30 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #9: Evaluate and Reorganize the Youngsters' Clothes

Courtesy of Microsoft.

I tend to go minimalist on the youngsters' clothing collections, as well.  For us that means...
  • One dressy outfit for Church and other formal occasions
  • Three pair of jeans, one pair of khakis (errand days, appointments), one pair of knee-length shorts
  • Two polo shirts that go with all the pants
  • Five t-shirts that coordinate with all the pants
  • One jacket with a hood
  • One swimming outfit
  • One pair of sandals
  • One pair of athletic shoes
  • One pair of dressy shoes
  • Five pair of dark blue socks, two pair of khaki socks
I purchase almost all the youngsters' clothing at resale shops.  I prefer to purchase lightly used, quality clothing rather than brand new poorly constructed clothing.  Sorting through the youngsters' clothing is a bit easier as I can see what items no longer fit and decide whether to repurpose them, donate them, or return them to nature.  All my friends' children are female or older than my youngsters, so giving to a friend does not apply.  

Autumn is a great time to go through clothing, toys, and books for possible donations to the charity or thrift shop of your choice.  Another possibility is to take gently used items to a consignment shop for evaluation.  Most consignment shop staff are particular, but it can be a way to make a little extra cash.

I hope that my nine little challenges helped to improve your home.  Mine is definitely looking better. 

Agape always,

PS: Today is Womanhood Day.  I plan to bake cookies and serve my family's favorite main dish (lasagne) for dinner.  

27 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #8: Evaluate and Organize the Clothing Collection

Courtesy of Microsoft.

As long-time readers may recall, I like to keep my clothing collection to a minimum.  I am fortunate to live in a two-season climate--summer and the rest of the year--a distinction that makes wardrobe planning easier compared to living in a four-season climate (which I have done).  

I like to keep the following items in my clothing collection:
  • Eight housedresses (most home sewn or purchased at thrift stores)
  • Eight aprons  (most home sewn or received as gifts)
  • Three sets of lingerie (one on, one in the drawer, one in the laundry - I hand wash almost every day)
  • Six nightgowns (three for each season)
  • Two robes (one for each season)
  • Three summer dresses
  • One little black dress (wearable on all but the hottest days)
  • Three light jackets (one to match well enough to make a suit with one of the skirts)
  • Three skirts in neutral colors
  • One twin set
  • Three dressy t-shirts
  • One beautiful white blouse
  • One raincoat
  • Two pairs of shoes
  • One pair of athletic shoes
  • One purse that matches the shoes
  • Two tote bags
Having a relatively spare clothing collection allows me to store everything in one small closet and provides enough clothing for me to go an entire week without washing anything but my lingerie. However, even the best-planned wardrobe needs maintenance and the occasional culling.  

To complete this challenge, I remove the clothing from the closet (yes, I hang up everything as I don't own a chest of drawers) and inspect everything for holes, tears, stains that might have been missed, etc.  Then, I give everything the love test:  Do I still love the item?  Does it help me to show my family and associates the picture of womanhood that I wish to display?  If an item no longer works for me, I give it to a friend, donate it, turn it into cleaning rags, or return it to nature.  

Before returning everything to the closet, I vacuum the closet carpet and wipe down the floorboards and the hanging rod.  The entire process takes about two hours, assuming that I don't allow myself to become sentimental.  

How are you reorganizing your clothing collection?

Agape always,

PS: Womanhood Day is Tuesday, September 30.  What are your plans?

26 September 2014

Catholic Montessori Album

Courtesy of Microsoft.

Dear Ladies,

I have added a new link on the right side of my blog.  The new link is not an affiliate link but goes to a blog whereupon you may purchase a Catholic Montessori Album to teach your children about the Traditional Latin Mass.  I believe that this Album may also be of interest to those who have curiosity about the way that Catholic people worship or how the Traditional Latin Mass proceeds.  Again, I receive no compensation from your purchases.

As always, be sure to investigate thoroughly to be sure that something is right for you.

Agape always,

25 September 2014

Gratitude Report

Courtesy of Two Hearts Design.

Dear Ladies,

My belief in God’s Providence was affirmed again last night.  The family and I drove over to our post office, and as I headed toward home–driving at the speed limit, so I wasn’t poking along–a car came over a hill behind me traveling at a very high rate of speed.  That car should have hit the back end of my car, but it didn’t: no squealing of brakes, no skidding of the tires. The car just stopped within a much shorter distance than would have been physically possible.  If the collision had occurred, my family members sitting in the back seat would have been seriously injured or even possibly killed.

Another moment of gratitude is the fact that we have measurable rain today for the first time since February.  We had a few sprinkles in July, but today, we have had almost a quarter of an inch.  I pray that we are blessed with more precipitation over the next few months.  I also pray that the quarter of an inch helped the thousands of firefighters and support crew members who valiantly battle huge blaze not far from our home.

Agape always,

22 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #7: The Bathroom Closet

Courtesy of Microsoft.

A friend recently sent me this prayer, and I thought I would share with you all:  "Grant me, oh Lord, my God, a mind to know You, a heart to seek You, wisdom to find You, conduct pleasing to You, faithful perseverance in waiting for You, and a hope of finally embracing You."  ~Saint Thomas Aquinas

Before I go on to reorganizing my own closet and wardrobe, I am making a stop at the storage area in the hallway bathroom.   The bathroom closet is the area where I keep most of the towels and wash cloths, loo paper, boxes of tissues, soap, shampoo and conditioner, laundry supplies, buckets that I use infrequently but cannot bear to give away or recycle, and first aid items (hydrogen peroxide, bandages, etc.).  I am blessed to have an en suite bathroom of my own, but it lacks any real storage space.  Too, my household lacks any small children, except as rare visitors, so I can keep first aid items in a more accessible area than I could a few years ago.  I tend to purchase in bulk if at all possible, which does save some money, but storing the items can present a challenge. 

Last spring when I went through a more detailed cleaning and reorganizing of my home, I was using nine bins under my worktable in the great room in order to hold several "in process" projects.  I have finished four of those projects, so I am repurposing those four bins to the bathroom closet.  Some of the loose items--loo paper, first aid items, soap, shampoo and conditioner--are tending to become scattered and messy, so I am hoping that the bins (which are very like these from the Container Store [not an affiliate link])  will help us to keep the area neater and more accessible.

Again, the first steps are to empty and wipe out the storage area, and then have a look at the items to make sure they are all in useable condition.   The storage area features two cupboards, each with two shelves.  I am putting the bins with the loo paper and the soap on the bottom shelf of the lower cupboard, and the towels and washcloths on the top shelf of the lower cupboard.  The bins with the first aid items and shampoo and conditioner will go on the bottom shelf of the upper cupboard, with the laundry supplies at the front of the top shelf of the upper cupboard and the buckets to the back of that same shelf.

When I was a young lady, I learned from a homemaker on our cul-de-sac to roll my towels and washcloths; now, my terry cloth items look pretty and I can store more of them in a smaller space.

I hope that my little woman-to-woman ideas are helpful to you.

Agape always,


20 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #6: Reorganize and Replenish the Pantry

Courtesy of Microsoft.

How are your "worst first" projects going?  

I am very much enjoying my clear, well-organized desk area (including the use of two shorty bookshelves), and rearranging the room rearranged our family life!  I am even considering donating the television set because I don't believe that we have watched it for as much as an hour this week. 

The second worst area--the foyer--takes a bit more adjustment.  Old habits can be difficult to break, so I am offering an incentive to everyone in the household for every night the foyer area is neat and clean.  

My next project is to reorganize and replenish the pantry.  This process takes several hours, usually an hour or two per day over a week.  My pantry includes the following areas:  the large cupboards in my kitchen, the refrigerator door, a shorty bookcase in the kitchen entryway, and the area under my bed.  

The first thing I do is remove the food items from the shelves and inspect them to make sure they remain patent and in useable condition.  Since I regularly use my pantry items, they almost always remain useable.  Then, I use the hand-vacuum to vacuum the shelves.  In the case of the refrigerator door, I wipe clean the area weekly, so that usually isn't a problem.  The fun begins when I move the storage items under my bed!  Fortunately, the youngsters like to help!

The next step is to evaluate what we need before replacing the items in the now-clean shelves or containers. 

Ideally, I would like to keep a month's worth of food in the house.  Right now, I have about a week's worth.  When I was blessed with a large garden space, I canned quite a lot of our vegetables, including my own tomato sauce and red salsa, but now I have the blessing of purchasing those items at retail. 

Ideally, I would keep the following food items in storage:  fifteen pounds worth of various flours; two pounds of sugar; six pounds of brown rice;  two large containers of oats; two jars of peanut butter; a container each of baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, honey, maple syrup, and salt; a jar of yeast; a full spice rack; ten cans each of tuna, chicken, beef, and turkey; eight packages of whole-grain pasta; five cans each of tomato, clam chowder, French onion, bean and bacon, vegetable, cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and potato soups; six or so jars total of various relishes, salsas, and jams we like; a jar of mayonnaise; six cans each of carrots, peas, corn, green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste; several bags of beans; sixty quarts of almond milk.  

The list above contains foods we regularly consume and enjoy--something I perceive as being important when considering the pantry--in amounts that would last us a month.  I am moving us toward that goal as the budget allows, and as I wrote above, I now have about a week's worth.

Ideally, as well, I would have a month's supply of laundry items, cleaning items, and paper products.

Whatever you decided to do, I encourage you to start somewhere and, over time, build up at least a few days' supplies.  

I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,

12 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #5: The Foyer

Courtesy of Microsoft.

"You never have a second chance to make a first impression."  Cliches become cliches because they contain at least a bit of truth.  And the front door area--the foyer--of a house is where visitors glean their first real impressions of the family who lives within the home.

In many homes, the foyer is a spacious decorative area, but in our home--because it is the only entrance--the foyer functions as mud room and shoe, hat, and coat storage (no handy front closet here) as well as being the area where we greet visitors to our home.  In addition, the foyer also tends to gather mail, flyers, and magazines that are placed on the shelving in the area as soon as we walk through the door. 

In the foyer I have two medium-sized bookshelves that are used in the homeschooling/dining area for supplies, a small shelf unit for shoes, and a repurposed ironing board that holds the caps the youngsters like to wear.  About the bookshelves:  The backs of the shelves face into the foyer, and the fronts of the shelves face into the homeschooling/dining area, so the tops of the shelves gather the clutter.  About the shoe shelf:  We like to take off our shoes as we come in, and since we started doing so, our incidence of illness has decreased tremendously (your results may vary).  

I do a good job of keeping the tile clean with daily sweeping and biweekly mopping.  The shoes are almost always placed on the shoe shelf, caps and jackets regularly hung up on the ironing board.  (I am considering storing the ironing board or donating it because I haven't ironed anything since before my beloved Braveheart passed.)  Upon reflection, I realized that the paper clutter marred the look of the foyer. 

I found in my store of stuff a stacking mail organizer (somewhat like this one) and put it to use on top of the shelves.  The top shelf is used for mail in envelopes; the bottom shelf is used for magazines and catalogs.  I also made a rule to give myself the treat of an hour on Friday afternoons to read magazines and peruse catalogs.  After saving the helpful magazine materials and clipping any catalog items I find interesting enough for a possible future purchase, I will probably recycle most of them.  

What is your "second worst" clutter area?

Agape always,

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