Monday, January 31, 2011

   Some Free Home decor

We are on a pretty tight budget these days as we are trying to get our 1 credit card all paid off.  So...I have found myself browsing through my favorite blogs to find home decor ideas.  A while ago, I stole this idea from my favorite blogger, Jen over at IHeart Organizing.  Of course, I didn't do quite as good a job as she did, but it worked for what I wanted.  Free pencil cup:

This is a soup can with a bit of scrapbook paper wrapped around it.  I even went super lazy and just taped the paper.  It would have looked better with hot glue, but I was kind of in a hurry when I made it.  A couple days later I took the extra step and put ribbon around the top (with hot glue this time).   
And then here is another one I threw together because I like the paper and needed something to old a few dry erase markers.

Nothing fancy but definitely cuter than a plain soup can.
I also need something for my youngest daughter's wall.  I had moved some things around and ended up with a horribly blank and plain wall.  My Dad had made a beautiful wood name plaque for her when she was born.  I just needed something to go under it and like I mentioned, we aren't really spending any extra money right now. 

So, I went to my ever trusty Microsoft Excel program and used the Word Art feature.
 Then I matted it on (again) some scrapbook paper and slapped it in a frame.  
  And this is how the wall looks now.  Much better.
 And here is the pig's eye view.  haha
I have found a serious love of scrapbook paper!  You can use that stuff for everything.  It adds such a decorative touch to the most common things and makes them look so much prettier.  I am all about cheap and easy decor.  I am hoping to create some more and maybe with a little more flair soon.  

What have you guys created out of things you all ready have?

Friday, January 28, 2011

   Shame, shame

Shame on me!  I have been neglecting my blog this week.  I am so sorry about that.  There has been a lot going on over here in the McKinley household.  The most exciting thing is that my Thirty-One kit came!!!  Yay!  Jump for joy.  (Can you tell I am a little excited?)   The products are even better than I had hoped and I CAN NOT WAIT to have my first party!!

I have a confession to make...I have been completely neglecting my organizing. =(  Kevin even brought it up last the most respectful and sweet way.  He just mentioned how proud I had been of all my organizing accomplishments and wondered why I had kind of fell off the bandwagon.  In all honesty, I don't know.  We have had some stressful stuff going on and I think I kind of lost my focus.  But he is right....I was very proud of how our house was coming along and how organized it all was.

So...I vow to you all now....I am back on track!  The organizing blogger is going to get back at it!  I am not sure exactly what I am going to tackle or what my plan is....but I will be sure to let you know!

Have any of you gotten off to a good start only to lose momentum?  What did you do to get back on track?

Monday, January 24, 2011


I have been thinking for a while now about becoming an at home party consultant.  I wanted to contribute to the family income, if only in a small way.  And I also thought it would be good for me to have my own thing that might even get me out of the house every once in a while.  Which is always good for a stay at home Mom!  But I didn't want anything that would take too much time away from my family and our family time.

The dilemma was deciding which company to join.  It had to be something that I liked personally because I know myself and I couldn't sell something to someone else that I didn't believe in.  And it had to be something that I didn't have to pressure other people into joining my team.  I am doing this because it is something I want to do.....I am not about to tell other people they should do it too (unless they want to).

I ended up deciding on Thirty-One!  I have an old childhood friend who sells it and LOVES it!  I asked her about a billion questions and decided that this was the right company for just feels like a perfect fit!

As of last night, I am now officially a Thirty-One Gifts consultant!  I am really excited to have joined this company and to get started!  I just love all of their stuff, it is so stinkin' cute and so useful!  All of their stuff kind of goes right along with all my organization I have been doing lately.  It will only help me out even more!

So, if you are interested in hosting a party or just buying some awesome can check out my website at    or just send me a message.  :-)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

   The parenting tight rope

I don't know about all of you other parents out there, but there are so many times that I feel like parenting could most definitely be compared to walking a tight rope!  I have 3 kids all under the age of 4.  My oldest will be 4 in March and my youngest will be 7 months tomorrow.  I am constantly trying to balance my home, my husband, my kids, and myself (which we should all make time for).   There are just so many aspects to being a stay at home Mom.  I am constantly questioning how I am doing as a parent.  Especially since it is the most important thing I will EVER do.

I have found one of my biggest obstacles to be my very own computer.  The internet has a way of sucking me in and making me lose all track of time.  I am going to admit to all of you right now that I know I spend way too much time on my computer.  And I am terrified that my kids are going to think that I care more about my computer than them.  I have been completely addicted to all these organization and home decor blogs.  And I have found so many great ideas on them.  But the important things in my life are not found on this computer.  So....I have decided that I am going to stay connected to a couple of my favorites but I am going to have to step back from the rest.

I mentioned to my hubby that maybe I should stop doing this blog, because it does take some time.  But being the best husband in the world like he is, he said that he didn't like that idea.  He told me that I should keep it up because he thinks I still need to have my own thing, especially since I have been really enjoying it and I am honestly proud of it. won't be getting rid of me just yet!  haha  Going back to the tight rope analogy, I have found that my husband is definitely my balancing pole.  We all need something that helps keep us balanced and that is exactly what Kevin is for me (and so much more).

But let's get back to parenting....Do any of you have any great tips for parenting?  Any fun ideas?  Let's hear 'em!

Friday, January 21, 2011

   Day 18....not really.

So today's challenge is to organize keepsakes (like your kid's artwork and special things).  I have a plan for this....but I am not ready to put it into motion yet.  So far, what I do is to put special things into the kid's baby books (when they will fit).  And we hang their artwork on display in the toyroom as I mentioned here

I do have a plan, though.  Throughout this next year, I plan to make each of my kids their very own keepsake box to put their special treasures in.  (I made one for my niece for her birthday as shown here.)  I am thinking that this will be what we use to put special keepsakes in, but then I worry that they will get ruined if the kids are allowed access to them.  But on the same note....what kind of gift is it if I won't let them touch it.  So I am somewhat torn on this.  What do you all think? 

I also really like Jen's idea over at IHeart Organizing where she uses decorated binders to keep her son's special papers. Maybe I can do both!

What do you guys do with all your kid's "treasures"?  Got any ideas for me???

Thursday, January 20, 2011

   Day #17 ~ Getting Organized Challenge (The mail station)

Today's challenge is the mail station.  Right after Christmas, we purchased a wall organizer for this purpose.  I will admit right now that I haven't really been using it properly.  So today I spent some time thinking about how best to use the slots.  Then I whipped up some labels in Excel, matted them on scrapbook paper, and laminated them.

Here is the before....pretty bland and boring:
 And here it is after slapping on the labels.  Looks so much better doesn't it?!

 I made Katelin a box and not the other kids because she is the only that goes to school (preschool that is).  We will have to figure it out later when the other 2 are in school too.
 I really like the ideas that Toni over at a Bowl Full of Lemons uses with the portable file...but we just don't have much counter space.  As my kids get older and I need to a box for each of them, we may have to switch to that.  But for now...I think this will work.

What do you guys all do for your mail?  Have you found a way to fight the paper piles?  I will update you all in a few weeks to let you know if this is working for us or not.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

   Day #16 ~ Getting Organized Challenge (Cleaning out & Organizing the Fridge)

I actually did this last week on the clean the freezer out day.  I figured as long as my hands were all ready freezing, and I was already elbow deep in Yuck, I might as well just do the fridge too.  And let me tell was NASTY!!!  I had been meaning to do it for a while now, but was avoiding it.

Here are the befores (please don't judge, I know it is gross): nasty is this?!  We must have had a leaky milk carton at some point.  bleh (and a foam in the world did that get there?)
 All cleaned sparkly clean.  It looks brand new!
 Then I tackled the door shelves....and they came out great as well!
 Threw out A LOT of stuff!  It looked so empty afterward....time to go grocery shopping!

I feel so much better having this done.  And it makes me smile every time I open the fridge and see how clean it is.  I feel lighter just knowing that this is done and I don't have to be embarrassed every time someone opens my fridge!'s whats for dinner!

I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a chef, nor do I play one in real life!  haha  But since I now have a family of 5 and I stay home with said family....I have been trying really hard to start cooking some decent meals.  Let's just say that a few years ago, we pretty much survived on box meals, frozen meals, and take out.  Hamburger Helper was even beyond me.

But I have made a lot of progress in the past couple years.  Last night I made goulash and by God...It was really good!!!'s what I did....

I started out by bowling some elbow noodles.  While they were boiling, I put about a pound of hamburger and a chopped up green pepper in the skillet.

 Something about this picture just struck me....when I looked in the pan I just really liked the bright red of the meat and the bright green of the peppers.  It looked really pretty.
 Then I added a can of stewed tomatoes.

 And after that simmered for a bit, I added a jar of spaghetti sauce.  This is our new favorite is delicious and locally made!
 Then add the noodles and let it all simmer together for a few minutes.

Then serve and eat!  Yum  

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

   Day #15 ~ Getting Organized Challenge (Medicine/Vitamin Organization)

Ok...Day # 15...took all of about 5 minutes.  Just to be honest, I have to admit that I had started working on this one last week.  But is the before:
 Obviously the left hand side is what I worked on last week.  Prior to that we had a basket that was full and jumbled with everything.  If you wanted band aids, you had to dig and good luck finding the antibiotic cream to go with them.  It was a pain!
 I'm not sure if you can tell but there are cookbooks on the right hand side of this one....I didn't even know I had these!  Also, when I pulled everything out....I found 5 months worth of heartworm prevention for the dog (all you pet owners know how much that stuff costs! )  Yay!
 Ahhhh....much better!
 This side didn't change much.  The meds are divided into, adult meds, bandages, and then kids meds.
Those boxes in the back are my son's asthma medicine.  It takes up a lot of room  but we have to have it on hand.  I never stacked it like that much better.  This cabinet is so much better now!

Monday, January 17, 2011

   No bathroom cabinets here, so lets organize my life!

Well....unfortunately we don't have a bathroom cabinet in the house.  We only have 1 bathroom (yes, for all 5 of us...but adding another is on my wish list) and the sink in there is a pedestal sink.  I have rearranged and reorganized the bathroom in the past few weeks (and I LOVE it).  But I still can't participate in today's challenge at A Bowl full of Lemons. 

Instead....I thought I might share some of my other newly founded and created organizing tools.  The first thing I have come up with is a meal plan.

I never would have guessed that I would use one....but let me tell you.  I have been using it for 2 weeks now and it is AWESOME!!!  It is so nice to be able to know what I am making for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday!  It takes maybe 5 mins to put together and then I know exactly what I need to buy at the grocery store (which saves money too!) and I know if I need to pull meat out of the freezer the night before.  And it takes so much stress out of my day.  Just having a plan is such a relief when it's been one of those crazy days (which it is A LOT!). 
    So, to make this handy dandy little meal chart...I just designed a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel (with inspiration from IHeart Organizing).  Then I matted it on some scrapbook paper and of course laminated it to make it durable and dry erasable (if thats a word).   Easy Peasy and cute too!

My next new organizing tool is a new calandar on the fridge.  I am going to make my best effort to write everything we have going on here.  So that we can all reference it at anytime.  So far, so good....but I only just bought it on Saturday.  =)
My last tool was that early last week I created a family schedule.  I used Microsoft Excel again, and mapped out our entire day.  I color coded each member of the family and scheduled out what each of us was doing at each hour of the day.  I know this sounds crazy and OCD (and I would have thought the same a month ago) but it really did help to see what we were spending our time on.  It was also useful to schedule out some specific family time.
I have to say that I am completely in love with my newly organized life.  I am also loving my freshly organized house.  I truly feel so much happier and calm! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

   The Power of a candle

I never knew how powerful a candle could be.  Like so many weekends, the house had gotten a little messy this weekend.  I try not to waste precious family time on cleaning during the weekends.  Since I am a stay at home Mom, I do my best to keep the house up during the week.  The kitchen was getting pretty out of control this weekend.  And finding the motivation to clean it on a Sunday afternoon is tough!

Yesterday Katelin and I took some special time for the 2 of us.  We went to the mall and while we were there I returned some things to Bath and Body works.  I ended up exchanging some stuff for a couple candles (certain scents were 50% off).  I set one on the windowsill in the kitchen.

While Kevin was busy doing something outside, I lit the candle.  The wonderful creamy nutmeg scent started filling the house.  And before I knew it I was in the kitchen putting dishes away, wiping the counters, and decluttering the counter top.  And all because of a little candle.  I guess that would be proof that if you are happy in your space you are more likely to keep it looking nice!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

   Day #13 ~ Getting Organized Challenge (The Medicine Cabinet)

Day 13.....the medicine cabinet.   This isn't a very big space and yet I had been meaning to get to it for a while now.  We have a pedestal sink so we have like NO counter space.  Up until about last week sometime, we had one of those rubbermaid rolling carts right between the sink and toilet for my makeup, hair stuff, etc.  But Kevin always hated it.  So I reorganized and got rid of it.  But that meant that we also lost some usable "counter" space.  

Anyway....back to the med cabinet.  Here is the before:

 Emptied out.....Can we say GROSS!

My first attempt at reloading them.  I took out one shelf so that we could fit our toothbrushes in too.  I really like the 1 shelf option....but this set up just wasn't quite right...
 Added a small basket to the bottom shelf and moved things around (again) and I was much happier!
It's funny how organizing such a small space can make you feel so accomplished!  I feel like we will be able to get ready in the morning easier now!  Thanks Toni!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

   On my own Today...a keepsake box

Today's Challenge over at A Bowl Full of Lemons is the spice cupboard....well....I don't really have one!  I am not much of a wiz in the kitchen so I don't have very many spices.  I just don't use them much!

So I figured I would just do my own thing today.  I think I will showcase my most recent project.  I have been more crafty in the past couple months than the rest of my life all combined.  I have always considered myself a NON-crafty person.  I don't feel like I am very creative or imaginative.  I wish I was more so.  But I have 3 kids now....which means in the future we will have A LOT of birthday parties to attend.  I figured now would be the time to figure out how to start making gifts.

I started with my niece's birthday which was on Christmas.  We celebrated it last weekend.  As I thought about what to make her, I tried to think of the things that I would have liked when I was a little girl.  And it came to me....I was always wanting to save special "treasure" but where do you keep them?

So I went to AC Moore (which is a lot like a Michaels) and bought a hat box and some mod podge.  I am now in love with Mod Podge!!  You can do anything with that stuff!!!!  It is awesome!   But anyway....originally I bought some tissue paper, as I had seen a You Tube video tutorial on how to rip it up and mod podge it.  I started on the inside of the lid.  It looked ok....but I wasn't thrilled with it.  I wanted a more personal and streamlined look.  So out I went to AC Moore again.  This time I bought some scrapbook paper.  Now we were getting some where.  I modpodged it like crazy.  One of the pieces of paper I had bought was a Tinkerbell piece (my niece loves her) and it had little sayings all over it.  So I pulled out my crafty scissors and cut out a bunch of the sayings and glued them on the lid.  I also had some letter stickers, so I spelled out her name.  (Now I have a cricut which would have been fun).

I then wrapped paper around the rim of the lid and then the outside of the box.  I guess I didn't cut the rim of the lid PERFECTLY because it stuck up just a little and I was afraid (actually it was Kevin, my husband, who pointed it out) that it would get caught or picked at and rip.  So out to JoAnns (this time) I went AGAIN!  I bought a couple different types of ribbon to put on the edge.  I hit the jackpot on this one sequin one.  It looked great and totally made the box!!!

And this is how it turned out:

(please don't mind my slippered foot haha)

What do you think?  I am pretty happy with how it turned out.  I am proud of it actually.  My plan is to make one for each of my kids and my nephew through-out this year for each of their birthdays.  I know that I would have liked something like this...I hope they do too!

What kinds of fun things have you all found to do with mod podge?  I am a newbie here so please share your ideas!

I am linking up to: