Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Motivation: My Favorite Storage Solutions For Your Coat Closet

If you've been following the Monday Motivations in January you'll probably be looking at a nicely organized closet in your home right now.  Am I right?  If not, it's not too late.  Just follow the instructions on the first post and the second post.  If you need some inspiration, check out my closet to see my before and after pictures.

There are a few items that I'd like to purchase for my closets as my budget allows.  I thought I'd share them with you.  If you have some items that work for you, please share them in the comment section. 

1.  My first wish list item is the new skinny hangers, sometimes called Velvet Hangers.  I found some at Ross for 50 cents a piece (they came in a package of 12).  If your closet is crowded, these hangers will give you a little bit of extra room on your rod.  You can also get them on

2.  Another item I like is the square utility totes from thirty-one.  I got to play around with one last Fall and found that they were so much lighter than the heavy wooden ones I'm using now. 

3.  Lastly, I'd like to get a few of these cute hooks to put on the inside of the closet door.  I just can't resist them!

So, how's your foyer and coat closet coming along?  If you're really proud of it, send me some pics and I'll post them.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Taming Your Wild Calendar

I want to welcome my new friends from the Living Wholly For God Seminar.  I think the ladies at Providence Presbyterian did a wonderful job setting everything up and and providing the tasty meals.

I'm so glad I got to meet many of you and I hope you found my presentation to be helpful and encouraging. 

A few of you asked about a quick overview of today's presentation and I thought my regular readers might like the information as well. . . so here we go . . .

1.  Priorities:  Choosing, through thoughts, words, and actions what is most important to you.

         Action to take:  make a list of your daily activities and how much time you give to each activity.

           A.   Our tendency towards perfectionism  can keep us from doing what God wants us to do and can cause us to "steal" someone else's blessing.
           B.   Our addiction to multi-tasking can be dangerous because it keeps us from focusing on the task   at hand.  It keeps us from being fully engaged to the people around us.  Multi-tasking can turn our mundane tasks into our priorities.
           C.  Our reactions to circumstances are determined by our priorities and our priorities are affected by
 our circumstances.  Decide now what your priorities are so that when life's circumstances
 arise, you'll be able to make wise decisions.        
           D.  Choosing activities that rate well in God's eyes will help you to keep your priorities straight.
           Action to take: Take your list of daily activities and grade yourself according to God's grading
           scale.  Read Luke 10:38-41 if you're not sure what God's grading scale is.

2.  Procrastination:  Where your calendar and schedule go terribly wrong.

          A.  Perceived time vs. real time:  we tend to overestimate and underestimate the amount of time it takes us to complete everyday tasks. 

Action to take:  time yourself doing everyday tasks like making your bed or paying your bills to give you a "real time" idea of your daily activities.

          B.  Squished schedules:  When we fill our schedules with too many activities, we leave no wiggle room for the unplanned.  Even in ministry, we must find what is God's best for us - not just what is good in our mind.

Action to take:  Leave space around your activities and appointments for the unexpected.

          C.  Delayed decisions:  We naturally put off doing things we don't want to do.  Fear can also cause us to put off making decisions as we search for the "perfect" solution.

Action to take:  Set up regular times to take care of dreaded tasks.  Work on large projects a little at a time to keep from being overwhelmed.

          D.  Break the habit of being late:  Being late reflects poorly on your character.  Not many people regret being early to appointments, but most people regret being late.

Action to take:  Add an extra 10-15 minutes to your drive time to give yourself  "wiggle room".  If you are consistently late to the same place, time yourself to see how long it really takes to arrive at your destination.  Your perceived time is probably different than the real time. 

3.  A Bit of Encouragement:

          A.  Use the clock to your advantage - We all have 24 hours and must make the most of it.
          B.  Handling big projects - When tackling a big project, break it up into smaller chunks.  Schedule those smaller chunks and reward yourself after accomplishing each task.  I recommend chocolate!
          C.  Remember the gift of margins - Just like the margins in our Bible, where our eyes rest before reading the next line of text, our lives need margins where no words are written so we can rest and reflect on what God is doing in our lives.
          D.  Use tools to keep your priorities and activities straight.  Whether you use a large calendar on the fridge, a pocket planner, or a PDA, use tools that will help you keep on top of tasks and appointments.  Filing paperwork so that you can retrieve it when needed will help you feel better about being organized.  Think about whether you are a "filer" or a "piler". 

Thanks again, ladies.  It was my pleasure to spend the day with you.  If you have any question, please feel free to email me.  Just click on the link on my right sidebar.  As I mentioned earlier, my testimony blog is  Please leave me a comment or an email so I know that you stopped by. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Etsy Items In The Shop

Well, I've been having a fun time in my craft "studio".  Now that I have a fancy schmancy work area,  thanks to my Christmas present from Hubs, I can call my craft room a "studio".  Doesn't it sound important?

I finally completed three items and was able to photograph them on Tuesday thanks to a heat wave of 45 degrees here.

The first item is a cute party apron.   I call it a party apron because it has a sequin trim.  The purple and green fabric is really adorable and came from a little girl's skirt.  Of course, one must always wear one's pearls while entertaining.

This red satin purse by Liz Claiborne was upcycled into a razzle dazzle evening bag.  I found the fun circles and squares in Oma Miller's sewing box.  I'm not sure what they were originally made for but I thought they dressed up the bag in an unusual way. 

Since things were getting way too "dressy" in the craft studio, I decided to take things down a notch and made a "folksy" type of accessory.  This pillow was made from an upcycled woman's sweater.  The red gussets were made from a man's sweater. 
This is my favorite part of the pillow - the buttons.  These vintage shirt buttons were tied on to add a fun accent.

That's all for now.  I've have more aprons in the works, including some larger sizes for those of you who have been requesting them.  Also, if you have a favorite skirt or dress  (or even a table cloth or sheets)that you'd like to have made into an apron, just let me know.  The item must be machine washable. Plus, I charge less for aprons made with your own items since I don't have to pay for the upcycled fabric.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wrensday: Digging Up Treasures

My husband and son were clearing out a section of our wood storage area and they uncovered an old plywood box that had been partially buried by some of the wood.  They opened up the box to find old electrical wires and switches.  They removed everything from the box and found, at the very bottom, two old glass containers.   One of them was broken, but one was intact.

The most interesting, in my opinion, is the cello shaped bottle.  One one side it says: "BY THE KINGS ROYAL PATENT GRANTED"


One side says: "LONDON"   and the other side says: "JANY".  If you're interested in learning about this type of bottle, I found some info here.

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The other bottle (the broken one) was apparently hand blown with a hand blown hollow lid.  It still contains a mysterious black powder which spreads everywhere (ask me how I know).   Soot?  Gun powder?  Who knows. 

What I do know is that I'm going snooping around the wood shed some more! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My First Award

I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from a friend (in blog life and real life) stating that I had been given a Stylish Blogger Award.  Who, me?

Cindy, from Dwellings, gave me the award.  She is such a sweet person and a very talented homemaker.  Thanks for the "shout out", Cindy. 

In order to receive the award, the recipient must:
          1.  Be a gracious recipient and thank the awarder (and courteously link back to her blog).
          2.  Share 7 things about themselves to make it interesting.
          3.  Give the award to 15 other recently discovered blogs.
          4.  Contact the blog authors to let them know the good news.

So. . . for the 7 things about myself:

          1.  Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.  My goal in life is to bring Him honor and glory.
          2.  I've been happily married to my best friend, Skip, for nearly 30 years. 
          3.  We have 2 daughters, 2 sons-in-law, 1 son, and 2 grandsons. They are the apple
               of my eye.
          4.  In my spare time, I teach preschool and make upcycled accessories for my Etsy shop.
          5. We have two goats, two cats, and two chickens hanging around our house with more
               chickens on the way as well as bees for a bee hive.               
          6.  I am ridiculously afraid of frogs.  In fact, if we are ever walking together and a frog jumps
               nearby, I will climb on you to get away from the frog.  And, I will scream bloody murder in your
               ear.  I am not, however, afraid of bugs, spiders, or snakes. 
          7.  Nothing makes me happier than finding a "treasure" in a thrift store - or even better, on the side
               of the road. 

Now, for the fun part.  I'd like to give this award to 5 bloggers whose blogs I've recently discovered and have been enjoying.  I know the "rules" say 15 bloggers and I am a rule follower, but I'm also a rule changer - and I'm changing it to 5 because I think 15 is too much.  I'm choosing quality over quantity.  (So sorry to the person who started this).  I also wanted to add some commentary on why I think these bloggers are stylish.  So, here we go:

Bee Haven Acres- I've never met Bev in person but I know we would get along.  Why?  She has goats and makes aprons!  Just like me!  Her home is beautiful and if you're interested in caring for goats, chickens, horses, or bees then she's your girl. 

Tales From The Coop Keeper - Jayme is the funniest person I've never met (in person).  She is very devoted to her chickens, has yummy recipes on her blog, has taken frugal living to the extreme, and wears one of my upcycled aprons (with chickens on it) with pride. 

Kuzak's Closet - Amanda's blog (her last name is Kuzak) is chock full of organizing ideas and lots of before and after photos to get you inspired.  She's very talented and makes money for her clients by selling their unwanted items on Ebay for them.  Smart girl.

The Cozy Cape - I've actually known Heather since she was in middle school with my oldest daughter.  She's quite the talented girl and her cabinet door turned serving tray is amazing.  I'm looking forward to seeing what projects are coming up for her home. 

Sister Pickers - If you like to see before and after pictures of fixed-up finds, then you'll love this brand new blog by Connie and Marie.  They travel around  finding used furniture and accessories.  They beautify them and then sell them - upcycling at it's best!

So girls, I'll be contacting you to let you know about this award.  Your blogs rock - in a stylish sort of way!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Motivation: My Coat Closet Revealed

Have you been working on your coat closet this week?  Well, I have too and I'm ready to show you the "before and after". 

So, here is the before. . .

Yes, it was in need of some help.  I'm fortunate to have built in shelves already in the closet.  Most of our coats are short, so it works well.  I think the previous owner used the shelves for his shoes, because they were covered with dirt when we moved in!

After about 20 minutes of work, this is what my closet looked like. . .
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I had already gotten rid of several extra coats at the beginning of the season.  Here are some of the items I got rid of this week:
1 hula hoop
2 posters from old Sunday School Lessons
2 old choir books (that were returned to church - oops)
several old purses
a set of floor samples was put with my staging/redesign supplies

I bought the MDF crates at Michaels a few years ago.  They hold hats/gloves, purses, and light bulbs.
The bottom red crate holds backpacks and tote bags.

I keep my camera tripod and my electronic keyboard stored to the left side of the closet because. . . well, because they fit there nicely.

I didn't move anything on the top shelf because I can't reach that shelf and it wasn't messy.

I do hang onto a good selection of coats and jackets because we get a lot of visitors at The Wren and we don't want them to get chilly when they decide to stay until it's dark.  (Once people come to our home, they don't like to leave - and we like it that way).

  So. . . if you come for a visit. . . and stay to eat pie on the front porch. . . and it starts to get chilly outside. . . just grab a jacket. . . now that you know where they are. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cleaning Out The Craft Closet

I've been organizing again.  Are you surprised? 

This week, I tackled two closets.  My coat closet is done and I'll show you the before and after pics on Monday.  I also worked on my fabric closet.  I gained an extra closet when my son moved over to the apartment over our garage.  I wasted no time shoving it full of fabric for my Etsy shop.

This is what happens to fabric when you shove it into a closet. . .

To my credit, it is stacked into categories.

First, I took everything out of the closet, sorting fabric by color, type, and purpose.  Any scraps too small to use on my larger projects were tossed into a wicker laundry basket.  The extra blanket on the shelf went into a different closet.

Then, I added a hanging shelf from Walmart.  I also reused the small wooden shelf that used to hold my son's shoes. 

Lastly, I loaded the fabric back into the closet, keeping categories together.  I used the hanging shelf to hold fabric by color.  The top shelf holds Christmas fabric (on the left), large neutral pieces (in the middle), and a box of Christmas craft supplies that I bought on clearance (if I don't keep them in clear sight, I won't remember to use them next Christmas). 

The clothes rod holds some of the items I have advertised in my Etsy shop.  Below those items are two extra baskets of fabric.  The white bin holds red fabric because I ran out of sections in the hanging shelf.  The wicker basket holds extra sweater pieces from pillows I've been making.  The large laundry basket on the bottom holds the smaller scraps that I'll use on small projects.

I spent less than an hour on this project and was even able to fit in fabric I had stashed under my sewing machine downstairs.  Yes, you guessed it, I'm a fabric stasher.  I can't help it.  At least  now it is organized so I can find what I need in just a few seconds.   This type of visual clutter drives me crazy so I'm happy to keep it shut away behind closed closet doors.  If I had to store in on an open shelf, I'd probably have to keep it in baskets or some other closed containers.  I'm weird like that.

So, are you brave enough to show everyone how you stash your hobby supplies? 

Speaking of hobbies, Hubs is preparing to raise bees this coming Spring and is getting the bee boxes ready.  Guess where he's doing that. . . yes, right next to my fabric closet!  How's a girl supposed to work?  I thought you might enjoy this "keeping it real" photo of our third floor bedroom as it looks right now!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Elevating Decor

Sometimes when I'm decorating my home, I'm frustrated my the "smallness" of my items.  Small items seem to get lost on a table or shelf.  They also tend to seem to add to the visual clutter I see.   To remedy this problem, I combine items to make more of a statement.

Below is an arrangement on my sideboard.  I've changed the items under the globe several times in the past few months, but the basic design is the same.  I used a metal pedestal from the thrift store, a cheese plate dome from the thrift store, an antique plate, some salt, a ceramic bird and a Christmas ornament together.  To the side is a silver votive holder. 

 Each of these items is not especially beautiful by themselves, but together, they make a nice display.

On the other side of the room, near the bay window, is a cute little table that I move around a lot.  Because it it is small, I like to stack things on it to elevate it's height.

I've added a stack of books and a pedestal with mesh dome that found at Home Goods.  A small bird's nest sits nearby and adds a bit of softness. 

These are just a few examples of ways to combine decor to make it seem bigger than it really is.  If you have items scattered around your home, try combining them to make a bigger statement.  It helps to visually unclutter your home when you do this. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Introducing Blessed Brown Wren

This past weekend I finally jumped in with both feet and started another blog.  I will still be blogging on Tidy Brown Wren 4-5 times a week but I wanted a separate place to write about what God is doing in my life.

So without further babbling, I want to introduce you to . . .

Please check it out and let me know what you think.  Shortly, I'll be moving  Tidy Brown Wren over to Wordpress too.  I figured I'd practice with Blessed Brown Wren to get the feel of how Wordpress works. I'll let you know when that change happens because you might need to "re-follow" at the new address.  

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Is The Stuff

I heard a cute and apropos song today that I wanted to share with you.  Remember, God's got the big picture.  "Stuff" is just the itty bitty details. 

Monday Motivation: Weeding Through Your Coat Closet

This week's Monday Motivation is a continuation from last week.  Have you already done the first step in organizing your entry way? 

With step one out of the way we'll start step two - cleaning out the coat closet.  Because I've already blogged about this step before, I just copied it to this post (no reason to reinvent the wheel).  I've updated the links so everything should work. 

I like the look of this functional coat closet from REAL SIMPLE. I think most of us struggle with keeping the coat closet tidy because during the cooler months that closet is in constant use. I think this week is a good time to purge the clutter and organize the useful.

1. Start with the top shelf. Take everything out and sort like items with like (hats with hats, gloves with gloves, etc.)

2. Go through each pile and remove items that are worn out, don't fit, or you don't like any more. Put any items that are still useful into a bag for the thrift store or homeless shelter.

3. Gather containers that you can use as a drawer/bin for each of the groups of items you have. I have one for gloves, one for hats and scarves, and one for tote bags.

4. Now, do steps 1 and 2 with the clothes that are hanging on the rod.

5. Place clothing back onto the rod according the person they belong to. For example, start with your smallest person. Hang up all of their coats on the left side of the bar. Then, go to the next tallest person. Hang up all of their coats to the right of the previous person's coats. Continue on to the tallest persons's coats. This will give you extra floor space to the left of your closet.

6. Next, gather everything from the floor of the closet and go through steps 1, 2, and 3. This would be a good time to vaccuum the floor and baseboards. Also, check for any mold that may have grown in the dark depths of the closet when you weren't looking (Ewwwww). Wipe it down with a bleach cleaner and let it dry thoroughly.

7. If you need to store shoes in the closet, place an extra door mat or a shoe tray on the floor to catch any dirt or rain/snow drips from the shoes.

8. If you're in the mood to make some improvements to the closet, you can add some hooks to the door or use an over-the-door hanger to hold an organizer. There are many to choose from. Here is one I like and here's another good idea.

I like the double rods in the picture above. It would work well if you only had shorter coats. Long coats would hand down over the bottom rod. I also like the rolling bin. It would be good for back packs and re-usable grocery bags.  If you only have one pole, you can add one of these hanging shelves to give you a bit more storage space.  I have a few of these I have purchased from Walmart and I love them. 

When my children were little I used a series of tote bags for keeping everything organized and ready to go out the door. I had a different color bag for every activity we had (library, church, PTA, work, beach). When I came across something, like a library book needing to be returned, I simply placed it in the correct bag and it was ready to go.

If you're working on your entrance/foyer/closet, please send me some pics and descriptions and I'll brag about you on the blog.  We can all learn from each other.

Friday, January 14, 2011

I've added Coconut Oil To My Diet

I've described some of the changes I've made in my diet (here and here) to try and be healthier.  One of the small changes I've made is to switch out the bad fats for the good fats.

The only fats I use right now are EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), Organic Butter, and Coconut Oil. 


I already knew the benefits of EVOO and I understood the importance of switching out butter for margarine, but I'd never really heard of Coconut Oil.  As I began to research it I became more and more interested in the health claims it promised. 

Some of the benefits I read about are:
     ~ helps you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight
     ~ lowers your cholesterol
     ~ improves diabetes and chronic fatigue
     ~ improves symptoms of IBS, Crohn's disease, and other digestive disorders
     ~is antibacterial, antiviral, and anti fungal
     ~increases metabolism and helps promote healthy thyroid function
     ~ rejuvenates skin and hair

Coconut oil contains a medium chain fatty acid called lauric acid.  Lauric acid is very prominent in the saturated fat of human breast milk and is essential to child development. 

I've been putting a tablespoon of coconut oil in our oatmeal each morning and I've also been adding it to our homemade granola, and other baked products. 

I can't vouch for all of the above benefits of the oil, but I can tell you some of the benefits our family has noticed since switching to coconut oil 9 months ago. 

     ~After dealing with knee pain for years, my husband is able to run up and down the stairs with no pain at all (and we live in a 3 story house).
     ~ My cholesterol and blood pressure have remained low even though my chronic kidney disease should be causing them to rise.  Hubs will be having his physical in a few weeks and we'll see how is levels are.
      ~ With our at-home blood pressure monitor, we have noticed that his blood pressure has dropped for the first time in 5 years even though his medication has remained the same.
     ~ My chronically dry skin is actually not "ashy" this year.
     ~ I have an under active thyroid and I have not had to increase my medication.
     ~ Here's the kicker - no one in our family has had a cold since last February - and I work in a preschool.

I've been ordering my Coconut oil from Tropical Traditions.  I wait until they have a buy one gallon - get one free sale and then I'm set for a while.   Coconut oil has a very long shelf life.  It is solid, like shortening, below 76 degrees and liquid above that temperature.  I fill a jar from the gallon bucket and keep it in my pantry for easier use.

 If you decide to try it, don't eat too much at first.  Let your body acclimate to it.  It can work like a de-tox ingredient, so you don't want to overdo it - if you get my drift!

***Now, I'm not a medical professional and I don't wish to give anyone advice on how they should eat.  I'm just sharing how a dietary change has made an effect on our family.  Please do your own research before deciding to add a different food to your diet.

Have you switched over to coconut oil yet?  Let me know if you try it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

10 Things I'm Throwing Away Today


I'm really in a "tossing" mood today.  Everywhere I look, I'm finding something to get rid of.  Here's what I got rid of today. . .

      1.  The owner's manuals to two appliances I no longer own.

      2.  Gift bags that are too mangled to use again.

      3.  Super glue tube that was dried up.

      4.  A mitten whose partner was lost 3 years ago.

      5.  A stack of "Christmas shopping" fliers from the newspaper that I never used.  (I found them stuffed into the glove compartment of my car)

      6.  A garlic press I don't use because the holes are too large for my liking (I tossed it in my donate bag)

      7.  A red sweater my Hubs has declared is "too short" for his liking (upcycling it into something for Etsy).

      8.  All the bits of paper and debris from the bottom of my purse (yuck!)

      9.  Men's trench coat from the coat closet (Hubs never wears it - I did ask permission to give it to the homeless ministry).

     10.  Two calendars from last year (I only save my day planner to refer back to).

I'm feeling soooo much better.  What are you tossing this week? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Since I can't sit here and read. . .

I'll just sit here and read. . .

And sip hot cocoa from this. . .

What do you spend your time doing when it's too cold to go outside?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Simple Winter Mantel

Using what I had on hand, I decided to add a few things to my mantel after the Christmas decorations came down.  I left my barn stars on barbed wire hanging beneath the mantel as well as the lanterns from my daughter's wedding.    I added some pewter candlesticks I've had for 30 years and some pine cones from the yard. (Free is good!)   Oh, and a little metal bird for some whimsy.

I have to be careful about what I use on the fireplace because we use it a lot in the winter and I don't want anything to catch on fire. 

I'm linking up to:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Motivation: We're Starting At The Front Door

This is this first post of 2011 that deals with decluttering and organizing our homes.   Since we're moving in an organized fashion, we'll start with the front door.

When people enter your home through your front door, what do they see first?  Piles?  Shoes?  Stacks of Papers?  Maybe you don't even have a real entrance, like a foyer, in your home. If you don't, can you improvise by placing a short bookcase or sofa table perpendicular to the door to make a mock entrance?

   (Here is a photo I found of a bookshelf that one family built in but you could also use a freestanding one as well)

Perhaps your family enters your home through the garage or back door.  That area needs to function as well. 

First impressions are important for guests, but think about you and your family too.  Does your family come home to a mess every day?  Do they have a place to put their belongings when they come home to roost?   That's what we'll work on today.

Here are steps to help you work on this:
1.  Stand at your front door and take a good hard look at the entrance to your home.  Ask yourself these questions. . .
     a.  Does my front door look welcoming?
     b.  Is this area too crowded to function properly?
     c.  What seems to cause the biggest mess in this area?

2.  Decide what activities need to be represented in this area.  Coat storage?  Shoe storage?  Key storage? 

3.  Check to see if you have a place for every activity.  Do you have a closet or hooks for coats?  A bench for shoes?  A hook or bowl for keys?

4.  Remove any items that aren't needed in the area and store somewhere else in your home (or even better, get rid of it).

5.  Look for things that will help this area function better.  Perhaps you have a small bench in your kitchen that can function as a place to sit and remove shoes.  Maybe a small table in your bedroom can be used to hold keys and the dog leash.  Window shoping might be needed to pick out a set of hooks to hold coats or a new door mat.  (tip:  hold off buying anything until you have weeded out and decluttered the area)

Today we're only looking at the function and "hardscape" of the entrance.  The rest of the Monday Motivations in January will be devoted to weeding out belongings and making the area function properly. 

Now. . . go forth. . . and organize!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Change is Good

Change is good.  Change keeps things exciting.  And different.  And sometimes scary.

I've been a bit restless, knowing that many changes will be taking place in 2011 for me and my family.  We are preparing for my upcoming kidney transplant, changes in employment, and reduced income.  Of course, I have so many things to be thankful for.  I'm surrounded by a large group of loving people - my family, my friends, and my church.  People around the world are praying for me.  I am blessed. 


I have seen how God is at work in my life and I know He is preparing to do more.  Way more.  I guess that's why I'm feeling restless.  I want to get the party started!

I've been using a notebook to jot ideas down in.  I call it "My Brain Dump".   If I don't write things down as they come to me, I either forget about them or they rattle around in my brain and make noise while I'm trying to sleep.  Do any of you have that same problem? 

So, today I thought I'd share some of my ideas with you.  Some things I'd like to change.  Some things I'd like to do.  Some things I'd like to learn. 

Here's my list:

1.  Monday Motivation:  I'm going to post Monday Motivation in a more organized fashion.  Basically we'll be going through each room of our home (one a month) to organize and clean.  I'll be doing it with you so we can all keep each other accountable. 
     January -Foyer/Entrance
     February - Kitchen
     March - Bathrooms
     April - Bedrooms
     May - Closets
     June - Kid's rooms
     July - Family Room/Living Room
     August - Paper Work
     September - Car
     October - Garage
     November - Laundry Room
     December - Dining Room

2.  Since money is going to be tighter than ever, I'll be posting weekly about saving money. 

3.  I'm considering starting an additional blog that will be more of a spiritual nature.  This blog is primarily about homemaking and organizing.  I feel a little bit restrained by that so I think I'll enjoy a new blog.  I'll let you know when that happens.

4.  I've neglected my little Etsy shop lately.  I've got tons of projects in the works but nothing finished, photographed, and listed. 

5.  I'm working on some workshops to share with church groups.  I've got one lined up for the end of January and am hoping for more opportunities.  As I teach the workshops, I'll post the material on my blog so you can learn too.  It will also be a resource for those who attended the workshop. 

6.  I'm continuing to focus of eating whole, organic, and local foods.  I'll be sharing what I'm learning about this healthy way of eating.  I truly believe that the reason I'm functioning so well with minimal kidney function is because my diet is "clean". 

7.  I've got some home projects that I'd like to get done this year.  With money being tight,  I'll have to get extra creative and resourceful but that's what makes it exciting.  I'll be finishing up my craft room and hopefully redoing the upstairs bathroom.  I'd like to finish the kitchen island and our guest room.  We'll see what happens.

8.  I really want to learn to be a better photographer.  Well. . . I can't really call myself a photographer.  Right now I'm just a "picture taker" - but I'm determined to learn.  Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife wrote an excellent post this week with some photography tips. 

So, that's what's going on with Tidy Brown Wren.  Drop me a line to let me know what you think.  Are you ready to party with me?


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Silver Always Reminds Me of Winter

After the Christmas decorations are put away my house always feels a bit naked.  Part of me likes the clean slate and part of me wants to warm things up a bit. 

I decided to decorate with a few silver things on the dining room sideboard.  Silver reminds me of snow and ice, crisp and clean.

I found these two cute birds at Hancock Fabrics in the clearance bin.  Since they were cute and hello - birds!, I had to bring them home with me.

I added them to a cloche (old cheese plate dome) and a thrifted metal pedestal.  I added some crushed glass from the dollar store.  Kinda cute!  The snowflake bucket is a votive holder I got as a gift from a student several years ago.

I should probably make some boots for their feet - they look a little chilly!  Next month, I'll add some red to the display to celebrate Valentine's day. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I'm Not Afraid To Move Furniture

When Summer turns to Fall and it's time to have a fire the fireplace, I like to move our furniture around to focus our attention on it.

During the Spring and Summer, we go in and out of our back screened porch which leads right into the sitting area off of our kitchen (where the fireplace is).  I like to keep that area pretty clear, so I put down an indoor/outdoor rug and two of our rattan chairs from Pier One.  I covered my dark ottoman with upcycled fabric to lighten things up too.

When Fall comes around, I move our upholstered chairs in front of the fireplace where Hubs and I enjoy Winter evenings in front of the fire.  I put down our dark red wool rugs and add soft pillows and throws. 

This furniture is really easy to move (I can do it by myself) and it makes our home function better during different times of the year.  Our home is rather small but changing the furniture around gives us a different look and keeps things from getting boring.  I almost feel like we get a new room every 6 months.

 P.S.  The chair and ottoman were my first attempts at upholstering and I told Hubs I'd never do it again!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Homemade Polish For Metal and Wood

Whenever I take down my Christmas decorations, it is mandatory that I clean and polish everything in sight.  I can't rest until it's done - and it must by done before New Year's Day!

As I'm trying to be careful about chemicals in my home and also trying to save money, I wanted to use a cleaner/polish that would meet those two qualifications.  I remembered a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Marian of Miss Mustard Seed .  She posted a recipe for a wood cleaner/polisher that she uses for her found treasures. It only uses two ingredients, which I already had on hand - oil and vinegar. 

I shook the oil and vinegar (I changed her recipe a little and used 1/2 and 1/2) up in a jar and dipped my rag in it and carefully squeezed out the excess. Then I rubbed the cloth over the surface of my furniture and buffed it with a clean cotton rag.  It was hard to capture on camera, but if you look closely you can see where I polished on the left and where I didn't polish on the right. 

Again, polish on the left - no polish on the right.  The wood on the left looks much richer.

Well, I couldn't stop.  After I polished all of the wood furniture, I also polished the wood doors, my kitchen cabinets, and my wood baseboards.  Then, on a whim, I took a swipe at some metal.  Here is the old weather vane that tops our fireplace tool caddy.  I've had it for 25 years or so.  I found it in my Aunt's basement in Fredericksburg, VA.

After I wiped it with the polish, it seemed to have much more character.

For a side by side comparison, I polished one castiron bookend (on the right) and left the other alone.  See the difference?  It's really much better in person.

I polished every metal item I could find: barn stars, kitchen sink, cast iron tub, metal figurines, and all of my lanterns. 

I didn't stop there though, I went on to polish candle sticks and even the candles (you know how those large candles get finger prints on them), ceiling fans, and window sills.  I think I'd still be polishing if my arm didn't fall off - just joking (kind of).  

Remember how I showed you how I mix up vinegar and water into my Sparkle Cleaner?  Well, I've decided to keep this in a jar labeled Marian Mix.  I hope Marian doesn't mind having a cleaner named after her!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday Motivation: Resolving To Set Goals

I don't like to set New Year's resolutions.
If I think I need to improve on something or implement new ideas I just do it.  I can start at any time.
My main goal for myself is that I want to be a better person, today, than I was yesterday.

Some of the ways I work toward that goal are:

1. Try to listen more and talk less
2.  Learn something new about healthy eating every chance I get
3. Make someone's day - every day
4.  Think beyond myself
5.  Learn to wait - and rest while waiting
6.   Learn lots of new things about blogging (I'm still not sure how it works).

How about you?  What types of things will help make you a better person today, than you were yesterday.  

“Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions.”