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Taking shortcuts, being present, and a “Ring Toss Game”

I love figuring out shortcuts in my life.  Not when it matters most (like balancing my checkbook, a phone call with my mom, etc.)…but if I can find a faster way to run errands, scrub the bathroom, or buy groceries…I’m all over it.  When my husband Steve and I are in the car and he is driving, it used to drive me NUTS when he would take a turn that ended up being the “long way”.  In my brain, I have the roads mapped out and have visualized the best way to get from point A to point B without having to wait at lights or take a left hand turn across traffic, etc.  However, I have learned that arriving at our destination 30 seconds slower isn’t going to ruin my life…so I’ve learned to just keep it inside my head and let him drive.  Ack!  However, I still have this tendency to want to find a shortcut in other aspects of my day.  And as I watch my kids grow faster and faster (no matter how many times I tell them not to…), I’m realizing how much I value my time with them.  This means, figuring out shortcuts are on overdrive these days, so I can be more present.  Because, yes, I’d much rather spend time playing hair salon and star wars, than folding laundry. 

I was contacted by Dixie® about their Be More Here campaign and I loved everything about their push for spending more QUALITY time with family and friends.  I know it’s absolutely impossible to set aside every other responsibility I have to tend to during my day…but it got me thinking about what I am doing to increase the quality of time with my little family.

One thing that I completely unashamed to admit is that I love taking shortcuts on dinner prep and cleanup.  My husband Steve leaves for work before the kiddos wake up and then he gets home about 6 and the kids are in bed by 8.  So those 2 hours while he’s here are pretty valuable to me.  Here come the shortcuts.  Some nights I cook more labor intensive recipes (because we all love yummy flavored food in this house!) but sometimes I throw together the best managed super fast meal that I can!  And then my favorite way to save time in our evening hours is by using paper products.  It makes cleanup a BREEZE!  (And by that time of night, I’m so done with cleaning up. I just want to enjoy these little people around me!)

Dixie sent me some of their plates to test out (like I didn’t already have some in my pantry…ha!) and of course, these are a definite winner in our home!

 

They are sturdy enough for even little hands to load up with food…

 

….and then carry over to the table unassisted.  That curved lip saves us every time Chloe carries her plate to and from the table.  (Any momma will agree with me that one less spill to clean up is a HUGE deal!)

 

Another thing…I know the hot dogs on those plates aren’t going to soak through these plates but have you ever tried serving spaghetti on a flimsy paper plate?  Yeah, no bueno.  Save yourself some time, take a shortcut, and try out Dixie.  That way you’re not cleaning up spills when your 4 year old carries her soggy spaghetti plate over to the trash and it collapses.

 

Also, I know there are all sorts of ways to spend more quality time with family, but taking shortcuts on chores is one of my ways.  And who knows, maybe one day when my kids are grown, I’ll enjoy doing all of these extra chores.  But probably not, because…GRANDKIDS! :)

Something that I like to do with my “saved” time is making things with my kids.  They love when I shout from the other room, “hey guys, wanna make a project?!”  They come running, every time.  So the other day, we decided to cut up some of these Dixie plates that we were given and created a really fun game of “Paper Plate Ring Toss”.

 

 

First, we cut out circles in the centers of some plates.

 

Then, they each painted some “rings”. (We used acrylic paint. It’s cheap, cleanup is easy, and it dries pretty quickly.)

 

Then, I hot glued an old paper towel tube to the bottom of another paper plate….and painted that too.

 

Once all were dry, we had a nice collection of rings to start tossing.

 

And honestly it kinda surprised me how much fun Elli (8), Connor (7), and Chloe (4), actually had with this game.  I had them stand at one end of the table and toss to the base that was at the other end of the table (this way, they can’t get too close and cheat).

 

They tossed and tossed and shrieked….and tossed some more!  I had so much fun playing and competing with them (I had to stand back further) and when we had to stop and get lunch ready, they were begging for just a few more tosses.  Definitely something you all you should try with your little ones! :)

 

I’m not saying that just because we use paper plates, we have gobs of extra time to play/chat/relax as a family.  But I really do feel like finding little shortcuts (or even letting some of the little things go), I’m able to be more present while my kiddos are growing and changing.  Because we all know they’ll only “need” their momma for so long.

-Ashley

 

P.S. Check out how other families are trying to be more present for the moments that matter most in life, here.

 

Compensation for this post was provided by Dixie via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Dixie or AOL.

 

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
Taking shortcuts, being present, and a “ring toss game”
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Comments

  1. graciela says:

    Dear Ashley . i read your blog for years, i love everything that you shares, i change my mind in the form to reuse many things, old clothes become , hats , pillows, scraps, useless before become new thing for my little girl. so dont´ worry about negative comments. i really appreciate the time that you take to share new ideas which is
    hugs, Graciela, patagonia, argentina

  2. Disappointed says:

    It seems that my post generated a debate, which was not the intent. I simply was surprised and wanted to share my concerns with Ashley. I happen to think debate is a good thing. At least we have some different perspectives should we want to consider them.

    While we all have our attention focused, here is one way we can all recycle that you might (or might not) be interested in. I know nothing of it other than what I read at the link below.

    https://thereisnoaway.net/blog/2015/9/2/crayolas-marker-recyclingdowncycling-program

    Kudos to everyone for all they do to promote a sustainable environment.

  3. Amanda says:

    Oh my. What a furore over a comment. I know you are all Ashley lovers but voicing concern over the environment does not make me an Ashley hater. The comments back have become far too personal (including Ashley’s) and frankly I think you have missed the point and are far too sensitive to criticism.

    I maintain that using paper plates in the home is bad for the environment and there is no need for it no matter how busy you are.

    Knock yourself out with more hateful rantings, I won’t be listening.
    Amanda

    1. Melanie says:

      Amanda, are you not also becoming too sensitive over this topic, insisting to insert your stance that ALL should stay away from using paper plates, no matter their situation? No excuses?

      And if you are so adamant that every household stays away from using paper products, 100% of the time, can I also assume you are recycling perfectly in every other way possible? And aren’t adding one single thing to the landfills? Not one single plastic bag, one shred of plastic wrap, any old pens, ripped shoes, tattered/stained hand towels, are taking the city bus everywhere, are using solar power, etc? But since I can assume you aren’t absolutely perfect (just like I’m not), how about we encourage others to do their best, even if that’s in other ways? Because maybe consider that some of the folks in this world who use paper plates, are recycling in ways you are unable to do and/or don’t have time for.

      And if you won’t be listening, why even comment? That’s like making sure you have the last word, and then running away while plugging your ears. No need to become too sensitive over issues such as these, but isn’t it important to listen to others’ opinions and not insist that yours is the only valid point?

      Ashley, I loved reading about how you’re doing your best with your family and are trying to find time to be with them. That’s what’s most important. Looks like a fun game too that they all loved! And while I don’t care for filling up my trash with paper plates, I use them on occasion and appreciate having them around when I need them. But I agree with some of the others, I have watched you recycle old clothing and furniture and scraps from other projects, all of which are ways I’m not the best at. So kudos to you for doing the best you can!

      -Melanie

  4. Kathy says:

    Loved this idea! Hey, maybe you burn your trash or recycle it as mulch in the garden, it is rather presumptuous to assume they (paper plates) will end up in a landfill. Anyhoo, my grands (9 of them) would love this and it is much better than buying a plastic set of hoops, that will never disintegrate, to throw. What is it the ‘young folks’ say, “haters gonna hate”, Ha! Ha! This is going on my list of things to make with the grands.

  5. Nancy says:

    Yikes ! Someone”s got their panties in a bunch. Anyway I think this idea is cute, as are most all of your ideas. Your kids look like they are having a blast. Keep on doing what you are doing, enjoying your kids before they grow up. Thanks for sharing your ideas! Nancy

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks Nancy, so glad you enjoyed it!

      And yes, not all are in agreement with what our choices are as a family…..but if given a magnifying glass, I probably wouldn’t agree with everything they are doing either. And that’s okay….because most people are just trying to do their best. There’s no way in this world that everyone will agree with every choice I make as a mother, a neighbor, a friend, a blogger, etc. But I just hope there’s at least something most people can find useful from what I’m sharing…..because that’s why I love keeping this blog going! :)

      Thanks again Nancy!
      Ashley

  6. Amanda says:

    I’m disappointed with this post. Not only is it a shameless no doubt paid advertisement, it is also encouraging others to damage the environment. Have you considered the environmental impact of using paper plates every meal, everyday for 6 people? Even assuming your family only eat breakfast and dinner together, that’s still 12 plates a day, 84 plates a week, 336 plates a month and a staggering 4,032 plates a year. All of which will end up in landfill. Not to mention, the production, packaging and transport impacts.

    Call me old fashion, but like my mother I wouldn’t dream of serving my family a meal on paper plates unless we were on a picnic. In fact, my family still use my grandmother’s china. Further, children need to learn the value of maintaining a household so they can do it themselves one day.

    I think there are other ‘shortcuts’ you can put in place that will enable you to spend more time with your kids. Or why not get them involved in the washing up.

    Please unsubscribe me from your email list.

    Thank you.
    Amanda
    Sydney, Australia

    1. Ashley says:

      Sorry to hear you’re so disappointed. Yes, this is a sponsored post and I made that very clear at the beginning and end of the post. But while I love writing this blog and sharing all of these ideas for free, the expense to do so adds up very quickly. And the more it grows, the heavier the bills become. I have always been very open about working with companies who are brands I use already use or brands that seem like a great fit for me and my family. So yes, I agreed to team up with Dixie, because I loved their vision for this campaign.

      And while I’d like to be absolutely perfect in everything I do, the reality is, I’m not. Paper plates are something we use when life gets pretty hectic and we are in survival mode to make it to the end of the day. We don’t use them every night (and never for every meal) but yes, we use them several nights a week to help our little family cope with a sometimes crazy evening. However, I recycle where I can, we conserve water outside, we keep the thermostat turned down (or up, depending on the season), I cut up and recycle clothing more than any person I know…..and we do our very best to take care of our earth! So hopefully, the fact that we use paper plates when days get crazy, will balance out with all of the other ways we try to conserve….until my kids have grown a little more and having them help us with after dinner chores is more of a well oiled machine than teaching/training each night (which they still help us do, whether we use dishes or paper plates). And since you mentioned it, I actually absolutely agree with you that children need to learn to maintain a household. And that’s why one of the older children (ages 4, 7, and 8) is assigned to help with dinner prep each night and then they are all on a rotating schedule of table clearing/wiping, dishwasher, and floors, every single night….whether we use our regular dishes or paper products.

      And while I appreciate your concern with suggesting we find other shortcuts that give us more time together as a family, I hope you’ll respect that we’re just trying to do our best and this is what we have found that helps us.

      I completely understand if you’d not longer like to remain on the email list….that choice is completely yours. There is an unsubscribe button that you can click on within the email that will take care of that right away for you.

      I wish you all the best for you and your family,
      -Ashley

    2. Gina says:

      Wow! I’m glad you’re so perfect at not using paper plates. Perhaps you and I can work on being perfectly kind to add to humanity too! Have a nice day! I totally agree with Joan!

      Ashley, you go girl! You’re doing great and maybe one day you and I will be better at not using paper plates! Keep me on your email list! Thanks for all your inspiring ideas and for getting paid for what you do, YOU deserve a paycheck for as much FREE content as you post!

    3. Joan says:

      Thanks Gina! Love you Ashley!!

    4. Fran says:

      However you put it, I for one will still use paper plates. They are paper plates…. they can be recycled. It is a renewable resource and at this point in time we have more trees in this continent than in George Washington’s time (late 1700s). Everyone draws the line differently but you can’t assume that they are not taking other avenues to make up for it. That is irresponsible.

    5. Debbie says:

      Amanda in Sidney. There is another very important thing that we must not waste. That is time. And thanks to you I wasted 2 minutes of my time to read your very unkind message. I suggest that you seek to find all the many ways you personally can improve the environment and allow the rest of us to do the same. Cutting back is a must but being a fanatic is not necessary. I’ts a good thing toilet paper is bio degradable, or I imagine you would wash it out and reuse. Sorry but you have annoyed me no end. It amazes me how there are some people that are adamant about avoiding waste but will waste the life of an unborn baby. Get my drift. We all see things different. In other words ‘save your breath’ if it is to criticize others G’day Mate!

    6. Amanda says:

      What a vile person you are Debbie. Really nasty. By the way, Sydney is spelt with a y not an i.

  7. Disappointed says:

    I’m all for shortcuts but a.) this reads like an advertisement and b.) the kids you want to spend time with are going to inherit an earth with yet more garbage. We all make our choices but it amazes me when people who chose to have kids give no thought to preserving the planet. Not only is your family adding to the landfill, you’re encouraging other to copy you. It’s good to see the kids looking so happy and well (and unbelievable how they’ve grown), but yes, I am disappointed.

    1. Ashley says:

      Sorry to hear you’re so disappointed. Yes, this is a sponsored post and I made that very clear at the beginning and end of the post. But while I love writing this blog, the expense to do so adds up very quickly. And the more it grows, the heavier the bills become. I have always been very open about working with companies who are brands I use already use or brands that seem like a great fit for me and my family. So yes, I agreed to team up with Dixie, because I loved their vision for this campaign.

      And while I’d like to be absolutely perfect in everything I do, the reality is, I’m not. Paper plates are something we use when life gets pretty hectic and we are in survival mode to make it to the end of the day. We don’t use them every night but yes, we use them several nights a week to help our little family survive. However, I recycle where I can, we conserve water outside, we keep the thermostat turned down (or up, depending on the season), I cut up and recycle clothing more than any person I know…..and we do our very best to take care of our earth! So hopefully, the fact that we use paper plates when days get crazy, will balance out with all of the other ways we try to conserve….until my kids have grown a little more and having them help us with after dinner chores is more of a well oiled machine than teaching/training each night (which they still help us do, whether we use dishes or paper plates).

      I do hope you’ll understand we’re just trying to do our very best…..and I wish you all the best for you and your family.
      -Ashley

    2. Disappointed says:

      Thank you for a well reasoned and thought out response. I’m still concerned about the environmental impacts, but yes, I understand the need for simplifying. As I read your initial post, my concern was heightened because I know that a lot of people, like myself, follow your blog; and multiplying the impact of the consumption of paper plates by all of your followers just troubled me. I wish there was an easier solution. I wish the whole sustainability issue wasn’t as complex as it is.

      I appreciate you taking the time to respond in a kind and thoughtful way.

    3. Joan says:

      Dear Dissappointed,

      A.) In the future please keep critical comments to yourself. You must be very unfamiliar with Make it and Love it because Ashley repurposes so many old clothes and teaches how to use scraps on little projects so as not to add to the landfill as you so tactlessly put it. B.) IT’S FREE CONTENT SO DON’T COMPLAIN!

    4. Disappointed says:

      Wow. I took the time to respond because I a.) I care about the planet the kiddos will inherit and the issues they will face b.) I like this blogger and she’s seemed pretty open to differing viewpoints in the past and c.) In the past, there haven’t been rabid flamers lurking to jump on someone who expresses a different opinion. Ashley presented a well thought out response which I appreciate. Yours, not so much. Just because something is free doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak out about our concerns. Mine are just as valid as yours. I’m sure you’ll respond thinking it’s your ‘duty’. I will not.

    5. Fran says:

      However you put it, I for one will still use paper plates. They are paper plates…. they can be recycled. It is a renewable resource and at this point in time we have more trees in this continent than in George Washington’s time (late 1700s). Everyone draws the line differently but you can’t assume that they are not taking other avenues to make up for it. Unfounded assumptions are irresponsible and disappointing.

    6. Disappointed says:

      Hi Fran,

      You are correct that I did not give Ashley enough credit for all the re-use and re-purposing she shares here. I guess that is why I was so stunned with the plug for using paper plates. It just didn’t seem congruous with what I expected from someone who seems to be oriented to sustainability. It definitely took me by surprise.

      I love the creativity Ashley brings to her blog encouraging others to reuse and re-purpose items.

      While it may be true that there are more trees in the US now than in the 1700’s. (There is debate on that for good reason.) It is also true that the age and size of those trees is significantly smaller than those that were here in the 1700’s and that a 200 year old cedar exchanges more carbon dioxide than a 40 year old ash that is being raised and harvested in cycles for nylon and other chip wood products. The impact on the environment is a deficit even if we give in to the theory that there are ‘more’ trees. I am a forester, and sustainability really matters to me. Hence me speaking out.

      We all have to decide where we want to draw the line. (Personally, I am going to insist on toilet paper. At my house, it is a must.) So I understand that she may draw the line elsewhere. My concern was less her habits and more the encouraging others to do the same.

      I’m sorry you are disappointed that I spoke up about my concerns but those concerns remain and I believe them to be valid; just as your reminder to me to be more fair and objective in what I’ve seen from this blogger are. Thank you for that.

  8. Christine says:

    What a fun game, genius! I might just conduct this game when my grandsons come to visit next time :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh you should…..they’ll love it! :)

  9. Melanie says:

    You seem like such a good momma! Your children are really lucky to have someone that seems to care about them. Thanks for making my day and helping me to may family a priority and not just another chore. By the way, I always love your posts. I have followed you almost from the beginning!!

    1. Ashley says:

      I’m definitely far from perfect…..but I am sure crazy about these kiddos! And thanks Melanie, your comment was especially appreciated after reading a few of the others! Thanks for the love! :)

      Ashley

  10. Robin says:

    I love the picture of Connor being so intent and aiming for a ringer and then the next photo getting it on and celebrating. Wahoo this looks like a fun low-cost project to keep hands busy.

    1. Ashley says:

      Hahaha……isn’t that hilarious?!! They really had so much fun with this! :)

  11. Erika says:

    those plates are so pretty! I love anything with a pattern on it!xx

    https://justthatdiy.wordpress.com

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh, me too! :) Much more fun than the plain white ones! :)

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Hi, I'm Ashley

Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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