Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dear Friends...

I've been MIA for the past few days…

There is a reasonable explanation.

I invite you to read more of our story at www.graceandmustardseeds.blogspot.com

In the meantime,

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I love watching sparrows.  I have one silly sparrow that likes to fly toward my living room window and latch his little talons in the screen.  There he sits, watching me through the window.  Occasionally he chirps.  Mostly he just keeps me company.

He always reminds me that His eye is on the sparrow - and I know he watches me.  He is a tangible reminder that whatever I am facing for my day, I have one greater than myself looking out for my best interests.  

Today I am thankful for the sparrows.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, November 11, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I do so love a warm mug...  It doesn't matter to me whether it is filled with hot coffee, hot tea, hot cider or hot cocoa.  I love a warm mug.

It may seem silly to some, but I am so thankful for a fun colorful coffee mug filled with heart-warming goodness.  There are so many across our world without clean water supply; I am thankful that I can fill my cup anytime I thirst.

Today I am thankful for my fun mugs...but so much more than that, I am thankful for what I am blessed to fill them with!

Only By His Grace,

Billie  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Season of Gratitude...



I love, love, love board games!  It seems we go through spurts where we play them often, and then we get busy and forget about them again.  But when we are on one of our rounds of playing board games, it is such a wonderful time to spend with my husband and my kids.

Our favorites right now are Sorry and Trouble.  We like Sequence and Scrabble a lot, too.  We have so many board games - many need fresh batteries - but they are so much fun to play.

Board games and popcorn, sitting around the coffee table, or spread out on the living room floor.... it's something I'm very grateful for!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


Bread.  There's nothing like the smell of home baked bread in the oven.   It is one of the things I am most grateful for during the Thanksgiving season.

I love home baked bread.  Notice, however, that I didn't say homemade.  I can't bake homemade bread.  I've tried and failed multiple times throughout my life.  

Then one day a few years ago, I found frozen loaves of bread dough.  They come packaged 5 loaves to a bag, for the cost of about $3.00 - $3.50.  The process is simple: spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, lay in the frozen loaf, cover lightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for approximately 4 - 5 hours.  I usually do this in the morning before I leave for work.  When I return, there is a gigantic beautiful loaf of bread dough waiting for me.  I preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pop it in for approximately 20 minutes.

This is especially good when I've had the forethought to put soup or stew or roast in the crock pot.  The smell of that freshly baked bread wafting through the house makes it feel warm inside, and feel like home.  

Home baked bread:  It's an amazing thing.  I am so very thankful!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, November 8, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I have developed an obsession for flax seeds, of late.  I bought a cereal containing these little tasties, and I was hooked.  Then, like the leaves in autumn, my favorite cereal was gone...discontinued...forever.  {sigh}

Not being one to let a little thing like my favorite cereal being discontinued keep my down, I started testing and trying out my own concoctions.  I'm not completely there, yet, but I have found a pretty close substitute.

We have a natural whole food grocer three doors down from my son's Karate class.  One night I wandered in and what to my wondering eyes should appear but WHOLE flax seeds!  Not ground, not crushed, not powdered....WHOLE!  Angels sang the Hallelujah chorus right there in Rainbow Blossom!

They also have a preservative-free, all natural peach instant oatmeal.  I mix the oatmeal according to package directions and add in a smidge of vanilla and a teaspoon of WHOLE flax seeds.... I'm a happy girl!  Yumma-do-da-day!  

Today, I am thankful for my favorite cereal, for natural peach oatmeal and for WHOLE flax seeds.

Do you have a healthy obsession?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


Fall brings with it some rainy, cold days, doesn't it?  Most of the people I know do not like overcast, cloudy days.  I, however, love them.

I love rainy days - not just when I can stay inside and read, either - I love running errands on rainy days.  I love going for walks and bike rides on rainy days.  I love taking photo shoots on rainy days.

Today, I am thankful for my bright red raincoat.  I am also thankful for my black umbrella with bright red polka dots.  See, it is terribly difficult to be glum and gloomy on a rainy day when one wears a red rain coat and carries a polka dot umbrella.

I bought  my raincoat at Sam's of all places.  It is London Fog, has a button on/off hat, big red buttons on the front and a tie sash.  It is warm enough to wear even in 40 degree weather if I wear a scarf.  My scarf is white and my mittens are white.  Honestly, it makes you feel like a peppermint!  It's so wonderful!

Every time it rains, and I stay dry and warm, I am thankful for my bright red raincoat.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I am thankful today for handmade - homemade gifts.

A few years ago, I stopped buying gifts for my father.  Oh, I wasn't being mean or cantankerous.  I decided I would honor his wishes.  For years he said, "Please don't buy me anything.  I don't need anything."  I realized that he wasn't being noble, or humble; He was being honest.  

What my dad wanted or needed, he would purchase for himself.  When he passed away in March, as my sisters and I sifted through boxes of mementos, it occurred to me what he treasured.  He treasured the cards and the letters, the board games bought at yard sales and played with his children, the pictures colored by grandchildren and the family photos he took of himself with his girls.

There were things I brought home with me that I had no idea he still had in his possession:  the handmade invitation to my daughter's first birthday party, a sticker bookmark she made for him when she was two, hand written Valentines from my son when he was learning to write his letters, a printed plaque I made for him on an old dot-matrix printer.  These are things I would have encouraged him to "just get rid of," or asked, "Why are you still keeping that?"  But these were his treasures.

I have started making more handmade "gifts."  I have started writing notes by hand when possible versus sending an email.  There are personal touches to these things - rather than just a store-bought gift or electronic note.

I am thankful for handmade and homemade gifts and the sweet memories that attach themselves to them.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I know this may be silly, but I am thankful for Martha Stewart.  Please, do not misunderstand me.  I love Martha Stewart.  I am honestly inspired by her, and in awe of what she has created from her vast knowledge of homemaking.  

When Lovie and I first married, I learned so much from her TV series Martha Stewart Living.  That is where I learned to bake cookies and make stews, where I learned to fold a fitted sheet and all the important little details about Depression Glass.  It is where I first learned to decorate a dinner table, and how important it is that everyone feel welcome.

One thing I also learned from my hours watching Martha Stewart is that I didn't have to pressure myself to be perfect.  Oh, the inclination was there.  The desire to keep up with Martha was there.  But then I realized, my stew doesn't have to be made from vegetables I grew in my own garden.  My fitted sheets don't have to folded "perfectly," I can own one heirloom piece of Depression Glass that belonged to my husband's grandmother; I do not have to be a collector.  I can bake cookies with my children from a mix - and my children don't care...they just love baking cookies with me :)

So today, as Thanksgiving approaches and I begin making my never-ending lists, dreaming up seating arrangements, tablescapes and side dishes, I am thankful for Martha Stewart.  She taught me so much in my younger years.  She has created for herself a legacy.

I, too, can create for myself a legacy.  Only mine will be filled with memories and traditions I have created out of time spent with my kiddos...not hours making sure everything is perfect.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, November 4, 2013

Season of Gratitude...



I am so blessed by the fact that I am transformed by the renewing of my mind and that I no longer have to conform to the world's way of thinking.  What do I mean?  Like most everyone else I know, I used to hate Monday morning -- well, Monday in general to be more specific.

Then, about a year ago, I had to have a good stern talk with myself.  "Self," I said, "Monday comes around every single week.  You can learn to like it or you can suffer through it.  Which do you choose?"  Man, what a harsh reality.  

Truth is, we can't make Mondays go away.  So why not make the best of them?  A couple of years ago I started making New Month Resolutions... must like the proverbial New Year's Resolution, only I gave myself a reset every 1st of each month.  WOW!  What a difference that made.  If I felt as if I had failed, or dropped the ball, or gave up too easily, I knew I had a reset coming in a few short weeks.  It was life-changing!

So I adopted the thought for Mondays as well.  Instead of thinking, "UGH!  It's Monday again...." think of it this way:  Monday is the beginning of a whole new week.  It's the first day of a week full of potential and possibility.  Last week's failures and mishaps are behind you, the things you wish you could have done, you now have another opportunity to do.

Mondays... yeah, I'm pretty grateful!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I'm going to share something shocking with you: I love the rain.  I love rainy days.  Rainy days and Mondays don't get ME down.  No sir-ee.

During this season of gratefulness I am grateful for rainy days.  I understand that it isn't the norm, that most people don't like rainy days, but there is something very comforting, even romantic, about a rainy fall afternoon.  It just allows you to go a little slower and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Think about it - the rain waters our earth, gives life to our planet and causes the pumpkins to grow.  And, if your lucky, and the temperature drops just enough...you might get to see the first snowflake of the season!

What are you grateful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


One of the things I'm so very grateful for this time of year is the late sunrise and early sunset.  Oh, I know, not everyone likes getting while it's still dark, and most people don't like the thought of it getting dark at 5:30 p.m.  But not me.  I love it.  The shorter days feel like they are giving me permission to sleep in an extra five minutes and to hang out with my kids a little longer in the evening.

This year our schedule has been one of the toughest I can ever remember.  In fact, it's been a daily struggle for me just to keep going.  I estimated that each day I spend at least 3+ hours in my car, just transporting my kids to and from activities and myself to work and back...not to mention errands and activities.  Let me just say - I've come to hate my car.

So, now that the days are shorter and the nights are longer, our activities have ceases and we have our family dinners back.  We have evenings in front of the tv or piling up in the floor playing board games... We are together more now that the days are shorter.  

I for one am grateful.  

What are you grateful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, November 1, 2013

Season of Gratitude...

Every year I make it a point to focus on the things I am most grateful for during the month of November.  Most years I make a "thankfulness tree" using construction paper leaves,  some years we keep a decorated treasure box on the kitchen counter to hold all our gratitude in.  The premise is that each night at dinner, we write down and share one thing we are thankful for.  You can read about last year's project here.At the end of the month, or right before Thanksgiving, we take the box of notes, or the leaves off the tree, and share again ALL that we are thankful for.

Last year, throughout the month of November I posted about getting your home ready for guests, about cute Thanksgiving crafts for the kiddos that will visit you, about setting a pretty table.  This year, I may throw a few of those kinds of posts into the mix, but I've also determined that this year, we will focus on what we are thankful for.  Ready?  Let's go.

November 1:  I am thankful for the beauty in nature.


Around our part of the country, peak color season falls anywhere between mid-September and late-October.  One of the things I am most thankful for this year, is that we've had a late peak color season.  I love the fall colors during the Halloween season and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

It's as if the world is a brighter place, is filled with color and presence, and wants to wrap you in a nice warm hug.

Today, I am thankful for the beauty of nature.  

What are you thankful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween dinner ideas

Every year I make a fun Halloween dinner.  Last year I made homemade vegetable beef soup and told my kids it was Goblin Stew.

The year before that I made chicken wings -- and told them it was bat wings.  

Tee Hee.  It's always fun!

This year, I have a few fun things planned as well.



These banana ghosts are fun with chocolate chip eyes and a mouth.  Clementine pumpkins with celery stems are a healthy treat as well.



This year, I think I'll make a few hot dog mummies as well. 

Anything that makes your normal dinner a little fun or creepy will do.

How about a pot roast, or beef stew.  Call it munchkin meat with mashed potato ghosts. Just whip up your potatoes a little stiffer than normal and pipe them out with a pastry bag.


What will you be serving for Halloween dinner?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A few of my favorite things...


I love Halloween.  It's such a fun way to kick off the holiday season.  It seems as if it sneaks up on me every year, though.

Even now, I still have finishing touches to put on my kids' costumes - and what am I doing?  Blogging :)  Oh well, looks like I'll have a couple late nights - but I Will. Get. It. Done!

Every year, one or both of my kids asks me to make their halloween costumes.  This year, my 8 year old son wants to be a creeper, from Minecraft.  Well, that's been an undertaking.

First there was the hoarding of cardboard boxes.  Buying of spray paint.  Then, to make the creeper pixilated like on the game, we "commandeered" paint chips.  Loads and loads of them.  Then we cut them into 1 inch squares and glued them all on.  Yep...one. at. a. time.  But it looks good.  When it's complete, I'll show you pictures.

My daughter will be taking her last Halloween trick or treat adventure this year.  She designed her own costume.  She wants to be a sunflower.  So, we purchased yards and yards of yellow fabric, netting and flowers.  She will wear green pants underneath the skirt for the stem, and will wear a black t-shirt as the center.  I will show pictures of that later, as well.  

Halloween.  It's such a fun time for our family.  And I love all the memories we're making putting together all the costumes, buying candy, going door to door begging for candy.

I can't wait!

What are your traditions?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, October 28, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


Today is the last day of the series.  I know we haven't talked about cleaning up outdoors, making repairs, or cleaning appliances, but this is the Good Enough Fall Cleaning Series. 

Just as we started several days back with lighting and ceiling fans, we are going to end our series with flooring.



Today's challenge: flooring and baseboards
I find my floors relatively easy to maintain...most of the time.  We still have areas of our home that need new carpet, those areas are NOT easy to maintain and to be honest, drive me a bit bonkers.

Those areas have white berber carpet, builder grade, and did I mention that our house was a rental at one time?  yeah.  Can you say "stains?"  Can you say "grime?"  Can you say "IMPOSSIBLE to clean?"  I do the best I can and tell myself I cleaned it...even if it doesn't look clean.

So today, we are working our floors.

1) Your best friend is your vacuum.  Vacuums work great on most types of flooring.  I use mine on hardwood, carpet and vinyl.  Give your house a good vacuuming - get under beds, move the furniture if possible.  

2) Remember to vacuum around the baseboards.  While you're at it, vacuum the baseboards too.

3)  Mop your vinyl, and clean your hardwood.

4) Finally, with a damp microfiber cloth and all purpose cleaner, go around and wipe off the baseboards.  You'll see an immediate difference.

5)  If you are so inclined, spot clean any areas of your carpets that are showing wear.  Traffic areas are not terribly hard to clean, just be sure you check your cleaner.  Some carpets are specific to what types of cleaner you use!

This should take you a little time depending on how much square footage you have, but boy it's sure worth it!

How do you feel?  Have you followed along?  
Did you complete each challenge or pick and choose the ones you wanted?

Fall cleaning isn't a terrible task when you tell yourself that sometimes "good enough is good enough!"

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


White doors.  They show every smudge and fingerprint.  They show all the forgotten dust.  But they look sooooo good against a painted wall.


One of the things I really like is white interior doors.  Oh, I know, some people paint theirs black from time to time.  Some have wooden doors.  But I think white looks so crisp and clean.  Well, most of the time.

Today's challenge: Interior doors and door jams

Seems like every time I turn around I'm seeing dark brown, black and dirty marks on my doors.  These marks are usually right around the door knobs.  I think my family must open the door with the knob, and then pull it closed behind them with the door.  

It doesn't matter if it's an exterior door, a french door, a pantry door, a closet door or an interior door.  This happens to them all.

Today we're going to take a few minutes and just pay a little attention to those dirty spots.  

First line of defense is my trusty microfiber cloth.  Next is an all purpose cleaner.  I use Shaklee's Basic H mixed to all purpose strength.  That's 1/4 teaspoon to 16 oz of water.  Boy does it work, and no harsh chemicals.  

I also like to use Clorox Green cleaner, too, but 99% of the time, I use Shaklee.

I have 30 doors in my house.  I can't believe I just counted them all.  In any case, there are a lot of doors in my house.  To go through and clean them all takes me a matter of minutes.

1) Spray the cleaner on the dirty areas of your door and door jams.  If you have panel doors, be sure to wipe down the panels, too.  They collect a lot of dust.

2)  Wipe them down with one side of your microfiber cloth and dry them with the other side.

3)  If you're feeling so inclined and want to take it a step further, take a small foam brush and a little pail of paint with you to touch up nicked areas.  But that would be going one step beyond "good enough."  That's up to you :)

I have doors to clean...and with 30 of them, I'd better get going.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


I love a nice cozy bed.  Once the weather gets a chill to it and the days start getting shorter, I can't wait to curl up under those covers and read a good book before bed.

But before we can curl up in a cozy bed, we have to get it cozified! 



Granted, not many of us have bedrooms this large, or this cozy.   But there are some ideas we can take away to cozy up our beds while we're doing today's challenge.

Today's challenge:  Bedrooms

It is recommended by housekeeping gurus like Martha Stewart and by manufacturers that you flip your mattress in the spring and again in the fall.  You are to turn your mattress completely over, and rotate it from head to foot.  

While you're there, why not give it a quick vacuum to remove any dust - or dust mites :(  And take a minute to inspect your mattress.  How old is it?  Is it still in good condition?  Are you sleeping well on it?  All good things to think about before you settle down for a long winter's nap.

Now it's time for the easy stuff.

1)  Change out those summer cotton sheets for a warmer, snugglier set, like flannel, or brushed cotton - even jersey will warm up your bed and give it a nice soft feel.

2)  Add an extra quilt or blanket.  The nights will be turning cooler very soon and you will need that extra warmth.

3)  Add a soft throw to the bottom of the bed.  Toss on a couple extra pillows to prop up on.  If you have room, think about moving a reading chair from another room for the winter.

4)  And finally, if you're using overhead lighting, why not try adding a lamp or two.  The lighting will be softer on your eyes and it will make your room feel warmer beneath it's glow.
  

Today's challenge was more about making your room a little more cozy for fall and winter.  There are always cleaning tips to do, but this is about Good Enough Fall Cleaning.  

If you're really excited, don't forget to toss your pillows in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them up.  Launder those blankets and vacuum under the bed :)

Ready for a nap, yet?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...



Relentless.  Sometimes you just have to be relentless about specific areas of your life.  Exercise, nutrition, closets.  Wait, what?

I used to just hang up my clothes in any manner, any way, any how.  No organization whatsoever.  In fact, at one point in my life, I don't think I even really hung my clothes up at all.  They just kind of laid there in the floor until they needed to be laundered again.

But not now!  Now I have a system.  Now I have organization.  In fact, I have organization inside of organization.

Let me explain as we walk through today's Good Enough Fall Cleaning challenge.


Ok, so my closet doesn't look like this.  Boy I wish it did.  No, I have more than white and blue shirts and brown and khaki dresses.  Thank heavens!


Nor does my closet look like this.  This would make me criminally insane every morning!  Although, I like the color coordinating.


One thing my closet does have, is something like this.  Only I have 5 of them, and they each hold 10 pairs of shoes.  Don't judge me!

Today's challenge: closets

Much like your pantry and refrigerator, emptying your closet is an excellent place to start.  HOWEVER... if you're wanting to do this a little more quickly, just leave your things where they are, and space them out a little bit.  

1.)  Begin by sorting like items together.  Pants together, skirts together, blouses together, cardigans together, jackets together, t-shirts and casual shirts together, dresses together.

As you begin moving your items from their current location to their new location on the clothing bar, really think about each item. 
   When did you wear this last?  
   Does it still fit?  
   Do you love it?  
   Does it need altered or repaired?  

If you find that you still love these items, they still fit, and are in good wearable condition, place them where they belong - with other like items.

2.)  Sort and purge the rest.  If clothing items are too small, too big, too old, to worn out, or you just plain don't wear them, think about what to do with them.  Box them up and donate them to a clothing closet, give them to a neighbor, pass them on to a friend - well, the good ones, at least :)

3.)  Organize shoes and purses, belts and scarves.  I keep fabric bins on the top shelf of my closet.  One for scarves, one for belts.  I keep hanging organizers for my shoes, and I keep my handbags in large baskets underneath my hanging dresses.  Everything fits together like a puzzle.

This process can be repeated for children's closets, linen closets and coat closets.  The process is a simple one.

1. Sort and store like items together.
2. Purge unneeded items
3. Donate what you no longer want.

Get going.  It shouldn't take too long!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


Let's take a moment to remind ourselves that this fall cleaning series is about being good enough.  Everything in our homes does not have to be perfect.  Everything cannot be spotless all at once.  But things can always be better than they are - and it's ok to be good enough.




Today's challenge: Kitchen cabinets, storage bins and drawers.
I really love the feeling a good clean kitchen delivers.  What I don't necessarily love is fingerprints and smudges on my kitchen cabinets and drawers.  Today, we're tackling the kitchen and making it better than it was.

1)  Fill your sink with warm soapy water.  I use regular dish detergent for this task because I know it has the cleaning power to cut through that tough kitchen grease.  Then, I take a kitchen microfiber cloth and start wiping down my cabinet doors and drawer fronts.  Be sure to always follow up and dry them off well or you may damage the finish.

2.)  Storage bins and baskets are often found in kitchens these days.  They can really take a grimy hit, too.  After you've finished your cabinets and drawer fronts, be sure to wipe down any baker's racks, trash cans, produce bins you may have.  I have two large wicker baskets that I store potatoes and onions in.  They have linen liners.  This is the time I take the baskets outside, remove the liners and launder them.  Then I simply vacuum the inside and outside of my baskets.  Ahhh, much better.

3.)  If you have a junk drawer in your kitchen, and I know you do, now is the time to sort through those contents returning items to their correct locations and tossing out the unneeded trash.

How does that feel?  Better already!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, October 21, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


Every now and then you just have everything in order.  Then life happens and you wake up and things are in need of a little attention.

That's the way it is with my pantry.  I organize it, I clean it, I stock it.  And for that one little moment, I'm happy.  Then, my family "helps" me in the kitchen.  Then, I forget to close the box of pasta (oops.)  Then, the bag of cookies falls of the shelf and crumbles all over the floor.

Oh, I know these things never happen to you...but they happen to me All. The. Time!

diyfanatic

Today's challenge: The pantry and fridge
I really do love an organized pantry.  All of my soups are together, the pasta is together, the bread is in the bread basket, etc, etc.  It makes dinner a snap.

Today, let's start by emptying out the pantry.  Maybe you don't have a designated pantry, but rather, you store your pantry items in your kitchen cupboards.  That's great, too!  The best place to start is with a clean slate.

1.)  Empty your pantry / cupboard / food storage area.

2.)  Wipe down all shelves with warm soapy water and a good sponge.

3.)  Next, replace items in the order you of frequent use.  No reason to put the zesty salty pickles up front if you only use them once or twice a year.  

4.)  Replace like items together: soups with soups, pastas with pastas, cereals with cereals.  You get the picture.

5.)  Remember to check expiration dates.  We have no need for last year's ramen noodles!

Once you've finished your pantry, take a go at the refrigerator.  Same principle, only colder.

See you back tomorrow, where we'll be working again in our kitchens!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, October 18, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


I'm not certain many people like cleaning windows.  Truth is, it brings out the perfectionist in all of us.  If we are putting all that hard work into something, we certainly don't want to step away and see streaks!

If you think about it, when was the last time you actually looked at someone's windows and thought, "Wow!  They missed a spot?"  No, what happens is one of two things: a) we see how dirty the window really is, or b) we feel a case of the "should haves" - as in, "I should have" cleaned my windows already, too.

I don't think anyone besides Martha Stewart really notices streaks on windows.  And, when you consider the season, even if your windows do turn out spot free, it's most likely going to rain next week and just get them spotty again.  

So let's let go of the idea of perfection here, and step right into today's challenge.

Today's challenge: windows
Depending on the size of your house, you may anywhere from 8-10 to 20 - 25 windows.  My house has 20 full windows, three sidelights and 4 glass patio doors.  That's a lot of windows, folks.  If I determined to wash each one until spotless, well.... I'd never get finished.

I'm going to share with you my favorite way of washing windows.  I have used this method for years, now, and I cannot find a better way to do it.  Plus, it cuts down on a lot of the muscle you need to really do the job right.


This little guy is microfiber on the washing side, and squeegee on the other.  I use Shaklee Basic H window cleaner solution. You mix 1 drop of concentrated cleaner with 16 oz of water, and there is nothing, NOTHING, that this cleaner won't take care of.  You may use whatever cleaner you prefer.  This method still works great.

1) Spray window, and let the cleaner sit for about 15 seconds.

2) Wipe window with microfiber side of tool.

3) Squeegee one strip at a time, wiping the rubber strip after each swipe with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

4) Repeat on both the inside and outside of the windows. 

Now, there are sometimes a few spots left, but not many.  I find that using this method takes me approximately 10 minutes per window top and bottom, inside and out.  So for 25 windows and doors, I'm usually busy for about 4 hours.  Some days I am gung-ho about the task and whip right through.  Other times, not so much, and I split the task over a couple of days.

We're looking forward to a great weekend.  I'm looking forward to getting a few windows washed!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


As much as I love cleaning my house, there are a few tasks that I hate.  I love the finished product, but I hate the process.
One particular task is bathrooms.  

One thing I love about seasonal cleaning is the completed task.  Who doesn't want their bathroom to be as sparkly as this?


Cleaning a bathroom takes time - and a little elbow grease.  
Here is what a "good enough" clean bathroom looks like:

Today's challenge: Bathrooms

1. Start with mirrors.  No spots, no water marks.  Get them sparkly clean.

2. Showers and tubs.  Spray walls, scrub tub rings, wipe off those faucets.

3. Sinks and vanities.  Make sure there is no hairspray buildup, toothpaste residue or other gunk.  Wipe down the doors and drawer fronts.  Tidy up the contents under the sink, disposing of any out-dated items.

4.  Clean that toilet til it shines.  Using a good toilet brush will make quick work of this unpleasant task.  Clean under the rim, scrub any water marks and stains with good cleaner.  There are many on the market.  One for just about any task you need.  Don't forget to wipe down the outside, top, tank, bowl and base.

5. Restock fresh towels, empty trash, restock toilet tissue supply.

6.  Sweep floor, mop the floor, wipe down baseboards.

7.  Finish it out with clean bath mats, hand towels and soap dispensers and you're done.

Go get 'em.  You can do it!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


We've cleaned our ceiling fans and lights, worked our way down the walls ridding ourselves of cobwebs and smudges, now it's time to tackle the furniture.

Today's challenge is dusting furniture:
I don't mind dusting furniture.  I like to get rid of all the dirt and fingerprints.  I recently painted my living room tables black and now I realize how much they show dust.  So, this is a task close to my heart.


When we're doing your normal dusting, many of us tend to get the tops and maybe the dustier parts of furniture.  During the "Good enough fall cleaning" series, I want you to take a few extra minutes to dust the whole piece of furniture. No, it doesn't have to be perfect, but I think you'll find there is more dust accumulated than you think.



Dust the tops, down the sides, the legs, the drawer fronts, and if you have a base molding piece at the bottom, dust it off, too.

Work your way through the house as time permits.  Maybe it's only one room today, maybe you can do it all.  I don't know?  Do what you can, give it your best effort.  You can always finish up another time.

Remember that good enough, is good enough.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...

Yesterday we tackled those grimy ceiling fans and light fixtures.  We also evicted the dust bunnies living on our lampshades.  This "good enough" fall cleaning chore should have taken you about a half hour to complete depending on how many fans, light fixtures and lampshades you had to tackle.


Today's challenge is our walls! 
I can remember back to my childhood when my mother would actually wash our walls - each room got the walls washed and dried, top to bottom, by hand.  It was a chore I hated, and found useless even then.  I mean, dusty, yes, but how dirty can the whole wall get?  Still, even now, it baffles me.

Today's chore is pretty simple as we work our way top to bottom through our rooms.  I encourage you to inspect the walls in each of your rooms.  Grab a broom, wrap the bristle part with microfiber cloth and go searching for corner cobwebs.  Check your ceilings, the corners and near the baseboards.  When you find cobwebs, get them down.  It only takes a minute.

Then, have a bottle of all-purpose cleaner and another microfiber cloth.  Look for any smudges, finger prints, crayon marks and scuffs.  Spray them and wipe them off.

Depending on if you have children, and how many little people you have living in your home this may be a quick task or a lengthy one.  I have found that little people like to wipe off those finger prints almost as much as they like putting them on there to begin with.  Enlist a little help when you need it.

Remember, good enough, is good enough.

Only By His Grace,

Billie 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Enough Fall Cleaning...


It's no secret that I love to clean my house.  I enjoy it. I really do.  Every minute of it.  It is, for me, stress relief.  I get that sense of accomplishment when a room is totally clean. 

I also realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for a good house cleaning.  If they did, we could put Merry Maids out of business, the cleaning product industry would flourish and I could be their new spokeswoman!

However, in light of this blissful fantasy, I also realize that not everyone has the time to do a deep cleaning every spring and every fall.  Even among those who do have the time, they don't necessarily enjoy it.  Even still, there are those among us who {gasp} hate it!  And there are those who enjoy it, but just can't "do it all."

My perfectionistic, OCD self would love to tell you that during your fall cleaning you should remove everything from each room, clean it all perfectly before putting it all back.  But that's not realistic, now, is it?  

So I'm adopting a "sometimes good enough, is good enough" attitude.  I am not going to approach this Fall Cleaning series as a method to get everything in our houses spotless, but rather, to hit the high spots and tackle the worst offenses.  

I encourage you to rest in the incompleteness of your moments,  to recognize the goodness of all you've already accomplished, knowing that when the time comes, what needs to be done, will eventually get done. 

Where to start:
I believe it is a best practice to clean from the top down in any room, and to work your way through the house one step at a time.  Therefore, starting at the top, we are going to begin this series with our light fixtures and ceiling fans.


If you're like most people I know, your ceiling fans have been running all summer.  Now is a good time to shut them off and take a good look.  Most likely you'll find the same thing on your fan blades that everyone else finds on theirs - dust and dirt.

There are special attachments you can purchase that make quick work of ceiling fan blades; this one even attaches to a telescoping handle. I've found, that unless your ceiling fan is two-stories high, it's just as easy to clean them by hand.  

My preferred method is warm water with 2 dots of liquid dish detergent and a micro fibre cloth.  You can wipe down the whole fan while you're up there; blades, globes is you have them, and even a light dusting of the motor casing.  I find that it takes me no more than 5 minutes to clean my ceiling fans.


Light fixtures in my house pose a little different problem than ceiling fans.  I have light fixtures with all kinds of designs, swirls and metal work.  For me, a light dusting usually does the trick for the loose dust, and than I can use my microfiber cloth to wipe off any grease or dirt that the dusting missed.  For a few hanging globes, I have to pull out the big guns (my vacuum attachment) and suck out all the bugs that have accumulated over the summer.


Lamp shades are easy.  I use a lint brush on or my vacuum attachment and they are done in a wink of an eye.


First challenge for fall cleaning 2014 is to clean those ceiling fans, light fixtures and lamp shades.  Come on... let the light shine in!

Only By His Grace,

Billie 
















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