Got kids? Got pets? Got DNA? Got Carpet Stains!

If you have kids, pets, or a pulse, you probably have carpet stains. If you are so perfect that you don’t have carpet stains, I don’t understand why you are here. I must really annoy you.

I have eight kids and I’ve also had two dogs and a cat over the past several years. One of those dogs was inherited from an ailing relative. The dog was older than peanut butter, and therefore messier than peanut butter. The kids are all younger than peanut butter, and therefore also messier.

But get this–our carpet always looked nice! (I say looked because now we don’t have carpet. We live in a travel trailer, remember?) We had two secrets to clean carpet success:

  1. We bought carpet the color of spilled coffee, because one of us spilled quite a bit of coffee. Buying the right carpet was easier than learning to be grown-ups about our beverages. Truth.
  2. We used Folex Instant Carpet Stain Remover.

Here is what I love about Folex:

  1. It works!
  2. It doesn’t have a ton of junk. (I’m sure it has some junk.)
  3. It’s simple. I love simple. You may have noticed that by now.

Let’s expand.

First, It works. I am blown away every time we use Folex and stains magically disappear. It’s like someone took a Mr. Clean magic eraser for carpets and magically erased those stains. Poof. Gone like chocolate. Honestly, pour red wine on your carpets, sell tickets, clean it up with Folex, and people will go home happy.

Second, the junklessness of Folex is fantastic. Here’s what it doesn’t have:

  • toxicity (I’m sure there’s something toxic in it–I mean, don’t drink it. Duh.)
  • irritants, like Dora the Explorer. There is no Dora the Explorer in a Folex bottle. Also, there are no skin irritants in it either, but I wouldn’t spray it all over my body after my two-year-old markered my arms either. If you have super sensitive skin, it might irritate you, but not as much as Dora.
  • the tendency to burst into flame. While the non-flammable nature of Folex does make it a bit less exciting to clean with, we’ve heard that 10 out of 10 insurance companies prefer your house not burn down. Who knew?
  • solvents. No solvents. What does that mean? It means that, you know, solvents…there aren’t any in there. If you have a math problem that you need solvented, don’t spray it with Folex.
  • odor. So no headaches for me! Other stuff–bam–headache! Not Folex.
  • CFC. Whew. That’s a relief. Okay, I don’t even know what CFC is–I’m not even going to pretend to know. Here’s a little truth for you. If something says it doesn’t contain a thing, then I automatically assume that thing is bad. Like if it said “avocado-free,” I’d be all, “I am never touching an avocado again. Kids, back away from the avocados now. Now now!” I’m a marketer’s dream.
  • petroleum.
  • magnetism. It’s not magnetic. The stains don’t come back after they’re gone. I don’t really get this either, because it’s weird, but I know that we’ve had our carpets professionally cleaned and they look worse within a week than they did before the dudes came and “cleaned” them. I now thoroughly believe we must have paid them to place magnets in our carpet, so the metallic dirt on my kids’ feet stuck to the carpet, whereas before it just fell to the ground and I vacuumed it up. Folex has no magnets. I know because I read it online.

Third, it’s simple. Find the spot–easy. Spray Folex on it–still easy. Rub it with your fingers–still pretty smokin’ easy. If you want to you can rub it with someone else’s fingers, a rubber glove (with your own fingers in it), or a towel. Then you simply dab up the cleaner with a towel–I use flour sack towels, because they’re white. Somewhere during the rubbing, and sometimes before, the magic happens. Wow.

Technically, you should test the cleaner on that secret place everyone is supposed to have in their homes where they don’t care if the carpet bleaches. I don’t know where that is, but if you have that secret place, go there and spray Folex. Then make magic happen.

Where do you get your hands on this stuff?

Walmart used to carry Folex and I was happy. Now I have trouble finding it without stepping outside of my shopping comfort zone, which is ridiculously small considering I am at a different store in a different town a couple times a week. I know. I have issues. Stores strike fear in me. I get lost and can never find the raisins…ever!

It (Folex, not raisins) is available at Home Depot, Lowes, and many grocery stores as well as some department stores. It’s also available online at Amazon (affiliate link), but I’m pretty sure it’s cheaper in the brick and mortar hardware stores. Don’t quote me on that, because prices change almost as fast as Folex gets the spots out.

I was not paid to write this post. I mean, if Folex sent me a lifetime supply of Folex for writing this post, I would certainly accept after an appropriate amount of fake modesty. In truth, I like sharing things I like…I don’t mean chocolate or cookies. I mean ideas and products. ‘Kay? Kay.

Here’s to clean carpets!



8 Tips for Taking Down Christmas Decorations

Our decorations stay up until after Three King’s Day, a.k.a. Epiphany, a.k.a. There Isn’t a Single Needle Left on This Tree. Why? Because I love Christmas, and I especially love the laid back days after Christmas, so why not celebrate all twelve of them!

I know many people like to get the decor put away tout d’suite, because it feels clean. To each their own.

Here are some tips to make the whole process smoother on the take-down side of things this year, and on the put-back-up side of things next year, because you know you’re going to blink three times and it will be Christmas again.

8 Tips for Taking Down Christmas Deocrations

8 Tips for Taking Down Christmas Decorations

1. Put your decorations in containers that are labeled by location. Pull out the family room decoration box when you want to decorate the family room, the music room when you want to decorate the music room, the pantry when you want to decorate the pantry–doesn’t everyone decorate the pantry? It’s called cookie ingredients and lots and lots of sprinkles! In my opinion, it’s worth buying decent containers to store Christmas decorations, because honestly people, despite what Clement Clark Moore says, there usually is a mouse stirring.

2. Wrap the lights and garland around a piece of cardboard or an extension cord winder-upper (official name) to prevent the strands from getting tangled.

3. Write new ornaments down in a notebook to remember where they came from and what they represent. It’s a fun lifelong Christmas journal. Store it in the ornament box.

4. Purge any decorations you didn’t use or that don’t bring you joy…like the nativity with the green faces where everyone looks like they’re bursting with food poisoning instead of bursting with joy.

5. Wrap decorations in newspaper, tissue paper, shopping bags, paper towels–whatever it takes to keep them safe. Do this as you take them down and place them immediately in the container for that room. We keep the hooks on, because it makes the next year easier.

6. Write a list of anything you need for next year. Place it inside the first box you open.

7. If you really dislike the unfestive nature of undecorating the house, make it a party! The Young family sets out all the leftover Christmas cookies and makes a party of it. (You have to try their Grandma’s fruitcake–oh my! So good!) Play music, put something yummy in the crockpot, chase your littles with the vacuum cleaner, and celebrate the end of the season with some hot cocoa and those jumbo-sized marshmallows. Fun fun fun!

8. Think about recycling your Christmas tree.

Good Housekeeping says this about how to take down a Christmas tree. You know, though, if you plan ahead for next year, try this:

Place a huge black contractor’s bag under the tree–set the tree stand in the middle of the bag. The tree skirt will cover the bag, unless your theme is black–like silent night, you know–in which case you’re all set. After you’ve taken off all the ornaments, lift the tree a bit, remove the tree stand, and pull the bag up around the tree. The needles should stay in there, unless you have a 14-foot tree like my brother. In that case, just get out the vacuum.

Print out this post and place it in your decoration box. Why? Because you’ll forget. You know you will.

When do you take down your Christmas decorations? Have any tips?

Photo credit: Flickr (Words mine)

5 Make-Ahead Christmas Morning Breakfast Recipes

When I was a wee lass, we woke from our dreams of dancing sugarplums to a Christmas morning breakfast of 27 varieties of Christmas cookies: fudge, snickerdoodles, chocolate-covered pretzels, chocolate crackles, spritz, and 22 others, including my personal favorite, pecan fingers. Drooool! It was this ol’ gal’s a child’s dream breakfast! Yeah, my mom rocked the motherhood thing! Because she had done all the baking ahead of time, there was no cooking for Mom on Christmas morning. Smart mom!

It turns out I’m not quite as much fun as my mom on Christmas morning. Translation: no cookies for breakfast. Bummer. I know, I know…but it’s a blood sugar thing. Christmas breakfast at The Simple Home must meet these basic requirements:

1) Minimal sweeteners

2) Protein for blood sugar or I will turn Grinch-green!

3) Carbs to stick to the ribs all morning

4) Little to no work in the morning, because I’m a Christmas morning lazy butt nobody wants to wait around for me to cook when there are stockings to pillage.

5) Delicious!

Here are some of my top ideas for a breakfast that fits all (or at least most) of the TSHM criteria for a Christmas morning breakfast.

5 Make-Ahead Christmas Morning Breakfasts -- Make it a tradition!

5 Christmas Morning Breakfast Ideas

1) Gingerbread waffles–personally, I don’t have time for waffles on Christmas morning, because we have chocolate-filled stockings waiting. Still, doesn’t this recipe from At The Picket Fence look divine. I would make them ahead of time and pop them in the toaster on Christmas morning–brilliant! (Yup, I just patted my own back. Pathetic.) Just so you know, if you use margarine instead of butter I will disown you, and if you’re not family, I will make you family and then disown you, and you know I’m insanely serious about that.

2) Overnight crockpot oatmeal–this is healthy and kinda boring, but you can make it more exciting with these 40 topping ideas from This Chick Cooks. How about a big fat chocolate santa right in the middle of each bowl. Wheeeee! (Might as well just go with the cookies.) Here’s a recipe for crockpot oatmeal from Mommy’s Kitchen. Some of my kids would disown me if we had oatmeal at Christmas, and I know they’re insanely serious about that!

3) Overnight French toastthis recipe from Pioneer Woman has masses of sugar in it, which is in obvious violation of TSHM Christmas breakfast requirement number one, but who cares? (I know–eat the cookies!) I would use my super simple homemade bread recipe…or I would buy a 99-cent loaf of bakery bread any ol’ place and be happy. (Hey, did you notice that “toast” is not capitalized? Only “French” is proper and therefore capitalized. Take note. It matters…to nobody except me.)

4) Freezer smoothies–assemble the smoothie ingredients in advance as suggested in this post at Keeper of the Home. Skip the sweetener and have an extra cookie. Yum. If you have a wimpy blender, set the bags of fruit out to thaw for a while before blending. If you have a power monster, like a Vita-Mix or Blendtec, just grind those babies up.

5) Egg bake–this right here is our go-to Christmas morning breakfast…followed rapidly by a Christmas cookie tray. See, I’m fun. Wheeee! Our two favorite breakfast casserole recipes are from my grandma and from Father Tim in Jan Karon’s Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader. Father Tim’s is appropriately titled Father Tim’s Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole. We just call it delicious. Check it out here. If you want to go all out and make your own breakfast sausage, here’s the basic recipe we use; actually, we’ve changed it so much, there’s no resemblance. Sorry.

Have a wonderfully delicious Christmas morning!

What do you serve for Christmas breakfast?

Image from Flickr; alterations mine.

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 12

Last week you finished up everything that can be done ahead of time. You’re prepared for guests or travel, your gifts are ready to go under the tree, other gifts have been mailed, cards have been sent or intentionally abandoned, cookies fill your freezer or pantry, outfits are hanging up, the house is decorated, and everyone is smiling because you’ve been spending time with them and enjoying a stress-free holiday season.

Here comes my favorite mission and the reason you have everything ready early.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Week 12: Help Others -- the best mission of them all!

Contact someone on your love list. Your love list is a list of people you love–brilliant naming, I know. (You don’t need a real list—it’s in your head).

See if they need any help with anything—shopping, wrapping, decorating, addressing cards, cooking, baking, a ride to the store, or just some Christmas cheer. Or get in touch with a local church or shelter and see how you can help.

Please make this a loving habit year round in honor of the Christ child, and not simply a holiday affection overflow.

It’ll be the best mission of all!

Next week I’m not sending you a mission, because you know what you still have to do, and that’s completely different for everyone. You have the last-minute (or festive minute as I prefer to call it) items to accomplish. Prepare any festive minute foods. Do a final clean up of your home—easy since you don’t keep clutter and you already prepared for guests. Curl six heads of long hair–or is that just on my list?

Then put your feet up and enjoy some cocoa while the rest of the world runs around in a flurry of last-minuteness. I’m so excited for you!


Don't stress this Christmas!

Totally Unprepared for Christmas? Just do this.

So you jumped ship on the Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas missions and now you’re kicking yourself and possibly your dog, Max. Poor Max.

First, don’t stress. Stress stinks like hot chocolate gas–nasty that.

Second, stop kicking poor old Max. And don’t yell at your kids. And don’t be mean to your husband or your mother or the poor kid in Kohl’s trying to earn a little Christmas cash. Just be nice.

Third, I’m not going to lecture you on Jesus being the reason for the season and that Christmas is still Christmas even if you don’t have gifts for your kids. That is super true, of course. I mean, super-duper true. Super-de-duper-de true! (I lost my thesaurus.) But the fact is, you want to give your children presents–I get that, so let’s get it done. 

Jump on my Festive Minute Train (that’s a nice way of saying Last Minute Train) and let’s get this Christmas prep chugging along.

IF you're unprepared for Christmas and starting to stress, this post will help you get it done.

Here’s what you’re going to do:

1. Get a piece of paper and a pencil…oh, and the budget you keep firmly attached to your body at all times.

2. Write down everything you need to get done. Ask my four-year-old about the differences between need and want.

3. Cross off the things you don’t really need to do. The cards can go. The fancy up-do appointment–really? Is it necessary? A manicure. Come on here. Let’s all just be real. Buying another new dress? What’s wrong with last year’s outfit? Cross those things off! Look, you’re halfway finished with your list and you’re still sitting on your keister!

4. Simplify the things you really want to do but are going to stress you out. You wanted to cut a tree, but Walmart has pre-cuts for 20 smackeroos. Just get one. You wanted to do a fancy Advent activity every night. If all you can get around to is reading Luke 2 and singing Away in a Manger, that’s beautiful! You really want to make cookies with the kids. So maybe you won’t get a dozen or so homemade cookies done, but you can follow Sandra Lee’s example and do semi-homemade. Dip some Oreos in chocolate and put sprinkles on them. Lovely! Dip pretzels in chocolate and drizzle a different color chocolate over the top. Dip anything in chocolate! Buy sugar cookie dough. Nobody’s judging, and if they are, they don’t get your cookies–send me their share.

5. Simplify the gifts. If it’s homemade and it isn’t nearing completion by now, forget about it. Gift cards might just be the way to go this year. Write it all down.If you are a visual person like I am, barricade yourself in a room, lay everything out, see what’s missing, and fill in the blanks. Buy it online. Done. Do it tonight!

6. Simplify wrapping. Homemade–forget it! Quick wrap is just fine, and so are gift bags, although I find them expensive. Let the kids help–happiness trumps perfection.

7. Make all the necessary phone calls and record everything on your calendar. Who’s hosting? Who’s bringing what? When are the kids’ programs? When is the office party? Write it all down.

8. Plan the menu for Christmas week. Just do it. Stop grumbling. Remember that enough is as good as a feast, so don’t go overboard. There’s no shame in ordering a ready-made meal from your grocery store. Serve it with a smile on your face and it’s all good. It’s all good!

9. Make a shopping list for groceries.

10. Shop. Don’t drop. Do shop. You have to get groceries anyway, so get your Christmas food at the same time.

11. Postpone anything (including school) that doesn’t have to do with Christmas until after the holidays…unless it’s paying bills or another time-sensitive necessity. Do brush your teeth.

12. Breathe! Sit and watch a movie with the kids and breathe.

13. Speaking of kids, let them decorate this year. Or just do the very basics. It doesn’t have to be Better Homes and Gardens. It does have to be Happy Home and Heart

14. Do yourself a huge favor and get the laundry done this week. Clean all the church clothes and set them aside and don’t let anybody who’s been dipping things in chocolate anywhere near them.

15. Call your grandma or your mama. Don’t rush it–just let them talk while you listen. It will be the best present they get this Christmas…even better than the chocolate-dipped-Cheerios your kids are inspired to create while you’re on the phone.

That’s that. If you do one or two of these a day, you’re finished with a little breathing room for Christmas. Please please please don’t stress. Just start at the top and move down, repeating numbers 11, 12, and 15 at will.

Keep it merry!

Thanks for the photo, Leland! (Text mine.)

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 11

Unless you are my super-organized friend Tammy or my seeeeester Karen, you probably have a few missions from the Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas to finish up. That’s what we’re doing this week–putting the bow on our Christmas prep.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Week 11

Take a peek at all your presents. Has everything been wrapped? Delivered? Shipped?

Are your stocking stuffers organized according to person–I use shopping bags, but you can use whatever you want.

Take a look at your house–is it cheery and bright?

Take a look at all your cards. Have they been sent out and the rest put away for next year?

Take a look at your menu? Have you purchased all the non-spoilables? Have you labeled them with coal-in-the-stocking threats so nobody touches them? Do you have a shopping list of what you’ll need to purchase later? Do you have a write-up of when to do what?

Have dinner invitations been sent? Is your home prepared for guests?

Is your calendar filled in and up-to-date? Did you include family fun down-time, like watching the Grinch and eating popcorn from the $5 tubs at Walmart?

Are your clothes ready for the season?

Is your freezer FULL of cookies?

If yes, you are set. If no and you’re feeling stressed, consider crossing things off your list and not doing them. If no and you’re not stressed, start at week one and work your way through the list, finishing up each week until you’re ready for next week’s mission, my personal favorite–no, it’s not about cookies.


Don't stress this Christmas!

Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas — Week 10

If you’ve been following along on our Twelve Weeks of a Simple Christmas missions, you are almost finished with buying, wrapping, and sending gifts; you’ve got a great start on cards or you’re finished; you’ve got the meal planned and many of the non-perishables tucked away; you’ve got the month scheduled so as to enjoy your favorite activities without being overbooked; and you even have some cookie dough in the freezer.

If not, you are right where I am. I don’t always practice what I preach…but I should listen to myself more. Especially about the cookies. (Eat the cookies, Self. Eat them all.) Hmmm…maybe not.

First, let’s address today’s mission. Tomorrow I’ll share an alternative schedule for those who are starting to freak out because it’s December and you still have pumpkins out. ‘Kay? ‘Kay.

Twelve Weeks of Simple Christmas Week 10: Laundry (Prep clothing,PJs, and linens, and get caught up on household laundry.)

This week’s mission for people more organized than I am has to do mostly with laundry. Woo hoo! Since we don’t have a machine in our rig (you remember we are full-time RVers, right?), laundry means laundromats. Some of them are pretty skanky, but when we find a nice one, it’s like a party in the laundry room! We are simple folk.

I digress. What’s new?

This week, make sure everyone’s church clothes are clean and ready to go for Christmas programs, fancy dinners, and church services. This might mean mending, letting down seams, or shopping. It might also mean polishing shoes.

Personally, we’re the thrift store, hand-me-down, only-own-what-you-truly-need type of people that make serious shoppers shake their heads. If you’re like us and can’t or won’t spend money on new outfits every year, add a little merry and bright to an old dress by purchasing or passing down a fancy hair doo-dad. My six girls are all getting a hair clip (because I’m a girl and I get it) and new tights or nylons (because I’m freezing my toes off in Wisconsin this month and so are they).

After every event, spot clean the clothes and hang them back up. Please don’t buy a new dress for yourself or your kids for every single function. Please don’t. Just please don’t. Think of her future husband! I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Next, if you’re having guests, wash your sheets and linens and set some aside so they’re clean for when your guests arrive and you don’t have to hustle and bustle to get that done when what you really want to be doing is eating the secret cookie stash sitting and visiting.

Still not done with the laundry!

Do you participate in the Christmas Eve PJs tradition? This is year 15 for us. I used to make PJs for my kids every year. Then I bought coordinating outfits. Now I get them each something they’ll like, even if it doesn’t match everyone else’s. Sniff sniff.

Wash those PJs so nobody wakes up with a Christmas morning rash! Then wrap them and stash them away. (I only wash them for my littles, not my middles and bigs, because I’m never positive there won’t be a return on the bigger sizes. There never has been, but…well…it’s what I do.)

Still not done with the laundry!

Get caught up on your laundry this week and stay that way. You don’t want to be crashing and burning Christmas week because you stayed up too late folding undies, do you? If you crash and burn, you want it to be from a self-induced chocolate cookie overload, right?

That’s it for the laundry. Whew! I feel so clean and fresh.

Now then, a few more details–keep going on the cookies if you’re into that. If you’re not…who are you? Also, if you haven’t started making those gifts yet, it may well be time to reconsider your gift list. And finally, deck those halls! We talked about decorations back in week X, so this is just a friendly reminder to actually do it and then pack the boxes away so they’re not cluttering up your Christmas. Have I mentioned how clutter makes me feel–can’t…breathe…gasp…gasp…gasp. It makes me tense.

Accountability Time

I’m so far behind that if this were a race I’d have been lapped by next Christmas…but that’s okay. I’m not stressing about it. If you’re behind also, you’ll appreciate tomorrow’s Festive Minute Mission–It’s technically Last Minute Mission, but the phrase “last minute” makes me get all stressy, while “festive minute” makes me get all cheery. Simple mind–simple mind game–it works for me.


Don't stress this Christmas!