Category Archives: Me and Martha

Movie/Media Organization (Me and Martha Series)

To see all of my Me and Martha posts, click here.

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When flipping through Martha Stewart’s book Good Things for Organizing, I came across a section on organizing your media. This book is old, so it was mostly computer disks and CD’s and photos but the principles still apply.  Best thing you can do is find a way to store your media in a safe place in an organized way.  Pics from Martha’s book:

you can even make your own fabric covered boxes for photos, disks, etc.

you can even make your own fabric covered boxes for photos, disks, etc.

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Labeling your boxes in another important factor.

Since Matt is a movie critic, he obviously has a TON-O-Movies!  Like literally, we get DVDs in the mail EVERY WEEK.  Studios send him videos so he will write about them, etc.  He does get rid of some of them, but I would say he keeps 90%.  We used to store them in those giant binders with the disk sleeves.  We had so many and they were so heavy, it wasn’t really a great solution.  Plus the zippers started breaking.  He found these little drawers at Staples I think…

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They have individual 2-sided sleeves that are lined so they keep the disks scratch free.  Each disk has a number assigned to it and Matt keeps them all listed in a binder…

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He also has additional info in there like genre, rating, description, etc.  Yeah, he’s crazy about those movies.

Best part of all these DVDs?  At the end of every year, movie studios send Matt current films or upcoming films that aren’t even IN theaters yet!  It’s crazy when everyone is waiting for a movie to come out and Matt receives a special screening copy at home!  His votes must be super important!  UPS or FedEx has been ringing our doorbell almost every day for us to sign for a movie (you have to sign for them because I guess there are legal issues around getting those movies early).  Anyway, every time the doorbell rings Gage and I are hoping its the new Bond movie or the new Star Wars!  Can you imagine?!  Unfortunately, this week it’s been stuff like Furious 7 or Straight out of Compton… insert unimpressed emoji here.

So that’s our movie organization!  I had plans to share our pantry and refrigerator and closet organization during this series as well.  And although I actually organized those things and took pics, I never got around to writing/finishing the posts.  There has been a lot going on around here and big changes are on the horizon (No, I am not pregnant…).  Hoping to post about that soon!

And speaking of movies, I took the night off last night and went to a screening of Suffragette.  I’ll post a review later, but I’m going to encourage all my girlfriends to go see it.  I’m even going to see it again and take my daughter.  Powerful stuff.

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Organizing Toys (Me and Martha Series)

To see all of my Me and Martha posts, click here.

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Today I’m talking about toy organization.  Martha discusses it on page 305 of the Homekeeping Handbook.  Honestly, we had already put her tips into practice.  Organizing toys and keeping them under control is a necessity if you want to keep your house in order…

page 305 of Homekeeping Handbook

page 305 of Homekeeping Handbook

The main thing you have to keep in mind is everything needs a spot.  The majority of Milo’s toys are in our upstairs game room and in his room.  I mentioned in a previous post that we do have baskets downstairs for some toys, but most of them are upstairs.

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Yes, we have a bike hanging from our ceiling…

See that red shelf behind the couch, that’s where the bulk of the toys are stored.

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The top shelf has farm animals/equipment and the small wooden crate is for all small musical instruments (trust me, there are a lot – for some reason we have a ton of kazoos, harmonicas, drumsticks…)

The middle shelf if for puzzles on one side and then the bins with labels on the other.

The bottom shelf is for big musical instruments and all of Milo’s play tools.

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Also, you’ll notice in the above pic… If you are going to have shelving, especially with climbing kiddos, it’s important to secure them.  That white strap under the top shelf is a safety strap that will prevent shelves from falling over onto little kiddos.  Milo is a climber so it’s SO important to have all the shelving/furniture safely secured to the walls.

The labels with pictures really help little ones.  It shows them what goes in what bin.  We also have a label for books in Milo’s room.

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These books are on a shallow shelf Matt built a while back.  I try to switch these books out so they stay interesting for Milo (there are more stored in the closet and on his other set of shelves across the room).  His library books are stored in this basket next to his bed.  This enables us to find the library books quickly and not have to go through a hundred random books looking for them.

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A while back when we switched Milo’s room to be more of a big boy room instead of a nursery I mentioned that I wanted a shelving system somewhat like this one:

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The color scheme in the above pic was a little too dark, but I liked the overall feel of it.  Here is what we came up with.

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It’s 95% finished.  For a long time I hadn’t painted it but now it’s primed and painted and all I have left to do is finish out the bottom with some trim/crown.  It’s built in and screwed into the wall – safe for that climbing little I mentioned earlier.

Having a place for everything helps keep Milo’s room and the game room so much neater.

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And before you think we keep everything super neat and organized, I should mention Milo does have a toy box catch all.  You know for all the plastic junk and random cars and crap that doesn’t really belong anywhere.

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Best practice on that is to clean it out twice a year and get rid of all the broken crap or stuff that he has outgrown.

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The Easiest Pumpkin Cheesecake you will EVER make…

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve studied SEVERAL pumpkin pie recipes.  And yes, many of those were Martha Stewart’s.  But I’ll be honest, I don’t do complicated recipes with tons of ingredients that I will only use once.  I did consider these two though:

Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Those were the easiest ones I could find and they still seemed a bit arduous and I would have had to buy quite a few ingredients.  That second one is close to the one we ended up going with except I simplified it even more.  I combined about 10 different recipes I read through so I can’t really credit anyone except my sheer laziness.  You don’t even have to bake this cheesecake – just refrigerate it for a couple of hours.  SO friggin easy – my kids needed no help making this.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese – softened
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree (I used the Libby’s)
  • 1 cup of Whip Cream (you can add more if you like – depends on how fluffy you like your cheesecake)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 9 inch Graham Cracker Crust – there are lots of easy recipes on how to make these, but I just bought one.  Again… laziness.
Milo is anxiously awaiting his turn to use the mixer... He isn't into sharing that responsibility.

Milo is anxiously awaiting his turn to use the mixer… He isn’t into sharing that responsibility.

Here’s what you do.  Mix the two sugars & cream cheese until creamy.  You may have to scrape your beaters a couple of times.  Just make sure they are mixed well.  Then add your pumpkin, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and mix some more. Then put the mixer away…lol  Carefully FOLD in your whipped cream.  Spread mixture into your graham cracker pie crust.  Refrigerate for 2 – 3 hours.

It will be fabulous when you get it out of the fridge and you can eat it just like that…however… you HAVE to make this easy homemade caramel sauce.  It’s from Pioneer Woman and SOOOOOO easy. I could eat it by the spoonfuls!  We made it and then spooned it on when it was still warm on our pumpkin pie after the pie had chilled.  I took the rest and stored it in a small mason jar and when we eat subsequent pieces of pie we’ll just spoon it on.  Or put it on your ice cream… or just eat it straight out of the jar.  I was totally doing that earlier…

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup of half & half or heavy cream (like Pioneer woman, I only had heavy cream on hand so I used that.  I’m sure either would be fantastic though.)  I keep heavy cream on hand for mashed potatoes, people that are visiting that like it in their coffee etc.

Here’s what you do:

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium (maybe medium low depending on your stove) for about 5-7 minutes.  Serve!  I told you it was easy!  Cady and I were dying at how yummy this stuff is…

I’ve had some dang good cheesecakes (the pumpkin cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory is to die for…) and I hafta say… This one rivals those.  And I’ve also made cheesecakes the long drawn out way before… You know with the spring form pans and eggs and baking and cooling and crossing your fingers your top doesn’t crack…  Put this on your holiday table, people will appreciate it.

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This may not have been EXACTLY a Martha Stewart post, but it was a Martha Stewart moment.  We made something delish, even put our own spin on it.  Enjoy!

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Balloon Powered Popcorn Car! (Me and Martha Series)

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Bringing you another super easy family project we did over the weekend.  When I saw this project in Martha Stewart’s Favorite Crafts for Kids, I knew we would do it.  As most of you know, Matt is a movie critic and because of that he must love popcorn.  LOL!  We have recently done some work in our media room and even created a concession stand so we have a bunch of these cute popcorn boxes.  I think I actually bought them for an Oscar party a while back, so we’ve had them for a while.  And then of course, Milo LOVES cars.  I found the popcorn car craft on page 111.

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Here’s what you’ll need…

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  • a popcorn carton (I’m sure you could use something else that was a similar shape/size)
  • 4 plastic lids (I saved 2 from our cashews cans and 2 from our bread crumb cans).  Again, use what you have!
  • 2 straws
  • 2 skewers – you can trim them with scissors
  • a balloon (this is the one thing we didn’t have!  Now we have plenty because you can’t buy just one balloon!  I’m going to think of some more crafts to do with my bag of balloons.)
  • It says you also need an awl, washer and tape above.  We used a nail to poke the holes in the tops.  We did use tape to tape the straws to the bottom but after lots of trial and error, we actually stapled the balloon to the top.  And we didn’t use a washer for balance.

We did decorate the front of ours a little with a piece of old scrapbook paper and 2 yellow buttons.

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And then we were ready!

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Enjoy a quick video of our successful popcorn racecar!  Our wheels are pretty wobbly because they are thin plastic lids.  In the book, it looks like they used thicker lids – maybe that screw on.  That might help with stability.  And like I said, after taping, paper clipping and a few other tries of getting our car to go, we found that stapling it to the top worked best.  I just opened the balloon as wide as I could and stapled the inside of it to the top of the carton. Your balloon needs to have no obstruction as the air leaves for the car to go the fastest.

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Washing Dishes…(Me and Martha series)

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So interestingly enough I had washing dishes on my list of topics to write about.  And in fact had a post scheduled for this weekend on washing dishes.  I had already taken my pics of the tips from the Homekeeping Handbook.

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Top 2 pics are pages 64 & 65. Bottom pic is page 84.

Matt and I got in the discussion about washing dishes the other day.  We use our dishwasher for most of our dishes, but we do hand-wash most of our pots & pans.   He said he didn’t grow up with as dishwasher.  I know we had one, but for some reason we never used it!  I think we stored stuff in there!  So I am quite familiar with washing dishes.  So I was all set to share Martha’s best tips and literally the day I was going to start drafting this post she posted an article on her site called Dishwashing Secrets.  Well there is no need for me to rewrite what she has already done and her pics are way better than mine so I’ll just leave you with the link.

And this throwback pic Martha posted – I’m guessing it was taken 20-30 years ago… bahahhahaha.  those overalls though…  Even Martha makes fashion mistakes.  lol.

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And also these funny memes…

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Hahahahah!  Y’all enjoy your weekend.  The big kids are gone for a church retreat and Matt is busy helping lead worship this weekend…So it’s me and Milo and lots of rain for the next 2 days.  I’m going to read a TON and we are so gonna order pizza.

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Pumpkin Carving… (Me and Martha Series)

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pg. 137 of Martha Stewart's Special Ocassions

pg. 137 of Martha Stewart’s Special Occasions

This year we decided to carve our pumpkins instead of painting them.  We’ve painted them for the last several years but I thought some old school scooping and chiseling would be fun.  Gage is still out of town so it was just Matt, Cady, Milo and me. Martha gives some great carving tips on page 136 of her entertaining book Special Occasions.  click to enlarge.

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We used one of those cheap carving kits from Walmart (about $3) that comes with a book of ideas/templates.  We had to break out a big knife for the tops, but those little tools were pretty easy to use.  And that book?

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Milo studied every single page of that book for a week.  He finally decided on a ghost design.  We set up outside for the messy part.

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Cady was undecided on what she wanted to do (as you can see above), but in the end she decided to print a template off the internet (Baylor Bear!). I cut the tops and then the kids (and Matt) scooped out the guts.

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Neither of them actually liked that part…

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Especially Milo.  He actually got really grossed out by it and refused to do anymore after about 2 handfuls.

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We moved inside and I started with the ghost template.  It didn’t work well taping it on so I ended up free handing the design on the pumpkin and going from there.  I also put an M on the back of Milo’s so he could have an area to cut and poke – that way he would feel like he was carving too and the ghost design on the front wouldn’t get messed up.

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Cady’s was way more complicated and took more time.

Milo was dancing in the background...in his underwear...lol

Milo was dancing in the background…in his underwear…lol

They both turned out super cute!

Cadys:

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Milo’s (team effort):

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I will say this though…I think next year we will go back to painting!  Yuck.  And also, the pumpkins are already starting to get mushy.  And we have followed the tips online about using Vaseline and spray with a little bleach.  If you want to carve pumpkins, I guess the best tip is to wait until the day before Halloween.  And just because I think some of these are super cute… Here is a pic of the painted pumpkins featured in Martha Stewart’s Halloween edition of her magazine this month.  I think some of them are great!

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And a pic of our painted ones from last year.

Final products!

Yes… we are definitely going back to painted next year.  These are so cute!

Carving or painting, either way, I love Halloween pumpkins!

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Organizing the Linen “closet” (Me and Martha Series)

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Today I’m sharing some of Martha’s tips on organizing your linen closet.  If you remember, we don’t actually use our linen closet for linens, but the tips still apply.  We use a repurposed TV armoire because we keep other stuff (medical supplies, extra homegoods, extra towels) in our actual linen closet.  Here is where I started:

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It really wasn’t bad considering the way some of my linen closets have looked in the past.  Here are a few pics from Martha Stewarts Homekeeping Handbook and also her book Good Things for Organizing.

via Homekeeping Handbook

via Homekeeping Handbook

via Homekeeping Handbook

via Homekeeping Handbook

via Good Things for Organizing

via Good Things for Organizing

Here are some of Martha’s main tips:

  1. Get rid of what you do not use.  You don’t need 4 sets of sheets for one bed…  I was able to get rid of a few that were in our armoire.  I wash our sheets on Sundays and then we put the same ones back on.  The only difference is we change the cotton ones out in the winter for warmer flannel ones.  I kept an extra set for each bed and then an extra set we use for the fold out couch.  Here is my donate pile after going through everything.
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You can keep old sheets for drop cloths (store them in the garage), otherwise donate them to your local charity.

2. Keep extra comforters or linens that are rarely used in a storage bag.  We use these vacuum storage bags quite a bit.. They save so much room!

This is "before" I sucked it flat. lol!

This is “before” I sucked it flat. lol!

3. Learn how to fold sheets!  This is a big one.  Both of Martha’s book I mentioned give step by step directions on how to fold the dreaded fitted sheet.  It takes a while to master, but it’s worth the time.  Your closet/shelves will look so much nicer.

so much better...and neater...and a neatly folded set of sheets takes up WAY less space.

so much better…and neater…and a neatly folded set of sheets takes up WAY less space.

4. Sort linens by type, size, etc.  Martha mentions you can also put your set of sheets in one of the coordinating pillow cases for storing, but I didn’t do that.  I sorted by size, season, function (blankets on one shelf, pillow covers and pillows in a different section.

These are the extra sets of sheets I mentioned.  We have 2 queen beds, 1 full bed, and a full fold out couch.  And also our flannel sheets.

These are the extra sets of sheets I mentioned. We have 2 queen beds, 1 full bed, and a full fold out couch. And also our flannel sheets.

This shelf has extra decorative pillow covers (I change them out for seasons) and then 2 extra twin sheet sets.  Sometimes you need 2 extra when the kids are little.  Potty training and the sickies sometimes make middle of the night changes necessary.

This shelf has extra decorative sofa pillow covers (I change them out for seasons) and then 2 extra twin sheet sets. Sometimes you need 2 extra when the kids are little. Potty training and the sickies sometimes make middle of the night changes necessary.

This section has the vacuum sealed extra comforters and the bottom shelf is extra quilts.

This section has the vacuum sealed extra comforters and the bottom shelf is extra quilts.

Here it is all organized.

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So much nicer!  And I even have extra storage space if needed now!

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Mine and Martha’s side by side.  I am not as far from Martha Stewart and her amazing homekeeping skills as I once thought.  And you probably noticed above, I even bought little metal labels ($5 for a pack and I have a bunch leftover) for my linens too! Wheeeeee!

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One thing I can say about this challenge this month… Our house is getting so organized and that is a great feeling.

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