In pursuit of a simple, fabulous, imperfect life at home.

{Giveaway!!} MadeOn Skin Care Products

****This giveaway is now closed.  Winners have been contacted.****

When Renee of MadeOn Hard Lotion asked me to review their products and do a giveaway, I was really excited about the Bug Block Hard Lotion Bar. A bar of rub-on lotion that deters bugs and is safe for my family?  Hooray!

Hard Lotion Bars are just what they sound like, a bar of hard lotion.  You rub the bar on your skin and your body temperature softens the lotion.  MadeOn sells a plain lotion called Bee Silk, a chocolate one called Au Chocolate, and the Bug Block, which is complete with things that deter mosquitoes such as citronella, cedar wood and lavender.  They also sell diaper rash creams, soaps, lip balms and hair butter.  All made out of safe ingredients you and I can pronounce!

But the first time I tried it, I feared it didn't work.  Some friends and I had gotten together for a backyard bonfire and excitedly tried out the Bug Block I had received in the mail that day.  My friend and I tried it first, and then applied it to our kids, and even our husbands who tend to prefer "manly" items with skull and cross bone warnings on them tried it. 

And bugs were still feasting on us.  Ugh.

So our husbands got out their big nasty cans of toxic bug spray and sprayed themselves down.

And the bugs were still feasting on them!

So we decided two things.  First, to go inside.  It was way too buggy to be in the backyard. And secondly, to try the Bug Block again another time because the bugs were just way too thick right now for anything to help. 

Finally, the other night I got a chance to try it again at a local drive-in theater with my family.  The sun was setting and we were being swarmed by hungry mosquitoes. I passed the Bug Block around, and since it is safe and easy to apply, my kids were able to apply it themselves.

And it worked.  The bugs came close, but never landed on us or bit us!  Even my husband admits now that it's as good as the toxic spray stuff, but so much safer.

I've also tried the Bee Silk Hard Lotion Bar, the Au Chocolate (it smells so fantastic!) and some peppermint lip balm.  I love that all of their products are made with safe ingredients we've heard of, like beeswax and coconut oil and shea butter!

{The Giveaway!!}

Renee is going to send 2 winners a prize pack that includes:
1 family size Bee Silk,
1 family size Bug Block
1 family size Au Chocolat 
plus a natural lip balm and a peppermint lip balm!

There are 2 ways to enter!

1) For your first entry, just comment below with your email address (so I can contact you if you win!)

2)For an optional second entry, share this post in any way you choose.  Link to it on twitter, share it to facebook, email your sister or call your mom and tell her about it, it's up to you!  Once you've shared the giveaway with somebody, come back here and leave a second comment letting me know so that you have twice as many chances to win!

Also, please take a moment to like the MadeOn Hard Lotion Facebook page!

I will randomly choose 2 winners on Friday morning.  Remember, if I don't have your email address, I can't contact you to let you know you won!

{Coupon Code}

On top of this awesome giveaway, MadeOn is offering Imperfect Homemaking readers a 15% off discount until August 15th. Just visit the online store at and enter the code "homemaking" at checkout!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

How I Trick Myself Into Cleaning My House

I'm showing you my house from this angle today because it's the only area of the house that is clean.  

Five kids, a husband, 2 blogs, meals from scratch, and a clean house?   No way. 

In fact, having a spotless house isn't even in my priorities right now.  But I do like for it to be tidy enough that when I hear a car coming down the road I don't have to hope and pray that it isn't a surprise visitor about to turn down our driveway!  And to keep it (almost) presentable I, well, um...I play a little game with myself.

During the day, before I move from one task (for example, feeding the kids lunch) to another task (like checking my facebook) I make myself pick up or clean 100 things.

I know that 100 sounds like a lot, but really it isn't.  Every dish I put in the dishwasher, every clean dish I put away, every piece of laundry I fold or sock I pick up off the floor counts as one thing.  100 things goes by quickly, but makes a big dent in the number of things hanging over my head.  And by the end of the day I've done hundreds of little things that amounts to a home that I can relax in, without even feeling like I've done much tidying up at all!

I even get the kids in on it, although I give them a smaller number.   Before we start an activity they really want to do (such as reading a chapter from the Little House series) I will announce that everyone has to pick up 15 things and put them away. My 2 year doesn't count out fifteen items, he just cleans while his sisters clean and then stops when they stop. Even the 1 year old twins will (sometimes) start putting toys in the toy buckets if they see that everybody else is cleaning up!

How about you?  Do you ever trick yourself into cleaning the house?

Introducing: The Year of Less

If you follow me on facebook, this is old news.  But if you haven't heard, I want to share with you a new project our family has embarked on.

It's called the Year of Less and it is a year long challenge to do one little thing every day to cultivate a simpler, more authentic, more intentional life.  You can read the rules of the project here.

Not much is going to change here on The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  I will still be posting a few times a week about organizing and cleaning and family life.  My homemaking posts will (hopefully) increasingly reflect the simpler life we are striving for, but other than that, things should remain about the same. Please be patient with me as I learn to juggle two blogs at the same time.

Anyways, please do take a second to swing by and check out The Year of Less.  Leave a comment, let us know what you think, and if you are as excited about the project as we are, consider sharing the link with your friends.  Thank you for all of your support!

Dress Your Table

Earlier this week, we were having one of those days.  One of those days that makes you wonder what you're doing and why and if you can even do it at all.  It was hot, and sticky.  The kids were miserable, whining at me and quarrelling with each other.  The house was a mess and I was on my 3rd load of laundry and it wasn't even close to lunch time.  I as overwhelmed. 

Where do I start?

I looked out the window and saw a single sunflower had bloomed in the garden.  I scrubbed the table and laid out my favourite white table runner, swept under the table and ran outside for the sunflower to put in a vase.

I dressed my table. An island of calm in the ocean of chaos.

I don't normally dress the table unless there are people coming, or I'm taking a photo for my blog, or my husband brings me flowers.  But this week I've been doing it after every meal. Scrub the table, sweep the floor, and put the runner and vase back in place.  It takes 2 minutes.

It may seem like such a little thing, but it is so nice to have one area of the house that is always ready to be used.  We don't have to clear off the table for dinner anymore.  Nobody plunks their stuff on the table and walks away anymore. It's one thing that is done and ready to go even when the rest of my to-do list is crumbling under the weight of a preschooler's temper tantrum.

Why not give it a try?  Lay out a favourite table cloth or runner.  Add a flower or a fruit bowl or an empty platter.   Keep it simple.  And let me know if it brightens up your home (and your mood) just a little. 

Thanks so much for Visiting the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

Getting Organized for Summer Day Trips

I want to show you how I've organized all the supplies for our various summer outings because, honestly, I am really quite excited about this.

You see, as far as families of seven go, we're pretty spontaneous.  Not like let's go to Vegas for the weekend spontaneous, but hey, let's go to the beach after church spontaneous.   But with all that is already involved in getting 5 young kids out the door and buckled into the van, gathering the things we need for a day trip can be exhausting.  So I've collected many of the things I need in pretty little tote bags.  I bought three All-in-One Organizers from Jessica of Thirty-One Gifts, but you could use whatever you have handy.

I've got a bag for picnics...

a bag for bonfires...

and a bag for the beach.

Obviously I will still need to grab some last minute items, like food for a picnic and towels for the beach, but these bags are a good start and help make dashing out the door for a spontaneous outing a little less hectic!

Here's a glimpse of what kinds of things I have in each bag.  I'm sure it will change over time as I think of new things. 

I store them all on a shelf in my entry closet, ready to be grabbed on our way out the door.

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.  I hope you are enjoying a fabulous summer!

Baby Update {19 weeks pregnant!}

My 2 year old answering the question "Where's the baby?"
We've been away this week camping, and now I am buried in stinky camp laundry and miscellaneous other to-do's, but I had an ultrasound yesterday and I thought I'd take a quick moment to let you all know that...

...we're having a GIRL!

I love finding out the gender of the baby.  Personally I enjoy the remainder of the pregnancy so much more when I know my babies name.  I feel like I already know her a little bit. And in only 21 more weeks (give or take) I'll be holding her in my arms!

Thank you so much to all of you who have rejoiced with us over this pregnancy, encouraged and blessed me with kind words of congratulations, and prayed for me in that first trimester when I felt wretched.  I appreciate it.

I'll be back next week with some organizing and cleaning posts, but today I am going to tackle piles of laundry and try to figure out how to fit my air mattress back in its box.

In the mean time, here are some fun photos from our camping trip.


Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

25 Simple ways to Savour Summer with your Kids

Here in my little corner of Canada, summer is long-longed for and fleeting. We want our kids to really experience it, to relish every day, to explore and play and learn and savour the long days and warm buggy nights.  Here are just a few ways to dive in and make summer a magical time for the whole family.  

1.Catch fireflies.
2. Make s'mores around a campfire. For even simpler s'mores, use petit ecolier cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate!

3. Pack small baskets full of grapes and crackers and slices of cheese and have a picnic lunch in the yard.
4. Fill the kiddie pool with water and dish soap and try making giant bubbles with a hula hoop!
5. Learn about the thunder. Read books about thunder to the kids and watch youtube videos so that when a summer storm hits it will be more fascinating than frightening.
6. Grow giant sunflowers.
7. Let the kids stay up late to curl up in sleeping bags in the backyard and talk.
8. Give them a fly swatter and pay them a quarter for every fly they kill in the house.
9. Buy a tie dye kit and dye something!
10. Make grilled pizza.

11. Make cucumber mango salsa.
12. Eat a lot of watermelon.
13. Practice cartwheels on the lawn.
14. Go for Friday evening drives to the ice cream shop or park.  Drive with the windows down.
15. Go for Saturday morning walks through the farmer's market.
16. Make homemade "ice cream".
17. Play connect four or dominoes in front of the fan (because those games don't have light pieces or cards that will blow away!)
18.  Keep a basket or tote full of basic picnic supplies (blanket, dishes, utensils) so you are always ready for a picnic on the go.
19. Make lemonade.
20. Make sun tea with the kids.
21. Build a makeshift splash pad with a hose and household items like a tarp, pool noodles and buckets.
22.Wash the car together.
23.Pick berries.

24. Make jam (it's easier than you may think!)
25. Encourage water balloon fights!

Thanks for visiting the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking.   Why not leave a comment below and tell me: what is your favourite way to savour summer?

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