Thankful for Awesome People

We’re at the halfway mark of November, as well as day 15 of the 21-day Gratitude Challenge! So I’m sharing today’s message and personal reflection. >>

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The white text is little hard to read, so here’s what it says:

Who are the people around you – friends, co-workers, neighbors – that you don’t always pay attention to? Are there certain people whose presence you may take for granted sometimes? List some people below and write a brief reason why you’re thankful for them.

In the next few days, tell one of these people why you’re thankful for them. It’ll be an encouragement to both you and them.

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Personal Reflection

Gosh, this message struck a chord. I can get so wrapped up in my day-to-day schedule…keeping work projects moving, carpools rolling, kids studying and playing sports – not to mention fed, that I probably take a lot of people for granted.

This bums me out just thinking about it, because I don’t mean to overlook the generous people or acts of kindness in my life.

I will definitely open my eyes and take a moment over the next few days to thank these people in particular:

> My husband for being more than my better half. In fact, many days he’s my better 3/4. He’s such a great listener – no matter what I’m rambling about. I can vent about hard days or chatter about craft supplies and he patiently listens to it all. We tag-team on pretty much everything around the house, and he always runs errands with me (even when his schedule is full) because he knows spending time together is my love language. He’s a calming presence when I get weird bouts of anxiety, and life just wouldn’t be the same without him.

> All of the moms and families in our carpools. They save my bacon on a weekly basis. Honestly, I can’t imagine life without carpool. (Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.)

> All of the teachers and coaches who carry the baton of making my kids amazing people while I’m at work or cheering from the sidelines.

> My dearest friend in California who never gives up on us no matter how much time passes between visits, as well as my super fun friends in Kansas City and here at home.

> My kids who continue to be good eggs no matter how much I mess up. My adoring parents, talented brothers and sisters, in-laws whom I honestly love, and nieces and nephews who make me feel incredibly proud.

> My sweet neighbor who’s always willing to help feed our rabbit, bring in our mail, watch over our house, or even visit over the fence about life. She’s amazing in so many ways.

> My co-workers who not only inspire and push me to new levels of creativity, but also take time for lunch and sharing parts of their lives beyond work.

> The people at DogParty who give sweet Leo a home away from home when we take trips.

> The girl who cuts my hair and doesn’t get mad when I trim my own bangs between appointments.

I know there are so many more…

I appreciate you all and send you my deepest love.

XoXo,

Kate

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Creative Tip: Are You Asking The Right Questions?

If you want to awaken and nurture your spirit of innovation and creativity, one way to crack that egg is by asking questions. When you get super curious about an idea or problem, you can break new ground and walk away with a brilliant solution.

Questions stir up new connections between two or more concepts, or they lead you on a path to new questions and different angles. So how do you enwreathe an idea with just the right question?

Here are three approaches to try!

{ONE} PLAY “TEN QUESTIONS”

Remember the game 20 Questions, where one player thinks of a person/place/thing and another player asks up to 20, yes-or-no questions before guessing what they’re thinking about? Well, you can take a similar approach to a creative problem.

Think about what you’re trying to accomplish. Then write it in the form of a question – in at least 10 different ways.

For example, if you want to invent a new way to walk a dog, you could start with “How do I design a better leash?” Or you could ask, “What’s the problem with leashes on the market today?” Or better yet, “What would make a dog want to stay next to his owner on a walk?”

As you explore, your questions might get deeper into the issue and closer to a creative fix.

{TWO} THINK LIKE SOMEONE ELSE

Instead of sitting there feeling stuck inside of your own head, try to slide into someone else’s perspective.

For example, if you’re designing a better sippy cup, ask what changes your kids would make. What would make it easier for them to hold it? What would make it more fun for them to drink from it?

Think through the problem from their angle and ask questions from their side of the equation.

{THREE} REMEMBER TO GET FACTUAL 

Phil McKinney wrote a book that’s dedicated to this entire topic of digging deeper and asking the right questions. It’s called Beyond the Obvious. I haven’t read the book yet, but I recently stumbled upon one of his concepts.

He came up with two basic categories of good questions: factual and investigative.

As the name implies, the objective of the first category is to get information…real, useful info that provides detail and context. It’s the “who, what, where, why, and how” kind of questions.

They serve an important purpose, though. Sometimes people glaze over details or make assumptions, when a simple, factual question could be the missing link to uncovering a solution.

For instance, there were two sisters who always cut the ends off their ham before cooking it for the holidays. One sister finally stopped and asked why. When her sister didn’t really know, they decided to ask their mom. After all, she taught them how to cook a ham. The mom said she cut the ends because she didn’t have a pan big enough…not because it had some sort of culinary benefit.

So discovering a new way of doing things can certainly come from asking factual questions.

And remember to keep following the question train. Keep asking why, and follow up with another question until you’re satisfied.

McKinney believes you’re more likely to get creative answers from open-ended, investigative questions – like what we explored above in options 1 & 2 – so it’s good to give all of these approaches a try.

Let me know what works best for you.

Have a creative day!

Kate

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DIY Cleaning Supplies (that work and save money)

{including our cleaning supplies!}

Happy Saturday, friends! We have a special guest on the blog today. Demi Giles is sharing some of her favorite tips on DIY cleaning alternatives that not only work great, but also help save us some money. Cha-ching!

Demi contributes to several blogs and is passionate about topics related to home improvement, cleaning and organizing. She owns a small company based in London called Clean Start, and I’m excited she’s contributing to the Neat Nook community today!

DIY Alternatives for the Whole House

 

Let’s be honest, some cleaning products are just too expensive. And why waste money when you can make these things at home on a much cheaper price and they will have the same effect?

On top of that, a lot of the commercial cleaning products are really not that environmentally friendly. And it is not just the environment they harm. A lot of children and pets and the people cleaning can get affected from some the products, which could cause irritation and many other problems.

To kick things off, let’s start with a good window cleaner recipe.

You will need a quarter of a cup of white vinegar, a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol, one tablespoon of starch to reduce streaking (your options for starch are widened in case you happen to have an allergy from corn), two cups of water and eight to ten drops of essential oils of your choice.

When you have all of your ingredients, get a glass spray bottle and pour everything in. Close it up and give it a good shake so the ingredients thoroughly mix and the starch doesn’t clog up the spray nozzle.

This product can be used for not only windows but also any glass surface. So you can clean up your coffee table or glass door cabinets or display cabinets. It is best used with a microfiber cloth.

Let’s keep things shiny.

How about we stick to the shiny part of your home and talk about making a product for ideally cleaned aluminum kitchenware, aluminum window frames and doors. If your kitchen sink happens to be aluminum, that as well.

The recipe for windows and doors four cups of water, one cup of vinegar and a few slices of lemon. Mix the water and vinegar in a pray bottle and shake it up. To use this solution, rub the lemon slice on the aluminum service and after that add the mixture and wipe off.

This solution also works for removing hard water stains from aluminum, like the faucet or shower head. But drop the lemon slices and get an old toothbrush and put in some elbow grease to it.

To clean up your aluminum kitchenware, you will have to go with this method: Start filling up your pot or pan with water, while making sure you add two tablespoons of potassium bitartrate for every quart of water. After that, add half a cup of lemon juice or white vinegar and let it boil for about ten minutes. After that, let things cool down and proceed to regular washing. When you are done, set it to dry.

Now let’s clean the toilet.

You are going to need three quarter cup of borax, one cup of white vinegar, ten drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of lemon essential oil. Mix them all together in a bottle with a squirt nozzle and shake it up really nice. The way to use it is to flush the toilet once and pour the whole thing in the bowl and let it sit for a few hours.

A good idea is for this to be done in the morning so that during the day no one will need it because they are at school or at work.

Okay, now let’s see about cleaning your sofa or any upholstered furniture.

You will need rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, and if you want, essential oils for fragrance. If you are going to use essential oils, a glass spray bottle is best. You already know how it goes. Let’s move on to using it.

To be sure it works on your furniture, first use it on an inconspicuous area. If it doesn’t remove the coloring, then proceed to use it anywhere. Get the bottle and a sponge and spray and scrub. If the stain persists over time, repeat the process.

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Special thanks to Demi. I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Do you have a favorite recipe or secret cleaning ingredient you love to use? I’d love to hear from you.

Blessings,

Kate

PS. If you’re a blogger or author and would like to share some of your best organizational or creative tips with the Neat Nook, let me know! Check out my contact page and let’s talk.

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5 Ways to Decorate with Corn Husks

{This beautiful print can be purchased here}

As a graduate of the University of Nebraska, you could say I have a deep appreciation for corn husks. (Go Cornhuskers!)

This fact also brings me to a slight confession. I’ve never really decorated with them. Crazy, right?

You would have thought this craft-loving alumna had rooms wallpapered in husks – or at the very least multiple craft bins dedicated to various shapes, sizes and colors of husks. Sadly, no.

After spending several years surrounded by fields of corn, it took moving to Northwest Arkansas and having some amazing, authentic, homemade tamales (which are steamed in corn husks) to fully appreciate the versatility of a corn husk.

And now that we’re in harvest season, I can’t help but have husks on my mind!

So…this is the year I’m finally going to decorate with them. I’ve rounded up lots of ideas – all with links to their DIY instructions!

Which one is your favorite??

{ONE} Rock Them Around a Wreath

(above) This reminds me of a giant sunflower! And I love the pinecones in the center. So pretty!

(below) This project is an Anthropologie look-a-like, which instantly makes it Pinworthy. I like the idea of a grapevine wreath as the base, too. Smart.

{TWO} Cover Your Candles

Now I could totally see these on my dining room table or lined on the mantel. The feathers add just the right amount of softness next to the grainy texture of the husks. Yes and yes.

{THREE} Fashion Them Into Flowers

If I can summon the patience to make these, I can already think of a bazillion places where I can glue, tuck and tie these beautiful blooms. (on wreaths, in vases, on napkin rings, etc.)

Remember the time I made flowers out of pumpkin seeds?? I still keep finding places to use them. Most recently, I tucked one on the top of a birthday gift for my sweet Mom.

{FOUR} Gather Them In a Garland

(above) Isn’t this such a cool idea?! The concept is to loop the corn husks – like you would for a wreath – but instead of securing them to a wreath form, you attach them to each other and form a swag or bunting or garland – whatever you like to call these things!

(below) This is a wider shot so you can see the big picture here. (Cool clock, too.)

{FIVE} Create for Christmas

I have a feeling if I started something like this now, it will be ready in time for Christmas. Maybe?

I really like these little trees and could see them in a display with a wooden nativity or as part of a “winter woodland scene” on a buffet table. Don’t you think?

Oh, and quick tips on husks >

Shopping: Buy packs of dried corn husks (used to make tamales) in the international foods section of a grocery store or at Walmart or from this Etsy seller if you have time to wait for the shipping.

Using: Soak husks in water until they are pliable, then shape for your projects.

That’s a wrap! I honestly don’t know which project I’ll start first. Maybe the wreath?

Have a fantastic weekend.

Blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

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Thankful for Creativity

Last week kicked off the season of thanks, as well as the series of Thankful Thursdays.

{This is a spot on the blog where I pause, try to appreciate what’s in front of me, write about it, and then invite you to join in.}

This year I’ve decided to take on a 21-day Gratitude Challenge. I ordered a set of cards and everything. Having these prompts has been super helpful, and I’m currently on day 8.

Let’s take a look. >>

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Personal Reflection

How can I bring more creativity into my life?

For me, it comes down to making it a priority in my schedule. Thanks to Pinterest, the countless magazines stacked on my coffee table, and the close proximity of my house to Hobby Lobby, there definitely isn’t a shortage of inspiration or resources around here. It just comes down to setting aside the time – and not feeling guilty about spending it on a creative project that might not seem necessary.

The idea that “God created us to be creative” is pretty powerful, though. Essentially, that means it’s a sin when we don’t use our talents and look for opportunities to be creative. And perhaps if we can be creative in a way that also expresses our love and acceptance of others, we’re on the path of our purpose?

I’m thankful for this message today – and for the ability to use my mind, hands and heart to create things. I suddenly feel like painting a kindness rock or something.

What about you??

Blessings,

Kate

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Why should we care about being creative?

{via} Today’s creative tip!

Let’s say you’re a blogger or writer. You probably see the need for creativity on a regular basis. As you plan out your posts and thoughtfully craft your sentences, you rely on many techniques to keep your work interesting and memorable. If any part of your livelihood (and therefore your paycheck) relies on creative thinking and solutions, then it’s sure to have a meaningful place in your life, and you see the importance of sharpening your skills.

But what if you don’t feel like your job or your life depends on it, why should you really care about it…at all?

Edward de Bono woke me up with this statement, “Creativity is the most important human resource. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”

Could you imagine a world that was on constant repeat?

Not only would that be boring, but also frightening. And if you think about it (like in terms of a song that never stops playing on the radio) it would also be annoying.

When we frame it up in this manner, we realize that spending time coming up with new ideas or “piddling around” with words, craft supplies, or music isn’t being frivolous. It’s necessary.

There’s even scientific evidence that shows creativity can help us live better, happier, healthier lives. I read a beautiful post that describes creativity as “a way we wrestle and thrive and search and grow and learn and make sense of the world. It’s how we find our purpose and our joy and our way through long, dark days until we get to better ones.”

So if you take away only one thing from this post, hopefully it’s a need to express your own creativity.

If you’ve been struggling with prioritizing your time or rationalizing why you should take up crocheting or tackling a few of the DIY projects on all of your Pinterest boards when you have kids to pickup from school or there’s laundry piling up in the hallway, this is your permission slip to do so.

Go explore. Get messy. Grow through your experiences – and help keep this world off repeat, damn it.

XoXo,

Kate

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Friday Wrap: Is October Really Over?

It’s been a wild week at the Andersen house. We closed out the month with plenty of fanfare. Can it really be time to roll into November, though?

Before we do, here are a few of our favorite moments from the week. >>

{ONE} Halloween Shenanigans

The girls had two costumes this year, which I guess makes up for no costume for my teenage son. Haha. Actually, he and his friends were super sweet and took the littles out for trick-or-treating before they did their own thing.

First up were The Little Hungry Caterpillar and Rainbow Fish, which the girls wore to school for book character day. {It was a creative way for their school to let the kids dress up, but not really make it be about Halloween. I guess schools aren’t doing Halloween anymore??}

The “official” Halloween costume of the year were these bear outfits. It turned out to be a pretty cold night, so they were pumped to be walking around in these cozy, fuzzy onesies.

To make them look like Beanie Babies, we just made tags that hung around their neck with ribbon. So simple. My kinda outfit.

Brandon and I made a last-minute decision to dress up. I’m talkin’ 20 minutes before we went to our friend’s house for dinner.

Once Brandon found the red, white, and blue hat in the attic, we scrounged around for anything we could wear with those colors (including the red plastic glasses from the dress-up bin) and just went with it. Go ‘Merica!!

We had such a fun night chillin’ with friends – especially these sweet ladies (even if they did talk me into drinking a “beer” from Bolivia that tasted like black licorice and burned my throat.) I swear I still have indigestion from it.   

Oh, and I made the pumpkin-shaped cheeseball again. The tradition continues…three years and running!!!

{TWO}  Chai Love You

I’m a seasonal sipper when it comes to coffee and tea, but I’m not a huge fan of PSL (I know, I know). What I do love, though, is the touch of spice in a chai latte this time of year. So I stocked my pantry full of some yummy K-cups.

+ This drink reminds me of my sister, KJ. It’s her favorite, too. And she warms my heart. Cheers to more chai!

{THREE} Black & White Photo Challenge

Have you seen the black and white photo challenge circulating on Facebook these days? It’s actually pretty cool, and I have no idea how it all started. Do you??

I was nominated by a co-worker and am currently on day two. My first post included Leo (above). I bribed him with a treat to sit next to me while I did yoga that morning. Lol.

It has only been a couple of days, but so far I feel like it’s great practice for mindfulness. I’m spending the day being more aware of what’s going on around me as I look for the right shot.

Want to join me? Here’s the wording for the challenge. Feel free to use my name as the person who challenged you. Because I am!! Copy and paste this into your next Facebook post – with a photo of your day.

I was nominated by Kate Clark Andersen
Seven days, seven photos in black and white of your everyday life. No explanation, no people, challenge a friend to join every day.
Day 1/7
Today, I challenge {you get to choose!}

{FOUR} Becoming Buzz Worthy?

Y’all, The Neat Nook was mentioned in a BuzzFeed Nifty article! Here’s a link to the post, and here’s a post about the link. Haha! There are so many great tips in here, too. Check it out!

{FIVE} Transitioning to Thanksgiving

In addition to some pumpkin makeovers, I’ve started back up with Thankful Thursdays. I’d love to hear from you each week and share in your thanksgivings. Yesterday was the first post, so be sure to check it out.

That’s a wrap, my friends!

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. I’m linking up with all of these fantastic bloggers again this week. Be sure to check them out. >>

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Thankful for November – And All That Comes With It

I adore the month of November so much I got married in it. Lol. My sweet B and I will be celebrating 17 years of marriage this month – and we still love each other. Like a lot!

This guy is such a good dad, caring husband and all around best friend. The picture below was taken two years ago when we went to Oregon for our anniversary. Oh, how I want to go back…right now.

Thinking about how lucky I am and the approaching holiday of Thanksgiving, I decided to take on a gratitude challenge.

You may remember last year I wasn’t sure I was up for it. Well, I recently stumbled upon these cards from Proverbs 31. They’re daily prayer cards that offer a prompt for each day. Something about them felt right. Maybe it’s the timing or the topic – or both? I ordered them. And they arrived just in time for my first Thankful Thursday post of the season!

This is the complete set, which includes one colorful card for each day of the challenge.

Below is the first card in the deck to kick things off.

Day 1

Personal Reflection

I like the thought “worship puts our problems in the right perspective.” When I think about it, I probably let too many problems get blown out of proportion. There have been days when I felt so overwhelmed something simple, like one too many red lights on the way to pickup kids from school on an already tight schedule, have sent waves of anxiety through my skin. For what, really? Being a few minutes late somewhere? Will that matter in a week, a year, ten years, or more importantly in eternity? Definitely not. But the way I handle these times…the way I treat other drivers, greet my kids when they hop in the car, and view the overall stress around it? Probably does matter. There are bigger, more important things at play, here.

Today, I’m grateful for this perspective.

What were you able to get out of today’s prompt? I’d love to hear from you.

Many blessings,

Kate

PS. It’s not too late to order your own set of cards here.

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Happy Halloween 2017

Hello, gorgeous goblins! I hope you’re ready for a fun night of candy and craziness. We finally got our house ready…lights up, pumpkins out, and costumes on hand. (I promised my family I wouldn’t hang the witch hats this year.) Haha!

Speaking of decorating, though…

Here’s a quick organizing tip!

Do you love how your house looks right now? Did you stick the landing on your entryway decorations and want an encore performance next year?

Then take pictures!

And don’t just take pictures for Instagram, but also print them out and tape them to your storage bins for when it comes time to pull it all down in preparation of Thanksgiving (or even Christmas if you want to jump right to it.) It’s only 8 weeks away. Eek!

Putting photos of your decorations directly on their storage bins helps you remember just how awesome your house looked AND tells you exactly what’s inside the bin. #likeagenie

If your witches and webs are too much for a single bin, not to fear. Print multiple photos and use a Sharpie to circle the items that are inside each bin. Even with clear bins like the ones below, it’s nice to have a snapshot of everything that’s inside.

{shop this bin} – it’s not an affiliate or anything, I just really like these bins. 🙂

PS. Finding holiday-colored lids (think orange for Halloween and green or red for Christmas) makes it super easy to pull all of the right bins – especially if you store them in a dark attic or basement.

That’s it for now. Enjoy the festivities on this spook-filled night!

-Kate

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10 Best Organized Living Tips…so far

Well, this week is off to an exciting start. The Neat Nook was selected to be part of this BuzzFeed Nifty article about organizing tips. >

I was so honored when one of their editors reached out. She was particularly interested in the post about “new uses for rubber bands.”

It was cool to look back at that post – and even a few others in the Organized Living category – to refresh my memory of all of the tips I’ve shared so far on this blog adventure.

I decided to share a few of my own favorites with you. So if you’re new to the blog or haven’t caught these particular posts, you can see them here.

{ONE} New Uses for Rubber Bands

This was actually the idea that was posted in the BuzzFeed article. > Secure two tissue boxes with a rubber band. Use an empty one as your built-in trash can. It’s perfect for a kid’s room or traveling in the car. Ta-da!

I love finding new uses for things. In fact, I have lots of posts with this theme. If you want to see more, such as new uses for cupcake liners, or new uses for loom bands, check out these Neat Nook posts!

{TWO} Bedtime Rituals

Nothing beats the feeling of crawling into a soft bed at night. I tell ya. Some days are easier to lull into a slumber than others, though, so I pulled together an easy routine to help us S.T.A.R.T. sleeping better. (It’s even an acronym to help us remember.)

Read the full post, and hopefully you’ll be sleeping like a champ – and waking up ready to rock the day.

{THREE} Creating a Welcoming Entryway

An entryway sets the tone for the rest of the house, so this post gives practical and beautiful ideas to organize this important space. <3

{FOUR} Organizing Your Jewels 

This was one of my very first posts, y’all! For sentimental reasons (and because the tips are still pretty dang useful) I wanted to include it on my list. 🙂 Check out these three simple steps to getting your jewels all jazzed up.

{FIVE} Tips for a More Enjoyable Laundry Room

This post not only offers great tips on organizing your laundry space, but also shares some photo inspiration that could actually get you excited about laundry.

{SIX}  Five Things Every Guest Room Needs

If you want to make guests feel like they’re on a retreat when they come stay with you, this post outlines five must-have qualities.

{SEVEN} One Hour Desk Makeover

Sometimes your desk just needs a mini makeover – like with some sorting, purging and organizing back in place. This post gives five simple steps to do just that – within an hour!!

{EIGHT} Slimming Down Your Bookshelves

If you love to collect books like I do, this post can help you slim down your selection so your shelves aren’t too overwhelming. Just let this photo be our inspiration. #ohsopretty >

{NINE} Candlestick Projects

Technically this post could be filed under the “new uses” category. I decided to round up some favorite ideas using candlesticks. Here’s the result. 

{TEN} Beautiful Bulletin Boards

I love a good ol’ fashioned bulletin board where I can print and pin pictures, quotes and even family schedules.

Here’s a post I pulled together that shows some of my favorite bulletin board ideas.

Speaking of boards, if any of these ideas inspire you, feel free to pin them on a Pinterest board. You can also follow me @ Kate Andersen.

Have a beautiful and organized day, my sweet friends!

Kate

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