Real Life Homemaking (What my day actually looks like)

I’m a blogger. And I blog on homemaking. My life is very public sometimes and people I’ve never met know details of my day. Why? Because I want to be an encouragement to women that what we do every single day matters

But I think throughout the course of blogging about my life, taking pictures of recipes, filming videos for my online conference, squeezing in some time in the early mornings to write, and sharing photos of my boys on Instagram…I *think* it can sometimes look like I have it all together.

What a Homemaker's Day REALLY looks like!

And that’s the biggest struggle of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs isn’t it? I’ve heard comments from many women that they had to shut down their Pinterest accounts because they felt like such failures that they couldn’t cut out special characters into their kids sandwiches for lunches, or home sew all their own curtains and pillows, plus make gourmet desserts for their weekly Bible study.

It can get exhausting trying to be the “perfect” homemaker and seeing all those other perfect homemakers all over blogs and Facebook can be exhausting and so discouraging.

The thing is, no one is showing the hard parts of the their day. No one is showing the utter mess their house is in while they photograph that amazing brownie recipe. Part of this is pride. What if everyone thinks I’m lazy? Or spending too much time on my blog and my house is a mess….And part of it is practical. If I’m filming a video (like my homemade chapstick video) then it’s going to be a lot less of an attractive video if the stove top looks like dinner exploded all over it and the sink is piled high with dishes.

Here’s a real life example of this. This is a long video so go all the way to the end and watch the last few seconds ;)

It can be hard to be real with each other as homemakers. When you are invited to someone’s house for dinner, you will be glimpsing their house or apartment as clean as it gets. But you don’t ever see what their normal, everyday looks like. You are seeing one small glimpse into their day…not what their house normally looks like.

So nobody shares. Nobody posts the disgusting pictures of their house. The messy pictures. The hard days. Or what I like to call: Everyday Life. 

I Want to Be Real With You

So lately, I’ve decided that I’m going to be more real with you. Not that I was being “fake” before. I just hadn’t thought to post about the dishes piling high in my sink. Why would anyone care about that (and would I be judged for my messy house?). But you know what? We ALL have those days. We ALL have weaknesses in our homemaking.

We also all have strengths. Is my house a mess all the time? Nope. Some days I do have it together. Some days the boys play happily and the kitchen is spotless until Daddy gets home. Some days I can make a wonderful dessert for Bible Study and work on a DIY project. And because I’m a blogger, I want to share those things with you too.

But I also want to share the messy parts of life with you. The hard days. What my normal routine looks like because I want to be an encouragement for you – especially if you have little kids! 

My real life kitchen

I shared this photo before. On a whim, when I was in the midst of *trying* to Spring clean and my house just seemed to be getting messier and messier, I decided to share this photo of a semi-normal day. And you know what? The response I got on Instagram and Facebook was overwhelming!

I got comments like “Thank you for sharing real life!” and “So glad I’m not alone” and “That pic makes me feel so much better!!! Thanks!” and so many more encouraging comments. And you know what? I didn’t get a single negative comment. No one told me I was being lazy. Or that I just needed to work harder to get my house under control or if I could just implement such and such cleaning routine then I wouldn’t deal with this…

I whole heartily think that as homemakers, we need to invest in our homemaking stills. Laziness is a real problem I deal with as a homemaker. And sometimes those housekeeping tips, advice, and programs are exactly what I need to get motivated to keep an orderly house! I’m not perfect and often my messy house is because I’m not working hard enough.

But sometimes…my house is a mess because sick kiddos need cuddle time with Mama while watching a movie. Sometimes…the dishes are left un-done all day because I needed to fit in my Bible reading time. Sometimes…grocery shopping is more important than vacuuming. Sometimes…having coffee with someone new at church is more important that dirty laundry. Sometimes…life is messy and so is our house!

My mom died almost a year ago, in November 2013. I feel like I am just barely getting back to a new normal in my life and the last year, my house has reflected that. My life has been more scattered, messy, and disorganized since we moved into a brand new house 2 months after she died than I ever have had before. I’ve been mourning and other things have been more important in this season than keeping the sink free of dishes.

And I’m okay with that! It’s the season of life I am in right now. This minute. As I type this, my sink is, you guessed it, full of dishes. But right now, this minute, encouraging you is so much more important.

The realities of trying to "spring clean" with toddlers!

The realities of trying to “spring clean” with toddlers!

None of this is an excuse to let your house go. To live in filth and be fine with it. I think there are some very important things to be said for creating a peaceful and loving atmosphere in your home, but in some seasons, you just can’t simply do it all. So I want to give you (and myself) permission to be okay with the mess. Do what’s really important this minute (which might just be the dishes!) and walk in Grace knowing that you are doing the very best thing for your family.

Let’s Create a New Normal

Instead of Pinterest-perfect houses, groumet desserts, and perfectly fashionable children as the “norm”….let’s define a new norm. 

A norm where it’s okay to say the dishes didn’t get done today because Bible study was more important.

A norm where we can encourage each other when our houses are messy instead of judging each other.

A new norm where we can celebrate homemaking wins with each other!

A norm where we can cheer each other on when we share a new room that we actually got organized and de-cluttered…without assuming that person is bragging or showing off.

A norm where we can invite a new friend over to our house even if it is a bit messy. 

Because really – we don’t all live with perfect houses everyday. Instead of stressing out, yelling at the kids, and frantically running around the house for 3 hours before having guests over - let them see a little bit of the mess. Because I can guarantee that if you popped over to their house unexpectedly you would see a bit of mess too - Paperwork on the counter, dishes in the sink, laundry clean, folded, and never moving closer to the dresser.

I want to create a new norm where it’s okay to live a little messy if you are instead focusing on things that are more important (i.e relationships)!! And a norm where we can celebrate those days when we dug in, cleaned like mad, and are proud of the atmosphere we’ve created! A new norm of honesty – and acceptance – so we can all live a little more “real”. 

Introducing: Real Life Homemaking Thursdays

This has been on my mind a lot lately. Just the other day I posted this picture of my sink. I didn’t do the dishes the night before because after dinner my hubby and I were both exhausted, so we relaxed together and bonded. Being with my husband at that point was way more important than the pile of dirty dishes in the sink…even if that did mean I had no clean forks or plates in the morning!

Dishes everywhere

I think the fact that I had over 230 comments on this picture within a matter of hours shows that I’m not alone in this. So I’m starting Real Life Homemaking Thursdays!

I’m going to post the photo below each Thursday on Facebook and Instagram and I want YOU to participate. Here’s how you can join in and encourage each other so you know you are NOT alone in your real life homemaking!

  • On Facebook you can share a photo of your own real life homemaking by sharing it in the comments on that thread and/or posting it on your own wall with the hashtag #RealLifeHomemaking and tagging Young Wife’s Guide Facebook page if you want.
  • On Instagram share a real life homemaking photo with the hashtag #RealLifeHomemaking and tag me @jamibalmet if you want so I can follow along with your real life homemaking journey as well!
Real Life Homemaking Instagram & Facebook

Thanks to everyone who voted and helped me pick the picture for this – the vote came really close!

Things to share:

  • Your real life. In that moment. Stop on Thursday morning, take a quick photo (DON’T move anything) and snap a photo.
  • What does YOUR REAL life look like today?
  • Share your set up for breakfast
  • Did you practice hospitality the night before? Share the realities of what your house looks like the next day
  • Did you take on a big organization project and knock it out of the park (or maybe fail miserably like I did in the photo above)? Share your results!
  • Did you make a big dinner and dessert and your actually really proud of getting that accomplished? Share with us so we can celebrate with you!
  • Don’t hide, don’t pretend. Share what your real life homemaking reality is!
  • And if this inspires you to start working on some organization/decluttering/cooking projects in the meantime…well then I call that real life motivation! :)

Need Help in Your Homemaking?

Of course, sometimes we just genuinely need help in our homemaking! Sometimes we DO need advice on organization, decluttering, or natural cleaning. I firmly believe that as a homemaker, we should take our role seriously and treat it like a career - a career that takes life long investment of time, energy, and resources so that we can always be growing and learning in our job as a keeper of our home.

That’s why I’ve put together the first annual Homemaking From Scratch online conference 2014!! I’ve brought together 12 amazing homemaking authors and bloggers to give you this unique learning environment. Learn from real life, Titus 2 women, as they share advice, experience, wisdom, and failures they’ve had in their lives as homemakers. CLICK HERE to find out ALL the details about the conference.

Homemaking From Scratch Conference

Here are just a few of the conference sessions (out of 13 total):

  • What is a Homemaker? Discover the Biblical definition
  • Biblical Motherhood – A Heart to Heart
  • Keeping Marriages Strong & Growing
  • Decluttering – Tips and Tricks that work in ANY home
  • Prioritizing Time with God: Encouragement and Solutions for the Woman Who Wants to Go Deeper
  • Practicing Hospitality: The Biblical Art of Serving Others
  • Making Healthy Choices in Your Home
  • The Benefits of Homemaking Routines
  • And more! CLICK HERE for the entire list of sessions & Speaker information

My favorite thing about this conference though, is how we designed it! We knew we were making a conference for busy homemakers, so we made it easy for you to listen! Once the conference sessions are posted during the conference (October 7 – 9th) you will have the ability to listen to them anytime, anywhere, and on any device. The sessions are yours to keep – Forever! You can pause a session, stop it, and return back to it later at a time that is convenient for YOU.

AND – if you pre-register for the conference (between September 29th and October 6th), you can get $5 off your ticket price and over $200 in homemaking bonus resources!! Pre-register here and download your bonus items instantly! I hope to get to connect with you during the conference in our private Facebook group for attendees :)

Will you be joining us for the Real Life Homemaking Thursdays? Leave a comment and let me know if you will!

Making the Most Out of Technology as a Homemaker (And my favorite apps)

While it’s easy to let technology take you from important things in your life – texting instead of talking to someone face to face, playing video games instead of playing outside, exchanging fake online relationships for real ones, etc. I’ve also found, that when used correctly, technology can be a huge help in my homemaking!

I've also found, that when used correctly, technology can be a huge help in my homemaking! Here are my favorite apps I use to help with my homemaking!

I’m a fan of technology. My husband and I each have smart phones, a laptop, a kindle, an iPad, and two home computers. While part of this is because we run a business at home (okay a LARGE part) it’s also because iPhone apps, websites, and other technology has been a really big help to me in managing my home.

I want to share with you today, some of my very favorite technology things I use in my home. This list has morphed over the years and I expect in a year or two this list will change again.

And I should note: I’m actually a pen and paper kind of girl. My husband totally makes fun of me – but for my schedule, lists, grocery shopping, etc – I do it ALL my hand in a notebook or in my favorite daily planner. There’s just something about writing it out and having it right in front of me. So if you are more of a pen and paper kind of gal and don’t think any technology things will help you – maybe have an open mind and try out some of these. You might actually find that you are a hybrid kind of gal instead!

If you have any to add to this list, please leave a comment so we can all learn together! 

Smartphone Apps I Use & Love

I have an Andriod (Note 3) and my husband has an iPhone but I’m fairly certain all of these apps are on both devices (you could also use these on a tablet like an iPad). I’m not going to link to some of these apps since you can just type the names into either the app store or the play store.

Evernote

Cost: Free (but there are paid versions)

EvernoteOkay Evernote is technically a hybrid because you can use it in your web browser on your phone and on your computer. Basically it’s a content storage system. You can make lists, take notes, clip articles from the web, store photos, and more. I’ve only ever had the free basic version and it’s been great.

I use it to store a lot of my blogging stuff but I also have personal “notebooks” stored. I really like Evernote because anywhere you sign into it (on your phone, computer, iPad, etc.) you have instant access to everything. I often use it for meal planning when I’ve found recipes off the internet. I will load all the recipes up into a note and then I can pull them up at the grocery store on my phone, in the kitchen, or email the recipes easily to friends when they ask for the recipe!

Clock

Cost: FREE

ClockThis one might seem like a no-brainer but it’s one of my favorite homemaking tools. The clock that my andriod phone came installed with, has an alarm, stopwatch, and timer. Obviously I use the alarm for waking up in the morning but I use the timer throughout the day more than any other app.

I use it to set an alarm for the washer and dryer so I remember to change them over – I forgot every single time otherwise! When I’m unmotivated to get the kitchen clean, clothes folded, or vacuuming, I’ll set a timer for just 15 minutes. That way, I know that if I’m miserable, all I have to do is spend 15 minutes and then I can be lazy again. But usually, getting started is the hardest part. So I often end up turning off the 15 minute timer and finishing the task! Using my timer throughout the day helps to keep me motivated, on tasks, and un-forgetful! 

The Bible

Cost: FREE

timthumbI use my Bible app every single day! I use the You Version app which has everything I need to help me stay consistent with Bible reading. They have pretty much every Bible version you could think of including my two favorite – ESV and NASB. On certain Bible versions (such as the ESV) it even has a read aloud option so while you are cooking breakfast, you can have your morning sections read out loud to you!

But what I really love is their built in reading plans. They have dozens of different reading plans to pick from – read the Bible in a year, chronologically, individual books, sections (such as the New Testament), and even 30 day devotionals. Once you downoad the app, you make an account, and sign up for a reading plan.It’s then tracked from within the app and you can even set it to give you reminders at a certain time each day, read your sections out loud to you, and really helps to keep me on track!!

Kindle App

Cost: Free with in app purchases

KindleA lot of people don’t realize that you can download the free kindle app onto your smartphone or tablet even when you don’t own a Kindle! While it usually costs to purchase books in the app, they also have a ton of great free eBooks and fantastic deals. I’ve found free (or cheap) books on natural cleaning, organization, homesteading, devotionals, and more!

I signed up to get email updates from eReader Girl. It sends me a daily update of all the free or cheap eBooks that are out each day. It takes just a few seconds to scan the list and see if anything interests me or not. My Kindle app really kept me occupied all those long hours nursing my twins.

Audible – Audio Books

Cost: Free with in app purchases

Audible-LogoAudible is the newest addition to my favorite apps list but I am so in love with it. I’m an avid reader, but with twin toddlers, my home business, and managing my home, I either can’t find the time or I’m too tired to sit down and read if I can find a few spare moments. Plus my husband has a 2 hour commute (one way) and so we’ve found audio books to be an amazing addition to our routines!

For months we’ve been frequenting our local library for free audio books to rent, but now we have nearly exhausted the selection of books we want to read. So now we have a monthly membership to audible. With it, we get one book a month with the option to purchase additional books at a heavily discounted price (audio books are expensive)!!

We alternate between fiction and non-fiction books and usually try to buy books that we are both interested in to get more bang for our buck! I listen to books while I’m driving, cooking, cleaning, out for a walk with the kids, etc. It’s an excellent way to fit some fun fiction reading in with great Gospel-centered books I’ve been wanting to get to.

Pssst: You can join audible get get your first month free (which = 1 free audio book)! I highly recommend you use that credit to listen to Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, one of my all time favorite books. Use it to go through my book study on it

Pinterest

Cost: FREE

PinterestIt’s no secret that Pinterest is my favorite social media platform – but my love of Pinterest goes far beyond that. Of course Pinterest can be a time waster sometimes, but usually, I find it immensely helpful. I use it to search recipes every week, find home decor ideas, activities for my toddlers, marriage printables and date night ideas, house cleaning hacks, homemaking tips and Biblical encouragement – and it’s all because I follow some amazing ladies who pin amazing things!

If you want to follow me – you can find my profile HERE! I pin all things relating to homemaking and Biblical womanhood!

Netflix

Cost: Varies – but starts at $7.99 a month

NetflixHuh? How does Netflix help in my homemaking you might ask? Well aside from having some really awesome documentaries on pregnancy, birth,  and healthy eating and a whole section of faith filled movies – the Netflix app on my phone and on my TV are life saving sometimes with my kids.

I don’t love my kids watching a ton of tv, but with very active twin toddlers – It’s a must some days for me to be able to survive. And I’m totally okay with that! Some mornings, when all they want to do is crawl into my lap. I turn the TV on, boot up a Veggie Tales on Netflix and I then have about 30 minutes to do my Bible reading and devotional time in peace. Some days - it’s the only way I can get some time by myself for Bible reading and at this stage in our life as a busy mom – I’m so thankful for Netflix! You can get your first month FREE with Netflix to try it out.

 

Websites I Love for Homemaking

Here are just a couple website that I find really helpful in my homemaking. I’m not including blogs here because there are just way too many to name here. Maybe that’s another blog for another day?

Build a Menu

Cost: $8.00 a month

Build a MenuI have tried several meal planning sites and Build a Menu is by far my favorite. I don’t use it every week, but it’s such a life saver to have there for those weeks when I’m so busy I can’t wrap my head around trying to make my own menu, compile the ingredients, create a shopping list, etc. With about 10 minutes time, I have all of this done and a printed shopping list (by category) ready to walk out the door.

You can read my full review HERE to see all the features that Build a Menu has – but I’ve been using them for about 4 months now and have been very happy! You can also use coupon code: SAVEMEMONEY to get your first month for only $4 – A great way to try it out risk free!

ThredUp – Online Consignment Store

Cost: Free to browse, clothing varies

thredup1This is another recent discovery of mine – and I’m totally in love! ThredUp in an online consignment store of gently used clothing. I haven’t bought new clothing since before I was pregnant with my twins who are now 21 months old. I was ready for some new Fall clothing and was so happy when I came across ThredUp. I include this website here in this list because while I was able to get myself some new clothes (yay!!) I was also able to d some Fall clothing shopping for my ever-growing boys (double yay)!!

I was a little overwhelmed by the website at first, but as soon as I started digging in, I found SO many amazing things for a really good price. Here is a picture of some clothes I got for my boys and here’s a picture of 4 beautiful dresses I’m totally in love with! (Psssst: you can get $10 OFF your first order from ThredUp when you order through this link HERE)!

Homemaking From Scratch Online Conference

Cost: $24.95 (Sale price for 8 days ONLY)

Homemaking From Scratch Online ConferenceI have to add this one in because it’s such an amazing deal! The first annual Homemaking From Scratch conference starts October 7th! It’s a fully online Christian Homemaking conference where you can listen to the conference sessions at your own pace and on your own schedule. 

I’ve been lucky enough to get to pre-watch all of the conference sessions and they are amazing! I can’t wait for you to have access to the sessions on hospitality, natural cleaning, getting kids involved in chores, decluttering, Biblical motherhood, and more. When you pre-register for the conference by October 6th, not only will you get $5 off the price of the ticket, you will also get over $200 in homemaking bonus resources!! 

You can pre-register for the conference between September 19th and October 6th to get $5 off your ticket AND over $200 in homemaking bonus resources! CLICK HERE to find out more. 

What would you add to this list?

What is a Homemaker & How Does it Relate to Titus 2?

God has a high calling for all women. A calling that is not dependent on marital status, occupation, or entrance into motherhood. A calling that can be lived out in many different ways and across cultures. A calling that has been handed down from mother to daughter for centuries, but that has abruptly fallen out of practice in our modern age.

God has a high calling for all women. A calling that is not dependent on marital status, occupation, or entrance into motherhood. A calling that can be lived out in many different ways and across cultures. A calling that has been handed down from mother to daughter for centuries, but that has abruptly fallen out of practice in our modern age.

This calling is that of the Homemaker. As a Christian woman, God has given you this high and noble calling to look after and manage your home. As a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a sister, you have been given this calling that should be celebrated and treated as a calling, a career, and a craft.

“The point of being a keeper at home is to provide a haven for a godly family to thrive (a requirement for church leadership, according to 1 Timothy 3:1-5), to offer hospitality to fellow Christians and non-Christians alike, and to provide a place for the church to meet. Even though the early church met primarily in homes, even today our homes can operate as an extension of the larger Sunday gathering when we meet in small groups or Bible studies…However, even among a large number of Christians today, the home is not as important as it once was, nor is it viewed as a place of ministry and outreach. This is a result of a collision of trends in the mid-nineteenth century that tarnished domesticity and let to feminism’s vitriolic attack against the home.” Radical Womanhood104

What is a Homemaker?

Sometimes, I think that the role of a homemaker is narrowly defined. I hear mother’s who work full time outside the home share that they wish they could be homemakers. Or single women who don’t give any thought to what a “homemaker” is since they are not married, have their own home, etc. Or when I talk about homemaking, people assume I’m just talking about cooking and cleaning.

But I challenge you to open up your thinking of what a homemaker is. I want to reclaim the term and what it means. I think all women, to some extent or another, is a homemaker, regardless of marital status or occupation.

I have a passion for managing my home and I am excited to share that my “job” is a homemaker. 

I like to think of the term “homemaker” as the official title for my role as a woman. When I lived at home, I was a homemaker in training and should have spent some time investing in future skills. When I lived in my dorm room, I could have extended hospitality to other women on my hall. As a newlywed, even though I worked full time, I was busy investing time and energy into cultivating my skills at home and making our small apartment warm and inviting.

And now that I’ve moved into this season of busy motherhood, and nearly all of my time is spent within the walls of my home, it’s so easy to feel run down, overwhelmed, and burnt out.

Intellectually I have a passion for homemaking, but I also know, that some days are just plain hard!! I struggle figuring out how to develop a housekeeping routine, its 4pm and I have no idea what’s for dinner, I need advice on how to discipline my kids and fit in devotional time…

I have a passion for homemaking but I also need help, advice, and guidance in this journey. 

God has a high calling for all women. A calling that is not dependent on marital status, occupation, or entrance into motherhood. A calling that can be lived out in many different ways and across cultures. A calling that has been handed down from mother to daughter for centuries, but that has abruptly fallen out of practice in our modern age.

The Titus 2 Model for Homemaking

It always amazes me that God knows our hearts so well and provides for that in Scripture. I’m a fairly prideful person, especially when it comes to homemaking. Do you ever feel like this?

I don’t need help. Other women run their home so smoothly, without help, and still have time to show up to church with a basket of homemade, gluten-free mini muffins, her kids are in matching outfits, and her hair and makeup is perfect! How can I admit that I often feel like a failure with all these super-women and amazing moms running around all over Pinterest.”

While I often feel alone in thinking all of this…I don’t think I am (judging by the response I got when I shared this photo of my messy kitchen). I think most women struggle with this on one level or another. And I think God knows this too. He provides for this in Scripture by commanding women to be in relationship with one another and learning and growing together. 

As Paul is sharing with Titus on how to minister to those in the church, he teaches that there should be love, support, and instruction passing from woman to woman. He shares that as unique homemakers, older women are to pass down the skills and knowledge on how to effectively love their families and keep their homes to younger women who should be eager and willing to learn.

“And so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive, that the word of God may not be reviled.” ~ Titus 2:4-5

A New Time for Titus 2 Mentoring

The Titus 2 model of women mentoring women, growing and learning together is beautiful. We need relationships with other women, it’s how God designed it. And the internet has changed the way we interact with each other – for good and bad.

There are plenty of reasons why the internet has changed relationships for the worse – but today, I want to focus on how the internet (and technology) can be used for good – to promote the Gospel and encourage women in their godly roles as homemakers.

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s difficult sometimes to find women who want to cultivate their skills at home, who want to invest time and energy into their home, and who have a passion for sharing this with other women. In real life, it can sometimes be difficult to find older women, and especially peers, who value homemaking and who want to spend time sharing and talking about it.

That’s why I feel so blessed by the internet at times. I’ve been able to connect with, and form real relationships with women that I never would have. I’m able to get advice on housekeeping schedules and preschool ideas. Online friends have taught me how to meal plan, make meal times special, and creative ways to fit devotional time into my busy schedule. My online friends, and especially some specific bloggers, have been so encouraging to me in my journey as a homemaker.

I feel I must add: The internet (facebook, pinterest, bloggers, etc) in no way should replace real life interaction and Titus 2 mentoring. It is essential to be in real relationships with other women. If you only have time for one, always choose face to face interaction with women over reading blogs, browsing Pinterest, etc. I feel that I must add this in because the very last thing I want to encourage you to do is trade in real mentoring with Pinerest advice and recipes. Moving on…

I think that in this modern era, the internet can be another wonderful resource for women. A way for women to learn essential homemaking skills, while their babies nap or play outside, that we haven’t had in previous generations. In past generations, these skills were handed down from mother to daughter while the young women was still growing up.

Now however, entire generations of women are entering into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood without even the most basic homemaking skills. That’s why I am so excited to watch Christian women come together and use the internet to inspire and pour into each other’s lives. 

Register now before the conference begins to get $5 off the ticket price AND over $200 in homemaking bonus resources!!

An Opportunity for Online Homemaking Mentorship

Starting on Monday, September 29th, tickets go on sale for the first annual Homemaking from Scratch Online Conference. You will hear 12 amazing sessions on various aspects of homemaking including: finding time for God’s Word, Biblical motherhood, hospitality, what it means to be a homemaker, cleaning routines and habits, getting your kids involved in chores, and so much more!

The conference is October 7 – 9th, 2014 but the beautiful thing about this conference is that it was designed with homemakers in mind – so all sessions are pre-recorded which means YOU get to listen to them at your own pace. Once a session goes live, you can pause it or shut it down and listen to it later – and these sessions are yours to keep to watch over and over again!

Also included when you pre-register for the conference, is over $200 in homemaking bonus items (cleaning schedules, marriage prayer cards, eBooks, and so much more)! Plus, register before October 7th and get $5 off your ticket! Head over to Homemaking From Scratch to find out more about the conference.

Then come back tomorrow, I’m going to share all my favorite technology resources that help me in my life as a homemaker (iPhone apps, websites, and more)! 

7 Lessons on a Quest for Less Clutter

By Erica, Contributing Writer

I have a quest for less, it has become my focus in the last few months. I am learning to let go of stuff so that I can have peace in my heart and mind.

I have a quest for less, it has become my focus in the last few months. I am learning to let go of stuff so that I can have peace in my heart and mind.

I am a homeschooling mother of four in ministry that loves to craft so just these factors alone are a recipe for clutter disaster. We have people who shower us with gifts each year and honestly it gets overwhelming very fast. I keep seeing articles about decluttering and so it has been my goal to do with less so I can have a handle on running our home for God’s glory.

Lessons Learned in my Quest for Less

I am the biggest mess maker in my family

It isn’t my husband or my kids, it is me! I hate to admit that I will leave projects half-way finished and piles of papers scattered around our home for a long time before I get back to them.

I have to take responsibility and clean up my messes and throw away my junk in order to have what I like to call visual peace and order. It is amazing how just putting stuff in its place will make it look like you have less.

It is okay to drastically cut back on what your kids have

I went through drawers so we could have less mess and less laundry and made my children choose which t-shirts, shorts, etc. they wanted to keep. I gave them the choice so that they get accustomed to getting rid of things themselves.

Then we went to our toy closet and we spread their toys out and I made my boys choose 10 cars each out of 40 and so on through the rest of their toys. There was some crying but I comforted them and explained why it was necessary. Extra stuff we were not willing to part with went into the garage and we will rotate those toys. I am working on this with my things too.

We can bless others

God can use us as the go-between to pass things along to other people with genuine needs. People give us so many girls clothes for our daughters that they cannot wear them all. I will ask the Lord who He would like me to give them to and wait for an opportunity to be a blessing to someone.

One time we were able to give bags of clothes to a missionary on a Navajo reservation so people in their church could have clothes to wear. God will speak to your heart about what to give to whom. I never recommend just passing junk to others. If it is not any value to the person then throw it away yourself instead of making them throw it away for you.

Be Realistic

Do not be afraid to throw away, recycle, or repurpose things that have meant a lot to you in the past. When I look down the road long-term I look at a sentimental object and ask myself, is this something I want to have 5, 10, 15 years from now? Realistically evaluating things helps me make a good choice about the item. If I can admit that I will not use it again then I have to decide to throw it away, recycle it, or repurpose it.

Although we are blessed, having lots of things does not mean we are spiritual

It can be easy to fall into the idea that because we are blessed enough financially to have a lot of stuff that it means we are automatically in good standing with God. I am not so sure that this idea has merit when we can be consumed and distracted by our stuff keeping us from reading our Bibles, loving our husbands, and teaching our children consistently about the Lord.

If I can get rid of things in my quest for less that will help me have a better relationship with God then I should do it happily and willingly.

Unwanted useful stuff can equal good cash

If it is of good quality and you are no longer using it then try to sell it so you can make use of the money by putting it in savings or purchasing something you really need now or even be a blessing to your church or someone you know.

We have had two garage sales and put things on eBay and made about $500 in the last two months. Yes it took a lot of work, but this has helped us to fill some of our financial gaps.

Be a better steward

I buy too many things that I just like whether it is clothes, craft items, homeschool stuff, etc and they go unused or they get trashed and wasted because our kids have become used to having so much stuff that caring for what they have does not matter as much to them.

I have a responsibility to take care of our money wisely and I have a duty to teach our children to take care of what we have. In having less I believe we can be thankful for what we have and teach the value our things without abusing them. God wants us to be a good steward of what He has provided so that He can continue to bless us.

There are so many more lessons to be learned when I look around my house. I am not happy with feeling obligated to clean all of the time because of the mass amount of stuff strewn around the house. This needs to get in control, but it begins with me and is able to be accomplished only through God’s help just like any other task.

So if you look around and you are discouraged by all the stuff, then I challenge you to go on your own personal quest for less clutter and do whatever it takes to bring peace to your heart and mind so you can serve God in your home for His glory!

If you are already on your own quest for less clutter, please share your tips in the comments. We would love to read them!

Using Stencils as a Cheap Way to Beautify My Home!

We moved into our first house in January of this year, and since then, I have been on a DIY rampage along with the help from Tulip For Your Home. I have been collecting all of the ideas and inspiration on my Home Transformation Pinterest board and one idea has become clear: Stenciling has become all the rage, and I love it!

3 Secrets I've Learned to Stencil like a pro (Hint - It's not as hard as it looks)

Several months ago, I ordered a couple of stencils off of Amazon with a few stenciling ideas in mind. I didn’t really know what I  was doing, and didn’t have the proper equipment. It was a total failure and the bookcase upon which I was stenciling, ended up repainted and now is just white.

I had given up on stenciling as I thought that all those tutorial I had seen must be photo-shopped or else done by an expert. I didn’t think someone like me – a stenciling beginning – a creative person with zero artistic ability – would be able to duplicate beautiful results. 

Enter: Tulip For Your Home. Tulip has an all new line of stencils and paints that are designed for home decor projects! I was still totally skeptical, but when Tulip offered to send me a bundle of their home decor items to try out, I couldn’t resist at least trying it out. And so, I headed to I Love to Create and picked out the colors and stencils from their home decor that I wanted.

Tulip - Home Decor Stencils

The Tools

I am so happy with my results with these stencils and I know the materials I got were the key! I never would have spent a few extra dollars on a can of stencil adhesive and I’m confident that’s what made all the difference between this successful DIY project and my disastrous first attempt.

  • 14” x 14” large chevron stencil
  • 8” flower stencil
  • Sea blue Tulip Soft Paint
  • Gold glitter Tulip Soft Paint
  • Stencil Spray
  • Roller
  • Tulip Home Decor Pillow Cases (2)
  • Old beat up side table (Goodwill)

Before and After - Using Stencils is my newest favorite DIY thing!!

Step by Step Tutorial

1) Paint or Prep Your Items

My first step was to get my ugly cabinet ready for stenciling! This means I removed all the hardware, and applied 2 coats of this off white/cream paint. I then painted part of the door and the bottom piece with this bright blue.

My little helper

Here’s one of my little helpers – Always happy to discover what Mom is working on ;)

2) Position Your Stencil with Adhesive Spray

I consider this step to be the most crucial. Like I said before, I skipped this step on my first stencil project, and the paint leaked under the stencil and made one big, ugly mess!

So take the time, and the few extra dollars, to invest in adhesive spray. Make sure to spray down the matte (NOT the glossy) side of your stencil and get all corners and edges well covered. Lay your stencil down and smooth out all the lines to ensure that your stencil is properly bonded to your project!

Step by Step Tutorial for Stenciling Like a Pro - Step 1 is the most crucial!

3) The Fun Part – Start Painting

Using a foam roller is also another key to stenciling like a pro! Foam rollers hold a TON of paint at once but it allows coverage that is light and even. Load your foam roller with a good amount of paint and start applying thin, even layers. I had to do two layers to cover effectively.

Step by Step Tutorial for Stenciling Like a Pro - Step 2 is where the fun begins!

4) Covering a Large Area

If you are working with a larger area, it might be necessary to move the stencil and continue the patter. After the first part, I let the stencil sit wet for just a minute and then I carefully peeled up the stencil from the wet paint. Note: Do not let the stencil dry with the paint…when you try to take it off later, it will probably take the paint on your project off too!

Once you’ve removed the stencil. Let the original paint dry completely before adding the second part of the stencil if you will need to overlap the stencil and the wet paint.

Step by Step Tutorial for Stenciling Like a Pro

5) Now that you are a pro – Start stenciling everything!

While I had all the paints and stencils out – I let the stencil dry and then decided to stencil two throw pillows for our living room. Stenciling on the canvas pillow cases was actually much easier than my DIY painted cabinet. I plan on doing many more pillows for my house as each pillow only took about 5 minutes!

3 Simple Steps to Stencil like a Pro

Where to Buy

You can head to your local craft store, such as Joanne’s or Hobby Lobby, or head over to I Love to Create and pick out all of your stenciling goods!! You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news and updates. And most importantly – Follow them on Pinterest for all their latest projects, ideas, and inspiration!!

Disclosure: This post was written as a sponsored post for Tulip For Your Home. All opinions and thoughts are my own.