to say that it will not get busy now and then, but most of the time I try not to over schedule our family. Planning your family's days helps them to run smooth, and ensures that we do not miss an important dead line, or event.   I plan our our days in advance but am flexible with that plan as things may come up.  There is a difference between being mindful and rigid.  Things may not always go according to our plan, so we must know how to bend when need be, or when it would benefit a situation.    

I think we all should create a little space in our homes where we can just go and relax.  A place that makes our heart happy.  My little Disney guest room does this for me.  It is a place where I can go and read or watch my Youtube and just get away from it all.  Someone said they were surprised that a grown women would want a Disney room.  LOL  I had such wonderful childhood memories from when we lived in Orlando that this space touches upon my spirit and makes my heart sing.  Being mindful of your childhood memories and incorporating them into your space can truly be a blessing.  Remember when taking on such a task to keep it simple.  I see cute Disney items all of the time, but I know that I already have this room decorated and I don't want to create a cluttered feel, so I pass them up.  That is not to say I would not ever bring anything else into this space, but I would first have to let something I already have go; so as to avoid clutter.

I hope that this little post is helpful in someway.  Being mindful and keeping things simple, truly help our little home to run well.  On a little side note, my son got married this weekend and I will being doing a post all about that in the next couple of days.  Have a happy Monday and a great week.  Hugs.  Juli

Monday, April 17, 2017

~The Keeper of Home Series: Declutter & Organize~

I would like to talk today about something I feel is  crucial in running a home.  The art of decluttering and organizing.  Both of these steps are so very needed if your goal is to live in a home that is tidy and user friendly.  Meaning it will cut down on the questions where is this or that, because when they are done with an item the children put it in it's home, or you do.  (To be honest, many times in our home it is me that puts it away.)  In our little home, my children know the rule; if it doesn't have a home, it doesn't stay in our home.  This applies to everything, including gifts.  I used to hate Christmas gifts, because the children would get so many gifts from family and such, and our little home was left cluttered.  When your children understand that in order to keep something they have been given, it must have a home, then they will too learn how to prioritize and be mindful about the things they truly want in their lives.  Mindfulness when it comes to what we allow to take up valuable real-estate in our homes is so very important.  I used to feel bad about letting a gift go, but truly it is better to pass it on to be a blessing to someone else, than to keep an item that just will create clutter in your home.
The art of Decluttering & Organizing is a process that takes quite a long time.  It is not something you do in a day.  I will try to break it down in steps.  Step 1: You should go to each and every room in your home and go through all of the items in your room.  The items that you do not truly need, or truly love, you should let go.  So many people hold on to things because they are still in good shape, or perhaps they have a good memory associated to the item, or perhaps it was a gift.  In cases like these, most of the time, I will take a photo of the item and then let it go.  This is the step where you need to get tuff with yourself if you want to truly live in a tidy space.    Living in a cluttered home does not give us a sanctuary, a place that we can truly relax and get away from the stress of the world.  To me, this is something your home should do for you.  I also believe we can get a long with a lot less than we may think.  If you have ever read the Little House books, you will find that they had mostly what they needed and not a lot extra.  In our times, we tend to have such an abundance of items that is just is hard to care for all that we have.  I personally find having less makes me a happier person and provides space to have the things I truly love and need.
      Step 2 is go through each and every closet and drawer and purge the items the same way you did in the rooms in your home.  (remember to do this successfully, you must get tuff with yourself.)  It is a good idea when going through a child's or spouses items that you allow them to be a part of this process.  This way you don't let go of something that is very special to someone.
 Step 3: After you have purged all of your items, it is now time to create your "homes", I refer to these as systems.  When creating a system you must first identify the need.  In this photo, I have a system for shoes.  The closets in our little home are not big, and we must use them to keep more than shoes and clothing.  So I have incorporated shoe bins in the children's closet.  They can stack on top of one another so that the shoes do not take up as much space.  It is very important to label them, so that they can easily see what shoes they are wanting to grab.  Places like Walmart and Target have many nice organizing solutions.  Walmart does seem to have the best prices and a good selection of cute colors and such.  I personally use both stores, but most of the items I have to organize our home are from Walmart.  This process does require purchasing items, so if that is not in your budget, be creative and try to find storage solutions that can work for your home.  Another way to do this, is by the little by little rule.  Each payday, purchase the items you need for one area in your home, and just do this little by little until you are done.  There is not a way to organize that is right for everyone, you need to customize your organizing to your own need.  Again this process will not get done overnight, it is something that may take a while and can be done room by room as time and money will allow.
I will share a few of my organizing systems that we use in our little home.

 Here are some organizing systems that are in my daughter Megan's room.  She had a bookshelf that happened to work perfectly for these bins from Walmart.  In theses bins, she can keep things such as nail polish, and body care items with out the look of clutter.  Up in her closet we keep things such as Halloween masks and such.  A lot of the bins are empty, and ready for use if the need arrives.  Again, make sure to label, so that you know what is in each bin.
Above our oven, I keep our medications.  I have a bin for random medicine, such as Sudafed,  Cough drops, our thermometer and such.  In the other box, I keep prescription medication.

Here is a photo of our laundry room.  I put my laundry soap in the glass jar on top of my dryer.  I think it looks nicer than the box.  I am a person that truly enjoys things to look tidy and nice, it makes doing the work I must do a more pleasant experience each day.  This photo is kind of dark, but if you look on the floor beside the dryer, I have a bin that I keep my Shout and laundry scent packs in.  It helps my laundry room not look cluttered.  Lastly, on the wall in the green bucket, I keep my laundry scented wax melts.  I like my laundry room to smell like a laundry room, and we use unscented detergent.  Scenting my home is something I love to do!
We take our shoes off when we come into our home. (Most of the time) We use our cubbies for our shoes that we wear all of the time.  Our home came with these cubbies, but if it had not, I would have a little shoe rack, or cabinet that we could put shoes on, so that we would have a space to put our shoes when we first arrive home.
 This is my daughter's Lauren's closet.  One thing I like in the closet's is to have all the hangers the same color.  This simple system gives the look of organization and tidiness.  This is my three step system to helping your home be both decluttered and organized.  If you do choose to try this, just remember it takes time, so don't feel bad if it does not happen over night.  I truly feel it is worth the effort, because when everthing has a home, it is fast and easy to quickly tidy up.  You don't have to stop and figure out where it will go, or just shove it into a overflowing closet.  Simply put it in it's home.  My wonderful Mother once told me that I should work as hard for our family as I would for any other job that I have had.  I took these words to heart and truly keep this at the front of my mind when dealing with our home.  You may not get a pay check, but you and your family will get a great deal out of a well run home.  I hope that you may have found some of this post of help to you.  Have a good week.  Hugs.  Juli

Friday, April 14, 2017

~A Peek Into Our Week~

This week has been pretty busy around our little home.  The children have been busy with school and their activities.  Steven has been busy with work.  I have been practicing the art of candle and wax melt making as well as my duties at home. As you can see,  our little kitchen is sporting some new Pioneer Woman curtains.  I am so in love with her products.  They are a good price and wonderful quality items.  
This is the hand poured soy candle I made this morning.  It is a 16 oz. candle that I call Aunt Bee's Strawberry Jam.  Can you tell that I like the Andy Griffith show.  I thought I would create a line called The Mayberry Collection.  I am getting so excited about my wax.  I can't wait to get the real labels.  When I feel good enough, I plan to start a little on line candle web store.  I have never done anything like this, but I love wax so much, and have the time; so I figure why not give it a try.
There is a lot that I have to figure out before I am ready to go forward with this.  
This is one of my favorite scents that I have made so far.  It is Banana, and it smells so good!
Speaking of Banana, I made Steven a Banana Cream Pie last week.  This is a really good recipe.  I will share it Monday in my "The Keeper of Home Series"  My friend Cathy gave the recipe to me, and it is a keeper!!!
Just so you don't think all I make is junk is one of the meals I made last week.  LOL  It is marinated pork roast, home made bread and green beans.
Here is the home made bread cooling on the stove top the other afternoon.

When my parents came for a visit the other weekend, they gave me the red ice cream sign.  I love the retro dinner type look to it!  
I melted a rocket pop wax melt by Hayden Rowe.  It smelled yummy!!!
This is an 8 oz candle I made for Megan's room in a coffee scent.  You can't see in this photo, but the jar has a quilted pattern.  So cute!
This next week is going to be full of celebration for us, as it is Tristyn's wedding.  We are excited.  It will be such a emotional day to watch my first baby get married.  I know I will be crying a lot, but they will be happy tears.  It's a blessing to watch your children grow and become happy, well rounded, creative people.  (Did I mention Tristyn is writing a fiction book?)  We are looking forward to seeing loved ones and friends as well.  Well, Steven is wanting his dinner, so I best get busy.  Have a great weekend.  Hugs.  Juli

Monday, April 10, 2017

~The Keeper Of Home Series~

When I feel like this world is just too crazy, it is a blessing to have a home that provides peace and comfort.  Home can be your safe haven, a place to nourish your spirit and evoke creativity.  I am excited to share this series with you.  Today I will start with one of the most basic things that I believe makes a happy home.  Home cooked food.  Food not only is a necessity but it also is a comfort to our spirits.  One thing that I enjoy is playing nice music while we eat.  I don't do this all the time, just every now and then.  In this photo I have Youtube Coffee House Jazz music going.  I also love bluegrass, big band, music from the 1940's and of course I love me some Christmas music!
Yesterday morning, I made our traditional Sunday morning breakfast.  I made some freshly baked blueberry muffins to go along with our eggs and sausage.  It would be easier to purchase already made muffins from the store.  However, they don't taste as good, they cost more and the ingredients are many times not healthy.  I always cook with organic, unbleached flour and use eggs and milk that have no hormones given to the animal.  These things are important to me.  I want to give my family the healthiest food that I can.  Yes, it takes a little time, but there is something that satisfies my heart about creating something yummy for my family.  It is truly made with love.  The same goes for meals, I keep a list of simple home cooked meals that I can use when making up my weekly menu.  I have said for years it is what you do 90% of the time that counts.  Meaning, there are some nights when I make a meal using pre-made food or take out.  However, I strive to make that an every now and then thing, rather than a way of life.
 I like the saying "Enjoy the Little Things".  Here is a little thing that makes me happy.  I just love the look of the blueberries before they are folded into the muffin batter.  When we slow down enough to have the chance to appreciate the beauty in our everyday lives, it truly makes us a happier person.
 About once every two weeks, I bake a little treat for the children to enjoy after school.  They always are excited when they find out there is a little treat waiting for them at home.  These sorts of things foster good childhood memories.  Good childhood memories will last long after their childhood is past.  You only get one chance to care for your little ones, so make the most of it.  I try to avoid having my children involved in too many outside activities, because I don't want my children to have to run non-stop.  I want them to learn to smell the roses and truly spend good quality time with them.  

One thing that is a staple in our little home is fresh squeezed lemonade.  We always have iced tea and coffee in abundance as well as cold water and lemon.
 I thought I would share how I make our Lemonade.  First I juice 4 large lemons, or 6 small.
Next I pour the juice through a strainer and into my pitcher.  I fill the pitcher with water and add 1 and a half cups of sugar.  This may sound like a lot, but it is still a lot less than soda and much better for you!  
 Preparing home made meals is such a gift that you can give yourself and your family.  A great deal of home made food is simple to make.  It just takes a little planning, to ensure that you have all of the ingredients needed.  I do a weekly meal plan and before I make my shopping list, I make sure I don't have the ingredients that I need already.  I hope that you enjoyed this little post.  I thought I would share the picture of our little house.  We have the heart wreath on the door in honor of Tristyn and Kaylee's upcoming wedding.  My baby is getting married!!!!  I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Hugs.  Juli    

Sunday, April 9, 2017

~Coming soon...The Keeper Of Home Series~

I am going to do a little series on my blog called The Keeper of Home.  I plan to post this series every Monday for a while.  (Sorry, I am not sure how long, it will be based on the amount of information that I have to share.)  I am basically going to be focusing on what I refer to as the endangered art of homemaking, and turning your home into a haven.  I love being a homemaker, and I find it to be an exciting and very rewarding way of life.  The truth is that even if you are not a full time homemaker, you are still a homemaker if you have a home.  That is why I am calling this series The Keeper of Home.  I hope that what I share in this series can be helpful in some ways.  

Monday, April 3, 2017

~A Peek Into Our Spring Break Week~

Lauren went to spend the week in Lawrence with her grandparents.  She had a very nice time.  This is a photo of Lauren and my mother.  I love them both so very much.  They came and picked her up, and brought her home, so I got to see my parents two weekends in a row!!!
My parents stopped at my brother Matt's house and picked up Liam, so that he and Justin could spend some time together.  They have a lot of fun.
Steven and I went on our out and about day, and he took me to Yoder to the Carriage Crossing for brunch.  I love how they serve a small loaf of bread with a sweet cinnamon butter.  I got my normal fried chicken with baked potato and baked beans.  Yummmm!!!
  I saw this mug, and I thought how strange they had an I love New York mug in an Amish community.  Then I looked closer, and had to laugh!
We picked up a jar of jam and a loaf of bread, before we left.
Sweet Lauren picked out this little lamb for sweet Lilah.  I guess she likes it quite a lot.  Lauren says she likes little things that aren't too large.  What a darling little sweetie pie.
Speaking of sweet...I told my sister Lori that Tristyn and I will have a dance at his wedding.  I selected a song by Enya that I used to play when he napped as a baby.  I told her I am going to cry and so she purchased me her favorite water proof mascara to wear for the wedding.  She is so sweet and thoughtful to me.  I am blessed to have her for a sister.

 This is one of my favorite things.  I purchased some hand knit cotton dish rags from Etsy.  I truly love them.  They are so much nicer to use than my regular dish rags.  I love that even though I can not knit, thanks to Etsy, I can enjoy such a item.
 Megan and I went to lunch and then to dinner on a mother, daughter day.  We also purchased items so that she could make slime.  Steven took a day off of work, so that he and Justin could enjoy a father, son day.  They went bowling, out to eat and skating, then he played video games with Justin.  We all had a nice time.
  In my living room right now, I am burning my Peeps candle by Yankee.  I purchased Yankee's drop in hurricane, and I love it.  My coffee table is so large that a single candle on it's own did not look right.  Now thanks to this drop in, I can burn any candle I like!
I like to melt a companion wax along with my Yankee candles, because they have a pretty light throw.  This is the combo wax I am melting with my Peeps candle.  They smell so yummy together! 
 This morning our little home is a typical Monday house.  Meaning it is a mess!!!  I have been deep cleaning.  I scrubbed the tub and sinks.  I took my shower curtain down and am washing it.  I took a little coffee break and enjoyed some Youtube.  Now, I have to get back to cleaning.  I just have so much to do today.  I hope everyone has a nice week.  Hugs.  Juli

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

~A Peek Into Our Week~

Kaylee's Bridal Shower was last Saturday.  It was nice to meet her friends and some of the ladies in her family.

This is one of the gifts I gave to Kaylee.  I had their favorite engagement photo put on the Wedding Day candle by Yankee.  

I've started making my own wax melts.  I am playing with the recipe to get them just so.  This is in the scent Moonlight Path.  It smells like the one from Bath and Body Works.  I plan to give my mom most of these, as this is her favorite scent.

I make them in a double boiler on my stove.  This is the oil I used.  I am actually going to try another company for oil, as the shipping on this company is pretty high.
Here is my sweet baby niece, Lilah.  She loves to get cards in the mail, and Lori said that she really enjoyed her St. Patrick's day card!  She even took it to her story time.  I just adore her!

Megan went ice skating with her friend Gianna this afternoon!  These are a couple of photos that Gianna's father sent to me.  They are such sweet girls!
I have been burning my Peeps candle in our little kitchen.

I have been making fresh squeezed lemonade.  I enjoyed a glass of it along with my lunch!
I found this on line, and thought I would share it.  I plan to try to use it for some new colors when we dye our Easter eggs this year.
Our little house is quiet right now.  Megan is with her friend, Justin is on his computer and Lauren is in Lawrence with her grandparents.  She loves to go stay with them when ever she can.  She is very close to both her grandmother and her grandfather.  It is rainy right now in our little town, so of course I have my candles and twinkle lights aglow.  I hope you are all having a cozy week.  Hugs.  Juli