Month: February 2012

  • Tricks of the Trade [Second Edition]


    I just returned from a most lovely weekend away in the company of nearly 30 beautiful ladies. 
    I flew on a jet plane for the first time in years, that was so fun in itself!
    I am still whirling mentally from all the conversation and late nights, and smiling at the memories made.
    Getting to meet such beautiful women in real life that I’ve only dreamt of interacting with…
    Words evade me about details. :) But a huge thank you to those of you present ~ you know who you are!


    Thank you for the comments and feedback on the first Guest Post!
    I am thinking I’d like to have them a regular feature. Or goodness, they may as well just take over.
    They’re far more popular. :)

    And this is just a little heads-up for whoever is interested…
    Ervina and Claudia began a blog when they were in Cambodia for several months in the summer of 2010.
    And Claudia has a small business making lovely feathered headbands and headpieces, found on facebook at The Feather Factory.
    100% of all profits go toward the ministry in Cambodia.


    And now this is like a second guest post, only by many contributors!

    At first when I gave the invitation made the plea for organization tips and ideas,
    I was a bit nervous that I’d be left high and dry and end up saying [sheepishly],
    “Umm, sorry, ladies, but um, no one sent ideas…….”

    I am so very happy to say that there were so many wonderful tips and ideas given,
    and they should probably each have their own post, there were that many!
    I am so grateful and very much indebted to you all! Thank you, thank you!
    There are so many great ideas, and as they kept coming in
    I thought to myself that each one of you could easily be featured in some great article on housekeeping!

    What I loved about all the ideas and pictures is that they are so real life and yet so wonderful.
    I am not one that goes for a sterile, stark, and cold environment.
    Magazines and the pictures in it are lovely, but so often they feel so staged to me.
    Like, really, someone actually lives there? not sure about that.
    What I like is order and calm, but where it also looks inviting and warm.

    And that is exactly what these pictures and ideas portray to me.
    To say I’m thrilled with every single contribution is an understatement.
    Thanks again, ladies, so very much!

    I’m going to be separating the ideas into two separate posts, so if you sent me some pictures and ideas, you are not being forgotten!
    [and I apologize for the long delay, it's been a whirlwind here].
    Also, if you were wanting to still send in some pictures you are welcome to do so.


    Annnnnnd, *drum roll, please* here are the featured contributors!

     Esther offered some tips on organizing containers on her blog, as well as a kitchen tour after their remodel!
    [I'd show pictures, but I'm not really a picture-stealer, so... :) ]



     From Laura:

    Just thought I would my two cents worth your organization article, Part II.
    I am not by nature an organized/super clean person…however, I married one. =)

    Anyway, having recently moved to a bigger house, (3 baths instead of one, 5 BR instead of 2, etc!)
    I found it was really difficult to get an entire “Saturday cleaning” done in one day.
    I might get all the cleaning done, but our meals suffered and it made me grouchy. =/
    While I would prefer to have the entire house spotless at once, I divided all the cleaning into 6 days-
    -Monday through Saturday, with Saturday being a very light day. Every day I do what’s on my list, and forget the rest!

    General pick-up/put away gets done all through the house every day of course, but actual bucket-and-rag cleaning has its designated day.
    It has worked wonderfully for me! I can do my days chores, then spend the rest of the day sewing or whatever I choose/needs attention,
    without feeling bad about the rest. And yes, when company comes, the entire house does get cleaned all at once.
    But for day to day, normal living, a little each day is perfect! Just wanted to share what works for me…”


    From Tracy Cassel, some great tips on laundry and mudroom organizing…

    “Here are a few pictures from my mudroom/laundry area.
    These shelves hold my bigger pot and occassional kichen necessities.
    We hang our coats on the bar that runs along the bottom.

    Tracy Cassel 4

    Another view of the same area. 

    Tracy Cassel 3


    To the left of the shelving is the front door of the mudroom.
    I love having a place for all of our shoes and boots, back packs, and hats.
    Under what we call the 'the shoe bench',
    are three canvas boxes where socks and other winter gear are kept.
    This works well for us.


    Tracy Cassel 1

    To the right of the shelves is my washer/dryer.
    Right outside of the door is the back yard where my husband build me a large 'Amish'
    wash line system a few years ago.
    I hang my wash year round and only us the dryer on occasion.


     Tracy Cassel 2

    From Mary, with some wonderful organization…

    This is in the nursery. Elizabeth’s changing table/dresser is right by her closet so I have this hanging inside the closet door.
    It’s handy and keeps the dresser free of clutter.


    I love plate organizers! They’ve helped out with our dinner plates.
    I’ve also liked having quite a few of those white things that fit into cupboards, I forget what they’re officially called.
    They’re great for making efficient use of tall counter space; stuff can go on the top and bottom of these handy things.
    This is a cupboard above the stove. I love this for kids’ meds, adult meds and spices that I buy in bulk.



    Self-explanatory picture of where I keep paper products.


    The fridge! I am big on keeping this thing wiped out constantly because I don’t like a dirty fridge.
    It takes seconds to wipe out a spot before I set something else in there.
    I also move things as quickly as I can which helps with making sure food doesn’t get wasted.
    If I have leftovers and there is still some left after already using some, I move this into a smaller container.
    It helps keep the food looking nice :) which is more appealing and uses less space in the fridge.
    My friend, Tracy, [look above! ~c] is the fridge queen and I’ve learned some of this stuff from her. :)


     I am with you, Clarita, on not being sure how to store empty storage containers.
    For as long as I’ve had my own house, I have stacked them with the lids on and that mostly works well.
    I just think it takes too much space but this is how I do it……until I find a better way. :)


    This is my pantry. A few years ago, I saw this shoe thing used on the back of doors.
    I’ve loved it especially for little things that might otherwise get lost on pantry shelves.
    Using ice cream buckets isn’t the fanciest thing but it sure has helped keep stuff organized.
    I typically keep bulk food in bags and then just stick it right into the bucket, it helps keep food stuff fresh.


    This is a cupboard right above the coffee machine.
    I again used those shelf organizers to help keep the mugs organized and not falling over.
    I still do stack the mugs on top of each other but now it’s only two instead of five or more. :)
    It’s handy to have this right above the coffee pot.


    This is supposed to be over by the other picture that has the cupboard above the stove.
    This is the other cupboard above the stove.
    Lazy susans have been great just as you said in your post and for me, it’s been the best way to keep my vitamins and spices organized.
    I love that these kinds of things are above the stove, away from eager beaver little hands that would love to have all this stuff. :)

    Aimee, from My *Pink* Life  said,

     ”I like to think outside the box when it comes to organizing and running a house.
    We don’t need to things like our moms and grandmas did things ~ this is something I’ve learned throughout my married life.
    And sometimes what works for you doesn’t work for someone else.
    You have to make solutions for yourself that work best for YOU.”

    She referred me to a great post she did recently on a baking station -
    just beautiful and yet practical, so worth visiting her site to see!

    [sneak peek]


    “I too have my little morning ritual. I’m much more in the mood to get my house in order in the a.m. then at night.
    I always go through my upstairs rooms and put away any stray clothes, make the beds, put away random shoes,
    clean off the bathroom counter, it’s amazing how it gives you this good feeling later when you dash through and see everything nice and neat,
    at least in that part of the house. i do the same in my kitchen too…”

    Bek said,
    “I hate clutter and I feel like I’m always fighting it in this small house full of busy little children.
    In the past year I’ve come to the solid belief that less is more. The kids can only play with so many toys.
    I’m not going to throw away their precious toys, but i will pack half of them away for a while… then trade them out again.
    It’s fun for them and I’m tripping over/picking up half the amount of the toys.

    And clothing… used to pick up anything at yard sales, or on bargain racks.
    It turned out that we all had a lot of clothes, but not much really nice to wear.
    So… totally cut back. All the kids need is a few skits/pants, and a few nice shirts to go with them.
    Of course there are a few Sunday dresses hanging in the closet too. But I love how it simplifies everything in their room.

    And that’s about all I know. Organization is very much a work in progress around here!:)”

    [I LOVE the trading out toys idea!! I'm definitely going to start doing this! [~c]


    A reader:
    “About your container drawer… ;)
    I’ve found that if I keep all my containers in a cupboard, nested in each other as nicely as I can, and keep all the lids in a drawer, it works best.
    I sort my lids- all the round ones in one drawer, and all the square, rectangular, or otherwise odd-shaped ones go in another drawer.
    I have a very small kitchen, and I had to give up some other things that I really wanted in drawers & cupboards
    to be able to do this, but it is by far worth it to me. “

    And that concludes Part II! Thank you all so much again for your tips and tricks and contributions!

    And Happy Leap Day!

    ~ clarita

  • [Guest Post by the Sisters]

    Okay, so I am really really excited about this post.
    Probably more excited than I’ve ever been about a post on my blog.
    Probably because I didn’t write it. :)

    It’s not every day that two lovely ladies call you up and ask to do a guest post on your blog.
    Sure made me feel special that they thought my blog was cool enough.
    Or maybe they thought it needed some help?? :)

    I’m thrilled to introduce you to…
    … my first guest post by two of my sisters!


    Modest is Hottest….

    Or… New Ideas for the Practical Woman

    IMG_2809 Radio
    Together, I, Claudia, with my sister, Ervina Barkman-soon-to-be-Yoder, have combined our love for photography, our fascination with unique clothing combinations, and a deep gratitude for our sisterhood, to bring you the highly anticipated and most delightful post.
    Of course, I had to take this opportunity to use the cheesy and bestest title ever. Hence… The title.

    It was June 8. 2011. And We Committed.
    On a plane enroute to Bangkok, Thailand, Ervina and I, made a most momentous decision… to cut off all communication with the Shopping-for-super-cute-and-fashionable-clothes-World.
    Seeing as how I am a five year thrift-shop veteran, and Ervina a 10 year H&M veteran, this decision was not made lightly.
    However, I convinced her that this was a pivotal decision for our lives, and so we decided on a One Year Clothing Fast. YAY!!

    However, It only took a few months before Ervina realized I had pulled a fast one on her. “I’m sorry, But a wedding dress….” I regretfully told her, “ ….is not even an option.”
    Of course, she found plan B, and planned her wedding for June 8, 2012, claiming that her dress was on a payment plan.

    IMG_2778 IMG_2843

    Ok. Ok. I’m Lying. It was I, Claudia, who Heroically and quite alone(elly) committed to the 1-year clothing fasting plan. With the exception of:
    A. Using Gift Cards (Not gonna lie. I thought about buying myself gift cards, so I had to add on:) …that have been given to me as gifts (Not gonna lie. Again, I thought about buying myself gift cards as gifts, so I had to add on:) FROM FRIENDS (Not gonna lie. I have pondered the question, “Am I my own Friend?”).
    B. Clothing bought as a gift for Dear BoyFriend.
    C. Maid of Honor dress for June, Bridesmaid dress for March.
    D. 12 DIY projects

    Since June 8, I have been having quite the fun wearing the same articles of clothing in as many different ways as is possibly possible. I have especially enjoyed bringing periodic heart attacks to Mother as I come downstairs in another t-shirt hacked into a vest or an old sweater made into a cardigan. Many thanks to Ervina, who has gone along with my swell inventions.
    So. Today, we bring you Mother’s latest heart attack, in the form of a Scarf.

    In Ervina’s Words: It all started with one of those decisions to stop shopping for clothes and begin exploring new ways to wear what’s in our closet. Naturally, you can mix and match and layer in lovely ways but our most recent [and fun] discovery was finding out how versatile a scarf can be. First of all, make sure it’s one that’s fairly large and either rectangular or square in size (triangular could become a bit scandalous). When worn as a skirt or tucked-in top, secure with a dramatic belt.

    The Church Service


    The Bridal Shower


    It’s simple to create these outfits, really. Just brush up on your kindergarden shoelace knot and you just might be good to go. And If that doesn’t work, just pull out your HDDP (Handy Dandy Diaper Pin) for some added security. 

    For the Scarf: Wrap once, twice, or thrice around neck. 

    For the Skirt: Simply wrap the scarf completely around your body. Making sure that it is adjusted so that the bottom layers are even all around. Tie the two ends tightly together and tuck securely underneath a rad hipster belt. (If in a pickle. Resort to the HDDP for help) This can also be worn as a high-wasted skirt. 

    For the Shirt:
    Wrap the scarf evenly around the upper body, tying or HDDP-ing securely. This outfit can be completed by tucking in the scarf, wearing a big buckle belt, and finishing it off with a cardigan.

    Even if none of these are exactly your idea of style, perhaps they’ll inspire you to reevaluate your wardrobe and have fun experimenting with unusual combinations of accessories — and save a few pennies while you’re at it.


    [ brought to you by the sisters ]




    I loved this. I think because I learned so much from it. They are some of the most creative, unique but lovely dressers I know. I call them my fashion consultants. :)

    When they told me their ideas, I was thinking, “A scarf as a skirt? What??”
    But I sure wanted to see it. :) I think it’s fabulous.
    And with two kids tugging at my skirts, I will most certainly be using the HDDP. :)

    And I didn’t even realize until I read this that Claudia was on a one-year clothing fast. She definitely doesn’t take a martyr’s stance on it, but makes it a fun challenge.

    So let them know how much you enjoyed this and maybe we can convince them to come back for re-runs. :)


    p.s. i’m still hoping for emails/pictures/messages with organizing tips from you all! or else there will be no second edition to the Second Edition. :)