Wednesday, June 30, 2010

One Size Doesn't Fit All

OK this isn't my closet. It's actually Oprah's, and it's not even at her house. It's at her office. But this isn't about Oprah or closet organization or daytime television. I seriously need a bigger closet, not because I just love clothes shopping (not!) or because I'm a fashion slave and have to have all the newest styles. Throughout much of my adult life, a good portion of my clothes are in the I-love-this-so-much-but-it-doesn't-quite-fit category. Particularly, since having kids, here are my clothes categories:

  1. Current day-to-day mainstays of jeans, stretch pants, capris, t-shirts and cardigans

  2. Maternity clothes that I can pull off as regular wardrobe (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this). If you're one of those people who fit into their pre-prego clothes a month after having a baby, stop reading this right now. I have to decide if we can be friends (joking, of course).

  3. Pre-maternity clothes that I long to wear and that I try on occasionally to see if I'm getting any closer

  4. Small collection of "you wish/in your dreams" clothes I can't make myself get rid of.

Anyway, my curse of a slow metabolism is constantly at odds with my daily efforts to improve myself physically. I struggled with the idea of sharing this and exposing my insecurities, but call it therapy for me. Maybe it will help someone else with similar struggles to know I'm right there too. I'm confident in my ability to accomplish goals in most other areas in my life, from parenting to public speaking to managing a home...except this one. Confidence breeds success. Confidence breeds success. Confidence breeds success. Don't you think?

So, when do you feel most confident in your life?

How do you find success?

What do you have in your closet that's holding you back from accomplishing your most challenging goal?

And, most importantly, how do you find confidence where you're lacking? It's different for us all. With so many sizes out there, you're sure to find your perfect fit.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Very Full Plate

I am a busy person. I like to be busy. I think that being busy keeps me from doing things that are idle or wasting my time. For the last month or so I have been preparing for a very fun family adventure and I committed to doing a lot of things. On this adventure I'll have several birthdays to celebrate and a music camp to help teach at, two sisters married plus some new born babies to love. I'm lucky because I have all of that. I have the best family in the world and I wanted to make sure they knew I loved them. Being away from all of my family isn't fun and I miss out on a lot. I'm afraid I am going to be that aunt who you only get to see once or twice a year. I'll make a connection with them and then I will have to leave, only to start over on the next visit. So my plan: to make them tangible lovely things they can hold onto and remember me by for forever. Cozy, soft and pretty things that I created just for them.

Although this is my love and what I would choose to do with my time every day, I have a sweet family, a fairly large responsibility in church, a production I have been asked to help out with and last week, a birthday party to plan. These special projects just kept getting pushed aside and I was running out of time. Every night when the kids were in bed I would sew....sometimes until way too late. I began to wonder if I was crazy, if I needed some sort of intervention and somebody to teach me how to say NO to myself. And then I remembered the purpose and I began to love it again.

I'll admit I have no idea how to balance my time and I still don't know the secret to a productive organized life but I do know that making time for things you love, after everything else is done, is okay and fairly therapeutic. My stress levels have been high this last week but each time I sit to make something special I forget and then go to bed happy. Happy that I had made progress, happy that I had people to love, happy that I had taught myself how to put in an invisible zipper, happy that I got to see a vision in my head be produced, and mostly happy that I could hang in there and do things that were hard.

Don't ever feel bad or let people or yourslef into your head and tell you you're crazy for doing what you love. Make time for what is most important and then give yourself a chance to grow and to do hard things. If there is something you have always wanted to try but never have, then I encourage you to just do it! I made a skirt this week and from a pattern...and I don't do that. It was hard but I did it and I love that.

Do you have a late night hobby love?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Just Do It

Do you know that nifty little trick to get wrinkles out of your clothes? The one where you throw the clothing item in the dryer with a damp towel or washcloth for a few minutes? It works pretty well and allows you to continue doing other things while the wrinkles are taken care of. Unfortunately for my husband, this little task has almost become part of his daily morning routine. The poor man, he married a laundry imbecile.

I don't know what it is about doing laundry, I just can't seem to get a good routine down that makes it easy or enjoyable. There have been times when I found something that works, but my natural habit of letting it sit too long--in the washer, in the baskets, even in folded piles that can't seem to find their way to the closet or dresser--results in loads of clothes needing my attention all the time, and lots of wrinkles or stains or mildew smells--yuck!

That is why I'm revisiting the "Just do it" principle. I'm going to stop thinking about what I need to do, or should do, and I'm going to do it! I have so enjoyed all the tips this week from my friends. I know they are going to help. I think the biggest thing for me is simply having the things I need readily accessible and a place to  keep it all and get it all done; I am beginning to feel a rising sense of appreciation for large and well-equipped laundry rooms! But even without one of my own, I'm going to reorganize my "laundry closet" shelves and stream-line the process using all the tips and tricks from the posts this week, plus a few more I found--check these out if you need to get the remnants of a sticker off a shirt that went through the dryer, or get permanent marker off your favorite pants, or clean crayon out of the dryer:

Solutions for the Worst Laundry Mistakes from

Robbie's Kitchen--Laundry Tips

And if you want to read something that might help you get your mind working on the logistics of your laundry lot, take a few minutes and read

The Laundry Post, by Steady Mom, she is always so insightful and well-written.

I hope you have all found a little encouragement this week to improve your own laundry routine and habits. I know I have! And if you have something that works for you--please do share it with us!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Just like Jen, I have a set laundry day. That day is today, Thursday. I love having a set day. I love knowing that all my clothes are clean at the same time. It is wonderful. What is even better is knowing that I don't have to do it again until next Thursday. Unlike Jen, I HATE ironing though. I will just say that my husband really knows I love him when I iron his shirts. But since Jen already wrote about that, I will give you a few laundry tips.

1. Oxy Clean-I am sure you heard of it, but I love it. Add a scoop to your laundry for an extra boost.

2. Baking Soda-you can add up to one cup per load to help remove stinky odors.

3. Vinegar- (distilled white vinegar) add one cup per load to your towels and it will help make them softer. It helps remove all the leftover residue from the detergent. You will be amazed at the lint in your dryer after trying this.

I actually have a Sam's Club sized container for each of these products that sits on the shelf with my detergent so I can use it every week. You will be amazed at the results.

Oh, but don't add the Vinegar and Baking Soda to the same load. I have never done it, but I can only imagine the mess it would make. Think elementary school volcanoes, but in your washing machine.

4. If you have a stubborn stain that did not come out, do not dry the item in the dryer. Re-treat it and wash it again.

Happy Laundry Day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


 Image by Helen Siegler

I have a new post on Steady Mom -- check it out! :)

Downy-Scented Bliss

Call me crazy, but I actually enjoy doing laundry. I end up doing a small load here and there throughout the week, but there is always one major laundry day where everything gets washed - full loads of all colors, bedding and towels. Once everything is sorted, I just keep it going throughout the day while I'm doing other things around the house. As each batch is washed and dried, I unload the laundry basket on the sofa. At the end of the day when the kids are in bed, I can relax, watch some TV while I fold and organize the Downy-scented mounds of clean clothes into neat piles. Somehow this process is therapeutic for me, and I think I actually sleep better knowing that everything is clean and put away and the laundry baskets are empty when I wake up in the morning.

Ironing is something I don't enjoy as much as laundering and folding, but I don't mind it either. Really the only time we wear clothes that need ironing is to church on Sunday. I know my husband appreciates his crisp white shirts, and my kids (as short-lived as it is) look particularly cute and spiffy in their starched shirt, pants and dress.

I made this ironing board cover for my mom for Mother's Day using this tutorial.

She uses my grandma's old ironing board which is fatter and shorter than today's standard size. It's always been difficult, if not impossible to find a well-fitting cover for it, and with this tutorial, you can make it whatever size you want. I used scraps from my stash, but wouldn't it be cute in this:

or this?

(Laundry Essentials from Michael Miller)

I think I need to make one for myself! And if you just want a good laugh, take a look at this:

Well off to do some...well, not laundry. That was yesterday. Wishing you loads of happiness in the land of Laundry-dom!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Laundry Pile that Ate New York

My laundry pile in October 2008.
Some things never change.

This is the story of the Laundry Pile that Ate New York. Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. But it certainly seems to be eating my sofa. I don't even know how many loads it is, I'm afraid if I start counting I'll never ever stop! It begins innocently enough. I devise a system - say, one load washed, folded and put away every single day. And then it gets tedious. It just doesn't seem worth the effort to have only one pair of pants to put away here, two shirts to put away there. And so the pile grows. And grows. And grows. And finally I break down and spend an entire day on laundry, folding it all at the end of the day while I put in some rare TV time.

But it's all good. I'm cool with it. It's just the way I roll.

I think the only time I honestly do like doing the laundry is on beautiful summer days - sounds crazy, I know - but that's when I hang it on the line, and I love, love, love it. There's just something peaceful and meditative about being outside early, when the sun isn't too high yet, methodically hanging laundry. It's a ritual that's impossible to rush, so it forces me to begin my day slowly. We've pretty much had two days of sunshine since March around here, and I am longing to hang my laundry; I am missing those beautiful, peaceful summer mornings.

My laundry last summer - see how happy it looks?

While we wait for summer to finally arrive in the northwest, I am contenting myself in the meantime with the loveliness that is homemade laundry powder. Seriously, I love this stuff. It's easy to make, easy on the budget, and I can make it smell however I want! I've been mostly using this recipe from Sew Much Ado, only I really can't stand the smell of Fels Naptha soap, so I've been playing with substitutions; my favorite so far is Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day bar soap in lemon verbena. SouleMama uses a similar recipe using Dr. Bronner's castile soap. Next time I can get my hands on some, I'm going to try using homemade soap made by the hands of my very own mother-in-law.

However you get yours done, I hope your laundry pile is well-behaved, and may you fold in peace!

Sunshine and Happy Thoughts Will Come and Go but I'll Always Have LAUNDRY!

This is what lay in front of me today...only all over my upstairs floor.  I knew it needed to be done (several days ago) and today I had no choice.  9 loads of dirty stinky laundry (camping yuck included) that lay at my feet, begging to be cleaned.  Oh! And that does not even count the two clean loads I left in a wrinkly wad on the floor or the moldy-by-now-one I forgot about in the washer before we left.  Is it possible to be intimidated by your own mess?  Where do I even begin? 

I call the day before these kinds of days (which sadly lands too often on a Sunday) my monster laundry days.  It's like it slowly creeps up on me through out my week (or two) until one scary moment when I wake up to find that it has consumed all surfaces and it's icky smell I'm sure, can be noticed outside by our poor neighbors.  You can usually tell when I experience these nightmarish days by what my kids and I have to wear to church.  Like sort of tan nylons to grace these baby white manly legs of mine, a dress that was obviously too small for Sadie that beautifully showed off her baby white chunky legs, and Payton got to wear white socks to church and size 3T pants that flooded above his cute ankles.  It's fun going to church and trying to hide your obviously icky legs.  So yesterday I did my best pity dance in front of the mirror before I left and I, in my head forced myself to move on...refusing to do anything about it until Monday.  It drove me crazy but I held off because I was taught to not do it on our day of rest, and mostly because it was easier to ignore it.  All I had to do was not ever go upstairs.  Ha ha!

Well, my hopes of tackling this awful job were high today, as high as my never-ending-I'll-have-to-do-it-literally-for-forever pile of laundry. I got up early and cleaned the house (mostly I just had to pick up all the clothing lying around) sorted it all into piles (whites, kind of whites, lights, dark jeans, darks that didn't include jeans, blankets, kitchen towels...ya I had enough, bath towels and hand-washables...why do I own those anyway?) and Payton helped me fold the two clean wrinkled loads. I was excited to get it all done and to show you the progress I had made...or how enormously high my neat folded piles were.

BUT...doing the laundry made me remember that our little family needed some things for a few special weddings coming up.  I put the kids in the car and we left as the washer and dryer kept on working hard. I intended to return soon after the loads were done but we didn't return until 5 hours later. Oops!

So with a very frowny face and a huge loud disappointed sigh I regretfully admit that I, instead of doing what HAD to be done, went shopping.  Ironic, isn't it, that my day was spent only adding to the worst chore in the world? I did score some pretty awesome deals though and at least my family is going to look presentable for these weddings.  It's just a really good thing that I have tomorrow to continue what I started today.

Help!  There has to be a better way. 


Sharing the Memories

Our topic last week was in preparation for our annual family camping trip. And when I say family camping trip, I mean ALL our families. In some ways it feels like we are just one big family on the nights when we all pitch our tents together and start cooking around the campfire. We share a campsite, our food, and the joy of watching the kids play and get dirty.  We were sad that Jen and her family couldn't be there. Although, I'm sure they are not sad to have missed the rain that drenched us from about 1:30 in the morning until we left the next day. Here are a few, or maybe a bit more than a few photos of the things that made this less-than-24-hour camping trip so memorable.

Jenni prepared the kabobs for dinner. They were amazing. Marinated chicken, red onion, pineapple, and sweet peppers cooked over the hot coals make a very tasty and filling meal after setting up camp. The best part is how easy they are--you prepare them before you leave home and the clean up in minimal. Mmmmm!

Rachel brought water color paints for the kids to use while we got camp set up. I have to say that I thought it was a genius idea! Again, very little clean-up and fun for all the kids, from our five-year-olds to our one-year-olds.

While dinner was cooking we took the kids on a nature walk with a set of nature bingo cards. We looked for smooth bark, birds, rocks, and when we found them we all cheered "hula, hula, hula" and spun in circles--the kids really got into it.

We found an amphitheater with a stage at our campground where the kids had a great time doing the hokey pokey and getting their wiggles out.  

We roasted some pretty awesome giant campfire marshmallows made especially for s'mores. And, as you can see, they came out gooey and good! One marshmallow was more than enough to make an excellent s'more and totally fix any kind of sugar fix you might need!

There were other things roasted on the fire this year--like fresh pineapple, yum! We also had a few variations for our s'mores--like Nutter Butter cookies, Nutella, and chocolate and caramel flavored marshmallows. The big hit with both the adults and the kids though, was Starburst candies--not on the s'mores, but just all warm and soft and gooey goodness all by themselves!

One more lesson learned about food on this trip--we have got to keep the Cheetos hidden until after dinner! All our kids, and most of the adults, LOVE Cheetos. And they are such a tempting little crunch to munch! As you can see from the messy mouth and smile on the picture above, we all enjoyed them!

The kids all had a blast playing with their flashlights when it got dark. And the picnic tables became a great hide-out for these little spies! :)

And finally, here are some fun beach shots from our morning trip to the Puget Sound. We camped right by the ocean, and after packing up all our wet gear, the rain stopped long enough for a walk on the beach to explore and take some fun pictures together.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sleeping Bags

Beat that Snuggie!

I have some fond memory's of sleeping bags.

1) Going camping and some how waking up every morning with half my bag wet, possibly my head too, and wedged into the corner of the tent. Seriously, I can not sleep still. Even if I have a sleeping pad under me, I somehow roll or slip right off and into a corner.

2) Freezing my tooshie off getting my pj's on and slipping into a freezing cold mummy bag. Seriously, they are supposed to keep you warm, but it is hard getting my body out of the cold shock in those things.

3) Fleece liners for the sleeping bags. The day my dad got those, it seemed to solve problem 2. Cozy and warm!

4) Socks, I always seemed to loose a sock while camping. Sure enough the next time we went camping, or when we dried them out at home, it would be found. They have a hard time staying on in the sleeping bag. (Yes, I sleep with my socks on while camping. If I didn't, my toes would freeze!

5) I have to sleep with my own pillow so I always put it sideways in my pillow to sleep. I used to love the smell of camping when I got home and sleeping on my dirty sticky pillow was heaven. Yeah, I grew out of that one. I still take my own pillow from my bed though. I just make sure to wash the pillowcase first thing when we get home, or take a spare pillowcase.

6) Getting into a tent with those slippery things on the ground, and not knowing if any one is in them. Yeah, that can make things interesting with 6 kids and 2 adults. (My parents, brothers, sisters, and I.) Watch your step. I have had my fair share of mishap's.

7) This one is probably my favorite part of sleeping in a sleeping bag. Zipping myself up in it so only my nose sticks out. I have always loved that cosy snug as a bug in a rug feeling.

I could name more of my sleeping bag memories without camping involved like sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag, sleeping bag tag, etc. But since this is camping week, I will refrain. As for camping, A sleeping bag is one essential you need, so there has got to be a memory there. Do share!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Camping With Kids

When I was a tween/early teen, my family owned 10 acres of untarnished lakefront forest property and we would spend weeks at a time there when we could. And yes, it was pretty much heaven for my siblings and I. 10 acres of woods to run around in, and we each had our own specially favorite spots. Mine was a huge old stump in the middle of nowhere with a view of the lake through the trees, where I would go and read or just sit and be still for as long as I wanted to. And even though I'm pretty sure those woods have been since cleared for development of something-or-other, I'm so glad I have the memory of that magical place. It's something I hope to give to my children, too.

Which is part of why we go camping every summer! I'm hoping to find some special place that our family can go back to year after year, but until then we've been trying to explore wherever we can. Wherever you camp, though, if you're camping with little ones, here are some excellent articles for you!

Camping 101 by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright for FamilyFun.
Happy Campers by Clark Norton, also for FamilyFun.
The Art of Camping (including a must-have camping checklist!) by Catherine Newman of the now-gone Wondertime Magazine.

Happy reading, and most of all Happy Camping!