My Favorite Pesto Recipe

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

 

If you love crusty fresh bread and garlicky goodness then you probably love pesto.  When the basil goes on sale at my local grocery store, I know that I will be breaking out the food processor…and then the breath mints!

I have tried a few pesto recipes but this one is my absolute favorite, because it is delicious and easy.  Here are the ingredients that you need or as The Pioneer Woman would say “The Cast of Characters”.

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

 

Easy Pesto Recipe

2 Cups of Basil Leaves (Usually two full bunches from the grocery store).

1/4 Cup of Pine Nuts

1/2 Cup of Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (almost a full cup for the pesto mixture and leave some to top off the pesto).

Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil in the food processor.  Pulse and chop the ingredients.   Gradually add the olive oil and pulse some more until smooth.

 

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

 

It should be bright green and ready to eat.  It will taste better if you wait and let the flavors marry, but who has that kind of discipline? Not I.

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

 

This yields more than we can consume in an evening and I usually store the rest in small canning jars – I keep one in the fridge and freeze the rest.  Remember that extra olive oil?  In order to keep the bright green color of the pesto, I always top it off with a bit of olive oil before putting away.  If the basil leaves oxide a bit. the pesto will still be good, but not as appetizing.  The extra olive oil keeps it tasting and looking delicious!

My Favorite Pesto Recipe

That was easy, wasn’t it?  Just break out the baguette and clean the plate.

 

This posts contains some Amazon affiliate links.  Buying through the links does not affect your price of the item.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order! 

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Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

Our first home was pretty small and having a large area dedicated to gift wrapping was certainly out of the question.  When we purchased our current home which also had a garage, I knew that I wanted wrap-around cabinets and one would be dedicated to gift wrapping.

If I am ever upset at my husband, I just need to think back to all the work that he put into building the cabinetry in the garage – then my heart is once again filled with fuzzy feelings for the man!

Seriously, it was a few weekends of a lot of hard work and trips back to IKEA.  Most cabinets only had shelves but the one that housed the gift wrapping items had to have a few drawers as well.

Without further ado, I give to you the GIFT WRAP STATION!  At least that’s how my husband presented it to me when he finished building it.  He followed that with “and I hope I see you wrapping gifts…often.”

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

Almost half of the cabinet is full of party items because I didn’t need the whole cabinet for gift wrapping after all.  The bottom half has 2 plastic drawers and one metal that holds all the paper.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

The first drawer holds all ribbon and bows.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

The bows are color grouped and separated by inexpensive shoe boxes that you can probably find at the dollar store.  There are always more red bows since most of the wrapping occurs during the Christmas season.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

Most of this ribbon is from Walmart.  I love cloth ribbon as a finishing touch to any gift although I admit that nothing beats the convenience of a ready made bow!

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

The next drawer holds the bags and tissue.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

And there is enough tissue there to build a fort- a really colorful flimsy fort, but you get the point.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

The metal drawer holds a ton of rolls of gift wrapping paper.  I love the convenience of a gift bag (it’s usually the route that I go) but I love a beautifully wrapped box!  I also like looking at pretty paper when I open the cabinet!

 

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

The very bottom of the cabinet holds extra gifts.  Some are items that need to be re-gifted and others are items that I purchase ahead of time for upcoming birthdays.

I also have 2 greeting card organizers that I love!  One is full of birthday cards and the other is divided into other occasions.

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

It just occurred to me I can never re-gift that Jake toy to anyone that reads the blog…oh shucks!

Gift Wrap 15 IH

 

How do you store your gift wrapping items?  Do you also love pretty gift wrapping paper even if you rarely use it?

Organizing a Gift Wrapping Station

 

Other Related Posts:

Organized Master Closet

Organizing Christmas Gifts 

Easy Thanksgiving Gift Idea

Holiday Card Station

 

 

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Kid Zone – Powered by kids and Loved by parents


Kid Zone - Powered by kids and Loved by parents  

My boys watch their favorite shows on a daily basis. They each have their shows and sometimes (especially in the mornings) they both sit down to watch cartoons together. My oldest doesn’t mind watching his little brother’s cartoons, relaxing on the couch while his dad and I sip away at our coffee.

Kid Zone - Powered by kids and Loved by parents

We have had XFINITY as our cable provider for years and we love that there are so many channels available to choose from. However, we used to worry about the kids stumbling upon programming that wasn’t designated for their age. They have to switch through so many channels to get to the one they are looking for, that it’s a valid concern for a parent to want to keep kids from seeing a program or even a commercial that is not appropriate for their age. The solution for us is kids zone brought to you by XFINITY! kids zone is a safe and secure destination for kids (2-12) to independently browse and watch their favorite movies and shows which have already been branded age appropriate by Common Sense Media.

Kid Zone - Powered by kids and Loved by parents

Kids can easily explore their favorite live TV, popular shows, movies, on-demand and DVR library, all in one place. I love how it is personalized and simple and how we can filter by age and search by theme or genre. kids zone on the X1 operating system by XFINITY offers more content for kids to choose from, with over 6,500 kids shows and movies!

Kid Zone - Powered by kids and Loved by parents

Now we have peace of mind with the kids zone on the X1 operating system by XFINITY because our kids can easily and safely navigate age-appropriate shows without supervision. And my husband and I can enjoy 30 minutes each morning of uninterrupted conversation – if you have little ones you know that is priceless!

Kid Zone - Powered by kids and Loved by parents

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Easy Entertaining – Fancy in Five

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and EDWARDS®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #EdwardsPies http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Lately we have been on an entertaining binge here at Graceful Order…so why stop now, right?  It’s the summer after all and everyone wants more fun and less work.  So I partnered with EDWARDS® to bring you Five entertaining short cuts that will make you feel fancy without breaking a sweat!

I set up a quick, easy (and pretty) dessert and coffee table for my friends that looked like it took all morning to put together, but we know otherwise (and now they know too because they read my blog – at least I hope they do!).

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

1.  Use tiered servers and cake stands.

This has to be my favorite tip to elevate (literally) any party.  Here I used cake stands in different sizes for cake slices, a whole cake, one for a plant…  I collect cake stands and most of them are either white or silver so that I can use them together and they always match.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

2.  Add an orchid to your table/buffet.

I love orchids!  I think they are the best value and really dress up any table!  They cost as much as a bouquet of flowers but lasts much longer.  Pictured here is a $10 orchid that I purchased at Walmart.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

3.  Make the coffee ahead of time and use a thermal dispenser.

I have been doing this for years!  I always make coffee 30 minutes before guests arrive and I know that a good thermal dispenser will keep it hot for hours!  That way I don’t have to fumble with filters and filling up a dispenser when I could be hanging out with my friends.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

4.  Use nice napkins, preferably cloth.

I know, I know…cloth?  That means laundry.  While pretty disposable napkins are totally cute and ok to use, cloth ones elevate your table that much more.  I wash them and immediately remove them from the dryer before wrinkles set in.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

5.  Purchase a ready made frozen cake from EDWARDS®.

Or better yet, already have one in the freezer!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

You don’t need to make everything yourself and it’s ok to outsource certain things.  Especially when those “certain things” come out of the box looking like this!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

The only thing I did was remove it from the aluminum pan and place it on my fancy schmancy cake platter.  Voila!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

I actually served it with a side of chocolate syrup but no one used it.  It already has the perfect amount on the cake!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

The cheesecake I pre-cut for my guests because I knew my friends would go for that option first.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

I added a bowl full of berries to a gravy server so that they could help themselves.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

And help themselves they did!  My friends are not shy!  They like food and never need a reason to eat a good dessert.  That’s why we get along.

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

 

So whether you are a cheesecake girl or you prefer another of the many varieties that Edwards offers, your friends will love your pie!  I mean, your company…

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

If you want to dig into one of these pies you can use the following coupon to use at Walmart (that’s where I bought mine).

“Save $1.00 on any ONE (1) EDWARDS® Whole Pie by taking advantage of the Walmart EDWARDS Ibotta digital rebate (while supplies last)”

Enjoy and remember what Julia Child used to say “A party without cake is just a meeting.”!

Easy Entertaining - Fancy in Five

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How to Set a Proper Table Setting

Don’t you love those friends that you can let your hair down with?  The ones that don’t care if you serve them sweet tea out of crystal or a red solo cup?  Those are our favorite kind of friends!  But as much as I like casual and laid back I also want to know how to set a proper table, even if I rarely do it.

What if you go to some formal event and you have no idea what to do with those 5 forks in front of you?  Ahhhh!!  Well in our home it never gets more formal or complicated than the picture below.  We don’t serve too many courses since the chef, sous chef, hostess and clean up crew is little ol’ me.

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

There are many levels to the formality of setting a table.  Technically the plate should be 2 inches from the edge of the table but none of my friends carry rulers so I don’t bother with those details.  The basic idea with all the utensils is that you eat a meal beginning with the outside silverware and work your way in towards the plate.  If the salad is served first followed by the main course, then the salad fork would be on the outside and the dinner fork would be closest to the plate.

On the left you would place all your forks.  The dinner fork should be placed to the left of the plate and the salad fork to it’s left.   The dessert fork goes horizontally above the dinner plate and the dessert spoon goes directly above the dessert fork.  The tines of the dessert fork face towards the dinner knife.  The dessert spoon faces the forks.  Honestly, where the dessert fork and spoon are supposed to face always trips me up and really it’s not a big deal, but like with anything else…it’s good to know!

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

You can have quite a few glasses per person, depending on how many drink varieties will be served.  You can begin with the water goblet above the knife and then to the right of it white or red wine glasses, followed by champagne flutes if you do an opening toast.

In our home I rarely place wine glasses on the table, as we usually are already drinking wine by the time that we sit at the table, so everyone already has their glass in hand.

The napkin can be placed on top of the salad plate, folded lengthwise beneath the salad plate, beside the forks or below the forks.

Bread and butter plates would be above and to the left of the dinner plate.  If the dinner plate was the center of a clock, the bread plate would be at 10am. In this case (and in every case in our home) I omitted the bread and butter plate.

The dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.  Knife blades always have the cutting edge facing the plate.  If soup is served, a spoon may be placed to the right of the dinner knife.

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

 

I leave you with one of my favorite tips!  You know when you are seated at a restaurant (especially the round tables) and you can’t figure out which is your glass and which is your bread plate?  Simply position your hands in the “ok” sign and you will instantly know which is which.  Your right hand will form a “D” and your left a “B”.  Bread and Drink – easy as that!

How to Set a Proper Table Setting

It’s the effort to set a pretty table that your friends appreciate, not a table setting that needs rulers and protractors to measure silverware spacing.  Entertaining is about opening your home and making your friends feel welcome.  We can do that in so many different ways – by setting a pretty table or by making something from scratch or ordering in and chatting on the couch (with our feet up, of course)!  There are many ways to make our friends feel special and a well set table is just one of them.

Pinky up!

 

Other related Graceful Order posts:

Mother’s Day Table Setting

Setting a Beautiful Table on a Budget

The Thanksgiving Table

Fall Table Setting

 

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How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

 

I love to set a beautiful table!  Seriously, I think out how to dress the table before even figuring out a menu for my dinner party.  But setting a formal table does not have to equate dollar signs.  There are so many ideas to curb the cost or even use items that you probably already own.  Below are a few of my favorite tips for setting a beautiful table on a budget:

 

1. Buy fabric by the yard instead of a tablecloth.

This is my first and favorite tip.  Tablecloths can be really expensive and if you have a large table like I do, the price tag can be hefty.  I prefer to purchase fabric by the yard and either hem it later or just leave as is.  Last week I shared a picture of some of my latest fabric finds on my Instagram account.

If you are not already following Graceful Order on Instagram, you can find me HERE.

How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

 

2.  Use good quality faux plants from around the house and skip the fresh flowers.

I LOVE real flowers and I use them when I can but there is no doubt that they raise the cost of setting a pretty table.  If you do purchase a small bouquet you can place one flower bud in separate little vases or cups down the center of your table.  But to avoid buying flowers altogether, bring in good quality faux plants from around the house and use as a centerpiece.

How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

 

3.  Make your dessert the centerpiece.

A pretty cake on a pedestal or cupcakes on a tiered server can also be a great centerpiece.  Pretty, practical and skip the peonies!

 

4.  Add a pop of color with a salad plate or a soup bowl.

White dishes are my absolute favorite.  Investing in one set of simple white plates can be inexpensive and so versatile.  I would rather add a pop of color using a pretty napkin or a salad plate that I can rest on top.  I found these salad plates at Homegoods and I paired them with these white plates that I have had for many years and these light gray napkins that are my new favorite.

 

5.  Add a napkin ring or create your own.

Since I love setting a table, I have collected quite a few dinner party items over the years.  If you are only going to have one set of napkin rings, purchase a set that is simple and will go with any color place setting.  If you don’t own napkin rings or want a unique alternative – I love using thyme or rosemary as an accent on top of the napkin.  Depending on the strength of the thyme, you can even tie it around your napkin like a ring, but I also love the simplicity of a sprig of rosemary resting on a napkin.

How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

 

6.  Print and cut your own place cards.

I didn’t use place cards in this table setting but I usually use them to avoid the confusion of where to sit.  Using place cards may sound a bit restrictive or formal but they actually help to avoid that moment where as a guest you have no idea where to sit.  You can even use the tines of the fork to hold your simple place card.

7.  Invest in cloth napkins.

Cloth napkins definitely make a table setting more special.  I probably have 15 sets of different color napkins and I rarely pay more than 1.00 per napkin.    If you want your napkins to last and you don’t want to fuss with them too much, always keep in mind what you are serving when choosing the color napkin.  If you are serving something with a red sauce, chose a dark color napkin to avoid ruining your light yellow ones with tomato stains.

How to Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget

 

8.  Use white candles inside clear votives to add drama and romance to your table.

This is one of my favorite ideas, especially for events in the evening.  If you cluster lots of white candles, they can double as a centerpiece.  You can also sprinkle a few around your decorated table as a finishing touch.  Keep in mind that your candles should be unscented so that they are not competing with the aroma from your meal.

There are so many options and ideas that keep the cost low and the style high at your next dinner party.  What are some of your favorite tips for setting a pretty table?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

 

Have you ever decided at the very last minute that you are going to host a get together?  Sometimes as a holiday approaches my husband and I will be talking in the morning, sipping on coffee and he will tell me “you want to do a little something for the 4th and invite a few friends?” And that’s how this post was inspired.  I want to share with you how easy it is to put together a little party that looks like it took a whole lot more planning than it actually did.

Our backyard (the pool) is under construction, but that is no reason to not utilize the terrace.  Just becasue everything isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you can’t create a perfect little nook.  I first placed this 4 ft table on the terrace, in front of our kitchen window and got to work.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

 

I then added a blue stripe fabric to the table that I had purchased at Walmart (way less expensive than an actual tablecloth).  As a backdrop I used a patriotic pleated fan that I purchased at Target a few years ago.  All those fans and flags go on a steep sale right after the fourth and that’s your chance to grab a few.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

I inverted a plastic beverage bowl to create a little height for the drinks, which I placed on a galvanized tray.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

This little white pail holds the straws – of course, red and blue (they were leftover from our boys’ birthday parties).

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

Another pail holds a ton of glow sticks.  Kids love those and they also go on sale after the fourth so stock up.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

Now onto the food.  Like I said this is last minute so we won’t be fussing over preparing a ton of food.  Enter hot dogs, everyone loves a good hot dog.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

Another item that I usually have on hand is pesto in a jar.  You can dress up any dish with pesto by adding it to pasta, or in this case creating a little caprese salad.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

And you already know that I had a ton of salsa on hand since I shared my recipe last week.  You can find it here.  So I just opened up a bag of chips and this is always a crowd pleaser!

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

So let’s add some sweets to the mix.  I purchased these already made from the  store but they are so easy to make at home.  Simply layer vanilla pudding with masserated fruit and top off with whipped cream.  The other container has pudding with crushed cannoli and topped with whipped cream and chocolate chips.  It looks super fancy but it’s also super easy.   Of course you can also buy a ready-made cake.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

This whole party is laid back but we do need some plates and utensils.  I found these gorgeous plates at Sur la table (60% off!) and the best part is that they are plastic!

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

Here is one last tip for outdoor entertaining:  Place a plant on the table that repels insects.  I chose this lavender plant but basil and rosemary work as well.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that they inspire you to gather more often despite short notice plans.

Short Notice Entertaining for the Fourth of July

How are you all celebrating the 4th this year?

 

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5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

“This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Birds Eye®, and Tyson® but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #FastFreshFilling http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

This week I am partnering with Tyson and Birds Eye to bring you 5 quick and nutritious meals that are perfect for any night of the week, but especially hectic weeknights.   So I headed to Walmart to find the Tyson® Grilled & Ready® Chicken Breast Fillets which are fully cooked and a few of the Birds Eye Steamfresh® Protein Blends (I chose Asian and Italian style).

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

The first meal I worked on is Chicken Teriyaki over vegetables and grains from Birds Eye Asian style blend.  While I placed the chicken with a tablespoon or two of teriyaki in a pan to quickly heat it up (since it is already fully cooked), I heated the protein side dish in the microwave.  It all came together so quickly and check out the finished product!

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Next I thought of one of my kids favorites, chicken quesadillas.

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

These were even more flavorful than the ones I have made in the past because the grilled chicken  adds a another layer of yumminess.

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

I added the quesadillas to a grill pan and just like that – meal numero DOS was complete!

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Next up is an easy and healthy meal using bib or butter lettuce, chicken breast, and the italian protein blend.

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

I carefully separated the lettuce leaves so that they would serve as “cups” for the rest of my ingredients.  I added some parsley and avocado to the mix and there you have it – Meal number 3.

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Healthy and filling!

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Moving on to something more decadent – Chicken Spaghetti Alfredo.  While I cooked the pasta until it was al dente, I heated up the chicken and the alfredo sauce in a pan.  I added the cooked pasta and let it absorb some of the flavors and…

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Mangia Time!  Dish number 4 was delicious and there were no leftovers!

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

If Taco night is a staple at your home, you will love how quickly this last dish comes together.  I already had fresh salsa and flour tortillas in the refrigerator so this was a cinch to prepare.

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

I finished off my tacos with avocado slices, cilantro and queso fresco (any crumbling cheese will do).

5 Fast and Fresh Weeknight Meals

 

Five easy and delicious weeknight means done in no time!   Using chicken that is already cooked cuts so much prep and cooking time in the kitchen!  You can also feel good about using Tyson chicken breasts because they are 100% natural and have no preservatives or hormones added.  The Birds Eye veggies have added proteins which round out your meal.  And a table full of happy and full family members rounds off your night.

What is your favorite quick weeknight meal?

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Delicious Roasted Salsa

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

Today I shared the picture below on my Instagram stating that I was about to make salsa.  Some wanted to know details about the recipe and others had questions about freezing it.  So here is one of my favorite salsa recipes – I hope you love it!

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

 

Ingredients:

20 tomatoes (Roma tomatoes)

7 jalapeños

2 onions

7 garlic cloves

1 large bunch of cilantro

1-2 tablespoons of salt (depending on the size of tomatoes)

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375.

Cut up the tomatoes and onions into large chunks and spread onto a baking sheet pan.  Remove the caps off the jalapeños, then cut the jalapeños lengthwise, and remove the stem and some of the seeds (read tip below).  Add the 7 whole cloves of garlic.  Toss everything onto 2 sheet pans.

Heat tip: In order to keep the heat off your hands, you may want to wear gloves when cutting up the jalapeños.  For really hot salsa, do not remove the seeds of the jalapeños.  For medium-hot salsa remove the seeds from half of the jalapeños.  For medium salsa, remove all the seeds from the jalapeños.  For mild salsa, hold the jalapeños under running water and remove the seeds and inside membrane of the jalapeño.   

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

Place the trays in the oven and roast for about an hour.  Check the trays after 45 minutes so that the roasted tomato mixture does not burn.  You should see a bit of char on the edges of the onions or tomatoes, but nothing should look like it’s burning.

Remove the trays from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  When you can handle the contents, place them in a bowl and take them over to your food processor.  I suggest you do the following in 2 or 3 batches to avoid over filling the processor.

Place a good amount of the roasted tomato, onion, jalapeno and garlic mix into the processor, I then add a small bunch of cilantro and a bit of the salt.  Process until desired consistency and then add to a large bowl or container.  Continue to do this in batches until you have used all the roasted mixture and the cilantro bunch (and the salt to taste).

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

Now we are ready to place your yummy salsa into jars.  This makes about 4-5 large jars depending on the size of the tomatoes you use and the jars, of course.  I like to use a canning funnel for this because it makes pouring easier.  The salsa will still be somewhat hot at this point.

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

After placing in the refrigerator for a few hours, you are ready to break out the nachos!

Delicious Roasted Salsa

 

Freezing tip:  When I make 5 jars of this salsa, I like to freeze a jar or two because I know that we won’t go through so much salsa.  The problem is that salsa once frozen can get a little watery.  If this does happen, you can always chop up some Roma tomatoes and add them to your defrosted salsa, which should fix the consistency.

For more great ideas for Mexican night, check out the links below!


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Summer Bedroom Makeover


Summer Bedroom Makeover
I love the feeling that I get when I walk into my bedroom late at night, after cooking dinner, doing dishes, reading bedtime stories, and I can finally peel the sheets away and get into my comfy bed.  You already know that I have a weakness for white bedding so when I started to collaborate with JC Penny HOME a few weeks ago, I knew exactly the bedding that I wanted.  But I already have nice bedding, right?  Yup, I love my plain white comforter but I thought I would change it up for the summer by adding a fun pattern to my usual plain white choice. I chose this comforter set from the Eva Longoria Home™ collection, called Marrakech.  I ordered it online and within a few days these beauties arrived at my door.

Summer Bedroom Makeover

Arranging it on the bed was the exciting part.  I like how the bold print stands out from the crisp white background.

Summer Bedroom Makeover  

Changing the comforter in your bedroom can have a huge impact on the overall look of the room.  Even if you don’t like your existing bedroom furniture it is way less expensive to make a pretty bed than to buy a pretty bed.  This collection’s sale prices range from $129.99 to $169.99, and each bedding set includes a comforter, two shams and a bed skirt (which I didn’t use because my style of bed does not require one), and the coordinating decorative pillows are available from $34.99 to $39.99 each, also currently on sale. 

Summer Bedroom Makeover

The collection definitely has options and they are all inspired by her travels around the world, so you are sure to find one that fits your own personal style.   The one that I chose was inspired by Moroccan lattice.  It is a modern take on a traditional pattern.  I love how the coordinating pillows which are sold separately “match” but they are not in the exact pattern as the comforter set.  It definitely adds a more high end feel to the overall look.

Summer Bedroom Makeover

When asked to describe her bedding collection Eva Longoria said, “Each bedding ensemble offers a unique aesthetic inspired by Moroccan lattice, the deep blue Mediterranean Sea, the serene lavender fields in Spain and ornate Moorish tiles that give any room a touch of worldly elegance. By drawing inspiration from these beautiful and exotic places, I can help others create a home that is stylish, yet casual and inviting.” I am only featuring one of the styles, so I encourage you to check out the whole Eva Longoria Home™ collection.

Summer Bedroom Makeover  

Of course I always love to end these posts with a giveaway!  You can enter the giveaway by simply answering the following question: What’s your favorite piece from the Eva Longoria Home™ collection?”  Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a $100 JCPenney gift card.

 

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 You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

 1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

 2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

 3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

 4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

 This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

 The Official Rules are available here.

 This sweepstakes runs from 6/8/2015 – 7/8/2015

 Be sure to visit JCPenney’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

 

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Pop of Color in the Terrace

This post is brought to you by Wayfair.com but all the opinions are my own.  I only recommend brands/stores that I love and use!

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

Let’s talk rocking chairs, shall we?  I love rocking chairs.  Like for real.  I grew up in a home that always had a rocking chair and we would fight over who got to sit on it.  I find them so relaxing and inviting.  When we purchased our home 11 years ago, I told my husband that for Christmas I wanted rocking chairs (the following year I asked for a good quality frying pan – I’m weird).  My wonderful husband bought me 2 rocking chairs and somehow managed to hide them and surprise me Christmas day.  I love him so much!  Almost as much as rocking chairs…but let’s not get carried away here.

After a few months, it was clear that we needed another 2 rockers because visitors could never sit with us in the terrace.  So my amazing hubby obliged and bought me two more.  I had wanted to add some color to the space for a while, but I had not found the right pillows or matching tables.  We also have so many aspirations for the backyard (pool, deck) that I was ignoring the space that we were using.  You know that “all or nothing” mentality that says that you can’t fix up a space until you can make it perfect?

I decided that it was totally worth it to add a little life to this space by injecting small pops of color.

 

Pop of Color in the Terrace

So where did I go to find the perfect pieces for our terrace?  I went to Wayfair.com.  Have you shopped with them before?  They are basically an online destination for a million things “home”.  I found these pillows on Wayfair and they were perfect!  I wanted pillows in this shape but I did not want the enormous ones that are actually uncomfortable behind your back.  These are super comfortable and I love the green stripe.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

I also found this table on Wayfair and there were so many options to choose from.  We settled on this one because we liked that it also had a bottom shelf.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

Every morning we sit outside to have our coffee and it is one of my favorite times of the day.  We sit on the rockers and chat about our day while the wind chyme sings from afar.  I could totally write a haiku right now but I won’t because I love ya.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

I chose teak for the rockers and table because it is so strong and durable, and extremely low maintenance.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

Of course, a little candle sets the mood for this relaxing space, but mostly it keeps those mosquitos at bay!

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

A sweet little pot and plant adorn the table but I still have room for a book or a coffee cup.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

I placed this container on the existing wooden shelf and added some colorful little flowers.

 

Pop of Color in the Terrace

I kept the existing table between the other two rockers because we sometimes use it to eat a quick bite in the morning.  I would like to replace it in the future with another teak table that serves the same purpose.   I would then move this one elsewhere.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

For now, I am enjoying relaxing in this little space that feels “new” with so few changes!

Pop of Color in the Terrace

I encourage you to pick a little relaxing spot and make it pretty by adding new pillows, plants, or a colorful pot.  Invest in the things that you will enjoy for years to come, like I did in these teak rockers and table.  Buying some new pillows can “wake-up” a space for very little money.

Pop of Color in the Terrace

 

Time to enjoy this space and relax…

Pop of Color in the Terrace

Do you love rocking chairs as much as I do?  What space in your home could use a little injection of color?

 

 

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Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

Creating a healthy home has been a process for me.  I started buying more organic ingredients years ago and the more I read about pesticides and toxic chemicals, I started to turn my attention towards the things that I was feeding my home, not just the kids.  I slowly realized that I was helping our family in one way but still allowing products in our home that could potentially hurt us.  While I still used the other products that I already had, I integrated more natural products into my home cleaning routine.  I wasn’t ready to pull the plug until I knew that these new, more natural products actually worked.  I mean, could I really consider my home “clean” if I wasn’t using anything toxic to really get in there and do the work?

Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

Well the new products worked and I no longer had to run out of the bathroom to avoid the fumes after I had sprayed down the area.  I also continued being cautious about where I store my cleaning supplies but I wasn’t worried about my toddler putting a piece of cereal in his mouth that had just fallen on the floor.  My kids don’t eat meals off the floor, but it feels good to know that I am creating a healthy home for them to live in and also a more economical way to clean the home.

Natural cleaners can be expensive but you can also make your own cleaners at home and save a ton.  Some of my favorite natural brands are Mrs. Meyers, Honest Company, Shaklee but I also like to make my own ever so often and I wanted to share with you how I use essential oils to clean.  There are so many essential oils and recipes that I could feature, but I decided to start with lemon.

 

Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

 

The following recipes are sure to bring back your zest for life!  Well no, they won’t – but your house will be super clean and that will make you happy, so yeah…

 

Bathroom Fixtures:  Use a towel soaked with several drops of Lemon oil to sanitize bathroom fixtures.

Dishes:  I add 2 drops of Lemon oil to the bottom of my dishwasher before the wash cycle. Dishes will shine and the dishwasher smells great.

Window Cleaner:  Pour into a glass spray bottle 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 10 drops of lemon essential oil and fill the rest with water.  Mix well.

Natural Disinfectant – This also works great for a moldy shower.  Add 30 drops lemon oil and 20 drops tea tree oil to a glass spray bottle, add a splash of vinegar and fill the rest with water.

Wood Furniture Polish:  Add 4-5 drops lemon essential oil to a small amount of olive oil for polishing wood.

Floor Cleaner: Add a splash of vinegar and 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil to your bucket of water.

 Of course, always test a little spot on your furniture before you use a new cleaner.

 

I encourage you to take small but consistent steps towards creating a healthier home.  Enjoy your green cleaning!

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Big Boy Room Reveal

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

I have shared my 4 year old’s room before when I posted about Toddler Room Organization, but the existing furniture wasn’t working for him anymore.  He had a toddler bed, which basically had the same size mattress as a crib.  It was time for a big boy room for Matthew.

We did some window shopping online and I found various pieces that matched the style that I wanted, but none that matched the price point we were looking for.  Finally, in a local store we found the right set.  We chose this set which came in many colors but we settled on the gray because honestly, not only was it nice but I figured it was the most “forgiving” color.  This was a good call because before the furniture delivery personell had driven away, he was already using the bed rail as a car ramp.

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

We only purchased one nightstand since the room is small and also because we purchased a trundle that opens on the opposite end.  Regarding the trundle, I am only storing bedding and wipes along with other uninteresting items inside it.  If I placed toys in the trundle, I know that he would be pulling it out all day and I am not sure the bed could take all that “fun”.

All the wall art remained the same.  The three pieces above the bed are very lightweight which gives me peace of mind.  I am so paranoid about hanging heavy items above beds so I usually opt for light canvas art.  The anchor is white cardboard that I spray painted.

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

On the nightstand I placed his little diffuser.  I have diffusers in every room in my home, sans the bathrooms.  If you know my 4 year old, you know that lavender is what I diffuse the most in this little room!

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

His little reading area remained the same but I added his backpack underneath.  This is what he will use for school once he starts later this year.  The backpack holds a dino and a small firetruck – all the items that he says he needs for school.

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

Most of his toys are inside these 4 blue bins.  I would like to edit the toys even more and get it down to two, but for now this works.

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

I couldn’t wait to take advantage of all the space that this new bedroom set offered so I filled up his drawers right away.  I will do a separate posts on how I organized the drawers and trundle.

Big Boy Room Reveal

 

And we will see how long this extreme organization lasts.  Actually, I can already answer that.  It lasted until I turned off the camera.  Then he wanted to get dressed like a ninja and pulled out 3 shirts to pull off the look.  Sigh.  He was a super cute ninja though so totally worth it.

Big Boy Room Reveal

Sources:

Furniture:  Rooms to Go

Bedding pillows: Pottery Barn Kids

Toy Bins: Target

Lamp base and shade: Target

Wall art: Target

Hamper:  Pottery Barn Kids

Anchor:  Amazon (I painted it, it was originally white)

That’s his new little room and he absolutely loves it!  What room in your home is next on the list for new furniture?

 

Related posts:

Toddler Organization

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

 

Benefits of Green Cleaning

Benefits of Green Cleaning

 

Green, green, green!  Everyone is looking to eat greener and cleaner and more attention is now given to the types of products we use to clean our homes.  Is it really worth it?

I think it is worth it on every level!  Why would we focus on cleaning our bodies of toxic foods and then spray our homes with toxic chemicals, having no idea how they will affect us or our families?

Here are some common myths about green cleaning and some of the products I use to replace toxic chemicals:

Aren’t green products more expensive?  Nope, not if you make your own.  Homemade cleaning products are not only safer, they also way more economical.

Vinegar, for example is inexpensive and its acidic qualities help to kill germs and reduce microbial growth.  I love to add vinegar and tea tree oil (Melaeluca) to my homemade cleaning products for a natural and safe disinfectant.

Benefits of Green Cleaning

Don’t homemade cleaners lack scent?  I am a sucker for products that smell good.  Actually there are some green cleaners that I choose to buy because I love the scent.  However, when you are making your own cleaners you can also customize your scent using essential oils.  The essential oils work double-duty because they will enhance the cleaning properties of your solution while adding your favorite scent.

Benefits of Green Cleaning

Why make my own cleaners when I can buy already-made natural brand cleaner?  I do buy cleaners and I don’t always make my own.  Just be sure to read the ingredients before purchasing.  There isn’t a strict regulation behind the word “green” and some products still contain toxic chemicals.  The best thing about making your own cleaners is that you know what the ingredients are because you put them in there.

Organic Castile Liquid Soap is one of my favorite products for making homemade cleaning solutions.  It is a type of soap that is made from plant oils.  It is sensitive on skin and it’s Earth-friendly, making it a perfect product to use when making your own household cleaners.  

Benefits of Green Cleaning

Do green cleaners work as well?  Do they disinfect?  Yes!  We have been fooled into believing that only products that emit crazy fumes can possibly provide a deep clean.   Many essential oils have antiseptic and bactericidal properties and these can be added to your homemade cleaning solutions.  For example, tea tree oil (Melaeluca) is an essential oil with anti-fungal properties.

Baking soda is also one of my favorite ingredients because it is mild enough to use on most household surfaces.  The applications/uses for baking soda are endless and I will share some with you on the blog soon.

Another one to make the list is Borax .  It is a natural occurring mineral and has been used by people for over 100 years to clean their home and do their laundry.  I sometimes use it as a component in my cleaner recipes or even on its own, as I would any powder cleaner.  I have even mixed it with lemon juice to remove rust.

 

Benefits of Green Cleaning

 

So that’s a little Cleaning Cabinet Makeover!  Overall, the biggest benefit to green cleaning is more peace of mind, knowing that your home is clean and fume-free.

I will definitely be sharing some natural cleaning recipes using all the above cleaners, on the blog very soon!

Also as part of this series:

Spring Cleaning Challenge: The Kitchen

Spring Cleaning Challenge: The Bathroom 

 

There are a few affiliate links in this post (although most of the products mentioned above are in your local grocery store).  Thank you for your continued support!

 

 

 

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Mother’s Day Table Setting

Mothers Day Cover

Mother’s Day is around the corner and I want to share with you how I celebrate the mothers in my life.  Before I was a mom, we would do a little visiting tour on Mother’s Day to all the mothers in our family.  After I had kids, I still wanted to visit my mom, my aunts and my husband’s mom, but it left little time to do something special with my boys.  So this conundrum started the Mother’s Day Brunch idea.  I haven’t hosted it every single year, but it really works so well that I do it almost every year.

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

One of my favorite parts about planning any event is setting the table.  As I have shared before, I collect all sorts of tableware so that I can set a pretty table.  This year I decided on a green, white and gold table setting.  I love that color combo!

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

I found these placemats at Homegoods and although I usually purchase solid-color placemats and I leave the prints for the napkins, these placemats were a bargain and I already had matching napkins.  I have had these goblets for almost 15 years and I rarely use them but they were perfect for this setting.   Pretty goblets can be expensive but I always check out sales/outlet items in stores like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn and Wayfair to find great deals.  Also, I always purchase an extra goblet or plate because should one break, my set would still be intact.

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

Same goes for napkin rings.  Napkin rings can run $6. a piece but on sale they can be a $1. a piece.  This makes a huge difference if you are buying multiples.

Mother's Day Table Setting

A great idea for setting a Mother’s Day Brunch table is to buy orchids as the centerpiece.  The orchids can double up as Mother’s Day gifts.

Tip:  Print out black and white pictures of the mothers with their child and use a ribbon to tie the picture to the orchid.  That way everyone knows which orchid is theirs.

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

These pretty orchids were not expensive but they looked beautiful inside these pots from IKEA.

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

 

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

Now all that I am missing is the food and our beautiful Mothers!

Mother's Day Table Setting

 

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Spring Cleaning – The Bathroom

Spring Cleaning Challenge COVER

Did you tackle your kitchen this past week with our Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen printable?  Well today I have a new printable for you and a new set of tasks.  We are deep cleaning the bathrooms this week.

We all have our cleaning rituals and it is so easy to forget spots that need attention, so I attached a list to help you stay on track.

 

Spring Cleaning in the Bathroom

1- Get rid of clutter inside cabinets and drawers.

2- Throw away expired cosmetics.

3- Shake out bathroom rugs and wash them.

4- Wash Towels and all bathroom linen.

5- Clean Toilets and don’t forget to clean behind the toilet, the flush handle and all the other crevices.

6- Scrub tub and shower area.

7- Clean sinks and counters.

8- Clean and shine faucets.

9- Wipe down the outside and inside of bathroom cabinets.

10- Wash shower curtain.

11- Remove trash from bathroom and clean the trash can.  Tip:  I always leave extra garbage bags in the bottom of all our trashcans to make it easier to replace the bags.

12- Clean mirrors with a glass cleaner.

13- Clean doors and doorknobs

14- Clean baseboards and moldings.

15- Sweep and mop floors.

 

Below is a free printable to help you along.  You can check the tasks as you complete them or just place this sheet in your bathroom as a cleaning reference.

Spring Cleaning Bathroom Printable

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Natural Homemade Tile and Bath Scrub

Bath SCRUB

 

Since we rolled out a Spring Cleaning challenge earlier this week, I thought I would share some natural cleaning recipes to use throughout the home.  Below is a recipe that I use to clean my bathroom tile, bathtub and around the toilet.

 

Natural Bath, Tile and Toilet Scrub

What you need:

3/4 cup of baking soda

1/4 cup of castile liquid soap

1 tablespoon of water

1 tablespoon of vinegar

8 drops of Lemon essential oil 

Directions:

1.  In a bowl, combine the castile soap and the the baking soda.

2.  Add the water and vinegar and stir.

3.  Add the lemon essential oil and stir.  It should look like a soft paste.

Stir in a jar and use to scrub tub, bathroom tile and around the toilet (especially where the toilet brim meets the tile grout).

 

This post contains a few affiliate links.  You do not pay more on Amazon products by following the links, so no worries.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring Cleaning – The Kitchen

Spring Cleaning - The Kitchen

 

Break out your leopard print cleaning gloves!  It’s a Spring Cleaning Challenge!

If you are interested in following along, every week I will give you a list of  spring cleaning tasks to complete and a free printable.  We all have our individual daily cleaning routines, but we can easily forget little spots around the house, such as light switches.  This week we will concentrate on the kitchen and you can find the corresponding printable below.

Spring Cleaning in the Kitchen

1- Clean out refrigerator and throw away any expired items, then give it a good cleaning. Carefully clean behind the refrigerator, where so much dust and particles gather. Also dust or vacuum the coils and clean the cover (after turning off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box). Dust the top of the refrigerator. Change the refrigerator water filter if it is already needed.

2-  After turning off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse box, defrost and clean the freezer. You can empty the contents of your freezer into a cooler, while you allow the freezer to come to room temperature. Wash all the shelves with a solution of 2 tablespoons of baking soda per quart of warm water. Rinse and dry.

3-  Deep Clean Oven. My favorite product to clean the oven is Shaklee’s Scour Off but you can also make a baking soda paste by mixing baking soda and a few tablespoons of water.  Put on your cleaning gloves and coat your oven with the baking soda mixture.  Scrub down the oven and allow mixture to sit for a while.  You can then spray a little vinegar onto the baking soda and scrub again.  Wipe down oven making sure to get all the baking soda residue off the oven walls.

4-  Deep Clean the Microwave. HERE is how I clean my microwave.

5-  Deep Clean the stove and don’t forget to clean behind the stove. Also wash and dry the filter of the stove hood.

6-  Clean the kitchen backsplash. I usually use Basic H mixed with water for all these tasks because it is a natural and effective cleaner but you can also use some warm water and a few drops of detergent.

7-  Wipe down cabinets, paying special attention to the cabinets that are closest to the stove, which tend to be extra greasy.  Also, don’t forget to wipe clean the cabinet knobs.

8-  Dust or wash all the kitchen decorations. If you have utensils inside crocks, empty them and clean the container.

9-  Deep Clean your dishwasher by running an empty cycle. I add this lemon dishwasher cleaner called Lemi Shine .

10- Wipe down appliances.

11- Clean and condition wooden cutting boards.

12- Dust kitchen light fixtures.

13- Give the kitchen wastebasket a good cleaning.

14- Give the floor a good cleaning.

15- Tell your husband that you absolutely need to order take-out tonight!

Enjoy!

 

 

Spring Cleaning - The Kitchen

 

This post contains a few affiliate links but they are all products I love and use.  Thank you for your support of Graceful Order! 

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Welcome Spring 2015

Welcome Spring 2015

Every week I look forward to the Wayfair Housewarming Party which is full of home decorating ideas!  It features Wayfair bloggers as they share each other’s projects centered around a specific theme.  Today’s theme is Spring decorating and guess what project is part of the feature?  My “Spring Bridal Shower on a Budget“!  

Welcome Spring 2015

 

Check out this post full of Spring decorating ideas, by hopping over to The Honeycomb Home HERE.

Welcome Spring!

 

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Organized Home Week 10 – The Family Room

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

This is the last week of our “Organized Home” series and we end the week with the family room.  This room gets a lot of abuse love from the whole family and needs some daily attention to keep it looking its best.  Here is a list of things to help you organize the family room.

Make an activity list

Make a list of all the activities that take place in the family room, playing video games, board games, coloring, reading, watching TV…  After your list is ready, you can decide where to create zones that support each activity.

Create a Game Center

Our entertainment center has doors along the bottom and they each have a different function.  I usually opt for furniture pieces that offer storage, not just looks.   Here is one of the cabinets open, this one holds our board games and the boys video games.

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

Make your coffee table work double-time.

If your coffee table has two levels, you can add bins or rolling baskets to the bottom.  These are great to store throws, extra pillows, coasters or remote controls.  Loose items are usually what make a space look cluttered so containerize your items.

Create storage for magazines

Sort through your magazines and get rid of the old ones or the ones that are torn.  If you have magazines with recipes, it is best to rip out the page and create a binder full of recipes to try.  This will really help in clearing out your space.  The magazines that you love and can’t part with, can go inside a large basket or a tray.  If you can’t access the magazines, you won’t read them.

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

 

Make the space reflect your style.

Spend the time to create a space that reflects your style.  I love a home that is decorated over time and is as comfortable as it is beautiful.  Decorating does not always equate dollar signs.  You can “shop your home” and change pieces out from one room to another and create a whole new look.  I love doing this and then I wonder how I didn’t think of placing that item there before.

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

 

Decorate with books.

I love decorating with books and I do this throughout the home.  Adding a stack of books to a table adds height and visual interest.

 

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

 

Tidy up at the end of the day.

My family room during the day turns into nothing short of a disaster but when the boys are back in bed I use my systems to quickly pick-up.  There are nights that I don’t do my nightly routine and the next morning it’s such a drag to walk into a messy room.  Just like making the bed everyday, this is a task that takes very little time but makes a big difference in your mood throughout the day.

Organized Home Week 10 - The Family Room

Also in this series:

Week 1 – Organizing the Refrigerator

Week 2 – Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Week 3- Organizing the Pantry

Week 4- The Master Bedroom

Week 5- Organizing the Entryway

Week 6 – Organizing Kid’s Bedrooms

Week 7 – Organizing the Laundry Room

Week 8 – Organizing Hall Closets

Week 9 – Organizing the Dining Room

 

 

 

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Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway


Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway

I partnered with Born Sweet™ Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener to bring to you some of my favorite stevia recipes and an awesome giveaway that Zing™ is sponsoring for YOU! I have been using stevia for many years to sweeten our drinks and snacks and I especially like Zing™ because it’s made with only real ingredients — nothing artificial, and has a perfect sweet taste.  Stevia sweetener is derived from extract of the stevia plant, so it naturally sweetens drinks and food without adding calories or artificial ingredients.  Below are some of my favorite ways to sweeten my day with Zing™.

Our mornings are made up of coffee, smoothies, and coffee.  Did I just say that twice?  Yeah, we like our cup ‘o joe.  My favorite coffee drink to make with stevia is a Skinny Vanilla Latte.  You can customize the ingredients to your taste but what makes it “skinny” is the skim milk and the no calorie stevia.  I added an image with the recipe I use so that you can pin it for later. You know I drank that cup of goodness right after I shot this picture… yum!

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

Well, coffee is in first place but in at a close second are smoothies.  I try to teach my kids to eat their veggies but truth is, I am still trying to learn myself.  I sneak in some healthy kale into this strawberry smoothie and the kids (and me) love it!  Of course, I add a few packets of stevia sweetener to cover-up any bitterness from the kale and we are left with sweet yumminess. Tip:  When I buy strawberries in bulk, I freeze half of them for smoothies and I leave the rest in the fridge for snacking.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway

This one is for you so I dressed it up with a strawberry.  Don’t say I never gave you anything.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway

This simple snack is my kid’s favorite!  I simply mix some 2% Greek yogurt with 2 packets of Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener and I cut up some strawberries.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

I then dip them into the yogurt/stevia mix and I place them on a tray lined with parchment.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

Then they go into the freezer for a few hours.  I don’t make too many at once because I will usually make it for an after-school snack and they all get gobbled up.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

And they come out looking like this.  Kids will want to eat them asap.

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

No, really.  I was barely able to take the finished-product pictures before my little taste-tester attacked the plate!

Sweet Bliss and a Giveaway  

Those are some of my favorite ways to use Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener.  What are yours? Look for Zing™ in the Sweetener Aisle at mass merchandisers and grocery stores nationwide!  You can also add ZING™ to your life by visiting www.zingstevia.com to request a Free Sample of Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener, plus a $1.50 Coupon.

And now the giveaway!  To enter for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card, leave a comment below answering this question: Which one of your favorite beverages are you most excited to mix Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener into first?

Entry Instructions:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 3/25/15 – 4/21/15.

Be sure to visit the Zing™ Zero Calorie Stevia Sweetener brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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5 Essential Oils you should stock up on

5 Essential Oils you should stock up on

 

Today I am guest posting over at A Bowl Full of Lemons, and sharing my top five essential oils that you should stock up on.  Better yet, I am giving away an essential oil kit valued at almost $170.00!

5 Essential Oils you should stock up on

So hop on over HERE and read all about it and dont forget to enter the giveaway!

It will only last another 2 days…don’t miss out.

 

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Spring Bridal Shower

Truth be said, I had not been to a bridal shower in over 10 years but when I offered to host one for my sweet cousin, I thought “how hard could this be?”  I have done a bunch of kid parties.  I will just do the same thing, minus eye patches and Spider-man.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

I don’t share too many party planning ideas on the blog but the girls that attended the shower encouraged me to share my tips for creating a beautiful bridal shower on a budget.

Concentrate your decorations

If you don’t have too many decorations, it is better to choose a table to deck out than to spread out decorations throughout the room.  In this case I decorated the main table where we would eat and the cake table in our kitchen.  In the picture below, I used a long piece of fabric instead of a tablecloth.  I don’t have a tablecloth that fits this table when it’s fully extended.  Purchasing fabric by the yard is way less expensive than purchasing tablecloths to match the event.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

Use small arrangements of flowers.

Flowers can be costly, especially if you are filling up large vases.  Just a few small arrangements can really dress up a table.  Some flowers (like roses) are prettier when they are a little open.  In this case, consider purchasing them a day or two before the event so that they have time to open and fill up your vase.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

Use pedestals and risers to create visual interest.

In order to create a pretty tablescape, use pedestals and boxes (under the tablecloth) to create different visual levels of interest.  It makes a huge difference!  In the picture below, the cake is on a pedestal and the pedestal is on a large plastic cube.  The lace covers the cube and the small cake is highlighted.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

Make a signature cocktail or limit the drink options.

Since this shower was more of a brunch, mimosas were perfect!  I added a pretty straw to each cup as a finishing touch.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

I also had a bottle of pink sangria.  Anything pink made the cut!

Spring Bridal Shower

 

I added a tray of cut fruit to add to the mimosas which also added a pop of color to the table.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

Dress up a simple cake.

Cakes can be really beautiful  and really expensive!  I chose a simple white cake (purchased at The Fresh Market) and I dressed it up with a homemade banner with the bride’s name.  It still looked a little plain for the fancy pedestal, so I added a couple of tulips to the pedestal.  I love how it turned out!

Spring Bridal Shower

Spring Bridal Shower

Spring Bridal Shower

 

Buy a few of confections that are fancy and display them on a tier.

I served pink lemonade alongside a small tier full of petit fours and chocolate covered strawberries.   There aren’t that many of either but enough to fill the tier and make it look beautiful.

Spring Bridal Shower

 

It is possible to put together a bridal shower that is beautiful and stay on a budget.  You just have to choose wisely what items to invest in.

Here are some other ideas for bridal showers on a budget:

Send evites instead of mailing an invitation.

Make the food yourself and keep it simple.

If you put together a sweets table, add white or pink marshmallows to a pretty apothecary jar.  Marshmallows are usually inexpensive and easily fill up a glass jar.

As far as favors for the ladies, a simple bar of soap wrapped in tulle with a bow and a label that says “Shower” is a cute and inexpensive gift.

Print out a pretty picture of the couple on your home printer in black and white and frame it.  This is a great way to decorate and personalize the event.

Re-use decor items from the around the house to decorate.  The silver candlesticks on the table are the same ones I used last Christmas.

These are just a few tips.  What are your favorite shower ideas?

 

 

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Organized Home Week 9 – The Dining Room

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room
This week we are organizing the dining room. In our home, we have a formal dining room and a small table in our kitchen which is where we usually eat. When we have guests over, we move into the formal dining room because otherwise we wouldn’t fit in the small table.

Like any other room in the house, the dining room needs a little love and order.  When we purchased our dining room set 11 years ago I went back and forth as to whether to buy the matching china hutch or the matching buffet.  At some point I wanted both but my husband gave me crazy eyes when I suggested it so I picked the china hutch.  Of course, had I purchased both I would now hate the room being cluttered, so I am thankful that my husband opened his eyes as wide as he did when I said “I think I want both”.

We opted for this piece.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

And I love it, I really do.  There is a lot of storage in this piece but I did miss having drawers.  So in the entrance of our home I added a buffet instead of a sofa table so that I could store some more dining items.

The top two drawers are dedicated to napkin rings and an extra set of silverware.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

Here is the second drawer.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

So why do I need so much storage?  As much as I preach on pairing down and getting rid of excess, I love to be a prepared hostess.  Over the past 17 years, I have collected pieces that I love and use for entertaining.    I donate items as I bring in new ones so that everything still has it’s place.

A great idea if you don’t have a china hutch, a buffet or just need a little extra storage, is using an ottoman.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

 

I keep this ottoman in my living room and it is full of napkins.  Wanna see?  Promise you won’t give me crazy eyes.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

I love setting a pretty table and over the years, I have collected quite a few napkins.   I only buy napkins when they go on sale, sometimes for $2 a piece.  I won’t buy more than fit in this ottoman which I guess means, I won’t buy more.  :-)

I don’t buy as many placemats.  I only have a few different designs and they are all pretty neutral.  I would rather dress up the table with napkins which are less expensive and not as bulky to store.

So now that you had a mini tour through my dining storage, let’s get to work!

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

Create piles for Discarding, Giving away and Keeping

If the items that you currently have do not fit into the designated space, do your best to sort through everything and decide  what can go.  It is such a good feeling to open up an organized drawer and you can actually find things when you need them.  When it comes to entertaining, that’s a big plus!

Clean the items that you are keeping

Since you have emptied your space, take advantage of the opportunity and clean up.  Sometimes we don’t notice how cloudy cups can get stored away in a hutch.  Also inside the furniture dust accumulates over time, even if it has doors.  Dust is sneaky like that!  Everything will look amazing when you put clean items back into a clean and organized space.

Also, take the time to clean your dining room table thoroughly, including the table legs that often get ignored.  This is also a great time to clean the chairs in those little crevices that gather dust.  I can’t say that anyone will notice that your chairs don’t have dust in that little hole where the arm meets the seat cushion, but you and I will know and that gives us comfort and hope and crazy eyes.

Organize the dining room

The fun part!  Placing items back into the designated space.  Be sure to make it pretty, not just functional.  Last year, I shared how I organize my china hutch.  You can certainly stack items but try your best to keep the visible storage from looking too busy.  Inside the drawers, things don’t have to be perfect but be sure that items are accessible.  When you are entertaining and need a large platter or server, you want to be able to access it.

Voila!  All done.

Organized Home Week 9 - The Dining Room

 

Do you enjoy entertaining and collecting housewares?  What are your favorite items that you keep in the dining room?  A silver piece, fine china, something small with big meaning?

 

Also in this series:

Week 1 – Organizing the Refrigerator

Week 2 – Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Week 3- Organizing the Pantry

Week 4- The Master Bedroom

Week 5- Organizing the Entryway

Week 6 – Organizing Kid’s Bedrooms

Week 7 – Organizing the Laundry Room

Week 8 – Organizing Hall Closets

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Organized Home Week 8 – The Hall Closet

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

We are back at it!  Today we focus on organizing hall closets.  Hall closets tend to be narrow and sometimes double as linen closets.  Today we will focus on a multi-purpose closet that doesn’t include linens, but you can tweak it to fit your home.

As always, the first step is to clear out the space and clean the shelves.  The rest of the steps are detailed below.

Sort through items

Sort through items and create a KEEP, DONATE and THROW AWAY bin or section.  Decide what you want in this space so that you don’t make space for something that doesn’t need to be in this closet.

Choose the right storage

I like using baskets that match but are not necessarily the same.  In this closet I used the following two baskets depending on what I was storing.

 

 

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

These are both from Target.

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

Place items inside the containers.

Place items inside the containers sorted by type.

One basket can be for band aids.

 

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

Another can be for lightbulbs.

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

Another for batteries.  We go through so many batteries with our kid’s toys!

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

Bins are great for small outdoor toys.  I like these plastic bins for kids outdoor chalk so that the bin can be easily cleaned.

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

Maximize your space when placing bins back into the closet.

Place containers back into the closet.  I try to play with the placement so that I can get the greatest amount of bins into the closet.  Also, consider what bins you will use most or if some items need to be kept out of kids reach.

High shelves are great for infrequently used items like blankets or a bin with travel items.

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

Label the baskets or the shelf.

Avoid unnecessary shuffling of bins by labeling the shelf.   This will help the space stay organized!

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

Another idea is to add a cleaning basket to the hall closet if it is near a bathroom.

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

Enjoy the results of your hard work!

Organized Home Week 8 - The Hall Closet

 

If you missed any of the other Organized Home posts, click below:

Week 1 – Organizing the Refrigerator

Week 2 – Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Week 3- Organizing the Pantry

Week 4- The Master Bedroom

Week 5- Organizing the Entryway

Week 6 – Organizing Kid’s Bedrooms

Week 7 – Organizing the Laundry Room

 

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Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!


Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!Today we are talking sunshine, breakfast, a giveaway and camping!  Doesn’t it all sound like a good combo? A few weeks ago we decided to go camping with the boys and take our kayak.  The boys were ecstatic and my oldest started getting his gear ready since he often goes camping with his dad.  In true form, I started making all sorts of checklists for our little adventure amongst the crickets and trees.  I planned what we would eat and what we would wear and my husband took care of all the activities. Needless to say, the morning of was beyond hectic.  I knew that it would be, so the night before I told the boys that we would rely on Jimmy for breakfast.  You know Jimmy, right?  Well Jimmy Dean had more breakfast options than Mom so the boys were excited to choose. Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   They chose the Croissant Sausage, Egg and Cheese breakfast sandwich.  It was the first time we had these but I knew the boys would like them.  I mean… a buttery croissant, sausage, egg and cheese… that’s a no-brainer for kids (and adults)! Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   I unpacked them and I love how they are already individually wrapped and you can break off the ones that you need and freeze the rest. Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   You can put them in the microwave for under a minute (if refrigerated) but I chose to put them in the oven for 20 minutes, so that we could load the car while they cooked. Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   And they looked so good when they were done!  I thought I would snap a few pics… Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   But the boys had another idea… Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   Now that’s a bite! Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   The boys were getting their fuel for the long day ahead. Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   All the boys.  There is my sandwich waiting for me.  I am always the last to eat.  Does that also happen to you?   Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway! Breakfast was done and the only thing left to do was clean the dishes.  Well, kind of.  There were about 5 crumbs left on each plate. Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway!   Really, it was nice to concentrate on the activities of the day and not have to worry about cleaning up pots and pans before leaving the house.  Jimmy Dean made it super convenient to have a full breakfast and get out of the house in time to enjoy this… Sunshine, Breakfast and a Giveaway! 

Now for the giveaway!

Answer this question in the comment section for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card:

What’s your favorite way to start the day off right?

Entry Instructions: 

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 3/5/2015 – 3/29/2015

Be sure to visit Jimmy Dean’s brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

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Space Saving Closet Transformations

After sharing a post on my closet transformation, Hometalk contacted me and asked if I would curate a board that included other closet transformations from their online community.  Um, so I get to look through beautiful pictures on Hometalk and clip these ideas to my board?  It’s like I was being asked if I would be willing to eat a bowl of ice cream for someone.  Yes, I am willing.  :-)

If you haven’t heard about Hometalk, check them out.  It’s basically an online community of people that share ideas and advice about home improvement, gardening and DIY projects.  What I love is the ability to clip (kind of like a pin) pictures onto boards so that you can later reference your favorite projects.  That is exactly what I did with the board that I am sharing with you today.  I chose 18 of my favorite closet transformations to share with you!

Space Saving Closet Transformations

 

If you missed my post about organizing my closet, you can read about it here.  Transforming my closet is the gift that keeps giving.  I honestly still enjoy this organized and bright space, even after a year of installing the closet system.

Transform your closet

 

Another project that I clipped to my board was this pantry transformation from thediyvillage.com.  Don’t you love this pantry?

Space Saving Closet Transformations

These are just two of the 18 projects that you will see on my board at Hometalk.  If you want to see the rest of the board, click HERE.  I hope you enjoy the projects and Hometalk as much as I do!

xo,

Maria

 

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5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

Let’s commence with humor, because humor will make motherhood (and life) a lot more fun. 

When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” ~Erma Bombeck  :-) 

Earlier this week, I posted about organizing kids’ bedrooms and I had some moms ask for specific tips on organizing toddler rooms.  While all the steps from the last post still apply to toddlers, I want to share with you my favorite tips about organizing toddler rooms.

1 – Use a mix of matching containers

While matching your containers will instantly make any room look tidy, they don’t all have to be the same exact container.  Closed toy chests work well for large toys, medium bins are great for small toys and open containers work well for storing books.  Containers can be stored inside bookshelves or inside kid’s closets.  Use toy chests for stuffed animals, blankets or place 2 or 3 open containers inside to sort smaller items.  Otherwise, small items will get lost in the bottom of the toy box.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

2 – Label bins using text and/or picture labels

When labeling bins for little ones, it’s a good idea to use a picture of the content of the bin, instead of text.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

3 – Make items accessible for toddlers

Toddlers will only put away toys if they can access them.  And even then, we know it can be a challenge.  Even if you have to do some or most of the work (especially if they are toddlers), it will be easier for you to put away their toys if there is a system set up.  

Also, they will only play with items they can access so be picky with what you leave at arms length.  I choose to keep my son’s DVD’s at a height that he cannot reach because I know that he would take them apart daily if he could.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

4 – Create a Reading Station / Nook

My toddler’s room is small, the smallest room in the house.  Although a sizable reading station was not possible, a little nook in a corner was.  I did not have space for a bookshelf so I added a shelf that could hold a small amount of thin books.  He has more books inside his closet but these are the ones he reaches for time and time again.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

 

Consider bins for odd-shaped books.  Some books fit nicely in a bookshelf, but toddler books come in all sizes and shapes and sometimes a bin is the best spot to store them.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

 

5 – Have a spot to place clothing they have out-grown.

I keep an open bin at the bottom of my toddler’s closet where I can toss items that no longer fit.  I prefer an open bin for this so that it is an easy system to follow.  When the bin is full, I sort through it and donate the items.

Beneath the bin I keep boxes of hand-me-downs from my older son, with the following size he will wear.  The next size or two he will use go at the bottom of the closet and the rest go on the last shelf of the closet, right up to the ceiling.

5 Tips for Organizing a Toddler Room

 

We started with humor so let’s wrap it up in the same fashion:

“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” ~Lane Olinghouse

Isn’t that the truth?

 

 

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Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

 

A few days ago we organized the laundry room and I wanted to share some of my favorite tips for organizing laundry closets for those of you (like me) that have a smaller area to work with.

Use vertical space for storage by adding shelves.

When we purchased our home, the laundry closet had one shelf above the washer and dryer.  We added an additional two shelves to maximize the storage right up to the ceiling.  This made a huge difference and using wire racks was an economical way to make the space more useful.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Use the side walls for extra storage.

I added a few small shelves and two-tiered baskets to hold more products and for little decorative touches.  I added these metal adhesive labels just for decoration.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Add a clothesline to dry small items.

I added this retractable clothesline to dry tank tops and some other pieces that tend to shrink in the dryer.

In the corner, you can also see that I hang my cleaning gloves from a hook and a clip.  They dry faster and they are out of the way.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

 

Add a drying bar.

The clothesline that I added doesn’t hold larger pieces of clothing and I have literally used every corner of this little green closet.  I added a shelf with hooks on the adjacent wall to hold shirts that are meant to hang-dry.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

 

The hooks are from the Young House Love line.  They have the cutest hooks and shelves.

 

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Add a mini trash can.

I found this small trash can at Target and it is perfect to throw away dryer lint or little wrappers that I find in the boys pants before washing.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Add storage for loose change.

These little buckets from the Target dollar section, hang from a hook and they hold change, buttons and clothespins.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

Keep extra hangers in closet.

Rid your master closet from all the extra hangers and bring them into your laundry room.  I keep kid and adult hangers in the laundry closet to make putting away laundry easier and also for drying damp items in the drying hook as soon as I take them out of the dryer.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

 

Decorate your laundry closet.

A small space like a closet, is a great space to try a wall color that you love but don’t want to commit to putting in a main living area.  If you change your mind about the color, it is quick and inexpensive to change in the future.  Add matching baskets that are functional to give your space a cohesive and bright feel.  Although my baskets are not all the same, they are all white and they brighten up a space that is otherwise in a pretty dark corner.

Tips for Organizing Laundry Closets

For more tips on organizing the laundry room, check out these posts:

Laundry Room Before and After

Organized Home Week 7 – The Laundry Room

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

 

Whether you have a laundry room or closet, it’s usually a space that serves more than one purpose.  In my case, my laundry closet also holds the cleaning supplies for the entire house.  And as you will see, I have a lot of cleaning supplies.  I am always trying new products and comparing them so that I can later share them with all of you.  Although I do have my favorites, I like switching them up from time to time and I enjoy the different scents and packaging.

In a few days, I will share how I maximize the space in my laundry closet but for now, I want to share general tips for getting any laundry area in good shape.

So let’s get ready to PURGE, CONTAINERIZE and of course, DECORATE!

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

Clear out the laundry room and separate like-items.

The laundry room can easily become a catchall space for the whole family, similar to a mudroom.  Start by clearing out the space and separating the items into sections.  If you have a few empty laundry bins, they are perfect for containing the contents of the space while you decide what to keep and what needs to go into another room.  Sometimes it’s best to start with a blank slate so that you can better imagine the best placement for the items that you are keeping.

Designate the space for your needs.

Keep the products that you use most at eye-level.  I keep my detergents and oxy powder cleaners right on the washer, inside of a metal tray.  Adding a tray will not only make the items look neater, it is also keeps the residue from the bottles from getting all over the washing machine.

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

Containerize your cleaning supplies.

If you keep your cleaning supplies in the laundry room, designate plastic bins to keep them contained.  I like plastic bins because they keep items from toppling over if you have wire shelves, like mine and they are easy to clean from spills.  I use these open-top bins from Target and they each hold products for different cleaning tasks.  I added a stick-on label that you can find here and they are both functional and decorative.

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

 

Create an ironing station.

Since I have a laundry closet with bi-fold doors, I don’t have the space for an ironing station in the laundry area.  I keep this over-the-door organizer in another bedroom which is where I iron.  If you have the space, you can use this set-up behind a cabinet door or create a station right on the wall.  I like the organizer below because it stores the products together with the iron and the board.

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

Decorate your space.

Keep the laundry room looking crisp and clean and it will make laundry so much fun bearable.  Use a comfortable, pretty rug in front of your washer and dryer, hang some laundry related art on the wall and add a faux plant for some color.

Organized Home Week 7 - The Laundry Room

I would love to hear from you some feedback about this organizing series.  What rooms have you tackled?  What’s next on your list?

Also in this series:

Week 1 – Organizing the Refrigerator

Week 2 – Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Week 3- Organizing the Pantry

Week 4- The Master Bedroom

Week 5- Organizing the Entryway

Week 6 – Organizing Kid’s Bedrooms 

 

Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle

 

Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle

 

The ultimate Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle is here!!!  For the next 8 days you will be able to purchase this bundle for 85% off it’s regular price!  For only $20.00 you get plenty of tools to get your home sparkling for spring and the rest of the year.  Read below for details of who and what is involved in this exciting offer!

Spring is arriving & it’s time to open up the curtains and freshen up our homes. With the help of a brand new wildly popular printable bundle, you’ll be able to accomplish all of these spring cleaning tasks right along with us! Clean Mama & A Bowl Full of Lemons have partnered again with several creative & fabulous bloggers, to bring you everything you need to spring clean this year. From tons of cleaning recipes, checklists and outdoor cleaning tasks, to chore charts, closet purging & natural cleaning guides, you’ll be all set and ready to conquer those dust bunnies and overflowing closets. It’s all included in this one of a kind cleaning bundle. From February 20th to the 28th, you will have a chance to purchase this exclusive bundle. You don’t want to miss out on this 85% off sale. For only $20, it’s definitely a good thing.

 

Spring Cleaning Bundle

 

What’s included in our Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle?

You will receive 9 printable pdf kits (169 pages) including a 9 session video series in this unique bundle sale – all for only $20. The digital files can be printed out & used to get your home in tip top shape for spring time (or anytime of the year).

  • A Bowl Full of Lemons – 2015 Spring Cleaning Kit
  • Clean Mama – Spring Cleaning Kit
  • iHeart Organizing – Donation Printable Kit
  • Clean & Scentsible – Outdoor Cleaning Kit
  • Organizing Homelife – Chore Charts for Parents & Kids
  • Country Chic Cottage – A Guide to Natural Cleaning
  • i Dream of Clean – The Ultimate Guide to Simplify Your Closet (9 Session Video Series)
  • Simplify 101 – How to Organize your Closet
  • A Slob Comes Clean – 28 Days to Hope for your Home (E-Book)

 

2015 Spring Cleaning Bundle

 

 

How much does the bundle cost?

The 2015 Spring Cleaning Printable Bundle is only $20. That’s an amazing 85% off the retail cost of the kits!

How long is the bundle for sale?

The bundle will be available from 8am EST on 2/20/14 through 11:00 pm EST on 2/28/14. There are no exceptions.

Details about each kit:

Listed below are the pictures, details, and links to the 9 exclusive kits within the Spring Cleaning Bundle Bundle. If you have any specific questions about a kit, please email the blog associated with the kit. For general Bundle questions, you can contact us at springcleaningbundle at gmail.com. Please look at the FAQ page before emailing with questions. All kits are pdf files and will be sent to you in a zip file, once payment has been made (instant download). All files are 8.5 x 11 inches unless stated in the description.

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A BOWL FULL OF LEMONS 2015 SPRING CLEANING KIT

 

Spring Cleaning Printable Kit via A Bowl Full of Lemons Spring Cleaning Printable Kit via A Bowl Full of Lemons

 

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A Bowl Full of Lemons Spring Cleaning Kit includes:

  • Cover Page
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  • Family Chores Checklist (Blank)
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  • Detailed Bathroom Checklist
  • Detailed Kitchen Checklist
  • Detailed Living Room Checklist
  • Detailed Bedroom Checklist
  • Weekly Cleaning Checklist (Blank)

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CLEAN MAMA SPRING CLEANING KIT

Clean Mama's Spring Cleaning Kit

Cleaning Recipe Cards and Mini Checklists

 

SPRING CLEANING KIT (10 Pages)

A $10 Value

Clean Mama’s Spring Cleaning Kit is the perfect solution for your spring cleaning, but you’ll probably want to use it year-round! This printable kit includes pages for your homekeeping binder or notebook and functional mini cleaning checklists sure get your home tidied up in a hurry. You’ll also find 5 essential cleaning recipes that you can print and trim to create a mini recipe book or use the full page version. A simple kids’ checklist page (with 3 mini checklists) is perfect to get the little ones involved too! The colors are Clean Mama aqua and black to coordinate seamlessly with a variety of planners, binders, and decor. You’ll love the simple and straight forward format and chic cleaning icons! Simply print off the pages and get ready to tackle a little bit every day and move forward to a clean and organized home. Spring Cleaning shouldn’t be difficult….use this essential kit to make it simplify your routine.

Clean Mama’s Spring Cleaning Kit includes:

  • SPRING CLEANING KIT COVER (with cleaning icons).
  • GUIDE/INSTRUCTIONS – guide to fitting spring cleaning into an already busy schedule.
  • ONE MONTH OF SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST – want to tackle a little bit every day? This full page checklist is perfect and includes my proven process for getting the cleaning done in minutes/day over the course of a month.
  • MINI CLEANING CHECKLISTS (3 pages/ 9 checklists) – Supplies, Ingredients, Simple Checklist, Kitchen, Bathrooms, Bedrooms, Living Areas, Utility, and a Blank Checklist. Perfect for spring cleaning (or anytime!) Print and trim (print on cardstock and laminate for extra durability) or keep as a full page.
  • ESSENTIAL CLEANING RECIPES – My 5 favorite DIY formulas for spring cleaning – your house will smell lemon-y fresh!
  • MINI CLEANING RECIPE BOOK (2 Pages) – trim and assemble your own mini recipe book to keep on your cleaning caddy, print on cardstock and laminate for durability (as shown in images)
  • KIDS CLEANING CHECKLISTS (1 page/ 3 checklists) – want to get the kids involved? Print out the kids cleaning checklists and make a mini spring cleaning bucket and they’ll be cleaning right along with you!

Blog: http://www.cleanmama.net/

Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CleanMamaPrintables


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I HEART ORGANIZING DONATION PRINTABLE KIT

 

I Heart Organizing I Heart Organizing

 

DONATION PRINTABLE KIT (8 Pages)

A $10 Value

Decision making can be challenging during the sorting and purging process of any organization project. This kit will provide you with tools to ease the pain and help you sort quickly, and the colors may even keep a smile on your face while you work! The kit provides a a room-by-room checklist, sorting labels, donation tracker, donation resources and references along with a checklist of questions to ask yourself throughout the process. With these printables, you will be well on your way to a clutter free home!

The I Heart Organizing Donation Kit includes:

  • Room by Room Declutter Guide
  • Donation Guide (3 pages)
  • Donation Tracker
  • Cut the Clutter Questions
  • 4 Sorting Signs

Blog: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/

Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/IHeartOrganizing

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CLEAN & SCENTSIBLE OUTDOOR CLEANING KIT

 

Clean and Scentsible clean & scentsible

 

OUTDOOR CLEANING KIT ( 6 Pages)

A $10 Value

The Outdoor Cleaning Kit has everything you need to get the outside of your home looking just as good as the inside! It comes with six colorful PDF printables including checklists to keep you on track and easy to follow DIY outdoor cleaning recipes. Up your curb appeal this season and transform your outdoor spaces into a beautiful retreat!
The Outdoor Cleaning Kit Includes:
  • 2 outdoor spring cleaning checklists
  • 1 outdoor spring maintenance checklist
  • 6 DIY outdoor cleaning recipe cards

Blog – http://www.cleanandscentsible.com

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ORGANIZING HOMELIFE CHORE CHARTS FOR PARENTS & KIDS

 

Printable Chore Charts via Organizing Homelife
Girl Chore Chart

 

CHORE CHARTS (6 Pages)

A $15 Value

Organize your entire family with this chore chart kit. Designed for children, teens, and adults, you have several options to suit your needs. Parent/adult/teen charts have four columns for each day of the week. Organize chores, meals, calls, things to buy, school, sports, and much more. Print out a new schedule each week or laminate and use repeatedly. Use a wet erase marker and wipe clean each week. The kids’ chore charts include matching sheets of “sticker” designs. Print out on sticker paper and use a 1” circle punch to make your own stickers. Or, laminate the whole page, punch out the designs with your 1” circle punch and use sticky tack to use again and again. Alternatively, the charts can be laminated and checked daily with a wet erase marker.

The Organizing Homelife Chore Chart Kit Includes:

  • A weekly chore chart for moms/adults – 1 in black and white and 1 in color
  • A weekly “construction” theme chore chart for boys
  • Boys page of stickers
  • A weekly “butterfly” theme chore chart for girls
  • Girls page of stickers

Blog: http://www.organizinghomelife.com

Shop: http://www.organizinghomelife.com/printables-shop

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COUNTRY CHIC COTTAGE GUIDE TO NATURAL CLEANING

Country Chic Cottage Your complete guide to natural cleaning picture

YOUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO NATURAL CLEANING (11 Pages)

A $1.99 Value

Get all of The Country Chic Cottages natural cleaning ideas in one BIG printable book. Print this complete guide to natural cleaning and keep it as a handy reference around your home.
The Natural Cleaning Guide Includes:
  • 225 ideas for using vinegar, cream of tartar, lemons, hydrogen peroxide, steam, baking soda, corn starch, salt, and rubbing alcohol to clean.

 

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i DREAM OF CLEAN ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SIMPLIFY YOUR CLOSET

 

I Dream of Clean

 

ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SIMPLIFY YOUR CLOSET (9 Session Video Series)

A $39.99 Value


SIMPLIFY YOUR CLOSET is a 9 session video course (90 minutes) designed to help you PLAN your ideal wardrobe, STREAMLINE your current closet, and CREATE outfits that fit you and your lifestyle. Instructions for accessing the video course will be given in the PDF file included in the bundle. This file includes a direct link to sign up for the online course, which must take place by March 15th.

Blog: http://www.idreamofclean.net

Shop: http://idreamofclean.net/simplify-your-wardrobe

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SIMPLIFY 101 HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR CLOSET

Simplify 101

Simplify 101

HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR CLOSETS (67 Pages)

A $19 Value

At simplify 101 we believe life is more fulfilling (and fun!) when youíre organized in a way that’s just right for you. We offer online classes that make getting organized easy and affordable. They’re designed to help you create customized organizing systems that cut clutter and reduce stress, giving you more time for what matters most to you.

The How to Organize Your Closet printable pack includes:

  • Everything you need to transform your closet from chaotic and cluttered to functional and fabulous.
  • Includes all written lesson materials, questionnaires, organizing checklists & planning forms delivered as colorful, printable, & editable pdfs.
  • 69 pages in total / 2 lessons of easy-to-implement content from simplify 101’s class “Organize Your Closet.”

Disclaimer: The printable bundle does not include online class features such as MP3 audio files, access to the simplify 101 community forum, access to online class videos, or access to class materials on the simplify 101 website.

Blog: http://www.simplify101.com/organizing-blog/

Shop: http://www.simplify101.com/shop/online-classes/how-to-organize-your-closet/

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A SLOB COMES CLEAN 28 DAYS TO HOPE FOR YOUR HOME E-BOOK

 

A Slob Comes Clean

 

28 DAYS TO HOPE FOR YOUR HOME E-BOOK (52 Pages)

A $5.00 Value

28 Days to Hope for Your Home, an e-book by Dana K White (“Nony” of A Slob Comes Clean) guides even the most overwhelmed homemaker through the development of four basic habits that will get (and keep) any home under control.

28 Days to Hope for Your Home includes:

  • 28 days of specific instructions to help you develop four basic (but essential) home management habits.
  • Insights into why these concepts seem foreign to you.
  • Practical tips to keep you from giving up.
  • Bonus sections with realistic strategies for laundry management, meal prep, and decluttering.
  • More than 45 pages of all new, exclusive content!

Blog: http://www.aslobcomesclean.com

Shop: http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/28-days-to-hope-for-your-home/

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Important Details:

  • If you have any questions or issues with your Spring Cleaning Bundle, please visit the FAQ page. Look over the questions and answers on the page BEFORE emailing. If you have not found your answer on the FAQ page, please email springcleaningbundle at gmail dot com. To ensure that your question is answered in a timely manner, please take care to email at the “Spring Cleaning Bundle” address (not our personal blog email address). Please note that due to high email volume, we will do our best to respond within 24 hours – thank you for your patience! When emailing, please include a copy of your Paypal receipt and highlight your issue in the “subject” line.
  • The Spring Cleaning Bundle is an exclusive sale & only available from 8 a.m. EST on February 20th to 11:00 p.m. EST on February 28th, 2015. There are no exceptions.
  • PLEASE DO NOT SHARE THE BUNDLE WITH ANYONE ELSE. It is intended solely for the person who purchased the bundle. Please be respectful of the authors’ copyrights.
  • After purchasing, you will automatically receive an email (to the email address you provide) containing the download link. Please check your spam or promotions folder, if you cannot find the email.
  • Please download and back up your Spring Cleaning Bundle AS SOON AS YOU RECEIVE IT. You only have 5 download attempts to access your files. The download link expires on 3/15/15. After that date, we will not be able to provide new links to download. Please remember to back up your files. We are unable to send you copies of the printable bundle that have been deleted or lost. We will not respond to those emails.
  • Due to the digital nature of this sale, there will be no refunds & no exceptions.
  • If you have any questions or issues with a specific printable included in this bundle, please contact that author directly.
  • The bundle is provided as a zip file. Please read the download directions on the FAQ page, if you are unsure of how to download a zip file, BEFORE attempting.

 

Disclosure: This is an affiliate post. If you purchase a bundle from my link, I will receive a percentage of the sales. Thank you for your support!

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Sneak Peek – Spring Cleaning Bundle!

Don’t miss the Spring Cleaning Bundle that is coming this FRIDAY!

If you have purchased these printable bundles in the past, you know how special this sale really is!  This Printable Bundle Sale will only last one week.  Nine of the most creative bloggers have designed these cleaning printables and now they will be offered to you at a huge discount!   Check Graceful Order on FRIDAY, February 20th to download this kit.  See you then!

Sneak Peek

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Homemade Natural All Purpose Cleaner

All Purpose Cleaner

Homemade Natural All Purpose Cleaner Recipe

This year I am trying to share more cleaning tips, side-by-side with organizing.  Cleaning, organizing and decorating – they go well together.

I don’t make all my cleaning products.  As a matter a fact, I love brands like Shaklee, Method, the Honest Company, Mrs.Meyers and J.R. Watkins.  But sometimes it’s fun (and inexpensive) to customize your own product and scent.

Here is a Homemade natural cleaning spray recipe that I use on any surface that is not marble or wood.

1/4 Cup of White Vinegar

2 Cups Water

30 Drops of essential oil*

1 Teaspoon of Borax

Add these ingredients to a spray bottle and shake.

 

Below is an image with the recipe, just in case you want to PIN it for later.

Homemade Natural All Purpose Cleaner

 

  • I like lavender and lemon essential oils for cleaning products.  You can choose whichever scent you like best.  The spray bottle in the picture is a glass spray bottle and you can find it on Amazon here.

* As always, test product on a spot before using any new cleaner on surfaces.

I hope you are enjoying these easy natural homemade cleaner recipes.  I will share more next week!

 

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Organized Home Week 6 – Kids Bedrooms

Organized Home Week 6 - Kids Bedrooms

 

Today we organize the kid’s bedrooms…yay!  Ok, no yay.  Kids are not usually known for their organizing skills, they are better known for their disorganizing skills.  But there is hope, I promise. At the end of the trail of socks, there is hope.

I always notice that when my 11-year-old’s room is tidy, he loves to sit at his desk and work on homework or draw.  However, when his room is messy, I see him working on the kitchen table.  We all like to work in spaces that have “space” for us.

There is no way to organize a child’s bedroom in a manner that it will remain that way forever (or even a week) but there are certain steps to organizing kid’s rooms that will make them way easier to pick up.

1- Edit the amount of toys/stuff they have

This step is key!  Kid’s get overwhelmed with clutter just like we do.  Sometimes they don’t know where to start, just like us.  If items don’t have a place, or the designated space is full to the brim, things won’t get picked up regularly.  Sort through all of their toys and think KEEP, DONATE, TOSS.  Only store what is being used.

2-  Edit the amount of clothing that is in their closet and drawers

This is a two-part solution: get rid of the excess and don’t over-buy in the future.   I have been guilty of both.  Make it a habit to go through their closets often and have a bin nearby to place items that no longer fit.  Only keep items that they still like and fit them properly.  My boys grow out of their shoes often.  The other day I noticed that my toddlers closet had 3 pairs of shoes that no longer fit him and the other shoes were crammed in the shoe shelves, which wasn’t necessary.  I placed the shoes in the donate bin and now the rest fit nicely.

Organized Home Week 6 - Kids Bedrooms

3- Organize books

I recently got rid of quite a few books that were in my toddlers room that were meant for babies.  For some reason I kept making space for books that he was no longer interested in.  I added them to the donate pile.  My older son loves to read but does not like to part with his favorite series books, so I dedicated a large bookcase to house his books.

4- Use different sized bins to organize kid’s bedrooms

I use these matching bins from Target in different sizes to store all the small and large toys.  Also, alternate between closed and open bins,  depending on who will be accessing the items.  Toddlers do well with open bins and easy to open bins.  However, closed bins like the ones below, are great to hide massive amounts of little toys without looking messy.

Organized Home Week 6 - Kids Bedrooms

5- Label bins

Labeling will help you organize your child’s room and it will help them as well.  Labels with pictures are great for toddlers and regular text labels for older kids.

Organized Home Week 6 - Kids Bedrooms

Happy Organizing!

 

Week 1 – Organizing the Refrigerator

Week 2 – Organizing Kitchen Cabinets

Week 3- Organizing the Pantry

Week 4- The Master Bedroom

Week 5- Organizing the Entryway

 

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Organizing Tips for Girls’ Rooms

Organizing Tips for Girls' Rooms
I have two boys and I am not exactly the authority on organizing all-things-girlie but I do have a few tips to share, after all I was an organized little girl once. 

Here are five tips for organizing girls rooms:

1- Designate a dress-up station.

Little kids love to dress up, especially girls.  Hooks on the wall can hold costumes and canvas bins underneath can hold the accessories.

2- Designate an area for dolls

Use an over-the-door shoe organizer to place dolls.  You can even label the pockets with the doll name.  That way they each have their spot.  You can attach the organizer to the side of a closet, a dresser or behind a door.  A second organizer can also be used for the dollies accessories.

3- Sort through all the clothing.  

Little girls (and big girls) love their clothing.  It’s surprising how many times we keep items that are not being worn just because we like them or we are used to seeing them in the closet.  Constantly reassess what stays and what goes.  Having a ton of clothing crammed in the closet or a drawer is overwhelming for you and for her.  Ask yourself if the item fits, does she like it, will she wear it again?  With every item think “keep” or “donate” and make neat piles on the bed until you have gone through everything.  This way you know that what goes back inside the drawers or closet, deserves to be there.

I use these dividers for the kid’s clothing and even my husband’s t-shirts.  They are not inexpensive but I love how durable they are, so I just buy a few at a time.

Organizing Tips for Girls' Rooms


4- Designate stations for play time.

Use bins to organize tea sets, legos, toys and learning tools.  Also try to choose bins that still have a bit of room left inside. Bins that are full to the brim will likely spill out and they are tricky to get items back inside.  You have to make clean-up easy for kids.

5 – Organize jewelry or hair accessories.

Go through all the accessories and toss the ones that have lost stones, have lost their pair or your little girl has outgrown.  There is no use in organizing items that should be given or thrown away.  Then organize what is left in a plastic insert inside a drawer.  I found the organizer below at the Target closet section.

Organizing Tips for Girls' Rooms

 

So yeah, I don’t have little girls but I was a little girl once upon a time and I remember how I loved to retreat into my room and color-code my closet and organize my drawers and play for hours.

~ Maria

 

~ This posts contains links, a few are affiliate links.  You don’t pay more for the item if you buy through the link.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

 

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