Category Archives: pinterest

Getting a Clean Start in 2014


We’ve taken the last couple of weeks off from school… and been sick every. single. day. We’ve had stomach bugs, croup, colds, etc. It’s been miserable. BUT… nothing motivates me more to clean than being in a sick house. I wanted to clean and organize the house before we start back to school. The main part of the house that I want taken care of is our kitchen… it serves as the kitchen, school room, sewing/ craft room, office and laundry room. I really need this area to be clean and accessible. This week, I’ve been utilizing tips from Pinterest as I tackle the task of getting things in order.

First off, here are my top 5 tips for cleaning:

1. Purge without regret.. go through cabinets and drawers. Be real with yourself… if you haven’t used something in the last 6 months to a year… are you really going to use it? Toss it or pass it to someone who WILL use it. I applied this to the many, many workbooks and coloring books we have lurking in our supply closet.

2. Deep Clean… while you’re purging, take time to pull things out of cabinets and wipe down shelves and drawers. Give the kids some Clorox wipes and send them around to clean cabinet doors, bedroom doors, shelves, etc.

3. Plastic tubs. I have the Sterilite shoe box size tubs EVERYWHERE. I use them to organize our school stuff. I have them for paint, play dough, language arts manipulatives, math manipulatives, markers, crayons, glue, puzzles, flashcards. They are all clearly labeled and easy to access in the homeschool cabinet.

4. Rearrange. I always feel like my house is clean when I have rearranged a little. It makes you move things around and clean areas that don’t usually get a lot of attention. Change the seating in your living room. Rearrange some kitchen cabinets to make things more accessible. Reorganize your pantry and throw out dated things away.

5. Unsubscribe… go through all those daily emails that you get (and don’t read), scroll to the bottom and click unsubscribe. Now you don’t have tons of emails vying for your attention and you’re not tempted to spend money you don’t have!

And now… here are my top ten cleaning tips from Pinterest (many I’ve been doing this week):

1. Clean the oven without chemicals!

2. Cleaning Microfiber Furniture

3. Cleaning the Top Loading Washing Machine (this one is happening right now!)

4. Homemade, Natural Cleaners

5. Wool Dryer Balls (this isn’t cleaning… but it is money saving and something I’m using when doing laundry)

6. Recharge your Towels

7. Cleaning Hard Water Stains

8. Uses for Dryer Sheets (other than softening clothes)

9. Cleaning the Microwave without chemicals

10. Organize your Cleaning Supplies (I haven’t done this YET!)

What are your favorite/ go to cleaning tips?


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Filed under chores, cleaning, DIY, pinterest

DIY Bugspray that Works

bug spray2

A friend posted the other day asking for a chemical free, homemade bugspray. She took the responses she got and put together a great bugspray that smells good, is chemical free and works wonders! Since she’s not one to be on the internet often, I thought I’d share her recipe here.

Seriously… I was sitting outside last night and felt like I was in a super bubble that the mosquitos could not enter. The ingredients are a little costly up front (the essential oils can get a little pricey… but they will last you for a LONG time!), but it’s well worth the investment. My kids love this stuff.

Here you go:

16 oz Witch Hazel ($1.19 at Target)

10-15 drops Peppermint Oil

10-15 drops Eucalyptus Oil

5-10 drops of Lavendar Oil

I think the oils cost me about $23 at our local health food store… maybe you can get them cheaper. I’m already looking up stuff on pinterest that I can do to justify the price. My next project is homemade wool dryer balls!


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Teaching Poetry

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been teaching a writing class through our local homeschool association’s enrichment classes. I have one class that is early elementary and one that is upper. I’ve really enjoyed teaching (I do miss being in a classroom every now and then)… and, even though some of the kids have made it clear that my class was not their first choice, I think they’ve enjoyed it as well.

Originally, I was going to teach poetry for just one week, but decided to stretch it into two (we only meet once a week). For the first class, I read poetry from the Bible, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and a book of riddles I picked up from Scholastic. We then spent the rest of the time doing “magnetic” poetry. To prepare for the class, I printed out several common words, laminated them and cut them out. The idea was to have a large version of the magnetic poetry kits you can buy (at least I think you can still buy them!).


I split the kids into groups of three or four and had them come up and work as a team to make up a poem using the words provided.


My younger class decided that the point was to use ALL of the words provided. The older class worked a little harder to make the poems make sense. Both classes really enjoyed this game.

You can visit to do an online version of magnetic poetry. I used the words from this site when making the game for the class.

For the second week of class, I had the kids actually do some writing. I gave them three choices to write… an acrostic, using their name,.. a riddle or just a simple poem about things they liked. I did examples for them:


I let the children use THIS PRINTABLE that I found on Pinterest.

What are some ideas you’ve used when it comes to teaching poetry?

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Angry Birds Birthday Party on a Budget

Big Brother turned eight a couple of weeks ago! Eight just seems too old. He was torn between an Angry Birds Party and a Lego Party. Personally, the idea of a lego party stressed me out. Legos are small and scatter easily. He wanted his friends to bring their legos so they all could play. The thought of the lego swapping that would happen was too much for my OCD self. So… I gently swayed him toward the angry birds party!


Thankfully, it did not rain on party day and we were able to run around outside! We had a live action angry birds game. My husband brought up some boxes from our stash (we move a lot, so we have a stash of boxes). I printed out a TNT sign, and we taped to a few of the boxes to make it more authentic. You can download the TNT pdf here…. TNT Angry Birds.


Some kids chose to be the angry birds and hurl themselves into the boxes. Others chose to launch the red ball toward the boxes. I found the template for the bird face (as well as a pig face) here. IMAG2815

I can’t take credit for the original design of the cake. I found the idea on Pinterest. This type of decorating is not hard. It requires a star tip cake decorating tip and a lot of patience. IMAG2831

For snacks, we had Angry Bird Graham Crackers, Angry Bird Cheese Its and Fruit Skewers (Red Strawberries, Yellow Pineapple and Blue Blueberries to go along with the color bird theme). For favors, the kids got to take home a pack of stickers and a couple of packs of Angry Birds Fruit Snacks. You can find all of these Angry Birds treats at Wal- Mart.

We really weren’t sure of what the weather would do until about a couple of hours before the party. Had we known it would be such a beautiful day, we might have planned more games. However, the kids were thrilled with the live action game, snacks and just having a yard to run around in.

Total cost for this party was less the $30!

Feel free to check out my Angry Bird Birthday Board on Pinterest for more awesome ideas from others who have gone before me.

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A Letter to Moms of Preschoolers

Moms of Preschooler

Dear Moms of Preschoolers,

I often get asked by moms of young children what they can do to get their child ready for school. I often see questions about the best preschool curriculums on the homeschool forums that I frequent. When I was teaching school, I was a 4K teacher. I had to be very creative in the classroom because the school I worked for had never had a preschool program before. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in preschool and with preschool kids.

My answer to the question of what can I do is to Let them Be Little!!! Read, Read, Read!!! and let them Play, Play Play!!! They are going to have PLENTY of time in school… why rush the process? I promise that there is no where on a college application that says “when did you learn to read?”

I am a firm believer (and this belief is backed up in child psychology and research) that children learn through play. When I was teaching four year olds, I did not focus on “academics” like learning ABCs and 123s. I had a classroom full of centers… art, science, blocks, housekeeping, books, etc. The majority of the day was spent in those centers- exploring, discovering, creating, learning.

How does this translate to homeschooling? Slow your roll… that’s how it translates. Why be in such a hurry to push our children into school? What’s the big rush? When Big Brother was two and three, many of our friends were enrolling their children in preschools… expensive preschools. We had already made the decision to homeschool, but I really started to feel some guilt… like I wasn’t giving him every opportunity… like I was limiting him in some way. My mom even offered to pay for him to go! But I knew this wasn’t right for us.

I went to a school supply store and grabbed some workbooks and file folder games. We tried to “do school”… and he actually liked doing those things, but he was learning so much more by looking at books, building with blocks, recreating the solar system with bouncy balls, exploring the lake around our apartment, going on bike rides with daddy… I abandoned the workbooks and just let him be little. I tried again when he was four… I even purchased an expensive preschool curriculum… that lasted about two months. In my opinion, he was much better off playing with dinosaurs, checking books out from the library, playing with friends and going on nature walks.

Do I still feel like my son is missing out? Do I still feel like I should have done more? Not one bit! He is a well rounded kid… grade levels beyond his age. He’s had opportunities that he wouldn’t have been able to take had he been in preschool. He has a great imagination because instead of doing school when he was three, four and five… he was playing with his sisters, creating in depth, detailed imaginary worlds. He taught himself to read with books about dinosaurs. He learned about all the planets in the solar system and countless ocean animals.

I guess I’m just trying to let some of you off the hook. Please, don’t stress about the preschool years. Enjoy them… the days may be long, but the years sure do go fast. Don’t play the comparison game… wondering how your child measures up to someone else. Let them be little and go at their pace.. let them lead you!

Now… here is where I relent a little… Little Sis is three, but she sees her big brother and big sister doing school and oh so wants to join them… so I would like to share the sites I frequent (curriculum companies won’t appreciate this… but I really don’t think you need to invest in a preschool curriculum).

Tot Packs

Preschool Packs

Useful printables

**UPDATE**… I recently came across this FREE preschool curriculum. It’s really cute and thorough. Thanks to Motherhood on a Dime for God’s Little Explorers!

Pinterest is a treasure trove of preschool ideas. We utilize busy bags with Little Sis. Check out my Pinterest Board filled with busy bag ideas!

We also utilize free apps on the Kindle and websites like ABC Mouse and Sheppard Software


A Mom who has been, and still is … there

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Filed under hip homeschool hop, homeschool, pinterest, preschool

Freebie Friday- Dr. Seuss Subway Art

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and Read Across America Day, here’s your Friday Freebie:

Dr. Seuss Subway

Click to Download —————> Dr. Seuss Subway

Check out my previous Seuss- tastic posts for some Seussy fun!

Celebrating Seuss- Part 1

Celebrating Seuss- Part 2

Celebrating Seuss- Part 3

And then, there’s always my Dr. Seuss Pinterest Board to Check out!

Happy Friday y’all!

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100th Day of School Pinterest Round Up

In our co op this week, our younger crowd (all girls) celebrated the 100th Day of School. I was in charge of gathering the activities… so, I turned to Pinterest… of course!

Here are the activities I went with… there were so many to choose from !!


I pulled out 100 blocks from our block box at home. The girls made 10 piles of 10 blocks. We counted by tens to one hundred. IMAG2589

Then they had some free time to see what they could build with one hundred blocks… they ended up seeing how tall they could make their tower before it fell.

You can find the original pin here. IMAG2596

Next, we counted by tens again while we painted gumballs into ten gumball machines.

You can find the original pin, as well as the link to this free printable here.


For our final activity, our fourteen year old helper led the girls in an activity of stringing 100 fruit loops onto yarn for a necklace… she did a great job… unfortunately, the little girls were hungry and most of the fruit loops didn’t make it on the necklace.

The original pin is here.

In addition to these fun activities, we read

And we watched this Old School, Schoolhouse Rock Video… Counting by 5s to 100!

If you’d like to check out the other fun ideas I came across, feel free to visit my 100th Day of School board on Pinterest!

What have you and your kids enjoyed when it comes to the 100th Day of School?

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Preschool Busy Bag Ideas with Free Printable

I periodically post the activities I have for Little Sis. I have to rotate them often to keep her attention. I have a stash of busy bags that she can pull out while the big kids are doing school.

Here are a couple of activities I added this week:


In this activity, she uses clothes pins and playing cards. She places a clothes pin on each diamond on the card and then counts. This helps with number recognition and 1 to 1 correspondence.


I have seen this activity on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find any templates for the block patterns. If you scroll down, I made a template of my own that you are welcome to use.


She uses duplo blocks to match the patterns.

Duplo Pattern Template Click here to Download——-> Duplo Pattern Template

The template is in black and white so you can customize to the blocks you have. Enjoy!

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Filed under busy bag, free, hip homeschool hop, homeschool, math, math manipulatives, patterns, pinterest, printable

Little House on the Prairie Birthday Party

If you’ve kept up with me over the last year, you’ll know that we have fallen in love with Little House on the Prairie. I introduced the books to Big Brother and Big Sis last spring and they were an instant hit. We have traveled from the Big Woods of Wisconsin to the prairie in Kansas, to Plum Creek and to Silver Lake in the Dakota territory. We have huddled close while the wolves howled outside the cabin. We have laughed at Pa’s stories and been heart broken when the grasshoppers, blackbirds and other pests have ruined the crops. We were sad when Mary went blind and on the edge of our seats during the Long Winter, wondering if the blizzards would ever stop coming. We have two books left to go in the series. I don’t know who is enjoying it more… me or the kids!

Big sis was thrilled when I suggested a Prairie Party for her sixth birthday. We began to plan together the various activities we could have at the party. We looked to Pinterest for inspiration as well. Big Sis’s birthday is in January which pretty much counts an outside birthday party out of the mix and our house just isn’t big enough to accommodate lots of children running around. Thankfully, a hotel nearby gave us a great deal to use one of their conference rooms. They even set up the tables and chairs for us! We normally don’t go to such lengths for a birthday party… but every now and then, I think it’s ok. The memories made are totally worth it.

IMG_3780The kids and I recently discovered some Play Mobil toys from my childhood in my parents basement. I thought this wagon was a great decoration for the party!

IMAG2198I have been making sun bonnets to sell in my etsy shop and happened to have a surplus hanging around in my stash. We grabbed some bandanas for the boys. Each child got to pick their head/ neck wear when they arrived. We had quilts (not pictured) set up for the kids to play/ eat on.


I picked up these little pails at the dollar section at Target. Laura Ingalls refers to her lunch pail throughout the books. The kids each got to pick a pail for snack time. The snacks included apples, pretzels, a maple sugar stick and a roll with homemade butter (see below):


I told the kids that they were going to have a snack, but that they were going to have to work for it! We talked about how in the prairie days, people couldn’t just head to Wal Mart or Ingles to pick up food at any time. I told them about how they churned butter (I’m such a homeschool mom). I really wanted an authentic butter churn to use for the day, but no one had one to borrow and I just couldn’t justify spending the money to buy one. Instead, each child got a baby food jar, filled 3/4 way with heavy whipping cream and a little bit of salt. They had to shake, shake, shake until the cream turned into butter (about 15 minutes). If you want whipped butter, you stop when it starts to change from liquid to solid… but if you want the real stuff, just hang in there a little longer! The kids got to put their own butter on a roll to enjoy. They packed their jars into their pails to take home with them when the party ended.


In addition to the pails and butter, the kids got to pick a piece of stick candy. My own kids and I went to the Mast General Store in town to pick out “old fashioned” candy for the party. It was quite a treat.


For entertainment, we had some horse races!

IMG_3794We let the big boys ride their horses backwards to make the playing field a little more even for the little girls.

IMG_3815We also had a lincoln log corner where the kids could build cabins and such. We had a contest to see who could build the tallest tower.

IMAG2201I also set up a craft corner where the kids could assemble and color a prairie boy or girl.


I wasn’t sure what to do for the cake. I had seen covered wagon shaped cakes, cabin cakes, etc. I decided to just draw the cover picture from the Little House on the Prairie book.

So much could be done with a prairie party! We adapted to be inside. I think it was a huge success. Big Sis was so excited and that’s really all that matters to me.

Had we been able to do the party outside, we may have had some other activities like washing clothes in a washtub, musical tree stumps, covered wagon rides, etc.

I gathered lots of inspiration through several other blogs. Please visit my Pinterest Little House Party Board to see where I drew ideas.

Thanks for stopping by. What kind of fun parties have you had or been to?


Filed under birthday, homeschool, little house on the prairie, party, pinterest

Plants and Pillars top 10 posts of 2012

top ten

I see many blogs posting their top ten of 2012. I thought I’d jump on the train and share mine too. I’ll post from my most frequently viewed posts as well as my personal faves. Enjoy this look back on Homeschooling, Child-Raising, Marriage and Life from Plants and Pillars in 2012. (these are not in any particular order)

1. Caught Not Taught… a look at how what we do speaks louder to our children than what we say

2. Crying over Spilled Breast Milk… confessions of a sleep deprived mom of a newborn

3. Pinterest Made Me Do it: Kids’ Bathroom

4. A Few of My Favorite Sewing Tutorials

5. How to Write a Unit Study

6. Great Educational Websites

7. School’s Out for Summer… A look back over our 2011-2012 school year

8. Let them Be Little

9. Prayer Guide for Family and Self Printables

10. Our Homeschool Day

Well… that’s it… my top ten of 2012. I had a baby this past year. We became more involved in the local homeschooling community. My involvement in the virtual community has dwindled. I am hoping to make time for blogging in 2013. Only time will tell!

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