Friday, August 29, 2014

random randomness 8/29/14

saturday--if you're slightly addicted to instagram {like i just maaaaayy be}, you must check out
this blog post from elise.  i've already posted a few IG's that i just love, thanks to her tips.  
theeeeee very best pointer she gave, in my opinion, is in the comments.  if you scroll through the comments section, you can't possibly miss it...because my comment immediately follows it, lauding its praises.
no.  i won't tell you.  you have to go see.

sunday--someone told me about this book.  and then, later at walmart, i came across this book.  
and even though i've never read any of these books, i'm considering reading those other two 
{they're all by the same author--the first two mentioned were written under a pen name}.

monday--ignore the bad photos {hey, this isn't a photography blog--and yes, they're pretty terrible}, 
and make this cake.  
it's been a long while, but i baked it again this week.  and  yes.  it's just.that.good.

tuesday--completely filled my devotion journal...and treated myself to this new one from target.

wednesday--are you in back-to-school season around your house?
i'm never on facebook.  like never, ever, ever.  but a friend texted me this link this week and i loved it.  
and then i saw that it was floating around facebook.  so...chances are you've probably already seen it.  
but just in case you haven'

thursday--typical of his dinner-time questions, paul posed this one to austyn tonight.  
did you really know the answer before you read it?

friday--whoa.  who even knew this was possible??

because it's just too good not to share...
this podcast...
this handbag (although i like this print much better)...
speaking of prints...
and lastly, take this recipe and this recipe, combine them to your tastes and come up with a perfect hybrid fresh peach salsa.  we omitted the honey, but loved the garlic.  be sure to add enough lime juice and red onion to off-set the sweetness of the peaches.  sooooooooo yummy.  we ate it over fish tacos.

my hubs had to work this past sunday; but as a trade-off they gave him friday off.
he, in his supreme kindness {no sarcasm, truly}, turned and gave me friday as a "day off" for myself.  
i love my children madly and deeply; but given our constant togetherness {as by-product of homeschooling}, i sometimes need a {long} bit of alone time.
i'm headed to the library for a {hefty} stack of books to take with me on our road trip {leaving late next week}.  our local library is closed {they're moving to a new location} so i'm exploring the library in a neighboring community {they extend their borrowing privileges to our library members}.  you'd probably laugh if you knew how excited i am for the quiet of a few hours in an unknown library.   it sounds absolutely delicious to me.

happy friday, y'all!

{favorite IG post of the week--i'm @tweetpotatopie on there, too.}

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

on finding balance {terrica's story}...

my lovely friend, terrica, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
terrica is a "once-upon-a-time-and-will-be-again blogger" at terrica joy 
and can be found on instagram at @terricajoy.
terrica and i crossed paths via instagram and have exchanged long hand-written letters.
terrica's international travels seem to have given her a unique ability 
to live life more slowly than the average american.
i value her outlook and her capacity to see beyond the complications of the immediate
 to the peace and harmony of the future.


Lay it down, came the gentle whisper.  My whole body went stiff.  Standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth I scowled at myself in the mirror.  Lay it down?  Are You serious?  It’s the solitary thing I even do for myself anymore.  Lay it down!?  You told me to do it in the first place!

I knew an argument with the God of the universe was futile, but I also knew He was big enough to let me vent for my own sanity.  But just as I prepared to launch into my barrage, a sudden unexpected sense of peace came over me.  Besides, I was too exhausted to argue anyway.  I stared unmoving at myself in the mirror.  Fine.  Just… fine.  I know You can be trusted. 

As I climbed into the shower mulling it all over, my sense of peace and space grew.  The grip of obligation and expectation (even with something I so loved, my writing) began falling away and giving room to deep and nourishing breaths.  Maybe this is a good thing, I thought.  Maybe it’s a wonderful thing!  Moments later as I shut off the water I realized my initial frustration had literally been transformed into joy.  The joy of letting go.
As mothers and wives we hold ourselves to no small expectation.  When you consider the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual toll, simply being a wife is enough.  And mother, well, that’s a role of epic, unspeakable profoundness.  Add in chicken-keeper, garden-tender, bill-payer, dish do-er, laundry-folder, toddler-entertainer, grocery-getter, bottom-wiper, 3-meals-a-day-creator, bed-maker, errand-runner, annnnnnnd any other endless variety of tasks both large and small, and it’s enough to drive anyone downright mad.  Let’s be real.  But for me this creates double the dilemma.

I am, without question, a free-spirited beauty seeking dreamer.  I spend long moments of every day quite literally doing things like examining tiny flower petals.  Gazing at the rustle of leaves against the sky.  Staring at chickens pecking around.  Writing poetry and lyrics in my head.  I instinctively focus in deeply and quietly on one task, one moment, one thought at a time.  It’s its own kind of gift, being so very present in my everyday, never missing a single beautiful moment.  But it also causes problems.  One major problem: I don’t know how to multi-task. 

Unlike most women I know, juggling a million small tasks at once makes me want to crawl into the fetal position and cry.  I like things linear, symmetrical, each in their own space, tended to in an orderly and usually sequential order.  It’s nice, at times.  It’s also infuriating.

For ten years my husband and I managed just fine with all our OCD quirks.  Aside from work we spent our days at leisure, cooking long meals, staying up until the wee hours entertaining friends, traveling across the globe taking in several countries at a time.  But then after a decade of adventure and marriage, a daughter.  A beautiful, heart stopping, crazy kind of love that brings everything you know to a grinding halt.  If you’re a momma, you know precisely. 

Problem is, you can’t quietly accommodate all your OCD quirks with a little.  They don’t wait for you to pick up the house before you tend to their demands.  They don’t always sleep when you want or how you want or even where.  Quite frankly, it’s far less about anything you want and more about everything they want. They blow your nice, orderly world to smithereens in an instant.  But I knew this, right?  I was prepared!  I could rock this!   I was determined.

And so I tried for months to keep up with it all.  The writing, the crafting, the small jobs on the side.  I hammered out book proposals and submitted guest posts to various publications.  I did give-aways and craft projects and photography gigs to the point of literal tears.  It was everything I wanted, right?  The creative, stimulating, stay-at-home-mom-does-all, perfect kind of world, right? 
Of course it wasn’t.  I was killing myself.  For no good reason.  And I wasn’t enjoying it. 

That was what I realized in the shower that evening.  I didn’t want to do it all.

What I wanted was long moments with my tiny girl, undistracted, uninterrupted.  I wanted to lay with her on a blanket in the sunshine among the tulips at the Arboretum and not even think of blogging about it.  I wanted long walks and handwritten letters to friends and baking cookies in my kitchen with wooden spoons to lick and giggles to share.  I wanted freedom from the expectations I alone had placed on myself.  I wanted to be the wife and mother and friend God called me to be without the trappings of obligation. 

So that very night, I laid it all down.  And I’ve not looked back since.

Because I knew I needed some kind of accountability, I wrote a declarative blog post titled ‘The Intention Project,’ clicked publish, and exhaled the weight of paralyzing, joy-robbing stress.  I set my heart to be present, to ‘be all here,’ to drink in each given moment without any concern for the next.  And let me tell you friends, it is bliss. 

These days I allow myself the freedom to blog when I feel like it, and I instead use Instagram like a teeny creative outlet on a daily basis.  It’s enough for now.  I peacefully put the book proposal in a folder out of sight, something to look forward to in another season.  And I started saying ‘no.’ A lot.  I’ve turned down offers of all kinds from speaking engagements to travel gigs to enticing job offers with women I so admire.  But my days have never been more full, filled to the brim with things I enjoy, things that matter.  Like watching my girl chase bubbles, mastering a new recipe to feed my family, delivering eggs to neighbors just because and writing life-giving letters to friends.  They are life-giving, soul-nourishing days in which I delight.  And I am a much, much happier wife and momma.  I couldn’t possibly be more grateful to drink in these sacred days.  Being present always has a way of causing gratitude to expand to the point of bliss.

My personal reality is simply that I cannot do it all, and more importantly, I don’t want to.  It’s so okay to say I don’t want to do it all.  The simple truth is God made me to savor one thing at a time.  One batch of cookies, one flower in the garden, one shifting cloud in the sky.  He delights in my being present with my daughter in the simplest of moments and discoveries, because isn’t that precisely what He’s modeled for us?

My prayer for you today is that you find that tender balance among the mundane, that beautiful space of awareness and joy amidst the errands and shrieks and laundry piles, and delight there.  Take in this moment for the gift that it is and breathe a silent prayer of gratitude, and you’ll find with amazement that all is worship, all is joy.
{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

on finding balance {danielle's story}...

my inspiring friend, danielle, is sharing her "finding balance" story today.
danielle blogs at take heart and can be found on instagram at @danielleburkleo.
almost two years ago, when i was ready to "take the plunge" and finally start a blog, 
danielle {who does blog design} was recommended to me by a close friend.  
danielle's kindness and grace with her very tech-illiterate client {me!} were above and beyond 
anything i could have hoped or asked for.
i'm motivated on an almost-daily basis by danielle's "juggling act"...
balancing her growing family, her walk with Jesus, and her in-home business.


When Erin asked me to consider writing a post about finding balance, I said yes! and had plans of having it written, and sent to her, before I went on vacation in early July. Now, it's the day before my post will go live and I am just sitting down to write it. Oh, the irony.

I'll start with saying that I don't think anyone has it all together. To believe that there are flawless, perfectly balanced lives is just a lie that Satan will feed to us. Especially to us women craving a life  that looks like that. There aren't women I look at, online or in every day life, and ponder over their togetherness. It would be silly to think that just because someone has a beautiful home, or beautiful photos, or the perfect hair, and so on and so forth, that everything else in their life looks that way. We all have struggles, and we all share about those struggles in different ways. Instead of feeling discouraged when you see someone who has something you want - whatever it may be - feel inspired by them. That's one of my charges to you, sweet sisters.

My own, personal, short answer to how do I find balance? is that I don't. 

I am a mess. My plan of getting out of bed and running before all the kids wake up at 6 am rarely works out because a) I'M SO TIRED. b) they are all already awake c) do I really want to run? Pancakes sound so much better. I spend time working when I should be spending time with the Lord. I fall short in the areas of meal planning,  showering more than twice weekly, and having any desire in the world to put all that laundry away. My kids eat cereal for breakfast and dinner, and I'm cursing under my breath that soccer practice is four nights a week.

For me: This is the season of life that I'm in. It's hectic, and the floors are sticky as all get out, but I wouldn't change it for the world. We are in the thick of so many things. A young, growing family, navigating through the adventure of a new house we just finished remodeling, yet it still has so very much work to be done. My business is growing but I'm still unsure if I should actually consider having hired help a day or two a week. I'm swimming through laundry due to the lack of dressers in our home. I'm not preparing the meals I planned on preparing on Sunday, my DIY ombre has been looking orange since June, and I'm never 100% confident in the schooling choices I make for my kids.

I don't care if you're single, married, one kid, thirteen kids, working 9-5, a stay at home mom, New York, California, or Kansas, we are all trying to figure out how to have control of this crazy, messy, beautiful thing called life. But, here's the best part: We don't have to be in control! I am so happy to say that, today, I am not in control, praise the Lord. Christ brings me under his control, and through the blood of his cross I have a peace that passes all understanding. I can give all my plans that fell through and all my hopes of a well balanced life to Him. My identity is in Him and not how much I can get done in one day, how many miles I ran, or how I can perfect being a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom.

I don't have a magical plan on how to make it all work. If someone could give me one, I'll kiss them on the mouth. I do, however, have a short list of what I know I need. I need to put Christ first in my life, my husband second, and my precious kiddos third. If I don't do this, I need to check myself and get to doing it. I need community and I need worship. I need time for just me and my man. I need to pray over my kids and give them back to Jesus every morning. I need to rest and, most importantly, I need to take a girls trip every year, or maybe twice a year. I mean, seriously.

It's a simple list, really, and even though I lose my way more times than I can count, the Lord always floods me with His grace when I need it the most.

{the other posts in this series can be found here.}

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

what we're reading {august edition}...

i read so many books this month...
one or two of them will remain on my favorites list forever and ever.

austyn and colton were both thoroughly caught up in the beauty of summer and didn't read nearly as much as they usually do.

here's what we're reading...

erin's pile--cold antler farm by jenna woginrich.  first of all, i haven't found anything written by jenna woginrich that isn't worth reading.  her blog is definitely worth checking out if you've never been over there.  i love her writing style.
i absolutely adored made from scratch, and felt almost as strongly about one-woman farm.  when we decided to raise laying hens, her chick days was the first resource i bought.  
all that said, this is my least favorite of her books.  it felt like a less-interesting re-hash of one-woman farm.  however, it still had enough goat stories and homesteading tales to keep my attention to the end.  i don't regret buying it.

the longest ride by nicholas sparks.  i was reading blog tips last night, and one of them said that if you find yourself in a writing rut, you should turn things completely upside down for a month.  do something 180° different.
i think nicholas sparks needs to write a novel that takes place in a foreign country.  characters with foreign names.  no horses.  no Carolinas {North or South}. no cowboys.  no mountains.
i'd buy it.  and i'd read it.
because, Lord knows, i'm a devoted reader of his.  i've read every single one of his books...and own all of them, too.
but it's time for a change.  it just is.
and i know that i am no one.  a big old nobody.  
and he's a NY Times bestselling author.
but i get to express my opinions here and i always try to do so honestly.  

a homemade life by molly wizenberg.  i read glowing reports about this author and this book.  it was...good.  i absolutely loved bread & wine by shauna niequist.  this felt like a snobbish step-sister to that book.  i had a hard time with the constant references to foreign breads and foreign cheeses and obscure foreign ingredients.  maybe that's just my down-home midwestern roots showing through, but it just felt a little pretentious.  that said, i read the entire thing...and liked the second half better than the first.

recipes for a perfect marriage by morag prunty.  on a whim, i stole this book off my bestie's bookshelf, and am i ever glad i did!  what a hidden treasure.  this book is fabulous.  fiction that makes you think, that makes you see things in a different light, is my favorite. this is a definite re-read for me.

notes from a blue bike by tsh oxenreider.  okay.  i heard/read a lot of hype about this book.  i remember seeing photo after photo on instagram of bloggies reading it.  
so.  it wasn't what i thought it was going to be.
that doesn't mean it's bad, or dull, or boring.  it was just different than my preconception.  
i don't know exactly how to pinpoint it...all that comes to mind is that it seemed a bit more "lecture-ish" than "story-ish."
there were stories.  but everything was presented in a far more fact-over-fluff manner than i expected.
i feel bad.  i feel like i should be raving about it.  
and truthfully, i didn't hate it.  i didn't even dislike it.
i just wasn't nuts about it.
given that glowing recommendation, you'll laugh when i say it's definitely worth reading.  i just don't know that it's worth RE-reading.  
and that's the litmus test for me.

under the dome by stephen king.  oh my.  ohhhhhhh my.  this book.  it's well on its way to 1,100 pages long.  and i finished it in seven days.  i may have stayed up until 2am one night, and way past midnight a few other nights, but by golly, i finished it.
first let me say that i am not a stephen king fan.  meaning, this is only the second book of his that i've i'm no follower of his, by any stretch of the imagination.
i know he's written some wacky stuff, and i have no intentions of reading any of that.
i have heard that many who are stephen king fans are saying that this is his greatest work to date.
and i can understand why.
my only caution to you would be this: if you read the book for the love of the plot and the story and the book, you'll love the book.  if you read the book because you just want to know how it ends, you'll be disappointed.
that may not make sense...but if you read it, you'll understand.
and you should read it.  for sure.
it would be on my re-read list, but.......1,100 pages.  oooof-dah.

{if you need to refresh your memory on ages/reading levels of my children, 
feel free to refer back to July's post!} 
austyn's pile--austyn is still plugging through the ranger's apprentice series by john flanagan.  i went into a lot of detail about this series in last month's's a great YA series...every bit as suitable for boys as for girls.  if you have a YA reader, my bet is that they'd enjoy these books.  i, myself, read through the entire series in less than two weeks.

{not pictured}katie and the cupcake cure by coco simon {part of the cupcake diaries series}.  austyn sped through several of these, checked out from our library.  she especially liked the recipes at the back of each book.  although we didn't make any of those, all the kitchen-talk put austyn in the mood for cooking/baking.  she ended up making muffins one day and deviled eggs the next!  that's a win in my book!

colton's pile--colton is also still working on his series, the magic tree house books.  he even used some of his saved-up money to buy a couple of the special ones that he specifically wanted to own.  {more info on this series, also on last month's post.}

i told them both to get me the pile of books they've been reading recently.  that's it.  they each put their Bibles in the pile on their own.  warms my heart...but there's no coercion involved.  pinky-swear.

addison actually read a bit this month, too.  her current favorite for oral reading is the ultimate dick and jane storybook collection

also, we are currently reading by the shores of silver lake by laura ingalls wilder aloud together in preparation for our vacation to south dakota, where we will visit the ingalls homestead.

we leave for vacation in a little more than a week, so i am forcing myself to abstain from starting a new book until then.  i have so many things that i need to finish before we leave, loose ends i need to tie up, that i can't handle the pull that a good book has on me.
i know i have a few ken follett books that i've never read down on my shelf.  i'm sure one {or more} of those will come along with me.
i keep hoping that my interlibrary loan request for delancey {another by molly wizenberg} will come in, but i'm beginning to doubt it.
i'm also eager to read the fault in our stars by john green, though i've heard that it's a bit of a let-down.

do you have any must-read vacation book suggestions for me?
do share!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

on today's to-do list...

we're starting {home}school today. {year seven.  wow.  yikes.}
we don't usually begin until the day after Labor Day, but we are leaving for our family vacation later that week, and i'd like to squeeze in several productive school days before then.

and last night?
last night it all hit me.

the fact that today school starts.

and i'm not ready for it.
i'm just not.
not mentally, not emotionally...not.  at.  all.

and the mental to-do list, always running at a low hum {or dull roar} in the background, 
threatened to overwhelm.
all those wonderful balance posts we've read over the past few weeks?  
those?  oh.  those went flying out the window.

because today, school starts.
and today, i have a little boy to take care of. {i babysit our neighbor's 5-month-old, mondays through thursdays, every week.}
and today, i have over 10 pounds of peaches to can.  before they go bad.
and today, i need to cram in every possible moment of reading By the Shores of Silver Lake out-loud to my kiddos.  since the Ingalls homestead in DeSmet, SD, is one of our road trip stops.  the road trip that starts next week.  and really, i would have read this book to them a whole lot sooner if i would have just thought about it sooner.  but i didn't.  and i can't really see taking them to the Ingalls homestead without them having any earthly idea whointheeeeeworld the Ingalls are!  so now....yes.  cramming 290+ pages in over the next week or so.
and today, i need to eat right.  or just not eat at all.  that's a definite possibility.  because, eating right has been relegated to too low of a position on the totem pole for the past week or two.  and i'm feeling it.  and not liking the feeling.  not even a little bit.  and i definitely don't want to go into a vacation feeling this way.  because everyone knows, vacation and healthy food don't usually walk hand in hand {although i'm vowing to myself to give it my darndest}.
and today, i need to exercise.  maybe a run.  or a walk.  or Jillian.  or all three.   because.  well, yah.  see previous paragraph. 

i also have an eBay shipment to send out...
a few remaining curriculum items to order...
vacation details to iron out...
along with the usual daily tasks of keeping my family fed and clothed and somewhat sane.

i read here that if you want to be especially productive, you should make yourself a daily to-do list and put only three items on it.
only three.
seriously.  how?

then again, they {whoever they are} are the experts, right?
not me.
they must be on to something.

so, i'm going to assume that personal hygiene doesn't have to go on the list.
although, heaven knows that if this was an actual, physical, written-out list, brush teeth, do hair, do make-up would for sure be scrawled out on that paper, because check marks make me happy.  yes.
i'm not going to include my devotions, either.  those are part of my daily routine, every bit as essential as tooth-brushing.

my three items for today, then...
1. school.  we are easing in to it, and it won't be a full day, but it still demands priority on the to-do list.  and i'm going to count oral reading as part of school.  because otherwise, i'd have to break the rule and add a fourth item.  
2. can those peaches.  because i'll cry if they go bad.  especially because these look
3. eat right and exercise.  those can totally go together.  
yes they can.  don't argue with me.
it's been hot as you-know-where around here lately,  but i'm determined to get out and get moving, even if it's just a short run right after the sun goes down.

there we go.
i feel a tiny bit better already.

i think i may need to make a practice of getting my priorities for the week written out on sunday nights.
i'm extremely efficient with my time, but tend to stress out because i try to cram too many tasks into too little time.
the fact that i can truly only do so much is not one i like to admit.

if you made it all the way to the here, you deserve a thank-you.


{i'll be back tomorrow with the august edition of "what we're reading."  if you'd like to check out july's post, you can find it here.}

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

random randomness 8/22/14

saturday--this op-ed piece from the NY Times...and Jenna Woginrich's fabulous response to it.  
have i mentioned lately how much i love her books?  i do.

sunday--anyone want to move to Mississippi?

monday--finished c25k a few weeks ago and ordered this shirt as a reward for myself.  it finally arrived.  

tuesday--i've read ten.  four more than the average, or so they say.  how many have you read?

wednesday--even with school soon-to-start {or already started, for some}, this free printable is sure to come in handy.

thursday--texted Natalie for advice on how to can peaches.  and she advised me to look for this sort of recipe.  and now, all i can think about is these...atop mounds of homemade vanilla ice cream.  must.make.this.happen.

friday--whoa.  hi-liter all over my computer screen.  #2, 5, 8, 9, 11, 13, 20, word, i'm losing count.  
so good.  
and i really need to work on #14, 15, and 17.

we usually don't start school around here until after Labor Day, but i'm planning to ease the kiddos into the routine with some basics next week.
this weekend will be spent doing my "homeschool nesting"...i always get the uncontrollable impulse to purge and organized before the new school year begins.  i started today with my furnace room--had to make shelf space for the spaghetti sauce i canned today.  and the peaches i talked about up there by thursday.
family cookout saturday afternoon...
church on sunday.

life is good.
God is good.
happy friday, y'all!

{i usually share my favorite IG post of the week.  
this one hasn't made it on there yet, but  i'm in love.}

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

11 favorite housekeeping tips

i'm no paragon of household cleanliness, but i have four {ofttimes five--i babysit} small children 
{ages 11 and down} and i manage to keep a {mostly} clean and tidy home.  
some days, that's no small feat.  
i have a few favorite "rules" that we live by around here, though, that really help to cut down on the 
day-to-day dirt and grime and make our "real" cleaning days much less of a chore.

1. wipe down the bathroom counter and toilet each morning. 
 i usually do this right after i get done with my hair and makeup.  
or, after brushing my teeth...since, let's get and makeup miiiiiight not be an every day thing.
a quick swipe removes any hairspray residue or dried-up toothpaste flakes {thanks, kids} 
and polishes and shines things right up.  
we keep a package of wet wipes on the back of our commode and i've been known to swish one of those cheapo wipes over all the surfaces.  
my current favorite for a quick clean-up is mrs. meyer's surface wipes {see photo with #6}.

2. use dawn dish soap for pre-treating greasy spots on laundry {from bbq sauce, salad dressing, oil, etc} and for treating grease stains after they've already been washed/dried into clothing.
yes.  even after they've been washed.  and dried.  no joke.  
more on that here...
trust me, it works beautifully!

3. don't make any empty-handed trips.  
this is a big one around this house...important enough that i've tried diligently to instill it into my children.  
if you're coming in from the car, grab a quick handful of trash {from the floor, from those handy trash-gathering compartments in the door, from the cup holders...and if you have no trash in your car, well....just don't tell me, please}.  
if you're going out to the garage, take that random screwdriver and hammer that have been sitting on the counter for six days.  
put a cute basket at the top of your basement stairs and throughout the day as you come across items that belong downstairs, toss them in the basket.  when you are going downstairs, empty the basket and take those things down with you.  you'll save time {from multiple up-down trips} and get things put away! win-win!

4. during the warm summer months, have your kids sleep on top of their bed covers.  
keep in mind, these are just can take them or leave them.  
but i love that making the beds for my two littles is just as easy as folding up a simple, light blanket.

5. wipe it when you see it.  
if you're standing in the bathroom curling your hair and you see dirty fingerprints on the light switch, wipe them with a wet wipe.  if you're loading the dishwasher and you notice ketchup splatters on the adjacent cabinet doors, wash them off.  don't let the little messes accumulate to a chore large enough to make you crazy.

6. find a countertop spray with a scent you like and keep it under your kitchen sink.  
if you're anything like me, you're far more apt to use it if it's a scent you love.  
my current favorite, again, is a mrs. meyer's product--i'm just a wee bit partial to her countertop spray in the lemon verbena scent.

7. set a timer.
for those days when allllllllll the "little" messes here and there threaten to overwhelm you, 
your kitchen timer is your best friend.  
set the timer for ten minutes...or even five, if that's all you have to give...and just do as much as you can in five minutes.  then move to the next room and repeat.  you'd be surprised how much you can accomplish in a very short period of time if you are solely focused on one task/area.
i love my friend natalie's post on how effective this tactic is!

8. enlist the help of your kiddos.  
this seems elementary and so common-sense, yet we often overlook what a help they can really be.  and let me encourage you to occasionally reevaluate chore assignments.
for several years now, it has been my oldest daughter's job to empty the dishwasher.  that's our routine, and i don't really give it much thought.  
however, she was recently gone to camp for a week, and while she was gone, my two youngest daughters took over that task.  granted, there were many items that they were unfamiliar with and were unsure where to place them.  since austyn has been back from camp, i've had her "training" her little sisters, and soon the dishwasher emptying duty will be theirs.
several years ago when the chore was dealt to austyn, the two little girls would have been too young to do that job.  it took her being gone this summer for me to realize that they're now old enough and can lighten austyn's chore load a bit.
even small toddlers can help with some rudimentary household duties.  i'm not talking child labor here, folks.  i'm talking about us all pitching in as a family.

9. if you have a slipcover couch {and i realize i'm probably targeting a small percentage of my readers here}, find a quilt/coverlet/bedspread/sheet that you adore and use that over the seat cushions.  it will buy you several extra weeks between slipcover washings.  
my sofa has a white slipcover and after seeing all the gunk that comes out of this couch cover, i don't know that i could ever go back to a non-washable couch again.
i have two vintage coverlets--one white all-cotton chenille and one white all-cotton hobnail--that serve as excellent slipcovers-for-my-slipcover.  

10. put it away.
perhaps the most basic, obvious suggestion here...but also the easiest one to disregard.
simply putting things away as we use them will majorly cut down on frustration and clutter later on.
yes, it may take you an extra ten seconds to walk those nail clippers back to the bathroom, but when your four-year-old comes crying with a hangnail, you won't have to frantically search the junk drawer or dig through your nightstand.  

11. let it go.
this one is the most difficult for me to follow.  but sometimes, there are just areas that you need to let go of...loosen your tight grip on control of that room.
i'll be honest with you, my laundry room is a mess.
i'm a little bit fanatical about putting things back where they go...pretty much immediately after use.
my hubby?  he's not so fanatical.  so, his "man-closet" tends to overflow, quite often, into the laundry room.
i could huff and puff and blow the house down and give him the silent treatment...and i'd probably end up with a pristine laundry room somewhere down the line.  
or i can just let it go.
and that's actually what i've chosen to do.  i keep my "side" as neat and tidy as possible and figure he'll get to his stuff whenever his crazy work schedule allows him a bit of free time.
i tell people, "my laundry room looks like this so that the rest of my house doesn't have to."  and i mean that.  i'd rather have the mess contained and hidden behind closed doors than scattered in little clutter-piles all over my house.

hope you find some of these tips useful...
every little bit helps, right?

what are your favorite little secrets for keeping your house clean?
please share!

also, i wasn't paid {in any way, including money or products} to write this post.  however, if you're looking for good deals on cleaning goods--especially mrs. meyer's products--you should consider signing up with epantry.  their prices rival that of target and walmart; plus you avoid spending $37 in the target dollar spot when all you really needed was toilet bowl cleaner.
if you sign up via my referral, you'll automatically save $10 off your first order {and i'll get a referral credit!}, once you're on their site, a little pop-up box will come up on the bottom left of your screen, with the opportunity for you to save another $2 {when i joined, i had to tell a joke.  tonight, they asked me to name something in my garden.  it's always a silly nonsense question like that}.
also, i spoke with JD in customer service, and he said that if you mention him by name {down in that little conversation box i told you about} and ask nicely, they'll waive all your shipping fees.  every time!!!
so.  there ya have it.  if you're interested, check it out!

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