Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Year Ago Today...

Today, November 9th, marks one year together for us! 

One year ago tonight, I returned his phone call and said "yes" to starting a relationship, 
 little dreaming that in exactly one year from that same day I would be mailing out the last of our wedding invitations, chatting with florists, and finalizing registries, 
to name a few of today's activities! 

What a year it has been. The past 365 days have absolutely flown by, 
each one leaving behind it new memories, new lessons, + new adventures.

 It has been the sweetest journey, and that journey is really just beginning!

More coming soon. =)
-Chels

Monday, October 9, 2017

I'm Getting Married!

"The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad."
-Psalm 126:3

 I get to marry my best friend + the love of my life!
 Still can't quite believe it! Jesus has been so very gracious to us, and my heart is so full.
-Chels

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bridesmaid's Outfit Details (from the brothers' weddings)

Some of y'all have been asking where we got our bridesmaids dresses for our brothers' weddings last month. This post is to answer those questions!

The burgundy maxi dresses we wore for Mitchell + Bryn's wedding are the Mikarose brand Miranda dress. They were purchased from Neesees Dresses but appear to have since been discontinued on there, so you can purchase the same dress here. The dress is cheapest on Amazon (if you have free shipping) at this link, but it is only available there in floral options.
On sizing, Allison + I both wore smalls and Liz wore an extra small. (we also had to shorten hers a bit, as it was too long) 

Rebecca's dress was this one, purchased from the Pink Princess. We found the site by searching for "girls' blush pink dress w/ sleeves". The dress was so adorable-even cuter once it arrived than the picture online!
The mauve/blush dress that the two maids-of-honor wore, is this Mikarose brand Lauren dress.
The two colors mixed together for the bridal part ladies were SO gorgeous!

We wore pearls for jewelry and various grey/silver flats or sandals. The sandals I wore were these Dream Pair Womens Spark Wedge Sandal, in silver glitter. I had to order new sandals specifically for the weddings and I had to order and then send back four different kinds before I finally got these, pair #5, that fit right and that I liked. (yay for Prime returns!) These aren't amazing quality but they are comfortable + cute and the price was good, so I was happy! Liz + Rebecca got their sandals from thrift stores. Allison's were the Lifestride Women's Neva Platform Sandal, in metallic. She has had hers for three years and they are still holding up great!
We don't have the professional pictures back from the double wedding yet, so a few iPhone pictures will have to suffice! I was given the opportunity to help look for ideas for navy dresses for us bridesmaids. The requirements was something cheap + lovely + not too formal. =) I had seen a friend wear this same navy dress (as we are wearing) in a wedding I'd attended earlier this year, so I texted and asked where they had gotten it. Amazon for the win! This dress is the Vivienne brand Women's Midi Length Dress w/ Bell Sleeves, in navy. Even though all three of us (Allison, Liz, + I) are all normally different sizes, we all ordered smalls, and they worked just fine for each of us without alterations. Knit dresses are awesome like that sometimes! The elastic waist and "slightly-below-knee" length was perfect for a little give or take.

We wore the same sandals for the Friday + Saturday weddings. (although we ditched them after the double ceremony and went barefoot for the farm reception!) 

Jewelry was necklaces from Walmart + bangle bracelets from Kohls. (I wasn't able to find similar to link)
When I found the women's dresses on Amazon, I remembered that I had seen an almost identical looking dress for little girls, over on a website I'd been browsing on recently.
 Sure enough, we were able to get the very same dress there, the Bell Sleeve Midi Length Dress for girls, in navy. They wore pearls + flower crowns as well and looked absolutely darling. =)

One of the very fun aspects of the weddings, to me personally, was how very VERY different they were from each other. I loved how all three of the brides did such amazing jobs picking their favorite colors/styles + blending those together for their respective weddings, into two equally beautiful but very different looks. 

Also just a little tip to brides everywhere: knit dresses for bridesmaid dresses are fabulous choices! For one thing, they are much less expensive than formal/traditional bridesmaid dresses, and for another thing, they are so much more practical to re-wear! My sisters and I have already worn our dresses multiple times after the weddings. They are super comfortable + fit so well for a variety of occasions.

I don't do outfit detail posts like this very often, but a number of people were asking, so I decided to put together a few pictures + links to answer with a post! I know that, at least for me, it is always fun to get direct links to other people's outfit inspirations. =)
Hope y'all enjoy this post-let me know in the comments below! 
-Chels

***my product links are through the Amazon affiliate program. (see my disclosure here
Rest assured that I only recommend products that I personally use + endorse! 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sister's Getaway in Galena

Back the beginning of August, sister love and I took off for a two day road trip/getaway. It seemed like weird timing, since we had literally just returned home that week from being gone for over two months! But in the previous months, as we had hashed and rehashed the schedule, looking for any available little pocket of time, this was the best option coming to us. With the three weddings, a full family schedule, and two very diverse and loaded work schedules ourselves, we knew we were just gonna have to go with what was available, and that was Wednesday-Friday of the week we got home.

We settled on Galena as our location of choice. We had been there once before, several years ago, on a retreat with our singles at church, and we'd had an excellent impression of the town from that visit. It was also an easy choice since we didn't want to spend most of our time driving, and Galena is just over a two hour drive. 

We try to do at least one road trip a year. It is usually to either to visit a friend/s, or attend a wedding. This was probably the first that involved no one else, just chilling + relaxing as sisters. It was perfect!
First evening upon arrival.
We stayed in our room the first night and ordered in pizza from Procentos Pizza. I consider myself somewhat of a pizza connesior, having devoured many different varieties in my twenty-six years, and this pizza was absolutely unbelievable. Fresh tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, spicy chunks of sausage, and a wonderful amount of cheeses and sauce made this pizza unforgettable!
Outfit/style pics, just cause we're girls! =)
We stayed at the Cloran Mansion Bed + Breakfast and it was beautiful. I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It was secluded and quiet and we were left totally to ourselves, which was just what we wanted, and yet when we went down for breakfast in the mornings we had a great time with our host + hostess and the other guests. The grounds were lovely as well. 
Morning coffee + quiet time in the gazebo. 
Headed out on the town! 
Vinny Vanucchi's Italian for dinner. We had been there once before and it was amazing each time!
Incredible food!
We tried some new hairstyles....

Fun twist on a boho side braid...

Love this!
Ordering gelato at a little boutique that actually sold gelato, coffee, and clothing!
Exploring downtown.

Sadly, I totally forgot to take pictures of the gorgeous 5mile walk we did on Thursday morning. It started out by the river, along the railroad tracks, and ended up in the most beautiful wooded lane ever! I felt like we had just stepped into a scene from Anne of Green Gables. It was sunny and warm and amazing. When we got back from that, we laid out in the sun for a few hours. In addition, during our getaway we did nails, tried new hairstyles, laid on our backs on the bed and talked about dreams + goals + the present + the future. We watched movies and quoted right along with them. (any other sister sets out there that can also literally quote ALL THE THINGS from your favorite movies??) We ate delicious food + drank our homemade kombucha that we had brought with us. We met some sketchy people + had some hilarious conversations + made some epic memories in that department, as we always seem to do. (ha!)

All in all, it was such a splendid time, and one that we will have memories of forever. 

I'm so grateful for this girl---my sister. We are the best of friends and I can't imagine life without her. We are opposites in so many ways and yet are just the same in so many others! We can finish each other's sentences and know what the other is thinking, almost all the time. 

It was such a grand time we had together, and I'm blessed by it! Establishing and cultivating strong relationships with those nearest to you is one of the most important things you can do, and one you will never regret. Because of that, and so much else, I am so thankful for this time we had, and the sister relationship we have. 

Happy Thursday!
-Chels

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Becoming Best Friends With Your Siblings

This header picture almost makes me a little sentimental, especially given the current season of my life. We were touring in Alaska this past summer and drove through this town, Kasilof, which we had visited last time we were in Alaska. I had to go back in my Alaska folder from 2013 and find the picture that I remembered taking there on the swing, this one, above. So many memories. So many great times, back when all ten of us kids traveled together. I'm so thankful for those years. Everything is changing now, in so many ways, and even though these are the happiest of days, times are surely and definitely changing from what they were.

Anyways...in celebration of those incredible days, and also in celebration of these different but equally incredible days, when our family is growing by leaps and bounds, I am posting this today, using this great four-year old picture for my header. =)

My siblings didn't become my best friends accidentally. It took work, and a lot of intentional parenting on the part of my father and mother. We did not used to be best friends when we were younger. We went to a church and were in a social circle where nearly everything was age-segregated. I was friends with only kids within twelve months of my age, and it was the same way for my siblings. That was just how we rolled.

Then I turned twelve, and around that time God did a huge work in my father's heart, and turned his heart toward me + my siblings. He (my father) sold his booming business, we switched churches, we switched mentalities and how we did made decisions, and within a few months almost every single aspect of life as I knew it, changed. That is another very long story for another time, but I have to say that much at least for y'all to understand the foundation of the change that happened in our lives. We seemed to lose most of our other friends and suddenly, siblings was what we had left. It was quite something. Definitely not the most comfortable or seamless change that ever occurred in my life. But absolutely one of the best ones. We started doing family parties, family camps, family outings, family everything. We were still very social but instead of all breaking off into our own little age-segregated groups, we started interacting + socializing with bigger groups, including lots + lots of other families. We learned to develop close friendships. You don't just wake up one day and ta da! You are best friends with someone. No. With ANY FRIENDSHIP it takes work, and effort. And it is no different with siblings.

The only way to forge a strong friendship is to invest work and time and energy into it. Relationships of any type take work. You can't expect something to just fall together and into place. You will get out of it whatever you are willing to put into it.

With siblings, you have to be intentional. If you are in a big family, you have to be even MORE intentional, because there are so many more people to connect with. Families that are tight have the most incredible times + memories ever. Just believe me. If you have a close family now, then you know exactly what I mean. (note: even if you don't have a close family now, make a commitment that with your future family, someday, you will make close relationships a priority) Anyways, there are even more relationships to tend when you have a big family. And with all those people there are different love languages, and temperaments, and all that. There are a lot of different elements happening! Siblings' needs vary also depending on their love language. For one, that "something special" might be writing a simple note and leaving it on their bed. The next sibling might need some quality time going out for ice cream or coffee. A different sibling might need a special gift. And the next one just a hug and a little snuggle time. It can be so different from person to person! What I want to encourage you to do is to learn your siblings' love languages and work on connecting with them in the ways that are most meaningful to each one. The main thing in relationships, after all, is being intentional and choosing to spend time and make the effort.

If you aren't close to your siblings and this just sounds overwhelming to you, then don't worry-take heart and resolve today that with the help of Jesus, you are going to turn your little boat around and do life a little differently to change your course! Start small. If you haven't been investing time into your sibling relationships and you aren't close to begin with, than don't expect that you'll start out with long heart to hearts and lots of love reciprocation! It's gonna take a little time to change the course and earn their trust. Also you may want to check out  "Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends"(read my full disclosure here) This book is the real deal and is so great for siblings who want practical tips on getting along with each other and developing close-knit relationships.

And then?

Run to Jesus for help. Cry out to Him for your siblings and for healing in your relationships. Don't try to do this on your own. You need Someone bigger than you to fight this battle with you! And it is a battle, absolutely-Satan loves nothing more than destroying families and its a lot harder to destroy a tight, close-knit family, than to come in and destroy a family that hates each other to begin with.

Recognize that you are a part of the problem. You won't get anywhere if you are thinking it's just your siblings that have the issues and the problems. It always takes two. If you don't have a good relationship, then you are partly to blame. And you'll have to realize this before you can proceed in a different direction.

Resolve to change. You're going to have to work at this, friend, and you've got to be willing to invest time and energy, as mentioned before. You might have to cut some other things out of your schedule to make time for your siblings. You might even have to take a break from some social aspects of other relationship to make more time to spend with your family. If you want a close relationship badly enough, you will be willing to sacrifice something to get it!

My sister and I collaborated and wrote a full article, last fall, on this subject of close sibling relationships. It was published in the Kings Blooming Rose. (a magazine written by a friend of mine, to encourage young women in living for Jesus) Today I am giving away three copies of the fall 2016 magazine, that features our article. Leave a comment with your name, to enter to win one! Winner will be announced here at the end of this post (added note) on Saturday morning, August 26th.

Also I would love to hear your thoughts/questions on this topic as well! What are some ways YOU have worked on your sibling relationships to become best friends with your siblings?

Have a beautiful rest of your week, my friends!
-Chels

Saturday morning note:
The three magazine copies (which include my sister + my article on sibling relationships) go to:
1) Delilah Penner
2) Sheila Martin
3) Bethany Clemmer
Congratulations ladies! 
Please send me an email with your mailing address and I will get those out to you!
chelsyrenee91@gmail.com
Thanks for all of you comments + participation!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 5

Fifth Myth. It is silly to fold laundry. It takes too much time. Besides, it will just get messed up and unfolded again by the time everyone sorts through and gets theirs and it finally hits the drawers anyway. And the ironing pile never runs out!

There's a whole lot of things that we do in life, not  because they are the most convenient things, but because they just seem to make sense and work. That's how I feel about folding clothes. I like when things are organized, and for me it seems to be easier to organize (stack, arrange, etc) when things are folded. The more things are folded, the less have to be ironed. Also, for me, there's just something about going to the drawer and getting out clean, folded clothes. I've always been used to that, and I love it. It isn't a right or wrong thing, just a preference, but I do think it is easier to be organized this way. I know lots of people who have drawers for each person's socks/underwear and that works great for them. I personally like my socks matched when they are thrown in the drawer, and I like everything else folded. I hang up most blouses, skirts, and dresses, and tend to fold knit tees, jeans, etc.

Clean, folded laundry is a beautiful sight in my eyes! This is my counter after returning home from a tour and having a huge laundry day!

You won't have to iron as much if you hang or fold your clothes. I always try to hang button shirts right after they come out of the dryer, so I hopefully won't have to iron them as much later. Knits can obviously lay in a pile for a quite a while and then be folded and still not be too wrinkly.

My very favorite laundry hack of ALL TIME is the dot system. I don't remember who told us about this but it has been a huge game changer in helping with the organization of our laundry system.

As I mentioned in the introduction post, for years I did all the laundry for my family. I would wash, fold, and then have a pile for each person in our family to "pick up" in the laundry room, at the end of the laundry days. I have a pretty good memory, and with doing everyone's laundry every week, I was familiar with whose clothes were whose. But those (especially!) were the days where my brothers seemed to be outgrowing and passing down clothes nearly every month! And I just couldn't keep track of whose was whose. Also, whenever I would leave on a trip or something and someone else had to do the laundry, then they didn't know whose was whose. So we began the DOT SYSTEM. One dot for the oldest boy, two dots for the second...and on down the line. When Mitch outgrew something, and it got passed to Carson...I added a dot. (see picture above for example of the dots) For shirts, I was careful to place the dot on the thicker ribbing part, because if it was done below that, the dots would show right through to the back of the shirt, and that wouldn't be good!
*With my sisters taking over the laundry this year, the dot system has been a huge help to them in knowing whose clothing is whose.

I'm going to finish this post with a few questions that have been asked over the course of this series:

"Have you been able to restore shrunken clothes?"
The only tip I have for this is rewashing. It has worked a few times, but not nearly always. Sometimes if I wash something and forget and put it in the dryer (and it shrinks) it will resize (or close) if I wash again and then HANG TO DRY. This doesn't always work, but it has a time or two. Typically things will only shrink if they are dry clean items, or poor quality items, or if they are supposed to be washed cold and are washed hot. I would definitely advise paying attention to the labels on clothing when washing! If an item is cotton, you can probably get by washing it however you want. But if it specifically says "wash on cold, gentle cycle, dry flat" then best results will definitely come by doing just that.

"When you wear clothes and they aren't dirty, do you put them in a hamper anyways or what do you do with them?"
Yes, if they aren't dirty, we just hang them up and wear them again.

"What do you do with smelly rags?"
I've found that it is extremely helpful to rinse rags well (even in soapy water) before throwing them into the laundry pile. This really helps with the smell. Another idea is to have one specific laundry basket to throw all the rags/towels into. This keeps them from spreading the smell/wet to other items of laundry, and helps contain the dirtier portion of the laundry. If you do these things, you shouldn't deal with too much smell only washing two days a week.

"How do you do laundry only two days a week and still make it from time to time with also having hardly any clothes?"
This isn't actually that hard. All you need for this to work is four sets of clothes, and everyone I know has quite a bit more than that. =) Also in our family we often wear jeans/skirts two days in a row, without washing in-between. 

"I was just curious if you would recommend how to make it work to do less laundry days per week, when your family members don't have many extra sets of clothes?"
I love it that this question and the one above it both came from farm girl readers. =) For farmer's wives + daughters, this whole laundry thing has a whole new element to it. And I am right there with you-the struggle is real! It is a little difficult to answer this question, because every situation is different. But here is how we do it. Some of our guys wear coveralls over their clothes, and then hang their chore clothes, and re-wear them several days in a row. In the summer this isn't an option, because they get so hot and sweaty and their clothes wouldn't last several days without washing. They each have about four sets of chore clothes, and the barn laundry is the main reason we wash twice a week. Their chore clothes are nothing special-just older/worn clothing. The guys often have patched jeans and then older tee shirts that are more worn out.

"Can you discuss how to minimize clothing?"
This might be a totally new topic for another post! But basically, it is all about just choosing a simpler lifestyle of LESS IS BETTER. Now, this advice is coming from the person who is considered to be the biggest clothing/fashion junkie in the family. (whoops!) I have long been a minimalist in many areas, except for my closet! However, I finally realized that having so much stuff that I never wore, was just ridiculous. So I began to purge, and shop more intentionally, and I love my wardrobe so much more now. Just choose to do it. If you have lots of clothes that you haven't worn in months and months and months, ditch them!

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Introduction
The Laundry Line Series || Part 1
The Laundry Line Series || Part 2
The Laundry Line Series || Part 3
The Laundry Line Series || Part 4


Thank y'all so much for joining along with me on this laundry series!
It's been fun!
And I apologize for the lateness of the last post. Wednesday escaped me! =)
-Chels

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 4

As you may notice, it is not Wednesday, the normal day for this series. 
It is Thursday.
I missed Wednesday. 
Now I am posting Thursday instead.
Thanks. =)

Fourth Myth. Stains are stains. Blood stains, grass stains, manure stains (for you farmer sisters/wives!), and grease stains are impossible to remove. I might as well not even try. And I have no idea what products to use for my laundry anyways!

This is the toughest part about laundry. We'd love to get everything clean; spotless, every time, yes? And yet sometimes its just out of our control and we can't. I have to throw out ruined items just like everyone else. However, along the way, I have learned about a few products that are absolute SAVERS for me when it comes to my laundry routine. I know there are lots of great laundry products out there! Today I'm going to share with you my "staple favorites".


The most basic thing needed to do laundry is...the SOAP! I love making my own, and do that often when we are home. I use this recipe here. It works great and is SUPER cheap to make.

Note: my favorite essential oil to add to it is Citrus, but you can use anything! Or you can make it without a scent as well! I personally use Young Living for my essential oils, but for laundry soap use I would actually recommend using an off brand (such as this one) because the Fels Naptha used to make this soap is pretty strong itself and not exactly an all natural type product, and for that reason I always feel like it is wasteful to dump in such a pure + expensive brand oil, like Young Living. I prefer to use Young Living for normal oil usage, but if I'm putting it in something like this, I will use a cheaper "off" brand.

However, when we are on the road touring, it isn't practical or feasible to be hauling my 5 gallon bucket of homemade liquid soap into every laundromat. =) And sometimes I run out of the homemade and simply don't have time to make another batch right away. After trying a variety of different kinds, I have found that my favorite is a brand called Charlies. It comes in both liquid and powder form. I prefer the powder because I do most of my loads on hot or warm water anyways and it dissolves so well in that. I also like powder with the tour life because it takes up less room to pack (every little bit of space counts on the bus!) and is more concentrated than the liquid. However, I have used the liquid before and I like it, too.


My ultimate favorite stain remover products are the OxiClean powder and OxiClean Spray. These are LIFESAVERS for me! I used the powder (dissolved in a bucket of water) to soak whites, and I use the spray for any other kind of stain. (Note: I would recommend buying the spray from Walmart instead of Amazon, though; it is several dollars cheaper at Walmart. I only include the link so you can see what it is and know what you're looking for at Walmart)


I also love using bleach for my whites. If I have a few items that are starting to look a little yucky, or off color, I just stick them in a bucket of bleach water, and that can work wonders! Just be careful with that bleach-I'm speaking from experience! Bleach stains is one thing I have NEVER figured out how to remove. =) I'm not sure that one is possible!


For ink stains, I use aerosol hairspray. The cheapest brand you can find at Walmart should work great! Spray straight on the ink and let set for a bit. Then scrub the foam area into the stain, and wash. It doesn't always work, but if you apply it right away and follow these instructions, I almost guarantee you will able to remove the stain. Just to be safe, also apply a little of the OxiClean spray right before washing.



Peroxide works wonders for blood stains. Again, I apply the same way I do with the ink stains---pour the peroxide straight onto the stain, and let set for a while. Then wash with cold water and more peroxide on the stain. Finally, spray with the OxiClean Spray and let set awhile before washing. 

The OxiClean Spray also works wonders with grass stains and manure stains. The main thing is to treat the stain/s as possible BEFORE washing. Once an item is washed/dryed, it is going to be almost impossible to go back and get the stain out, because by that point it is quite “set” in. 
When I did laundry, my brothers knew exactly where to put their jeans that needed treatment. (laid in the utility sink in our laundry room, which I only used for laundry) When we are on the road, items with stains are put in grocery bags before they are thrown in the laundry, that way when we are at the laundromat, I know which items need extra attention. 


The biggest deal with removing stains is to work on them as soon as possible after the stain has occured. With brothers and grass/barn stains, I often don't get the opportunity to work on them right away. I do as soon as I can though! But with cooking, for example, we girls have learned to ALWAYS change right away and treat the clothing item which we’ve stained. So for example, if I am cooking something with butter, and I accidentally spritz a little melted butter up onto my shirt (this happens waaay more than I would like to admit! And even when I wear aprons, it seems to avoid the apron!) I will (if possible) turn off the burner, go change shirts, and immediately treat the butter stain. Typically with butter/oil/etc, I use the OxiClean Spray as well. 

And...that's it for today! Come back next week for the LAST post in this series! I will be answering all the other questions I have received the past month (as well as any related questions y'all might have this week) and then also talking about basic folding/organizing/simplifying tips.



Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Part One
The Laundry Line Series || Part 2
The Laundry Line Series // Part 3


"The most memorable days...usually end with the dirtiest clothes!"
Remember that quote the next time the stains overwhelm you. If it wasn't for hardworking husbands and active brothers, we wouldn't have stained +  dirty clothing. 
And I want to happily work with those extra stains and a little extra dirt, 
out of appreciation for people who aren't afraid to work hard and get dirty! It's a blessing!
-Chels


***My product links are through the Amazon affiliate program. (see my discloser here) Rest assured that I only recommend products that I personally use + endorse!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 3


Third Myth. I have to do laundry every day so that it won't take over. If I don't do laundry every day, it will get completely out of hand. Doing it every day is the only way to stay sane.

I hear this over and over again, and every time I just want to shout NOT TRUE! I feel so strongly about this. Doing laundry everyday is the biggest waste of time. This is reason enough not to do it every day. Do you really want to be thinking about laundry every day of the week? As I’ve mentioned before, I love doing laundry. But there are other things I love too. And I don’t love laundry enough to do it everyday if I have an option for something else. 

Now, you might say, "You don't understand my situation! I have to do it every day so it doesn't take over!" Well, let me tell you-if I could successfully do laundry for a family of twelve, only two days a week, then YOU CAN TOO. My mother is a big fan of minimalism, and our family has fewer clothes than any other family I know. So if we can make it with only doing laundry twice a week, then anybody can. My strong preference (and what I fully plan to do in my own home someday) is laundry once a week, but for a few various reasons my family really prefers to have the laundry done twice a week, so I did it that way for them, to make the whole system work the best for everyone. 

The mothers I know who are the most overwhelmed with their laundry situations are the ones who think they can't let any dirty clothes setting in the hamper. Light bulb moment: that is what the hamper is for---dirty clothes to be out of sight, out of mind! Obviously there are exceptions; I'm not advocating sticking your child's diaper blowout outfit in the hamper and letting it sit there for a week, nor am I suggesting doing the same thing with soiled sheets/etc. But, as a rule, that hamper is there to keep your life organized and your dirty clothes in one place until it is time to wash them. So use it for that!

Speaking of hampers. I am a huge fan. Have them. Either in the bathrooms, or the bedrooms, or sometimes both, depending on the amount of people in your household and where it is most necessary to have a place for the dirty clothes. You will drive yourself crazy if you have piles of dirty clothes setting around all over the place. Organize your mess. There always will be mess/dirty things of some type. The key is to keep that mess organized and as out of sight as possible.

Our current laundry days are Monday + Friday. This works for us. Find what works for you. But I would highly highly HIGHLY suggest sticking to one or two at most, days per week for your laundry. You'll be amazed at the time that is open and available for other things. 

If for no other reason, it will save you money + energy with your water + detergent consumption! If you do laundry every day, there is no way you are having enough dirty things to have a full load for the various loads. (darks, lights, whites, etc) The only way you could possibly have one full load of whites every day is if you had like twenty people in your family and they all wore white tee's the same day. That scenario is highly unusual and unlikely. So if you are doing laundry every day, this means you are either
A) throwing all your colors together for full loads (bad idea-you'll ruin your clothes!) 
B) having teeny tiny loads and wasting lots of water/detergent (specifically if you have a front loader)
C) doing it every day because you think it will take over otherwise

None of those are good ideas/reasons. I want to give you a brand-new idea today---what about trying the "once a week" or even twice a week, method? And have a laundry day, or days. Whether it is one, or two, or even more. Have it on the schedule that those are your laundry days. 

Someone asked in last weeks' post about how I managed to switch loads and keep on schedule, back when I was still in school. I would take breaks to switch the laundry but would not fold the laundry at that time. Instead I would pile it in baskets or somewhere until the afternoon when I could fold it all at once. Later on, after I was out of school and we had the new laundry room, I still used this idea often---piling all the clean laundry on the counter in our laundry room, and waiting until most of it was done to fold it all. If there were items (like button shirts or dresses) that would wrinkle easily, I would quickly hang those up to avoid wrinkles. But most everything else was fine piled and waiting for me to fold later.

Last thought. The only reason this once a week deal might not work for you is if you are either highly distracted + don't keep loads going, one after another, OR if you have twenty people in your family. Given that most of us don't have families of that size, the first reason is probably the only valid one. Enter the world of timers on washers, phones, and watches! Never has it been easier (technically) to keep ourselves on track. My tip is to start your first load the night before, and then keep it moving from waking time (around 5-7am) until evening. It should easily be possible to get it all done in that time if you stay focused and on track.
When you realize how much this will free up the other days in your week, you will be happy to sacrifice a little flexibility for ONE day a week to be your laundry day, and have the extra freedom from it the other six days!

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!

"This home has endless love, laughter, + laundry."
-unknown

Happy scheduling of your laundry days!
-Chels

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 2

Back today to break down another myth-this one about where you do your laundry, and how to handle whatever space/area you have.

Second Myth: I don't have a laundry room and therefore it is impossible to keep any semblance of order or routine because I don't have a "real place" for my laundry.

First off. Lots of people don't have the blessing of a laundry room. I didn't either, when I started doing laundry. For the first ?? years, I ran up + down the stairs, to our unfinished basement, every time I needed to switch a load, or start a load, or empty a clean load, or ANYTHING. Then, because our basement is very unfinished and not really conducive towards folding, I hauled every single load of clean dry laundry upstairs to fold. Or I would haul half of the wet loads up and out to the line to hang first. It definitely wasn't a dream situation, but it worked just fine, because it was what I had. I remember my mom telling me that having the laundry in the basement was an excellent little leg workout for her those years when she did it, because those days she had lots of babies and not much extra time for working out, so she took full advantage of those steps and going up + down fast to work leg muscles. It might seem like a little thing, but it is great to find benefits and blessings in whatever situation you might have. Order and routine does not depend upon your location; it depends upon your attitude and what you do to improve whatever location you may have.

Eight years ago, we did a remodel, and one of the rooms upstairs was turned into a laundry room. It actually doubles (or quadruples??) as closet for my younger sisters, sewing room, craft room, and storage for all number of things, including linens, gift supplies, some kitchen things, etc etc. So still it isn't technically just a laundry room, but that's perfectly fine. Both of my laundry situations have been great ones, not because they might be considered perfectly ideal, but because I chose to be thankful for them + find the goodness in each situation.

I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back, because trust me, I've had plenty of situations in which I have struggled + not been grateful. Case in point is that I am not in love with my current washer/dryer. My father was so sweet and wanted to get the best of the best for us when we built the new laundry room, so he got what was supposed to be the latest + greatest front loader washer/dryer combo. Countless repairs + frustrations later, we realized that when it comes to washing machines, the older ones are usually better. It is so weird because it isn't normally that way; often, newer brands are better. But in the case of washers I would definitely recommend older brands/styles! A few years back, my father got a used Maytag off CraigsList for $40, to have in the basement for washing the guys extra dirty barn clothes. I now like that washer better than the one we have upstairs in our "real" laundry area!
So that's just a little free tip on my washing machine experiences---older is better, and I personally HIGHLY prefer the top loaders to the front loaders! They might not fit quite as much in, but they run way faster and break down way less.

You CAN keep order + routine even with what might seem to you a non-ideal laundry situation. I have friends who range from having biggest, most beautiful laundry room you've ever seen (complete with a color theme + gorgeous laundry signs/quotes hanging on the walls)...to friends who go to the laundromat every week to do their laundry. Your joy + organization in the job really doesn't have a whole lot to do with what you're stuck with-it has more to do with if you are viewing it as "stuck" or viewing it as "worship". (like we talked about last week in this post

You might not have the ideal laundry situation. You might be running to your basement to switch loads, like I was, and folding the laundry in your living room. That's perfectly fine; you can still feel organized + productive! The goal is to keep your laundry space (whether it is your couch or your dining room table) clean + uncluttered. Don't leave loads setting out constantly. When you dump that load on the table, don't leave the table until it is folded + put away. If you don't have time to fold it when you get it out of the dryer, then leave it in multiple baskets right in front of the dryer (or somewhere somewhat tucked away) and wait to fold it all at once, later. What will frustrate you is folded or unfolded laundry setting out on your otherwise free surfaces, all the time. So do your best to avoid that.

If you are blessed with an actual laundry room, these same tips apply to you! Don't let your room get overrun just because it is "expected" that you can always have laundry all over the place since it is the technical "laundry room". Stay organized! I love to have candles burning + music playing when I do laundry. You can do this if your laundry area is an actual room, or if it is your living room!
I don't know why this is, but it is more mentally freeing to fold laundry in a clean, clutter-free room, than to be in a room that is cluttered with toys + other things. Making your work area a clutter-free zone is actually a very important truth that applies to any area of work/life. Having a clean space for your laundry is not about having the perfect laundry room; it is much more about a way of life and choosing to keep clutter out of your house as much as possible.

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Introduction
The Laundry Line Series || Part 1

I'll end today's post with this great quote I found:

"I am thankful for all this laundry...for it means my loved ones are still at home."
unknown

So true. If you have this, you are blessed.
-Chels

Monday, July 17, 2017

God Is Always Good

Always. Always. Always.

There's never a moment that He isn't. Grab ahold of this truth NOW. Don't wait until your life is rough; don't wait until you "need" to know this. Know it + believe it + live it now. Choose now to brand these four little words into your heart, your mind, your soul. It might seem unnecessary but trust me, there will be a time sooner or later when you will need to know this truth more than you need anything else. You must determine ahead of the trial that you know God is always good; that He always loves you; that He always has your best in his plans. You cannot afford to wait until the trial hits you, for then it will be all you can do to hang on to this truth. You must know and believe it now.

GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.

My mother has told me this more times than I could ever count. It has been a part of my life teachings from her. She told me when I was young, and now I hear her tell it to my younger siblings day after day after day. Call it brainwashing if you will, but it was the greatest brainwashing I ever received. It carried me through the greatest trial of my life, and I know that it can carry me through whatever trials I will face in my future.

This was what she would say: "Chelsy. People will let you down. People will hurt you. They will say unkind things. They will disappoint. Those even closest to you will at some time or another fail you. But there is one Person who will never let you down, and that is Jesus. He is ALWAYS good, and He is always faithful."

It is so needed that we understand this now. Yes, it sounds simple and cliche', but you need this rooted deep in your heart for whatever you will face in life! Prepare your heart now, that whenever the testing and trials of life come, you will say "YES LORD...YOU ARE GOOD." No matter how hard. No matter how deep. No matter how much you want to doubt God's goodness. 

You will have plenty of fear, plenty of doubt in yourself, and plenty of doubt in the goodness of humanity in general. That is why you must know now that God is always good.

Don't wait until the decision comes to decide whether Jesus is still good no matter what, and whether He still loves you more than anything else. Choose to do as Daniel did, and PURPOSE IN YOUR HEART now.

These are just these few little thoughts on my heart today. But I hope they bless someone out there.
I hope someone is challenged to prepare themselves for life by trusting God's goodness NOW. 
I hope someone who is going through a trial will be encouraged that Jesus still loves them.
And I hope this truth rings strong in your heart as you repeat it to yourself over and over:
"God is always good. Always." 

"O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD:
blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.
-Psalm 34:8

Have a beautiful Monday!
-Chels

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 1


Good morning friends!

Let's dive right in to this big laundry pile, shall we?

First Myth. Laundry is a necessary evil. It has to be done, but is a complete drudge and it is impossible to be truly productive and gain anything by the experience, except for clean clothes which will promptly be dirty again the next day.

This first myth is so not true! I want to get started this morning with a little scripture to get us going on the right foundation:

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. 
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: 
for ye serve the Lord Christ." 
Colossians 3:23+24

I remember telling a friend, once, that laundry was my act of worship. 
His response: "Laundry? Worship? That's..quite the interesting perspective!"

Absolutely! It can be an act of worship! Contrary to public opinion, worship is not just singing + raising your hands. It is that, yes, but worship is SO MUCH MORE than that. Worship is whatever you are using as an active part of your life to glorify God. This can be anything. Suddenly your whole realm of worship will expand to a whole new level when you realize that it is not what you do, but the spirit + grace of HOW you do it. 

First of all, ask Jesus to change your heart + mentality on doing laundry. Make a decision to view it as a blessing to those you are doing it for, and as an act of worship to Him. Decide to do it with JOY, whether you like it or not. After you have a good attitude and are ready to do this thing with excellence, then...read on! =)

Make your time in the laundry room, as productive as possible. We should always be looking for ways in our lives to maximize and make the most of every minute. When doing laundry, our hands are busy sorting, loading, folding, etc. We have to (more or less) stay in one spot when doing those things. So with that in mind, what is free/available? 
Our mind and our ears. 
Enter the world of podcasts, worship music, and online sermons. 

*I print out scripture and post it on the cupboards right above where I fold. Obviously it isn't really possible to read the whole time one is folding but I found that this method worked great for scripture memory. Read a verse or two, and then go over them in your mind while you are folding. You can go back and forth with your eyes from the laundry pile needing to be folded, to the scripture posted on the wall/cupboard/wherever, and really not lose anytime. Incorporate scripture memory into your life. Yes, it is good to have a separate, set apart time for scripture memory in your daily quiet time. But it is great to also have it posted around your house/place of work, so that you can see it on a regular basis and spend time going over verses and meditating on them as you go about your day.

*Podcasts are the greatest invention ever. Now, if all you're doing is sitting around listening to podcasts, and never implementing, then, yeah, thats a problem. But here we are talking about time that is going to, mentally, be filled with nothing else. So you might as well fill it with something good! Obviously I am also a huge fan of just quiet thinking time, praying, meditating, etc. But it is good to have variety, and also when you have the magnitude of laundry piles that I did, you're looking at hours worth of time doing laundry, not just a few minutes here and there. My favorite podcasts currently are SetApart Girl, Trim Healthy Mama, and Revive Our Hearts. (just search any of these on your podcast app) I know there are a host of others out there that I haven't tapped into yet,  but I am a little late to the podcast bandwagon and just got into it more in the last little while here, so I'm still a newbie. I'm hoping to add some good finance/business/marketing ones to my list in the near future. (I'd love to hear about y'alls favorites-on any topic!)

*Listen to good worship music! Music that draws you to Jesus should be a regular part of our lives anyways. Why not blend our "laundry worship" with our worship music at the same time? You can sing along, or just listen. But it is a great way to uplift your spirit and worship Jesus with your song, while you are working. 

Next week, I will be talking about how to turn your laundry area into an organized + beautiful place! After all, if you're going to be stimulating your mind + worshiping Jesus in the middle of the mess, you want that mess to be as peaceful and attractive as possible. 
You think that's impossible? It's not! Come back next Wednesday!

Missed the other posts in the series? Click the links below!

Thanks for following along! I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts-what do you do while you do laundry? Are any of these tips helpful, and will you be implementing any?
Have an amazing day in your laundry domain! 
-Chels

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Introduction

This series has been promised for quite a while now. Ironically, I quit my job as "laundry queen" at the beginning of this year, due to some changes + shifting of responsibilities happening. Even though I am no longer in the thick of things laundry-wise, I still have fifteen years of experience doing all of the laundry for a family of twelve, and I still love doing laundry, even after all that! Read on. =)

I am all about choosing the practical + functional, and we all know that laundry is a very real part of the life of any functioning human being. (unless you have someone who does it for you) Most women will have to do laundry, to some extent, at some point in their lives, and I might add that the world would be a much better place if the men knew the basics about doing laundry, too. (that's your cue not to run from this post, guys!)

*Rabbit trail: Moms do their sons a big disservice by not teaching them to do laundry/housework. Housework isn't "girl work" and it definitely isn't lesser work. All of my brothers know how to make meals, scrub toilets, and pick up after themselves, and their wives will be blessed women because of it. The laundry thing? That one is a little harder to teach when you have an older sister who was OCD about everyone staying out of her laundry domain for fifteen years. (whoops!) But it's never too late to change, and my brothers are learning well even in this area.

Once in a while, there are weird people who just love to do laundry. I am one of those. It was pretty hard for me to let go of my title of fifteen years and give it over to my sisters, because I just honestly loved being in charge of it so much.
The truth is though, that for the general public, laundry is not at the top of their list of "fun, productive, and energizing work".
That is just fine; rest in the fact that you are more normal that way!

My goal for this series is to teach you how you can become freed from the "laundry monster" and learn to run your laundry system, instead of letting it run you. I am going to break the series up into five different posts sharing a few of my "tricks of the trade" and what I've done to make sure my "Laundry Line" is run efficiently and effectively, instead of letting it run and take over my life.

A few of you are shaking your heads, and I'm chuckling inwardly right now because I can just picture you thinking: "This girl! What is the deal? Five posts about DOING LAUNDRY? What a lame series!"

Y'all are dismissed from the session. =)

Most of you are going to stay, though, because you are intrigued. I know this, because you have told me so! I get "laundry questions" over and over, and I know that there are TONS of people out there who hate laundry and hate the time it takes up in their lives. This post is for you. To be honest, all of us should always be on the lookout for ways and ideas to simply our lives and streamline things. I'm not an expert by any shot! But I do have a little experience, and I'm excited to share that little bit with those of you who are interested, in this series!

First Myth. Laundry is a necessary evil. It has to be done, but is a complete drudge and it is impossible to be truly productive and gain anything by the experience, except for clean clothes which will promptly be dirty again the next day.

Second Myth: I don't have a laundry room and therefore it is impossible to keep any semblance of order or routine because I don't have a "real place" for my laundry.

Third Myth. I have to do laundry everyday so that it won't take over. If I don't do laundry every day, it will get completely out of hand. Doing it every day is the only way to stay sane.

Fourth Myth. Stains are stains. Blood stains, grass stains, manure stains (for you farmer sisters/wives!), and grease stains are impossible to remove. I might as well not even try. And I have no idea what products to use for my laundry anyways!

Fifth Myth. It is silly to fold laundry. It takes too much time. Besides, it will just get messed up and unfolded again by the time everyone sorts through and gets theirs and it finally hits the drawers anyway. And the ironing pile never runs out!

Some of these will apply more to those of you with larger families/larger amounts of laundry. But most are applicable even if you are a single, doing laundry for only you.

I encourage you to come back for the next five Wednesdays (starting July 12th) as I talk about these five different "laundry room myths"!

We are going to "sort out life, one load at a time", and it's going to be fun, I promise! =)

Leave me a comment with any other questions/thoughts you have on the laundry subject,
 and I will include them with one of these five posts!
-Chels