Saturday, February 18, 2006

New Blog Address

I have been Simulcast-Blogging between this blog (my first) and my newer (and prettier) blog at HomeschoolBlogger. To tell you the truth, I am tired of copy and pasting every post to each blog. In fact, that's the reason why you never got the end of the Decluttering series!

Do you mind just reading the other blog from now on?

Here is the link: Keeping the Home

and here is the address in case you need it: (the blog is the same as this one; just because it is hosted at homeschool blogger does not mean I only post hs stuff!)

I'd love it if you stuck with me!

Lori Seaborg

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Day Thirteen: Declutter Your Home Series: The Home Manager

In today's post by Mrs. Cat, well worth a read today (click here), she urges us to think of five blessings. Even when things are going rough, as they have been for me lately, I can always think of five blessings, because there are five members of my family besides me! :)

Here are my blessings, right off the top of my head:

  • After a decade of asking for it, I am so grateful to God that we live in the countryside (on good old American soil!).
  • I am thankful for Tim, who works hard to provide for us, and who gives me anything I ask, especially when I look at him in just the right way (how else do you think I got him to agree to the goats?).
  • I am thankful for our four children. Not only did we get four blessings, but we were double-blessed by having two boys and two girls.
  • I am thankful for this house that I get to work in daily.
  • I am most thankful that I get to stay at home with our children. They are a treat that I would not miss!

What are your five blessings?

by Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Day Twelve: Declutter Your Home Series: Mrs. Cat's Story

Today we have a personal story to read from Mrs. Cat (click here to read it). For those of you who are just now joining, we are decluttering our homes for 21 days on this blog, with the help of Mrs. Cat's blog posts.

I have had a great amount of clutter in my home in the past, too, and could write you a long story to read about it. But for now, read Mrs. Cat's story, and I'll write mine another time. I am experiencing great back pain (not great as in "good," of course!) and just want to lie down for a while!

I hope you've had a good day today!

by Lori Seaborg

Day Eleven: Declutter Your Home Series: Food Tips

Today's post by Mrs.Cat is about saving money and time in the kitchen. Click here to view the post.

If you'd like more advice on saving money in the kitchen, go visit the advice of Laine at Laine's Letters (click here to view it).

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, January 30, 2006

Day Ten: Declutter Your Home Series: The Kitchen

I wrote this blog to you earlier, but it deleted before it posted. That is so frustrating!

Here you go again, much later....

This is the link to Mrs. Catherine's post on decluttering the kitchen (click here).

I just want to add a note to you moms of young children, like I have....

I don't think we need to feel guilty or burden-pressed by the idea of the Dinner Hour. It is a goal for us to work toward, and of course, we would love to have a beautiful ritual of a Dinner Hour, with well-behaved children, adoring husband, and pretty things surrounding us, but we are in a stage....just a phase....of years in which our children are young. It won't be long at all until they grow up and we can have our pretty Dinner Hour with their help.

Right now, let's give our Mommy Guilt a break by just taking baby steps. We can begin by concentrating on getting a nutritious meal into our youngsters while teaching them the basics of manners.

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Day Nine: Declutter Your Home Series: The Dining Room

Today's focus is on decluttering the Dining Room. In our house, our dining room not only looks like a School Room, but it really is the School Room! We don't have a set-aside dining area, as we do school much more often than we entertain!

Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post on decluttering the Dining Room (click here).

by Lori Seaborg

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Day Eight: Decluttering Our Homes: The Master Bedroom

Just a few days ago, I said I felt like I'd been taken off the hook because Mrs. Cat's* focus was on the Family Room and I (pat, pat) have that room in ORDER.

Today, our focus is on the Master Bedroom and I have not only been placed on the hook again, but I have also been placed under a spotlight for all to see the fraud that I am!

Mrs. Cat says of the master bedroom (this is painful to write!), "This room should take precedence over all the others. This room over all the others shows where you place your marriage in your priority list. This room shows how we are feeling and exactly what we are thinking in regard to our spouse."

Is there anyone else who has sore toes from being stepped on by Mrs. Cat??

Recently, I did get our bathroom and our closets cleaned out. Tim was happy to come home to an organized closet one day! I told him that I will maintain it as long as he doesn't purposely (lazily, I meant) mess it up. He has held his end of the bargain, throwing dirty clothes in the laundry basket instead of on the closet floor, and I have kept the closet clean by peeking in there daily and putting clean laundry where it belongs.

In our master bedroom, we have had boxes to be sorted stacked against a wall. They were there for months, so I moved them to the garage last week. The boxes still have to be sorted -- I didn't really fix the problem -- but they don't need to be in our master bedroom while waiting for me to get to them!

If you are overwhelmed by the work to be done, just set a timer for 15 minutes and only work that long. You will be so surprised by how much you got done in 15 minutes!

Here is the post for you to read today (click here)! I am off to work on the master bedroom!

* To those who are just joining in, Mrs. Cat is a blogger who has great ideas on getting the house in order. We are reading her posts for 21 days as we work to declutter our homes.

by Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Day Seven: Decluttering Your Home

All I have for you today is Mrs. Cat's post on the challenge she presented (to not spend extra money for these 21 days). Click here to see the post.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day Six Decluttering Our Home: The Office

It is so easy for papers to get out of hand, isn't it? I have a computer-paper box just full of papers that I need to sort through. At least there is only that one box to do. I've had a dozen at a time in the past.

The #1 thing that helped me cut down on paper clutter is to take care of the mail the minute it enters the house. I don't even open junk mail, unless it is from a company with which I already do business (I open those because I've been surprised in the past to have a refund check or an important note in what was disguised as junk mail).

We also subscribe to few magazines now. I wasn't taking the time to read them anyway, and then I'd feel guilty about throwing away something I hadn't read! When you get rid of your magazines, take them to your doctor or dentist office. Have you ever noticed how old their magazines are? Ugh!

About the bills.....

What works well for us is a very simple system that we created after years of frustration:

In a three-ring binder (mine is RED so I won't lose it), I have:

several page protectors
college-ruled paper
a pencil case (or use the binder's front pocket)

On the page protectors, I wrote in permanent marker:
"To Do"
"Bills To Be Paid 1-15th"
"Bills to Be Paid 16-31st"
"Paid Bills"

The college-ruled paper is kept behind the page protectors.

The pencil case is kept in the front of the binder. It holds a credit card for paying bills online, a checkbook, envelopes, stamps, and a pen.

Now that I have the binder set up, here is the system:

One sheet of paper is labeled with the current month. "January 2006" is our current paper. It is placed in front of all of the page protectors.

When a bill comes in, I write simple information on my "January 2006" paper, such as:


For example, when a bill comes from my phone company, I write:


The bill with its envelope wrapped over it is then placed in the page protector pocket of the date range where it belongs, which in this case is "Bills to Be Paid 1-15th."

When I pay a bill, I simply write the following on the (January 2006) sheet of paper:

1/08---Bellsouth---$47.00---OL 1/01 CC (or PH Lisa 1/01 CK)

My codes:

OL=online; SNAIL=post office mailed; PH=phone-try to get the name of who took the info; TELLER=in person

CC=credit card or bank card; CK=check; CA=cash

I pay almost all of my bills online, and my email program saves the email from the company saying that they received my payment, so I don't usually write down a confirmation number on my paper.

I then write OL 1/01 CC on the paid bill, in case I find it loose later and wonder if I've paid it (this step is not at all necessary, but since we have a mischievous toddler, it is nice). The paid bill is then placed in the PAID BILLS folder.

At the same time, I remove the last paid (Bellsouth) bill, because I know that they received the payment or the balance would have been off. (I do keep medical bills longer if they have itemized information on the bill, because I've had disputes with the hospitals before, and have been double-billed for items. If your credit card company does not have good online records, you might want to keep this bill for record-keeping, too).

The "To Do" pocket is used for things like bills that come in too early to be put in the To Be Paid pockets, such as our Auto Registration Bill which comes too soon. It is also used for forms that we need to sign or offers that we may want to accept. Rather than taking time to do them when they come in, I let the offers or forms wait until our Bill Paying Day, around the 1st or 15th. This pocket is always cleaned out on the 1st or 15th, keeping its clutter down.

A couple of notes:

I like to pay our bills on the FRIDAY before the 1st of the month and the 15th of the month (but making sure there is enough time for a snail-mail bill to get there). Why Friday? Because paychecks often come on Fridays, but also because creating a day of the week to think of bills helped me to form a habit of remembering to do them. If it is not the Friday before the 1st or 15th, I am then happy to ignore my mind's reminder.

I used "I" in the above, but actually Tim and I have found it more pleasant to do our unpleasant Bill Paying task together. Usually, he takes care of any phone calls and I take care of online payments. He does the math, and I am the record keeper.

p.s. Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post on Decluttering the Office.

by Lori Seaborg

Monday, January 23, 2006

DAY FIVE Decluttering Your Home: Family Room

I feel like I've been let off the hook today. Our focus, in Mrs. Cat's posts, is the Family Room, and that is the one room that I keep continually picked up and clutter-free.

That wasn't the case in our smaller home, and I think it had something to do with the plethora of magazines I used to keep and the toys that I'd store in the room and the plants that were forever being tipped over by clumsy toddlers.

In our current living room, there is lots of furniture: big fluffy chairs and couches to sit on and a big screen television. There is only one basket in the room, and that is the one that holds the pine cones for fire starters. It is set near the fireplace. Next to the t.v. is the DVD player and the XBox -- they are just on the floor. A guitar and a drum are near the t.v., and there is a rug in the center of the room. That's it! It's a large space, but we haven't filled it with knick-knacks and tables and lamps and plants, etc. At our childrens' ages, empty space is something they enjoy more than anything. They love to set up the train track or build Lego creatures on the big rug in the Family Room.

No coffee table, no extra bookcases, no plants . We use t.v. trays when we snack in the room (adults only, except in special cases when we lay a sheet on the floor for the children).

The simplicity of the room allows everyone to enter it feeling calm and relaxed. It tends to be everyone's favorite room to hang out, and I think that has to do with the lack of clutter in the room.

If your kids are also young like mine (we have four under age 10), you might want to consider keeping your Family Room more empty than full, too. This not only gives the kids room to play, but you'll find yourself less frustrated as you don't have to worry about them breaking things or spilling potting soil on your carpet!

Here is the link to Mrs. Cat's post (click here).

by Lori Seaborg

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Day FOUR Decluttering Challenge: The Bathroom

Today's focus is on the bathroom. You can read today's advice in Mrs. Cat's entry, which we have been reading daily (click on this last sentence to go there).

Here are a few of my own bathroom tips:

  • Wipe the bathroom every day with a Clorox (or whatever brand) antibacterial wipe. I usually use one wipe; sometimes two. Wipe in this order, so that you are going from cleanest to dirtiest, as far as germs are concerned: the doorknob, the light switch, the sink handles, the countertop, the sink, the toilet top, the toilet seat, and the base of the toilet. If you do this daily, you will never have to face cleaning a dirty bathroom again. It will always be maintained and company-ready. Another plus: your kids can do this easy job for you!
  • Change the hand towel daily. This cuts down on germ-spreading and is a minimal amount of extra laundry to do.
  • The push-up Aquafresh for Kids toothpaste is a good one to give the kids, as it only allows them to pump up the right amount each time. No toothpaste messes and no waste!
  • Keep extra toilet paper in the bathroom, preferably within reach of the toilet. This seems like common sense, but I've been guilty of only storing it in the hallway closet!
  • Have the kids sponge the bathtub and shower area while they are bathing (or before they get out). Just let them use one of those scrunchies (I dedicate an old one to this job) and let them use plain old soap. It does a fine job and isn't toxic for your little ones. When the shower and tub are soaped-up, turn on the shower to rinse.
  • Recently, I found trashcans at BigLots that are perfect for a bathroom. They are plastic and have a hinge lid, the kind that swing back and forth like a big trashcan at a park or a stadium. They were only $1.99 each and nestle right next to my toilet nicely. I put a plastic grocery bag in mine as a liner. These trash cans are very nice for your used Kleenexes and for your "monthly visitor", as they hide the trash. (I've also seen stainless steel trash cans like these at Tuesday Morning. Of course, they were much pricier, but very chic!)

I'll keep us going on our decluttering again, starting Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

by Lori Seaborg

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook

Well, it was finally time to remove the Christmas book that I had on the left column on this blog! I mean, how long after Christmas must you wait for me to update my blog? So sorry about that!

I've replaced the Christmas book with the book that I am currently reading, called Mary Jane's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook. I like to be sure of a few things before buying a pricey book like this one:

Is it full of useful content?
Is it pretty to look at?
Is it big?
Yes to all of those regarding this book! It is full of useful content such as recipes and craft projects and many little reads that make my heart feel warm and fuzzy.

It is pretty to look, make that breathtaking. Mary Jane's farm is in Moscow, Idaho, which is very near Gold Hill, Idaho, where my father grew up. I love to visit the family's homestead site, with the nearby one-room schoolhouse and tiny church. Mary Jane's photographs bring me back to Gold Hill each time I look at them.

And, yep, the book is big, with 416 pages of 8-1/2 by 11" paper.

I've only had the book for a few days but already I am loving it. It will make a wonderful gift for the women in my life who love the home and garden as I do.

by Lori Seaborg

DAY THREE Decluttering Challenge: Children's Bedrooms

Honestly, I'd rather skip the focus of today -- the Children's Rooms! Tim and I were blessed greatly with one little one who cleans spectacularly and organizes her room daily. ...... And then we have boys....two that don't want to pick up and don't seem to be able to organize. I have them do daily chores, but they just don't see the messes! Or so they say...

I've removed quite a few of their toys, but I've never done the drastic measure that Mrs. Cat suggests. I'll take things away for a little while, then feel bad about it and return it to the culprit. Mrs. Cat is much stronger than that.

Read her entry for today and let me know what you think!

Lori Seaborg

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DAY TWO Decluttering our Front Entrances

Tim and I spent the afternoon in the back yard, decluttering it. We picked up lumber and stacked it, put branches in the burn pile, and Tim even shingled the roofs for our goats and chickens. Now I want it to rain, so we can test it out!

We also moved the bunnies to be near the goats' pen. This keeps all the animals (except the dog, Toby) in one place. The goat pen adjoins the chicken aviary and the rabbits are attached to the wall of the goats' pen. I hope they enjoy one another's company! I think that moving the animals like this is a form of decluttering, as it allows me to be more efficient in the mornings when I feed the animals.

Today's challenge from Mrs. Cat is our Front Porch area. We didn't get to that at our house today, as we had our 2-year-old outside with us and didn't want her near the front road. Feel free to adjust the challenges to suit your day, also.

Here is your reading for today! Be sure to read what Mrs. Cat says about our goal of not spending extra money for these 21 days. Enjoy!

(a note: I apologize for not getting this up this morning! Tim is off work today, so I plumb forgot to blog it!)

by Lori Seaborg

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Decluttering Challenge -- DAY ONE

Today is our first day to work on decluttering our houses! Are you as ready as I am?

If you missed the Introduction to this topic, please scroll down to read yesterday's post. You are not behind! Especially not yet - we haven't really begun yet.

Your first task today is to read Mrs. Cat's Day One post. Your first assignment is to create a layout of your house.

My layout looks like this:

Front Porch
Foyer and Foyer Closet
Laundry Room
Living Room
Back Porch
Hallway and Hall Closet
Main Bathroom
Boys' Room and Closet
Girls' Room and Closet
Master Bedroom
Master Bathroom and Closets
(I'm leaving the Garage Monster out of the 21 Day Plan for this time around!)

For the rest of the day, as you wander through your house, pay attention to things that you may want to get rid of when you delcutter. Do you love the item? Does it bring back happy memories, or at least not sad/mad ones? Ask those questions as you decide what really deserve a place of honor in your home.

We are all working together for these 21 days, but since all of us have different rooms to tackle, and different messes in different rooms (for example, my Living Room is already clutter-free, but the Boys ' Room is a mess), we will work independently on each room. So, as Mrs. Cat suggests, and as FlyLady does as well, work for 45 minutes then take a 15 minute break, working as you can on each area. If you don't have a full 45 minutes free today, then just work 15 minutes each day in an area that needs it.

We will focus on certain areas each day as we keep reading Mrs. Cat's posts.

Are you ready? Create your Layout then start your timer and declutter a little today!

I'm with you!

See you tomorrow as we start on the Front Porch area!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Who Is With Me? Declutter Your House in 21 Days

I know we all have the excuse of the recent holidays, oh, and since today is Martin Luther King's Day, we also have the excuse of a current holiday.....but, whew!, is your house in as much need for a holiday break as mine is??

In this blog at some time or another I've written out our family's daily schedule and a homeschooling schedule, and who-knows-what other seemingly wise advice, but in reality, I'm just a gal spinning her wheels like you are. I have grand plans, but life, and four kids under age ten, somehow keeps me off balance!

Our problem, I can see clearly by the stack of boxes in my bedroom as I type, is CLUTTER. I think it was FlyLady who said, "If you have too much laundry to do, you have too many clothes!" Well, I am guilty of that 100%!

I hope I'm not disappointing you who regularly read this blog, but I think you need a dose of reality! Several of you have written me and commented on how together I seem to have it, or that I am intimidating to you, since you don't have it together quite yet. Well, like I say right on the Home Page of this blog, I am just the girl right beside you, not in front of or behind you. I'm learning right along with you. So often, we tell ourselves that others know all the secrets we don't know, and that everyone else has all her ducks in a row. I've found that is just not true! We are all struggling in one area or another.

I'm committing to getting my clutter under control. A clutter-free house is an easy house to keep clean. I know, because I've had that once, when we moved to this house two years ago. We didn't have any clutter inside (the garage did) and the house was a breeze to keep clean and company-ready. Somehow we collected too much stuff in the two years since our move. I want to have my decluttered house back!

I've sought out the counsel of others who are wiser than I am. I have been helped by FlyLady in the past, and she has some great advice. But for this decluttering, I'd like to try Mrs. Catherine's (a.k.a. Cat) series entitled "It Takes 21 Days."

Are you in this with me? 21 days to a clutter-free house?

If so, read Mrs. Cat's first entry, called "Who is With Me?"

And then let me know who is with me!

We're starting tomorrow, Tuesday, January 17th, 2006!

by Lori Seaborg

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Computer problems still plague us at home. I am praying daily for a little Divine Intervention! But on the bright side....

not having a computer gives me extra time in my day. I've been cleaning and organizing and crafting. It's the crafting that makes me smile. These have been fun days, even without a computer.

Still, I miss you all! I'm at my parent's computer in Florida right now for the holidays. I'll let you know when God answers our prayers and we are blessed with a working computer!

Have a wonderful holiday!

by Lori Seaborg