Archives for 2013

How to Combine Your Planner + Homekeeping Binder

Let’s keep things SIMPLE!  Today I’m going to show you how I merged my homekeeping binder and planner into one wonderfully simplified binder.

How to Combine Your Planner and Homekeeping Binder to Simplify Your Life via Clean Mama

This was a pretty simple project with a big outcome.  The whole purpose of a homekeeping binder and a planner is to have a central place to keep your calendar and other important home items.  For me it’s like my brain on paper.  I feel so much better with everything written down – it’s less to remember and I can keep track of important items like home maintenance, bill paying, and my cleaning routine.  A checklist for me is half the battle when it comes to getting things accomplished – they simplify things for me.

If you have a planner and/or a homekeeping binder, consider merging the two to save space, time, and your sanity.  For me, it’s great to have everything streamlined and in one place.

Start by choosing the format you want to use.  You can use a 3 ring binder or a discbound system or a notebook.  I held off on the discbound system for a while because of the cost, but I have to tell you it’s totally worth it (for me).

Choose the Notebook Size and Style that Works for Your Life via Clean Mama

Next, you’ll need to decide on the format size that works for your life.  My personal preference is 8.5×11 for many reasons – I can write in the larger format a little more easily, pages from school or other mailings can just be punched and added to the binder, and I can still take it with me if I need to, but I keep my planner at home in my kitchen or office most of the time.

Use Dividers to Keep Sections Organized via Clean Mama

Add dividers for your sections – you’ll need to determine what sections you want, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • calendars
  • daily
  • blog
  • business
  • home maintenance
  • fitness
  • money
  • menu
  • kids
  • cleaning

Use Pockets to Keep Accessories Handy via Clean Mama

Add pockets for stickers and other accessories you want to keep handy.  I use these little stickers to make pages and to flag little reminders in my homekeeping planner.

Once you’ve decided on the size and format of your homekeeping planner you need to FILL it!  That’s the fun part (says the girl with the printables business).  Start with a printable planner or calendar first.  Once you have that in place add to your categories.  This doesn’t have to happen overnight or in an afternoon, but as you add checklists and to do lists I’m guessing you’ll find that it’s a huge time saver and organizational tool and you’ll continue adding to it.  For me, the calendar, cleaning, and bill pay sections are the most important and helpful for tracking items during the month.  The Streamlined Life Bill Pay Kit is an essential and has really helped us with tracking and eliminating debt.  If it’s cute and functional, I’ll use it – if you’re the same, you’ll love the kit!

Here’s how a little infographic on how I filled up my homekeeping planner (I used printables from my shop and The Streamlined Life Complete Kit):

Update:  I give away a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar every month – look in the sidebar or previous posts to find this month’s calendar.   You can start ANYTIME!

(If you like this calendar style, you’ll love The Streamlined Life Series in my shop!)

I used the following products to create put these kits together in a binder and to photograph  (all products were purchased with my own money and I love them – there are no affiliate links in these links):

How to Combine a Planner + Homekeeping Binder via Clean Mama

Get Ready for 2014! Start Here.

start here logo

I’m so excited to introduce you all to the new series for 2014.  My word for 2014 is SIMPLIFIED so you’ll find that I’m integrating that into a lot of what I’ll be covering on the blog.  I’m guessing you probably want a little simplified in your life too.  The series will be the perfect combination of SIMPLIFIED cleaning and organizing to get your year (and mine) off to a great start and keep you that way through the whole year.

What’s behind the success of any clean and organized home?

Consistency and follow through.

I’m calling the series Start Here. because without starting something, you’ll never finish anything.  Don’t get bogged down in the every day messiness that is life, you have to start somewhere to get anywhere and that’s what we’re doing today.  Start here.

What will the series entail?

  • THE CLEAN MAMA CLEANING ROUTINE  – every month of 2014 I will continue to post a FREE cleaning calendar with daily suggestions and rotating cleaning task suggestions.  Doing a little bit is what keeps my home neat and tidy all year long.
  • A SIMPLE WEEKLY ORGANIZING TASK SUGGESTION – the goal is to have each and every nook and cranny in my house cleared out, decluttered, and only keep things that we love and use.  If you’ve been following along, you know that I keep things simple and easy.  The organizing tasks will be 15 minute suggestions – something that anyone can complete at some point during the week.  Obviously, you can opt in or out of these suggestions, but it will be part of the series.  (My biggest motivation is my basement – it’s full of boxes that haven’t been unpacked since we moved in almost 5 years ago.  2014 is the year that this ends.)
  • INSPIRATIONAL IDEAS – from me and around the web intended to spark ideas and motivate.  I strive to keep things simple, easy to implement, and affordable. The ideas that I will suggest will follow this mantra as well.

Is this all that I’m talking about in 2014?  No, I will still be sharing simple ways to complete tasks, lots of DIY cleaning recipes – my book is coming out April 18th!, and other hints and tips that I find helpful.

Ready?  We all have to start somewhere – let’s Start Here.

Here’s a little infographic that explains the cleaning and organizing schedule…

Start Here.  Cleaning + Organizing Calendar Infographic via Clean Mama

Want to join in on the fun?  Grab a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar for January (this is free in my shop – if you’d prefer to grab it from Googledocs, you can go here to grab it) and give it a go.  Follow along all month for motivational posts and tips to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks.  New here?  I’ll be explaining the tasks more in the next week – it’ll be fun and easy to implement, I promise!

Cleaning + Organizing Calendar January 2014 via Clean MamaGo here to grab your FREE calendar for January 2014!

Want to make 2014 the year that you cleaned and organized everything?  Me too!

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(If you like this calendar style, you’ll love The Simplified Life Series in my shop!)

Follow along!



Simplify the Season : A Round-Up

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama (a round-up)

I hope you’ve been able to relax and actually enjoy the holiday season this year and take some time to really appreciate the true meaning of the season.  Today I’m rounding-up the Simplify the Season series with a visual of all the ways you can simplify the season – the links are below the pics – enjoy!

  1. Clean Your Oven
  2. Simplified Filing Station – free printable
  3. Make a Sick Kit
  4. Quick Clean Checklist – free printables
  5. Holiday Menu Planner – free printables
  6. Put Together a Baking Kit
  7. Speed Clean Your Bathrooms
  8. How to Clean Baking Pans
  9. It’s Okay to Change a Tradition
  10. Simple Christmas Mantel
  11. Glass Ornament Tutorials
  12. Easy Ice Decor
  13. 5 Minute Fudge
  14. All-Natural Hot Cocoa
  15. Natural Air Freshener

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama






Simplify the Season : All-Natural Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

All-Natural Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix via Clean Mama

This recipe for homemade hot chocolate is great for gifting or just for keeping in your cupboard for cold days.  It will store for a few months in a cool dark place and in a covered container.

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa – I used double dutch process cocoa, but regular cocoa will work just as well
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine with a wire whisk.  Transfer to a 4 cup canning jar or other smaller containers for gifting.

To mix up as hot chocolate, simply add 2 tablespoons of the mix to one cup of hot milk (any type will work, but whole milk will give you the richest and smoothest hot chocolate)  If you are a non-cow’s milk family you could experiment with soy and almond milk as well.


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama



Review : Dyson DC44

Disclosure:  I received the Dyson DC44 with the hope that I would like it enough to post about it.  I absolutely love it and that’s why you see this review.  I only mention products that I love and know my readers will love too.

The folks at Dyson sent me the DC44 to review.  If you haven’t seen the DC44, it’s a cordless vacuum cleaner that you can use handheld for stairs or with the wand for floor to ceiling cleaning.


My favorite qualities of the Dyson DC44?

Dyson DC44 Review via Clean Mama

  • The suction (yes, it’s amazing!)
  • The attachments work great for tough to clean spots and are super easy to remove and attach and re-attach.
  • How lightweight this vacuum cleaner is (it weighs just 5 pounds!)
  • It’s cordless and it works – I’ve never had a cordless vacuum cleaner that was worth hauling out, until now.I love how well it vacuums my hardwood and tile floors and fits under cabinets and in tight spaces.  But it’s not just for hard floors – it works great on carpet and area rugs too!
  • My husband vacuums now – he loves this machine too!


The Dyson DC44 has a docking station that holds the attachments for ease of use and storage.

I could go on and on.  If you’re in the market for a new handheld vacuum cleaner that works as well as your regular vacuum cleaner, you need to look at the Dyson DC44.

Here’s what the folks at Dyson have to say about their amazing machine:

  • Forget the conventional vacuum: Dyson has engineered a new way to clean. The Dyson Digital Slim™ is a lightweight cordless vacuum cleaner, engineered for nimble, high performance cleaning.
  • A light aluminium wand reaches from floor to ceiling and can be detached for up-close tasks like car cleaning. Weighing just 5 pounds, the Dyson Digital Slim™ vacuum cleaner has a balanced weight distribution for high, low, hard-to-reach and in-between spaces.
  • Digital Slim™ uses patented Root Cyclone™ technology and the Dyson digital motor – a small, lightweight, high density motor that is up to three times faster than conventional motors. New battery technology delivers a fade-free 20 minute run time with no loss of suction. For stubborn dirt, a button triggers 8 minutes of boost suction.






Simplify the Season : Outdoor Ice Decor

Outdoor Ice Decorations via Clean Mama

Outdoor ice decor is pretty simple to pull off when you’re busy.  Use containers that you have on hand for your ice decor molds and bits of nature from your yard or refrigerator and you’ll have a festive outside decoration in no time (or as long as the ice takes to freeze).   This is a fun little project for kids to get involved in too!  What can you make?  A wreath to hang from a tree or bird feeder, candle holders or luminaries to line a porch, driveway or walkway (use candles at your own risk or use battery operated candles), outdoor tree ornaments, lawn decorations…..  Unfortunately, this will only work for those of you whose weather is below freezing – a perk of living in the midwest, I guess!

Gather a container or containers to make your ice mold(s).  Grab a few sprigs of pine boughs, cranberries, or any other winter-y natural decor and get started.  Place the natural items in your container – we used a vintage gelatin mold, pine branches and cranberries.  Add water to fill and carefully place in your freezer and freeze for a few hours or overnight.  Run the back of the container under warm water to un-mold and bring outside.

Outdoor Ice Decorations


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama



Simplify the Season : Make a Simmer

Natural Air Freshener - Make a Simmer via Clean Mama

Not feeling festive yet?  Try a little simmer – it will get your home smelling festive in a hurry.  Gather any combination of the following ingredients – you only NEED one or two things, but you can combine to your heart’s content.  (This isn’t just for holidays either – it’s a great way to scent your kitchen anytime!)

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • cranberries
  • fresh herbs
  • essential oils (just a drop or two is all you need)
  • 4 cups water

Ingredients for a Natural Air Freshener - Make a Simmer via Clean Mama

Combine ingredients with water in a saucepan and put on your stove.  Set heat to low and let the ingredients simmer away as long as you’d like.  (Keep an eye on the water so it doesn’t boil over or scorch.)

Stovetop Simmer via Clean Mama



This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama



Simplify the Season : 5 Minute Fudge

5 Minute Fudge via Clean Mama

This week I’m sharing some simple ways to add a little last minute holiday cheer in your busy schedule.  Today I’m sharing my favorite recipe for fudge.  I’ve slightly adapted the recipe from here.  This recipe is delicious and it’s so easy that my 2 older kids can mix it up all by themselves from start to finish.

  •  12  ounce package  semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups) – this can be milk chocolate chips 60% cacao chips, or a combination of 2 or 3 types of chocolate
  • 2/3  cup  sweetened condensed milk – about a half a container
  • 1/2 tablespoon – 1  tablespoon  water – add a little bit at a time until the fudge becomes smooth
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla
  • optional add-ins or add-ons  – nuts, candy, peppermint pieces

Line a small container or cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper (the optimal size is 6 inches x 9 inches).  Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe container and heat on 1 minute intervals stirring every minute or so until the mixture is starting to melt.  (Don’t have a microwave? Use a double boiler on your stove for the same results.)  Add water, vanilla, and any other add-ins.  Stir until smooth.  Spread fudge in container and cool in refrigerator.  Remove when hardened, cut into 1 inch squares, store in the refrigerator, and serve to friends and family.  Makes about 24 – 1 .5 inch fudge cubes.

5 Minute Fudge 2 via Clean Mama


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama



Shop Update : New Year’s Edition

clean mama printables header

I know you’re thinking about December and still living in 2013, but in case you’re starting to look ahead to 2014, you might be interested in a few shop updates….

The Simplified LIfe Calendar + Planner Kit via Clean Mama Printables5

If you want to DIY your planner then look no further than The 2014 Simplified Life Calendar + Planner Kit   – (I LOVE the undated planner pages – they are perfect for me!) it includes:

  • 2014 Calendar (January 2014- December 2014) 12 pages
  • 2014 At A Glance Calendar
  • Undated 2 Page Planner (space for water, most important item, Sunday Start, split into 3 sections – morning, afternoon, evening) – use this for years to come and print off just what you need!
  • 5 Perpetual Calendars (1 in each of the following colors – teal, green, tangerine, grape, raspberry)
  • Schedule of the Week
  • Simple Daily Planner – timed section 6am-8pm, space for to do, notes, and menu
  • Important Dates to Remember
  • Notes page (page has lines and grid)

The Simplified Life Health+Fitness Kit via CLean Mama Printables

Looking to get healthy and fit in 2014?  You’ll love The Simplified Life Health + Fitness Kit  – (I especially love the Fitness and Weight Loss Trackers – keep track of all that info in one place!)

  • 2 Fitness and Weight Loss Tracker for the Month (teal + green) – (this is perpetual and can be used for years to come) – includes space to track physical activities, caloric intake, water intake, and weight and measurements.
  • 2 Vitamin and Supplement Trackers (teal/green + raspberry/grape) – perfect for keeping track of vitamins and supplements you take to track any changes, benefits, and side effects
  • 2 Two Week Food Journals (teal/green + raspberry/grape) – writing down your food and water intake during the day will help with seeing what you are eating and drinking all day long – space for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, and water
  • 2 Daily and Monthly Calorie Counter – Perpetual Calendar – (tangerine + teal) space for tracking breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, a space for the date
  • Health and Fitness Goals – (teal/green) put all your goals on paper (even the little ones!) and keep track of your accomplishments – columns for goal, steps, reward, start, end, and goal met

I bundled up and (discounted) The Simplified Life Kits a bit……

The Simplified Life Resolution Kit via Clean Mama Printables

The Simplified Life Resolution Kit (includes the cleaning, health + fitness, and budget kits)

The Simplified Life Everything Kit via Clean Mama Printables

The Simplified Life Everything Kit (includes ALL of the Simplified Life kits)

There you have it – a little taste of 2014 right here in 2013!  Can’t deal with January in December?  Pin the images on a 2014 board and come back to them!  Thank you for your support and business, I really, truly appreciate it!

I used the following products to create put these kits together in a binder and to photograph  (all products were purchased with my own money and I love them – there are no affiliate links in these links):


I Did a Podcast!

vicky and jen

You’ve seen me – would you like to ‘hear’ me?   I did a little podcast all about cleaning tips and tricks a couple weeks ago on Vicky and Jen and it’s on their website – go check it out!

You can check out Vicky and Jen on their blog here, follow them on Facebook here, and Twitter here, and Pinterest here.


Simplify the Season : 12 Simple Tutorials That Use Glass Ornaments

12 Simple Tutorials that Use Glass Ornaments via Clean Mama

I love making and crafting and glittering and gluing, but most of the time there just isn’t time for all the pretty things I’d love to create.  And, if I’m going to make and craft I like to include my little ones in on the fun too.  If you need a quick and cute craft that involves the whole family AND can be gifted as well, look no further than the glass ornament.  Grab an idea or two and a box of clear glass (or plastic) ornaments and craft away.  I like to choose one new one to make each year with my kids to remember the year – they also make great gifts!  I’ve created a little round-up of my favorite ideas from around the web.  Have no fear, these are do-able and simple – no need to complicate things 2 weeks from Christmas!

The LINKS to the original posts are below the pictures – please go to the sites and pin from the originals!




  1. DIY Ombre Glass Ornaments via Ambrosia Creative
  2. Holly Christmas Ornaments via BHG
  3. Character ornaments via Crazy Little Projects
  4. This is our must make ornament for this year –  Melted Crayon Ornaments via Meet the Dubiens
  5. Glitter Galaxy Ornaments via The Swell Life
  6. So sweet via Craftberry Bush
  7. I love the look of this – wouldn’t this be a fun family activity?  via You Are My Fave
  8. Did you know you can print a photo on vellum and insert it into an ornament?  The how-to from Not So Idle Hands
  9. I have made these with my babies – adorable and easy!  via A Sorta Fairytale blog
  10. DIY your own ornaments and add your own little trinkets – a feather, pebbles, etc. via Country Living
  11. Terrarium ornaments via DesignSponge
  12. Add drawings into the ornament with little bits of nature via @etst on webstagram  see Kelle’s amazing blog here.

Have you made any of these?  Inspired to try one?


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama



Simplify the Season : 3 Steps to a Simple Christmas Mantel

3 Steps to a Simple Christmas Mantel

Need to put together a Christmas-y mantel in a hurry or just want to keep things simple this season?  Here are 3 steps to a simple Christmas mantel:

USE REMOVABLE HOOKS.  Holiday decorations are temporary – take advantage of the great options on the market and use them.  I love these Command Strips from 3M.  The clear ones with the wire hooks are my favorites because they are almost invisible and you can flip the hooks.

Use hooks - Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

Use hooks2 - Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  Incorporate other items that you have on your mantel into your seasonal mantel decorating.  It keeps things easy for setting up and taking down and just makes it easier.

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama2

CHOOSE A SIMPLE COLOR SCHEME – I chose red, aqua, and green.   Choose your color scheme according to decorations that you already have and put them into place.  If you look at my fall mantel you’ll notice that I have a couple pieces that get filled with seasonal decor but are mainstays.  I love how easy this makes it to switch out decor.

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama4

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama3

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama


Simplify the Season : Baking Planner + FREE Printable

Holiday Baking Planner - 2 free versions via clean mama

I’ve mentioned before that I love to bake and baking at Christmastime is pretty much my favorite December activity.  My kids and I sit down with a stack of cookbooks and Christmas cookie magazines and decide on a few favorites that have to be repeated and a couple new recipes to try.  We make a ridiculously large list and start baking.  Some recipes are frozen ahead as dough, some batches get eaten within a couple days, but most cookie baking starts the week before Christmas.

Once we start, we just bake until we’re sick of it.  So if the list of 12 cookie types dwindles to 8 batches, oh well.  I don’t worry too much about completing the list, we just having fun with the baking process.  I will say that we start baking the must-haves first so if we get sick of baking we have the cookies we can’t do Christmas without.  I’ll be back next week with a super simple 5 minute fudge recipe that you’ll love!

2 Free Printable Baking Planners via Clean Mama

Go here to grab the FREE baking planners:



I have free holiday menu planners that match these baking printables – go here to grab them.

If you like these free printables, you’ll love my shop, Clean Mama Printables!

new etsy banner


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama


Giveaway : 3 neatHOME Blossom Dusters

Blossom giveaway

This contest has ended – winners have been announced in the Rafflecopter below!

Disclosure:  I received a neatHOME Blossom 2-in-1 Duster with the hope that I would like it enough to post about it and do a giveaway.   I absolutely love it and that’s why you see this review and giveaway.  I only mention products that I love and know my readers will love too.  You can view my full disclosure policy here.

I have a great giveaway for you today – perfect for cleaning all those little corners and dusty spots that are so easy to miss but so annoying to clean.  The folks at neatHOME have a brand new cleaning tool – the Blossom Duster- a two-in-one wall and floor duster that is perfect for quick clean-up (especially around the holidays).   The Blossom Duster comes with a General Purpose microfiber sleeve and two additional microfiber refill sleeves for heavy dusting /pet hair clean up and damp mopping and it has been featured in both Parents and Family Circle magazines.


From ceiling to floor- dust and more. The neatHOME Blossom 2-in-1 wall and floor duster is a cleaning tool that can easily conform to multiple cleaning needs. The Blossom Duster allows for safe high access dusting as a feather duster on a pole, and then easily transforms into a floor duster- reaching into difficult areas.  It can easily dust baseboards and get under and around furniture.  I love how easily it maneuvers around chair legs – it works great on my hardwoods and around kitchen table and chair legs.

Blossom Duster

I love this product and am really excited to be able to give 3 neatHOME Blossom 2-in-1 Wall and Floor Dusters to you today!

Here’s how I’ve been using the Blossom Duster in my home….

What can you clean with a blossom duster

Enter to win in the Rafflecopter below and good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Simplify the Season : Change a Tradition

The easiest way simplify the season is to change a tradition.  If there’s something that ‘you’ve always done’ that can be revamped, changed, or let go of all together to make things simpler, change it.  Chances are no one will lose sleep over it and maybe it can become a new tradition.

Simplify the Season - It's Okay to Change a Tradition via Clean Mama

In an effort to simplify this year, I made a ‘bold’ change and instead of wrapping all the Christmas books for unwrapping every day in December, I put them in a big tub and placed it under the tree.  Understand that I love the idea of this, but it takes quite a bit of time to wrap the 25 books and then we aren’t able to access our Christmas books whenever we’d like to.  So…I changed it.  Now my little readers can read their favorite books any day under the tree.  I won’t have to keep my littlest one out of the books that he would be trying to unwrap and everyone wins.  And guess what?  No one seems to care that I let go of this tradition.

What are you letting go of or changing this year?


This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama


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