Finally Friday- Summer Nights

moonlit
This weekend, take a moonlit stroll.  Don’t let the summer pass by without a chance to look at the stars and hear the crickets singing.
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized,
Ginny

My Ultimate Cleaning Tools

ultimate cleaning tools
My husband helped me pull out the oven and give it a deep cleaning this weekend, which got me thinking about my all-time favorite cleaning tools…
When I run across something that refuses to come clean, which is about every day,  this is what I reach for.  I’ve found them to be more effective than cleaning chemicals, and they require a LOT less elbow grease than a scrubby brush.  What could be better?
Summer should be fun and carefree.  Here are three tools that will make light work of summer chores now, and will save you a backache all year long.
1.  Magic Eraser Now: I’m getting that nasty grey film off our plastic outdoor toys.  Throughout the year: I de-grime our tennies, rub the burnt stuff off the glass cooktop, wipe the little red marks off the walls that the broom makes when it falls against them, and spiff up the arm rest in the car.  It’ s also gotten ink off our wallpaper, and those little dark specks that the dishwasher ignores around the word “Pyrex'” on our Pyrex glasswear.  I especially love the way it cleans anything with subtle ridges that trap dirt, like vinyl flooring and the bumpy texture on ice chest lids. 
-Be careful with glossy paint surfaces, and go for the store brand erasers at WalMart; 
You can get a four pack for three or four bucks.  Lifesaver!-
2. Pumie Scouring Stone  Now:  It’s ideal for cleaning the grill.  Throughout the year: I can’t get over how well it cleans the lime deposits that we have such trouble with in our area- on tile, the tub and even the toilet.  It was fabulous this weekend for cleaning the enameled edges of the oven door that aren’t cleaned up during the self-cleaning cycle.  I LOVE the way it cleans our porcelain tub.
     -Wear gloves when you use it so it doesn’t rough-up your fingertips, and don’t use it on glass, fiberglass and soft metals, but you’ll be amazed at how many things you can use it on.  Cost: about $2.00.  Love it!-
3.  Pampered Chef Pan Scraper  Now and Throughout the Year: I use it for anything with something stuck on it, like all the cereal bowls I use to hold paint while working on projects, dried paint and soap drips, and absolutely anything else that won’t disolve with cleaner or scrub off with a scrubby brush.  Keep one at the kitchen sink for dishes, and one in each bathroom or your cleaning caddy.  I honestly don’t know why it works so well, but it really does. 
-I’ve tried other brands, but none seem to work as well as the ones from Pampered Chef; they’re more flexible and have both curved and straight corners for different applications.  And, hey, they’re only three dollars for a three pack, so go for it!-
If you’ve gotta clean something this summer, you might as well make it cheap, chemical-free, and easy, don’t you think?
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized!
Ginny

Finally Friday: Arnold Palmer Style

this weekend- lemonade tea
This weekend, run to Trader Joe’s for a bottle of this tea.
A sweet Hostess just introduced this to me at her party – I’m so glad she did!
It’s guaranteed to put you in a Summer state of mind :)
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized!
Gin

Day Trip to Clark Gardens

Running through the ShadeIn the Summer, my boys and I like to take a drive to Clark Gardens in Mineral Wells. Have you been there? Well, it’s time you went!

Not too far from Fort Worth, but just far enough to feel like an adventure, it’s an easy day trip with kids.

Here’s how we do it…

We try to start out early to beat the summer heat, but, trust me, we’ve never gotten there when they open at 7:00 a.m. It’s a pretty straight shot from Weatherford on US 180, but I can’t resist taking I20 to 281. It’s a little out of the way, but totally worth it to see the hilly terrain and Brazos River.

When you turn on to Maddux Road a little East of Mineral Wells, you’ll wonder why you bothered making the trip. Scrubby cactus and mesquite line the drive. But trust us and go on in; we promise you’ll be surprised.

Owners Max and Billie Clark started landscaping their yard for their daughter’s wedding years ago, and just kept on going.

And going. And going. I’ve told you about my gardening abilities – or lack thereof – before, and how a mesquite patch could be transformed into something this lush and beautiful is just too much for my little flower-killing self to imagine.

We like to start off through a series of lily ponds and butterfly islands. My boys keep their eyes out for frogs and turtles perched on the lily pads, and, this year, the gate attendant gave us something new to watch for: Big Bertha. Apparently, a huge water snake has lived around one of the water falls for years and we never knew it. We searched high and low, only to find out she was spotted on the other end of the park that day. You could take that as a big loss or big win, depending on your opinion of snakes.

Next, feeding the ducks and goldfish keep the boys busy while we relax under the ceiling fans of one of many pavilions around the gardens. We make the boys pose sweetly for a few more pictures than they would like.

Then head off to their favorite part of all: the Train Station.

And what a train station it is. Inside, trains pull into models of old Mineral Wells and Weatherford. Outside, they chug past each other through miniature farms, nearby towns, over bridges and across rivers. My boys are captivated, watching from every angle and always hoping to see a lizard or a squirrel on the tracks.

When we’re all finally satisfied at the train station, we mosey through the rest of the park. My boys call to the peacocks while we make our way through rose gardens and daylily beds. They put up with our interest in the Historic Tree Trail, and run through the shade to an overlook high above the valley. They tiptoe into the chapel, and then sing at the top of their voices when they notice the booming echo and realize no one else is inside.

clark-gardens-2

We typically pack some snacks and drinks, and there are drinking fountains all through the park. Still, by lunch we are very hot and very hungry, and very happy to have seen the whole park one more time.We drive back in to Mineral Wells for barbecue at the Mesquite Pit, and then head home, exhausted.

A house full of sleeping kiddos is the sign of a very good day trip!

What fun little trips do you like to take with your family? Tell us about them!

You are so Cute, Smart and Organized,

Ginny

Vacation Bible School Cookies: A History

vbs snacks
It’s VBS week at our chuch right now, and my boys and I are having so much fun.
Yesterday, every kid there munched on a herd of cupcakes made to look like happy little cow faces, all lovingly made by one generous lady in our church.
It made me think about VBS snacks when I was a kid…
I call them “Vacation Bible School Cookies.” Do you know what I’m talking about?
Funny little windmills, hard coconut bars and store-brand sandwhich cookies that sweet Grandmamas would place on a white paper napkin beside a cup of red KoolAid in the fellowship hall. A much appreciated feast in the middle of soap bar crafts and duck-duck-goose.
I’ve always loved Vacation Bible School.
I have so many happy memories of VBS weeks around our little town: games of tag outside the Church of Christ on sticky summer nights, Going on a Bear Hunt in music class at the Methodist Church, and bright mornings at First Baptist, making crafts with all my friends.
And always, those funny little cookies you didn’t see anywhere else.
We live in the age of Pinterest and Martha Stewart now, though, and if you walk into VBS snack time today, things are just a little different.
Fellowship Halls everywhere are being transformed into tropical luaus, carnival midways and castles, and the sweet Grandmamas are carefully constructing elaborate snacks to match the theme of each day’s lesson.
Snacks have changed, but one thing has stayed the same. At churches all over, dozens of adults have given up a week of their summer to organize games for rowdy fifth grade boys, lead squealing girls through a Bible lesson, and hold a little one’s hand on the way down to the fellowship hall.
My mama says that when she was a kid, Vacation Bible School went on all day for two weeks straight. Amazing. Today, we sculpt edible, colorful object lessons for 100 wiggly kids, all while avoiding peanuts, tree nuts and gluten. Incredible. Either way, it’s an impressive show of love for the children around us.
Are you helping with Vacation Bible School this summer? Thanks for making sure our kiddos have lots of happy, and yummy, memories!
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized,
Ginny
P.S. Come visit us at VBS this week! We’ll have plenty of cookies for you :)

Choose the Best Lamp

Click for Sources
My boys have an amazing knack for breaking lamps at our house.  Here, a few quick tips to file away for Lamp-Shopping Day…
Living Room:
-Go Large, 30-34″.
-Pairs are pretty, or use two different lamps within 2″ of the same height.
Bedroom:
-Choose 28-30″ tall for best reading light.
-Try two light sockets or a three-way switch to get the most light.
-Hang a pretty mirror behind lamps to boost brightness.
May your lamps enjoy long, happy lives ;)
Gin
Click for Sources

Made for Summer- Denim and White

made for summer
Cool, fresh and pretty, pretty, pretty.  How are you wearing white lace with denim this summer?
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized!
Ginny
Click Image for Shopping Info :)

Finally Friday…Popsicle Style

this weekend...flavorice style
This weekend…pick up a box of these babies and put ’em in the freezer.
Because it’s summer now.  And it’s your duty as a parent.
Here’s to Fridays, Summer and Fun!
Gin

Save Summer in a Jar

beach-sand-jar-completeMy family used to go canoeing in the summer, and my parents were always sweet to help me keep an eye out for small, flat stones with a tiny hole eroded in them from the river water.  I would bring these rocks home and lace onto a piece of string to make a necklace.  If the stone just happened to be heart-shaped, it was all the better.

My boys are constantly bringing home their own little keepsakes like this.  Seashells, an especially pretty branch of pinecones and special rocks all come home from our trips in pockets and suitcases.

I recently ran across this picture in a Ballard Designs catalog that gave me the idea to make little jars for all the treasures they bring home.  Aren’t they pretty?

Inspiration for the Project.  Click for Info

Inspiration for the Project. Click for Info

beach-sand-jar-suppliesHere’s what you’ll need to make your own:

Glass Jars:  I used a three-pack of spring-hinge jars by Spare Parts at Hobby Lobby, $5.99

Clear-drying Glue for Glass:  Try Weldbond, $6 on Amazon

Sea Shells

Metal Label Holders:  I used a multipack by Spare Parts at Hobby Lobby, $2.99

Jute Twine

Paper, Pens, and Scissors

-Get your 40% off Hobby Lobby Coupon Here

…And here’s what you’ll do:

Following package directions, glue your sea shell to the lid of the jar and give it plenty of time to dry.  Patience, patience…

Using your Metal Label Holders as a template, cut the Paper into rectangular labels.  Give each label a title, such as the name of the beach where you collected your sand, or the year of your vacation, and write it out in your prettiest (or your child’s cutest…or your printer’s trendiest…) handwriting.

Mold the Metal Label Holders to match the curve of the jar by holding the Label Holder against the jar and pressing with your thumbs from the center of the Holder to the edges.

beach-sand-jar-directions

 

Thread a 10-inch piece of Jute Twine through the Label Holder, going in the hole from front to back on the right, across the back, and out the hole, back to front, on the left.  Center the Label Holder on the jar, wrap the Twine around the back, and tie tightly to secure.  Trim the tails as needed.

beach-sand-jar-thread

Wrap another 10-inch piece of Twine around the mouth of the jar, and tie it in the front with a handsome square knot.  Fray the ends of the twine.

Slip your Label into the Label Holder, and you’re all set to fill your jar with treasure.

Here’s another look at the finished product:

beach-sand-jar-complete-another-look

Does your family save mementos like this from your vacations?  Show us how you display them!  What kind of keepsakes would you store in your jars? 

You are so Cute, Smart and Organized!

Gin

This Summer

this summer
We’ve been busy thinking of the things we want to do this summer.  You, too?
My mama was a teacher, so we had long summers off together.  All through the year, we would file away ideas for activities we wanted to do during summer break.  Our list would usually include things like visiting a new store we were curious about, going to the zoo, and lots and lots of trips to my grandparent’s house.
Some activities were not even planned, like the summer we went to about a hundred McDonald’s drive throughs to get a complete set of Bambi figurines.  Very cute.
And Some activities were entirely my mom’s idea, like the summer she decided we needed to know we were capable of walking six miles into the closest town and back.  My sister and I assured her that we did not need to actually experience this to know that we could.  She insisted we did.  Believe me, my sister and I will never forget that it is entirely possible to walk six miles to get a popsicle.
My boys and I have a few ideas of our own this summer.  One son wants to make a homemade pizza, I want to paint the house a little, and we’re all anticipating our big vacation.  More than anything, though, I’m looking forward to all the extra time I’ll get to spend with my kiddos.  It’s a special time of year, and I can’t wait to soak up every minute of it.
What are your plans for the summer?  Are you going to try anything new?  Tell us about it!
You are so Cute, Smart and Organized,
Ginny