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Saving Space When Drying Dishes

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I live in an apartment so space is not something that we have a ton of. Normally that doesn’t bother me much, but in my kitchen it has created a bit of an annoyance in the past because I just don’t have much space for preparing meals and baking. I’ve been one to hand wash my dishes for at least the last 8 years. I have never understood why I would want to pre-wash dishes just to put them in the dishwasher to be washed again. I might as well just wash them myself since that’s basically what I’m doing anyway!

The only down side to washing dishes by hand is the space a drying rack takes up on the counter. I had one that was medium sized and yet I still felt like much of my counter space was full. On top of that, I couldn’t wash big loads of dishes at a time because I had a limited amount of space in my dish drying rack. When I made big batches of food or baked a large amount of something, it left me with a lot of dishes and not enough room to dry them all in after being washed.

A few nights ago, the idea came to me to use my dishwasher as a really large drying rack. This may not be a new idea to everyone, but to me it was like a wonderful light bulb turned on. I often get really good ideas before bed so I usually make notes on my phone with my Note Pad app. I knew this one was one that could really be beneficial! When I got up I immediately got started. My daughter, who is almost 8  now, usually doesn’t help with dishes because there hasn’t been a need for any assistance. That morning she actually got to help me with them for the first time, which she loved, and it was fun to do together. I washed and she loaded the dishwasher with the dishes. She loves helping out so this is another way she can now participate in a home care activity.

I freed up a lot of counter space by doing this! I made more room to prepare meals and it gave my counters a more spacious look. I am not a big fan of clutter so anything I can do to avoid clutter makes me happy! So far this is working out very well for us and maybe it will help out one of you too! :)

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How I Make Scented Wax Cubes Last Longer

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I am big on saving money and I like the fun scents I get using a wax warmer. I have a really neat one that glows well enough to be a bit like a night light and I love it’s design. Scented wax bars and cubes can get a bit pricey though! Through Scentsy folks pay $5 a bar, and for me that’s just too much. I find mine in Walmart, and I try to get ones on clearance. This past January I LOADED up on bars for only .50 cents a pack!! I found my favorite scent, Country Fall Festival, along with a few others that I really enjoy. I bought a lot of them to make sure I had plenty until the next clearance sale.

I do love the scents, but boy are some of them strong! This led me to the idea of breaking them up into smaller pieces. This way I don’t have a really strong and intense smell, but a softer scent that lasts a shorter time. I’m okay with replenishing them as needed, and I usually only use them a couple days a week. I watch kids from home, and I like to avoid the dirty diaper smell permeating through the air by having yummy scented wax in the warmer. On top of keeping the scent from being so overpowering, I save even more money because they last me even longer this way. I use one piece a day, and I use them only on the days I feel like having one in.

Cutting them is pretty simple. I chose to cut mine on a glass plate because I really didn’t want scented wax embedded in my bamboo cutting board. I have a Forever Sharp knife that cuts through just about anything, so I line it up down the middle of the cube and press hard for a quick clean cut. Sometimes it cuts the block into 3 pieces or I have crumbles left over. I take the smaller pieces for our bathroom, which also has a warmer in it, because it is a smaller space and doesn’t need much wax to fill up with the scent. Crumbles and small broken pieces are fine to go in either warmer with a bigger piece.

As you can see in the picture above, I store my cut up wax cubes in glass jars. I have a plethora of jars so it’s a good use for some of them. You can remove the label with the name of the scent from the plastic package and tape it to the jar you’re putting that scent in if you like. I used to do that will all my jars, but I’ve found that the names don’t matter much to me. I open the jars up and choose one by what scent appeals to me that day. :)

Wax warmers are a reasonably safe way to provide a yummy smell in your home. I try to avoid candles since I care for little ones and I really don’t want to burn my home down because I forgot to blow one out. As long as you keep it where kids can’t get into the warm wax or spill it, you should be fine. And keep an eye out at Walmart for clearance scents! They go on sale around each season and I’ve noticed that after bigger holidays they tend to be marked down even more.

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Homemade Pomander Air Freshener – DIY Project

Pomander graphic blog

I’m always looking for natural ways to scent my home. I had automatic spraying air fresheners in every room of my home last year. At the time I didn’t realize how many bad chemicals are in them, I just loved my home smelling pretty and that was the easiest way to do it. But I was getting really bad headaches almost daily, and I didn’t know why. I was browsing some information online one day, and found that many people are intolerant to air fresheners. Headaches are not uncommon, which explained why I was getting them so frequently at home. Then I found that the chemicals in them are not good, and having mine spray all day long was definitely not a good idea. I removed them all and began researching homemade air fresheners and found a lot of good ideas!

When I first heard the word “pomander” I thought maybe it was a trouble fruit I hadn’t heard of. Turns out it’s a fun way to create a natural fragrance in your home. Pomanders are oranges with cloves pushed into their skin. That’s it! They create a nice spicy smell that is great for the fall and winter. You can put as many or as little cloves in your orange as you like. You can put them in a fun pattern or just randomly. You can hang them with ribbons for a fun decoration like in the picture below.

 

You’ll need oranges and/or lemons and whole cloves for this project, plus ribbon or any extra decorations you want for them. Make sure you get enough cloves for the design you want. And remember, the more cloves you add, the stronger the scent. This is something kids can make as well but they may not enjoy the smell. My daughter told me the cloves smelled too strong. Make sure that the scent is something you will all enjoy.

You can see how nice these can look in a bowl or hanging. Use your creativity to make these however you like! You can even experiment to see what different citrus fruits you enjoy the most. You can even add little bows and bells to make it festive for the winter holidays.

How do you enjoy giving your home a nice holiday scent naturally?

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Weekly Links

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Are Reusable Shopping Bags Really a Hazard to Your Health?

The One in Which We Admit It’s Possible to Be a Worse-r Mom

SNAP Cuts Hit Today—And Food Banks Can’t Make Up the Difference – There are a lot of families who will need food so please donate a few items to your local food bank or food pantry. No one should go hungry!

For the Love of Mac & Cheese

Top five regrets of the dying

10 Ways To Make Money As A Kid In The Fall

Love Your Life: Tangible rewards are good for everyone.

5 Cool Ideas for Halloween Candy

Free November Desktop Wallpaper 2013

Don’t Boast When You Post (Choosing Humility Over Self-Promotion)

the happiest day of your life

How to Live on $1.50 a Day

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Why We Don’t Have Barbie Dolls In Our House

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Photo courtesy of takepart.com

In my home, Barbie is not allowed. Barbie dolls given as gifts will be exchanged or sold for other more suitable toys. I don’t find Barbie to be a healthy example, and with the thousands of toy choices we now have, I don’t see a reason to settle for a toy with a bad message. And Barbie has a dirty history, but more on that later in this post. For now, let’s focus on Barbie herself.

Barbie is marketed as the Every Day Woman/Girl. She is a teacher, doctor, cheerleader and vet. She has sisters, horses, cars, campers, houses and boats. And yet, she looks nothing like a real woman. I read a great article on TakePart.com about how a Barbie based on a REAL woman would look. The differences are very apparent. Take a look at the photo above. The REAL woman version looks a lot more normal. You can find the article, as well as other great picture comparisons here: Barbie in Real World Measurements. I loved that someone took the time to make a better version. If only we could get Mattel to sell it!

Barbie is an example of unattainable fake beauty. She would have to walk on all fours if she were a real woman. How attractive would that be? She is anorexic and has had some ribs removed. She must also have worn a corset every single day of her life to achieve that waist. So if Barbie looks nothing like a real woman, and doesn’t even look healthy, why are we giving her to our little girls as an example??

I keep reading articles and books about the images put in front of our daughters and how it is deeply affecting them. As a mother to a 7 year old little girl, I do not want to find my daughter in the bathtub sobbing about how fat her thighs are and how she needs to go on a diet…. And yes, that was a real life example in an article. This is REALLY happening to our girls. I don’t want my daughter to starve herself or throw up her food because she thinks she isn’t skinny enough. I have to contend with enough of that garbage being posted on magazines and on TV, I don’t need to have a plastic example in my home, sending that message every day.

I am really blessed, I have a little girl who is just that – a little girl. She doesn’t like boy bands, wear mini skirts, put on make up or wear bikinis. She doesn’t care about the latest trends, celebrity gossip, or watch meant for older kids but marketed to little ones. She is a normal little girl who isn’t motivated by what the TV and society tells her to do. She loves horses, animals, pretending to be a vet, reading books and playing outside. And she loves her body. She doesn’t see any flaws on her body, with the exception of wondering if we would all look better without eyebrows! :) And I want to keep it that way as long as I can.

I didn’t grow up in the healthy environment she had, and yes it did affect me negatively. As a parent my job is to take my negative experiences and work to provide better ones for my child. If I know something wasn’t good for me, I need to make sure I keep it away from her. It’s not rocket science, it’s good parenting. And for this reason, I don’t want Barbie dolls in my house. I grew up with body image issues and I am a woman with a thinner body type. So even the skinny girls can have body issues. I know what I went through and I don’t want my daughter to go through it if possible.

Oh, and did I mention that the Barbie doll is a rip off of a Lilli doll made in Germany FOR MEN and sold in SEX SHOPS. Yep, everyone’s favorite toy sweetheart is not only a rip off, but the doll is modeled after a character who wore tiny clothes and slept with men for things… How is that a good example for little girls?? And why would I feel comfortable having a doll based on a sex toy for men in my home?! Eww. You can find out the dirty history behind Barbie here: Barbie Who?.

I want healthy examples in our home that help my daughter love who she is and have confidence in who she is. I don’t want her focus to be on outer beauty that isn’t even realistic. And I surely do not want her playing with a doll that was modeled after a woman who thought sleeping with men to get things was a good way to spend her life. No, I want her time spent playing with animals and dreaming of being a veterinarian. I want her to spend time in creative play with all shapes and sizes of dolls and toys. I want to encourage her creative and healthy play so she grows to be a creative and healthy woman.

I’m sure some will see fault with my choice, I ALWAYS hear the, “I played with Barbie dolls and I turned out just fine!” argument from the naysayers. Most of them don’t know her history I’m sure. However, if that’s the case, good for you! I personally won’t even take the risk that m y daughter will get negatively impacted and that it will hinder her confidence in herself. We live in a day and age with a massive amount of toy choices, so for me I can find an alternative that doesn’t have the risk. There are so many options, I don’t feel the need to limit myself to just one. :)

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Pumpkin Painting Fun – DIY Halloween Project

painting pumpkins blog graphic

Kids love to paint and make things. Kids love fun crafts. This works well for me because I love creating things too! I watch kids from home and one day of the week I have my daughter (7) and another older kiddo (9) who can handle messy projects without making a HUGE mess. We wanted something that would last longer than a carved pumpkin, plus it’s hard for young kids to carve them into something that resembles their original idea. Instead, we decided to paint ours pumpkins!

 

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First of all, you will need pumpkins to paint and paint in fun colors. Don’t forget paint brushes and a bowl of water to rinse them in. Make sure to lay down lots of newspaper or sale sheets to protect your floor. And keep a couple towels or rags handy to wipe brushes, paint on hands or clean up spills. My daughter loves to paint as a hobby so we have LOTS of acrylic paint on hand at all times. I pick up paint at Hobby Lobby with their 40% off coupon and sometimes they have clearance paint for $1 and change.

 

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These metallic paints are Kid Made Modern Shimmer Shine Paints from Target. They give a nice metallic color, though a few had to be mixed with solid colors to make them really show up on the orange pumpkins. This set of 8 paints was $8.99 + tax at Target. I loved the price and the quality! The kids enjoyed using them as well.

 

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I had a few left over plastic container lids that were just sitting on my shelf so we used them for our paints. It worked out really well because the raised edge kept paint from spilling or dripping off. I used a piece of cardboard from recycling because I am less likely to spill paint. :) We used plastic bowls and cups with water in them to rinse our brushes. We keep a large set of brushes on hand as well for my little artist.

 

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We put down lots of sale sheets and even used an empty box to paint on. It was lots of messy fun! My daughter’s pumpkin is the top left, the other kiddo’s pumpkin is the top right, and mine is the bottom right. I loved seeing their creativity! They loved getting to paint, create their own unique pumpkin, and spend time together laughing and talking. It was a great way to bond with each other over something fun.

 

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These are our finished pumpkins! My daughter’s is on the left, mine is in the back middle and the other kiddo’s is on the right. :) I love how they turned out! The acrylic leaves the paint looking shiny and wet even when it dries. The kids were thrilled with their pumpkins and were excited to display them. I enjoyed the project too, and my pumpkin came out exactly how I wanted.

How does your family enjoy decorating pumpkins?

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Weekly Links

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Fall Guess Bags: Focus on Touch
Pumpkin Pie Play Dough
A Birthday “Block” Party part 1
Outdoor play idea and a new post-Halloween tradition: smashing pumpkins
make your own positivity jar
Playful Learning Activity Sets
Exploring the seeds of fall in preschool
How to Draw a Jack O’Lantern
Pirate Treasure Nature Scavenger Hunt
My Weather Station – Printable Weather Activity
Kid Friendly Meal Using Pumpkin 3-Ways

Crock Pot Caramel Dip

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DIY Mummy Jar Lights – Halloween Craft

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I saw a picture of this fun Halloween project on Facebook and decided to try it out. To start out you’ll need:

- Empty glass jars without lids (If you plan to use them later save the lids in a drawer)
- Rolled gauze (We used 1 roll for 2 jars. Walmart sells this pack of 5 for $5.77 with tax.)
- Electric tea lights ($1 for a pack of 2 at Dollar Tree)
- Googly eyes (You can find these at almost any store with craft/art supplies)
- Glue to put the eyes on (We used tacky glue because Elmers glue would not keep them on.)
- Scissors to cut the gauze into strips and small clear tape to tape on pieces of gauze

 

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First I cut off long strips of gauze from a roll. Then I cut the strips in half length wise. This gave then a more tattered look and gave us thinner pieces to work with. We used 1 roll of gauze for 2 big jars so plan accordingly. You could probably get 4 smaller glass jars with just one roll. I picked up rolled gauze in a 5 pack at Walmart for $5.77 with tax. The nice thing about having extra is that we can either make more jars, or save it for something else in the future.

 

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This is what our jar looked like during the wrapping process. You want to get all the glass wrapped without covering it too thickly. If it’s too thick, the light won’t shine through as well. You also want it to look a little uneven like creepy mummy bandages.

 

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When you are done wrapping your jar you’ll want to add eyes. Googly eyes work well and give it a cute and spooky look. We tried using regular kids glue first but the eyes just fell off. I keep tacky glue on hand for many projects so we used that instead. After putting glue on the eyes, I pressed them down onto the gauze for 30 seconds. I wanted to make sure our eyes didn’t fall off. :)

 

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These are my two completed mummy jars. I chose the big googly eyes because I liked the way they looked. They were pretty quick for me to make and I enjoyed the process.

 

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My daughter did 2 of the jars as well so this project is definitely kid approved! She enjoyed wrapping her jars and only needed a little help with a few pieces. Any time we can do a project together is great because we love to create together and we love the quality time together.

 

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My daughter chose smaller eyes for her 2 jars. These are her finished jars, ready for lights. It took her a little bit longer to complete but it wasn’t ever too hard or too frustrating for her. She really had fun with it.

 

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Here is a our finished mummies with their lights inside! :) I think they turned out great! We set them in the window but only turn the little lights on at night when they can really be seen. Our electric tea lights were in a 2 pack for $1 at Dollar Tree and they say they last 120 hours. You can use regular tea light candles but please only have an adult actually light them and keep them away from anything flammable. You’ll need a long lighter that can reach the candle in the bottom of the jar.

Once the season is over, we will take off the gauze and the jars will go back to being used to store stuff. For this reason I didn’t glue the gauze on to the jars. The gauze stayed on just fine without the glue. We used clear tape to hold down a couple pieces when we first starting wrapping the jar,  but they ended up covered in gauze so you couldn’t see them.

If you give this project a try I’d love to see your results!

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Weekly Links

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5 tips for a happier homeschool
10 Sane Steps for When He Makes You Crazy
Introverts in the Church
Make a savory galette for simple fall entertaining
Capturing your kids: white balance
When Your Husband Struggles with Depression
What To Feed Kids With Asthma: An Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan for Kids
A New Way to Teach Math in Homeschool: The Weekly Mentor
Falling for Fun: Mini Apple Pies in Jelly Jars
When Victimhood Gets a Spotlight
A New Season of Parenting: What Remains, What is Gone
Just Try to Push Me Away

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Storage Container Litter Box for Cats

container litter box title graphic

We now have two cats. We’ve had our 2 1/2 year old since she was about 8 months old, and we adopted a kitten in August. I have this great little nook in our bathroom where I could put their litter boxes. The problem is that their two separate boxes didn’t seem to be roomy enough, and they were using each others boxes so we didn’t need both anymore. While thinking over what to do, I got the great idea of creating a littler box from a plastic storage container. After a little researching online, I discovered a few others had the same idea. It seems super roomy, very cheap, and seemed easy to make.

First things first, I went to Walmart and got a container on sale for $4. Most litter boxes cost more than that! If you don’t have a box cutter at home, you will need one. I think they are around $4 at Walmart as well. I don’t know if you can do it with scissors, but I didn’t want to try. Using the box cutter was quick and simple.

 

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When we got home I took my daughter’s ruler and marked the spaces I wanted to cut open for a door. As you can see, I had originally made it a bit smaller but my daughter told me I should make it wider for them. It was easy to enlarge. I added an inch extra on each side. The important thing is to not put your opening too close to the bottom! If you do, they will easily kick litter out of it or even possibly pee out of it. I made my opening 5 inches from the bottom. It is low enough for the kitten to get in, but high enough to keep litter and fluids inside it.

 

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Next, cut out your door. This box had a neat little swooped down part in the plastic so I didn’t mark off the top of the door, I just cut under the swoop. Make your door big enough for your cats but not too big so litter can easily fly out. I am repeating this info because litter all over the floor is not fun. Use the box cutter to cut out the door. Please do not cut off your fingers or any other part of your body in this process! Only adults should be using the box cutter.

 

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Voila you have an opening! And if you are like me, you have two cats who are annoyingly trying to get inside your container the entire process. You can use your box cutter to smooth our any areas or even up any areas. I recommend kicking the cats out before you do that so you don’t cut them either.

 

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Just add your litter of choice and you are done! We chose a corncob cat litter to avoid the mess of clay and for the clumping action. The last little we used was pine pellet litter that expanded when it got wet to absorb more. The problem was that it did not clump at all. I had to empty out each smaller box every few days and do a major cleaning when using the pine pellet litter. It got to be frustrating to do and it would stink because I couldn’t get the urine spots out with a scoop. When you have a huge litter box like this, you don’t want to have to dump it all out and scrub it all down every few days because of non-clumping yuckies.

The corncob litter is great for clumping! I put fresh litter in the container right after I finished the opening, and my 2 year old cat got in to use it before I could even move it to the bathroom. I was able to quickly remove the the spot where she went to the bathroom with the scoop. If your cat has an upset stomach or there is a spot that sticks to the actual box, move all the clean litter to one side, then scrub the stuck on spot separately to avoid having to dump the whole box. This saves you money because you aren’t wasting massive amounts of litter.

I am not noticing much trace of corncob litter on my floors or anywhere else. With the pine pellets, it got stuff everywhere! I had to scrub my bath mat just to get stuck on moist pine pellets off. I’m enjoying this litter a lot and the cats have both had no hesitation using it.  I added the two cat mats that were in front of their boxes just in case they needed to wipe off any litter. If you try this, let me know how it turns out for you. :-)

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