Guest Post by Christina Levy

Hey Everyone!

Lets start this thing with a little something so you know what I’m all about shall we?

My name is Christina and I run a business called Life of Haiti. I grew up in a Haitian household, and last year I had the opportunity to mix my passion for missions + my love for Haiti. I was lucky enough to share my amazing experience with my mom, and boyfriend James (You might know him from a few posts he wrote earlier this year – “Keychains and Pinterest”)

After coming back home from our mission trip, I had Haiti on my mind ALL THE TIME! There was this pull inside me to help make immediate change happen down there. Something that would be more than just a week of my summer vacation each year.

After lots of tossing and turning, I decided to partner up with James and publish an illustrated magazine – Life of Haiti – This magazine would tell the personal stories of the Haitian people. The best part is aside from business costs, the money would go to support organizations in Haiti who are making change happen in the little country that I love so much.

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So that right there is a quick summary behind Life of Haiti. OH, I forgot to mention, there is a lot of design when it comes to Designing a Magazine. Design was something I knew absolutely NOTHING about – I had to learn it from scratch.

This is where it gets good and I tell you guys how I learned to simplify my life in order to keep myself sane + massively productive.

What did I do to make this happen you ask? I Minimalized my Life.

What does that do? – You ask amazing questions! In my case, Minimalizing my Life was as simple as organizing/cleaning up the area where I planned on being most productive. (i.e. my computer’s desktop.) By doing this, I could focus on getting to the task at hand instead of getting stressed by the clutter. I minimalized my desktop by having a simple background and maybe 2 folders (the ones I would be working out of the most.) Doing that made my work time more streamlined, productive, and it minimalized the stress I had while I went through the stressful process of learning how to design a magazine in a month. (I only had a month to do it because that was how long my winter break was and I couldn’t focus on Life of Haiti AND school)

My KEY POINT in this is to make life simpler for you and the people around you by minimalizing your life.

So here is some Homework for you – it’s not going to be that bad I promise.
I want you to take sometime and minimalize your work space/creative area BEFORE you get to your task. The key word here is BEFORE – this won’t work if you do it after.

What does this look like for you? For my mom, it is the kitchen sink. There CAN NOT be dishes in the sink if she is cooking, or while she is cooking. For me, it is keeping my desktop clear. For you, it might be having tons of folders on it, but you know where everything is.

When you minimalize your life, the best part is that it is unique to you and no one else, because no one ticks the same way you do. So lets hear it! How do you minimalize your life?

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Homemade Floor Cleaners, Guest Post by Julia

Guest Post from Julia Young

 

Making Your Floors Shine

 

I really only have four simple recipes to cleaning your floors. There usually isn’t an overabundance of different floor cleaning methods, so the natural solutions are pretty simple.

 

Carpets generally need a deodorizer like something Arm and Hammer makes with added smell good, or they need something to remove a stain.

 

Carpet Deodorizer

½ cup of baking soda

8-10 drops of essential oil of your choice

 

Combine ingredients and sprinkle on floor. Wait 15 minutes and vacuum.

 

Carpet Stain Remover

½ cup of white vinegar

½ cup of water

 

Combine in spray bottle. Always blot your stain first until no more can be lifted. Spray on the solution and let sit for 10 minutes. Clean the stain gently with a sponge, brush, washcloth, etc. and warm water. This works for furniture too! If you have light colored carpet try Hydrogen Peroxide.

 

With tile, laminate, hardwood, and all other kinds of non-carpet floors something to use with a mop with is needed. I typically don’t use a traditional mop and bucket, but all of these recipes can be adjusted to be used as such. I prefer the Rubbermaid Reveal mop which has a removable cloth pad and a chamber where I can place a bottle with the pre-mixed solution, thus creating a squirt and mop job.

 

Hardwood Floor Cleaner

2 cups of water

2 cups of vinegar

20 drops of the essential oil of your choice

Combine ingredients in a squirt bottle, shake, and mop with your squirt and go mop.

 

Tile Floor Cleaner (I use this on more than just tile, but not on wood)

3½  cups of water

½ of white vinegar

3-4 drops of castile soap

5 drops of essential oil of your choice

 

Combine in a squirt bottle, shake, and mop with your squirt and go mop.

Recipe Share Wednesday: Provolone Chicken

Two recipes this week! It’s your lucky week! This recipe comes from my friend Lynn. I’m thinking I’ll make it tonight for dinner. Sounds yummy!

Have a blessed Wednesday!

Lynne

 

Provolone Chicken
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Recipe By: 1997 America's Best Recipes page 250
Serving Size: 6

Summary: 

One of our family's favorite recipes.

Ingredients:

6 chicken breasts skinned and boned
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter melted and divided
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
1 package provolone cheese(6 ounce), sliced

Directions:

1. Place chicken between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness, using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag, and shake to coat.

3. Cook 3 chicken breasts in 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from skillet, and place in a lightly greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 3 chicken breasts and 2 tablespoon butter.

4. Add wine to skillet; bring to a boil, deglazing skillet by scraping particles that cling to bottom. Add mushrooms; cook 3 minutes. Pour mixture over chicken. Top each breast with a cheese slice. Broil 5 1/2 inches from heat (with electric oven door partially opened) 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Notes:

Since I don't trust the pan frying of the chicken to totally cook the chicken all the way through, I cover the pan with aluminum foil and put it in the oven at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes as I finish preparing the rest of the meal.

I don't usually flatten the chicken before pan frying it which is why I bake it a little longer in the oven, but flattening the chicken does help tenderize it. Also, if you can't use wine, just use chicken broth. I use cooking wine myself. I also use real unsalted butter. Cheap butter is fine, but it needs to be butter.

This goes good with mashed potatoes and whatever green vegetable that you want to serve.

Recipe Share Tuesday :)

In case you wondered where I’ve been (and even if you haven’t), it has been a crazy busy couple of weeks around here. I don’t like it. At all. We are trying to finish up our home school yearbook (no, I no longer have any students but I’m helping this one last time), and that’s taking up lots and lots of my time. So I’ve been scattered and scatterbrained. I apologize sincerely. 🙂

Since I’ve been doing yearbook stuff all day, I haven’t prepared a blog. So I’m sharing a recipe today instead. You might get one tomorrow, too. Who knows? It will all depend on whether or not my brain is working. Hopefully, things will be back to normal around here next week. Normal for me anyway.

Hope your week is blessed!

Lynne

Glazed Meatloaf

1  1/2 pounds ground beef

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons mustard

1/3 cup ketchup

In bowl, mix together beef, egg, onion, milk, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Shape two small loaves in a 9×13 baking dish. In separate bowl, mix brown sugar, mustard and ketchup. Pour over meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes, or until done through.

I usually cook mine in two small loaf pans instead of the 9×13 pan.

Happy Memorial Day!

Never forget that someone sacrificed their life so that you could have the freedoms you enjoy. Don’t take them for granted – those who sacrificed or your freedoms. Remember them today and try not to take your freedom for granted. God Bless America!

tomb of the unknown

Recipe Share Wednesday: Zucchini Pie

You can serve this as a side dish. I used it as the main dish on a Meatless Monday. 🙂

(from allrecipes.com)

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

3/4 cup buttermilk baking mix (I didn’t have any so I used buttermilk pancake mix – worked just fine)

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 cup fresh corn kernels (one ear did it for me)

1/2 cup diced onion

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. In a medium bowl, mix ingredients together. Pour into pie plate. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. (I did lay a piece of foil over mine for the last 5 minutes or so because it was already nicely browned.)

Tuesday Tips: How to “De-stress” Your Day

Good morning all!

Sorry that the blog has been sort of hit-or-miss here lately. The last couple of weeks have been stressful for me. I realize that things could be so much worse and am grateful that they aren’t. My stress comes from busyness. I don’ t like to be busy. If you ask me how I am, I don’t want my response to always be “Busy.” I try to make it a point to limit my obligations and appointments so that I’m not busy all the time. My family will (I’m sure) attest to the fact that busyness leads to grouchiness for me.

Now my recent busyness has not been due to anything bad. Quite the opposite, in fact. Home school graduation was last week. The home school yearbook is due next Friday. I have two nephews graduating in the next couple of weeks, and a new nephew due to make his appearance next Thursday. So it’s all good stuff. Really. And I only have this “feeling” for a couple of weeks and it will pass quickly. But there are those who feel this way all the time. All. The. Time. Busy, busy, busy. Rush, rush, run. Run here. Run there. Drop off. Pick up. Juggle schedules, appointments, work…this list just goes on and on.

So how do you manage to limit the negative effects of stress when you’re busy all the time? No, really, how do you do that? When I worked full-time and then when I home schooled my children (that’s beyond full-time!), I used the following things to try and keep me and my family on an even keel. Didn’t always work; nothing does. But it did help us maintain some semblance of balance at home.

I’m not going to expand a lot on these today. I think they’re pretty clear. You may not like any of them. You may like one or two. I hope you’ll choose at least one thing to try and see if it will help relieve some of the stress you feel (if you are feeling any). If you have other suggestions of things that work for you, please share them.

Anyway, here goes. “Lynne’s List of De-stressers”

1. Start your day with 15 minutes of quiet time.

Devotional. Cup of coffee or tea. Deep breathing. All that matters is that it’s just you. And that it’s quiet. Get up 15 minutes earlier if you need to. Pay-off is immediate.

2. Exercise.

Yes, exercise. With all those endorphins and what-not. Sometimes all you need is a walk around the block to clear your head. Sometimes you need an hour to blow off steam. Either way, try to find some time for it every day. I think that 30 minutes is the “recommended” minimal amount.

3. Plan your meals.

Planning your meals keeps you from that 5:00 p.m., “Oh, my gosh. It’s 5:00 and I have no idea what we’re having for dinner!” freak-out. Plan a day ahead. Plan a week ahead. But try to have a plan. If it’s 5:00 and you don’t know what’s for dinner, you are going to be stressed. (And you are more likely to make poor food choices. Just saying.)

4. Limit your kids’ activities.

No, limiting their activities will not make you a bad parent. In fact, it might do just the opposite. One activity per kid per “season” was my limit. And my kids weren’t all that into “organized” activities and sports anyway, so I had this one easy. But I’ve watched a lot of friends running, running, running to get their kids shuttled between activities. They always look stressed. I would be. (I don’t have much experience with this one, so I’m just going by observation and listening.)

5. Limit your activities.

Whether you work full-time, are a stay-at-home mom, home school, etc., limit your obligations outside the home. Don’t have activities scheduled for every day or night of the week that take you away from home. I always tried for one, with occasional weeks where there were two. Now that the kids are out of school, I have two things per week a little more often. But I’d just rather be home than out at night, so that’s what I do.

6. Find 15 additional minutes for yourself some time during the day.

I enjoy a cup of coffee and reading in the middle of the afternoon. It’s my time and it has been that way for a long, long time. That may not be an option for you. But do try and find 15 minutes in the middle or at the end of your day (both if you can), to unwind. Do something that is relaxing for you. Turn off the TV and read for 15 minutes before bedtime. Do a few yoga stretches or some deep breathing. Take a bubble bath. Just do something for you.

I know six is a strange number for a list. I was going to stop with five, but I felt like #6 was important. So there you have it. It’s not much, but it’s a start. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all that life is throwing at you – or all that you have allowed in – start small and work your way OUT of the busyness. I’d start with #1 and #6, then add the others as needed or as possible.

Have a blessed – and less stressful – day today!

Lynne

Perspective

Sitting here watching news coverage of the unbelievable devastation in Oklahoma from the tornadoes. Really puts the aggravations of my last few days into perspective.

Please pray for the victims of the tornadoes today and in the days to come.

Lynne

Guest Post by Julia Young: Natural Bathroom Cleaners

Keeping a Bathroom Clean Naturally

The bathroom is the place that we like to clean ourselves, but it is also one of the most germ-y places in our house. Keeping it clean is of the utmost importance, especially when you have young, barely potty-trained boys in your home. There are a ton of bathroom cleaning recipes online that will promise you scrubbing power, disinfectant power, or whatever cleaning power you are after. I have bought many spray bottles to try all these different formulas but have found only a handful that I like and use regularly. Many of the online recipes for cleaners with scrubbing power call for ingredients that settle in the spray bottle and do not remix well. The best items to use for scrubbing are baking soda and vinegar.  From experience I have found that if you are using baking soda and vinegar regularly, it is easier to keep shaker of baking soda and spray bottle of vinegar handy. If you are making a batch to use as a one time deal then mix before use.

Daily Shower Spray

  • 4 oz of liquid castile soap (you can buy Dr. Bohnner’s brand at Kroger in the organic section or make your own by grating some castile soap, adding some water (10 cups for a full bar), and melting it in a large pot. Let the mixture sit for a day before using)
  • 16 oz of rubbing alcohol or 80-100 proof clean grain alcohol (I use vodka when making mine since the smell isn’t that strong.)
  • Enough water to make a gallon

Combine all these ingredients in a spray bottle. After each shower, I squeegee down the walls and spray this on my shower. This is what I also use to clean my bathroom sink, counter, and toilet surface.

Mold Killer

  • ½ cup of hydrogen proxide
  • 1 cup of water
  • 6 drops of essential oil of your choice

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle. Spray area was mold has formed, allow to sit for a few hours, rinse with water.

Toilet Bomb

  • ¼ cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 10 drops essential oil of choice (I prefer Tea Tree as it smells like a bathroom cleaner to me)

Carefully combine baking soda and vinegar, then add essential oil. Kids love making this one so if have little ones this a great way to get them involved. Make sure you give a stir before pouring into the toilet as the baking soda will sometimes settle at the bottom. Pour contents into toilet, let sit a minute, and scrub.

Keep your toilet fresh and proactively clean by adding ½ cup of white vinegar to your tank once a week. Let the vinegar sit for 30 minutes and flush.

 Drain Cleaner

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 ½ cups of white vinegar
  • pot of boiling water

Pour baking soda slowly down the drain (you can use a little vinegar if it’s not moving). Pour salt, then slowly pour vinegar (you may need to use the handle of a wooden spoon to push the mixture along). Wait 15-20 minutes before flushing with the boiling water.

A couple of quick cleaning tricks. If your shower head has stopped up, fill up a baggie of with white vinegar, place on shower head using a rubber band, and let sit for an hour. Clean shower head with a wet cloth. To scrub the shower or sink, use some baking soda and vinegar for that scrubbing action. If you need to quick toilet clean keep a shaker of baking soda and a spray bottle of vinegar in your bathroom. Sprinkle some baking soda in the toilet, spray with vinegar, let sit a minute, and scrub. With any of these quick cleaning techniques you can add essential oil to make it smell better. Add the oil to the baking soda for constant freshness or add it as you scrub.

Recipe Share Wednesday: Herbed Chicken and Veggies

Herbed Chicken & Vegetables

 (stove top or slow cooker – I prefer the  slow cooker method)
3-4 medium or large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
up to 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
1 cup white cooking wine (or chicken broth)
1 can chicken broth (approximately 2 cups)
8 medium carrots, cut into chunks or equal amount of mini peeled carrots
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Mix together the flour and all the spices; coat chicken breasts in flour mixture. Heat oil in a nonstick Dutch oven (or skillet if you’re going to use the slow cooker) over medium high heat. Cook chicken in oil about 15 minutes, turning several times, until lightly brown on all sides; remove chicken and drain on paper towel.

Stir wine, chicken broth, and vegetables into Dutch oven; place chicken on top. (NOTE: If liquid does not cover chicken and vegetables, add more broth to just cover.) Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 35-40 minutes or until juice of chicken runs clear and is no longer pink. (However, the longer it cooks, the better and more tender it is.) Remove chicken and vegetables and keep warm.

Mix cornstarch with cold water; whisk into liquid in Dutch oven. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Serve over chicken and vegetables, or add the chicken and veggies back in.

Optional: Place chicken in slow cooker; cover with vegetables and pour wine and chicken broth over the top. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Add the cornstarch/water mix about 15 minutes before time to serve and it will usually thicken up just fine.