Scenes of Efficiency

A dream command central.  Lights, memo board, key holders, baskets, phone, and someone even has the lunches on a tray with cute clips and a note.  Oh, and a stationary calm dog makes this picture seem homey and real.

Can you see that I am working on efficiency in my home?  These are my inspirations that I'm using to create my Beautiful Life. For sweet Melissa at TheInspiredRoom's Beautiful Life Linky- I'm working on being more efficient this week.  If these picture's aren't inspiring enough go check out her blog!
Wrapping headquarters.  This lady was inspired enough to wrap her wall first!  Although as a mom of 6 I recognize this scene as being unrealistic (the fact that the wrapping paper matches with the room and there are no signs of markers on the counter or fingerprints on the cupboards)... I can dream, right?  There's a balance between being efficient and being OCD about where things go.
I dream in color and in efficiency... in real life it is my permanent quest.  How I would love my children to neatly keep their things next to their bed... my 6 year old with allergies decided that a roll of toilet paper next to him is efficient... mom agrees until all of the used wads get stuffed under the pillow or thrown on the floor!  The idea is there though... he has a shelf by his bed and it serves as his "keeping" station.
Need i say more?  Pull up a chaise lounge, bring me some chocolate, pipe in a good jazz CD and bring on the laundry! Though I don't have double machines, how I spend my time working to get things done matters.  Laundry every day is a must.  I gave up TV all together to become efficient and it's working so far. Blogging... my next area to address.
Hooks.  Next to the lever, the pulley, and the wheel, it's the oldest invention that I find absolutely necessary.  Actually, I could take or leave the pulley... and a butter knife or screw driver is my style of lever.  Efficient tools, efficient machines, efficient house.
Someday I may have an entry so big I could line up 8 of these and no one would notice? I love a great ready station.  For now the backbacks hang on the door to the garage (inside the garage) and the coat closet serves as the hiding place for purses, hats, and shoes.
Martha Stewart's junk drawer is so efficient that everything is not only useful, it matches!  Whether or not your junk drawer matches is it organized to use efficiently?  I'm cleaning mine out next week.
A lovely place to hang your hat...
If you get a chance, check out Grace Brooke's blog on scaling a child's room to his/her size to maximize self- sufficiency!  She's got a measurement chart to boot!

What things in your home do you feel bring efficiency?

Herding Chipmunks- Chores Part 2

Okay you caught me... I used one of my favorite office pics from Rhoda of Southern Hospitality because it's going to be the only pretty picture in this post... And Rhoda, you can see knows how to organize.  She's another Pretty Organizer.

This is the second decent shot in the bunch and pardon my vanity for posting but sometimes a girls gotta squeal when something works out RIGHT!  This is a very edited on Picnik .
See!  You can't see that I'm 34 and over 50% gray (for real), the double chin is almost a single, and that overstretched tummy is completely gone... well alright, it's below that blacked out  line. If you haven't visited this site... it's a Pretty Organizer must see! (so is Pandora but that's for another post!)

Now, On to the UGLY post.  Really... it's ugly.
In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that the chore chart from this post wasn't mine.  It was a random image on flickr.  

I used to have a cute displayable chore chart with a wheel.  It had names and jobs and did I mention that it was cute? Flowers and bling and transfer letters...Oh... how I loved that chore chart.  It was square- because I had 4 kids, then I adopted #5.  So, did I need to move to a pentagon?  Not impossible but kind of a weird shape to have displayed... then we adopted #6 and well... I've thunk and thunk in my thoughtful spot (the only room in the house that locks... you know which one) and I decided that after 6 kids there isn't such a thing as a cute chore chart.  It looks more like an organizational chart for Wal-Mart than something cute and fun and meant to inspire the little punk-a-noodles around my house.
Look at that fridge!  (not mine again) There are only 4 kiddos charts on there... 6?!?!?!?  WHAT!  WHERE!!

So, since my kids know Wal-Mart (they think it's our vacation home) I decided to embrace the corporate size family look and move into the future.  I use a HUGE desk calendar on my wall.  Just 3M sticky thingy'd the thing to wall.  That's command central.

The job chart is in Excel, Excell?  Oh Heck.  Let's get this straight.  I don't excel in Excel.  I think that whomever decided to combine the letter and the number system together and reason that they could be used to create fancy problems... was a nut!  I try every day to separate and sort letters and numbers and solve problems! (Which I'm told is exactly what it does... well not for me it doesn't.)   I think I just revealed my I.Q.  ... this is the painfully obvious reason that I decided to major in music.  BUT... I know me how to marry a good look'n geek and HE knows Excel and has no problem riding in like a white night, oh you know what I mean- a Knight on a white horse!-- and combining all those letters and numbers to create the perfect job chart.... the one I can't show you.  
Cuz right now that chart looks like this... Geesh, am I embarrassed!
Well, I could show you if my good look'n hubby were awake but he's also a health nut and heads to bed early so he can beat the rooster in the morning... he wins every time... (cuz we aint got no Roosters...  shhh... but don't tell him.)

So, here's the deal.  I'll ask hubby how we can make an image of our illustrious chore chart.  Now, it's perfect for our family but may need to be tweaked for yours.  Anyone interested?

A little info to inspire you to check back:
  • We rotate each week.  
  • Kids are in charge of their rooms, a ZONE (ooh this one is good so be sure to stay tuned... solved lots of whining!), a trash responsibility, and a dinnertime job every day.  
  • They have 1 weekly job and a few Saturday jobs.  
So, with 6 kids, you can tell I don't do much around here.  My job is to monitor the chocolate inventory, make sure all the punks don't smell like skunks, and drive... you don't really believe that do you!  Well, the chocolate part is true.

I'll have pretty shots for Friday- Promise!


Do you Herd Chipmunks at Chore Time?

Getting my kids to follow through on their jobs at home is a lot like herding chipmunks.  If that conjures up images of Disney's Chip and Dale cartoons you've just about got it right. Every day after school I do my best to run my 'lil punks through the job routine and it's exhausting!  Growing up we did Saturday jobs and answered to the wrath of my mother when our rooms were beyond compliance but we rarely did daily chores... now I understand why. It was easier for my mother to wake an hour earlier and get everything done instead of following 6 of us around to make sure we did our chores.  

Now after reaching the grand total of 6 myself I realize that my mother did me a slight disservice while preserving her sanity.  I never quite figured out how to finish a job right until I got to college. I vowed I'd teach my kids responsibility... and being responsible enough to follow through with my plan is kicking my butt right now but hey, my heads still above water and I'm paddling!

Here's a few tricks I've learned to get your kids to work- and I've got the scars to prove it!

  • Let them know what's expected.  Keep a chart, or schedule and be consistent with the chores that are on it.
  • Teach them how to do the job right.  This is huge. If your 10 year old doesn't know how to clean a bathroom correctly (like what accumulates on those little bolts that hold the toilet to the floor) it may be due to a lack of instruction.  Kids need to be shown, taught and then practice doing a job over and over before they master it.
  • Let them be accountable for their job.  When the job is completed the kids need to show accountability by crossing it of a list, or checking a box that it's complete.  This is your signal that the job needs final approval and a quick parent check.  Don't be afraid to tell your 'lil punky that it doesn't quite meet the expected standard you taught her and needs to be completed properly.
  • Assign specific jobs to a child until he/she master them.  Remember, we mums are teaching life skills and responsibility.  Learning to clean a toilet properly, setting the table correctly, doing the windows or feeding the dog are all skills that they need to learn.  You might even consider giving your 12 year old the job of checking your oil each week or making appointments for haircuts or Dr. visits.  Our kids need to be taught these skills sometime before they leave home and it OUR JOB to teach them!
  • Teach them they're a member of a family and have a responsibility to contribute.  This one is hard.  In the early days of children's chores, kids didn't have to be convinced that what they did was important.  If Johnny didn't milk the cow, the cow went crazy and the family had no milk.  If Joey didn't bring the wood, there might not be a fire for cooking supper.  If Emma didn't fetch water, well... you get the idea.  There were hard consequences for not doing your work... and that reality still exists in the world.  Life is so convenient now but the principle of responsibility remains and our kids need to contribute.  SOOOO... around this house it's not uncommon for a kid who skips jobs to skip dinner too!  If everyone is slacking... dinner isn't served until the work is complete.  Hard consequences, but they work!
  • Love them and Create memories.  My boys and girls don't forget how to clean a toilet because we laugh pretty good during the instruction process.  They know EXACTLY which gender pees where on the toilet seat.  The girls eeww and gross out when they see how boys don't aim, and the boys eeww and gross out when they see how much T.P. the girls use (because it clogs the toilet).  WELL!! It does!  We make instruction time fun... and memorable.
How are YOU herding your Chipmunks through Chore time?


Toile Tuesday: Confessions of a Toile-aholic

Hooked on Toile... For Julias Hooked on Party!
Hello, My name is Pretty Organizer and I'm a Toile-aholic. (Pronounced Twahl, ya'll)  Not an "Oh, I like toile alright." kinda toile gal... I mean I LOVE it.  So much so that I think I had better purge myself of toile cravings or hubby might end up with this tie for Father's Day. 

In an effort to quell my cravings I have thrown myself deep into the research of Toile!  And OH, I love it even more!  There are so many kinds and the history is as rich as the fabric.

I in jest mentioned my toile fettish, no... obsession, in Nesters linky party and joked that I ought to hold a linky-dinky of my own all about toile.  Well, who'da thunk you gals would be so encouraging in my mere suggestion of a party... (oh, and the Remodeling Guy who just learned what toile was... poor guy thought I kept misspelling toilet.) 

So for the month of March I'll be hosting Toile Tuesdays.  Yes, more than everything you could want to know about toile over 1 months time.  And, the pictures... well, they're the main reason why you'll want to keep coming back.  At the end of the month, Tuesday March 24th I'll host a toile linky party where all of us can link up and brag, show, confess, display our love of toile.  This is the fabric that hangs in my kitchen... I'm her, Hubby's him... the dog represents our 6 kids... well, isn't it beautiful!  I love how toile tells a story!

Don't forget to spread this to your friends and neighbors... you wouldn't want them to miss out on a great series and a one of a kind party!  I'm working on a button for the party but in the mean time, you can grab this image (cuz I don't code) and link it to www. PrettyOrganizedPalace.blogspot.com  WHEW!

Oh, and because I just can't host a party alone (so much more fun to plan with someone else) Wendy at The Shabby Nest is hosting the party with me!  She's my toile loving sista on the East Coast and in case you haven't seen her toile, better go check her out.

Each Week I'll give you a little History!

Toile de Jouy
A Fabric with Roots in the Eighteenth Century

by Patricia Cummings
photos by James Cummings

What is Toile de Jouy?

Toile (pronounced twahl) means "cloth" in French. “Toile de Jouy,” or “toiles deJouy,” are terms that refer to fabric that was first manufactured at a factory inJouy-en-Josas, a village located southwest of Paris, near Versailles. Founded in 1760 by German-born Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf, (1738-1815), a textile entrepreneur, the factory site was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the clear running water of the Biรจvre River. Oberkampf knew that water is a crucial element in the dyeing process. Only the highest quality goods were used in the production of the factory's printed fabrics made of cotton, one reason for the enterprise’s success."

From quiltersmuse.comTime's a tick'n and the guest list is already starting.  Nester's in, Wendy, Julia at Hooked on Houses, and the list is growing.  Need I mention how much I LOVE these girls!  They are as kind as they are talented writers and bloggers.  They've been so good to me!

Will you be my guest at the Toile Party?  I'll try and remind anyone that R.S.V.P's (if you email me I will FOR SURE send you a reminder!)

Creating Your Cleaning Routine

How much time each day do you devote to cleaning?  How much time do you devote to all of the other important things going on in your life?  When I was 25"ish" I figured out that whatever it was I was doing, wasn't cutting the mustard.  I needed to make a few life changing adjustments.

So I took stock of what time I had in a day, blocked out how much was devoted to eating, meal prep, and caring for kids, dressing, etc... you get the idea.  There are only SOOO many hours in the day to get things done and to ensure I accomplished what was most important, I made a plan.
Here are a few tips to creating your cleaning schedule:
  1. Inventory your time: Use a simple calendar.  Write down the hour you wake up and the hour you go to bed.  Block out times for meal prep, child care, work, nap times, errands... In short, determine what your daily schedule looks like so you know where you can fit in priorities like cleaning.
  2. Estimate how much time you need to keep house:  A rough house cleaning estimate is 1-1.5 hours per person in the house each week.  For a family of 8 that's 8-12 hours of cleaning!!
  3. Priorities what cleaning needs to be done each week.  For me, it's bathrooms and if you have boys you KNOW what I'm talking about.  Is it a MUST that all windows are cleaned each week?  Nah...  Just keep your priorities in order and go down the list.
  4. Block out set cleaning times in your week long schedule: Do what works for you.  Some people devote an entire day to cleaning and do maintenance for the rest of the week.  Other people do a little every day.  What works best for you?  You might do bathrooms one day, vacuuming another, and have a day for deep cleaning.
  5. Rotate your deep cleaning schedule:  Cleaning behind the fridge doesn't need to be done each week but it ought to be done.  Determine which jobs are monthly or quarterly cleaning jobs and set a time in your schedule to do monthly or quarterly deep clean jobs.  Maybe the last Saturday of the month could be set aside for monthly deep cleaning, or perhaps you can concentrate on one room to deep clean a month.  Again, this is your schedule do what works for you.
Weekly Cleaning Checklist  Monthly Cleaning Checklist 

Having a plan is essential to getting things done. I think the most helpful thing for me was realizing how much time it takes to care for all of the needs of my family. It was so great to sit down and figure out how much "free" time I had during a day. Sometimes that free time is scheduled for housecleaning and errands, other times it is scheduled to work in my kids classrooms, and sometimes it may be used for a craft or much needed nap time.  The key is keeping your Priorities Pretty Organized.  You can't know the time you're wasting or where to trim fat on a schedule unless you block it out. Don't forget to reward yourself with your own free time for a job done well! I LOVE Barnes & Noble cafe... chocolate, books, quiet... doesn't get much better than that!

Do you have a Cleaning routine?
All Pics. BHG.com


Is Your Well Empty or Full?

Just a quick post today. Remember the emergency drill on the airplane? "If cabin pressure should happen to change, oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling. If you are riding with a child , please secure your mask first and then attend to your child..." Okay that's my version at least. Why do they say that?!?!? I understood when I became a mother of many.... because, if you as a mother don't have what you need to survive... you can't help your loved ones. Period. So, I ask a related question....

Is your well empty or full?

As a woman, mother, wife, and friend we are givers. We give love, care, concern, empathy, wisdom, advice, counsel, band-aides, and baths. However, it is difficult to draw water from an empty well.

What are you doing to keep the water in your well? Do you take time to read and ponder? Do you meditate and reflect on what your needs are? As the day begins, remember to take time to nourish yourselves. I read my scriptures and pray. I read books that uplift and inspire me. I educate my mind on topics that interest me or that I feel I might need in the future.

Taking time to read, ponder and pray is essential. It fills the heart, strengthens the spirit and quickens your mind. A good routine of personal time... carefully attended to, will keep your well full and enable you to give more without feeling run down.

So, remember to strap on your oxygen mask each day and take care of what you need so you can attend to the needs of others. Keep that well full and it will continue to provide nourishment and relief to those you love and serve.

What do you do to keep your well full?


Rearrange the Furniture; an unscheduled post.

We interrupt this scheduled post on schedules to bring you this:
Okay, so  for 4 days I've been flappin my gums about schedules and truly... I had another post scheduled however.... my dear friend Nester is having a party and well, I had to live by my motto: My Priorities are Organized, My Closet is Not.  Life requires flexibility for more important things like... decorating parties!!!  No... for THE decorating party of 2009!  If you haven't heard about my friend the Nester... well, go check this girl out.  She's fab!

I'll probably post that black and white toile room once a month for the rest of my life... I love that room... Nester Loves that room... WE LOVE THAT ROOM.  That's my dream room- except it has a plant and well, I manage to keep 6 kids alive but those darn ferns are tricky business in the desert!  This is one of my dream bathrooms... I could sit in there all day...
Well here's my reality.  Yep. REAL pics of my house with leftover Valentine's decor.  Nester suggested arranging the furniture which I do almost monthly...(mostly to mask the obvious traffic patterns of 8 people- otherwise, the carpet is white where the couch is and the color of Nestle's Quick everywhere else. No, I didn't choose this color carpet, I dream of chocolate carpet...) This however was a new arrangement.  The whole room is now skillywhompa with the walls!  I LOVE IT!  Don't get me started on how much I need to paint my coffee table and end tables... can't figure out when to do that.  Color suggestions?  
And, as if you  haven't seen enough pictures of little cute lamps in bathrooms... here's mine.  The beast of an alarm clock has been with us since marriage (13.5 years) and my husband insists it be in the bathroom and not by the bed... so he'll be forced to get up and turn it off... (as if my leg kicking him to wake up when it goes off isn't enough inspiration.)
This sad little bathroom is still builder white.  I'm dying to paint it but need to send husband with the kids to visit family a few states over for at least a week so I can get my painting projects done!  Anyone want to come paint with me?

Now, come on, don't you LOVE that Toile?  I think I need to have a toile linky party... only it may just be Nester and I that link up!


A Laundry Routine

  • As I write this I am cracking up. I know nothing about doing laundry for normal people! (Because I launder for 8 and I only barely figured out that 8's enough!) And here I sit writing something I think someone will find useful... humor me. Make me feel normal... someone? Most of you have less than 4 kids and they probably wear 1 outfit a day. Ya'll sort and launder and fold and put away and your kids keep their drawers all neat and tidy. Right? Well, if not, we're going to be best friends and to all who launder... I think you're SUPA-MOMS cuz there's not much glory in pee sheets and grass stains.

    First: I'm a believer in laundry baskets... and not just for laundry.
    Second: I have a laundry room that's the size of an outhouse... it looks like this...

This is where I live... well almost. I dream about it growing.

If you have a laundry room that looks like this, than you're probably wasting your time because that kind of laundry room I'm sure comes with a laundry fairy.


Here's the low down:

Hubby does his own laundry. I didn't do this... he did. He's a brilliant man, likes his clothes cleaned regularly and appreciates them folded and ironed (he does that too) and no, I NEVER do his laundry...this was his sweet gift to me after our 2nd kid.

I kick kids out of my laundry schedule at 10 yrs old. I figure if they can operate the video game console that I can't, and are capable of downloading their own MP3's (can't again), they can handle the push button washer and dryer. I love it when they come to me and say, "Mom, I don't have anything to wear!" Then I say, "I'm sorry. WHOOOO does your laundry?" (with the sweetest of all motherly smiles) Then I hear, "ME." Then I say, "Oh! Whew! I was hoping I didn't forget something!"

I DON'T sort my kids clothes. Hate me. It's not worth my time. I do admit, that I put my whites along with boys white church shirts together. That's it.

I do laundry every day. Here's how:

  • Kids all have 1 tall kitchen trash can for a hamper in the laundry room with name on it.
  • Kids deliver dirty clothes to their hamper.
  • When the hamper is full, I dump the whole thing in the washer on COLD and let it go.I return the clothes UNFOLDED to my kids rooms (2 and 4 year old's get folded clothes 6 year old does not) and let THEM put away.
  • I LET THE BOYS STUFF THEIR JEANS AND SHIRTS IN THEIR DRAWERS! I mean really, does it matter? It's all crumpled and stuffed after they've looked for their favorite shirt for school and shove the clothes back in... I've been wasting my time... (poor future wives... I do inspect drawers occasionally) Who cares if the undies are stacked!.. Oh... I know most of you care about stacked undies... I did too until they took over my living room and my life...8 pair times 8 people...64 pair per week! You classy ladies keep up the good work you're doing great!

Crazy, I know. The advantage to not sorting and doing the laundry by "kid" is that it avoids the mess of having sooo many piles for folding and putting away. Laundry has taken over couches, treadmills, beds, living room floors all in the name of folding. I decided that it was an easier task to just focus on 1 kid's pants, shirts, and socks (which all have big #'s on the bottom so I can easily match them) instead of a sprawling laundry mountain and the mammoth task of returning every item to it's rightful place.

How do you manage the laundry mountain?

All nice photos from BHG.com


Do the Minimum for Max Results

I seriously thought that my house would look this way every day when I was raising kids... My imagination was picture perfect. Then reality sets in... kid #1, then super reality check for kids 2 and 3 and by kids 4,5 and 6 I was watching, "This is your life" flash in front of me and all I saw were toast crumbs, barbies, Lego's, and single socks and shoes with no matches.

Here's the blazing truth: Everyday you HAVE to do the minimum. So, what's the minimum work you can do for the Maximum impact? Girl- I'm queen at this! Read on...

  • Get up and Get Ready: We'll talk more about this later but have a little pride in your appearance and get that makeup on and wear shoes. You're gonna get through this morning routine so fast you'll have time to meet your girlfriends for lunch or a play date so be ready!
  • Make the bed and do your breakfast thing and give yourself 10-15 minutes in the kitchen to tidy up after the nuclear mess your kids left before heading off to school.
  • Devote 5 Minutes TOPS to each room! SOO Important! Just 5 minutes-- but the trick is that you have to race the clock. When I do this I break a sweat or break my neck. I work like I just won a trip to Tahiti and I have 5 minutes to clean the room or I forfeit. Remember to take care of the things in your line of site... don't get caught up organizing a drawer unless the room "looks" spotless. If the room is clean, go ahead and use the extra time to clean windows or vacuum, wash finger prints...work yourself deeper into cleaning. Always use your time wisely.
  • Minimum Daily Maintenance time is sacred: Your family and your home come before the rest of the world. Ignore the phone, let the kiddos veg out to Sesame Street or if you're into resistance training, strap one to each leg... try not to get distracted (hint, don't check your blog!).
Ta-da! You've made it through the minimum work for the day. Within 1 hour (usually less) your palace should be pretty darn good lookin and well, you may have to shower again but now you have time to give yourself a spa treatment! You're ready for the day.

Tomorrow we'll talk about those "other" schedules. They might take more than 5 minutes but doesn't it feel great to have a beautiful, manageable home? Off to clean, Palace Guests! Can't wait to hear about your results:)


Tying Yourself Down to a Schedule

Rise and shine Pretty Palace Organizers out-there! This week's dedicated to one of my least favorite words.... shhhh... I still don't like saying it out loud, it makes me feel tied down.... ready?  Schedules.  
Ahh... I know.  Well, in truth there are a good measure of you ladies out there who were born with a Franklin Planner for a brain.... I totally missed out on the line where those were being handed out, probably because I had to rise early and get there on time.  So, confessional moment number 1089.... I'm allergic to schedules.  Trying to get me to sit down and draft a schedule is like giving your cat a bath... this "cat" can however be lured by chocolate. That's how hubby reformed me... well almost ... I still fall off the wagon now and then.
If you wanna get it all done, you gotta have an execution plan... and no, my plan hasn't killed anyone yet.  This week is going to be a great week to begin your homemaking resolutions again!  Get your supplies ready: Chocolate (enough to get you through planning your day), Calendar, Notebook, and some of those sticky tabby divider colored thingy's see this post.
If you want a guide book to how I run my life... well mostly.  I don't think this author has 6 kids and ever had to attend 4 school Christmas parties on the same day within the same 2 hours, but she's a guru in her own right and she guruized herself in ink with this book.  BUY IT... BORROW IT... don't steal but BEG someone for it if you can.  It changed my life... not quite as much as having those 6 kids did though... what a doozy.
This little lady has a lot of great advice too!  She's a self-reformed homemaker and believe me... it's all about making good habits. I don't use all of this Fly Girl's stuff... I'm not a sink shiner because well... I seriously can't keep things out of my sink... something always sneaks back in!
Now, if you're still in your jammies and bunny slippers... Go shower, dress and get your shoes on for the day and remember what great gifts you've been give to fulfill your job as a homemaker, wife, mother and friend.  See you here tomorrow with a sure cure to keeping life manageable even if you have 6 kiddo's and allergic reactions to housework!

What do you feel needs better scheduling in your home?
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