January 31, 2012

Free Printables to Help Organize Your Life!


As you know, I am a fan of organization.  I'm also a fan of free printables.  And I *Love* my blog readers.  So I decided to create some free printable planning sheets for you to use.

These would be great in your Home Management Binder or just on a clipboard in a handy place.

There are just a couple wee little rules:

You may not sell these printables or any version thereof,
AND
If you want to spread the word about these printables, please link to this blog post, not the files themselves. Thanks!


1. Daily Planning Pages.


I find my days always go smoother if I know from the get go: a) what's for dinner b)what I'm blogging about and c)the most important to-do items I'd like to accomplish.  There are two versions of this planning page:  One for people who have a blog and one for those who don't.

2) Menu/Grocery planner



The grocery list side of this page is divided by sections of the grocery store to simplify your shopping trip.  I've been dividing my shopping list like this for years and it saves me a lot of back-tracking across the grocery store!  You can print your own by going HERE.


3) Blog Post Planner


I made this one to motivate me to get my butt in gear and plan my blog posts out before hand! Click HERE to print your own!

Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

January 30, 2012

Easy, Thrifty, Pretty Rag Quilt {Tutorial}


For Christmas I made my 3 year old  daughter a rag quilt for her bed.  And in my very imperfect fashion, I left it a little late.  Like, um, oh....CHRISTMAS EVE.

I started off well,  I was cutting the pieces a whole month before the big day.  But in the hubbub of life I managed to put the rest of the project off.  But it's okay. Because the gift was ready in time.  And you know what?  Now I can assure you that this is the kind of project you can finish in one evening.  In one insanely long evening.

Or maybe you'll choose to sleep occasionally and stretch this project out over a few days or weeks?  To each her own...

Step One.  Cut your pieces.  I cut mine to be 7 inches square.  At this stage you don't have to be particularly precise....you'll see why later.  An easy way to cut your squares is just by cutting some strips that are 7 inches wide (or whatever size you need) and then turning an edge over to  make a triangle. Cutting along the edge of the triangle will give you a decent square.



Step Two: Cut a boat load of squares of quilt batting.  Mine were 6 inches square.  My quilt has 10 rows of 13 squares, so I needed  130 squares of batting and 260 squares of fabric.

Step Three: layer a piece of batting between 2 fabric squares and machine stitch a X across it.



Step Four: As you can see my pieces aren't perfectly lined up in the quilted square pictured above.  What I found is that even if you start off with 2 precisely cut pieces of fabric, it can be difficult and tedious to keep the layers nicely lined up.  And, between you and me, I am more likely to stab myself in the eyeball with a seam ripper than complete a project that is tedious and time consuming.

So I solved the problem by cutting the squares fairly imprecisely (as mentioned in step one) and not worrying too much about keeping everything perfectly in place while stitching. Instead I just cut the finished square again with a rotary cutter and a 6 1/2 inch cardboard template.  The result is nicely lined up and precise squares without having to stab myself in the eye out of sheer frustration.


Step Five:  Once you've completed steps 3 and 4 with all of your cut pieces, you can begin assembling your quilt.  Remember to sew your squares together wrong sides together.  I had to rip a few seams out because I kept forgetting that I want the seams on the right side!


Step Six: Sit down to a few good movies with a sharp pair of scissor and snip all of the edges so that the seams will fray up nicely.  Be careful not to cut any stitches.


Step Seven: Wash and dry the quilt to get the seams to fray nicely.  It will take a few washes to get really frayed, but if you're in a hurry (and I was) one wash will be a good start.



Don't these colours just make your heart happy?


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January 26, 2012

12 Things Mom's of Big Families May Want You to Know


With five kids so far, I don't feel like we have a big family.  My mother has four, my mother-in-law has five, and I know a number of people with 8, 9, or 10 kids.  So the fact that we all fit in a standard mini-van convinces me that we are just at the high end of normal. Until, that is, we go out in public.  People's leers and comments quickly remind me that, to some people, we are a travelling circus show of cuteness and snot.

This post is called 12 things mom's of big families may want you to know because they didn't hold some big convention and elect me spokesperson. But from speaking with other mom's of many, there are definitely some points that come up again and again.

1) Please don't ask my kids if we're going to have more. We don't consult them!

2)Yes, we know what causes this.  No, we don't want to hear your thoughts on family planning.

3)Please don't stop me in the grocery store to tell me how busy I am.  I know I'm busy.  You know I'm busy.  So can I please get out of the cereal aisle before my 2 year old spots the fruity-o's?

4)Having a large litter of children doesn't mean I am particularly patient, or organized, or rich.  What I can tell you for sure is that I am far more patient and organized (and slightly less rich) than I was when I started having kids.

5)We don't look down on you for having less kids. You really don't need to preface every comment about how tired/frustrated/stretched to your limit you are with words like "well, I only have 2, but..."   I remember having  2 kids....I was exhausted and it was hard.  No matter how many kids you have, they require everything you know you can give and then some. 

6) Please please PLEASE don't make my children feel like freaks. 

7) Don't compare us to the Duggars.  (Although from what I can tell, it would be a compliment.) Or some crazy hippy family you once knew with eleven kids who liked to dance naked in the woods or some such oddity.  You don't go around comparing families with 2 kids to one another, do you?  Of course you don't!

8) I would like to reiterate: Yes, we know what causes this.  Every time I leave the house I hear this question AT LEAST 3 times. It stopped being funny a long time ago.

9) People like to say "kids are such a blessing" in one breath and "but you're done, right?" in the next.  Don't.

10) Friends: I know you don't have enough chairs to invite us over for dinner.  Invite us anyways.  Please.

11)For goodness sakes, don't pity me.  This is by far the most mind boggling reaction we receive.  I am wandering contentedly through the grocery store with 5 healthy happy kids and people tell me that they feel sorry for me?  From where I stand, we are pretty stinkin' blessed.

12)Oh, and Yes....we know what causes this.  See, it starts to lose it's humour pretty quick, doesn't it?

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January 25, 2012

Don't Let Comparison Steal your Contentment


I love my life.  I REALLY love my life.  I have everything I need, and much of what I want, and if I complain for a moment please smack me because it means I need to get some perspective on the issue.  But sometimes I forget that. And when that happens, it's generally because I have my eyes on somebody else's blessings.

Here are 4 dangerous areas where comparison can steal our contentment.

1) Comparing ourselves to our friends. 
 The problem with comparison is that we are rarely comparing apples to apples.  At Christmas time we visited some friends and I was inside their home for the first time since they bought and renovated it. I found myself, not coveting the home, but the stuff.  Actually, the LACK of stuff.  I loved how clean and fresh and spacious the whole place felt.  I wanted to go home and throw out all my stuff so that my home could feel like hers.  And then I realized: She has a bigger house than me, and less children.  She doesn't home school.  She has different hobbies, different priorities, a very different life.  Her home is lovely....and my home doesn't have to look like it in order to be just as lovely!  Our friends have different strengths, different weaknesses, different hopes and dreams and experiences. 

2) Comparing ourselves to our mothers. 
My mother (who will probably read this: hi mom!) has an immaculate house.  Growing up I remember having to clean up because guests were coming over and being confused because the house was already clean!  But here's why comparing myself to her is so dangerous: I don't remember what the house looked like when I was a two year old.  I don't know if the dishes were done and the laundry was folded back when I was in the habit of removing my diaper during nap time and playing with the contents.  Sure, the floors were clean when I was twenty-one, but when I was one?  I'm willing to bet they weren't. Not all the time anyways.  If your mom or mother-in-law manages to keep a spotless house, be happy for her.  Maybe that will be you when your kids are grown.  And when your grown kids call home and want to bring the grandkids over to mess up that recently mopped floor, I'm sure you will say yes in a heartbeat!

3) Comparing what we do to what our husbands do.  
I'm not a marriage expert, but I can tell you that it is in your best interest just not to keep track.  It doesn't matter who got more sleep last night, who got up with the baby how many times, who's worked harder.  Except in the most extreme cases, it's likely that you are both working your butts off to create the incredible life you're living.


4) Comparing yourself to bloggers.
You know how you tidy up when you know company is coming? Well, bloggers not only know when you're coming, they know which parts of their house your going to see.  Infact, if a dirty sock or headless G.I Joe figurine manages to find it's way into the photo, we can just crop it out!

The bloggers you love most live in their homes just like you do.  They have kids, and dirty laundry, and husbands who somehow manage to use every dish in the house making a sandwich.  Even the infamous Nester has dirty laundry.  And Melissa of The Inspired Room has clutter.  You know why? Because they are actual people like you and I who only have 24 hours in the stinkin' day and probably want to spend some of those hours sleeping/showering/eating/cuddling children/volunteering/talking to their husbands/and maybe even doing absolutely nothing at all.

Just because we don't show you pictures of us neglecting the dishes or getting frustrated with our children or pretending not to see that dust bunny that just drifted past like a wild west tumbleweed doesn't mean those things aren't happening.


Friends, please don't let comparison steal your contentment.  Life is too short and our blessings are too many to waste our lives wishing for something else.  Contentment is a choice.  It is the choice to stop looking at other peoples blessings and to praise God for your own.

Thank you, Lord, for a marvelous life I don't deserve.

Thanks for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking

January 23, 2012

DIY Backgammon Board


I mentioned lately that we are a board game sort of family.  My hubby and I like to play games after the kids go to bed, and one of our absolute favourite two-player games is backgammon.

I've been trying to decide for a while what to do with this tray I purchased at a thrift store.  It's low sides and large surface make it great for a backgammon board.

 
I used homemade mod podge (approximately 1 part water to 2 parts glue) to adhere pieces of scrapbook paper to the tray.


And then I covered the entire thing in several coats of polyurethane.


I sewed a simple bag for the game pieces.  The game pieces were rescued from a damaged and far less cute game board.


The board turned out so pretty that I made it part of my post-Christmas mantel display.  When we aren't using it, that is.


This would work for many simple board games and could even be a thrifty Valentine's Day gift if there is a game that you and your Valentine especially like to play together! 


 


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January 18, 2012

5 Great Games for Young Children (and their parents)

We are a game-playing kind of family.  Many nights the kitchen table is quickly cleared and scrubbed after dinner so that a game board can be set up.  Sometimes I will play, other times I will tidy the kitchen and serve tea (earl grey for the hubby and me, calming herbal teas for the kids) while my husband and the children play.  It is these sorts of moments that turn ordinary life into something amazing.

Here are our favourite games to play with our 3 and 5 year old.

1. Sorry


Although some Sorrycards do require reading, children catch on quick and are able to memorize what each card does.  With young children you may want to start with just 2 or 3 of the pawns instead of 4, since all 4 can make the game run past their little attention spans (and bedtimes!), and in our case, mom and dad's attention spans too!


2) Connect 4


We gave Connect 4to our children for Christmas this year and they can't get enough of it.  Game play moves quickly and emptying the tray at the end of the game is at least as much fun as the game itself.



3) Candy Land

Candy Landis a fun and colorful game that delights children.  The instructions list an alternate way to play that involves drawing 2 cards and choosing which one to play, which is a simple introduction to strategy for young minds.

4) Barrel of Monkeys



Who doesn't love Barrel of Monkeys

5) Uno Moo


 UNO MOOis like regular Uno but instead of cards each player has a haystack hiding a selection of cute little coloured animals. This game is easy enough for my 3 and 5 year old to play by themselves and the whole game packs away in a sturdy plastic barn that my children have failed so far to destroy. (bonus!)

*The links above are affiliate links, meaning that if you visit Amazon.com through these links and purchase something, a portion of that sale will help support this blog. Yippee!

What games do you love to play with your kiddos?

January 16, 2012

Creating a Mission Statement for your Home


The other day a reader left a comment on my facebook page seeking some encouragement and motivation to organize her home.  Realizing that anything I could tell her would be just words and likely far more meaningful to me than they would be for her, I encouraged her to write a mission statement for what she wants her home to be so that when she is weary and discouraged she can be reminded of what it is she's trying to accomplish.  And then I realized that I should take my own advice!

A mission statement for your home is similar to but different from a family mission statement.  It is not about what you as people want to be and accomplish, but what role you'd like for your home to play in that.  Here are some tips to help you create a mission statement for your home:


  • A good format for a mission statement is to start with what you hope to accomplish (Our mission is to...) followed by how you hope to accomplish it (by doing...) and finally the purpose for which you want to accomplish these things (so that...) 
  • Look beyond the obvious goals like cleaning and organizing and address the atmosphere you'd like to create in your home and why you'd like to do so.
  • Don't obsess over it or turn it into another project hanging over your head.  Just jot something down or type it out and post it in a place where you will see it.  Use it as a guide when you are feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list or under motivated.
Here is my mission for our home:


The mission of this home is to nurture and nourish the mind, body and spirit of all who enter by creating a warm and welcoming refuge and an atmosphere of love, learning, simplicity and order so that our own family and guests alike will leave here feeling refreshed, encouraged and well loved.


What is your mission for your home?

January 15, 2012

Nature Study Crafts with Old Crayons


Last week my girls and I learned to identify some common birds by making a simple (but messy) craft. Although we did birds, you could use this technique to learn more about fish or flowers, or just about anything!

Step 1: Collect old crayons. Sort crayons by colour. Peel off the paper wrappings.


Step 2: Make crayons into shavings using a pencil sharpener.



Step 3:  Place a print out of your subject on an ironing board and a piece of wax paper on top of it.  Use a marker to draw the outline of your shape on the wax paper so that you can cut it out later. I googled 'Bird colouring pages' and printed out birds from here and here.


Step 4: Using a Field Guide for reference, have the child place the appropriate coloured crayon shavings on the wax paper.




Step 5: Place another piece of wax paper on top of the crayon bits and then a tea towel or receiving blanket.  Iron briefly to melt the crayon.


I drew a tree on our window using window crayons.


And taped the birds to the window, perched on their branches!


My children love trying to recall each birdies name, and we had a fun time making a mess and some memories!

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