by Melanie

Cleo Madison Dress Review

September 6, 2017 in Linen Closet by Melanie

When it’s time for back to school shopping or looking for a great new dress for my gaggle of girls, I spend a lot of time searching for modest clothing that’s not crazy expensive, and it’s crazy hard to find. We are not always successful, and we have a hard time finding styles we love that are also modest and cute.

This dress is darling, modest, a great price, and even ships for free!

So I was excited to find this online boutique: Cleo Madison. They sent me a dress to try in return for an honest review, and I was thrilled to work with them. Beth was getting ready to leave for college, and looking for BYU-appropriate dresses was on her list of to-do’s before she left, so it was perfect timing.

By the way, we just got her safely tucked in to her dorm a few days ago, and this mama heart isn’t doing awesome with one of her babies living under a different roof. Feel free to send comfort chocolate. Anyway…

Cleo Madison dresses are cute and super affordable. I would say cheap, but that makes them sound like they’re bad quality, and that’s simply not true. The quality is as excellent as the pricing.

Beth chose this Cindy striped dress she loved and guessed on a size. They don’t have a general sizing guide because their clothing is provided by several vendors, but they are happy to talk to you about sizing and are happy to exchange or return items that don’t fit quite right.

Shipping was great – it came even faster than we expected. And the best part? Shipping is free in the US! I was out of town when it arrived, but Beth said she put it right on out of the package and it looked amazing. She definitely guessed right on the size. She did say it had a funky smell when she opened it that made her not want to keep breathing when she tried it on, but one wash and that foul odor was history.

This dress is darling, modest, a great price, and even ships for free!Bottom line, this dress is super cute. We LOVE the color. The dark green is gorgeous and goes perfectly with Beth’s coloring. The fabric is really soft. The dress is ridiculously comfortable – she wants to sleep in it. The sleeves are a fabulous length, covering the wrist, not at all too short. The length of the dress is good – down past her knees so she feels covered and modest.

The fit is fabulous, and Beth feels like she looks awesome in it, so you know she’s going to wear it all the time. At first she wasn’t sure how to wear the tie well. It’s not a style she’s used to. But as soon as she figured out how she likes it, she really liked it. It only took her one wear to figure it out. It’s not calculus…

Our only issue is the white stripes. They’re pretty see-through. A slip, of course, fixes most of that, but she still feels very exposed on top. So she either needs a different slip style or something else to wear under the dress – like maybe a demi shirt to line just the top stripes.

Overall, we love the dress and loved our whole shopping experience. Beth says she would give it a 10/10… after she washed out the smell. For me, I love how great she looks and how much she loves it. And the price is fantastic – especially the fast free shipping. I would definitely buy from this fabulous boutique again. They have dresses, footwear, skirts, swimwear, and tops with our names on them! Not literally, of course… but I’m eyeing this one next.

What do you love at Cleo Madison?

by Melanie

9 Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

March 28, 2015 in Linen Closet by Melanie

I’m not gonna lie. I hate cleaning. Really, really, really hate cleaning. But I do love having things clean and organized, and somebody’s got to do it.

Spring seemed like the perfect time to try to get a little more organized. It is called Spring Cleaning after all. We’ll call it a fresh start for the house and the homemaker.

I rounded up 9 cleaning and organizing tips and tricks to help me get started.


6 Tips for Organizing Closets • Mommy Envy

Household Cleaning Tips and Tricks • xo, lauren & jane

Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets • Stuffed Suitcase

The Cleaning Benefits of Vinegar – 7 Ways I Use Vinegar to Clean • A Vision to Remember

How to Clean a White Seat • Crafting in the Rain

How to Keep Your House Clean All Year Long • The Things I L♥ve Most

Stress Free Spring Cleaning • For What It’s Worth

Organization Tip: Tackling the Corded Mess Under Your Computer • Creations by Kara

Spring Cleaning Family Style • Organized Island


Here are a few more cleaning and organization tips you should take a look at!

My kids really struggle to keep their rooms clean. Oh, let’s be real here – so do I. This simple chart full of pictures helps my kiddos get the job done without getting overwhelmed by the mess in the room! I should make one for me.


Organize your kids’ school clothes like this and make your mornings run a lot smoother. No more mad dash to get out the door!


Do you have any great cleaning or organizing tips for me? I need some help!

by Melanie

Managing the Morning Madness

September 15, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie


I am generally not a first day of school crier. I remember shedding a few tears when Chuck started kindergarten. My baby started school! That’s the ONE time in all of the first days of school over the past 12 years that these cheeks have been wet, until today… oh my, did I shed a tear or two.

Steve and I learned about a K-8 school in our community that sounded like the perfect fit for our girls, so we got on the waiting list and waited. Last week the call came that a spot was open for each of them! We got all of the paper work turned in, said goodbye to the old school, and this morning was The First Day of School: Take 2 for Babs, Joy, and Chuck.

They’re going from a regular public school to a charter school with some different rules. One of those new rules is the requirement to wear school uniforms! We spent the weekend trying to find just the right clothes to meet the uniform guidelines and help the girls feel cute and confident.

uniforms confidence

Just look at those cute, confident kids. Have you ever tried shopping for an entire school uniform wardrobe 3 weeks after school has already started? For 3 kids? In 2 days? During soccer season? We had about 2 hours on Thursday night and some time on Saturday, and not a single store we needed to visit was in town. The uniform sections of every store we visited were picked over and hardly had anything available in the sizes we needed.

Somehow we ended up with enough outfits to make it from laundry day to laundry day for each kid. Tender mercies and blessings. That’s the only way we got it done. We even got some funky Old Navy pricing that helped a lot with the budget – shirts for a penny and the jumper Joy fell in love with for 97 cents!

school bell clock

Another big change with the new school is the starting time. It works out perfectly for Steve to take them to school on his way to work (hooray!!!!), but since they start earlier and have to drop off Bree at junior high on their way, they have to leave an hour earlier than they are used to.

There are some mornings that they barely get out the door on time as it is, but now we’re cutting off an entire hour every morning. There really is no reason why getting ready should take them so long. Most of their time is spent lollygagging and playing with the toys they find while searching for their shoes. Which means most of my morning is spent reminding, nagging, and eventually yelling. Not exactly how I like to send my kids off to school every morning.

And don’t even get me started on our issues with shoes. I can’t even begin to count how many hours of my life I have spent searching for lost shoes, but I’m pretty sure if I could get all of that time back, I could write the great American novel… or 7. But there’s no time for shoe hunting anymore – or shirt hunting, or underwear hunting, or “Mom, where is the sock basket???” or “I can’t find any pants without holes!”

I know it sounds like we never do laundry, but I do! Unfortunately, they don’t feel any need to put those piles of clean clothes away… We’ll work on that issue another day.

Basically, if we’re going to make this new schedule work, we are going to need some help. So here’s my brilliant idea to make the mornings run smoother.


So simple, and I am so in love with it already. I picked up a 6-shelf hanging closet organizer and  labeled each shelf with a day of the week. The labels are simple and straight forward – days of the week printed on cardstock, different colors so it’s easy for the girls who share a closet to keep it straight. I folded the top of each word strip over and used duct tape to attach them to the shelves. There is probably a fancier way to do it, but I’m trying to stop making my life more complicated than it needs to be. (HA!)

Since shoes are the bane of my motherly existence, I made the sixth shelf for shoes. It’s empty right now because the shoes are on those cute little feet at school. Hallelujah!

On laundry day, the girls put together 5 outfits – including everything they need to get dressed and ready that day (underwear, socks, hair clips, etc.) – and put one outfit on each shelf. When they wake up in the morning, they don’t even have to think about it or search for anything. They cheerfully get out of bed (right???), hop on over to the closet, and put on the clothes on that day’s shelf. Voila! Instant morning awesomeness.

This morning they were completely dressed even before family scripture study. Usually they’re still half asleep and wearing half of their bedding because they dragged it with them when they dragged themselves out of bed. I know the first day of school excitement will wear off, but this simple system will keep on helping our mornings run smoothly and our sweet little students get out the door on time. I wish I had thought of it 12 years ago. Just think of all of the time I could have spent *not* searching for clothes and shoes every school morning and all of those mornings I could have sent my cuties off to school without being nagged out the door.

How do you improve the morning rush?

by Melanie

Go Clean Your Room: Help for Young Kids

September 3, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie


Do you ever walk into a room you know you need to clean, take a look around, and get completely overwhelmed? You have no idea where to start or how to get organized, and you feel like you can’t possibly get it done.

Right now I’m dreading the storage room I know I need to clean out and organize. Help!

Now imagine you’re 4 years old. Mom says to clean your room, but you take a look around and get completely overwhelmed. You have no idea where to start and feel like you can’t possibly get it all done. And it’s probably all someone else’s mess anyway.

I have to admit, there have been times when I have sent my kids to clean their room just so the house would be quiet for awhile. I know they’re just in there playing with their toys while the mess gets bigger, but I’m totally okay with that. Am I the only one?

When my kids got overwhelmed about cleaning their rooms, I made some checklists to help them make it manageable. “First, clean off your bed so you have a place to sleep tonight, then take care of the laundry so you can see the floor…” That sort of thing.

But I still had a problem to solve. The younger kids really had no idea what they were doing and they couldn’t read the checklists. Clip art to the rescue!


They needed some extra help, so I put together this nifty little chart to help my pre-readers follow the steps to clean their room.

Here’s how it works:

  • Print on cardstock
  • Laminate (mostly because I’m completely addicted to my laminator)
  • Attach to clipboard because my kids feel cool when they get to use a clipboard
  • Attach a whiteboard marker

Mark off the steps as you go and Voila! The room is clean.

Click here or on either image to download the chart and see your kids’ bedrooms get cleaner in no time.

Do your kids clean their own rooms?

by Melanie

A No-Nagging Solution for Screen Time Sanity

May 6, 2014 in Linen Closet by Melanie

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!

Yesterday when my kids walked in the door after school, they went straight to the TV. All 5 of them! No kisses for Mom. No telling me about their day. Not even a snack. Straight to the TV.

Please tell me I’m not the only one whose kids have days when they would rather watch a movie than download their day to Mom.

It’s not that we don’t have rules about screen time. They just choose to “forget” about them until I start nagging.

I hate nagging.

My expectations really aren’t a big mystery. The rules are the same every day. You finish your homework, jobs, and piano before you can turn on a screen. Simple.

Kids & Technology Toolkit

The only exception is when you need to use the computer for your homework. Hey, I’m not completely unreasonable.

I don’t think I’m asking too much.

  • Homework includes whatever the teacher assigned that day and reading for 20 minutes.
  • Jobs include 1 kitchen job (like unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the kitchen floor), 1 daily job (like taking out the trash or cleaning a bathroom), and straightening their bedrooms (just a quick pick things up and put them away so it doesn’t get out of control).
  • Piano practice is playing each song in their lesson assignment 3 times.


If they drag their feet and complain about it for awhile, it still takes less than an hour to get it all done – on the harder job days.

But it still doesn’t get done. Grrrr.

Have I mentioned that I really, really hate nagging?

So in an effort to avoid the nagging and still get what I want – and ultimately what is best for our family – I made this handy little sign.

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!


It hangs next to the TV and the computer. Now all my little screen-addicted children need to do is ask themselves those 7 questions before they turn on those electronics and everyone is happy!

Well, mostly me. But some day they will thank me.

I’m sure of it.

Do you need to stop the screen time nagging, too? Just click on this link or the image above to get to the full printable version of my screen-time sign.

Do you have screen-time rules?

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