Monday, December 11, 2017

Piano Student Gifts & Top 5 Piano Teacher Gifts


Last year, I gave my piano students a Christmas ornament that I found that had music around it.  This year, I noticed that some of my beginner students are learning to play their pieces with their left hand holding their book open.  They are always relieved when I clip their music open with my clothespin.  I decided to make some cute clothespins for my students to hold their books open for at home!

Speaking of which, wondering what some good ideas are for gifts for your piano teacher this Christmas?  Here’s my top 5 ideas for your favorite piano teacher:
  1. Gift card to a favorite coffee shop, restaurant, or store.
  2. Amazon Gift Card.
  3. Gift Certificate to a favorite online music store (mine is www.pianopronto.com, btw!)
  4. Purchase something off of the studio/piano teacher’s online wish list.  Ask if they have one.
  5. Food item - chocolates, hot cocoa, wine, etc.

These are just some of the things I like.  I’m currently building a new studio space in my home, so I would love a Home Depot card, a new doormat, really anything for the new space!  Some teachers don’t care for the music themed gifts, because there’s only so many you can have, but for me, I love them so far!  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Book Review: Daring to Hope


It seems hard to believe in today's day, that someone would give up everything and move to Uganda to run a non-profit and personally house African children, but that's exactly what Katie Davis Majors did.  Although this seems like an act of faith that not everyone has, "Daring to Hope" humanizes the struggles that Katie goes through personally, to continue on to love and care for people in desperate need of help.

Katie has personally adopted 13 girls, but after having her own personal tragedy, is painfully afraid to open herself to loving another person. Life goes on for Katie, more people in need of love and care, even on their deathbeds are sent to her.  Can she open herself to love again?  Does she dare to hope that God will provide and give her the strength to love over and over, even knowing that person may die?

Uganda and Katie's organization seem so far away from my own, busy life in America, but Katie brings her story of pain and suffering into an encouraging book about "Daring to Hope" no matter where God has you in life.  I found myself unable to put this book down, to see how Katie would find her way through the pain and grief of loss and suffering.  I even felt the deep conviction of looking for the blessings, even the smallest things in my own life.  I found myself feeling Katie's pain deep in my heart, as well as seeing the hope from a ever-loving God.

This book is a well-written, almost diary-style of the emotional struggles of a mom, a woman, a missionary.  So lovely to learn that though she feels like giving up daily, much like I do. Often times, she found her God in the middle of the night, on the floor of her bathroom.  Such an encouraging, real-life story a modern day missionary. A wonderful present day story of God's call to dare to hope.

This book was given to me by Multnomah Publishing in exchange for this review, although it all written with my own opinions.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Small Things


Every renovation project has it’s setbacks, but it’s felt like our new-to-us home has had more than our share.  We had originally planned to enclose our carport area between our house and the carriage house.  It seems straight forward enough, but of course, our city government is involved, so we were at a standstill for several weeks, just waiting to get a building permit.

As it stands, we are being required to add a sidewalk to the front of our house, to the tune of more than $25,000 for the entire thing!  There’s a telephone pole, a grade, a drainage ditch, the utility post for the entire neighborhood and our water meter in the way on one end.  Fortunately, it seems like the Public Works guy is on our side and is going to try to put an end to it, at least for now.

Meanwhile, we bit the bullet, paid the deposit plus the building permit and were overjoyed to begin this additional living room project.  HALT!!!  Of course, that is if the local rental center has the jackhammer in, so we can break up the concrete and replace it.  3 1/2 weeks later, the rental center finally has the jackhammer back in, so we will be finishing it off.

Many of the things that we are wanting to fix or paint in the house are attached to another, bigger project after the extra living room gets finished.  One thing we have done is raise one of the kitchen over 4 inches to make it level for the new area.  I don’t want to paint the kitchen or the bathrooms until we get done with renovations.  Why spend the money and time if I don’t have to, so for the time being, I’m getting used to appreciating The Small Things!  Like a new shower curtain.

I had left the original shower curtain in the bathroom (after washing it) since it fit.  Our liner from the last rental, didn’t fit, so I got rid of that.  I bought a “fancy” liner from Walmart for $7 that made me happy and went with it.  Don’t you agree? It’s so much better!
Unfortunately, I can’t do much else with this bathroom just yet, because it’s going to get some wall knockouts, but this clean, modern looking curtain makes me happy!  It’s the small things!

Then, because the extra living room isn’t finished or hardly started, piano lessons had to start in our main living room.  Well, as with most moves, it’s hard to unpack - so I unpacked the living room and hung pictures.  What do you think?  I’d love to paint this room, but again, we are going to be changing up some walls.  So for now, I’m thankful to have our own home, and the small things that I can do to make it a happy place to live.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New Home, New Garden

We finally bought a house after our move across country from the Midwest five and a half years ago.  It's taken us all month to get into the house and start to get things put away.  Moving seven people while two are headed back to college was not an easy feat. 

While this house is not super fancy, one of the things we loved about the house was the very large yard.  We have seven city lots in fact.  One of the things that we loved the most about home ownership was being able to garden.
I'm not a fan of those really tall arborvitae trees on the left of this picture.  We have several of them around the property, mostly right up on the foundation and causing trouble with the house.  I personally don't like them and call them funeral trees, because they are what every cemetery has.  I'd like to just reserve them for funerals for now.  This one, isn't coming down just yet. 

That big, pickery evergreen bush that takes up the side of the house had to go!  The access to the crawl space is behind it and there are five-foot thistles all over in that bush!
One of the best things that we have learned since moving West and living is the mountains, is how to pull out trees with our truck.  This bush is really no different.  The most difficult thing about this yank out, was trying to get into the trunk of the tree to attach the chain!  This is one pickery bush!


Once out, we decided to use a cord (a hose would work too) to make the shape of the bed and then had to break up all the dirt in the new flower bed that we were adding.  When we returned to the Midwest this summer, I dug up a bunch of perennials from my mom's garden (many had been split from my own garden there) and brought them back.  I've been watering them in pots ever since, so was really excited to use them in this bed.

I also added some daffodil bulbs that we found when we were making another access on the other side of the house.  I can't wait to see those come up in the spring! 

We spent $44 on a truckload of mulch (we had plenty to add to another bed and saved some, to finish this one off when we get that other funeral tree out) and then bought a big container of Preen to prevent weeds from coming back.  I'm so excited to have a nice clean, mulched hosta bed! 

Here's another look at the before and after.  We plan to put a decorative tree in the middle of the bed, as well as a Japanese Maple tree off the left once that funeral tree goes.  Both will add some height and shade on this side of the house.
Stay tuned for more of our DIY projects on our new house!  Lots more to come!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Review: Gathering the Threads



I was so excited to see a brand new book by Cindy Woodsmall available, when I was choosing books to review!  I always love a great Amish romance, and the fact that it's by Cindy Woodsmall just made my day!

This is the third book in the "Amish of Summer Grove" series and definitely delivers a phenomenal story line. Arianna Brenneman returns to her Old Order Amish family, that raised her after several months of staying with her biological family.  After the shock of finding out that she was switched at birth with Skylar Nash, both are forced to swap places for a year, and get to know their biological families. 

After only three months, Arianna has been able to convince her biological Dad that she needs to return to the family and lifestyle that she can relate to.  But, after gaining knowledge from the English world, can Arianna find her place back with her family?  Will her Amish family accept her new take on life, or will they try to force their wishes on her?  Will the community be able to accept her and allow her to have her place in the community?

Meanwhile, Skylar is finally clean and starting to get her life back in order in her new Amish surroundings.  Will Arianna's return threatens her self discovery and her place in her new family?  Can Skylar keep her sobriety while still establishing her place in a new community?

I loved how this book brought together the modern English and the Old Order English ways of life.  It was a true melding of both ways, and addressed some of the issues that these two worlds have when the mesh together.  Having lived near an Amish community, the struggles to stay apart from the world, and yet meeting the needs of the simple life are complicated, and this story addresses many of those issues.  Both Arianna and Skylar are able to find their way, and yet hold to what they were raised with.

Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing has given me this book in exchange for a free copy of this book.  That being said, I formed all opinions for myself.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

New Piano Lesson Format


I've been wanting to add a Technology/Theory Lab to my piano lessons for awhile now.  Instead of coming for a 30 minute private lesson, students would come for an hour session back-to-back with another student.  While pondering how to do all of this, I ran across a few other piano teachers discussing a 20/20/20 Rotating format that really caught my interest.  Instead of two students an hour, three students come for the one hour slot and rotate between three different 20 minute stations.

This seemed like a great fit for my students, so I decided to launch this with my studio this summer.   I was personally worried about my students working for 30 minutes independently when the other student had a private lesson.  With the 20 minute sessions, though, most of my students are able to stay on task for 20 minutes by themselves.  Some of my youngest students need a little more direction during the individual time, but most are actually thriving in this type of lesson.

Here's what I'm doing for my lessons:

  1. 20 minutes private lesson with me on the piano.
  2. 20 minutes piano technology on my Electronic Piano with Piano Maestro.  (I sometimes have to plug kids into another app, as my internet service runs out after so many students in a day)
  3. 20 minutes of piano theory time at a small folding table.  This is the part that takes me some time to put together, and I'm going to share in a later posting what I've been doing for this 20 minutes.
Overall, my students and I are loving this format!  This last year, I've really struggled fitting theory into lessons.  I teach theory alongside their pieces, but I just hadn't found my groove for adding a formal assignments into my lessons, and still keep it fun.  I personally, don't like all the chaos of having 5 different books to work out of.   With this new 20 minute rotation of theory games and worksheets, my students can't wait for theory!!  When I ask them what their favorite part is, they say theory!   

The piano technology session has parents really excited, because their kids want to work on Piano Maestro and try to advance in lessons.  I think students may lose interest in this at some point, but I love that it is reinforcing their practice sessions.  

Overall, as a teacher, I feel like I'm able to offer much more rounded lessons for my students.  I have had a couple of kids comment that I like the new sessions, so I don't have to teach so much, but I have quickly refuted that with an explanation about how much time I put into that theory time before they get there and that I am teaching the entire hour.  

I scheduled 19 students this summer for my 20/20/20 Rotating Lessons.   I didn't think I was going to have so many students, and had scheduled everyone on the same day!  I figured I'd make it through for my 6 summer lessons with barely my sanity intact, but I actually haven't felt as stressed about it as I thought!  I teach all 19 students from 10am-6:30pm with two half hour breaks for lunch and dinner. I'm tired, but not beyond stressed, like I was sometimes when I had 30 minute private lessons only.  I think this can be attributed to the fact that I everything is moving so fast that I don't have time to feel frustration with any one station, and neither do my students.

I will be continuing on with this format in the fall, for sure!  For Preschool students I am continuing on in 30 minute private sessions, as they need help doing the other parts, but I will be supplementing their lessons with both the technology and the theory activities during their lessons. Stay tuned for more information about how I am running my 20/20/20 sessions.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Road to Paradise - Book Review


I'm on a role with reading books this year!  I set a goal to read 50 books this year and this book makes my 31st this year so far.  I might be able to reach my goal!  I've been tracking my goal and stats on Goodreads.  It's fun to see how many books I've read, on there.  I've even had some of the authors comment on my reviews!

My own love of the National Parks and as an avid visitor with our vintage Airstream, I intrigued by "The Road to Paradise, (Shadows of the Wilderness #1)  To my joy, this book did not disappoint my high expectations of being able to learn more about Mt. Rainier, and come to appreciate it's splendor as well!

In 1927, Margaret (Margie) Lane, a wealthy senator's daughter, escapes to Mt. Rainier, much to her mother's disapproval to study God's creation and learn from a real Park Ranger.  Ford Brayden, the ranger charged with making sure that Margie's stay is both enjoyable and profitable for the National Forest Service, is more interested in the mountain life than in taking care of a pampered debutante.  Will Margie stick out her new job as a "naturalist" for the park or will she run home to her glamorous life?  Can Ford keep her safe, and keep his own guard up from other people as he has for the last two years, following the untimely death of his father?

This story was a true page turner for me.   I finished the book in less than 24 hours, because I just had to find out how the story would unfold.  The descriptions of the mountains, the flora, the beauty from Margie's perspective gave me a feeling of sitting right there in the meadows and mountains with Margie!  I can't wait for my next visit to Mt. Rainier National Park to enjoy it's beauty from a new perspective!

I did receive a copy of this book from Multnomah Publishers in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own, however!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Peace in the Valley - Book Review


Trey Walker Stafford, a country music star takes a break from his exciting and star struck music life to return home to face his past.  Although he struggles with his relationship with his rich uncle Sam Stafford, Trey knows he owes his life to Sam for rescuing him as an young orphan after his parents passed away.

Cowboy and rancher, Sam Stafford didn't approve of Trey's country music career when he left the family home, the Double S Ranch to pursue his dreams as a singer. This rift didn't stop Trey from striking out on his own to follow his passion, but left the two at odds for years.  After achieving country music fame and fortune, Trey is now returning to the home ranch, to save Sam's life and return the favor.  As the only match for a liver transplant for Sam, Trey is needs to face his past and give his liver for the man he owes his life too.

While waiting for the transplant to take place, Sam assigns Trey to make amends for the Stafford family to a neighboring single mother, Lucy Carlton by helping put her ranch in order.  Lucy, on the other hand trusts no one and is used to life being difficult, so doesn't trust the help that is suddenly being rained on her by the legendary Sam Stafford and family. Trey will gladly do anything that Sam asks, but will Lucy set her pride aside and trust Stafford family's help as genuine?  Will Trey Stafford, forgive his hurts from his past and find the peace he's seeking?

"Peace in the Valley" is the third book in the Double S. Ranch Series by Ruth Logan Herne.  Although the story line sounds cliché, from start to finish, this book was well written and kept me engaged.  I had a hard time putting this book down, because I wanted to find out how it turned out.  I've not read the first two books in this series, but I didn't feel like I couldn't understand the plot.  In fact, "Peace in the Valley" has definitely convinced me that I need to read the rest of the series!  I highly recommend this Christian Fiction book as an engoyable read!

Disclosure:  I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for this review.  I make a very small amount of compensation from Amazon when items are purchased from my links.  Thank you for supporting my little reading habit!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

DIY Pig Feeder

 
This is our second year of raising pigs for the fair.  We've had some bumps along the way, one of them was our homemade feeder of last year.  I tend to have ideas, and then Mr. Right gets the pleasure of trying to execute my ideas.  Most of the time it works out, but last year, our feeder was a fail.
 
This year, we need a feeder that can go a long period of time, since our pigs are not on our property where we live.  Our neighbor made a complaint about the smell of the pigs last year to our landlord, so the landlord told us no more pigs. (Keep in mind, there are only 2 pigs on 6 acres and they are only here for 5 months and then go to the 4-H fair and livestock auction) Thankfully, another neighbor graciously allowed us to pen up a corner of her horse pen, to put our pigs in. 
 
This year, I wanted to be sure that Mr. Right did a quality version of the pig feeder that would make it through the entire five months, and hopefully into the next few years!  We agreed on using a 50 gallon barrel in some way, shape or form.
 
 
We bought this one at North 40 for $35. Then of course, we both combed the internet to find a version of a feeder that we both thought would work. We finally decided on this version from  a YouTube video.
He makes this from scraps and things found around his homestead, but then uses some pretty expensive equipment to make it - which makes me smile! But we loved this idea and ran with it!
 
Here's what we gathered:
  • 50 Gallon Food Grade Barrel
  • Plywood for bottom and for flaps over feed - free from last year's sheep feeders
  • 6 - 2x4's
  • 2x10x10
  • 4 Hinges
  • Tin roofing - recycled
  • Wood screws
  • Skill saw
  • Electric screw driver
We purchased everything except the plywood and tin roof.  It cost about $70 total for our costs.  We live in a remote, mountain town, with really high prices, so this could've all been done for a lot less if you could price out your wood.
 
Here's the base that Mr. Right build.  The idea is that you cut holes in the bottom of the barrel on either side, so the feed uses gravity to slide down into the boxes on the right and left of this base.  We put a shorter board across the front of the boxes (far right and left), so the lids would be slanted downwards and any rain will slide off.  The pigs are able to lift the lids with their snouts to stick their noses in. 
 
The four posts in this picture sticking up are for stability for the barrel, to keep it from falling over. 
Here's the lids with the hinges.  Make sure your lids hang over the edge, so the pigs have a lip to stick their snouts under.
Mr. Right then built a structure around the corners for the roof to attach.  This is a simple rectangle with one side higher for the roof to pitch off.  The higher side is for on the fence side, so we can fill it with feed without going thru the pig pen.  Mr. Right built it high enough to lift the barrel out with the roof on with ease. (really technical way of building here!)
Here's a look at the lid of the barrel.  Mr. Right cut a rectangle between the two holes.  He used some nuts and bolts to make a nob on it so it would be easy to lift.  This isn't air tight, but at least it keeps the feed safe from birds and such.
Here's the tin roof added.  We have panels of old ones of these on our property, so we used one.  It had to be cut in half to fit side by side and still have the water run the correct direction.
Here's our happy pigs with the feeder in their pen!  Just a note, this barrel can hold about six 50 pound bags of feed in it, which is far too big for just 2 pigs! We could really be in the pig business with this feeder.  We placed the feeder on a pallet so that it was up off the ground. Pig pens get pretty moist and messy, so we want this off the ground.
 
I'd love to hear if you had an opportunity to make one of these, or even what you do for your own DIY pig feeders!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Piano Lessons

Summer piano (or any instrument) lessons are important.  I have a pretty strong opinion on this and spend the month of May urging my piano student parents that they should try to continue their child's lessons over the summer.  Here are my reasons:
  1. Summer is 1/4th of the year!  That's a lot of the year to miss.
  2. Lessons are a huge investment, why lose the momentum?
  3. Students digress, a lot!  Most students will take at least 3 months to return to where they left off in the spring - so now, you've really lost 6 months or 1/2 of the year!
  4. Because of number 3, you don't save money by taking the lessons off.  You will pay for 9 months and only get 6 months of progress.
  5. Often, children that take the summer off, lose their enthusiasm in the fall, and struggle to stay with it.  In my experience, these students don't come back, or they try and get frustrated with their backward movement, and end up quitting in the middle of the semester.
  6. In my studio, students who stay the summer, get first pick in the fall for lessons time slots!
I'm sure there are a lot of other reasons to continue piano lessons in the summer, but these are my top 6!  My summer schedule is much lighter and I try to make it more fun!  We do 3 lessons in June, 3 in July and then a Piano Party in August.  I add a lots of games and a piano lab for the summer.During those 6 lessons, this summer, I'm doing an Ice Cream theme for an incentive this summer.
 
I printed off the Ice Cream Cones and Scoops from the Summer Ice Cream Challenge.  I was pretty excited to find this resource for free!  My plan is to keep it simple - for each piece that my students check off to be "recital ready", they get a scoop of ice cream to add to their cone. 
 
Unlike Layton Music's suggestion to laminate the ice cream cones, I decided that we are only doing this for 6 weeks, and then I can just give each of my students their long ice cream cone to keep.  I plan to write all their pieces on the scoops as the pass, so they have a record of all they learned this summer.
 
I've offered a special prize to the student who gets the most scoops in the 6 weeks of summer lessons!  We have a snow cone stand in town, so I'm going to see if I can get a certificate from them, or an Icee certificate from the local gas station.
 
In addition to the most scoops, I'm ordering this set of Erasers to give out to all my students for participating:
 
 


I will hand out both at my Summer Piano Pop Party - where we will play lots of piano and music games and of course, eat ice cream sundaes! 

That's it!  Nothing more complicated.  Basically, if kids want to compete for the most scoops of ice cream, they will have to have meaningful practice throughout the week to pass their pieces!  I have quite a few students who are very competitive, so they will just thrive on this incentive.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ripples Along the Shore - Book Review

 
I had the pleasure of reading this third book in "The Quilted Heart" series by Mona Hodgson.  Generally, I don't care for reading books in a series without first reading the books before (what can I say, I like things in order!), but this book captivated me right from the start!  I definitely want to catch up and read the first two, but I was hooked right from the first few paragraphs!
 
"Ripples Along the Shore" was a finely knit fictional novel about not only the sorrow and recovery of just one Civil War widow, Caroline  Milburn, but of a whole community of Americans, set on rebuilding their lives following the divide of a country in war.  Destined to return to Saint Charles, Missouri after her spinster aunt passes away, to stay with her sister and bitter brother-in-law and family, Caroline struggles with the grief she feels with the loss of her husband to the war.
 
Will she find peace and purpose in what she should do now that she doesn't have a husband?  After hearing of a wagon train to the West, she feels sure that God is calling her there, to begin anew.  She finds the wagon master, Garrett Cowlishaw to be the one thing that stands in her way of a new beginning for herself.  Her faith in God's ability to care for all matters is challenged, when her fellow quilting circle friends find comfort in the quote: "Life's changing seasons are as persistent as the ripples along the shore."
 
This book has me on the edge of my seat for the next in the series, and I'm sure that Mona Hodgson will deliver as Caroline's new unfolds as she travels west in the next series: Hearts Seeking Home.  I'm adding this to my list of must reads, for sure!  
 


Disclosure:  I received this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for this review.  I make a very small amount of compensation from Amazon when items are purchased from my links.  Thank you for supporting my little reading habit!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Slow Progress

Most days seem like there's little to no progress, but hey, at least there's progress, right?  I promise you that I am making some progress on the 31 Days of Green Deep Cleaning.  I thought I'd be able to get it done in one month, but posting every day has proven to be more difficult than I thought possible.  Thanks so much for hanging with me! 

What are you making slow progress on right now?  Keep chugging along!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Piano Lessons vs. Test Scores

I'm curious - did you get piano lessons as a child?  Do you have your kids take lessons?  This statistic should incite every parent of every child to seek out piano lessons. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Deep Green Cleaning: Day 16 - Carpets

Today, we are going to clean the carpets in the living room.  If you own your own carpet cleaner, you can just focus on the living room today.  If you have to rent a carpet cleaner and you are anything like me, this will create a frenzy of 24 hours of cleaning all the carpets in the entire house!  Either way, you may want to save this job for when you can work on this for an entire day.
 

What you will need:

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Carpet Cleaner - after getting a new puppy at Christmas, this is the one I ordered online and LOVE!!! 
It is worth every penny!!  I've cleaned a lot of carpets, in my own home and commercially, and this is by far the best machine I have used!

What to do:

  • Remove as much of the furniture from the room as you can.
  • Vacuum the entire room, taking special care to get the edges around the room.

  • Spray the Carpet Stain Buster on all visable stains throughout the room.  You can also use the Envirocloth with just water to remove as many stains as possible, too. 
  • Fill the tank of you carpet cleaner with one scoop of Ultra Power Plus Laundry detergent and hot water to the fill line.  (If you are concerned with the color steadfastness of your carpet, try this in a small out of the way area first. This Bissell is so great, because it has a small hose that you can do a small area first.)
  • Clean the carpet!  This is the fun part!  (I know, sick!)  I usually start on the far end and work in squares across the room, ending at the entryway of the room, so I don't have to keep walking over the clean area.
  • Now is the tricky part - stay off the carpet for at least 12 hours!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 15 - Electronics

 
If you haven't noticed, in each room, we've been trying to move from top to bottom with our cleaning.  So in the living room, we've cleaned the Chairs & Couches, the Woodwork, the Walls, and Organized the shelves and Drawers.  Be sure to check out those articles if you haven't already.

Today, we are going to do a clean-up of all the electronics in the living room.

You will need:

What to clean today:

  • Start off by cleaning all of the screens in the living room with the Optic Cloth.  Using a cloth that is not approved for this job can scratch you screens!  The Optic Cloth is approved and works great at not only cleaning, but repelling future dust. Here's a list that I came up with:
    • Computers
    • Television
    • IPads & Tablets
    • Smart Phones
    • Small Gaming devices
  • Once the screen is cleaned, you'll want to go all the way around your electronic and dust off the backs and the cords with the Dust Mitt.  In fact, if you have two of those Dust Mitts, put one on each hand, so you can pick everything up and dust as you go.
  • As long as you're fussing with the chords, go ahead and coral all those cords.  I don't know why, but in our house, the cords need to be rebunched and tied up with zip ties.  You can get all sorts of fancy items to bunch your cords together, but I find that zip ties are not too expensive and readily available at your local hardware store or on Amazon.
    Zip Ties
  • Next, you will gather all of those chords and small electronic devices into one place.  I know eventually they get loose and go all over the house, but at least to have a place to put all of your devices in one place is a great start to keeping the clutter down.  Here's a look at my favorite electronic collector - the Double Duty Caddy that I found on Pinterest!  You can even personalize it to say "Cords & Charges".  I love that!

Ten years ago, I would have never dreamed that I would spend a day cleaning just the electronics in the living room, but seriously, electronics have taken over!  My living room is the gathering place for all things electronics, because the kids aren't allowed to have electronics in their bedrooms. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Happy Mail

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a happy mail that I sent out to the customer on my Facebook VIP page that won a drawing for the Superbowl.  The winner happened to be my mom, so it made it extra fun to send some Happy Mail.
 
I bought a Valentine's Candy Heart box and put my message on the front with an address sticker, and then put an address label on the back with the addresses.  I took the whole thing down to the post office to mail.  It cost around $3 to ship!  Not bad! 
 
It's so fun to get odd items in the mail!  You could do this for a college student (which I also did) or for a past hostess to tell them how much you love them or their business.
 
Here's my message:
"Mom - I LOVE that you played along for my Superbowl party!  Customers are the HEART of my business!  Thanks!"

 
 
Even though today is Valentine's Day, you could still do this for past hostesses or special customers!  Go out tomorrow, the day after and buy up heart candy boxes and send them out to say "thanks for being the HEART of my business!"  It would catch their attention and make you stand out in their minds as a business person they want to go with in the future!  Plus, who doesn't love chocolate?
 


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 14 - Organize shelves and Drawers


Today is your chance to clean out any drawers or shelves in the Living Room! There's nothing really complicated about this day, but if you are like me, it's a much needed day!
 
Wipe off/out drawers with the EnviroCloth and apply that Oil/Vinegar mix as mentioned before to any wood that you are cleaning.
 
I love everyone else's shelves!  I love to peruse Pinterest for all kinds of ideas on how to make my living room shelves look like a magazine.  What am drawn to?  Well, simplified shelves! 
 

 Here's what I like for my shelves:

  • Simple, small collections, grouped together
  • Books in order of size, tallest to shortest, or visa versa.
  • If function is needed (i.e. videos, or remotes, etc.), use baskets or bins to organize clutter
  • Pick a 3-4 items of interest to "decorate" (this could be a globe, a vase, an antique camera, whatever)

I love how this shelving unit, although it's for an office, has the bins to reign in the clutter, yet has a few decorations as well as some books to add!   The order makes me happy.  Let's face it, most people don't have the luxury of having shelves that don't need to function for storage in their living room. 
 
For me, I homeschool in the living room, and have only one shelf available in our small living room - so it's where all the homeschool books live.  Pretty bags are where the daily school books are kept on my living room shelf, and then the rest of the shelf is just books and bibles.  Not fancy, but the clutter does get crazy regularly! 
 
So that's it!  Today you just clean and simplify your shelves so it feels clean! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 13 - Walls

Today's chore for Green Deep Cleaning the Living Room is to wash all of the walls.  I know!  Frankly, this is not something I think about doing very often, but once you start, you realize how dirty the walls really are.  My warning for this is that after inspecting and cleaning the walls really closely, you may decide you want to put a new coat of paint on them.  At least, this is what happens to me!

What you will need to wash the walls:

How to clean the walls:

  • I start on one wall, and then methodically work my way around the room.
  • For each section of wall, take the pictures off the wall. Wipe them down.

  • Lock the Mop head into position and attach the dust pad (the yellow pad) to the mop. Wipe down the wall with the Mop (yes you saw that right!  This Mop works so well on the walls, I actually get excited to wash the walls!)
  • Next, replace the dust pad with a wet (with water only) mop pad.  The wet pad is the blue one. Wash the wall.
  • Be sure to get the baseboards clean while washing the walls.  Depending on the size of your baseboards, you may have to go back with the EnviroCloth and wipe them down, but I always try to get that Mop to work on them first! (I'm a lazy cleaner!)
  • Use the EnviroCloth to clean up any spots, stains or corners that the Mop misses.  (Not usually very many things, but just in case.)
That's it, make your way around the room washing all of the walls in the room!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 12 - Woodwork

Today's Deep Cleaning is going to be all of the woodwork and furniture in the Living Room. The product I love the most to rejuvenate my woodwork is my Vinegar/Oil Combination.

To see more details on how this process works, go to my posting this day.  Are you sticking with me on this far in your deep cleaning?  For me, focusing on just one area at a time, or even just one chore each day, makes the entire process of Deep Cleaning seem doable. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 11 - Chairs & Couches

Now that we've Green Deep Cleaned the Kitchen and the Laundry Room, let's move on to the living room.  Today, we will be cleaning the chairs and couches that have cushions.

What you will need to clean your Living Room Chairs & Couches:

What to do:

  •  If you have any covers on your couches or chairs, before removing the cover, spray the UPP/water spray bottle on any stains, to pre-treat them.
  • Throw the covers into the washing machine with a scoop of UPP.  They'll be all ready and clean after you're done cleaning everything up!
  • Next, determine what kind of fabric your couch is made of.  Here is what the tags may mean:
W: OK to use water for cleaning.
S: Only use a solvent-based cleaner on fabric.
SW: Either water or a solvent cleaner is safe to use.
X: Only use a vacuum for cleaning.
  • If water is safe, go over all of the fabric, or microfiber couches with a wet (with only water) Envirocloth, wiping any of the stains or spots clean. This Envirocloth, is not just any rag or cleaning cloth, it really works to clean stains as well as 99% of the bacteria!  This should take care of most stains on the couches.
  • For any tough stains, spray a small amount of the UPP/water mix onto the stain, and wipe clean with the Envirocloth.
  • If you have any leather chairs, the Leather Shine with do wonders for those pieces of furniture.
  • Treat any of the wooden legs of the couches and chairs with the vinegar/oil treatment from the kitchen cupboards.
  • Next, take all those cushions out of the couch and use the vacuum cleaner to clean all of the crevices of the couch.
  • If you have fabric couches, you may want to treat all of the cushions and couches with the Mattress Cleaner.  This will get ride of more stains and the ever present dust mites!  I have allergies, so this is a must for me!
Here's my disclaimer:  I am an Independent Norwex Consultant and make a commission on any purchases made from my website.  This in turn, provides for my family, so I thank you for all purchases and support!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Snow Day

Don't you love a snow day?  We homeschool, and we still get excited about snow days from school.  Don't ask me why, because we still have school on snow days!  But, there really is a thing of wonder when it snows enough to cancel everything!  What do you do for snow days?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Green Deep Cleaning: Day 10 - Walls and Floors

Today, we follow up our cleaning of the washer and dryer today, with cleaning the rest of the laundry room.   Now that we've moved all of the lint out of the dryer, we can be sure to remove all of the lint from around the area as well.

What you will need today to clean:

Today's directions may be more individual for you, so I will just list the things you will need to do to make this area clean.  You may have to add things, or some suggestions may not pertain to you, if you don't have a laundry room.

What to clean:

  • If you have laundry cabinets, empty them out from top to bottom, wipe them down with the Envirocloth.  If these cupboards need to be cleaned and oiled on the outside, see my post HERE about how I used vinegar and oil for this.
  • Dust the walls down.  This is something, I'm not sure I've ever done before owning the Superior Mop System,  but now, I love to dust and wash the walls!  You'll want to lock the Mop head into place, put the dust pad on the mop and wipe down all the walls with the mop. After the walls are dusted, clean up the floors and space under the washer and dryer.


  • Follow the dust pad with the wet mop pad.  You'll want to get that pad wet before putting it onto the mop.  Wipe down the walls and floors with the wet Mop.
 
  • Finish cleaning up any other areas of the laundry room that we missed.  Comment below, if I missed something, so I can share that as well!
Since we've been talking a lot about the Superior Mop System lately, I do want to tell you a little bit about it.  Here's what makes the Mop so special!
One thing you'll want to add to your Superior Mop System is the Rubber brush.  This little brush will clean up that dust pad so quickly. 
 
Now the kitchen and laundry room are finished.  Are you hanging with me in Green Deep Cleaning your house?  We'll be moving on next to the living room. Stay tuned.