Spring Cleaning – Final Week, Day 2

Okay! I know that today’s post is late (sorry!), but today’s task is quick and easy. Or it should be. So I’m hoping you can still get to it this evening.

We’re going to clean out our “junk” drawer. Hopefully, you have just one. If it’s really a JUNK drawer and full of JUNK, just dump it in the trash and move along. Most of us have “junk” drawers that should really be referred to as “miscellaneous” drawers, but “junk” is just easier to say. 🙂 If you have more than one junk drawer, choose one to work on today. Mine has pens, batteries, scissors, writing pads, and lots of that miscellaneous stuff that mysteriously appears even after the drawer has been cleaned out. I wonder where it comes from? Hmm.

Anyway, take everything out of the drawer and put it on the counter or in a small (I hope!) container of some sort. Clean out the drawer itself. Wipe it out. Replace only the things that you actually need. NEED. Please don’t say to yourself, “Well, I better keep this dohicky because I might need it one day.” Especially if you’ve had the dohicky for five years and have not yet found a use for it. Toss the junk. Ta-da! You’re done! Really, this one should be 15 minutes or less. I’m hoping for less.

I’m off to see if I can get my done before dinner is ready.

Have a great evening!

Lynne

Spring Cleaning – Final Week!

Happy Monday!

It’s our final week of the spring cleaning challenge. I hope you have all made some progress towards having a nice, clean, organized house. I myself have had some challenges to meeting the challenges this month. So I am a little behind and plan to continue on until I’m done. Those pesky windows being the last thing I’ll tackle. I really looked at them yesterday, and they certainly could use a good cleaning. So I guess I’ll get to work on those one day this week. Maybe. Possibly.

This week, I”m going to give you one little something to work on each day this week. Just a quick (hopefully 15 minutes or so) project for each day. Things we don’t necessarily think about doing – or at least I don’t always think about it. Today’s is super simple. Let’s clean and deodorize our kitchen sinks. Yes…exciting stuff here. You’ll need white vinegar and baking soda. And a cleaning rag. (If you don’t have white vinegar, I’m pretty sure cider vinegar would work as well.)

First, pour some baking soda into the sink drain. A good bit – but not the whole box! Then pour the vinegar in until it bubbles up to the top of the drain. Let it sit. Meanwhile, pour some baking soda into the sink itself. With a damp cloth, scrub it around the sink. It will get all the yucky stains out/off. (Note: Baking soda is mildly abrasive so don’t scrub too hard!) By the time you’re done scrubbing, the drain should have stopped bubbling for the most part. Run some hot water down the drain and rinse the sink. (Note: Using the sprayer nozzle on “high” may result in baking soda being all over the place. I know this to be true. Ahem.) When I do this, I like to take a dry rag and wipe the whole thing down and enjoy the sparkly-ness of the sink. You can wet a cloth with vinegar and wipe down the faucet and handles. Shiny, shiny, shiny.

You might consider doing this to your bathroom sink(s) as well. I use this method to clean all of mine every couple of weeks. I do the kitchen sink weekly. Yes, the vinegar smell will go away when it dries.

So that’s it. One little project. (Unless you do the bathroom sinks, too.) You can do this. Really, you can.

Happy cleaning!

Lynne

Saturday…glad you’re here!

Good afternoon!

I love Saturdays! No alarm clocks. No schedule. So nice. I hope you have enjoyed your day! I hope it didn’t start with the shrill of the alarm clock. If it did, I am ever so sorry!

I haven’t been completely unproductive. I got a run in early in case the rain came back. My living room – including the baseboards I could reach – is clean. My kitchen is clean. The bathrooms are clean. I got to read and enjoy coffee this afternoon. All in all, not a bad day. To be honest, I read and drank coffee between spurts of cleaning. It worked out for me. 🙂

The rain last night watered my little garden nicely. I have lots of green things coming up: beans, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers. There are little heads on the broccoli. It’s very exciting! At least to me. I have even been able to give some lettuce away. 🙂

Anyway. Enjoy the rest of your day! I hope you get a nap in tomorrow. It’s supposed to rain all day here so that makes for some good napping weather. I plan to take full advantage of that!

Blessings,

Lynne

Tuesday Tips on Friday :)

“Tips for Being a Good Friend”

Okay, so my brain has been a little “off” since last Thursday. I’m thinking that the lack of sleep and worrying about my “baby” has caught up with me. Either that or I’m just getting old and fuzzy in the brain. I’ll go with the first one. So…my Tuesday tips are finally reaching you on Friday. They are applicable any day of the week so I guess that in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter all that much when you get them.

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends recently. And especially since last Thursday’s “incident.” That’s what we’re calling the seizure/ambulance ride/ER visit: the “incident.” My phone used up all its power taking phone calls, emails, and text messages while we sat waiting to learn something in the ER. (We didn’t learn a whole lot, by the way. And I was not very pleased. But that’s another story.)

Anyway, all afternoon I got sweet messages and texts, and phone calls from friends asking about Kayla. Whether we needed anything: food, someone to sit with, etc. So I’ve been thinking about how we can show people we care. Basically, how to love on your friends. And not just when they need it due to a crisis, but everyday. You may or may not include your family in your list of friends. I guess that depends on your family. 🙂 But I felt the love especially last Thursday from my friends and from Kayla’s, and from my family as well.

Here are a few things – “tips” if you will – on being a good friend. We all need to be good ones if we expect to have them. Just saying.

1. Pray for her (or him).

First and foremost, pray for your friends. If they are going through a rough time, just having a bad day, or just come to mind because you love them lots and lots, say a prayer. Pray for the situation and for God’s will in it, and pray a prayer of thankfulness that God has given you this friendship. God brings people into our lives for a reason. Good friends – really good and true friends – are a special gift from Him. Treasure them.

2. Call them up or send a text.

A phone call out of the blue just to say “hi” and “I’m thinking about you” will make your day. A sweet text message will do the same. I do both, but I’m now more likely to text. This is mainly because I can send a text so my friend will know I’m thinking about her, and I’ll tell her to call me when she has a chance or if she needs me. I like texting because the message gets there so the person knows you have them on your mind, but if they are in a busy situation – the ER, work, etc. – they might not be able to talk. But they’ll still know you’re there and you’re thinking of them.

3. Celebrate their birthday.

I’m not necessarily talking about anything extravagant or expensive here. On my birthday last year (the big 45!), my friend Kathryn met me for breakfast and then we went hiking. In the evening, she and some of my closest friends went with me to eat at my favorite dessert place (they do have “real” food, too) and celebrated with me. It made me feel super-special! 🙂 A card, a cake, a cupcake, a little lunch…just some time spent with her on her big day means a lot!

4. Send cards for no reason.

I still like to get mail. In the mailbox. Outside by the road. Not the email box. (Though I like emails, too.) I like to send cards sometimes just because I can. Not for a special occasion, but just to let my friends know how much I appreciate their friendship. Now, you know Hallmark has a sappy card for any and all occasions. And those are nice. My cards tend to be more of the humorous variety, just because that’s me. I don’t mind sappy, but I really like funny. Sometimes you can find one that is funny but sends a sappy message. Those are the best. And who wouldn’t like to open the mailbox and get a card in a bright yellow envelope instead of a bill? Who? No one, that’s who.

5. Take a meal to her and her family.

If your friend is going through a rough time – or even just having a really crappy kind of day – nothing says love like a meal you don’t have to cook yourself. A pot of soup. A casserole. A pizza delivery. It really doesn’t matter. Taking a meal is a time-honored “I’m thinking about you/sorry for what’s going on in your life” tradition. At least it is here in the south. If you aren’t a cook, have a pizza delivered or pick up a bucket of chicken. Really. It’s the thought that counts. Now, if you take dessert, you are the bomb. Chocolate cake makes everything better. Doesn’t make situations or sadness go away, but chocolate definitely says that you care.

6. Keep the kids.

This one may be the hardest one. Or not. But if your friend needs a night out alone or with her hubby, offer to keep the kids. If your house is past the kid-proofed stage, keep them at their’s. Then they have their own toys and you can put them to bed in their own beds. If you’re up for the overnight/weekend thing, more power to you. That’s a lot of love. (And you hope that she loves you enough to reciprocate at some point. These are the friends you want!)

7. Have a girls’ night.

Invite a friend or two (or several) over for a girls’ night. Watch a chick flick. Just talk. Eat. You know it’s not a real girls’ night if food isn’t involved. Preferably food of the chocolate variety. That’s just my humble opinion. Girlfriends can talk about lots of things with one another that husbands and boyfriends just don’t get. And truly, husbands and boyfriends really don’t want to talk about some of the things we talk about. That’s okay. That’s what your girlfriends are for.

8. Have a standing lunch date.

Whether it’s one day a week or one day a month, get out your calendars and plan a regular lunch date. (Or breakfast or dinner. Doesn’t matter.) Make nurturing your friendships a priority. Everyone needs friends. Anyone who says they don’t is in a state of denial. There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to call on your friends. The good ones. The ones who take your calls in the middle of the night. Or who drop everything when you need them. You can’t have tons of these. Be select.

9. Exercise together.

Get in shape together. Boy, is it easier to exercise when there is someone doing it with you and encouraging you. A walking partner is terrific. Or a gym buddy. If you can’t physically exercise together, then call or text and say, “It’s time!” Then each of you exercise where you are and report back to one another. Honesty is important here. You can’t call up your friend and tell her it’s time to exercise, then sit and watch television while she’s out somewhere putting in a 5-mile walk. That’s just not nice.

10. Have a coffee date.

I saved the best for last. Or my favorite anyway. Most of my really good friendships have been built over cups of coffee at my kitchen table or sitting on my front porch. Coffee doesn’t HAVE to be involved, but why wouldn’t it be? Nectar of the gods in my book! Sit in the living room with your feet propped up and have real conversations. About real stuff. Not superficial stuff (at least not all the time). Share your struggles. Share your joys and your not so joyful times. Grow your friendships.

Real, true, deep friendships take work. They take time. This shouldn’t be optional. You really need to take that time. One day you’ll need a true friend. If you haven’t done the work along the way, you might find yourself in crisis mode with no one to come alongside you and walk through it with you. That’s no good.

I experienced an outpouring of friendship last Thursday. The phone calls, messages and texts really made the day easier to bear. Knowing Kayla was being prayed over by friends and family eased my nerves a lot. Those of you who made those calls and sent those texts mean the world to me. You know who you are and you know I love you. And I hope you know, I’ll do the same for you if you ever need me.

Take a minute right now and make a call, send a text or message, or drop a note or card in the mail. Let someone know today that you love her and appreciate her!

Have a blessed day!

Lynne

Recipe Share Wednesday – Easy BBQ (slow cooker)

Hi, all!

Yes, I realize that I didn’t post yesterday. I was working in my garden and time got away from me completely. Then I was too tired (and sore) to do it. I kept trying to convince myself to get up and get to the computer, but I wasn’t cooperating with myself very well. 🙂

Anyway, here’s today’s recipe. This could not be easier. Could. Not. Your slow cooker is your best friend in the kitchen. Bless the one who invented it.

Happy cooking!

Lynne

BBQ Sandwiches – So easy!!

one boneless pork loin (2-3 pounds)
BBQ sauce of your choice
Hamburger Buns

Place tenderloin in slow cooker; cover with water and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Remove from slow cooker and remove all the fat that you can see. Shred tenderloin with fork. Put into baking dish and pour sauce over top; stir well. (Note: Use as much sauce as you like depending on how “liquid-y” you want it to be.) Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve on buns. (Obviously.)

If you’re feeding a crowd, just pick a larger pork loin and use more sauce. 🙂 Also, you can do with this boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well. Especially if you have people in your house who are not big fans of pork. Like me and my daughter. And, yes, you can do chicken breasts in the slow cooker.

Spring Cleaning Challenge Week 3

Good Monday morning!

I hope you all had a restful weekend. I didn’t but I hope you did. 🙂 Now I’m hoping for a restful Tuesday. That looks like my best bet at the moment.

As with the first two spring cleaning challenges, I encourage you to choose one of the previous weekly challenges that you didn’t do (or need to do again – yikes!) and work on that. If you’ve done all of those, you might only need something small-ish to work on or you might need to do one of those un-fun, once-a-year-if-I-absolutely-have-to projects. Here are few ideas that came to mind over the weekend. There are five small ones and five un-fun ones. I think I’ll do one of each.

Mini Projects

1.  Clean out/straighten one kitchen drawer or cabinet per day.

As much as I hate the idea of a “junk” drawer, I do have one of those drawers where all the miscellaneous things go…rubber bands, little note pads, etc. I think I could straighten it every day and it would somehow revert back to its previous condition. I don’t think it does this on it’s own, but I haven’t caught anyone messing with it. Hmmm…

2. Clear out magazine clutter.

I love my Country Living magazines. And Birds and Blooms. And Organic Gardening. And Taste of Home. I’m prone to keeping them and looking at them over and over. But every once in a while – during spring and fall cleaning – I sort through them. I look through them one last time and tear out or copy anything I really think I need. Then I recycle or donate the rest. Then I have empty baskets in which to collect them again. 🙂

3. Clean your fans.

If you have ceiling fans that run year-round like we do, they accumulate a lot of dust. While they’re moving. How do that do that? Anyway, they do. So get a damp cloth or one of those micro-fiber ones and wipe the blades off (a plain dry one will just throw that mess all over the place – true story). Note: You should turn the fan “off” before doing this. By the way, if you place empty plastic Easter eggs on the ceiling fan blades and then turn the fan on (high, preferably), it is very entertaining. For the kids, I mean.

4. Clear out your inbox.

If you receive a lot of emails, you may let them pile up until there are hundreds of them. I know people who do this. What I had to do was to go in an unsubscribe to newsletters, mailings, etc. that I never read. It was not a one-day thing. I spent about 15 minutes a day for several days taking care of it. Now I don’t get so many emails. I’m not wasting someone else’s time because they’re not sending things to me. I am still working through all the homeschool ones that I was subscribed to. I’ll get there. One day.

5. Make your front porch/entrance welcoming.

Just a few little touches can make all the difference. A pretty plant. A new welcome mat. A throw pillow on a chair. Fresh paint (though that might need to be in the “un-fun” category). Note: None of these has to be expensive. Remove anything that really doesn’t belong on the front porch. Wash the pollen and accumulated dirt away. Just a little freshening up will do. You’ll know you’ve got it right when you find yourself smiling approvingly when you walk up to your front door.

Un-Fun Stuff (but they need to be done – sigh!)

1. Clean your windows.

This is one of my least favorite things. Ever. Even though I have those windows that open to the inside so that I can clean them. I just don’t like it. I don’t want to do it. Of course, I also don’t want it to look like I tinted my house windows. You don’t have to do them all in one day. I sure won’t. I’ll do one room per day until they’re all done. Wonder if I can convince the kids to do their own? (I’m laughing out loud at my own self.)

2. Clean your baseboards.

Okay. Maybe this one is my least favorite. It involves lots of squatting and bending. My knees don’t care for it. And I know I should do it more often even. I do vacuum along the top of them (the visible parts anyway) when I vacuum every week, but every now and then they need a good cleaning. And I mean pulling the furniture away from them and washing them kind of cleaning. Sigh. (A lot of sighing is involved in un-fun projects.)

3. Clean behind your kitchen appliances.

This one should be done with the aid of someone who can move said appliances. Pull out the fridge and vacuum the coils, etc. Pull the stove out and clean behind and around it. While you’re at it, you might as well clean the oven. I have a self-cleaning one but it heats up to a bazillion degrees on the self-cleaning cycle. I’d rather scrub it than feel that heat. But that might just be me. And you should clean behind the washer and dryer, too.

4. Clean out your closet.

I think I touched on this one not long ago. Find a teenage girl and after perusing your clothing, she can eliminate the things she you should not wear. You may not be left with much. When I did this last year, I was left with a much clearer closet. Donate what you don’t (or won’t) wear. I understand that we should give up on hoping that some things in our closets will come back into style. After getting rid of your clothes, a teenage girl can be sent to the local thrift store where she can buy you things you should wear at a cheap price. (If you don’t have a teenage girl, borrow one. This is a very effective method of closet cleaning.) Take all the shoes out and vacuum the floor in there. Oh, the dust bunnies that congregate in the closets.

5. Start an exercise program.

No, I don’t mean you have to join the gym. You can just take a walk. Up and down your driveway. Around the block. Start slow. (And yes, you should consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Disclaimer presented.) Remember: “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I never thought I’d never get to the point of enjoying exercise. And I’m not sure I’m there yet. But I do really miss exercising when I don’t get to do it. When I’m walking or jogging, I may not be thinking about how much fun I’m having (probably because I’m concentrating on being able to breathe). But I do really like the feeling of accomplishment when it’s done. When we took our Hilton Head trip, I packed as many exercise clothes as regular clothes. That’s never happened before. I took that as a good sign. I assure you that had never happened before.

So. There you have it. Spring cleaning challenge #3. Let me know which one (or ones) you’re going to tackle this week. I’m going to work on the front porch (since last week’s “events” kept me from it). And I’m going to clean my windows. My mom will be proud. She cleans hers all the time. I haven’t figured out why.

Y’all have a blessed week!

Lynne

What a week it’s been!

What a week it’s been! So many scary and sad things in the news this week. I don’t know about you, but I have not been overly motivated to work around the house. Spring cleaning just seemed unimportant in light of all that is going on in our country this week.

And then yesterday, we had a crisis of our own. I was sitting in my Weight Watchers meeting and got a phone call that my daughter had had a seizure while at school. This was her first (and I pray ONLY) seizure, so it was very scary. For those moms and dads out there who deal with this on a regular basis, I am amazed by your strength. I don’t know if I have ever been so scared for my child. CT scan and blood work show nothing unusual, so we proceed from here with an MRI and an EEG. Those will be coming in the next week. As I sat on the couch last night listening out for Kayla making any unusual sounds, I was thanking God that she had the seizure at school and not on her drive home. One of my son’s friends was in a wreck on Monday and she may never be the same again. I have been praying for her complete recovery all week, and then yesterday realized that it could have been us. (Yes, I’m crying now.)

This has been a perspective-changing week for me. Not that I have ever thought that a clean house and organized pantry should come before family and friends, but this week really hit me with how important it is to spend as much time as possible with the ones we love. And how important it is to let them know we love them.

So spend this weekend loving on your family. Love on your friends. Thank God for your many blessings. I’m taking the weekend off. I’ll be back on Monday.

Have a blessed weekend!

Lynne

Recipe Share Wednesday: Manicotti Two Ways

Good Wednesday morning!

It’s recipe sharing day. I love pasta, but I’m not a huge fan of tomato sauce. That’s why I like both of these manicotti recipes – both are in creamy sauces. 🙂 I haven’t made the chicken manicotti in a while. We are doing away with processed foods which means no Velveeta “cheese,” so I’m going to make it next week and try substituting regular cheese. And remember that I make my own cream of chicken soup.

I made the “Meaty Cheese Manicotti” last night and I was out of manicotti so I broke lasagna noodles in half and rolled the meat mixture inside them and proceeded with the recipe. It worked out just fine. 🙂

Have a great day!

Lynne

 

Easy Chicken Manicotti

(This recipe came from a Kraft magazine, I think. I like it because I don’t have to precook the chicken or the pasta.)

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 pound (4 oz) Velveeta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 cups frozen broccoli florets

12 manicotti shells, UNCOOKED

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips – UNCOOKED

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave soup, water, and Velveeta in microwavable bowl on high for 3 minutes, or until Velveeta is melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 2 minutes. Pour 1/3 of mixture into 13×9-inch baking dish. Set aside. Add broccoli to remaining soup mixture and stir.

2. Stuff manicotti shells with chicken; place in baking dish. Top with remaining soup mixture and parmesan; cover tightly with foil

3. Bake 45-50 minutes, or until manicotti is tender and chicken is done.

 

Meaty Cheese Manicotti

(Found this recipe in a Southern Living magazine or cookbook…not sure which. It is a bit of work – but, boy is it worth it.)

1 (8-ounce) package manicotti shells

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup white cooking wine (or dry white wine)

2 cups whipping cream

1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 (14 1/2 oz) can Italian-seasoned diced tomatoes, drained

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan (or Italian blend) cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water. Drain. Place on wire rack (like a cookie rack) and set aside. (Put rack over a dish towel or pan so you don’t get a messy, wet counter top.)

2. Brown ground beef and onion together; drain well.

3. Combine meat mixture, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Spoon (or stuff by hand) mixture into 12 manicotti shells; arrange shells in a lightly greased 13×9 baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. While the manicotti is baking, add wine to skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits; bring to a boil. Add whipping cream and seasonings, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cover and set aside.

5. Uncover, and pour cream mixture evenly over shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 10 more minutes. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

 

Spring Cleaning Challenge Continues

Good morning!

This week we are continuing with our spring cleaning challenge. Oh, joy! 🙂 But just think: By the end of the month, you can (and should!) be living in a clean, functional and organized space. Hopefully, you’ll be at “maintenance level” meaning that you don’t have to spend hours cleaning a room from top to bottom because it’s already pretty much clean. You’ll be doing a weekly cleaning routine to keep it that way – and we’re talking 15-30 minutes a day tops. A no housework on the weekend. Oh, yes! Happy faces all around!

Here is the link to the spring cleaning challenge post that has all the links to the original challenges in case you haven’t taken all (or any) of them yet: https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/spring-cleaning-challenge-week-2/

If you have taken the challenges and are already pretty much on top of things, here are a couple of suggestions for spring cleaning projects:

1. Clean out your closet.

Sort through your clothes. Donate/sell the ones you haven’t worn in forever (or that you probably shouldn’t wear because you’ve had them for too long for them to be fashionable. If you aren’t sure, ask your teenage daughter – or borrow someone else’s if you don’t have one. Trust me. She’ll straighten you right out on what you should and should not be wearing. 🙂

2. Clean off your front porch.

Remove the furniture. Wash it down. Scrub if necessary. Just give it a good facelift. A pretty pot or two of flowers and you’ll smile when you drive up every day. I bought a couple of inexpensive throw pillows for my chairs and a new flag. Just gave it all a fresh look. I won’t tell you about my flowers. I may have an addiction. I love flowers! 😉 My project this week will be painting the porch. Sigh. Now that I do NOT love.

Are any of your gardening this year? My little square foot gardens are coming along. I harvested my first lettuce yesterday. I go out every day and see if something new is up. And check for new flower blooms, too, of course. I had some new ones this morning. I was pretty excited.

I’ll post before and after pictures of my front porch. You show me your pictures, too. It’s only fair. And it makes me happy. Very. So share…pretty please?

Have a great day!

Lynne