Mary Mary and Martha · My world · Simplicity

40 Trash bag Challenge: update as I go

As a bit of introduction to those who are just seeing this.  My house suffers from my horrible habit of letting “stuff” accumulate.  I started the 40 trash bag challenge to help me focus my de-cluttering efforts and to provide a bit of accountability while I work away at the “pile”.

I am using standard size kitchen trash bags, I am also figuring that one “book box” is the rough equivalent to a bag since some things just don’t work well in bags.

Willa has started the Trash bag Challenge.   She is in the process of organizing her home and it is an inspiration to see the before and after pictures.

Mary Alice has started working on eliminating some of her excess stuff.

If you are doing the Trash bag Challenge and want me to link to your site so you can inspire others please leave a comment or email me.

40 of 40 bags so far.

The last bag — A bag of bags and shoes.

Week Eight: The finale week.  After letting myself fall a bit behind can we make it?  We’ll see.  So far so good.

I really started on the children’s clothing.  One bag of little girl things.

I hopped down to the basement to pull up the summer clothing boxes.  After sorting through three of the boxes I have one bag.

Make it two.

no, three.

A bag of toys.  Mostly things like happy-meal toys and little things they get here and there and play with for a few days then never look at again.

A box of books.  I mean serriously I don’t think I am going to need Weddings for Dummies any time soon, and that Introduction to Microcomputers published in 1987 might not be so useful today.

A bunch of stuff from the office supplies storage shelf.

I tossed a bag of old coloring books and other assorted papers from the kids play area.

a bag of toys.

A bag of broken toys, old drawings, broken crayons and other “trashed” play things.

One bag of little boy things.

A bag of toss away stuff from the boys room.

A bag of coats.

Week Seven: This is another catch up week but we are off to a good start.

Another bag of towels from the bathroom linen closet. My mom got me new towels for my birthday but I never got rid of any of the old ones.

A bag of linens and towels from the bathroom linen closet.

Yet another bag of stuff from the the office.  I hang on to way too much paper, and I need to remember that junk mail will in no way be less junk just because it is a month old.

A bag stuff from the the office, mostly paper and old books.

Another bag stuff from the office.  Old notebooks, paper, and some random things that were lurking in a couple boxes.

Continue reading “40 Trash bag Challenge: update as I go”

Blogs I Know · My world · rants

You don’t deserve to live, kid

Australian Broadcasting Corporation & Film Victoria’s “Planet Slayer”

I was reading over at the Random Yak and saw this little gemPlanet Slayer  what is that?  The claims that you will “Get the dirt on greenhouse without the guilt trips. No lectures. No multinational-bashing (well, maybe a little…). Just fun and games and the answers to all your enviro-dilemas.”  yummm, yeah.  Fun games like “Prof. Schpinkee’s Greenhouse Caluclator” Where you can “find out when you should die!” based on your “carbon consumption”.  What joy! How fun!.  I should have lived to the ripe old age of 15 and our friendly Yak is reporting that she should have offed herself at about 3 in order to save the planet from her glutinous, carbon-pigging lifestyle.  No guild trips?  Really?

Blogs I Know · Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · Simplicity · Simply Lovely Fairs

Simply Lovely Spring 2008: The Splendor of Spring

Calling all you brilliant Simply Lovely writers out there!

This week I will be hosting the next “Simply Lovely Fair”   the topic is “Simply Lovely Picnics”. 

I will put off posting submissiongs until Saturday  the 31st  to give more people a chance to get their submissions to me. 

If you can leave your link in the comments or you can email them to me.

40 bags of stuff. · Food · Fun · Mary Mary and Martha

More this and that

Woman in Rocking Chair Thomas Pollock Anschutz
 Finally my site traffic seems to be going back to normal.

About Comments: Please note I have closed all comments on the posts about the Adam Race/Carol Race story from last week and I do moderate comments on other postings.   I will be posting updated information if and when I get it.  I want to thank again all the very good and kind people who have contacted me about the situation.  Also I ask that you all keep the Race family and their parish community in your prayers.

Stand-mixer Whole-wheat Bread Recipe:

1cup very warm water
1 tbsp yeast
1-2 tbsp sweeter (honey, sugar)
2 tbsp oil or shortening (butter, lard, olive oil)
~1 tbsp salt
mix until blended and then let sit for 10-15 mins, switch to the bread hook.
then mix in:
4 cups flour (I use 1cup bread flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, and two cups whole-grain white)
1 cup warm water
alternate the flour and water until the flour and water are all in then continue to add flour until the dough forms a single mass.  The dough will still be sticky to the touch but shouldn’t be sticking to the bowl sides.  Let your machine kneed the dough for about ten minutes then stop and let it rise for about 30 mins.  (optionally: Knock the dough down and let it rise again for about 30 mins.)  Place the dough in loaf pans and let rise 20-30 mins and then bake at about 375 for about 20 minutes. 

40 Trash bag challenge:
I am on week 8.  I will be moving the challenge to the side bar so you can still keep up with it.  It has been a lot of fun especially as the children have gotten involved.

One Space a day Challenge:
I have had so much fun with my bags that I am starting an organizing challenge for myself.  The goal will be to de-clutter and organize one small area a day for thirty days in six weeks.  One shelf, one drawer, a desktop, counter top or cupboard.  I plan to do before and after shots for this round. 


Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · My world · Simplicity

Getting clothing under control

The Young Seamstress by Heinrich Hirt

You may have noticed that in my laundry articles I have referred a few times to my clothing lists without going into detail about the lists themselves.   This is a response to the inquiries I have received about the lists.  It explains what the list is and how it works, I have provided my lists as an example and explained the process of developing the list in case you want to create your own.

The clothing list was developed using several different lists and by observing my own family’s needs.  The philosophy behind the list is simple: there is a minimum amount of clothing that my children need.  Having more than that doesn’t improve their quality of life, and managing an excess is a burden for our family.   The list serves two very important purposes for me.  First it gives me a frame work to enable me to see when we have too much.  The second is that it makes planning of my children’s clothing needs a breeze.

Creating my first list:
When I gave birth to my fifth child my mother and father-in-law stayed at our home with the other children.  My mother-in-law made the observation that we own too many clothes.  And we did.  Between school uniforms for my oldest, the endless boxes and bags gifted to us by friends and family and our own purchases for the children our closets were stuffed, drawers overflowing and the laundry baskets bursting at the seems.  The laundry cycle was broken, mostly because it was overloaded.  I had to do something.  I was quick to admit that my mother-in-law was correct and that a large part of the laundry issue was the amount of clothing we owned, but I really didn’t feel that I had a sense of what to do about it.

We had just finished purchasing school uniforms for my oldest and as I looked at the list I had a small inspiration.  If I could make a list for uniforms for school surely I could apply that basic concept to clothing as a whole.  Then came the realization that somewhere online a list like what I wanted probably existed.  But I couldn’t find one.  The closest I came was a list of the bare necessities for children in foster care or the lists for children attending boarding school or camp.  But these all helped me figure out what was needed.

I came up with the following items:

Casual clothing:
Romper/ sleeper
Short Sleeve Shirt
Long sleeve shirt
Turtle Neck/ Sweat shirt

Sunday Best:
Dress shirt
Dress coat

Nice dress up:
Dress or nice outfit
Nice shirt

dress socks

Weather Wear:
Rain coat
light weight Jacket

Warm coat
winter Hat
sun hat

Sports and athletics:
athletic shorts
Sweat pants
Sweat shirt
As needed  for sports or lessons (might include martial arts uniform, ballet leotard, or sports uniform)

casual shoes
Hiking boots
Rain boots
Winter boots
dress shoes
athletic shoes

I wanted to be sure that I covered the basic needs of my children for the full year.  This base list covers all ages.  From this list for any individual child I knock out those things that don’t apply to them, then I work on the quantities.

Figuring out the quantities:
Once I had the master list the next thing to consider was the laundry cycle.  Typically the longest an item will be in my laundry cycle is four days.  An item worn the day I wash the type of clothing the item is will be washed again within four days.  For example: Hannah wears her favorite pink top on Tuesday.  Tuesday I am washing light weight light-colored clothing the top she is wearing belongs in so it isn’t in that load.  If Hannah puts her top in the laundry Tuesday night  I won’t wash light-colored lights again until Thursday or Friday  and it will be folded and in her drawer again by Friday or Saturday.

Every family’s wash cycle is different.  It is determined by the type of clothing your family wear, the number of people in your family, your load size and the time you spend on laundry.  The larger your family the more laundry you have, but the less time it takes to accumulate a full load of any particular type.   The more consistent the type of clothing your family wears the less time between that type of load.   If you have four boys who live in jeans you might find you wash denim every two days and whites once a week, in this case you would need three jeans for each boy but they would need seven pairs of socks and underwear

Your cycle will be the major determining factor in how many items you need of each type.  Basically you need clothing equal to the number of days between washes plus one. If you wash everything everyday you need two changes of clothing, but if you wash each load once a week you need eight.   Since I wash almost everything in four days my family has five days worth of clothing.   Other things you might consider are: Do you have multiple clothing changes per day (infants?)  Are you consistent in your laundry cycle?  Do you have religious or personal times that you can’t do laundry during?  Do you wash some loads more frequently than others?

An example of adding quantities:
Let me show you an example of how I go from the general list to a specific list for a child.  Let’s look at Hannah.   She is a six year old girl who loves pink and frills and takes ballet and swim lessons.

First, I knock out all the items that aren’t appropriate for her age and gender.  Gone are the baby things, the nylons for a teen girl, the shirt and tie for the boy.  I add in the leotard, tights and slippers for ballet.

Second, I go through and fill in the things that we just need one of,  dress clothing, coats and shoes among others.

Third, I figure five days clothing on some things, like underwear, which are worn each day.  Other items I split the five days over two or more seasonal options, for instance 2-3 long sleeve shirts plus 2-3 turtle necks or swear shirts.  For pajamas, at this age I default to two as we wear them more than one night in a row.   I also include notes on some items, like the note that at least one pair of tights be nice for mass.

Finally, I go in and finish the list by adding two slips, three to four bloomers and two pair of dance tights (so we won’t be scrambling if one pair has a run on dance lesson day) The final result can be seen below:

Casual clothing:
Tops  2-3
Short Sleeve Shirt 2-3
Long sleeve shirt 2-3
Turtle Neck/ Sweat shirt 2-3
Sweater/Cardigan  1
Skort/Skirts/Jumper 2-3 (per season)
leggings 2-3
Shorts  2-3
Jeans   2
Pants 2-3

Sunday Best:
Dress   1
Dress coat 1

Nice dress up:
Dress or nice outfit 1

socks  2-3
tights  2-3, one day pair for mass
Underwear/panties – 5
Slip  2-3
Bloomers 3-4
Undershirt – 5
Pajamas 2
Robe 1
Slippers 1

Weather Wear:
Rain coat 1
light weight Jacket 1
Warm coat 1
winter Hat 1
Gloves/mittens 1
Scarf 1
sun hat 1

Sports and athletics:
t-shirt 2
athletic shorts 2
Swimsuit 1
Sweat pants 1
Sweat shirt 1
leotard  1
tights 2
ballet slippers 1

casual shoes 1
sandals 1
Hiking boots 1
Rain boots 1
Winter boots 1
dress shoes 1
athletic shoes 1

Each age has special consideration.  Babies go through more clothing a day and some mothers wash their clothing separately.  Toddlers and pre-schools might have more nighttime accidents and need extra changes of pajamas.  School age children tend to need an extra pair of basics (jeans, shorts etc.) because of their tendency to get messy outside.  Teens may have more definite taste considerations, work or school uniforms and or hand washables.    You know your family and nothing can substitute for your own judgment, but hopefully this creates a starting place for you if you are interested in the clothing inventory list system.

Fun · My world · OMG it isn't that bad · rants

“Every Sandwich Tells a Story”

But Subway won’t will let kids tell theirs if they are in a home school.

I heard about this in an email and was all set to be up in arms about it until I read that the grand prize was $5000 worth of athletic equipment for the child’s school.  I don’t think we really could make good use of the athletic equipment, at least not 5k worth.  That said, sure Subway could have worded the ad sensibly and more sensitively or even allowed the homeschooled students to designate an elementary school to benefit, but  I don’t think this was meant as a slight against homeschoolers.




It’s Memorial Day

We remember all those who’ve fallen.

Among them:
Cpl. Bobby P. Warns II  who was killed in action in Iraq on Nov. 8th, 2004. He left behind his pregnant girlfriend, Erin, and his daughter Payton Elizabeth Robert Warns who was born May 5th, 2005.  While I don’t know this family when I came upon this video, it is such a touching tribute, I felt it well worth sharing on this day set aside to remember those who gave everything in service of our country.

We salute those who serve.

Thank you.

Homemaking · Mary Mary and Martha · Simplicity

Laundry part three

Francisco De Zurbar


This is the third of the laundry series parts one and two are:
Simply Lovely Laundry

Laundry – The System



Washing, drying, ironing and all that sort of thing

This article is a continuation of my other laundry articles: Simply Lovely Laundry and Laundry – The System.

In those articles I explained that the root struggles of laundry in our household.  Large families generate more laundry, but we had complicated our problem by having an excess of clothing and linens.  To solve this problem I created a lists of clothing for our family and lists of linens, towels and other washables.  By eliminating and limiting the amount of clothing we own I simplify the laundry. 

To manage dirty clothes we have hampers in dressing areas that are sorted into hampers in the laundry room before they are washed.  We have five baskets, four tall ones and one small one.  The tall baskets sort the laundry into whites, light colors, heavy/dark colors and towels.  The small basket holds the kitchen towels.  This makes it easy to keep the loads sorted and to see what needs washed “right now”.   Even the little kids can handle this sort of sorting system. 

The machines: we invested in the most energy efficient and high capacity washer and dryer we could afford.  Not a matching set,  because we found that often one item of a set was rated far higher than they other, so they don’t match but after doing the research on the models available to us and within our budget we ended up with what we have.  When we bought our first energy efficient washer I noticed a real drop in our electric bill.  I think it paid for itself in less than two years.  I am not going to recommend a particular brand here because by the time you read this something else will be better, but we have Whirlpool washer and Kenmore dryer.  If you are in the market for replacing your washer or dryer do the research to find an energy efficient, quality machine. 

Each of our tall baskets hold about one and a half loads of laundry.  To keep absolutely on top of the laundry I do two to three loads of laundry a day.  At one point I would be behind if I wasn’t doing three loads a day.    But I instituted some common sense practices that helped me greatly.

Hang up bath towels after they are used.  Towels used to dry off a clean body can in fact be used again.  The same goes with the pool towel.  As long as it is clean hang it up and let it dry, use it again.  Here is the math.  I put 10 bath towels in a load.  If each person uses a bath towel one a day and we go swimming twice a week that is 63 towels a week and 6.5 loads of laundry.  If each person hangs up their towel and uses it twice it cuts that in half.  

Change bedding all on the same day: I find it easier to have one, big, linen washing day then to have sheets dribbling in with the regular laundry.

Rules for lovely daughters:  You will not change your clothing three times a day not even twice.  If you are playing dress up you will put your clothing back on when you are done.  Yes, that means the same clothing  you had on before.  You will not eat, drink or do arts and crafts in your dress up clothing (exceptions may be made for tea parties).  

Rules for dashing sons: Please do not roll in mud, dirt or dirty leaves.  Do not throw mud, dirt or anything else at your siblings.  Do not hose down the dog in order to play “sprinkler” dog.  I don’t care that you were playing farm and got to be the pig, the mud rule still applies.  If you start getting hot bring your jacket or sweatshirt inside, please don’t leave it outdoors, drop it in the dirt or mud or put it on the dog.

Rules for all children: If you dig through your drawer to find a favorite item put everything back, in no circumstances should you leave clothing on the floor.  Hang up your bath towel and wash cloth.  Wear an apron when cooking and a craft smock for painting.  Use your napkin not your pants or shirt.  Use a tissue not your sleeve. 

I follow the manufacture’s instructions with my front loader and use the recommended detergent.  Some people don’t and their laundry comes out fine and their machines don’t appear to suffer.  Some people swear by certain brands, some buy whatever is cheapest, some people go for the environmentally sounder option and some people I know make their own.  I have no strong opinion on any of it.   If it gets your clothing clean and doesn’t break the budget isn’t that really what matters?

Hand wash: There is a surprising number of hand wash detergents.  Perfume companies sometimes make laundry soap in your favorite scents. 

This is a big one for me this summer:  Dryer vs. Clothes line.  Living in the wet Northwest there really isn’t much of an option for hanging laundry outside from about October to May, but during the summer months we have enough good weather to make outside drying a possibility.  If you check this calculator  you can see how much it would save to dry clothes on the line.  For me it is about $22 a month.  Considering that line and two packs of pins will run you about $12 that isn’t a bad deal. 

My daughter Hannah loves the outdoor line.  On sunny days we hang the clothes out and then forget about them for awhile.  I have considered purchasing an umbrella line, but I haven’t cost proven it to myself yet.


I really try to avoid ironing as much as possible.  Kyle does a very good job with ironing his own clothes for work.