Our Murphy Bed

Our last house had just two bedrooms upstairs. That was perfect for a family with just a little girl, until the holidays when family came to visit. I really wanted a convenient place, with a bit of privacy, where visitors could stay. When I happened to see a picture of a murphy bed the lightbulb went on in my brain. Perfect! Space saving, but perfect for space sharing.

Then I saw the prices. A “cheap” version” ran over $1000. That was way out of our price range! Surely there was some way to DIY that would be less expensive. There was! Rockler  offered a great Murphy Bed kit for a little over $300. That was at least a $700 savings. The kit came with the fold out legs, the spring loaded joints to pull the bed up into the wall, and the hardware for the bed. We still had to purchase all the wood we would need, and the stain and finish for the bed.

This little kit held all the hardware we needed for our Murphy bed
This little kit held all the hardware we needed for our Murphy bed

My husband was up for it! We began gathering supplies. Now, for this particular project, my husband is the star. He is the one that cut the pieces on the table saw. He is the one who measured twice and cut once. He’s the one that screwed the pieces together. And, he even stained and finished the bed. I was responsible for gathering materials, picking out stain, and finding a mattress that would fit the bed.

Our building materials took over our Living Room for a while, when we had an unexpected basement flood and had to waterproof the basement before beginning the project full force.
Our building materials took over our Living Room for a while, when we had an unexpected basement flood and had to waterproof the basement before beginning the project full force.

We did collect a few tips for the avid DIY-er who chooses to attempt a murphy bed.

  1. Don’t run a table saw in the dining room. (I was cleaning out sawdust for months afterwards)

    Running a table saw in your dining room= bad idea
    Running a table saw in your dining room= bad idea
  2. Home depot has some nice wood veneer that you can put on the edges of the plywood to give it a better finish.
  3. You will need a large vehicle to cart home the wood supplies. These did not fit in our little Mazda and we had to borrow a different vehicle to get the stuff home.
  4. All the trouble will totally be worth it when you see that finished bed. Don’t get discouraged along the way!
    The finished project folded into the wall gave us nice family room space
    The finished project folded into the wall gave us nice family room space

    Our murphy bed unfolded transformed the family room into a guest room.
    Our murphy bed unfolded transformed the family room into a guest room.

When we made our cross country move we had to leave the murphy bed behind. It had been built for the space, and was too bulky to bring up the stairs. But, my husband has promised to make me another one for our new guest room. I’m hoping for a murphy craft desk too.

Wedding Shower, Part 1

Never ready

Is there any way for a mom to prepare for her baby girl to fly off and build her own nest? No, I don’t really think so. Instead I just have to jump in and do all I can to make the transition work which her wonderful young man is helping to happen as we welcome him into our family.  He certainly knows how to multiply the love and laughter.

After the fun of the engagement, a shower came next. I was happy to be able to help with it and enjoy my sweet girl’s happiness.

Favorite things

Two parts of her shower I truly love, love, loved! First were the favors. Jenna had originally planned an anchor-themed wedding but changed her mind though we had already purchased several anchor items. Sliding them into a bridal shower worked perfectly. As soon as my daughter-in-law’s baby shower was done, I started searching for favors for Jenna’s shower. I found a really cute anchor charm with the word “love” stamped on it that would work as a pendant. The same sight sold miniature organza gift bags in pink (one of the wedding colors) and lace-type cords, all in bulk. The guests could choose a color. Ordering them from the same sight saved shipping. Of all the items, I worried I wouldn’t like the cords, but I was pleasantly surprised when they arrived. I hadn’t realized they had several strands. The colors were very pretty, too.

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Ordering them unassembled saved me well over a hundred dollars.
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The pendant couldn’t be placed directly on the cord because the size of the upper circle was too small. It also would have turned the pendant sideways and would not have laid right.

 

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Jenna loves the anchor imagery and association to Christ. Emerson gave her an anchor necklace when they first became interested in each other.
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Ordering these also saved oodles of money.

 

I could tell that I would need a connector between the lace cord and the anchor pendant. My parents often make jewelry and own several tools for the craft. They knew immediately what I needed. They also volunteered to attach the jump rings to the anchors and the cord. Making each one was a gift of love though they say it was no trouble. It didn’t take them long to do 40 of them.

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The rings had to be large enough to slip over the clasp in case someone wanted to use the pendant with a different chain.
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Ta da! A finished favor ready to go.
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We put one at each place setting. I think some ladies changed seats to get the color they wanted!

I knew they were a hit when I saw them being worn the next day to church!

Most favorite

My absolute favorite part of the shower was the devotional brought by a dear treasured friend, Jenna’s former Sunday School teacher. She reminisced about Jenna’s girlhood and then gave verse after verse from the Bible to encourage Jenna in her future marriage. I had to blink back the tears several times. Although she had been hesitant to speak, I am very glad she agreed to do it. We had both prayed about it individually and God gave her the message to say. It was a joy to hear it and a great blessing.

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I thank the Lord for the godly influence of Mrs. Harris in Jenna’s life.

To be continued ….

More to come in the blog next Monday!

 

Building Sand Castles

Sun, sand, and sparkling water. What could be a better way to spend a birthday? This year our family took a long weekend to Charleston for my birthday. We spent most of the time at Isle of Palms, and Sullivan’s Island- two of our favorite beaches. And, my daughter discovered a new favorite activity- building sand castles!

Tiger and Wren had never been to the ocean before. Wren loved the water right away. She really took off with independent walking… er splashing! Tiger… not so much.

First few steps on the beach!
First few steps on the beach!

“The waves are so loud mommy!” She preferred splashing in the little tide pools the water had left behind.

When the waves get too loud the tidal pools make great places to splash.
When the waves get too loud the tidal pools make great places to splash.

Thankfully, she did love the sand. She tried making sand angels. She dug in the sand with her shovel. She enjoyed being buried in the sand (and then burying daddy!) and she loved it when we built sand castles together. She ferried buckets of water over to try to fill the moat. She helped us scrape the sand out of the moat to fill her bucket for sand towers. She searched for seashells to decorate with. What fun!

Ocean Fun: burying in the sand.
Ocean Fun: burying in the sand.
Ocean Fun: Burying daddy in the sand
Ocean Fun: Burying daddy in the sand
Toddlers love ocean fun!
Toddlers love ocean fun!
Gathering water for a sand castle moat is the perfect job for a rambunctious toddler
Gathering water for a sand castle moat is the perfect job for a rambunctious toddler

Our second day at the beach I took the time to take pictures of other people’s sand castle creations too. What variety! There are so many different ways to express yourself in sand castles. Here’s a few of our favorites:

Sand Castles at the beachSand Castle creativityEven more sand castles

What you need to build a sand castle:

Essentials

Your hands

Really, that’s all you need. You don’t have to have anything fancy as long as you’re fine with getting a bit sandy.

Moist sand

If the sand is too dry it wont stick together. Building a castle a bit closer to the water works best. But, don’t build too close, or those waves will knock down your work!

Extras

A Bucket

Super helpful for filling moats, and making very straight walls- a bucket is so versatile.

A Shovel

Shovels help you dig faster and deeper as your create the foundation for your castle, or dig up fresh sand to fill the bucket for castle towers.

Seashells/Driftwood

Seashells and driftwood are great for accessorizing your creation. Sometimes we’ve used a bit of seaweed or a leaf wrapped around a stick for a turret flag.Must haves for Sand Castles

What is your favorite sand castle creation?

Spinning a New Dessert

Hang on to your hats

June and July disappeared this year. Suddenly the day for the Sunday School picnic was–eek! TOMORROW! With temperatures hovering in the upper 90s, I didn’t want to turn on my oven to bake a dessert. I started scanning Pinterest for no bake recipes. I had bought a box of cream cheese packages for the upcoming shower sandwiches, and I had too much. The excess would make lovely cheese cake bars. I have a fantastic cheese cake recipe I love that goes together in the blender, but my kitchen already sizzled in the heat.

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As I looked through no  bake recipes I found they all had one thing in common–ingredients that would force me to make a second trip to the grocery store. I should have checked out recipes earlier.

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The mix. I always feel like I’m cheating a little when I don’t make it from scratch.
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The ingredients. Not only did it cook up faster, it was really quick to throw together, too.

The Antidote

Then I remembered a box mix a friend had given me which I had put in my pantry. It still required baking, though it would take less time. And a bank of storm clouds started to roll in cooling off the atmosphere by ten degrees. As the rain poured, I assembled the ingredients. The mix looked pretty good, but I wanted to tweak it since I had a craving for coffee. I added a white mocha drink mix to the batter before spreading it over the graham crust. To top it off, I sprinkled espresso chips over it  when I pulled it hot out of the oven. They softened just enough to melt in your mouth.

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The mix came with a graham cracker crumb crust.
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The first secret ingredient to tweak the flavor.
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The batter is super thick.
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The second secret ingredient. The flavor really popped with this topping!
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I could have used a knife to smooth them out like icing, but I liked the swirl in each chip.
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Luscious! I kept it on ice in a cooler until after the meal.

Plan B

Not every creative recipe works out. Sometimes plan B means stopping at the grocery store en route to the get-together for a tray of cookies and later hubby eats plan A saying, “No, really, I love it, honey. It’s delicious.”

 

Under Construction

Unending work zones

Last weekend I made a not-so-quick trip to visit my three youngest children in two different locations. It should have taken about 12 hours of driving. Have you tried to drive anywhere this summer? No highways are open. I-23 just ten miles from my house is shut down. During one part of my journey, a gravel truck masquerading as a dumpster hit a construction induced bump in front of me and burped out half a leather couch into my lane. Around the corner from that, traffic slowed to a crawl, despite my GPS telling me that the alternate route it sent me on had less than a five minute delay. One mile and one hour later, I crossed the Ohio River and wondered what had caused the problem. The 100 mile stretch of the second leg of my trip had ten construction-free miles. The other 90–I just can’t believe that many orange stripe barrels exist.

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I should invest in the companies that make these!

My personal construction zone

If it weren’t that God had me under construction at the same time, I probably would have raised my blood pressure permanently. But God is working on me, and I want Him to work on me. I even prepared ahead of time to open the route for Him and removed road blocks.

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If I didn’t have one built in to my car, I would bring one along.

Frustration v. Blessing

This past spring John VanGelderen from Revival Focus (www.revivalfocus.com) spoke at my church. I missed most of the meetings as I worked in the nursery, with the bus ministry and in Children’s church. I brought the set of CDs from those meetings with me. Instead of hours of frustration, I had hours of blessings. Listening to an audio book helps while away the time on long trips, but listening to good preaching from God’s Word accomplishes much greater good.

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Many churches burn CDs of sermons and allow them to be purchased for the price of the blank CD. I’ve also bought sermons from The Wilds Christian Camp and homeschool conventions.

Divine appointment

A few times the traffic required my full attention and I couldn’t listen. One of the CDs I had to go back over and completely re-listen to it. I wanted to be sure I got the message on it. John VanGelderen spoke about Divine appointments. The hours of driving were exactly that, a meeting with God.

I’m Getting Grand Twins, The Finale

Everyone traveling to the shower from far off arrived just before midnight on Friday. I almost finished all the cleaning, decorating and cooking in time. The next morning, my youngest daughter headed to the church hall with me to put the food in serving dishes and complete THE CAKE!

But First

I had cut up fruit and stuck it on my remaining shish kebab sticks to form a rainbow.

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My church kitchen offers so many great serving options. The punch holder fit the Noah’s Ark theme to a “T.”

The simple punch recipe I usually used called for Hawaiian Punch, soda pop and Kool-aid. I used darker shades of blue except the pop was just a generic lemon twist. My brother always said he wouldn’t drink anything that looks like a squished smurf, but I got a lot of complements.

Several friends volunteered to make quiche. I threw together three myself. One was mushroom and feta cheese, the second was provolone and bacon and the third was crustless made with spiced frozen hash browns and mozzarella.

A lot of people are afraid of quiche, but it’s fairly easy if you know how to make a good crust.

Jenna finished the Noah’s Ark Wave Mix I told about here.

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Yum! Time to eat!

Banana Bread and apricot bread completed the serving table.

Each individual table offered a candy dish of spiced rainbow gumdrops.

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Instead of the traditional mints, we threw in a little extra bling.

THE CAKE

 

I picked up the cake from Costco the afternoon before and took it straight to the refrigerator in the church kitchen. When I saw it, a lot of doubts surfaced. It was absolutely plain with chocolate piping around the edges and red writing, “Two by Two” in the middle on the left.

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The brown sugar looked exactly like a path.

My friend Denise told me to use brown sugar to make a path across the cake and line up the animals on it. As soon as I started, Jenna caught on to the idea and took over with her much steadier hand and clearer eye for decorating detail. It came out perfect and tasted so delicious that when the guys came to clean up Emerson said, “This is really good and I don’t like cake…. I only took it to be polite.”

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The plates followed the rainbow color scheme, too.

One shower down and one to go before the end of summer!

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Yes, that is a new engagement ring sparkling on her finger!

 

Getting the Most at a Garage Sale

For the Love of Garage Sales

I just cannot sing the glories of garage sale-ing highly enough. Where else can I find clothes for my daughter for $1 a piece or less? Where else could I find new pants for myself for less than $5! Seriously. Clothes today are super expensive for a family on a budget saving for Grad. School!

This past Friday and Saturday I took the time to check out some nearby garage sales, and I hit gold!

I recently discovered an app called gsalr.com. I installed it on my phone, and with 2 clicks I can pull up a map of any nearby garage sale listed! It lists the days the garage sale will be happening, sometimes has pictures of items ahead of time, and clicking “get directions” redirects my phone to my map app so I can plot my route!My top Garage Sale Buyer Tips

Treasure Hunt for Two

I had 2 things I was really looking for. I wanted to find a dresser. My husband and I has been sharing one dresser, and fitting all my shirts, and pants in 2 drawers was proving challenging. I also wanted to find a Christmas tree to replace our old Christmas tree. Last December our tree fell over somewhere around 5 times. Several ornaments broke. One of the legs had become unstable. and half the time it was balanced precariously against the wall.

A Christmas Tree Catch

Well, wouldn’t you know, the second garage sale I tried was an estate sale. As I walked in I asked if they had any dressers. No, they’d sold them all early that morning. But, did they have any Christmas trees? Yes! They hadn’t yet been brought down from the attic, but they would gladly get them out for me!

Down came a slightly dusty, but fairly good quality tree! All the pieces were there. The stand seemed stable. I asked the price. $20.

One rule of thumb I use is to always barter just a bit. So, I had glanced around the room while they were pulling the tree down from the attic. (Everything in the house was for sale.) I’d noticed a gold trimmed mirror that I felt sure would match my girl’s dressers perfectly.

“Would you throw in that mirror for the $20?”

The young man pondered for a moment, then agreed! I was elated! Success!

A Dresser Discovery

The next morning, my husband knew I really wanted to go dresser hunting. He pulled out all the stops to get us ready and out the door relatively early for a Saturday morning. Our first stop was a dud. Nothing in our age, price, or need range. I clicked another nearby sale and off we went.

Resting on his laurels... er dresser... after a successful garage sale!
Resting on his laurels… er dresser… after a successful garage sale!

As we walked down the driveway to the garage, I noticed a beautiful cherry dresser! Make that 2 cherry dressers! And, a large attachable mirror sat just behind them. No sold sign. But, neither did I see a price.

“What are you asking for the dresser? Or are they only as a set?”

“I’d prefer to sell them as a set. $175 for one. But, if you buy both I’ll throw in a mirror and a matching Queen bedframe, all for $300.”

I tried to settle my excitement as I confirmed, yes, $300 for both dressers, the mirror, and the bedframe. I had been watching for a dresser since prior to our move. I knew the going price for one dresser (significantly less quality than these) ran between $275-$300! This was a steal!

I looked at my husband, he looked at me and gave me a slight nod.

“We’ll take them!”

I left $10 as a down payment while we ran to the ATM to get the rest of the cash. Then we ferried the beautiful set back to our house. I still cannot believe the amazing deal! The set is gorgeous- solid wood, with locks on the drawers, and it just makes the room!

My most recent garage sale win! $300 for this bedset!
My most recent garage sale win! $300 for this bedset!

Score another one for Garage Sales!

What have you been looking for recently at Garage Sales?

 

I’m Getting Grand-Twins, Part 3

As I dug deep into cleaning the kitchen goals, I also worked on shower decorations. Going back and forth helped me accomplish more. If I tried to clean the entire kitchen with no breaks, I’d slow down more and more. Instead, I’d choose one section or one counter, thoroughly de-junk and clean and then work on one aspect of shower decorating. You can see what I already accomplished here and here.

The Tables

When I started shower preparations, I figured I would buy cut flowers for each table. They always look great and add a pretty smell, but the candle favors already gave a fresh scent.

Meanwhile, back on Facebook, I messaged my friend Tara, the grandmother of two sets of twins who attend my church, asking for advice. She said to be sure my daughter-in-law gets lots of help. She also said she could show me how to make a diaper cake. Time had run out on teaching me, but I found some You Tube videos and learned the basic idea. Instead of one huge, three- or four-layered cake, I came up with the idea of mini-cakes for each table. I could stick a washcloth in the middle to hide the shish kebab sticks that would hold pairs of bathtub puppet animals marching to Noah’s Ark. After wrapping the diapers and placing them inside an elastic band, I tied them with a ribbon. Then I worked on getting the puppets to stay on the sticks. The washcloths were necessary, but getting them just the right thickness was tricky. I finally caught on to pushing the washcloth up into the puppet with the shish kebab stick and then wiggling it into place between the diapers.

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I tried to buy diapers without cartoon characters, but found Winnie the Pooh on them when I arrived home. I had to wrap them like this to hide Pooh and Piglet.
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The elastic band popped as I tied the ribbon on the last cake.
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These puppets came from Walmart. Produced by Garanimals.
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I had to sing “The Lord told Noah to build Him an arky-arky” as I made them!

I easily made a double layer cake for the head table. I bought large ladybug cold packs to top it off instead of the little finger puppets that looked lost on a bigger cake.

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I added longer shish kebab sticks to anchor the second layer in place.

Details, Details

I needed round tablecloths which the dollar store in town doesn’t carry. Dollar General does. They had all the colors of the rainbow, which is exactly what I wanted! I set the tables in a semi-circle and tried to get as close to Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) as I could.

The dollar store did have Noah’s Ark wall stickers and streamers with a parade of jungle animals. I knew the stickers would never stay attached to the cement block walls in the church’s fellowship hall. Shallyn can use them in her nursery if she wants one day since I strung the streamers from the lights and cut out the wall stickers to dangle between the streamers.

Once I brought the mini diaper cakes to the hall, I realized that the crepe paper could be wrapped around them, which looked more colorful than the tiny ribbon I’d used. It made a nice finishing touch.

A Rainbow Balloon Arch

Skipping ahead, I did pull a half-nighter before the shower putting up a rainbow balloon arch. I watched several videos to see how to do it, then tweaked the idea to fit. I had a metal wardrobe. Paul took off the top bar. I needed an arch to stretch from one pole to the other at the top. I didn’t have any stiff wire or a flexible bar long enough to reach. I do have a yard full of trees. I took a walk around and found a nice supple branch. Silly me, I should have thought a little harder and not used a hawthorn! After trimming the branches and thorns, my pastor saw me trying to smooth out the branch and took pity on my. He couldn’t do any better with his pocketknife, so he sanded it on the electric sander in the shop room. I stuck it in the open ends of the poles, duct taping it in place. Just to be sure I wouldn’t pop balloons, I duct taped the rest of the branch, too.

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My wardrobe has seen years of use and already sports a duct tape hat.
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The top easily slipped back into place after the shower. It will be used for more arches in the future!
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Encyclopedias worked well because they are heavy and don’t move easily.

To keep the balloons equal in size, Paul and I blew them up between two piles of heavy encyclopedias. When they touched both sides, we tied them off. Then we attached them together in pairs and finally wrapped the pairs around each other to form quads. The balloons easily wrapped and unwrapped around the pole. We did quite a bit of rearranging. I had price checked at the dollar store, Dollar General, and then at Walmart, to find the best price on balloons. It ended up being Walmart at 30 for 97 cents. When I opened the bags, I discovered I had a shortage of red. No one noticed that the the rainbow had quite a large orange section, compared to the red. Someone even asked where I had bought it.

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The arch wasn’t perfect, but it was impossible to tell once the balloons covered it.
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Building it after blowing up the balloons did not take long. We took it apart several times to tweak the fit.
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It looked really good the next morning. None of them had fallen or popped during the night.

The Cake

I wanted the cake to be part of the decorations and part of the food, so yet again, I’ll save it for last. My next weekly post will tell you all about it.

Part of the Royal Family

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Every princess needs to spend time in the garden.

When the two little princesses spent the week with me so mommy could set up her nursery for the soon-to-arrive-twins, we filled every day with fun so that bedtime would be easy. They were so exhausted they fell right asleep every night.

I have a toddler princess bed that never looks so good as when a sleeping beauty is in it. I keep princess crowns on hand, too. We do tea parties that a queen would love to join.

My oldest little princess has a gentle spirit, but lives fulltime in her six-year-old body, which often thinks up wrong things to do at the wrong time. She explained to me like the Apostle Paul that she means to do right, but keeps doing wrong. We talked about it a lot.

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My little princess loves to dress the part.

One night I said to her, “Little Princess, do you know that you are a real and true princess?”

She said, “I am?” and her face lit up.

“Yes,” I said. “You were sorry for your sin and asked Jesus to forgive you. You told Him you believe He died to save you from the punishment of sin. He adopted you. You are God’s precious child, and God is King. What is the daughter of a king called?”

“I’m a princess,” she said with wonder. “Does my mommy know this?” she gasped. It was the best news she’d heard since she had prayed that first prayer that brought her into the kingdom of God.

“You need to learn the ways of a princess,” I told her.

She adjusted her toy crown and promised with all her heart she would.

With the help of the Lord Jesus, she will.

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She learned to curtsy. Now to learn the ways of Her Father the King.

Linen Closet Facelift

Our new home gave me a nice sized-linen closet in the bathroom. It presented a unique challenge, because it had no door. Everything stored in that closet would be visible as soon as the bathroom door closed. As we unpacked I knew I had to do something.

The bathroom looked great... until you closed the door for privacy.
The bathroom looked great… until you closed the door for privacy.

I decided on using canvas storage cubes. Our Walmart had some cute Moroccan patterns in grey and an aqua blue. I alternated those with plain storage cubes also in grey and blue.

Next challenge: What to store in each cube. Of course towels and washcloths went in one. I decided to put our medicines together in one cube. Another I filled with toilet paper. A fourth cube I filled with the baby shampoos and bath toys for the girls. A fifth now holds hair and personal care supplies (aka. deodorant and toothpaste.) I filled another with all of my cleaning supplies. That cube went on the top shelf far from curious little hands.

The newly organized linen closet made me so excited! I ran to show my husband. He did not show the same enthusiasm.

“How do I know what’s in each cube? What if I need to get some medicine for one of the girls in the middle of the night? I won’t know which cube to look in!”

He had a point.

Then inspiration struck! I had some little chalkboard tags that I just knew would be perfect. I dug through my craft drawers and snatched the little package up. Then I grabbed some blue twine, and white chalk. Perfect!

A neatly organized linen closet makes it easy to find things.
A neatly organized linen closet makes it easy to find things.

Here are the labels I came up with:

Sparkle: Cleaning Supplies

Breathe: Medicine

Soak: Towels and Washclothes

Splash: Bath Toys

Bubble: Shampoos

Pamper: Lotions, extra toothpaste, deoderant, etc.

Preen: Hair ties, Blow dryer, nail polish, etc…

I adore my linen closet now. Oh, those red canisters? They hold the essentials: cotton balls, q-tips, bandaids, and gauze. And, with the red tops, I love the little burst of color they bring.