Jan 31, 2013

Get Ready, Get Set, School

Well I have posted quite a bit about house and home so I thought it was about time I throw in some school in the mix. Homeschool that is. Is it one word or two? Not sure. Anyways this is just a not so brief summary of how it all started...for us anyways.

After having our third bambina, Alifair, I decided my husband and I decided that I should give being a stay at home mommy a try. At first the thought terrified me. How would we survive on one income? How would we be able to save? We cut back a lot. It's going on a year now and so far we have made it with blessings from God and budgeting, couponing, and picking up odd jobs.

This past September our son, Jackson, was due to start kindergarten and I was so excited, I think more than him. I was looking forward to picking out school clothes, lunchboxes and supplies. I was even looking forward to the first day when I would walk him into class, sobbing of course. But nevertheless I was looking forward to experiencing that with him and was looking even more forward for him to experience school. However, that day never came. Well not technically anyways. My husband and I decided a few months prior to the start of the school year that homeschooling sounded great. We have extended family that have home schooled for 20 years and I knew with their help and support it might just be a possibility. We jumped into it head first. We spent the summer setting up a "school room". I purchased loads of materials. Art supplies, posters, flash cards, workbooks, if it was school related I bought it. We are now half way into the school year and I would recommend not doing that. Pick up some art supplies? Yes. All the rest? No. I don't use it. I would suggest getting a feel for the way your family and children will do school. Will you the sit at a desk? Kitchen table? On the floor? In a hiding spot? Who knows. Learn their learning style before you set up the room. Homeschool fact #1.

As far as our at home "teaching" goes. We take it day by day. With three kids it's hard to really get much "learning time". With it being kindergarten it's mostly "play learning", if you will. We paint, do projects, read a ton of cool books. We go exploring, learn the bible. We use the computers and our tablet for fun educational apps. My son also gets some structured time with worksheets and story writing. It works for us, at least for now. I started out the school year with a more structured approach but with a newborn and a crazy three year old running around structure flew out the window, the first day. Now, we just go with the flow. I know it will be different each year but for now we are having fun. We don't have to worry about getting up early and getting ready for school. I don't have to worry about school clothes, lunches, and paperwork. I just get to spend time with my kids, the ones that God gave me. For that, I feel extremely blessed.

If you are not familiar with homeschooling and the way it works...well no worries, I'm not either. I don't know all the ins and outs of teaching my kids everything their "suppose" to be learning. I have learned a lot about home educating in the past six months but it's only the beginning. I have no idea about all the laws, regulations, and testing parts of it. I don't know curriculum, programs, and what all the acronyms stand for.

I got my teaching degree and always pictured my self teaching a whole classroom of kids. I never imagined I would be teaching my own children. Ya, know? Teaching them...like a real teacher. Although I came into homeschooling with a bit of reserve I find it very rewarding. Some days  Everyday is overwhelming. But then I just keep remembering  "you can learn something even if you don't sit at a desk" so that helps. I see progress in my kids everyday. Their learning tons. I love spending time with them reading books, surfing the internet for cool facts, watching history and science programs, and doing some crazy projects. I can only thank God for the opportunity that he has given me.

Anyone out there homeschool? Just starting out? Almost done? Anyone teaching kindergarten? 

Jan 29, 2013

How to Create a Pretty Place for Paper

I am in the middle of reorganizing my work space. I was sorting some of my office/school supplies and was in need of a way to organize my different types of paper.  I print a lot of homemade art and school supplies on card stock so I use it regularly but like most people I use regular copy paper when I print sheets for my family binder or coupons from the web. I had my papers stacked on top of each other next to the printer but was having difficultly when it came time to print. I needed a storage space that would allow me easy access to the two. I made a mental note of what I needed.

My Mental Notes...
  • easy access to card stock and printer paper
  • functional yet pretty
  • labeled so everything has a place
  • recycle if possible
  • do it for FREE
 I checked out some paper trays at Staples and online but just wasn't feeling the high prices for paper storage. Then I do what I do best and went shopping in my own home! I have a ton of baskets and bins that I thought might work. None of the baskets or bins that I tried were right. I wanted something that was made for the space and for the intended purpose of housing papers. Sitting beside my desk were two empty packing boxes. I started playing around with the concept and came up with this.

Now of course I wasn't going to leave them just a plain old box. I had some pretty blue wrapping paper in my stash and decided to cover the entire thing. I taped the boxes together with heavy duty packaging tape. Trimmed off any debris from the opening.  I used some homemade modpodge to cover the boxes inside and out. Go slow because if your wrapping paper or craft paper is thin it may bubble. I might just try tape next time.

 I added some Martha Stewart adhesive book plates for labeling. I don't know why but I love bookplates. They make anything look spiffy!

And after printing out my little labels and adding my paper that needed a home I sat back and admired my handy work.
 Now of course it's not perfect, but it's functional and pretty. And I like it. So, that's all that matters.

So how's my list looking now?
  • easy access to card stock and printer paper
  • functional yet pretty
  • labeled so everything has a place
  • recycle if possible
  • do it for FREE
Here is what you'll need if you don't have the supplies already...
  • two recycled boxes {large enough to hold paper}
  • desired wrapping paper {you could use scrapbooking paper as well}
  • modpodge, craft glue, or even tape
  • labels { I orginally picked up these bookplates for another project for $.50 at Staples}
You could easily do this project for under $5.00 if you don't have anything yet!

I love this because I made it for free using on hand supplies and homemade modpodge. Although I think I would actually tape the wrapping paper and give that a try. Mine bubbled up a bit.  I am really excited on how this turned out especially since it was my first time "modpodging", ANYTHING!

What do you think of my homemade paper organizer? Got something similar? Any tips on modpodging thin paper?

Jan 28, 2013

Blog Love: My New Favorite Reads

This weekend in hopes to spread the love and do some giving back I went on a hunt for new and upcoming blogs that inspired me. Here are some of the pieces I found AMAZING...

First of all let me start with someone that I have had the chance to work with personally, through my shop. Christina was busy planning her son Colin's birthday when I met her. We worked together to create an adorable construction themed party for him seen here. While I was on her fabulous blog I ventured out into older post and caught a peek at some green. Green chevron that is! Boy was I excited. I have been on the hunt, for awhile, for some bright fabric for my playroom curtains and when I spotted these I fell in love immediately.

DIY chevron no sew drapes

Are these not great? And the best part..their NO SEW! If you would like to check these out in person and get the step by step visit Christina's amazing blog here.

Another one of my new found favs is a great DIY V-day pillow from Two Everyday Divas. Chrissy used one of my favorite tricks to make a new statement piece to her decor. She sewed some simple felt onto fabric to create a homemade love pillow. Of course I love it!

How adorable is this? It's sew simple. To me it looks like it could be a piece sold at Urban Outfitters or a high end boutique. I just can't get enough. I will be adding something like this to my home very soon. To check out how Chrissy put this beauty together click here.

Last but not least, this piece comes from Fabrizia at Fabtwigs. She took a craiglisted antique in a bad place to a elegant must have beauty....with spray paint. Words can not describe this..

This is by far the best spray paint job I have ever seen. She cleaned up the handles and added some new bun feet. Ah, it's just to die for. Absolutely stunning. Can I have it, please? Check out more from Fabrizia here.

These three beauts are defiantly some of my favorites and you'd better believe that these will be repeats in my home. I can't wait. Please show some love and link to these girls and their wonderful blogs. I know I can't wait to see what's next.

Do you have an awesome project or tutorial that you would like share? Contact me. I would love to share some. 

Jan 27, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Ham Carnitas

I love EASY cooking! What woman doesn't? And what I love more is when you can get two meals for the price of one. With a growing family on a budget I am always in search of easy meals that take minutes to make and require minimal ingredients. I don't have a ton of money invested in my spice cabinet and I don't live near one of those ritzy supermarkets with upscale products. Don't get me wrong I love cooking, when I have the time, and I like to try different ingredients and spices but what normal person has time to prepare a 22 ingredient dinner every night? We are simple people and we like simple food.

One way I create great tasting and easy meals is with my slow cooker crock pot. I find it so easy when I can get up in the morning, throw my ingredients in the crock pot and walk away. A few hours later I have a complete meal ready to eat. Simple as that!

I usually purchase a ham {shoulder/pinic/whatever it's called} or two when I make my monthly grocery trip.With ONE ham I am able to make several meals. I usually cook them on Friday or Saturday and prepare some side dishes to go along with it. After eating a good ol' fashion southern ham dinner with fixings I am able to refrigerate the leftovers. As I prepare them for refrigeration I take the bone out and shred the meat {like pulled pork}. The next day {or sometimes the next week if I freeze the meat} I add the meat and a pack of taco or fajita seasoning into the crock pot and cook another hour or so. And that my friends, gives us HAM CARNITAS! You can dress them up like regular tacos or fajitas. My personal favorite is to add some sour cream and fresh cilantro. Mexican heaven and tasty too! 


This recipe is not only easy it's budget friendly, simple, and fresh tasting! Print the recipe card, try it, and save it with your family's favorites.

Did you try this, like it? No? Do you have a simple frugal recipe made from leftovers?

Jan 24, 2013

Housekeeping 101: How to Clean your Ceiling Fans

When we first moved into our house I hated the dated ceiling fan in our master bedroom. But during two pregnancies the cool breeze from above was my comfort on those restless nights. I have grown so accustomed to sleeping under a fan that I would hate to take it down. Even on these winter nights I just have to have it on. It's the combination of the light breeze and the low rumble that comforts me as I drift to sleep. My hubby of course complains cause it "makes him stuffy".

Well, this morning I was doing some extra cleaning, as I try to do at least once a week and I noticed this as I was folding clothes at the end of my bed. Night after night I had laid there while dust bunnies collected above my head. Eww!

Of course I have cleaned it since we have moved in three years ago. But it has been a couple months since I gave it a wipe down. I use to just take some pledge and rag to it, but that never worked because our bed sits right under the fan so when you use a rag or duster the debris fall all over the bed. I for one don't like that idea. Who wants dust all over their comforter and pillows. Another eww!
One of my good friends swore that using a pillowcase was the way to go. I had never thought of this idea, but I gave it a try.

You just open the pillowcase and cover one blade at a time. You use the pillowcase as the rag and wipe down each blade from middle to end. It is so EASY! And you know me I live for EASY!

It took me about three minutes to do the entire fan. And the best part there was no dirt on my bed.

Now let's take a peek at the inside of the pillowcase, cause you know I did.

Can you believe all that dust was just lingering over my head. Well now that I know the pillowcase trick works wonders you better believe I will be using it from now on. I have another ceiling fan I am getting ready to go do. :)

I hope I am not the only one that forgets to dust things sometimes. Out of sight out of mind seems to be my problem with a lot of it. :) So cheers to one super neat trick that will be used again and again.

How often do you clean ceiling fans or light fixtures?  Do you have any neat cleaning tricks?

Jan 23, 2013

How to Clean out your Virtual Life

As I sat down earlier this week in hopes to get virtually organized, for my hubby plans to reformat my pc soon, I began to get overwhelmed with the folders of saved ideas and pictures I have from the different shenanigans I have dreamed up. I quickly realized that I am a pack rat...virtually that is. I didn't realize that you could be a virtual hoarder.

So I have a tendency to not erase the bad photos before uploading. I just keep everything packed away in a tiny manilla folder labeled stuff. Yep, "stuff" should cover just about anything I need to put in there..Who does that? Who, in hopes to get organize would label a basket or in this case a folder "STUFF"?

To me that's just another unorganized space. A catchall for everything. Well, I hope you get the point. So how did I get through the stuff and finally get organized? Well I painstakingly went through every folder. I cleared out a ton of stuff that was just wasting memory space and organized importaint keepsakes into folders and files that were clearly labeled. I even put most of my stuff on back up. Duh, right? Easy-peasy!

How to Organize your Virtual Life:
  • Turn on your computer ( Okay, I just had to do it, lol)
  • First open up the Recycling Bin and clear that space. You'll need the space for more items.
  • Choose a folder, ie. Documents, Pictures, Music.
  • Slowly go through every file and decide one of three things, keep, delete, or back up.
  • Delete the files you no longer need or use. Yes, delete the picture of your finger across the lens! 
  • Once you have deleted the files you no longer need it's time to back up the files you want to save. Like photos, videos, old documents, etc.
  • Back up files onto CDs, flash drives, or a portable hard drive. There are even online storage sites now. Mediafire is one I use regularly.
  • Now once you are left with only the files you are keeping you need to categorize them. For example, Instead of photos by date, try photos by event or person.
  • Start dragging! Drag the items you intend on keeping to it's new home. Or you can cut and paste.
  • Finalize your new folders by adding them to the desktop so their easily assessable.
  • Open the recycling bin again and finalize the deletion of all items. If you happened to delete something by mistake you can bring it back to life by clicking on it in this folder.
  • Of course I like to make things pretty and neat so I added a fresh new background to my desktop.
  • Now I would take it another step by ensuring that my backed up files are organized and labeled. If you use external storage make sure it's labeled so that you can find a certain item when the need arises. 

Now of course I will have to transfer everything over to my portable hard drive since I am reformatting, but you should be good to go. This is a simple process and needs to be done monthly to maintain an organized virtual life. If you use your computer for business or other important reason you might want to back up weekly. Now my hubby is the computer guru so I'll leave the reformatting to him.

I hope it's a while before I need it again, for someone that had let their virtual life go...it was a job! How often do you back up? Any other tips or tricks on staying virtually organized?


Get Organized with this DEAL!

Do you have a diaper bag or purse that seems to be a black hole? Well I do. That's why I am grabbing this handy dandy organizing insert. I love the fact that everything in my diaper bag will be organized and easily reachable. And when I change bags, it will be EASY!

It's only $3.55 right now with FREE SHIPPING! YAY!

Snap on over and grab yours today! I am getting a couple.


Jan 22, 2013

Now Offering Custom Mood Boards

Are you looking for a new look in your living room, kitchen, or entire home? The House on Hillbrook is now offering custom mood boards for any occasion.

Examples of Mood Board Ideas:
Interior Design
Exterior Design
Wedding Design
Party Planning

Once you decide that you want to purchase a custom plan for your home, party, or other occasion simply checkout through the link below. Within 24 hours you will receive a personality and preference questionnaire. Please submit the questionnaire via email to houseonhillbrook@gmail.com. Allow 3-5 business days for you completed design. IT'S THAT SIMPLE!! 

The completed designs include a visual mood board with color scheme and a detail list of each piece. Details for each piece include name of product, where to purchase, item numbers (if applicable) and price. I even include information on how to DIY pieces on the cheap!

Are your ready to have a new eye on a room or event? Well, let's get started!
Choose a Mood Board
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