Posted in cleaning, organizing

From Cluttered to Clean: 9 Garage Cleaning Tips For The Overwhelmed

I am so excited! Check this out!!

The Self Cleaning House was selected by Redfin as a top Idaho organizing expert. See the Redfin article we were featured in From Cluttered to Clean: 9 Garage Cleaning Tips For The Overwhelmed | Redfin
https://www.redfin.com/blog/garage-cleaning-tips-for-the-overwhelmed/

Just had to share that with my readers! It is an honor to be chosen to write a little snippet for a large magazine/blog.

Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning

How Much Does Your Clutter Cost?

In the mid nineteenth century thousands of people journeyed west taking everything they had with them in a covered wagon. The covered wagon was the mivivan of the emigrant trails. It’s hard to picture just how much stuff you could fit in a covered wagon, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t a lot. I can’t imagine getting many of my possessions in a minivan or even suburban, along with the kids and dog.

(credit: State Historical Society, Columbia) 

I am going to go ahead and guess that the pioneers of that time didn’t have a clutter problem. There were no “storage marts” or Pod containers to rent. Clutter is an issue that we created later on. An issue that has come at a cost!

The problem: we put more value on our stuff than on our space.

Francine Jay

So just how much does your clutter cost? Clutter costs us in more than just dollars but lets just talk about the dollars to start.

23% of people in America have a bedroom that is not being used for anything except to store clutter. 70% of the clutter in that room has not been used in 10 years. 20% of people can not use their garage for it’s purpose, a car, because it is too full of clutter.

Let’s figure the cost of the space being used. Say you have a 2000 sq ft home that is worth 400k. (That number is ridiculously low where I live but we are just going to use that number.) Take the cost of your home divided by the square footage. In this case $200 per square foot. If you are using a small 10’x10′ bedroom for your clutter then the clutter in that room is taking up 20K !!! Now let’s assume the garage is a very small two car garage, 20’x20′, 400 square feet, that equals 80k! One hundred thousand dollars of your home is being used to contain clutter!!!! That is absolutely mind blowing!!

Not only do we store clutter in our homes but we rent storage units to store our clutter as well.  In the U.S., 65% of self-storage renters have a garage in their home, 47% have an attic, and 33% have a basement. This suggests that Americans have more things than their homes allow them…in other words, clutter. The average storage unit costs appoximately $150 a month, often more than that. Plus you need to pay renters insurance to cover the contents of the unit. That is a minimun of $1800 per year to house clutter.

We are now very aware of how expensive it is to keep our clutter. We haven’t even mentioned how much it cost us to aquire it in the first place…which is ironically the reason many people continue to pay more money to keep the clutter.

What other ways does our clutter cost us? Time for one. Did you know that we spend about one whole year of our lives looking for something we have lost or misplaced? If our homes are cluttered it is easy to lose things and harder to find them. Clutter makes everything take longer. Too many clothes makes it harder and takes longer to find something to wear. Too many piles of mail makes it hard to find that important paper you need. Too many knick knacks makes it too hard to dust easily. Losing your keys in clutter on the counter can cause you to be late.

Clutter costs us Space, like the bedroom full of clutter. That space could be used for a grandchild’s sleepover or a friend coming from out of town. It could be used as an office or a sewing/hobby room. Clutter robs us of those opportunities because it takes up space. It isnt that we dont have enough room… we have too much stuff.

Clutter takes more energy. Clutter has to be worked around, moved, shoved back, and dealt with in someway. Clutter makes 40% more housework and makes it more difficult as welll. First you have to clean….before you can clean!

Clutter affects our memory and our focus. Did you know that clutter affects your brain? Our brains like order, and constant visual reminders of disorganization drain our cognitive resources, meaning our brains have to constantly “do something” with what it is seeing. Clutter is like an app running in the background. We aren’t able to give other things our full attention, reducing our ability to focus. The visual distraction of clutter increases cognitive overload and can reduce our working memory.

Sleep is also affected when there is clutter. Clutter causes stress in your brain, because it has to continually process it. Stress raises cortisol which makes hard to sleep, makes us gain weight, causes anxiety, and many other physical issues. Research has shown that being in a messy room will make you twice as likely to eat a chocolalte bar than an apple and people with extremely cluttered homes are 77% more likely to be overweight.

Happiness and relationships are affected by clutter. All those things just mentioned are going to have a toll on our mental well being which in turn affects all our relationships.

Our home is not just a storage space. Our home is supposed to be our refuge from the world and stress around us. It is supposed to be our “happy place”.

So next time you are tempted to just toss those jeans that don’t fit in the extra bedroom… maybe take them to a charity instead. You will be accomplishing two good things at once.

Make a desicion to spend 15 minutes each day “decluttering”. Getting rid of clutter doesn’t have to be an event! Make it a habit!

One of the best ways to win the war with clutter is not bringing it home. Think about your purchases carefully. Do you really need it? Do you have a home for it? What do you need to get rid of if you buy it?

Things to remember as you go about your home. “Don’t put it down, put it away.” “Everything has a home and everything in its home.” “Don’t touch anything twice, put it where it belongs the first time.”

You can have a clutter free house! You deserve that. Do it for your wallet, your time, your energy, your brain, your health, your happiness and for your family! Don’t let clutter rob you anymore!

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:32-24

Happy decluttering!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning

Being Truly Grateful

We are all grateful for our family, our homes, and our “stuff” but we don’t often consciously think about it. Those things are just always there. If you suddenly didn’t have a home and then it was returned to you, you’d really be grateful for it! We tend to take those things for granted. You know who isn’t taking those things for granted? Ukrainians.

When I watch the news and see so many people who just a few weeks ago had homes and families and jobs and lives just like we do, and now their families are torn apart, they are running in fear from their own country with only a few items in a back pack….I feel so blessed? Lucky? Actually I feel pretty crappy that we (all of us not in that situation) take so much for granted and even complain about what we don’t have or what a bad day we had at work. I dare any one of us to find something valid to complain about. Can you imagine saying to a refugee, “I had the worst day at work today! It was so busy I didn’t even get my lunch break!”….ummm. yikes. Or how about “I am so tired of my dumb phone, I need a new one!” Or “I cant give up my ten pair of shoes I don’t wear! Those were expensive!”. “What if I need that ____ (fill in the blank) someday?” Perspective. We have so much and we hang on to it like our life depends on it but forget to be grateful for it. It is just clutter in a closet. They are incredibly grateful for the little they have and have lost so much. I pray for those people, that they can soon rebuild their lives. I pray that we can learn from them and change our perspective.

Let’s honor those refugees by exercising gratitude for each thing that we use, look at, consume, throw away or give away. Really pay attention to the things you have and use. Even the little things you don’t normally think of.  The garage door opener, the TV remote, the refrigerator, the glass pan you used for dinner, your tennis shoes. Notice them. Thank God for them and thank them.. yes them, your tennis shoes, for the work they do to benefit you.

Practicing intense gratitude like this in a daily basis actually changes your brain!!  Gratitude lights up the reward pathways in your brain boosting serotonin and dopamine, making you feel happier, more secure and help you think clearly. It will help you make good decisions. Gratitude is like a God’s anti anxiety medication! We could all use a little of that!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

— Colossians 3:15

This blog post doesn’t sound like a house keeping post but it really is!

Be grateful for and take care of what you do have.

Think of others by not selfishly hanging on to things you don’t need.

Those two key things are what keeps a house clean and clutter free! When you practice those you will have a peaceful home that is a haven for you and your family.

Please pray with me for the people of Ukraine. Keep perspective.

 “Prayer is not a preparation for the battle; it is the battle!”

Leonard Ravenhill

Happy Housekeeping!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning

Everything has Purpose

Decluttering. This time of year everyone is talking about decluttering, organizing, starting fresh. But how do you know what to get rid of? It can be confusing and honestly exhausting making decision after decision on what to keep, donate and throw away!

I have come up with a scenario that really helps make those decisions easier! At least it works for me. It kinda takes my compassionate side and uses it for my “stuff”!

Everything is created for a purpose. Every pen, every dish, every shirt, every shoe, every animal, and every human. Everything has a reason and a purpose.

"The Lord has made everything for its purpose..." 
~Proverbs 16:4

As you look at your things, consider their purpose. Are they fulfilling it? Are the pair of shoes still in the box, are they fulfilling their purpose? Are they happily doing what they were meant to do? Making their wearer happy and comfortable.

Has the worn T-shirt with the hole in it completed its purpose? If so, it is time to let it go with gratitude.

“If you’re not using the stuff in your home, get rid of it. You’re not going to start using it more by shoving it in a closet somewhere.”
― Joshua Becker

Try to imagine your possessions having life. No, I’m not crazy, they aren’t alive, I know that. But they were made to be used and appreciated and not shunned to live in a box under a bed in a spare room. They are intended to give someone joy. If we shove them under a bed they are not doing their job. We are not allowing them to serve and fulfill their purpose.

In Toy Story 3, Andy no longer plays with his toys and they are put in the attic.  The toys are distraught!  Woody writes a note to Andy (wouldn’t that be great if your things could tell you what and where they want to be?! ) and asks if they could be given to a little girl named Bonnie. Bonnie would love them and give them the attention they deserved.

It may seem silly giving imaginary life to your possessions but it is very helpful in determining what to keep, what to sell, donate and throw away.  Because in this scenario, it’s not just about what you want. It takes some pressure off of you by “asking your things” what they want.  Where are they going to fulfill their purpose? Are you going to use them? Would someone else appreciate them more than you do? Have they served their purpose and need to be gratefully let go? 

…think of your children!!! lol!!

Start looking at everything you have as having “life”, having a purpose, and deserving respect and gratitude.  Changing our mindset in this way about the things we own makes the decision-making process of decluttering so much easier and almost fun! Just think of all the people you can make happy by letting go of things that no longer serve YOU but can be a huge blessing to them!

“The crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ He answered, ‘Whoever has two shirts must share with the one who has none, and whoever has food must do the same.'” ~Luke 3:10-11

Not only will you benefit from a clutter-free home by letting go of the things that are not serving their purpose in your house, but God blesses those that are generous with their belongings. It is a win-win situation!

"Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25

Give yourself the gift of an uncluttered home, bless someone else with the things that are no longer serving their purpose at your house, and retire those things that are no longer useful.

Happy decluttering!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning, organizing

How to Have Kids, Toys and a Clean House

I was inspired to write this after hearing several parents talk about how difficult it was to get kids to clean their rooms and that they just couldn’t have a clean house until their children were grown.

There is hope! It is not only possible but it is extremely important to have a tidy home for you and your family. Your home should be your safe space that is a haven from the world, not a place of chaos. Teaching your kids the skills to be organized and clean will be invaluable to them in school and get them far in their careers down the road as well.

Every parent has a love hate relationship with toys. On the one hand, they keep our kids entertained and happy. We love to see our kids happy! On the other hand, we can not stand the clutter and the mess and even the arguing that happens with too many toys.

We love our kids and we want to give them things that will bring them joy. So much so that we continue to buy them more toys for Christmas, birthdays and Easter and use them as bribery for being good in Target, even though we know there are already just too many toys at home!

The toy box is soon overflowing and the kids are “bored”. The Playroom or bedroom looks like an earthquake happened at Toy’s R Us! You are at your wits end and the kids truly don’t know how to clean up. How can they?

So what can we do about all this fun clutter everywhere?

Donate and Dump

Go through ALL the toys!

This can be done with or without your child. You know your kids best. If this is just going to be a crying, fit throwing, unproductive session and they aren’t going to miss the toys anyway, do it without them. If they are very mature and can understand giving to those in need maybe it would be a good life lesson sort of thing for them. Most often doing this without kids is much more productive.

Put ALL the toys in a giant pile and really look at how much is there. Pick each one up. Is it broken or damaged? Dump. Is it no longer interesting or age appropriate? Donate.

Do not donate or dump a favorite toy even if it seems like garbage to you. You don’t want to betray their trust and also don’t want to turn them into hoarders, afraid to let go of anything because you got rid of that one thing that time.

Sort

Make piles of like things. Dolls, doll clothes, bottles, blankets, doll stroller in one pile. Legos of all kinds in another pile. Little people farm, castle and cars grouped together. Barbie’s and all accessories. Cars and race tracks. You get the idea!

Anything left that is just a unique item and doesn’t belong to any of the piles, will go into a toy box. If there are too many of these things and they don’t easily fit into the toy box, go back to step one, dump and donate.

Organize

Each one of your piles will need an appropriate sized box or tote of some sort. Preferably with a lid so they can be stacked. Some items may not fit into a container. That’s ok. I have Dolls, and clothes and bottles in a diaper bag and that fits into the doll crib. The Little People Farm is on top of a rubber maid container that holds all the little farm animals and tractor. All the Legos are in one rubber maid container as are all the Playdo things.

Store

The next step is finding the best place to store these items. The goal is to have them slightly difficult for the kids to get to. They will be coming to you to ask for the Barbie bin or whatever it is they want to play with next. If they are just on the floor of the playroom it is way too easy to have them all open at the same time. The closet in an extra room, shelves in the garage, even just shelves in a play room that are just out of reach are good places for these. All should be lined up or stacked neatly together.

Teach

This is where the real work comes in. Kids don’t just know how to clean up. You have to teach them. Kids ARE great with routine though! Once you’ve established a routine with them it will be easy peasy to keep things in order. It is up to you to make it a habit!

Every time the kids move from one activity to the next, CLEAN UP! If your kids are small you will need to do it with them. Even if they aren’t small you will need to do this with them for a while or at least supervise it.

For instance, the kids are playing with toys from the toy box and decide they want to play babies. Clean up the toys! Put them in the toy box. This should be pretty simple because everything now fits in the toy box.

Go to the closet, or wherever you have the other toys, and take out the baby things. Only the baby things are out and being played with. When they are done with babies, all the baby things are put back in their container and returned to the closet. The next thing can then be taken out to be played with.

Indoor toys stay indoors. Outdoor toys stay outdoors.

You could have 8 kids 0-10 years old and still have a tidy living room or playroom using this method! I promise!

Enjoy. You can be a better person and parent when you have taught your kids how to play and have fun and also to clean up. Enjoy having a tidy playroom, bedrooms and house with less stress and less stuff. You and your family deserve it!

Donate and Dump. You can’t organize clutter. Get rid of what is broken or no longer useful.

Sort. Sort into piles of similar things to be stored together.

Organize. Put the like items in their own bin or tote.

Store. Find a good place to store these bins that are up and out of the way.

Teach. Kids don’t know until they know. One group of toys out at a time! Clean up after every activity.

Enjoy. Enjoy your family more and stress less.

Many daughters have done well,

But you excel them all.

Proverbs 31:29

Happy Organizing!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning, organizing

Tips for Cleaning the Garage

It’s finally starting to feel like Spring in North Idaho! It felt like a long time coming….like a looooooooong time. We have never needed spring like we need it now!

We have had a couple of beautiful sunny days that make me want to throw open the windows and clean the garage! Okay, maybe that is just me?! But seriously, have you noticed how the garage seems to turn into a disaster over the winter?

I think we tend to dump things out there, maybe not as neatly as we should because it is COLD out there! It just isn’t as easy or pleasant to put things away properly.

Spring is a great time to spruce up the garage and get it looking nice again! Many of us are home with time on our hands and the last thing we need to be doing is being idle in front of the TV. So, if you are wondering what you should do next….

Here are tips on how to clean a garage.

  1. Make sure you have plenty of time, your tennis shoes on, your water bottle and some tunes.
  2. Pull out as much stuff as you can to the middle of the garage or driveway if it’s nice out.
  3. Make three piles. Keep, Toss, Donate. Don’t get caught up in trying to sell things unless it is quite valuable. Those things usually just get put back and become clutter once again.
  4. Sweep or blow out the mostly empty garage.
  5. Organize your keep pile by like items, such as Christmas Decorations, tools, canning jars, etc.
  6. Determine where to put things according to how often it is used. Less used items should go in places that are less accessible. Frequently used things should be on shelves that are easy to get to.
  7. As soon as possible take the junk to the dump and donations to your local charity. Don’t let it sit in the garage, clutter seems to multiply on it’s own! Before you know it there will be stuff everywhere again! Get it out!
  8. Admire your work! It feels so good to have accomplished something like that! Great job!

I hope this inspires you to get that garage clean! I know I will be working on that this week. It’s in desperate need!

Happy Cleaning!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning, habits and routines, routines

Tips to Keeping Things Clean and Homemade Sanitizing Wipes

Being clean. Lately that is what everyone is talking about! The corona virus really has shown us just how much we affect each other and how wide that affect is. It is truly mind blowing!

I am sure we have all upped our cleaning habits recently, which is great! Being consistent is key! Routines to the rescue! If you don’t have a daily cleaning routine, go check the Routines page here!

Here are a few tips to help keeps germs and viruses away. Add these to your normal routines.

When cleaning the bathrooms daily, pay special attention to toilet handles, faucets, drawer knobs and door handles. Those things can be done very quickly while cleaning the rest of the bathroom with a Clorox Wipe (IF you can find any). Be sure to change out the hand towels daily as well.

If you are one of the many that can’t find any sanitizing wipes right now, I will include a “recipe” to make your own! Might be a fun project while most of us are stuck at home with not much to do anyway.

Keep clutter to a minimum. Less stuff to have to clean! Now is a good time to get rid of things. Grab a garbage bag and see what you can find to get rid of. You may not be able to donate it right now but it can go to the car or garage for the time being. Try to keep flat surfaces clear so you can wipe them off frequently.

Put at least half the kid’s toys away. Clean them thoroughly. Rotate them daily or every other day, cleaning them each time. This way you aren’t having to clean ALL the toys each day and they are excited to have different toys every day. Also less to clean up! It’s a win win!

Use fresh kitchen towels and dish cloths every day. Use a sanitizing wipe on counters and faucet multiple times a day.

Don’t forget about you car! You go out, go to the store, you touch things, you get in your car and touch your steering wheel, door handle, the stereo, etc. Keep wipes in the car to wipe it down often.

Your cell phone and water bottle should be cleaned several times a day! You wash your hands and then pick up your phone which has soooooo many cooties! Don’t forget your laptop as well.

Then of course, is the most obvious…. wash your hands. I think we are going to need to stock up on hand lotion the way we are all washing our hands and cleaning lately!

Encourage each other in this time. Be kind and generous. Let us remember to be grateful, there is always someone worse off than we are.

So do not fear, for I am with you;

    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 NIV



Home Made Sanitizing Wipes

  • 1 roll of quality paper towels. Cheap ones will fall apart.
  • 1 air tight container, such as an empty plastic coffee can or old wipes container.
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup Isopropyl alcohol (tip!!! Isopropyl alcohol might be hard to find right now, but your local liquor store still has Vodka!! It will sanitize as well!)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 T. dish soap, preferably Dawn

Cut your paper towel roll in half using a sharp serrated knife or electric knife. It’s a bit messy.

Depending on your container you may have to peel off a few sheets of paper towel to make it fit. It is ok if it’s a tight fit.

Combine the water, alcohol, vinegar and dish soap and pour over the paper towels in the container.

Put the lid on and turn it upside down for a few minutes and then turn it back over. As soon as the paper towels are completely saturated you will be able to gently pull the cardboard center out easily! Now you can pull your wipes out from the center.

Happy Cleaning!

Take care and stay well!

Elizabeth XOXO

Posted in cleaning

Changing my Mind

Here we are more than halfway through the first month of 2020! How are you are doing? Did you make resolutions or not this year?

I can’t say I made any resolutions. Those always seem to go by the wayside before the end of February! I did, however, set some intentions toward the end of last year. I want to better myself in all ways, not just to have a cleaner home, or just lose weight or have more patience . I want to improve myself as a whole. That seems like a big goal but I figured that if I get my mind right, the rest kinda falls into place.

I heard something a couple months ago that has really stuck with me. “You are where you are because of who you are. If you want to change your circumstances, you have to change you.” That is not a word for word quote, but pretty close and I can’t remember who said it, but it was like a huge neon sign for me! I need to change my mind! I need to change how I think and begin to think like the person I want to be. I can’t wait to become that person and then change how I think. It doesn’t work like that. Maybe that is pretty Captain Obvious but sometimes you don’t see those obvious things till they hit you in the face!

If I can’t seem to lose that thirty pounds, I am thinking like someone who is thirty pounds heavier that she ought to be. If I have trouble keeping my space tidy it is a reflection of my cluttered mind. If I have trouble with finances, it will never get better without changing my thoughts and beliefs about money. If I hate my job, it is my thoughts about what I am worth and where I deserve to be that has me there. Everything in our lives is in direct response to what we think and believe.

I can learn all I can about cleaning my house and keeping it clean and organized but until I start changing how I think, uncluttering my mind, knowing that I deserve a clean space and thinking positively, my house will always go right back to reflecting my negative thoughts!

“Most people don’t lead their own lives – they accept their lives.”

― John Kotter

How do we change our minds though? I mean, aren’t our thoughts just part of who we are? Is it even possible to change how we think? YES! It is! The thoughts that we think now were learned. We were taught by our parents and the people that surrounded us and our experiences in life. We can learn new thoughts the same way. Surround ourselves with positive people. If you don’t know any, find new friends! Listen to podcasts and audio books that talk about the things you want to change. Read personal growth books. Journal your thoughts and things that you are grateful for. Meditate and clear your mind. Pray and do daily devotions and quiet time. Spend time thinking about what you think about. What thoughts do you have that don’t serve you? What negative self talk do you hear? Have INTENTIONAL thoughts instead of letting your thoughts just run around willy nilly! You are in charge of them!

“If I wanted to make a difference… Wishing for things to change wouldn’t make them change. Hoping for improvements wouldn’t bring them. Dreaming wouldn’t provide all the answers I needed. Vision wouldn’t be enough to bring transformation to me or others. Only by managing my thinking and shifting my thoughts from desire to deeds would I be able to bring about positive change. I needed to go from wanting to doing.”

― John C. Maxwell, Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters

I know this is a bit different for a house keeping blog, but without this, I am just throwing out band-aids and temporary fixes. If we don’t clear the clutter in our minds, we will never be able to clear the clutter and organize our homes for any length of time. It will always go back to reflecting our thoughts.

I want you to truly have peace in your mind and a peaceful clean home. Let’s do 2020 the right way! Let’s CHANGE OUR MINDS! Change your mind, change your life.

Here is a list of a few of the podcasts that I enjoy listening to while at the gym and while getting ready for the day. There are so many out there and they are free to listen to! Find some that speak to you.

  • Feel Better, Live More with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
  • The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson
  • The Chalene Show with Chalene Johnson
  • The Life Coach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
  • The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast
  • Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  • Girls Night with Stephanie May Wilson
  • ESV: Through the Bible in a Year

With Love, Elizabeth xoxoxoxo

Posted in family, family traditions, memories

Santa Clause…Just for fun?

Today my blog has nothing to do with cleaning or keeping house. It may or may not offend some but it’s my story. I believe I am to share it. I hope it has an impact on someone’s life.

Photo by Public Domain Pictures

With tears streaming down my face and a terrible twisting knot in the pit of my stomach I ran to my mother after school and threw myself on her. I had tried so hard to hold it in since recess that morning when my world had been shattered and everything I believed to be true was ripped from me.

As many other kindergartners, I believed that if I was a good girl that Santa would bring me my Christmas wish, that beautiful blonde haired doll that drank a bottle and really peed her diaper! I looked at her in the JC Penny’s catalog every chance I got! I worked very hard to be nice to my brother and do my chores and be obedient to my mother.

That day, I was crushed. The boy on the playground told me that Santa wasn’t real. That parents just lie to get us to be good. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I don’t remember much from forty -eight years ago, but I remember that very clearly. Tim. He was smart and normally a nice boy. His mom was friends with my mom. Why would he lie to me? He must be lying…. my mother wouldn’t lie to me, would she? Lying is so wrong!

As I cried on my mother’s shoulder, she asked what was wrong?! I couldn’t get it out until we got home. She held me on her lap and told me that Tim had been right. Santa was just a story. I was just devastated. Confused and bewildered I asked why did you lie to me? Lying is bad! At this point my mother was just as heartbroken as I was. We both were in tears. It’s just supposed to be a fun story that children believe she said. She comforted me and eventually I began to feel a bit better but still didn’t feel right inside.

Nothing about this felt good. Thoughts continued to run through my head. I may have only been five, but I had been taught right and wrong and was no dummy. This Santa thing didn’t sit right with me.

That night my mother tucked me into be and we began to say bedtime prayers. A thought flashed in my mind and my eyes flew open. I gasped! This is just another lie! How can this be?! Jesus is who I talked to when I was scared or alone. He helped my mommy feel better when she was sad too! We had been through so much since daddy left but Jesus is what made us feel better. That sick feeling came back with a rush and I felt hot and the tears were flowing again.

Jesus isn’t real either I screamed!! My mother was taken aback. “Of course He is honey!” ” But you said Santa was real and he isn’t. I couldn’t see Santa and I can’t see Jesus. I tried to be good so I could get my Christmas present and I try to be good for Jesus. You said Santa could see me and Jesus can too! You LIED!” I cried.

My mom held me for a long time and we cried together. She asked me to forgive her for lying to me about Santa and promised to never lie to me again. She told me that God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit do exist and that Jesus had died to take my sin so that I didn’t have to “try to be good” to receive anything from Him but that He loved me unconditionally. She reminded me that I had asked Jesus to live in my heart and that if I prayed He would give me peace and understanding and that I would know for sure He was real.

We prayed together and Jesus did fill me with peace and I knew He was there with me and that He was not just a lie. I knew in my heart that He would always be there for me and that I wanted to live for Him and let other people know that He isn’t like Santa. He is real and He loves us so much that He sent His son to be born and live and give His life for us so that we don’t have to strive to “be perfect”. He forgives us and has paid the price for us. He gave us the best Christmas gift ever given. It is for that reason that we celebrate the birth of Christ!

I made a decision at five years old that I would never ever lie to my children. I would never tell them that Santa was real and that they had to strive to be good to earn gifts. I would never give them reason to doubt that Jesus was real.

When I grew up and had my girls, we read the “Night Before Christmas” and all the other stories of Santa and they enjoyed those stories just as much as they enjoyed all the other fairy tale books we read. We put out Mt Dew and cookies on Christmas Eve because our “Santa” liked Mt Dew better than milk! We put out “reindeer food” in the snow, knowing it was a wonderful gift to the birds. They enjoyed every minute of the Christmas season and never believed in Santa. They believe that Jesus was born and came to save us from sin and give us grace. They have never doubted it a minute.

I don’t write this to heap guilt on those who have told their kids that Santa is real, but just to share from a child’s point of view. Maybe you might rethink the story you’ve told. This made such a huge impact on me as a child. I have always felt it was important to share but had never written it out until now. I hope that it can help a parent or child somehow.

This year, give real thought to your Christmas traditions and remember the reason for the season!

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Merry Christmas!

Elizabeth xoxo

Posted in cleaning, laundry, organizing

Cute Laundry Rooms and Real Pantries

I am going to be honest. I am good at keeping things clean. I am not good at coming up with clever organizing ideas. That makes keeping things clean harder. Organizing is something I really want to work on! I have been doing some reading, blogs, Pinterest, magazines and the like to get some ideas. Some are great, some are weird and some are just not even feasible. I mean, these pantries…. do these people actually have any food? Super pretty, but hardly anything in there! I shop at Costco. We have cases of vegetables, not just a few cans. We buy pretzels that come in a ten pound bag. I buy white flour and wheat flour in fifty pound bags each!

This is what a Costco trip feels like!

Speaking of pantries, have you noticed that most houses don’t have pantries anymore? Ours doesn’t have one. It has a nice sized linen closet in the hallway which I use as a pantry of sorts. I store my small appliances in it and my spices are in a behind- the- door hanging shelf. It’s a bit of a walk to go get the spices for dinner, but it works and who needs a linen closet!? I don’t have extra sheets and only a couple extra blankets and those live in my closet in my room. Tablecloths are stored in my dining room hutch. I have a very large book shelf in my garage that is our main pantry. Flour, canned goods, extra baking supplies, snacks, rice, pasta, toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, foil, Ziploc bags, and the like are all stored out there. Between spices in the hall and the food and supplies in the garage, making dinner is a work out! But it works! So if you live in one of those houses that someone who doesn’t cook designed…. be creative and fine another space for a pantry! Coat closet, linen closet, laundry room, garage… think outside the box!

hahahaha!!!!

I found a really awesome blog about organizing your pantry and wanted to share it with you! Kelley has fantastic and realistic ideas for organizing your pantry, even if you don’t have much space. Go check it out here!

I recently did some major decluttering in my laundry room. I had never really taken the time to make my laundry room “look cute”. I don’t know why, it just never occurred to me! I do spend a lot of time there however and after cleaning it all up and getting rid of a lot of unnecessary things, I decided to make it look nice.

I made a bag for bags! I have wanted to have an attractive way to store extra grocery bags for a while now! I found a neat tutorial on how to make one right here! It was super easy! If you have a sewing machine and know how to thread it, you can make this! How much cuter is that than a grocery bag stuffed with other grocery bags stuffed in the corner?!

I think it really helps to have our laundry rooms look pleasant and our cupboards and pantry’s look tidy and organized. It goes a long way toward improving our attitude toward the mundane house work.

I have said before that I have a mantra. “Improve every room you are in, even if it is just to smile in it. ” It’s much easier to leave a smile in a room that is inviting, cute, and seems to smile at you!

I am not sharing pantry pictures as of yet… don’t expect that it will ever look super “Pinteresty” with matching baskets and chalkboard labels, but I am working on it being better organized and finding what works best.

How does your laundry room feel? Does your pantry give you anxiety? Take some time this week , even just fifteen minutes, to declutter, rearrange and make those areas look pleasing to you. You would be amazed at what you can get done in just a few short minutes.

You deserve to have a home that smiles back at you!

Love ya! XOXOXO