Kids Chapter Book Bookshelf

As mentioned in other posts, we have a TON of books.  They are indeed my kryptonite and they occupy space in every room in our house.  When my cousin was giving away an old DVD stand, I saw chapter book organization in my future.  Chapter Book Shelf 1The shallow shelves designed to hold DVDs in their jackets are PERFECT for the copious amounts of chapter books the kids have.  Chapter Book Shelf 2Chapter Book Shelf 5The shelf’s slim design also fit nicely on our third floor where we have a barrel ceiling and dormers. Chapter Book Shelf 3Chapter Book Shelf 4 While this shelf does not hold all of our chapter books, we are a bit more organized than before.  I Even plopped an old can on one of the shelves so the kids have a variety of bookmarks at their finger tips.Chapter Book Shelf 6

Fill your freezer

With the school year budding and extracurricular activities filling our calendars, this is the time of year that we load up our freezers with ready-to-go main courses.  By prepping meat for dinner and bulking up on breakfast items we can ensure healthy, homemade meals in less time.  P.S. Don’t forget to take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it.

Turn dinner into “fast food” by using these tips for the freezer:

  • brown ground beef ahead of time for spaghetti or lasagna
  • brown ground beef and add taco seasoning to make taco night a snap
  • before freezing, toss pork chops in a zip-top bag along with any of a variety of marinades
  • marinate a london broil and wrap it up so that it is full of flavor 
  • put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a zip-top bag with marinade or barbecue sauce before freezing
  • cut a large boneless pork loin into family-sized portions and freeze individually

Impress your kiddos with a “weekend breakfast” on a school day by using these tips:

  • make waffles in bulk and freeze
  • make pancakes in bulk and freeze
  • make muffins in bulk and freeze
  • make quick breads or coffee cakes in bulk and freeze Some families invest in vacuum-sealing systems for their freezer favorites, but we have not found it to be necessary.  With each of us feeding a family of six, it doesn’t take long to cycle through our prepped items, not giving them a chance to suffer any freezer burn.  We utilize zip-top freezer bags, freezer paper, and aluminum foil.

Here’s to getting organized!

Make your freezer even MORE organized with this idea.

Baby’s Box O’ Stuff

Now more than ever our family is on the go.  This soccer field, that piano lesson, this dance class, that baseball field, this school assembly, that birthday party, this meeting, that class, and the list goes on.  Elizabeth (aka Baby #5) is toted about town a lot more than her siblings were at 10 months old.

By the time I check, check and double all the loot that is required for the activities the other four are doing, I sometimes arrive at a location and realize I have nothing for the baby.  So, she moves on to my keys, phone, ink pen, etc.  Now I keep this in my van – Lizzy’s Box O’ Stuff.  Box O' StuffIt is nothing more than an old Pampers wipes box containing a few things that if were left behind, no one would really miss and no cash would be lost.  Currently, Lizzy’s box holds the lid from a icing container, 2 plastic spoons, 2 scoops, a children’s fork that doesn’t really pick anything up, a (clean) toothbrush and a dull plastic cookie cutter.Box O' Stuff contentsNow, these items may seem blah to you, but I assure you Elizabeth (and believe it or not, the other kids as well) is fully entertained by the box’s contents.  Our family strives to leave a location better than we found it.  And, while I certainly do not leave a place without collecting my things and strongly frown upon littering, if I were to lose an item from this box, no tears would be shed.

Leave a comment telling us what’s in your Box O’ Stuff!

Boo-booed Book Basket

Few things in our house are as “loved-up” as books.  So, it is no surprise that with 5 kids under roof a page gets torn here and there.  Thus was born:

The Boo-booed Book Basket.Boo-boo book basket 2

Now when a book gets a boo-boo, the kids put it in the basket and I can carefully tape it up and restore it for reading when I get a chance.  So, before you pitch a beloved book because you don’t have time to fix it, put it in The Boo-booed Book Basket and patch it up in your “free time”.

Homemade Grout Cleaner

The white grout in our powder room was starting to look a little dingy so I went on a search for a recipe for grout cleaner.  There are plenty out there, but this one met my number one criteria–I had all the ingredients already in my house.  It worked great at shining my floors right up!Grout Cleaner supplies

You need:

  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tbsp. baking soda
  • a large bowl
  • scrub brush and/or old toothbrush
  • spray bottle
Grout Cleaner before

Before cleaning……

Grout Cleaner after

After using the Homemade Grout Cleaner

I mixed up the vinegar, water, and baking soda in a large bowl.  You could also put it in a spray bottle but I didn’t have one handy.  I poured some on the floor and set to work scrubbing.  It also helps to have a couple of old towels handy to wipe up any excess.  Happy Spring cleaning!

Go Green (and Cheap) Window Cleaner

Spring Cleaning has just been made easier and less expensive…….

Here is a great recipe for a Go Green (and Cheap) Window Cleaner that is sure to let in all of the spring sunshine.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 squirt of dish detergent

Mix ingredients in an empty spray bottle and spray onto window pane.  Use paper towels (or if you really want to go green, you can use old newspapers) to wipe the surface clean.

This earth friendly mixture can also be used for counter tops and appliances.  I have also used it to clean every surface in my bathrooms as well as deodorize the concrete floor in the unfinished part of my basement.Voila!!

Anti-choking Helper

My older children are always holding something up and asking, “Can Elizabeth have this?”  Right when I think they have gotten the idea of what items are safe for a 7 month old to play with, one of them brings me a Lego minifigure.  Uhhhh.  No.  She most certainly CANNOT have that!Anti-choking helper 3I am blessed to have such great helpers (aka – the kiddos), but they are still under the age of 10 and have a lot to learn about safety.  This “anti-choking helper” acts as a gauge by which items can be evaluated by the kids.  Keep in mind, I still insist they check with me, but this little tube rules out a lot of guessing on their part.

The “helper”? – A good-old toilet paper roll.  Decorating it is just silly, but it does make it more fun.

Here’s the rule:  If an item fits completely inside the tube without sticking out, it IS a choking hazard and must not be given to a baby or toddler.Anti-choking helper 1 See?  Items on the left are a no-no and the items on the right get a thumbs up.

 

Declutter and Donate

I may not be the most fastidious housekeeper, but I could never be accused of being a pack rat.  I don’t mind Legos strewn about if the kids are playing and having fun or laundry that needs to be folded and put away, but I am not a fan of closets that throw up upon opening or cabinets chocked full of stuff I don’t use.

Thus is born: “The Donations Box”Donations and DeclutteringHere are a few tips for keeping your house as clutter-free as possible:

Keep a donations box handy.  Label a large box “Donations” for depositing items you wish to get rid of.  Clip a piece of paper and a pen to the box so that you can itemize the loot you are donating.  This makes tax time easier.

Go through one room a day until you have uncluttered your whole home.

If you don’t wear it, get rid of it.

If they don’t play with it, chuck it.

If it is trash, just throw is away.  This is a big one. Really, just throw it out.

 

Sock it to Kids Chores

Sock it to chores - basketI love that my kids know they don’t just get whatever they want whenever they want it.  My husband and I have tried to instill in our children that you have to work for things you want and good things come to those who work and save and are patient.

On more than one occasion our children have asked how they can earn money.  I love hearing that they understand money is earned and not given, but my husband and I had a hard time coming up with things for the kids to do for which they deserve to be paid.  We believe most traditional jobs/chores, like taking out the recycling, cleaning their rooms, wiping the bathroom counters, emptying the little trash cans and so on are just part of being in a family – not worthy of compensation.

However, I was so impressed with their desire to EARN cash I wanted to find something.  And so the sock basket was created.  Now when I do laundry all the socks go into one small basket.  If the children want to earn a little cash they can fold as many socks as they want.  This job is valued at 10 cents per pair.  To earn the money the child has to match, fold and PUT AWAY the folded socks in the correct drawer.  No money is given for fishing out a pair of socks to wear.Sock it to chores - sign

This has worked like a charm!  Now if a child wants something, he or she has to assess the value and determine how many socks to fold.  Sometimes they decide the desired item is worth the effort and sometimes they don’t.

Warning:  This does add up, but the teachable moment is worth it!

Double-Duty Baby Products

Baby products aren’t only for those with little ones under their feet.  Here are some alternate uses for them even if you’re not a new mom.6a00e552792fa28833011168a4ef88970c-pi[1]

  • Desitin:  Can be used as a treatment for sand rash while at the beach or chafing from sports.
  • Baby Oil:  Great as eye make-up remover, as well as removing sticker goo from hard surfaces.
  • Baby Wipes:  Fabulous for general cleaning (we’re not embarrassed to say that we’ve cleaned anywhere from furniture surfaces and bathroom counters to carpets and dashboards with these little gems).
  • Baby Wash:  Great smelling body wash for bathers of all ages.
  • Baby Shampoo:  When diluted in water, this makes for a safe eye-wash.
  • Wipes Boxes:  Upcycle these to make handy containers for decks of cards, puzzles, linen closet items, and many other odds and ends.
  • Cloth Diapers:  These make super-absorbent and gentle dustrags and car chamois.
  • Disposable Diapers:  These are a great addition to a first aid kit because of their absorbency.
  • Receiving Blankets:  The soft flannel blankets make lovely drawer liners.
  • Dreft Detergent:  This gentle detergent is good for anyone with allergies.