An Organization Station for Back to School

back to school organization

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I’m quite possibly the most scatterbrained person I know.

Some would say I hide it well (many would say I don’t).

This flightiness is not something I’m proud of and something I’m constantly trying to overcome.

Every school year I start off with the BEST of intentions of keeping things organized.

I was pretty proud of myself last year. My son had his first year of Kindergarten AND I was his room mom and I think I stayed fairly organized throughout the entire school year.

This year is likely going to be even more involved though, AND we are in a new home so the old routines and systems won’t necessarily work this year.

We are pretty good with our morning routine, it’s just keeping up with everything that comes home AFTER school that can get overwhelming.

I think I have a set up that will work though. Each child has their own “milk crate” (I bought these at Walmart. I let the kids choose the color they wanted. If it’s fun and something they chose, they are so much more likely to use it) where their backpack, lunch kit and anything else that needs to go to and from school will be held.

Then above the milk crates is a large cork board. I have it sectioned so they each have a dedicated area to hang important notices, calendars, etc and than the third portion is for family stuff. This is all in the small hall out to the garage (we go in and out of the garage), so we’ll have to pass this area every day.

I hope it works out! I will report back and let you know.

How do you keep things organized?

School Morning Routine Hacks – Get Out the Door with a Smile (and On Time!)

School Morning Routine Hacks

Back to School is coming up soon and it’s time to start thinking about streamlining that school morning routine! Your routine (or lack thereof), can make or break your day! Learn how to create an organized back to school morning routine using these super simple and easy to implement school morning routine life hacks!


(Not ready for the back to school grind yet? Be sure to check out these fun summertime activities for elementary school students!)

Morning Routines. We all have them.

  • Pull the kids out of bed (or maybe they pull YOU out of bed).
  • Turn on the TV so you can get breakfast ready.
  • Scream for the kids to stop watching the TV and eat breakfast.
  • Scream for the kids to finish eating breakfast and find some clothes.
  • Scream for the kids to stop watching TV and find their shoes.
  • Walk out the door 20 minutes late with stressed out and frustrated kids and parents.

Sound familiar?

Thankfully, these morning routines are easily adaptable. With a few small school morning routine hacks, you can make your morning a well oiled machine that produces a happy family walking out the door ON TIME and with minimal fuss.

Here are some tips and hacks to make your school morning routine a bit less stressful: 

School Morning Routine Hack #1:

NO…Absolutely NO Screen Time

If your children are anything like mine, anything with a screen = impenetrable captivation. Let’s face it mom, you canNOT compete with Super Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Skylanders OR Jessie. Don’t even try.

Sure your kids might fuss. Sure they might follow you around the first few days lamenting “…but, but, but what can I doooooooooooooo?“. Remember though, this is for the greater good. Over time though, you won’t have to wage war for their attention and mornings will automagically (it’s a word. Well my 6 year old says it is) go smoother.

School Morning Routine Hack #2:

Wake up EARLY(IER) 

I know, I know. You already feel like you wake up at the crack of dawn. If you are scrounging for time though, you aren’t getting up early enough. If you are rubbing your eyes while shuffling kids out the door, you aren’t getting up early enough.

Get up at LEAST 30 minutes before the kids. Grab yourself a cup of coffee (this bulletproof coffee will really get you going for the day!), or a cup of tea, or a tall glass of ice water. Whatever gets you going in the morning. Take a shower. Just sit and read your Bible/stare out the window/do your yoga practice. Just WAKE UP.

When those kiddos run down the stairs you’ll be ready for them.

School Morning Routine Hack #3:

Do as MUCH as you can the NIGHT before (or on Sunday!)

Baths, clothes picked out, shoes and accessories picked out, be sure homework is DONE, bags by the door, lunches packed, paperwork signed, supplies replenished, extracurricular stuff washed/prepped/bagged, etc etc etc.

Basically you want your job to be feeding them (find some tasty ideas for breakfast here!) and getting them dressed and out the door in the morning. That’s it (and trust me…that’s plenty).

School Morning Routine Hack #4:

Set TIME goals so you know early on if you are running behind

Kids wake up at 7? Need to be out the door by 8?

Set up time goals.

You know the kids can eat breakfast in 20 minutes.

Plan for breakfast to be over by 7:20. If it’s 7:30 and they are  still lingering, you are running late.

Dressed by 7:40.

The GREAT thing about doing this, is that you can work some padding into your mornings. Time to snuggle, chat, and enjoy each other. Sending everyone off to school with happy and full hearts.

NOTE: Don’t leave TOO much padding. Then they get “bored”.

School Morning Routine Hack #5:

 Be calm

Screaming helps no one. Sure you’ll lose your cool sometimes. Try to make the morning routine as fun/calm/peaceful as possible. It will start everyone’s day off right.

Do you have any tips for how to ease the morning rush? Comment below!


How To Sew A Ruffle Dress – A Quick 3 Tier Ruffle Dress Tutorial For A Little Girl

How To Sew A Ruffle Dress

Check out this free tutorial for how to sew a ruffle dress! No pattern necessary. This ruffle dress tutorial is a great beginning sewing project. Make one for every holiday! Just change up the fabric colors/patterns.

How To Sew A Ruffle Dress

Learning how to sew was not an easy thing for me to do. I had to accept that I was going to fail…often.

I had to come to terms with my seam ripper and I had to start small and work my way up.

Once it clicked though, it was magic!

Related: Applique Tutorial

Now I love to sew all kinds of things, but my true passion is sewing dresses and skirts for my little girl. I sure hope my son doesn’t feel deprived (but he is well stocked in cool pajama pants), but something about making girly boutique clothing makes me giddy!

This dress is no exception.

It’s not a straightforward pattern, it’s kind of a mish mash of two or three of my favorite patterns, but it’s super easy for even a beginner to tackle if they are willing to have the patience to tough it out.

Related: How To Sew Pants: Basic Wide Leg Pants Tutorial | Basic Sewing

Here are the skills needed (beyond basic sewing skills) to sew a ruffle dress:

  • Ability to ruffle (I use the good ol’ “pull the bobbin thread” form of ruffling. I have also used the method in this video:
  • You must know how to hem…this is pretty basic, but you’d be surprised how many struggle with hemming. (NOTE: You could just leave the bottom of the dress unhemmed if your like the serged look.)

That’s it!


  • The top to your dress: This dress has an empire waistline. You can either grab a shirt (I don’t recommend a knit fabric…but if you feel comfortable working with knit, go for it) and cut it (Put the shirt on your child, an empire waistline is just below their chest area. Mark where you want the dress to begin and add a half inch seam allowance. Cut along the line.) OR you can use another pattern top that you like. I used the Simply Sweet Top pattern from Carla C on It has adorable ruffled straps and because they are elasticized, this dress can eventually become an empire waisted shirt to wear with jeans when Lizzie gets older!
  • Thread
  • Fabric for skirt of dress. I recommend easy to sew cotton novelty fabrics.
  • Sewing Machine
  • Serger (this is my serger) is optional, but once you learn to sew and want to sew a lot…you’ll want one!
  • Pins or clips (clips are awesome!)
  • Iron and Ironing Board

Directions for how to sew a ruffle dress:

1. First you need to figure out what size ruffles you will need. To do this, you’ll need to measure your child. Since this dress is empire waisted, you’ll measure just below your child’s chest. Measure from below chest (where you intend the shirt to stop and the skirt to start) to where you want the skirt to hit. I chose knee length.

2. Next you need to determine how much fabric you’ll need. I used the ruffle measurements from the Tiered Twirl Dress on

You can either use ruffle measurements from another pattern, OR you can use this handy dandy ruffle calculator here! Where it asks for waist measurement, you’ll want to put the measurement you took from right below the chest. For length you’ll want to put the measurement you took for how long you want the dress to be. For tiers, I have 3 tiers to my skirt, so I would put 3.

{Something to keep in mind: Ruffles actually give you a LOT of grace. As long as the fabric you are ruffling is at least double the length of the fabric you are attaching it to, it will work.}

Rule of thumb: 2 x’s the fabric you’ll have a slight ruffle; 3 times or more and you’ll have a fuller ruffle. The dress I made for my daughter has a very full ruffle and a VERY flouncy twirly skirt!)

3. The first rule in sewing is that you begin with WASHED and DRIED fabric that has been IRONED. Wash your fabric as you intend to wash the garment. Do not skip ironing! I used some fun cotton prints for this dress. I found them on sale at JoAnn’s. It’s novelty fabric, but since it’s a little girl’s dress I’m not super concerned with heavy duty garment fabric.

4. Now you’ll want to cut your ruffle pieces. If your fabric isn’t long enough to cut the lengths you need, no problem you can just sew multiple lengths together.

Just be sure to add at least 1/4 or 1/2 inch to the length to allow for a seam allowance. I love to use this awesome tool to cut my fabric along with ripping the fabric by hand (don’t attempt if you aren’t confident):

Love this tool

5. I serged both sides of each ruffle piece. This keeps the fabric from unraveling in the dryer. If you don’t own a serger (I own this one from Brother, it’s affordable and a total time saver. LOVE it!), you can just try using your machines zig zag stich. Just make sure it catches the side of the fabric.

6. I start at the bottom and work my way up. Because I like to hem things FLAT, before I even make my first ruffle, I go ahead and add a half inch hem to the bottom tier. I just press the bottom of the bottom tier up 1/2 inch and top stitch.

My hem. So much easier to work with when FLAT!

7. Next you are going to sew your bottom tier to your middle tier. Mark the middle of both pieces with a pin or a washable marker.

Related: Quick and Affordable DIY Coasters

Ruffles. They are in almost everything I make so I try to do them as painlessly as possible!

8. Now I sew a straight line across the top of my bottom tier (the side opposite the hem) about 1/4 inch from the edge. I make sure my tension is very low and my stitch length is long.

I do NOT back stitch.

When I take the fabric from the machine, I gently start pulling on the thread that came up through the bobbin. It should pull pretty easily. You’ll notice ruffles form.

Continue to pull on the bobbin thread a bit from each side until your bottom tier is the same size as your middle tier and your ruffles are uniform.

9. Pin your bottom tier to your middle tier carefully with RIGHT SIDES of fabric facing each other. Go ahead and fix the tension and stitch length on your machine to a normal straight stitch.

With a 1/2 inch seam, sew the two pieces together. (After you have the two pieces sewn together, you can remove the stitches you made to make the ruffles. Either pull them out gently or tug on them until the strings break.)

Now you can press the seam UP and top stitch the tiers together.

You can’t see it here, but the green is unruffled and the white is ruffled to fit the green. I pin them together before I sew them together.
Top stitching

10. Repeat this exact process (steps 7-9) to join the middle tier to the top tier.

Sewing sides of skirt together.

11. Now that you have all three tiers joined, you are ready to sew up the side. Join the raw edges of the skirt with right sides facing together. With a 1/2 inch seam, sew the two sides together (I serge the edges at this point as well). Now your skirt is formed.

12. Now you’ll need to get your dress top. Go ahead and grab it or make it according to pattern directions.

13. Mark the middle of the skirt AND the top on the back and front with a pin or washable marker.

14. You’ll want to repeat steps 8-9 to join the top tier and the dress top.  (I tend to turn the skirt inside out and set the top inside of the skirt to make sure I have right sides facing)

15. You are DONE!

This is my princess in her Ruffled Tier Dress for her Christmas party!

If you are a total newbie to sewing, I can’t recommend the projects over at enough. The patterns are easy to understand, come in PDF format so you can use them over and over again, and are so much easier than tissue paper patterns!

Let me know if you make this dress! I’d love to see your adaptation. Just be sure to link back if you post this on your blog. 🙂

Related: How to Start a Money Making Blog

This is not a paid post. The links are affiliate links so I might make a few pennies if you buy, but really I just have a GREAT desire for people to learn how to sew and this post was not made with compensation of any kind in mind at all!

Dramatic Play: Play Coffee Shop with Your Kids! (Includes Free Printables)

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The core of play based learning is Dramatic Play.

Dramatic play consists of; puppets, role-playing and often involves re-enacting a story. Setup is simple and should include props that encourage imagination; dinnerware, table, chairs, pretend food, a broom and dustpan, phone, dolls, dress-up clothes or tools.

They needn’t be expensive setups, a lot of items can be acquired from around the house or from a quick trip to Dollar Tree.

Today, we are going to focus on a popular theme loved by many of the momma’s out there- Coffee Shop. Obviously you have a bit of a coffee problem healthy appreciation for coffee when your kids would rather stand in as barista than play store, house, or post office. Hey I can stop anytime I want.

Err.. maybe not.

To get started, let’s look at the free or nearly free items we can use. Save your old coffee boxes, or bags.

Whenever I visit the not to be named famous coffeehouse I grab an extra cup sleeve and stir stick, and fast food has provided me with several cup carriers that definitely get used. If you have grinds or beans that have gone a bit stale, don’t toss them out.

Fill a plastic jar (with the lid glued shut) for a great prop to set the mood. We borrowed some pastries from a tea set we already had on hand. We used a cookie sheet (purchased from the Dollar Tree) that we already had on hand from a previous play theme.

What I purchased from Dollar Tree: Coffee cups with lids- 5 pack, brown shopping bags- 2 pack, green stickers, cash register drawer with money, 2 children’s aprons, and 2 foam cupcakes.

Total: $8.00.

The majority of the purchased items can be used in other play themes; the cash register, play food, leftover stickers, aprons. When we were done all the items except for the coffee pot and cookie sheet-they fit nicely in the two brown shopping bags.

This adorable coffee pot  really puts it over the top- my kids have really enjoy playing with it and will spend hours making lattes, and hot chocolate. It even has a little felt “pod” that goes in the top just like a real single serve maker.

The coffee pot and this fun set of printables (at the end of the post) are the heart of setting the scene, but your child’s imagination can take it further than you ever dreamed.

After printing the sign, and menu make it last longer by having it laminated, place in a protective sleeve, or laminate yourself with clear contact paper (Dollar Tree carries that ) It’s a good idea if you laminate the notepad pages as well, making it reusable with a dry erase marker.

For the aprons I printed out large copies of the coffee clipart and taped with packing tape (next time I will cover completely with clear and they will last longer) I used the green stickers to label bags and printed small coffee images and glued to the bags.

Use the small labels on cups, sleeves, bags or anything else you want to “brand”.

Take a look around the house and see what can be reused and repurposed, stretch your imagination and have fun playing with your little one too Momma. Enjoy these days of pure imagination and delight.

FREE Coffeeshop Printable. Just click to print below!

Mombucks Menu

Coffee Shop Images

Order Pad

Mombucks Sign


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Teacher Christmas Gift: Useful Utility Box Filled w/ Goodies and Essentials!

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My sister in law recently sent me these pictures of an ADORABLE Teacher Christmas Gift she made for my nephew’s teachers!

She was inspired by a photo she saw on Pinterest, that came from this tutorial on Eighteen 25.

Isn’t this adorable?

Here’s her price breakdown:

  • Boxes $4 each
  • Misc items to fill boxes: ~$10 (she made multiple boxes and the $10 covered all supplies for all boxes)

That’s a $14 gift filled with useful items INSIDE a reusable, useful container!

I can’t think of a teacher that wouldn’t love such a thoughtful gift!

Thanks Christina for the pictures and the idea!


10 Quick and Fun Summertime Crafts & Activities for Kids

It’s summer and the kids are B-O-R-E-D. (I mean seriously…how can they ALREADY be bored?)

Which means, you are likely NOT bored and instead have a laundry list (pun intended) of things to do.

Here are 10 quick and fun summertime crafts for kids that *should* give you at least 15 minutes to switch out laundry or wipe down the kitchen. 😉 (Please remember, independent play is important for kids!!! Don’t feel you need to be their entertainment director all summer long!)

All of these require a bit of prep work from you, but then should allow for a bit of independent play time (depending on the age/maturity of your children)!

1. No Mess Allowed Painting!

2. Make Your Own Play-Doh!

3. Rice Box Fun

4. Boredom Busting Busy Bags

5. Set them up with a fully stocked art supply kit

6. Make Your Own Lacing Cards

7. Get Your Dance On

8. Magazine ABC Collages

9. Campfire Free S’mores Experiment (they can “watch” it melt while you get some work done!)

10. Check out this article on 25 ways to beat summertime boredom!

Like I said, these crafts/activities should give you a bit of a breather. How long will depend on the age and maturity of your children. Enjoy and have fun this summer! Remember they are only little once.

Campfire Free S’more Summer Sun Experiment!

Yesterday, my friend from Motherhood on a Dime posted a link to an experiment her and her kiddos did a few years back.

Her Solar S’mores Snack really caught my eye and since I was grocery shopping that day anyway…I decided to add the ingredients to my list!

We didn’t do ours as “high tech” as she did…mainly because I was in a hurry to get things done and realized I didn’t actually have all of the supplies I needed!

2 Hours Later….

That said, our time was roughly 2 hours. I put the s’mores out at 10am and the chocolate was melted at 10:30!

The marshmallows took FOREVER though.

Finally at 12pm, I was able to smush them down and the kiddos got to eating!

They both LOVED these s’mores.

For the complete directions and to learn more about how to use this experiment as a teaching tool, please check out Motherhood on a Dime! Tell her I sent you 😉

***If you want to pin this, please pin it from Motherhood on a Dime!  

Dance Bag DIY: Pre-Project Jitters!

My little girl officially has started in dance and I’ve been REALLY wanting to get her one of those cute “tutu” dance bags with her name on it!

A DIY-er at heart, I couldn’t resist the urge to do it myself.

So here are my supplies: A zebra tote, some black trim, a pretty flower and some pink tulle.

I do have an embroidery machine, so I bought some pink embroidery thread to embroider her name on it (um, going to have to dust off that embroidery machine).

I’m definitely having pre-project jitters though! It’s been awhile since I’ve tackled a project like this and I don’t want to screw it up!

If all goes well, I’ll post a tutorial of how I do it!

Would love to hear your tips! Comment below! 

DIY: Mason Jar Herb Garden From Camille Styles

Isn’t this a fantastic idea?

Camille Styles shows you how to turn an ordinary board of wood, some mason jars and some herbs into practical kitchen decor!

I am definitely interested in trying this out!

Be sure to check out this Mason Jar Herb Garden. Tell them HI from Family Friendly Frugality!



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