how to clean your stainless appliances naturally

how to clean your stainless appliancesWe’ve lived in this house for three years and in three years I have not found anything that will clean all of our many stainless appliances…until now!

Stainless kitchen appliances are beautiful in theory but I would have never picked them for myself.  They were already in the house when we bought it and in pretty new/good condition so we haven’t had any reason to replace them.  They are a serious pain to keep clean though!  Every single little fingerprint shows.

There are lots of stainless cleaning supplies on the market that people say work well but as you know if you’ve been reading around here very long I really prefer to use natural methods for cleaning.  And I’ve tried several different things but nothing ever got them really clean.  I mean, I could get dried food and gunk off easily but as far as getting all the smudges and smears off…not happening.

I was really excited last year when I got some Norwex cloths thinking that this would be the perfect solution but sadly it wasn’t.  After doing some researching it turns out that the Norwex envirocloth and polishing cloth are good for stainless but only if they are already pretty clean (more for maintenance).  Apparently if your stainless has ever been cleaned with one of those commercial cleaners it leaves a film that you have to get off first and the envirocloth can’t get that off (ours has never been cleaned with anything like that since we’ve lived here but I’d guess it probably was by the previous owners).

I found some natural products that were supposed to be good for cleaning stainless but they were very expensive and I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that much when honestly, I have a toddler so as soon as I clean them they’re going to get a million fingerprints again, you know?

A few days ago I read something that said, “oh yeah you can totally get it off with an envirocloth, it just takes a lot of elbow grease” so I gave it one more try.  Rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and…nothing.  Was not helping a bit.

(I had to take a picture of my very eager helper using the oven mitt to help me “clean” the fridge.)IMG_9409(Norwex peeps, I am totally not hating on you!  I promise I like my cloths and I use them for lots of stuff…including to clean my stainless later in this post, I’m just being honest that they didn’t work for this one particular thing!)

So after that I was like, forget it.  I’m going to break down at some point and buy the expensive cleaner so I can get my stuff clean.  Someday.  Maybe.

But then I remembered that a friend of mine who is in my essential oils group had posted about a DIY cleaning scrub she had made and I figured I’d at least give it a try.  I mixed up just a teeny tiny bit and rubbed a small circle on the fridge.  Wiped it off with a damp rag and Oh.My.Stars.

Do you SEE that clean circle???

IMG_2570That is the first time I’ve ever even seen any of our stainless come clean!

I still had some left in my bowl so I kept going.  I only had enough to do about half of the fridge, plus we had a bunch of other stuff to do that day so that was all I got done but I kept going back over and over to look at it and I was so excited to show Michael when he got home!

In this picture the left side had not been cleaned yet but the right side was almost done.  It’s so hard to take pictures of stainless but I think you can definitely see the difference!

fridge halfway clean

So enough blabbing…you want me to tell you what I did, don’t you?

It’s really easy.  And I don’t even have a recipe.

ingredients to clean stainless appliancesI made a paste of baking soda, Thieves cleaner, and water.   I didn’t measure, I just put some baking soda in a bowl, added a good squirt of Thieves cleaner, and then added water and stirred until it was the consistency of something like cinnamon roll icing (that’s what it looks like lol!).

My friend Michelle, who is the one who had mentioned that she had made something like this and given me the idea, said that she used Thieves cleaner, baking soda, vinegar, and lemon essential oil.  I didn’t know that when I mixed up mine and the baking soda and Thieves cleaner by themselves worked just great, but you could totally try vinegar and lemon oil too for some extra oomph.

What I did:

Step 1: Mix up your paste

Step 2: Using a damp cloth, rub the paste in a circular motion all over the appliance.

Step 3: Using a different damp cloth, wipe the paste off.

Step 4: Wipe the surface again with a damp Norwex envirocloth

Step 5: Wipe the surface with a dry Norwex polishing cloth

Once the appliance is dry, check to make sure all the streaks are gone.  You might have to go back and do part of it a second time.

Here’s our fridge after I finished the whole thing.

fridge afterIt takes a little time and effort but it works like a charm!  It’s not perfect (I mean really, the only perfect method would be to not have to clean it at all, amiright?) but it was definitely good enough for me!


– It works!  I mean, that’s the main this right?

– It’s very inexpensive!  Baking soda is cheap and Thieves cleaner is cheap too (it doesn’t seem cheap when you first buy it but it’s so concentrated that it lasts forever.  I didn’t even realize how inexpensive it was until I saw this cool chart.)


thieves cleaner costs– It’s safe and not full of nasty, harsh chemicals.


– It’s messy!  The paste falls off the appliance and makes a big baking soda mess on the floor.  It’s pretty easy to sweep up though so that’s not too big of a deal

– It takes some time to do all those steps.

– The baking soda is abrasive so it can be a little hard on your hands and nails.

Overall I am just super, duper impressed.  I have used baking soda and castile soap to clean things like our showers and toilets but it’s incredibly bubbly (because of the castile) so I never would have tried it on our stainless.  The Thieves cleaner though is perfect and it doesn’t bubble up everywhere so it’s very easy to wipe off.  I’m so glad I found this out!

In fact, like I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have time yesterday to do more than about half of the fridge so this morning I was crazy excited to finish up the fridge, dishwasher, oven, and microwave.  It’s an odd feeling when cleaning is exciting!  Ha!  I even let Hudson play in his oatmeal in his high chair (that was another huge mess in and of itself) so I could get some of the cleaning done before he got down and started trying to “help” me.

Now the biggest problem is this…all the appliances are gorgeous and sparkly but the first time someone lays a finger on them they’re going to get a very obvious smudge.  Like, is it super weird that I’d almost prefer the big smudge mess that they were previously because then it didn’t bother me when Hudson (or us for that matter) put his/our hands all over?

(Case in point: I was getting ready to take the “after” picture of the fridge and that little stinker walked up and put his hand right on it so I had to wipe it off before I could take the picture!)

IMG_0982I’m *hoping* that now that I’ve gotten it good and clean that a simple wipe with my Thieves cleaner or Norwex cloths will get the new smudges off and I won’t have to do the whole big scrubbing routine again anytime soon.

Or I could find that it’s a total hassle to keep clean and let it go back to the way it was…you never know!  So if you come to visit me there is not telling what they’ll look like.

But for now…at least until nap time is over…they gleam!

Here are a few more before and afters:

Dishwasher before:dishwasher before

Dishwasher after:
dishwasher after

Oven before:
oven before

Oven after:
oven after

Who is going to run and clean their stainless right away after reading this?

a canvas comparison

As promised here is a review of the three different companies where we purchased the canvases for the gallery wall in our living room.  Now just so you know I am NOT a professional photographer or a photography buff of any kind.  I have no idea what a professional canvas should look like and how these stack up against the really expensive ones.  So this is my very unexperienced review and comparison of canvases from three, random, not-super-expensive companies.
canvas gallery wall around the flat screen

When I got ready to order my canvases I, of course, wanted the most bang for my buck so I ended up ordering from three different sites where I had coupons or found good sales.  I was totally new to ordering canvases or really even any pictures on a large scale (larger than just normal 4×6 prints) so I did some “research” (aka Googling and reading reviews) to try to help me pick companies.  The ones I ultimately chose were: Fabness, Canvas on Demand, and Easy Canvas Prints.

A friend sent me a coupon for canvases from Fabness ($9.99 shipped) so I got two there.  I bought a Groupon for a canvas from Canvas on Demand, and then Easy Canvas Prints was one that I had read about online as being recommended and they were also doing a big sale (80% off I believe) so I bought the rest (5 canvases) there.  I spent a total of about $150 for the 8 canvases.

You can see below which canvas came from which company.  where I bought each canvas

This one in the bathroom is also from Easy Canvas PrintsIMG_0946

Let’s compare:

Quality of pictures

Like I said earlier I am not at all a professional but to me the pictures from all the sites looked great.  They were all clear and looked as good blown up as they did small on my computer screen.

Quality of canvases

Well again I don’t really know what I’m looking for but both the Fabness canvases and the Canvas on Demand one felt really sturdy.  The ones from Easy Canvas Prints weren’t as firm, if that makes sense.  Like if you push lightly on the middle of the ones from Fabness or Canvas on Demand they have very little give, as if there is something sturdy behind the picture.  If you push on the ones from Easy Canvas Prints they give a little (like a piece of fabric stretched around a frame but without anything hard behind it).

Since these are hung on the wall and aren’t really being touched or anything that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be any issue at all.  So while two of them were sturdier overall I think they will all hold up fine.

Wrap depth

From my limited amount of searching it appears that canvases most commonly come in depths of .75″ and 1.5″.  The Fabness coupon and the Canvas on Demand Groupon were for set sizes of canvases, both with a depth of 1.5″.  With Easy Canvas Prints I had to choose the depth myself.  I originally was going to go with 1.5″ so that all of my canvases would be uniform but it turned out that I could save around $25 if I went with the smaller wrap.  I debated back and forth, wanting to save money but not sure if I wanted my canvases to look different.  I ultimately decided to go for the .75″; had I been planning on a wall of *only* canvases I would have wanted them to be the same but since I was planning on putting them on a wall with our tv, some other framed pictures, and some other non-picture items, all which would have varying depths, I took a risk hoping that the difference wouldn’t bother me.

It turns out that (so far) it does not bother me.  In fact, I don’t really notice it at all.  I tried to take a picture to show you the difference but it’s not very noticeable (which is a good thing).

wrap sizesThe 1.5″ wrap definitely makes the canvases look higher quality and more professional than the .75″ wrap so if that’s important to you and/or money is not an issue then I’d definitely recommend going with the 1.5″.

Wrap colors

Typically you have two choices for your wrap colors – you can choose to have the picture itself wrap around the sides of the frame or you can choose to have the picture on the front only and then have the sides a different color.  Canvas on Demand had a third option, which was to have like a fade out look on the wrap that sort of matched the colors of the picture.  That option was called “color blur”.

I only selected the option where the picture wraps around the edges for one canvas – the picture where Hudson is wearing the suspenders and red tie.  If you look at the previous picture where I talked about the wrap depths you can see the edge of that picture.

The picture wrap around is by far my favorite option but it can be tricky because you can lose some of your picture off the front of the canvas if you do that.  The picture of him in the red tie was the only one where I was able to do the wrap without it cutting off part of him.  And that was from Easy Canvas Prints.

Our Canvas on Demand picture, the family picture with Hudson wrapped in the quilt, was the one that had the option to do the color blur.  I chose that one, as you can see in the picture below, but I think it looks pretty weird.  I am not a fan of that effect at all and I definitely prefer the wrapped picture or the solid color sides.



All the rest of our prints (the two from Fabness and the remaining four from Easy Canvas Prints) just have the plain black or dark grey sides.  It’s not a wow factor or as nice looking as the picture extending around the edges but it doesn’t look bad either.

As with the various wrap depths I was concerned about how it would look having a variety of colors/techniques on the sides.  But also like the wrap depths it turns out it does not bother me.  Again, if I had a canvas-only gallery wall I would want them to be more uniform but since this is an eclectic area anyway it’s fine that they don’t all match.

Shipping condition

This is the one and only area where I had issues.  I ordered five canvases from Easy Canvas Prints.  They all arrived in one big, flat box but they were packaged in such a way that they were in a double layer with the images facing inward (I wish I had taken a picture to show you but just imagine laying 3 canvases face up then laying 2 more face down on top of them so the image sides were together).  I don’t know if it was the heat outside from when they were in transport or if the ink hadn’t totally dried before they were packaged, but the canvases were stuck together and when I separated them there was ink transfer, especially around the edges.

I’ve used some arrows to try to indicate those spots.  They aren’t horrible and it wasn’t anything that I felt like I needed to complain about or send them back, but it was still very disappointing.  I guess this is an instance where you get what you pay for (since this was the most inexpensive site I found) but really…how hard would it have been for them to slide one measly sheet of packing paper in between the two layers of canvases to make sure that didn’t happen?  That was a pretty big bummer.


The two Fabness prints I purchased were shipped in separate boxes (I had placed two separate orders) and the one from Canvas on Demand was the only one I got from there, so I can’t say how those two companies’ prints would have fared had I gotten multiples in one box.  All of their single-shipped canvases showed up in excellent condition.

Shipping time

The prints from all three companies arrived within a week of each other (they were all ordered on the same day) and it was maybe one to two weeks after I placed the order.  I felt like the ship time was very reasonable and similar for all of them.


I mentioned some about pricing at the beginning but it’s really hard to compare.  For one, I was ordering different sizes (both side of the print and wrap depth).  With all the coupons I feel like it came out fairly evenly.  I think that Canvas on Demand would definitely have been the most expensive had I not had a Groupon and Easy Canvas Prints was the most inexpensive option but overall they were pretty similar.

Overall thoughts

Fabness and Canvas on Demand were both fantastic.  I was super pleased with the quality and would definitely order from them again.  Easy Canvas Prints was just ok.  Not terrible, but definitely not as high a quality as the other two and like I mentioned the shipping issues with the ink transfer was really disappointing.  However, for a budget canvas they aren’t bad.

I hope this is helpful as you navigate ordering pictures for your home!

(I was not compensated for these reviews.  All opinions expressed here are mine.  I paid for these prints myself and none of these three companies even know who I am.)

living room and entry face lift…finally!

Thanks to the nifty feature on Facebook that shows you your memories from on a particular date from past years I was reminded earlier this week that we bought our house exactly three years ago.  And that makes what I’m about to share even *more* embarrassing!

Even though we’ve lived in this house for three years we had very little decor hung on the walls – a few things, but not much.  And even worse is that we did not have a single picture of us as a couple, as a family, or of Hudson hanging or displayed anywhere.  All these fantastic pictures we’d gotten of him over the past year and a half and not a one on display!  Shameful.

On Labor Day I decided to finally just get it done and order some pictures while I knew lots of companies were having sales.  Thanks to Groupons and sales and coupon codes I ended up getting 8 canvases ordered (and I think it cost about $150 total; I’m totally new to purchasing canvases but I think that’s a pretty good price overall).  I am SO GLAD I finally did it!  They look great!  I ordered from three difference places and I plan to do a comparison/review for you in a separate blog post.

I used a nifty tip I saw on Pinterest where you cut out paper in the size of your pictures and tape that to the wall first so you can determine where you want them.  That worked perfectly!  I was able to easily move them around until I found my preferred placement and then all Michael had to do to hang them was figure out where the nail needed to go for the hanger, put the nail in, tear the paper off, and then hang the picture.  He didn’t have to do all the positioning and measuring that we usually go through when we hang pictures so that was nice.

mapping out the gallery wall with paper

Once we got them hung it seemed like it totally transformed our living room!  It is so fun to actually have pictures on the walls!  Hudson loves them too and points and the ones of Michael and me frequently and says “Mama! Dada!”.

gallery wall in progress

I ended up ordering about one picture per each photo session (newborn, 3, 6, 9, 12, etc.) – it was hard to narrow it down but money and space both said I had too.  And I left plenty of room for us to easily add pictures later on down the road, especially since we’ll be getting lots more pictures made when Parker arrives.  I also plan to put a few non-picture things up on the wall like maybe a quote or a letter “K”.

The same week that we got the pictures hung we accidentally did two more major things in the living room/foyer area.

You can see in the pictures above that under the tv we had a small wooden chest.  We stored DVDs in the bottom and then used the top to hold the DVD player and a few other items.  It wasn’t super functional and was a little smaller for the space that I wanted, but it’s what we had so it’s what we used.  What I *really* wanted was an Ikea Expedit shelf with lots of storage cubes and baskets.  We don’t have an Ikea near us though.

Well lo and behold the exact shelf I wanted popped up on a local garage sale site!  And somehow I commented fast enough that I got first dibs to buy it.  So we did and it’s perfect!  I love it!

ikea expedit for toy storage

canvases around flat screen tv

Prior to this shelf Hudson’s toys were stored partially in the living room and partially in what used to be the dining room and is now kind of a playroom.  We had only one container in the living room (that green tub you can see to the right of the shelf) so a ton of the toys were crammed in there and then the rest just scattered around.  The ones in the dining room/play room were all dumped into one tub as well.  So basically because of how unorganized it was the toys just stayed all over the floor in the living room, kitchen, and dining room.

Now thanks to this shelf we are able to get all of his toys, with the exception of some of the big ones like his riding toys and tool bench, in one nice, tidy area.  I found these bins at Target that fit the cubes great.  I really prefer the look of all the cubes having bins in them but I’m not sure that will work for some of the larger toys so for now we have the four bins with small, loose toys like balls, blocks, etc. and then four open cubes with larger toys.

(You can kind of see in this picture what it would look like with bins in all the cubes.  I would use all the same color but I was just messing around with some options to see what I wanted and this is the only picture I got.)

2015-10-12_12.13.20 copyIt has been amazing how much neater our whole downstairs is now that we have this!  And it makes cleaning up at the end of the day a breeze!  Not only that but Hudson can see and access his toys easier so he actually plays with them more rather than just dumping them on the floor and then walking on/around them.

Then the last thing we did decor wise is maybe my favorite!  A couple of years ago I found this picture on Pinterest of a shelf over a church pew.  I’d always wanted a built in-type hall closet locker thingy in the entry way but when I saw this picture I knew it was perfect because we already had a church pew.  I asked Michael to make it for me and we picked out the hooks but then life got busy and we had Hudson and Michael didn’t have the woodworking tools he needed for it so it didn’t get done.

(This was my inspiration picture I found on Pinterest.  The link says it’s from this website but I can’t find the actual post or page.)

church pew with big hooks

But Michael was able to get it built and hung and it is beautiful!  I love it so much!  The hooks are great and we’ve been using them to hold our bags and jackets and it’s so nice to get everything up off the bench, floor, couch, etc.  We don’t have a mantle anywhere in the house so the top of the shelf is perfect to use to decorate the way I would a mantle, plus it’s up high enough that Hudson can’t reach it.

church pew and hookslove our new shelf and hooksperfect for hanging our bags and coats

I can’t believe how much this space has been transformed just over the last week!  It makes me so happy!

Money Mondays

week 1 why

Ready for something new?  For the next few weeks I’m going to be doing a series I’m calling “Money Mondays” where we’re going to talk about…well…money.

This is something that has been percolating in my head for several months now as a topic I wanted to tackle but I just hadn’t found the right time to get it down on paper…err…the computer.  But after a recent conversation with a friend and then a discussion that happened in one of my mommy Facebook groups I realized it was time.

So why now?  Why this topic?

Well here’s my dirty secret…I have never had a budget.

Let that sink in.  This math teacher, who is married to an engineer, who taught budgeting to her high school students DID NOT HAVE A BUDGET.

Ummm…hypocritical much?

When Michael and I first got married we tried budgeting.  In theory, it’s easy.  You take how much money you make and write down all the things you need/want to pay for and make sure you make enough money to cover those things.

But in practice it’s not so easy.  Because how do you account for the things that are quarterly or yearly?  What about random expenses that pop up?  What about Christmas money that isn’t really income?

Michael tried making an Excel spreadsheet for us but it got so complicated that we pretty much gave up.

We both had jobs that paid well and neither of us are big spenders and so we basically just bought what we wanted and didn’t really worry about it and fortunately we didn’t get into any debt.

Fast forward to 2014.  Hudson was born and I quit my job to stay home with him so we went to one income….except we continued spending like we were earning two incomes.

Just a month or two before Hudson was born we had purchased my minivan.  We paid for it in cash from our savings, which was wonderful, but it drained our savings.  Between that and then spending like we used to, it didn’t take long before we (aka Michael) realized that we were living outside our means and if we continued on this path then we’d be getting into some debt.

Am I an expert at this money stuff?  No.  Am I going to give you earth shattering advice?  Probably not.

Basically I’m just going to share our experiences and what we’ve learned about saving and managing money, and hope that it helps you out too.  The reality is that so many people out there are struggling financially.  Many in my generation have never been taught how to manage their finances and so we’re gathering tons and tons of debt (heck, not just my generation…I mean, take a look at our government).

This is not going to be one of those amazing “I’m debt free” stories!  We (fortunately) got this under control before there was any debt.  See, we are in the very small minority of people who graduate college debt-free.  We both got scholarships that paid for most of our schooling and then our parents helped out with the rest.  All of our cars (the ones we got in high school that we still drive and the van we bought last year) were paid for up front.  We had no credit card debt.  Like I said, we weren’t extravagant spenders.  The only debt we have ever had is our house.

So thankfully we were not digging ourselves out of a huge debt pit, we just were trying to put the brakes on before that happened.  If you ARE in a huge pile of debt, take heart!  It can be done.  I’ve heard some amazing stories (one of my favorite bloggers has one).  Just know that what I have to say may not be what you’re looking for since our story isn’t one that is so extreme.

But if you’re like me, not in debt but not really managing your money as you should, then I hope this will be helpful.  And even if you are in way more debt, hopefully some of the things I’ve learned can help you as well.

Will you join me next Monday to talk about budgeting?  Maybe not the most riveting topic, but certainly important!

For those who are ready and willing, I have an assignment for you:  Before next Monday I want you to take a good, hard look at your finances.  Ask yourself some questions.  

Am I satisfied with my money situation?  Do I have enough in savings to live on if there were an emergency?  Do I have any savings at all?  Am I in debt?  A little or a lot?

Then come back here Monday and we’ll get rocking and rolling on the next step!

my 2015 planner solution {plus a giveaway!}

my perfect planner from thepolkadotposie

Y’all, it took me almost TWO MONTHS into 2015 to decide on a planner for the year.  How pathetic is that?!  I’m picky but I finally found what I was looking for and of course now I have to share that with you!

If you’re a long time reader then you’ve read my past posts about my Erin Condren planners.  And while I still think those are great planners, it just wasn’t working for me this year.  Now that I’m a stay at home mom, obviously our budget has been reduced a bit and spending $50+ on a planner is not a high priority for me.  Plus, the EC planner is just really big and bulky and not at all practical for sticking in a diaper bag to take with me.

So I spent a really, really long time searching for another one.  I have all these different “wants” in mind for my planner and unfortunately a great majority of “generic” planners you can buy at Walmart, Staples, etc. do not have what I want.  I briefly considered designing my own (like I did with my teacher lesson plan book) but I don’t have the graphic design skills to make it pretty so it would be very boring and utilitarian.  And then, and I know this sounds so silly, there were others that were fine but the overall vibe of the graphics just weren’t me.  I know, I know…beggars can’t be choosers, but if I’m going to be looking at this multiple times a day, every day, I kind of want it to be pretty, you know?

Anyway…to make a very long story short, I finally came across ThePolkaDotPosie planners.  The planners have everything I loved from my Erin Condren planner but at a fraction of the price!

thepolkadotposie planner cover

They have an Etsy shop where you purchase the digital downloads for the planner you want and then print it yourself.  I was a bit hesitant about the printing and assembling part but they have great instructions on how to do that (and I recruited Michael for the task of printing it for me ;) )

I chose the small size (5.5″ x 8.5″) with seasonal designs (each month has a different color scheme).  There are also larger ones (8.5″ x 11″) and smaller ones (like the size of a pocket calender), academic year (August – August), teacher planners, homeschool planners, planners for direct sales businesses, event planners, budgets, and more.

thepolkadotposie seasonal plannerthepolkadotposie teacher plannerthepolkadotposie direct sales planner

Each month of the seasonal planner has a page for goals, to-dos, and projects

thepolkadotposie planner monthly goals

Then there is a monthly calendarthepolkadotposie planner calendar page

And then a layout for each week of the month.  You can choose to get a weekly spread without the dinner pots (if you’d rather not write your meals down and use that section for something else).thepolkadotposie planner weekly pages

On their blog, they also have lots of free printable downloads (how cute are these Tooth Fairy receipts??).  I printed off the Christmas organizer and put it at the end of my planner to use at Christmastime and the small planner test pages (that have to do lists, goals, contact information, important dates, etc.) to put at the front of my planner.

thepolkadotposie planner Christmas printablesthepolkadotposie planner Christmas presents

I used 24 lb weight paper (a little heavier than what we usually print on) and was SO impressed with the quality of the planner pages!  They looked and felt so professional!

I originally thought I was going to put my planner in a small 3-ring binder so I punched holes in them but then realized I didn’t like that (it was too hard for me to write on the left side because of the rings, it was bulky, and I couldn’t flip it back on itself).  I then took my stack of papers to Staples and had them bind it into a spiral notebook.  I like that much better!

And here’s how I use it.  On the monthly calendar pages I put appointments and events.  On the weekly/daily pages I use the 3 boxes for my daily to-dos.  In the first box I put the things that happen every day that need to get done (like my chore of the day, laundry, my Bible study, etc.).  In the second box I put other random to-do things that need to get done that are household-related.  And in the third box I put any Young Living things that need to get done that day.

how i use thepolkadotposie plannerI love the notes sections so I can jot down notes to myself and then on the right (cut out of the picture) I can put my to-do list of things that I want to get done sometime that week.

I am so thrilled with my planner!  Total cost was less than $15 so I was super excited about that!

And I’m also excited that one of YOU will be able to win a planner from ThePolkaDotPosie as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(I was not compensated for this review and purchased all planner materials and downloads myself; ThePolkaDotPosie did not ask me to write this review…I was going to write one anyway and then reached out to them to see if they’d like to do a giveaway in conjunction with my review – so these opinions are totally mine and not swayed by free stuff!)

How to remove soured laundry smell

Not that you would ever forget that you had laundry in your washing machine of course, but let’s say that maybe you washed a blanket.  And maybe you forgot about the blanket in your washing machine for TWO WHOLE DAYS.  And then when you realized the blanket was in there and you opened the washer you gagged because the smell was so bad.  And your husband could smell it as soon as he walked up the stairs, not even having to come into the laundry room.  And you were sure it was ruined.

Clearly this did NOT happen to me or anything.  It’s all just hypothetical.

Okay.  Lies.

All lies.

This totally happened. *hangs head in shame*

The smell was SO BAD y’all and I thought for sure that blanket was a goner.

But no worries!  I got the smell out in just ONE washing.  Hooray!  And it was super easy.

I used my normal laundry detergent (I’ve been making my own with this recipe for several years) and added three drops of Thieves and three drops of Purification essential oil.

how to get rid of soured laundry stink

I’ll be honest that I was a little (ok, a lot) skeptical because I’ve dealt with soured laundry in the past and in my experience the smell lingers through many washings.  I love my essential oils but I was sure that it would take more than one “treatment” to get rid of the stink.  But when I pulled the blanket out of the washer the sour smell was completely gone!  I keep picking it up and sniffing it just to make sure and yep, still nothing!

I’m excited to use this next to wash the clothes that were in the washing machine when it broke.  That was four weeks ago and the clothes from that load (which have been washed several times since then) still have a faint sour smell.

(Interested in essential oils?  Contact me to learn more or get started here.)

mini kitchen makeover – new dishes and curtains

Last night I *finally* got the curtains done for our kitchen and I’m in LOVE!  So, so cute!   The fabric I chose looks ever better than I expected and the addition of the curtains gives this space some needed color and coziness.

tutti frutti apple kitchen curtains 2

The fabric I used is called Tutti Frutti Apples.  After two years of living here and never finding the perfect curtain fabric (not that I had looked that hard, mind you) I stumbled upon this last fall at a fabric shop in my hometown.  The fabric was $7 a yard and that was more than I wanted to pay so I left it even though I really loved the fabric.  Luckily, a few months later I was at my favorite local fabric store and discovered that they had this fabric in their $2.50 clearance bin!  Hooray!

I bought all that they had and it ended up being exactly what I needed.   I think I had maybe a half a yard leftover.

tutti frutti apple kitchen curtains 3I thought about doing a picture tutorial but honestly there are a million curtain tutorials on Pinterest and mine is nothing special.  But for what it’s worth, here is the quick Caitlin version:

For a nice, full, ruffly curtain I used 3 times the width of my window.  I didn’t even measure in feet or inches, just held the fabric up to the window three times to determine how much I needed.

I cut split the yardage in half by finding the middle, cutting in about an inch, and ripping.  It thrills me every time how fabric rips in a straight line.  It’s quite satisfying and makes me feel like I’m on Project Runway.  Each half became one valance.

Then I just hemmed around each rectangle, leaving room at the top to slide the curtain rod through.  Fold over twice, press it down, sew a straight line.  Easy peasy.  Really the ironing is the most tedious part.  I don’t even pin and then the sewing goes very quickly (as long as my junky machine doesn’t jam up a million times.  grr).

The sides I folded over 1/2 inch and then 1/2 inch again.  The bottom I think I did 1/2 inch and then 1 inch.  For the top I folded over 1/2 inch and then about 2.5 inches to allow for the curtain rod.

tutti frutti apple kitchen curtains and plate wall

I like to follow The Nester‘s motto of “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful”.  My edges are probably not perfectly straight and I know I didn’t sew in a straight line but I also know that if I don’t just get it done then I’ll never finish anything.  I used white thread to sew the short sides and then switched to a green that matched better for the top and bottom.  That’s one great thing about the fullness of these curtains (in addition to the fact that I prefer that look) because it hides the imperfections.  I’m just happy to have it done, mistakes and all!

corelle south beach

By coincidence (or probably because my subconscious is drawn to these colors) my new dishes match the curtains perfectly.  When we got married we registered for some dishes from Bed, Bath, and Beyond and I hate them!  They are so heavy and all of them have gotten chipped over the years.  I grew up using Corelle dishes and I love how durable and light they are.  I fell in love with this new (at least, I think it’s new because I don’t remember seeing it when I’ve looked in the past) Corelle print called South Beach and knew I these were perfect to replace our old dishes.  I put them on my Christmas list this year and got enough to replace our old dishes – yay!  It was a fun bonus that they matched the curtains!

tutti frutti apple kitchen curtains

And lest you start to get jealous of my perfectly tidy kitchen with matching place settings displayed, let me assure you that is NOT real life.  This is what the kitchen table looked like about five minutes before I took those pictures.  All that mess on the table got relegated to the kitchen counters for a few minutes while I staged and took the pictures and then back to the table it went.

Just keeping it real for you.

What project, small or large, have you gotten done recently that make you feel accomplished?



the dining room “after”…and a playroom “before”

Oh hi there.  Remember when we moved into our house?  That was…um…October of 2012.  And how many completed rooms have I shown you since then?  That would be two: the master bathroom and Hudson’s nursery.

Let’s just say I have a lot of unfinished rooms.  But guess what?  Here’s another completed room…sort of.

Let’s check out the dining room.  When we moved in our whole entire house was painted this drab builder beige.  We threw the furniture in there and called it good for a while.

dining room before

Then Michael and his dad painted it a beautiful, happy apple green color and we did a little decorating.

Here’s the dining room looking in from the kitchen (I really wish I had a wide angle lens when I try to take pictures of room decor!)

green dining room

There’s my trusty white china cabinet that has travelled with us from house to house.
green dining room 4
The quilt is an old one that belonged to one of my relatives (grandmother? great grandmother?) that my mom now has and she’s letting us borrow it for now since it matches so nicely.  We just used a large curtain rod to hang it on.
quilt in dining room

Some of my pretty aprons on an old rake


I love this hutch.  It’s so pretty and rustic and it serves as the perfect place for us to store (and display) the food we canned and some of our serving pieces that we can’t fit in the kitchen.

green dining room 3

The rolled up quilts are also some of my mom’s and the white high chair I found at Goodwill.

green dining room 2

One of my favorite pieces of decor – the fence.  (you can read its story here)
fence in dining room
So, about that furniture set.  Don’t you love it?  Me too!  It’s actually my mom’s.  Prior to moving into this house we’d never had a dining room so we didn’t have any furniture to put in here.  My mom needed a place to store hers so rather than paying to put it in storage she “stored” it at our house – we got dining room furniture, she got storage, everyone wins.

Well she no longer needs us to store the furniture set, so sadly we had to give it back a few weeks ago.

And that’s why this is actually a before picture.

empty dining room

Rather than purchase a new dining room set to take up the whole room and get used maybe once a month, we’re converting this into A PLAYROOM!  The location is perfect – it’s right off the kitchen so I’ll be able to keep and eye on Hudson while I cook and (hopefully) it will give him a place to play so he can be near me but not right underfoot in the kitchen.

Right now we don’t really have a plan.  I’m thinking we’ll put a rug down, some storage for toys, a small table or desk for me to do work in there while he plays (make it a hybrid playroom/office), and maybe a cabinet of some sort to store kitchen items (we had quite a few that were stored in the dining room that we need to find a home for).  If we homeschool it will be the perfect space for that, too.

I’m so excited about this!  At first I was apprehensive about getting rid of the dining room, but when I thought about how little we used it and how much better it would be to have a place for Hudson to play, the idea grew on me.  Plus we have a large folding table and chairs that we can put up when people come over if we need extra seating.

So stay tuned (someday) for a playroom reveal!


Hudson’s nursery

Ahh Hudson’s nursery is finally all done!  I’m so excited to show it to you!

big H

First: my goal.  I did not want the nursery to be baby-ish (think pastels, teddy bears, etc.).  I wanted something that could grow with him as a toddler and a little boy.  I also didn/t want to use a theme or any characters, just a color palette.  Later when we discover what he is crazy about (trains, sports, whatever) then we can add those elements into the nursery, but I didn’t want a whole themed nursery to begin with.

green and navy nursery

My inspiration was (don’t laugh) the cover of a Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine.  Back before we even knew we were having a boy I had my girl nursery colors all picked out (I’ve had those for years) but didn’t know what I wanted to do for a boy.  I went to my school mailbox one day and the library’s monthly copy of Sports Illustrated for Kids was there.  I care not one bit about sports and usually never give it a second glance, but this particular month I was struck by the beautiful color scheme.

sports illustratedI snapped a quick picture of it and then after we found out we were having a boy I just couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful apple green and navy…thus our nursery colors were born.

The next thing to do was to pick fabric and paint.  We decided to paint the walls a very light blue, and then use green and navy accents around the room.  I was afraid a green or navy wall would be too much, and I think the light blue is a great background for the rest of the colors.

nursery fabric

I found most of my fabric at this great little fabric store near Bowling Green called Whittle’s.  They have tons of beautiful fabrics at great prices (they also have an online store if you want to check them out).  I was able to get fabric for the curtains, sheets, and quilt (and I knew I’d have leftover from the quilt to use for smaller things, like pillows).  The fabric for the crib skirt I found at JoAnn’s.  It is a heavier, decorator fabric (I think that’s what it’s called) and I think that helps it hang straight and crisp.

The first thing I made was the quilt.  I know babies don’t even need quilts, but I feel like it’s the anchor point of the nursery, plus it’s a special keepsake that I wanted to make for Hudson.  I looked at tons of baby quilts online but I kept coming back to the same design – just straight pieces of fabric in varying patterns.  It’s such a simple design and almost too easy, but I just love it.  My main inspirations were this quilt and this quilt (plus tutorial).

green and navy nursery crib

After searching quite a bit online for crib sheets and not coming up with anything that I just loved (most ready made ones were pastels and boring, the custom ones were way too expensive), I decided to make them myself (well actually I complained to Mom that I couldn’t find any I liked, she said surely we could make them ourselves, and then proceeded to find a tutorial online for me to use).  I made three sheets using some of the fabric that I got at Whittle’s.  The tutorial that I followed was so very easy and I whipped those suckers up super fast.  I was a little intimidated by the elastic part, but Mom walked me through the first sheet and once I realized how easy it was, I was good to go.  A little tip if you decide to ever make your own sheets…buy your fold over elastic at Hobby Lobby if you can.  I started off ordering from, but then found some later at Hobby Lobby where I didn’t have to pay shipping and could use a 40% off coupon, so I bought the elastic there and returned what I got from Walmart.

green and blue nursery

Let me tell you, making all this stuff for the nursery was a fantastic learning experience.  Not only did I get to learn how to make crib sheets, I also made my first set of curtains.  They were ridiculously easy and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make any!  The ironing is a bit tedious, but as long as you can sew in a straight line you are good to go.  I just made a basic floor length panel curtain with a pocket at the top.  I used this tutorial to help me with the main part of the curtain, and then these instructions to see how to make the pocket.

The crib skirt was the easiest of them all.  I made four panels, basically the same way I made the curtains, and then attached them to the crib by tying them to the springs on the bottom.  This is the tutorial I followed.

green and blue nursery changing station

I forwent the traditional changing table and decided to use a dresser so I could have storage plus a changing station on top.  My grandparents had one in their basement that belonged to my mom when she still lived at home that I was able to use.  We took off the original hardware, Mom painted it this beautiful blue color, and then Michael put on new knobs that I found at Hobby Lobby.

changing station dresser

After all the big stuff was done, it was time to decorate!

Michael has been such a trooper – first I requested the stripes that were way more difficult than I ever dreamed, then I decided to make some string art for the nursery.  I saw this awesome name sign for sale on Etsy (via Pinterest of course – Michael is going to ban Pinterest if I keep coming up with more projects!) and decided that I could make it myself.  As always, my “simple” project took way longer than expected.  The wood took multiple days to dry after being stained.  Then, because it was such a hard wood, Michael couldn’t hammer the nails in without them bending, so he had to pre-drill a hole for every single nail, then go back and hammer in the nail.  Then, the nails were longer than the board and stuck out the back, so he had to saw off the ends of each nail that had come through the back.  He worked so hard on it and I love how it turned out.  Then I got the easy part…putting the string on!  I know there has to be some sort of mathematical method to making the letters with the string, but I didn’t care to spend time figuring it out so I just randomly wove the string around.  I’m very happy with it and think it turned out great!

nursery string art

Inspired by some mobiles I’d seen on Pinterest, my brother helped me whip up this super easy mobile – an embroidery hoop painted to match, and circles of scrapbook paper sewn to ribbon.  My father-in-law cut out the big “H” for above the crib.

green and navy nursery mobile

I also wanted something to go above the changing table so I wrapped four 12×12 canvases with leftover fabric and used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out some cute “art”.

nursery canvases

My original plan was navy and apple green with some light blue.  You may have noticed a little red thrown in.  Here’s why.  We have this little bookcase, which was in my brothers’ room when they were little and I’ve used all through college and since as extra storage (you might remember it from our bathroom in the before pics).  I knew I wanted to use it in the nursery so we put it in there until we could get around to painting it.  Well, for one I ended up really liking the red, and also I felt so bad asking Michael to do so much stuff to get ready for Hudson that I just couldn’t bring myself to ask him (or my mom, or my father-in-law) to paint anything else.  But I actually love it, and I just then incorporated a little red into other areas of the room to tie it all together.

red bookcase

I looked for a nightstand for what seemed like forever.  I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t super expensive, until I stumbled upon a great deal on Amazon – this nightstand was on sale for $8.  Eight dollars!  I snapped it up immediately and it works perfectly.  Plus it has extra storage – added bonus!

I also really wanted a red lamp but we looked high and low without finding one (plenty of red lamp shades, no red bases), so finally I just bought a cheap-o from Lowes and painted it red with craft paint.  Don’t look too closely because it’s not the best paint job in the world, but from afar it looks pretty good.

polka dot end table

I love, love, love how everything turned out!  Now we just need a Hudson to complete the space :)

A few more pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Hudson's nurserylooking in to the nursery
Hudson's nursery 2nursery string art 2his closet on the left, attic access on the right

nursery closet

baby books


master bathroom before and after (how to maximize your tiny bathroom)

before and afterI love our house, but like every house (unless you custom build, I suppose) it isn’t perfect.  One of my biggest problems is that there is only one closet (and one pantry, which I guess sort of counts) for the whole downstairs – master bedroom, master bath, entryway, living room, kitchen, dining room, and half bath.  ONE closet.  The one in our bedroom.  It’s a big closet, but still…

The lack of storage space downstairs has been a challenge, so I made it a big priority to fit as much stuff into our master bathroom as possible.  Thanks to Pinterest and my handy husband, we were able to come up with some easy, fairly cheap solutions.  Now everything bathroom related (even some rarely used things that I had been storing in the upstairs bathroom or elsewhere in our bedroom) is all nice and organized in our bathroom.

Here’s the bathroom before – the generic “builder beige” color that our whole entire house was painted when we first moved in.  Not the worst color in the world, but a little boring – especially when that’s the color of your whole house.  Other than putting the towel bars on the door so we had a place to hang our towels, we hadn’t done anything else to the bathroom.  We stuck that little red bookcase in behind the door to use as storage until we decided on something permanent.

master bathroom beforeMy huge nesting to-do list included painting the bathroom, so Michael, his dad, and my mom all had a hand in getting our bathroom painted (apparently despite their small size, bathrooms are hard to paint – who knew?).  We went with a light blue gray color that was about two shades lighter than the color of the walls in our bedroom.

bathroom being painted

Once the bathroom was painting my job (the fun part) began…getting everything organized and decorated!  Our bedroom is a blue-gray, with neutral (mostly white) bedding, rug, curtains, etc.  I’m using gray and yellow as accents, but I kept the “big” stuff mainly blue and white so it would be easy to redecorate later on down the road.  I did the same with the bathroom – a lighter blue-gray and neutral (tan/white) with a few hints of gray and yellow.  I’m pleased with how it turned out!

hanging towels on doorOne of the first things we did, before we even started the organizing and decorating process, was hang towel bars on the back of the bathroom door so we would have a place to put our towels.  I love that the towels are hidden (the bathroom door is usually open so the towels are kind of behind it) and that it keeps us from having to hang them on the wall (I don’t like the idea of wet towels against the painted wall).

shelves above doorMichael built this shelf above the door for us to store our lesser-used items.  He bought a piece of wood at Lowe’s, painted it, and attached it with the brackets.  The three baskets contain our extra bed linens, spa/pampering type things that I don’t use much, and extra items (extra toothbrushes, floss, body wash, etc.) for when we run out.

I love utilizing this out of the way, wasted space.  A word of caution though – it is somewhat hard to get to the baskets.  I’m 5’7” and I can barely get them down, especially the heavier ones.  If you are short you may want to skip this (or keep a step-stool handy).  That’s why I put the things we rarely use up there, other than the extra bed sheets but they are so light that it’s pretty easy to get that basket down.

laundry nooklaundry sorterThis laundry sorter is another new (and very well worth it) addition.  We previously just used one large laundry basket in our bedroom and then I had to sort through it each time I needed to do a load of laundry.  Thanks to all the new storage and organizational things I was able to get rid of that little red bookshelf, and this fit perfectly in its place.  Now the dirty laundry doesn’t have to be out in our bedroom anymore and it’s mostly hidden by the door when it is open.

I also am so happy that we now sort as we go.  We have a section for colors, whites/Michael’s work clothes (we don’t usually have much of either of those so we combined them), and delicates.  Now I can see at a glance which group of clothes needs to be washed and I don’t have to dump everything out to sort and collect them.  Also, those bags lift up off the frame so that I can just carry a pre-sorted bag upstairs and dump it right into the washing machine.  Genius.

I hesitated spending money on a new laundry hamper when we had a perfectly good plastic one already, but this has definitely been worth the money.

vanityThe vanity really wasn’t that bad to begin with, and I don’t like having lots of stuff out that I have to clean/clean around all the time, so I tried to streamline the best I could.  It’s hard to get a good picture due to the dark wood, but there are four drawers (two on each side) and one large cabinet-thing with doors under the sink.

q-tips and cotton ballsThis little three-tiered metal thing from Hobby Lobby is perfect for q-tips, cotton balls, and hair accessories…all things that we use frequently.

make up organizerA makeup organizer was another little splurge that I’m so happy I got!  My makeup used to be in three different bags that I had to open and dig through every morning.  Now it’s all out and easy to access.  It shaves a bit of time off my getting ready process and my hit-the-snooze-button-over-and-over-until-I’m-running-late self appreciates the extra time.  I still haven’t put my lipsticks in there yet, but everything else is nicely organized and easy to find.

bathroom sink organizationThis is one of my favorite parts of our bathroom.  I was inspired by this post and knew that using all that vertical space under the sink was imperative to us being able to store everything in our bathroom.  These little stacking bins from the Container Store are amazing and have added so much extra storage space to this area!  I wish I had a before picture, because I couldn’t get nearly this amount of stuff under the sink (and definitely not this organized!) before.  It makes me happy for everything to have a home.

shelves above toiletProbably my favorite part of our bathroom re-do are these shelves above the toilet.  My handy-man steps in again – he cut, sanded, painted, and installed these shelves for me.  A word of advice in case you want to DIY, make sure that the shelves, or at least the bottom one, lifts off so you can get to the toilet tank.

Adding these three simple shelves gave us so much more storage space!  I now have spots for extra bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, toilet paper, etc.

towel baskettoilet paper basketI used my new Silhouette Cameo to make labels for all the baskets.

you are my sunshineI’m not really big on decorating bathrooms, but I did make this cute little yellow and gray “You are My Sunshine” sign.

yellow and gray rugAnd finally we finished it off with a cute new rug to replace the old bath towel we were using as a bath math.

I am amazed at how different and much more functional the bathroom is now!  Not only is it prettier, but we are able to neatly store tons more than we were able before.

This is the first room in our house that I can finally say is completely done!  It’s about time, dontcha think, since we’ve lived here for over a year?  Stay tuned for my next finished room reveal coming later this week…Hudson’s nursery!  I’m so excited to show it off!

Source list:
– laundry sorter (Target): here
– striped baskets above the door and toilet are from Bed, Bath, and Beyond (I looked all over their website but couldn’t find them; they were in the stores very recently so I don’t know why they aren’t online): similar (same basket, different print)
– makeup organizer: here (I actually found the exact same one at Bed, Bath, and Beyond for cheaper than the Amazon one I linked to, but again, I can’t find it on BB&B’s website…check in the store though because it’s been within the last month that I bought it)
– gray and yellow chevron rug (Target): here
– vertical stacking bins for under the sink (Container Store): here