August 30th, 2012

I love to organize things. Clutter always makes me stressed out, so a spot for everything is very important to me and my sanity. It also is helpful for the kids when they are cleaning to know where something goes. I want to share a few of my organization spots with you.

I’ll start with something most of you have seen before on my blog. I talked about this up-cycled drying rack in my cloth diaper post. It’s a crib rail (the dropside from our crib to be exact) hung from the ceiling. It also serves a great holder for the ball pit when it isn’t in use. I LOVE this. It holds a ton of clothes and has allowed me to hang to dry SO many things indoors.



I have a couple simple things as well, but wanted to share them anyway. I know sometimes it may not click for people what would work until they see it in use. We keep large cardboard toy blocks in a large round tote and small picture albums like the leather ones to hold wallets, I stack in a wire basket on the shelf. The blocks were originally in an xlarge rectangle container but once I moved them to this, I like it much better… It makes them more inviting I think. As for the wallet picture holders, they were just on a shelf in the living room, but the kids kept knocking them off or getting them down. I was afraid they were going to be destroyed, so they had to go up somewhere. Once I found the basket I knew it would be perfect for them. They are still displayed for others to thumb through, yet safe from the kiddos.


Here, I have the kids’ action figures and plastic animals organized in a 3 tiered plastic drawer system (from walmart probably). I do NOT like throwing small kids toys into a toy box. They will inevitably get lost at the bottom and not played with. 


The next thing I want to share is actually something I figured a lot of people had heard of, but when I mentioned it recently to some friends, they thought it was the best thing ever and suggested I talk about it. So, for our puzzles, I stack them on those trays that you see in offices. When we were cleaning a while back, Hubby handed me these to get rid of and instead I found a great use for them. Most of our puzzles fit in the trays. One is too big, and I just stack it on top.

Last but not least, is a recent addition. It’s also my favorite for now since I’m not stepping on NEAR as many Legos. That’s right, a Lego Station. A dear friend gave me an end table. I spray painted it in my oldest sons choice of color. We bought a super glue made for wood/plastic and a large Lego base plate. I glued the base plate to the top of the table.

Later, we decided to add a strip of green base plate on the left and we also added a plastic storage container to go underneath. It’s been GREAT. All the kids have loved playing on it and the Legos generally stay right here where they should.


That’s all I have to share for now. I hope I’ve inspired you at least a little to get organizing!


Laundry Savings

May 14th, 2012

We’re getting ready for a trip and I always try to get laundry caught up before we pack, or at least before we leave. I’m doing pretty well this time. I have 6 loads of laundry left to do. SIX!!  It’s the little things. :-) So, in light of the laundry on my mind, and a couple questions I’ve had recently regarding laundry, I thought it was time for a “Laundry” post. More specifically, let’s talk about laundry savings. Saving time .. and saving money.  Ah, NOW I have your attention!!

Here are my laundry tips:

  • Reduce the amount

My Grandmother (who lost her battle with cancer early in 2006) used to say that if you have too much laundry, you have too many clothes. Of course, having a big family will also produce a lot of laundry, but she was still right. So, if you find yourself with too much laundry, start consigning some clothing. Does DH (Dear Husband) NEED 30 tshirts?  Do you NEED 20 dress shirts? Do the kids NEED 10 pairs of pants each? Go through and decide what you can get by without.

  • Start a laundry routine

I recently ordered the Large Family Logistics book. I really love the way it’s concepts. It works much better for our family than Fly Lady ever did since it incorporates ALL the family members and not just you alone when everyone else is gone. In LFL, she suggests having a laundry day ALONG with doing 2-3 loads every day (for basics like towels, underwear, and cloth diapers). Following this has made a huge difference. On laundry day, I don’t worry about anything else but keeping the washer/dryer running constantly.

  • Buy Wool Dryer Balls

Dryer balls will help cut your drying time, reduce the need for softener sheets, and save wear and tear on your dryer. There are many different kinds – you can even buy plastic ones at walmart, but I HIGHLY suggest WOOL. For one thing, heat + plastic releases toxic chemicals .. and I’d like to reduce that as much as possible. Mostly, Wool is absorbent and all natural.  I’ve bought most of my wool dryer balls from Leaping Sheep, but you may find them at local Farmer’s Markets or Craft Shows. They aren’t all just plain white either. Ha! The dryer balls will reduce static, soften clothes, and reduce drying time by separating the clothes and absorbing some water (only WOOL ones). Also, since wool is absorbent, I can drop 3-4 drops of my favorite essential oil onto a ball and toss it in to freshen up a load here and there.

  • Make Your Own Detergent

Thanks to Pinterest for making Homemade Laundry Detergent “popular”, you’ve probably heard about this already. Of course, many families have been using similar recipes for years.  I’ve been using it for about 4 years and I LOVE it. My ingredients are Ivory soap, Borax, Washing Soda, water, and several drops of my favorite Young Living essential oil. I use the “wet” version – about the consistency of egg noodle soup. I store it into a medium plastic container with a snap on lid and keep a plastic orange juice bottle filled with my soap above the washer.  I do NOT use this recipe for cloth diapers, however. From what I understand, the borax is not cloth diaper safe and I also was concerned with the ivory soap causing build up. For my cloth diapers, I currently use Crunchy Clean – which I get through a coop at a GREAT price.  I have also used 1-2 tbsp of Tide Original in the past with no problems for cloth diapers.

  • Put Up A Clothesline
Another way to save money and dryer use is to hang as much as possible. We have an outdoor clothesline AND an indoor one. I love to hang outside to get the natural bleaching and antibacterial affects from the Sun. For indoors, we have a large wooden rod across the laundry room wall for some hanging clothing and another hanging rack that was up-cycled from a baby crib.  I hang pretty much all of our t-shirts, dresses, dress pants, and many other items.
I hope you enjoyed reading through my laundry tips and find some things that you can try in your home. Have a great week and happy laundering!!
  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.