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Time to Tidy Up: Only Keep Stuff You Love

Time to Tidy Up: Only Keep Stuff You Love

OnlyKeepStuffYouLoveI’ve learned a lot this week, but the best thing so far – it’s ok to throw stuff away.  Really, it’s ok.  Even if that stuff is a gift from someone you love.  It may be a wonderful gift that had great intentions, but over the years, that gift sat on a shelf and collected dust.  It’s taken up a piece of real estate in your house and over the years you can’t seem to part with it since it was a gift.

You know what I’m talking about – that candle that you burned a few times and then you stuffed it in the very back of your kitchen cabinet because you got another one you liked better.  Or, it’s the quilt that someone made you as a wedding present.  While the quilt is lovely, it doesn’t match the decor of your house, or even of your guest room, so it’s been sitting in a box for 15 years.  Or, maybe it’s that collection of items from your favorite sports team – the mugs, light-up beer steins (and you don’t even drink beer), hats, coasters, posters, soda can cozies, tickets from games you have attended, and on and on – while you love this sports team, you may not love all the gifts you are given year after year with their logo plastered on it.

I know how you feel though – being stuck with a gift and feeling like you have to keep it just because you love the person who gave it to you.  In Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she says, “Too many people live surrounded by things they don’t need ‘just because.’”  Most people have no idea how much space these things are taking up in their homes.

For me, I’ve seen this truth to be true – I can’t believe that in my already orderly (or so I thought) house I found 16 bags of things just taking up space that I didn’t want anymore, and I’m only just beginning.  The question to ask yourself when sorting through gifts is “Does this spark joy?”   Simple as that.  You have to remember that gifts are just things that are used to convey someone’s feelings for you – and after they have given you the gift, the gift’s purpose has been fulfilled.  Think about that.  It’s so true and my mind is blown.  This makes me think about gifts in a whole new light – both gifts I receive and gifts I give – honestly, it makes me want to try a lot harder when I’m giving a gift to someone.

While some gifts are hard to part with, others are easy to discard.  You can part with that engraved china plate you got as a wedding gift that has sat in a box for your entire marriage.  Yes, it was a gift, but do you even remember who gave it to you?  This happened to me yesterday.  We tackled our storage room.  This room holds a giant pile of boxes that are old grade school papers, trophies from Awana, diplomas and awards from DECA and FBLA, Coca-Cola collections, M & M collections of everything you can dream of shaped, stuffed or imprinted with an M & M on it, wedding gifts, old cards and letters, etc.  It was intense.  I can’t believe how much we threw away!  We had so many empty boxes that we had saved and intended to use for shipping gifts to people.  Silliest thing ever, because we maybe ship 3-4 boxes a year!  We had enough boxes and shipping materials to ship boxes for the next 20 years or more!  Not only were these boxes taking up a ton of space, so were all the boxes of momentos.

We spent 5 hours working on this room and have made some great progress, but we still have a long way to go.  The funny thing, I noticed my attitude change over the course of the day.  I was super excited to get started on the room – I loved seeing all the things we were able to discard and haul to the trash.  Once we started unpacking my M & M collection and my box of unexpected photos from college, I started to get really stressed.  I didn’t know what to do with this stuff.  I panicked.  We kept going and I had to walk away for awhile.  I was getting totally overwhelmed.  There were boxes overflowing with packing peanuts,  piles of sorted item we were going to donate, and piles of discarded items.  Just walking from the storage room to the the stairs was like walking through a mine field.  We cleared a path and I set aside all my momentos to deal with at a later time.  The photos and special memory items are the items you sort through last.  Thank goodness, because I like to take photos of everything!

I unpacked boxes that have been packed since I moved into my house 10 years ago.  I had boxes of decor items that don’t match my current house and honestly I didn’t even remember I had them.  I found a really cool set of metal lamps that I really like, but have no problem selling instead of keeping.  In fact, I’m not only donating items, but finding a lot that I can sell on VarageSale.  I have listed over 100 items since I’ve begun my tidying journey and I’m loving the extra money that I’m making.

I’m super proud of my husband as well, he loves to collect stuff and tends to have multiple collections of things,  let’s see, there is the Coca-Cola collection, the Star Wars Lego collection, and the Broncos collection.  I tend to look at these things as ways to collect dust, which drives him crazy.  He thinks I’m boring because I don’t really collect anything.  Yep, we are a perfect match!  He did make some great decisions on things he was willing to part with and we have big plans for our storage room.  We are going to add some shelves and I’m so excited!  Our compromise, I have to find a place to display his Coke collection because he unpacked it all!  I still have to figure this one out.  :)

Needless to say, I survived the day, we still have a ton to do, but we made a huge dent in our stuff that I’m super proud and excited.  As I work through the whole house, I’m finding that I have a ton of storage totes and bins that I no longer need – as I’ve discarded most of the items that used to be in them.  I’m also loving reading Marie Kondo’s book because there are just times in your life when you just need someone to tell you it’s ok to throw stuff away.  I also feel relieved that you really only need to keep stuff that you truly love.  How is your tidying journey going?

OnlyKeepStuffYouLove

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January 16, 20170 commentsRead More
Time to Tidy Up: Tackling My Closet

Time to Tidy Up: Tackling My Closet

ClosetMarie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, says the best place to start tidying in your home is your closet.  Well, I did it.  Oh-my-goodness.  That was a HUGE job, but it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would.  Phew.  I’m glad it’s over and I can’t believe how clean I feel – not just because my closet is clean, but my overall life is starting to feel cleaner, and I love it!

Are you ready to begin tidying your life?   Well, here is how you at least tackle your closet.  First of all, Marie says you should gather every last bit of your clothing in your entire house and put it all in one pile on the floor.  I laughed out loud when I first read this.  I remember thinking that I could just leave a few coats and gloves in the downstairs closet and not worry about them, as well as keep my swimsuit in the laundry room –  but the book says to gather every last bit of clothing – gloves, hats, coats, everything.  If you don’t get every last piece you won’t fully immerse yourself in the process…I drug my feet because it seemed like a lot of work, but eventually I grabbed a laundry basket and gathered everything and hauled it upstairs to my room.  I took every single piece of clothing out of my closet – shirts, jeans, fancy dresses, suits, bras, purses, scarves, etc.. – EVERYTHING!!!

I even pulled out my precious tubs of maternity clothes (which I had 3 giant plastic tubs worth) which I swore I would never get rid of.  The dust on top of, behind, and around these maternity tubs was thick, and I was beyond terrified to get rid of any of it.  I’ve had such a journey the last 11 years of being a mom and so many memories are tied to those maternity clothes.  I could not imagine going through them, let alone getting rid of any of them, but I pulled them out of the closet and piled them up with everything else.

After it was all piled up on the floor I sorted it into clothing types and tackled my shirts first.  I was doing great at discarding shirts that were lumpy, stained, pilled, and had holes in them until I found the pink glitter chihuahua shirt.  I got stuck.  I sort of freaked out.  I put it in the discard pile and then I grabbed it back out.  I panicked.  That shirt has such deep memories.  Does is spark joy?  Yes, it does.  It sparks all sorts of memories of a wonderful life I’ve had with my spouse.  I got that shirt while I was dating my husband and was dreaming of marrying him, having kids and of one chihuahuashirtday having a little white chihuahua that I would name Lucy.  For real.  I loved pink, glitter and little dogs and felt like my whole life was ahead of me.   Great memories that make me wish life was simple again.  I cannot part with that shirt, even though I’m fairly positive that I”ll never actually wear it again.

I continued on with my sorting and then my daughter walked in to see what I was up to.  She immediately asked if we could do her room too!  That’s my girl!  Love her!  It’s funny how if you start organizing your own life, that others watching want to do the same thing.  This also applies to my husband.  When he got home that night, he was so amazed at the transformation of my side of the closet that he immediately starting pulling things out of his side of the closet to discard.  :)

Back to my process – I started to fill up bags and bags of clothes to be donated – it’s was liberating and felt wonderful!  When everything else was sorted, I finally tackled the tubs of maternity clothes.  I had to scrape off a layer of dust just opening them.  Ewww.  I plunged ahead and was really surprised when I made it through the first tub and easily discarded all of it.  Nothing sparked joy.  All of the items in the first tub were very  big and out of style – they were 11 years old and from my first pregnancy – I was gigantic when I was pregnant with my oldest.  I hated everything about being pregnant with him.  I was uncomfortable, sick all the time, hungry all the time, wore very big maternity clothes, and when I picked them up and examined them, they gave me a feeling of yuck.

In the donate bag they all went and this process continued until I came to the last tub with all my cute clothes from when I pregnant with my daughter.  I loved being pregnant with her.  I was super thin because she made me sooo terribly sick all the time that I could barely eat, it was summer and I love summer maternity clothes, and overall I felt like a rock-star mommy.  It was one of the best years of my life.  I loved the attention of being pregnant, I felt cute the whole 9 months, and I was elated to be having a girl!  I loved all my maternity clothes I wore during that time – they were colorful, cute, and I would wear them all again if I had another baby.  I even loved my maternity swim suit – and honestly, who can say they love a swim suit?  Needless to say, I kept about 12 items, including my swimsuit and that was all I kept from my 3 big maternity tubs.  These items fit in a small diaper box.

I’m so glad I took the plunge and opened up those bins – because it taught me I was holding onto memories that I didn’t need to hold on to anymore.  I don’t plan to have any more kids, but if I do, then I still have a few cute items that I love dearly.  I’m sure at some point down the road, I will discard that box, but for now, I’m so proud of myself for purging 3/4 of a category of things I had that were not exactly what I thought.  I didn’t need to take up a huge space in my closet holding onto things that I didn’t really even like when I further examined them.  Again, it’s liberating to get rid of them!  I also know that someone else could use all of those clothes that I no longer needed, so I posted 3 garbage bags of maternity clothes size Small, Medium, and Large on a local Free Facebook group that I’m a part of and all 3 were picked up the next day by ladies who needed them.  It’s a win-win!

It only took me 3 hours to complete my closet.  I spent the next hour vacuuming, dusting and cleaning my closet floor which had not seen the light of day in probably 6 years.  When you have so much crammed in a tiny space it’s more effort than it’s worth to clean under and around it.  Right?  I love all the white space on my side of the closet now.  Love it!

I learned a lot about myself by the items I decided to keep.  Sorting through your clothes tells you a lot about who you are.  I discarded a lot of things that I’ve held onto for a long time – fancy dresses, high heels, jeans, suit jackets from my working days, etc.  I held onto my leggings, tunics, yoga pants, athletic gear, and running shoes.  Wow.  It’s weird to even write that.  My fashion sense and lifestyle have changed a lot in the last 20 years (yes, there were things in my closet that I’ve had for 20 years).  Honestly, I’m not sure what this says about me.  I’m still thinking about it and mulling it over in my head.  My husband did comment that I used to dress a lot fancier when he first met me.  Of course I questioned him about that and he just said it was an observation, but it did worry me.  Am I looking to mom-ish?  Just stuff to think about.  Wow, who knew that tidying my home could go so deep?

So, what has tidying taught you?  Have you sorted your closet?  How did that go?  Can’t wait to hear all about your tidying journey….

Closet

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January 7, 20170 commentsRead More
Time to Tidy Up: Let The Selling Begin

Time to Tidy Up: Let The Selling Begin

LetSellingBeginI was so excited to get started with my tidying project that I had no problem sorting through stuff in my cabinets and begin the joyful job of discarding.  For me, this job is fun.  I do find joy in discarding objects that no longer serve a purpose or have a use.  You might have a much harder tine discarding items – my husband, for example, has a hard time letting go of things.  Just the other day we were sorting through that big box of cables, cords, old computer parts, etc that everyone has laying around.  We have a pretty big box full of these things to go along with our many other electronic devices and because my husband is a nerd we have a lot!  Yep, I just called him a “nerd” and I mean it totally lovingly.  He’s amazing and I’m so glad he understands computers!

Anyways, since I was dying to get a jump on the discarding process I drug my poor, unsuspecting husband to the basement to begin sorting through the box of cables and then to sort through our big pile of old computers, hard drives, printers, etc that we could recycle and get out of the house!  While I had no problem finding a ton of stuff to discard, my poor husband sorted it all and then sheepishly said he needed to keep most of it!  :)  It was adorable actually!  We had multiple TV cables from DirectTV still in the plastic packaging that were exact duplicates and I was ready to discard every single one, while my husband was worried we might need them ALL someday.  It was cute, and made me giggle.  Somehow I negotiated with him to keep just one of each kind, phew.  I did learn that everyone has a different way of looking at items around the house and the key is identifying it’s purpose and being ok with letting it go if it’s already served it’s purpose.

At least I know that I have no problem letting go of stuff, which I’m happy about considering the journey I’m about to go on, but the best words I’ve read so far into Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,  are “we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”   Like focusing on the good.  I have a very hard time doing this in everyday life.  I tend to focus on the bad in a situation and in people.  Isn’t that awful?!  I love the idea of looking at an object and asking “Does this spark joy?”  If not, discard.  While this sounds simple, I know it’s going to be hard.

I do love this approach for clothing though, a lot.  I still have stuff in my closet that I wore in college, my “cute days,” as I refer to them.  I keep wanting to be the same size as I was in college – you know, long before I had 3 kids.  When I try to remember what I think I looked like back then, I’m not sure it’s all that different than I do now…it’s silly, yes, I was thinner, but I was 18!!!!  Marie also says in her book to thank the item for the role it played in your life and then let it go.

A great example is a pink t-shirt I still have with a glitter chihuahua on it (ohmygoodness…two of my favorite things – glitter and chihuahuas, especially at that time in my life), and it’s a very small t-shirt.  I loved this shirt, I wore it all the time and for some reason I still have it 18 years later!! 18 years?!!! I can’t believe I’ve had it that long! Why in the world have I held on to it this long?  Partly because it has glitter on it (have I mentioned that I LOVE glitter??), and partly because it has a chihuahua on it, and I have 2 chihuahuas (the same 2 chihuahuas who are now 14 and 15 years old).  More importantly, I keep hoping I’ll be able to get skinny enough to wear it again.  I’ve not worn this shirt for probably 12 years – I don’t think I’ve fit into it for the last 13 years and I still have it.  Marie says you should ask this question, “Does it spark joy?”  It sparks really good memories of a time when I was itty -bitty and cute, but it also makes me sad because I don’t look like that anymore.  Can I actually thank this shirt for giving me joy at the time I bought it and wore it, and be ok with letting go of it?  I’m not sure…..  When I really think about it, even if I could fit into it again some day, I’m not sure that I would even wear it, as it’s really short!  :)  20 years ago short shirts were the fashion trend, but not anymore!   I’m still really thinking about this one and I’ve not even started working on going through my closet yet!! My brain gets really far ahead of me sometimes.

Anyways…back to my point – I’m a few days into my tidying journey and I’m selling things like a crazy woman!  It’s nice!  We are saving for a car, so the extra money I make on discarded items around the house all go into a jar sitting on my counter – the official “Car Fund” – hey, you have to start somewhere right?!   I used to be a big fan of having a garage sale, so all year long I would designate a space in my storage room and/or the guest room and collect items we could sell.  Once garage sale season would hit, usually late April, I would drag all my stuff out to the driveway and sell it all.  Whatever was left after 2 days I would donate to Goodwill.  Normally, we would save all that money for something big – one year we used it for a vacation to Legoland!  Now, I’m a more sophisticated seller – I like to use online selling apps to move my stuff and reach a bigger audience, and for some stuff I can charge a higher price than I would get for the item at a garage sale, which is awesome!  My favorite selling app is VarageSale and I also use a few smaller local community Facebook groups.  These groups are great because the seller comes to you to buy your item and for smaller items, I usually leave them outside my front porch with a nice note and the buyer just leaves money under my doormat.  It’s very convenient and easy!  If you get to know me well enough you know that I really love things that make my life easier.  My kids have a snow day today – which means all 3 will be home, but I’m hoping that gives me a good excuse to get more tidying done since I don’t have to run them around.

So, who’s used the KonMari Method?  How did you discard items that were hard to get rid of?  Any advice for me and my tidying journey?

Have a great day!  I’m off to try to tidy….

LetSellingBegin

 

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January 5, 20170 commentsRead More
Time To Tidy Up: Hello 2017

Time To Tidy Up: Hello 2017

TimeToTidyUpI’m happier than I should be that 2016 is over.  I have no regrets about leaving that year behind me.  It wasn’t a horrible year, it wasn’t a great year, it was just a year and I’m over it.  I’m happy to welcome 2017 and have high hopes that it’s going to be epic!  While I’m trying not to get ahead of myself or of what the Lord has in store for me this upcoming year, I’m still feeling very intrigued about what lays ahead.  Last year was an “off” year for me.  I struggled a lot with my emotions, my overall body contentment, and mostly with my sense of overall purpose and direction in my life.  Heavy stuff huh?  Yeah, I know, and it was hard to wallow through it all.  I feel like dreams I had built, toiled over, and angrily suffered through were laid to rest, friendships were built and lost, days of pounding my body in the gym were accomplished with not much gain, and I registered defeat in more ways that I want to count.  I learned that God doesn’t always write out His plans for your life on a neon sign, clear as can be, so you don’t mistake it – He just asks that you trust Him even when you have no idea what is going on.  I was in that space so many days this year that I found myself doubting who God is and if He really is there for me – and in all my days on this earth, I have never doubted God’s love for me.  Now do you see why I’m read for this year to be over?

I learned something else about myself that I’ve never seen before – I don’t function well in chaos.  I get stressed out really easy and it doesn’t take much for me to go from “good mommy” to “crazy-stressed-angry mommy” when the situation becomes overly chaotic.  When I get stressed, I instantly go into overdrive of trying to de-stress – I clean my environment, I yell, I get mad at my kids, I start making lists, little things out of place make me yell even louder, I demand that my kids pitch in and help me clean, I just turn into a crazy person trying to tidy up and ultimately calm down.  A classic example is everyday when my older kids get home from school.  They come in the door and set their backpacks in the middle of the floor of the kitchen and start unpacking them, wanting to show me everything inside – the craft they made in class, their math test, the art project they are working on, their spelling homework, etc.  All while my youngest (who has been home with me all day) is vying for my attention as well, wanting a snack, drink and to show me anything he can find at that moment to show me, plus he is usually singing a silly song about stinky farts at the same time (lovely – huh?).  While all this is going on, I usually have music playing in the background (yep, because I’m crazy) and am trying to prepare a snack so we all can re-fuel before starting homework.

This mom does not smile through all of this, nor do I patiently listen as they show me items, or do I calmly ask them all to sit at the table so we can eat a snack.  I try to take a deep breath, then my heart starts to beat faster as I get more and more stressed by all the chaos of kids, dishes, dinner prep, laundry, homework, shoes in the middle of the floor, backpacks not hung up, etc and I end up yelling and throwing a mommy tantrum trying to get everything back to a normal stress level.  This is so dumb.  It usually puts the kids in a bad mood and me too and then we all spend more time trying to repair our attitudes towards each other.  By this time, it’s 5pm, and I’m stressed and starving and all I want to fix my sour mood and chaotic feelings running through me is a brownie.  Yep, I love brownies – but you all know that.  I’ll make dinner and simultaneously whip up a batch of brownies.  You see where I’m going??  It’s a horrible downward spiral.  Chaos and stress are detrimental to me and where I’m going in life.   I know I can’t eliminate all the stress in my life, I mean seriously, I have 3 kids, life is going to be stressful, but I can help identify the stress triggers and work at fixing them.

A very dear friend of mine told me about a book she is reading, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo.  This book caught my attention because I love to organize and I love the feeling of a tidy house.  I love to discard stuff, sell it, and move on.  My house is usually very tidy – but it could be so much more simplified.  I’m totally hooked on this book.  I’m only about 40 pages in, but I’m hooked!  I’m going to spend the next couple months reading this book, doing what it says and tidying up my home, heart, and my life, and I plan to blog about as I go.

In her book, Marie asks “Why do you want to tidy?”  When you can answer that question you can begin.  For me, I want to tidy to because I want to have a clean and orderly house so that I don’t feel stressed out by my environment.  If I’m not feeling stressed out by my environment I can pay more attention to trying new things, having more fun with my family, eating healthier foods, getting better sleep, and overall being a better wife and mom.  I do believe that all of these things can be accomplished by having a tidy home, because your home is so much more than just the place to lay your head at night.  As a mom, it’s my work – it’s where I put my time and energy, it’s how I make money, it’s how I prove my worth, it’s who I am at this point in my life.

I’m hopeful that God teaches me a lot about myself and the deep-rooted reasons why I do some of the same things over and over and expect a different result.  I want change, which is really hard to say, because I HATE change, but I’m ready for it.

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book?  What did you think?  What did you learn?

TimeToTidyUp

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January 3, 20170 commentsRead More
How To Clean An Artificial Christmas Tree

How To Clean An Artificial Christmas Tree

CleanChristmasTreeLast year around Christmas time I was really struggling with my allergies and I noticed that my allergies seemed a lot worse right after we put up our 15 year old artificial Christmas tree.  I didn’t make the connection at first, but I did notice 6 weeks later when we finally packed up our tree that I almost instantly started breathing better.  A light bulb went off in my brain and I realized that my Christmas tree may have been a big part of why I had been so sick during the holidays last year.

This year I’m determined to feel better during the holiday season and I decided it was time to clean my Christmas tree, afterall, we’ve had if for 15 years!  Honestly, I can’t believe that we have had this tree for so long, it’s super ‘old-school’, has individual branches that have to be put on one by one, but it works and it looks really nice once it’s all set up.  Don’t get me started on how long it takes to assemble, add the lights, and ornaments (I hate this job as much as my kids love it), but today I’m thankful that I don’t have a pre-lit tree because if I did I would never be able to clean it so thoroughly.  I’m super envious of all of you out there that have pre-lit trees – the ease, the simplicity…oh man….(drooling over here), but I’ve also heard horror stories about how the lights malfunction.

ANYWAYS, back to the topic at hand….as I was saying, I’ve got this super old, fake tree and I was bound and determined to clean it.  I begged my husband to get out the box from the basement and haul it outside to our back porch – it was warm, 80 degrees the day we did this.  Here’s what you need to do:

Supplied Needed:

  • Spray bottle
  • Lemon Juice
  • White Vinegar
  • Hose
  • Artificial Christmas Tree

Directions:

I gathered up the kids and had them lay out each branch of the tree.  I gave each of them a spray bottle filled with a solution of white vinegar, lemon juice, and water and asked them to spray all sides of each branch.  I let that sit for about 15 minutes and then I got out my hose and sprayed off each branch completely.  After all the branches were thoroughly rinsed, I shook off the excess water from each one and laid them on the dry patio in direct sunlight.  I left them outside to dry for the entire day and flipped them over about 5 hours into the day.  At the end of the day I made sure they were completely dry and then I packed the branches back up in the box and was done.

They smelled GREAT too!  I’m super hopeful that this cuts down on the all the dust and helps keep my crazy allergies at bay.  It sounds time consuming, annoying, and hard to do, but it was super easy, quick and I feel great knowing it’s over and done with!  Hope that helps!  You can do it too!  Let me know if it helps – I’m crossing my fingers that it will help my household breathe better this Christmas!

CleanChristmasTree

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October 25, 20160 commentsRead More
How To Make Homemade Chalk

How To Make Homemade Chalk

ChalkThe summer was amazing and I’m totally honest when I say this – not long enough!  I love to have my kids at home with me – YES, they drive me absolutely crazy, but I love to have them around – all three of them.  We had many days this summer that we needed to escape the heat and be indoors and when we found ourselves bored, we’d either start baking or crafting!

About 7 years ago, my older son and I tried to make homemade chalk and let’s just say, it’s didn’t go so well.  It involved a little bit of food coloring, and toilet paper rolls and by the time they dried 5 days later, we never could get them out of the toilet paper rolls!  Don’t ask…it was a bad idea.  :)  So, it was time to try again!

I did some looking around on Pinterest and found a great post by Princess Pinky Girl all about how to make your own sidewalk chalk.  We followed this recipe pretty closely, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t really measure everything and we used a lot more of the paint – I mean, who doesn’t want super bright colors?  I’m so glad I did – because our colors are very bright and we love using these!  I did learn a few things along the way that might make it easier and we had to let our dry a lot longer than just 24 hours.  Thank you to Princess Pinky Girl for your great post and ideas!  Below is my recipe and what we actually did that worked well for us.

Homemade Chalk Recipe

Gather these items:

  • Plaster of Paris Dry Powder (I actually found a huge tub of this at a garage sale for super cheap – been saving it for awhile now – you can get at any craft store).
  • Tempura Paint (I got 7 bright colors and got big sizes – 24oz bottles.  In fact, another great sale was going on at my local Hobby Lobby – I paid only $1 for each bottle).
  • Silicon molds or candy melt molds (I had a silicon Pampered Chef cupcake flower mold that worked great, and I found a big stack of candy melt molds at a garage sale for less than dollar – these worked really well).
  • Over-sized Disposable Cups
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Water

Homemade Chalk Recipe:

  • We mixed up each color in it’s own disposable cup.  I started out with only 3 colors to begin with because I have 3 kids and I wanted them each to have their own color to mix up.  The amount of colors you can make with this recipe will depend on how many molds you have on hand.
  • Fill each up with about 3/4 cup of water.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of paint to the water and mix well.  The original recipe says about 1/4 cup of paint, but I really liked the super bright colors that we achieved with 1/2 cup of paint.
  • Next, add 1 cup of the dry plaster of paris powder and start mixing with your plastic spoon.  Make sure to mix really well. I did learn that if you don’t get it all completely mixed up you will have pockets of the white plaster of paris in your dry chalk that never was mixed with the paint.  Not a big deal, but a bummer when you are coloring something very specifically and it turns white on you.  Double check after your kid’s arms tire out and make sure there are no lumps.
  • Pour into molds and then very gently pound the mold on the counter to pop any air pockets or bubbles and to completely flatten.
  • You can layer different colors in the molds, just don’t mix them up.  It does dry really with really cool swirls in it!
  • Let them dry for at least 3 full days before you try to take them out of the molds.  They will pop right out of a mold when they are completely dry.  If you try to pop them out too early, they actually crumble and that’s a bummer (Yes, this happened a few times to us).  The candy molds dried much faster than the cupcake molds.  If you can set them to dry outside in full sunlight, they may dry much faster.  You can tell when they are NOT dry by the color change they have – the outside edges will dry lighter in color and if the inside is still well, it will look darker and like it has a wet spot on it.  My candy molds dried in about 3 days and I did eventually turn them upside down so that the bottom would dry as well – a few actually fell out once they were dry.  My flower regular sized cupcake molds took about 6 full days to dry all the way and at about 4 days, I was able to pop them out and I set them outside in the full sun to dry all the way, which took another 2 days.

The colors are awesome, bright, and so fun to use!  My kids love this chalk and we have a great time using it!  I love this chalk because the colors are so fun!  I can’t wait to make this recipe again and am now on the hunt for more fun candy molds at garage sales.  I would totally recommend making this chalk with your kids – it’s really a fun, easy, and pretty quick craft!  I’m hoping to make some as gifts to give the cousins for Christmas!

Let me know if you try this recipe out!  Happy coloring!

Chalk

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August 16, 20160 commentsRead More
How To Make Dehydrated Bananas

How To Make Dehydrated Bananas

HowToMakeDehydratedBananasHi everyone!! It’s been awhile – and for that I’m sorry!  I’ve been so busy this summer enjoying every last second with my kids that I’ve made a conscience effort to step back from my blog.  It’s been a breath of fresh air actually – just taking a break.  I’ve really needed the time to think and just listen to the Lord speak into my life.

My summer has been great!  I hope yours has been too!  We’ve enjoyed tons of time with our family and friends, doing fun crafts – like making homemade chalk (I’ll discuss this in a later post – it was AWESOME!), spending much-needed time with cousins, lots of runs through the neighborhood and of course, tons of swimming!  My adorable neighbor across the street blessed with me with a hand-me-down food dehydrator and I’m trying it out today!  Which is what this post is really about actually – so Katrina, stop rambling all about ‘what you did this summer’….seriously!

We were at the grocery store this morning and there was an awesome deal on ripe bananas – as well as a of bags of discount apples.  All a sudden I remembered that my neighbor said I could have her old dehydrator and viola!  We purchased  about 3lbs of bananas and a couple pounds of apples and as soon as we got home we started prepping the bananas for the dehydrator.  I had the bright idea that I should spray the apples with lemon juice using a small water bottle instead of hand-dipping each one – just seemed a lot faster, and on a day like today, when I still have to find a place for a ton of cereal that I bought with some HOT coupons for super cheap this morning, I don’t have time to waste!  Plus, my daughter has a friend coming over soon and my oldest has a baseball game in a few hours!  I’m happy to report that it took less than 3o minutes to slice, arrange, and spray about 3lbs of bananas.  My dehydrator only has 4 trays, and I filled them all up, so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to process the apples.  I’m super excited for how quick and easy this process was!  I set the temperature to 135 degrees and I guess they should be done in about 10 hours.

This is a great way to use up those over-ripe bananas that your kids think are too mushy to eat!  We tend to have a lot of those each week – seems like I never know what fruit my kids will want to eat and the poor bananas get ripe so fast!  The ripe ones will taste a lot sweeter too!  I plan to try blueberries soon and of course the apples!  So excited!  I love new ideas like this and also love finding frugal and fun ways to stretch every dollar – especially with our food budget!

How To Make Dehydrated Bananas

You will need:

  • 3-5lbs of ripe bananas (depends on who big your dehydrator is)
  • Food dehydrator
  • Small spray bottle
  • Juice from one lemon or 2 Tbs of bottled lemon juice
  1. Peel and slice the bananas the same thickness so they dry evenly – 1/4″ is perfect
  2. Place bananas in single layer on dehydrator trays
  3. Spray bananas with lemon juice
  4. Turn on the dehydrator and set to 135 degrees
  5. Check bananas in 5 hours and consider flipping over (again depends on the design of your dehydrator)
  6. Cook for a total of 10 hours until bananas are no longer mushy to the touch.
  7. Store in an air-tight bag or container.

Easy, fun, frugal, and so yummy!  Enjoy!

HowToMakeDehydratedBananas

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July 29, 20160 commentsRead More
How To Get Stained Crayon Out Of Your Clothes

How To Get Stained Crayon Out Of Your Clothes

CrayonOhmygosh!  I was frantic – I cried, I screamed, I even yelled at myself and my kids and even my dog who just so happened to be standing in the laundry room as I removed item after item out of my dryer covered in dark blue crayon.  Not just any items, all of my daughters favorite pink shorts and my favorite workout clothes, and these days, I tend to not only workout in those clothes, but live in them daily.  After a few really long screams and a couple deep breaths I grabbed a huge handful of those totally stained clothes and ran upstairs to almost sleeping kids and showed them the effects of what crayon does to your clothes…I yelled some more and then I left them to go to sleep.  Not the best way to end the day, but gosh was I angry.

You see, only about a week ago a chapstick tube missed my pre-wash inspection of all pockets and was washed and then dried with an entire load of my husbands work clothes.  I spent the better part of a morning trying to get oil stains out of all his clothes.  Then today, to have the crayon incident was enough to totally set me off!!!   How I’ve managed to make it 10 years without ever having the “crayon incident” happen is a miracle, but I’m still super upset about it.  While I screamed, my adorable husband got online and found a great post about what we could try from Diary of a Doctor’s Wife Blog.  If this ever happens to you - Try This!

I’ve tried this, washed the clothes and am totally terrified to see how they turned out.  I’ll let you know!

Honestly, I’m still trying to calm down.  Pray for me!  :)

 

UPDATE:  I’ve tried exactly what this post says to do, and after running my clothes through the cycle two times, they look a lot better than they did originally.  The crayon did not come out completely on all the different fabrics that I had in the load.   Thankfully, most of my favorite athletic clothes are basically stain-free.  A couple items were made of a sweatshirt-type textured material and those one are just holding onto the crayon stain.  Sadly, my daughter’s favorite cheerleading light pink shorts are the worst ones in the bunch, the blue stains have faded, but they are still very much a stain and she’s heartbroken over those shorts (these are made of the sweatshirt type material).  We did lose one of my husband’s work shirts, but it was on it’s last leg before the crayon incident.  I did learn that having a front loading washer makes soaking in really hot water very hard.  After I washed my whole load once, I then re-soaked the entire load in my kitchen sink and poured boiling water over it.  I let it soak for a good 3o minutes before I ran the whole load through the washer again.

In hindsight, I would soak in boiling hot water right away and I would probably soak and drain and then re-soak again and then throw directly into the washer and wash on the hottest wash my machine would allow.  The pre-soak is key, and pre-soaking in super hot water.  I did use a Magic Eraser on my dryer drum and that really helped get rid of the blue ring on everything.  All in all, it was not a fun thing to have happen and I’m praying that it doesn’t happen again.  But, if it does happen to you, try the above post and you will probably save some of your load!

Crayon

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June 27, 20160 commentsRead More
Katrina’s DIY Tip – How To Seal Lots Of Envelopes Quickly

Katrina’s DIY Tip – How To Seal Lots Of Envelopes Quickly

HowToSealEnvelopesIt’s Christmas time and in my house that means I have a lot of Christmas cards and letters to send out!  While I love to write my annual Christmas letter, I really dislike licking all those envelopes!  It takes forever and it tastes horrible, unless you buy the yummy flavored envelopes and I’m too cheap to do that!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me how I figured out how to do this.  One of the very first jobs I had was working in a mail room.  My job was to open and process mail, as well as send out a lot of high volume mailings that had a lot of inserts for each envelope.  All day long I would stuff letters and process mail.  It was actually a lot of fun!  I got so quick at this type of thing that I was able to read a book and stuff envelopes without even looking!

This year I had a little over 200 cards and letters to send and I realized when I was sealing them all that I have a pretty quick way to seal a lot envelopes at one time – and my son suggested that he take a quick video and that I share it with my friends!  That is exactly what we did!  Here is a quick video showing how I quickly seal a lot of envelopes at one time: WATCH VIDEO NOW!

envelopoe_video

 

HowToSealEnvelopes

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December 8, 20150 commentsRead More
How To Throw 2 Birthday Parties For Only $65

How To Throw 2 Birthday Parties For Only $65

HowToThrow2BdayPartiesTrue story – two weeks ago, I threw two birthday parties for less than $65 total.  Not kidding!  My two older kids both have birthdays in June, only weeks apart.  For some silly reason, this year I decided to have both of their parties on the same day!  Yes, I’m crazy, and I know what you are thinking – oh Katrina, that’s not a big deal – I’m sure you just had a joint party at a park with both sets of their friends and you just served cake and let the kids all play…right?  Um, no…that’s not what I did, I’m not that type of mom.  I’m the super crazy type of the mom that loves to throw at-home parties that are creative, fun, active, and have a unique theme!  Cue the theme music…yep, I’m certified crazy!  :)   But, the cool thing about their parties this year was that I did them both, on the same day, hours apart for less than $65 total and I’m going to tell you exactly how I did it!

20150606_142434My oldest son, Coen, turns 9 on June 25th.  We started planning his birthday party at the end of his party last year (yep, more crazy) and the theme he chose this year was Minute-To-Win-It.  Have you ever seen this game show?  If you haven’t you should watch it sometime – it’s a great show where contestants have 1 minute to complete silly tasks for money.  We had debated doing this theme the year before, but changed our minds at the last minute.  After attending a Minute-To-Win-It party, Coen was determined to do the same thing for his party this year.

My daughter, Makenzie, turned 6 on June 10th.  We started planning her party Mak_frontDoortheme last November when she quit her gymnastics class and decided she was a cheerleader instead.  :)  She fell in love with cheerleading and so her theme this year was..can you guess? Yep, cheerleading!  Picking a theme early is key, that way you can start planning, and picking up items that are on sale when you are out and about already.  And in fact, the colors for their parties was picked based off the fact that in December I just so happened to be at the Dollar Store buying stuff for Christmas and I came across cheerleader pom poms that were red, blue, and silver.  I bought 11 sets of pom poms and her party theme was decided!

When we picked Makenzie’s color scheme I honestly didn’t realize that Minute-To-Win-It’s logo was red, blue, and silver – I got super lucky!  The colors just worked out to be the same!

So here is how I planned, decorated, and threw their parties for under $50 total.  Let’s start with Makenzie’s Cheerleading party…

Cheerleading Party

Invitations: Her invitations were megaphones that we cut out and tied a ribbon around.  We M_inviteadded some glitter to the end and were good to go!  They were adorable, we made them ourselves and spent an afternoon decorating them.  I just googled megaphone clipart – picked one I liked and printed it out to fit inside the cute silver envelopes I had at home.  To make these, we used stuff we had at home – and were only making 12 invites, so it didn’t take very long, and was FREE.  We tend to use a lot of red stuff for our home parties so we always have a lot of red paper, red ribbon, etc.

Decorations:  Going along with our blue, red, and silver color scheme, I made a very simple and cute birthday banner that I found on Pintrest here from Chicfetti Parties.  This was really adorable!  I picked red 20150605_193834and blue for the colors, and after I printed and cut it out, I reinforced it by mounting it to blue poster board (that I actually found at the grocery store in the clearance section in March when I was doing my regular grocery shopping for the week – total score since they had a ton of them for $0.19 each).  I then punched holes in the top corners and laced a red ribbon through it that I picked up at the Dollar Store.  This was really cute!  The great t20150605_222515hing about it is that I can save it for another year as well!

I also used the rest of the poster board that I found in clearance to make posters for the decorations.  I simply printed out cheerleading clip art and sayings like “Go Team!”, “Happy Birthday Makenzie”, “Go, Fight, Win!”, etc. and glued them to the poster board.  I made several signs to hang around the house, as well as the front door for when guests arrived.  I made different sizes by cutting the poster board in half and even in fourths.  I also made one extra special sign that said “Happy Birthday Makenzie” that I p20150605_222625lanned to have the girls use in their group photo!  Besides the poster board, I didn’t have to buy anything else to make these decorations and they came out super cute!

I also used red and blue streamers that we found at a garage sale the day before the party for $.05, a blue table cloth that I got at the Dollar Store, 9 helium balloons (from the Dollar Store) and some of the pom poms.

Food and Supplies:  We served some simple snack foods of popcorn and pretzels and I made a big batch of strawberry water for my big drink dispenser.  I used only 3 sliced strawberries that I had purchased with my groceries for the week (I didn’t include these in my cost breakdown because I purchased them for my weekly groceries).  Great way to serve a lot of drinks and keeping the cost to a minimum.  All my paper products were leftovers from previous parties – again FREE!

Activities: I’ve learned over the years that the best way to do a party is to keep your guests busy from the second they walk in the door – I like to plan every minute of my party and keep them kind of short – usually only 90 minutes.  When guests arrived they were given their special set of pom poms, which had their name printed on the handles and these were their ‘thank you-take home gift’ as well.  Then we had them immediately  get their faces painted by a friend of mine.  She had very simple choices (megaphone, heart with the word ‘Cheer’ in it, star, etc) and of course these all included glitter!  I even got my face painted!

20150606_103354
After they all got their faces painted we had them color and decorate their own megaphones.  I made my own flat megaphone template and traced them on to pieces of the poster board we found in clearance.  I was able to get 2 megaphones per poster board.   The girls were able to color and decorate their own megaphone and then we stapled them together to form a megaphone.  These came out great and were super cute!  They got to use them when they learned their cheer!

Next, we made hair ties out of the ribbon I found at the Dollar Store.  I picked up 3 20150605_222700different colors and for the final color I used some ribbon that came with the treat bags for my son’s party that we didn’t plan to use for his party. Once they all had their hair ties finished, we put their hair in ponytails, applied some hair and body glitter that I already had to get them all pretty and ready to learn their cheer!  Some of the girls said the glitter was their favorite part!  I love glitter – I like to think I sweat glitter…but that’s another story!
Next, we took a group photo with one of the poster board signs I made and then we headed outside to teach the girls a cheer!  My friend’s daughter, who was a little bit older than all the other girls, very sweetly offered to create a cheer and teach it to the girls.  It was adorable!  She created a “birthday cheer” complete with arm motions and kicks and included the use of their pom poms and megaphones! cake She did such a great job and kept it simple and easy!  The girls all did a great job and it was very special to Makenzie!

After they worked up an appetite, we opened presents and ate cake!  Makenzie’s cake was awesome!  Was a Pinterest fail, but I think it came out even better than the original idea!  Every year it’s tradition for my momK_cake to make cakes for my kids, and she always does an amazing job.  This year we made white chocolate dipped sugar cones to look like megaphones along with cupcakes topped with pom poms.
These came out great and were really yummy!  The megaphones were supposed to be sideways on top of a cupcake, but after we dipped the cones in chocolate they were just way to heavy that they smooshed the cupcakes!  So, we had to serve them on the side along with the cupcake and pom poms.  They were a big hit and the cones were super yummy! Plus girls always love getting something with their name on it!

Her party was a huge success and I’m so glad we picked this theme!

Price Breakdown – Cheerleading Party: 

  • 12 red and blue posterboard sheets (found in clearance) - $2.28
  • Stickers (Dollar Store) - $2
  • 3 spools of red and blue ribbon (Dollar Store) – $3.00
  • 9 helium balloons (Dollar Store) - $9
  • Blue tablecloth (Dollar Store) - $1
  • Sugar cones – $1.49
  • Cake mix – $1
  • Frosting – $2
  • Chocolate candy melts – $8
  • 11 Pom poms sets (Dollar Store)
  • Popcorn – $3
  • Pretzels – $2
  • Total $45.77

Minute-To-Win-It PartyC_invite

Invitations: His invitations were super simple as well, we just googled the Minute-To-Win-It logo and made up a simple invitation that I printed out on my own printer.  We only needed to make about 12, so it was quick.  I mounted them to postcards that I already had and we handed them out at school.

Decorations:  The cool part about the decorations is that I just used all th20150606_135926e same stuff from Makenzie’s party just hours earlier.  All the poster board signs that we used for Makenzie’s party we just flipped over and had made clip art signs for Coen’s party.  I used the Minute-To-Win-It logo for all the signs that had sayings like:  “Your Time Begins Now!”, “60 Seconds”, “Happy Birthday Coen!”  I made a giant scoreboard on one of the extra poster boards and hung it so we could keep score of how the kids did coen_decorationswith each activity.  I did have prizes for the winner and the loser! We also reused the birthday banner, the balloons, and streamers.  Since the party was just a couple hours after Makenzie’s all we really did was run the vacuum, and flip over the signs.  Was EASY!

Activities: Now this was the fun part!  I had a blast planning this party and all my ideas came from watching the actual show or Pinterest.  We played so many fun games and with my 90 minute time line, we actually scrapped the last game, but we kept all the kids busy and occupied from beginning to end!  Some of the games we did as a whole group, some we did head to head and some we did individually.  I had a friend keep track of the time and another friend was keeping track of scores on the giant scoreboard.andrew_noodle

  • Noodling Around – with your hands behind your back you had to get 5 penne pasta noodles onto a long spaghetti pasta noodle in one minute.  This game was a lot harder than I thought it would be and out of 11 kids, only 1 was able to do it.  The pasta I had in my pantry – another FREE game!  We did this game as a big group because I had plenty of pasta!

 

  • Baby Rattle – Take empty 2 liter soda bottles and fill one with marbles (about 40), 20150606_135642then you tape another empty bottle on top.  The object is to shake all the marbles from one bottle to the other.  It’s more fun to have a set of bottles for each person so they can shake in both hands, but I didn’t want to assemble that many! I just made 2 sets and that worked out.  I found the 2 liter bottles on a FREE Facebook group we have in my local area and I also got some of the marbles from the same free site.  I purchased some marbles, because I just didn’t have enough, but it was awesome to find some free stuff.  This game was fairly easy and everyone was successful, was also VERY LOUD! :)

 

  • A Bit Dicey – Object of the game was to stick a craft stick in your mouth and stack 5Coen_dicey dice on top of each other on the end of the craft stick and hold for 3 seconds.   I had the kids go head to head for this game because I only had 10 dice.  This one was hard, but quite a few kids were successful!  I actually picked up a box of 10 dice at garage sale for $0.25 and I already had the craft sticks.  I tried to find the larger craft sticks to make this a bit easier, but never was able to find them, so I went with the small craft sticks I already had on hand.

 

  • Cup Stack-O – Object of this game is to stack 11 cups of one color on top of the others until you have stacked them all one by one on top of the other until the 12th cup of a different color20150606_145414 reaches the top again.  Sounds a bit complicated, but was a good game of skill to put kids head to head.  All kids passed this game, but a few were super close to 60 seconds!  A good game to keep the scores up for everyone.  I already had all these cups from other parties that I’d had in the past.  We did this game head to head – but you could do more if you had more cups!

 

  • Sticky Situation – This was hands down the favorite game of the day!  With this 20150606_151552game you take a slice of bread slathered in peanut butter and place it on a small table.  Then you take a bowl of ping pong balls (that I found at the Dollar Store) and place them in a bowl on another table about 5 feet apart.  Object is to bounce a ping pong ball on the first table and get it to bounce from the first table to the second and stick to the peanut butter.  This was really tricky, but a handful of kids were able to get it!  Such a fun game!  We did this as an individual game – they all had a great time collecting the ping pong balls that missed the peanut butter.

 

  • Face The Cookie – This game made us all giggle!  Object of the game was to take a 20150606_145035cookie and place it on your forehead and with your hands tied behind your back you have to wiggle and jiggle your face just enough to get the cookie to slide down your face into your mouth.  Was hard, but fun to watch – it really took some serious concentration and body wiggle!   I picked up the cookies for $1.29 at the grocery store.  We did this game as big group.

 

  • Tortilla Flip – This was a hilarious game!  Object of this game was to put a tortilla onCoen_tortillaFlip the end of diving flipper and to flip the tortilla into a pan on top of your head!  I found the diving flippers at the Salvation Army for $3.   Then we made the other part by taking an old baseball hat that my son had and we hot glued a plastic dish on top of it that would collect the tortilla.  This game was a bit hard as well, but a bunch of the kids were successful.  I already had the tortillas on hand, and we only really used about 4 for the whole group.  The neighbors got a kick out of watching the kids do this game since we took them out front – they sure can flip those tortillas pretty high, so watch out! W20150606_140357e did this an individual game because I only had one 1 hat to catch the tortillas in.

When the games were all done, we crowned a winner and handed out a prize to both the winner and the loser!  Next, we opened gifts and then my son requested ice cream sundaes instead of cake for his birthday!  Was super easy – and the kids got to load up on more sugar!  I bought one big tub of vanilla ice cream and then used chocolate sauce and caramel sauce that I already had, along with a bunch of leftover Easter candy that I had saved.  Worked out great and my son loved it! We also served the rest of the popcorn and pretzels we bought for my daughter’s party.  Overall it was a wonderful, LONG day, but was super successful and we had so much fun!

 

Price Breakdown – Minute-To-Win-It Party: 

  • Candy prizes – $1.79
  • Ping Pong Balls (Dollar Store) – $3
  • Marbles (Dollar Store) – $2
  • Cookies – $1.29
  • Ice Cream – $5
  • Caramel Sauce – $1.79
  • Flippers – $3 (Salvation Army)
  • Dice – $0.25 (garage sale)
  • Total $18.12

Total Price for both parties and a ton of good fun = $63.89

Tips:

  • Start planning early - I usually start planning my ideas 6 months in advance
  • Pick a unique theme, instead of a branded theme – I like to pick unique themes like cooking, art, messy, firetrucks, tea, etc – this tends to make your decorations cheaper since you are not having to buy branded items
  • I use simple, solid colors to decorate that I can pick up at the Dollar Store
  • Make as much of your supplies and decorations as you can
  • Use what you have around the house to keep costs down
  • Reuse as much as you can
  • Use coupons to to purchase supplies that you need
  • Ask your friends for help
  • Pay attention to sales flyers and buy supplies that you need when it goes on sale – even if it’s months in advance
  • Find a local “FREE” site on Facebook in your area and ask for things that you need for your party – you never know what someone has around their house that they may want to give away – for FREE
  • Share decorations  - even with a friend
  • Pinterest is your friend!  You can follow my Pinterest Page here
  • Follow my Facebook page, I’m always posting fun tips!

HowToThrow2BdayParties

 

 

 

 

 

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June 18, 20150 commentsRead More