Spring Cleaning & Crock Pot Cooking

Starting spring cleaning today…bathrooms are getting deep cleaned. Yay! (Yuck!) The bathroom is my least favorite room to clean so I’m getting it out of the way first.

Since I’ll be busy, this is going in the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker today.

Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta
Source: www.bettycrocker.com
Cook 6 hr 10 min
Total 6 hr 10 min
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts
6 slices bacon cooked and diced
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup water
8 oz spaghetti cooked

Directions

1 Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken breasts in cooker.
2 In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken.
3 Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 hours or on High heat setting 3 to 4 hours.
4 When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
5 Just before serving, shred chicken with 2 forks, and toss creamy chicken mixture with cooked spaghetti.

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Spring Cleaning – Final Post (No actual cleaning involved)

Good morning!

It is cool, rainy, and dreary here. Do you think curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee could count as spring cleaning today? Pretty please?

So today’s challenge isn’t a cleaning challenge. Instead, I want to CHALLENGE you to sit down and make a menu plan for next week. I sat down this morning and planned out my meals and snacks for the week. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and both a morning and afternoon snack. I’m going to share it with you so you can see how it looks. I will once again recommend using your crock pot on your busy days. I love, love, love my crock pots!

I hit the jackpot at Aldi’s this week and filled my fridge with fresh fruits and veggies. We eat LOTS of those. I’m so ready for my garden to come in.

So here’s my menu for the week. I plan Friday – Thursday because Thursday is payday and grocery shopping day. Also, the ladies of the house mostly do meatless meals. I do accommodate the meat-eaters, however.

If you see something you want to try and need a recipe, just let me know and I’ll be glad to share. I’m considering offering menu plans and grocery lists for a nominal fee. Does that interest anyone? Just considering.

Friday

B – Whole grain English muffin with egg and slice of cheddar (thin slice!); milk

S – 2 mandarin oranges

L – Quinoa with black beans & corn topped with a “dab” each of cheese and sour cream

S – 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with strawberries & blackberries

D – Out with the girls (hubby and kids on their own)

Saturday

B – Whole wheat pancakes w/ blueberries; milk

S – Fruit salad (pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, banana)

L – Tuna salad tortilla wrap with spinach; roasted cauliflower and carrots

S – Graham crackers with peanut butter (1 T) and honey (1/2 T); 1/2 cup milk

D – “Alabama Stew” (slow cooker recipe – my grandma’s); cornbread

Sunday

B – Coffee Cake Muffins; milk

S – Banana (I’ll be a church; bananas are portable.)

L – Leftovers

S – Greek yogurt/berry smoothie

D – Springtime Spaghetti; Italian bread (homemade or bought); salad

Monday (Meatless for the girls)

B – Grits, scrambled egg + egg white, fruit

S – Grape salad

L – Veggie burrito (refried beans, shredded carrots, spinach, cheese); apple

S – Yogurt, fruit and granola parfait

D – Baked Chicken (for the men); roasted veggies (carrots, butternut squash, broccoli); rice; peas or beans

Tuesday

B – Oatmeal, cinnamon toast

S – Grape salad

L – Leftover roasted veggies

S – Whole grain English muffin with peanut butter (1 T) and honey (1/2 T); milk

D – Grilled Burgers (beef and veggie offered here); baked beans; oven baked fries or crash potatoes (I vote for crash potatoes every time!)

Wednesday

B – Egg, whole wheat bagel (1/2) or English muffin; apple

S – Yogurt and berries

L – Leftovers

S – Cheese & crackers; grapes

D – Creamy Chicken & Rice Casserole; green beans

Thursday

B – Cream of wheat; cheese

S – Fruit (whatever’s left!)

L – Pasta w/ spinach and homemade Alfredo sauce

S – 1/2 whole wheat bagel; peanut butter (1 T) and honey (1/2 T); milk

D – Leftover Buffet (Whatever is left in the fridge gets put out there.)

Sweets for the week are apple crisp (Kayla’s request) and pumpkin bread (David’s request). 🙂

Hope this helps!

Blessings,

Lynne

 

Spring Cleaning Challenge, Final Week – Day 4

Yikes! It’s 8:20 p.m. here and I’m just sitting down to the computer. I haven’t done a very good job of keeping up this week. I’m sorry! After Weight Watchers today, I got sidetracked by grocery shopping, cuddling with a sweet baby, and then a lesson on plants with my nephew this afternoon. Then I was off to the other grocery store so that my shopping is done for the week. (I hope. My grocery money is gone.)

Anyway, I texted Teresa and said “Oh, crap! I haven’t done a challenge today!” So here is what we came up with. 🙂 More like she came up with it and I’m just passing it on. But still. Here it is.

Take 15 minutes – sometime between now and bedtime – to do a quick declutter or pick up. The top of your dresser. The bathroom vanity. The coffee table. Fold a load of laundry. The kitchen counter top. The dining table. Just one surface or one task that you KNOW you can get done in 15 minutes or less.

Tomorrow is the last day of spring cleaning posts. The month of April was not my best month so I have projects to continue with. But I’ll get them done before summer. Certainly! Probably. Maybe?

Blessings,

Lynne

 

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

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

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

 

 

Spring Cleaning Challenge: Week 2

Good Monday morning!

I hope you had a great weekend! I certainly did! The weather was wonderful and I got to mark something off of my goal list as well as my “I Want to Do That Some Day” list. 🙂

I am traveling to Hilton Head Island today for a few days away with the family. It’s our spring break and it looks like the weather is going to be great! I did have to do some laundry on Sunday afternoon, but it was for a worthy cause so I didn’t mind. I won’t be home to do a challenge this week, though I might tackle mine this weekend instead. It will probably not involve cleaning; instead, we will finish getting our garden in.

This week’s challenge is largely up to you. If you look back to January and February, we had several weekly challenges. Some of you took every one. Some of you took one or two. If you took every one of them, my challenge to you this week is to revisit them and see if you need to go back and do some more simplifying and cleaning out. Maybe you just need to give a particular room another good cleaning. It’s not hard to let things go back to their original state of clutter and disorganization. Not hard at all. So if that’s you, hit the room again this week. Make another list. Check it twice. Spend your 15 – 30 minutes on it daily (Monday – Friday) this week and get it back in order. When you realize how much work you had to do – AGAIN – you might find yourself more inclined to do weekly maintenance instead. It’s a whole lot easier. I speak from experience. Here are the links to the  room challenges we’ve done so far.

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/household-chores-everyone-get-excited/ (kitchen challenge)

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/category/living-room-challenge/

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-kids-room-challenge/

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/the-master-bedroom-challenge/

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/the-bathroom-challenge/

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/the-pantry-project/

Maybe you have fallen behind on your laundry and the laundry monster is lurking in the background. Maybe he’s moved right back in and taken control of your life. If  that’s the case, you need to determine now to give him the boot for good this week. Reread the laundry challenge here:

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/the-pantry-project/

Is  your mail piling up again? Here’s the link to the post on tackling that job.

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/stop-the-mail-madness/

Do you need to work on your menu planning? Here are a couple of posts on that.

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/menu-planning-101/

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/02/07/tips-for-easy-menu-planning/

Maybe you are still putting off trying to get healthier and get in more exercise. Here is my original post about exercise. I have to tell you that when I crossed that 10K finish line on Saturday, I felt so elated to have met that particular exercise goal. I am feeling better physically, but I’m also feeling better about myself. So I really, really encourage you to give this one a try. You can do it along with another challenge, or you can look forward to it (yes, look forward to it) when you get your house in order. Believe me, it’s an amazing feeling!

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/weekly-challenge-exercise-oh-joy/

If you have yet to take a challenge, choose one from the list above and get to work. And, please, tell me why you haven’t taken one yet. I’m nosy. I mean curious. Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings, so I really do hope you’ll take a deep breath and pick a challenge project. If you are completely overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, write each of them on a slip of paper and put them in a bowl and draw one out. And that’s where you start. It all starts with a choice and a step in the right direction! One tiny step. You can do it! I know you can!

We didn’t get disorganized, cluttered and overwhelmed overnight. We can’t get organized, de-cluttered, and un-overwhelmed (surely not a real word) overnight, either. We have to work for it. I have to work on it every day. Some days I do better than others with housekeeping, exercising, healthy eating. On days when I don’t do so well, I feel it mentally and physically. Just weighed down. I want you to feel the good stuff. The joy that you get when you complete a task – even if it’s something someone else would consider “minor.” No step that you take towards improving your life is minor. Not one.

Remember that you only have to do a little bit each day and you’ll begin to notice the difference. I promise. And please. Don’t forget to take “before” and “after” pictures. Even if you don’t share them with us, you’ll have them for yourself so that you can see what you’ve done. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all. And pictures are proof that things have change. So get out your camera or your phone and start clicking.

Have a blessed week! I’ll think about you while I have my toes in the sand. 🙂

Lynne

I didn’t forget!

Hi, everyone!

I didn’t forget to post today. This is just the first time I’ve gotten to sit down to write it. 🙂 It’s been “one of those days.” Weight Watchers, lunch with my parents and my aunts, grocery shopping. And it’s COLD and RAINY. Yuck, yuck, yuck! I don’t like grocery shopping on any day. Having to do it and haul the groceries in in the cold rain…no fun. Nope. Not at all.

I hope you all are having a good week! How are you doing with your first spring cleaning challenge? I have made some progress with my desk. I got it moved to its new location. I’m trying to decide whether I like it there or not. I need to proceed with clearing out the drawers and tossing or shredding all the accumulated school junk that’s in there even if I decide to move it again. I did get the top drawer straightened out. And the top of the desk is mostly clear. 🙂

I’ll be traveling to Charleston, SC, tomorrow so I’ll try to post early in the morning. If I don’t get to, I won’t have computer access until I get home. Teresa will be posting on Saturday. I’ll be back on Sunday.

Blessings,

Lynne

 

Spring is Here!

Hey, everyone!

It’s official! Spring is here! Yesterday we had mostly sunny skies and a high of 72 degrees. It was glorious! Today – on the first official day of spring – it’s cloudy and only 55 degrees and a good chance that temps will get down to freezing tonight. What?? Heavy sigh. I expected it as we always seem to have a cold spell just before Easter, but still.

I love spring. Love, love, love. In spite of my allergies. I love the newness of the green leaves on the trees. Of the azaleas and dogwoods blooming. Spring to me signifies new life. I’m ready for gardening. I’m ready to be able to sit on my porch or deck in the morning and have my morning coffee and devotional while enjoying the sounds of nature. (I pretend like I don’t live in a neighborhood.) Spring makes me happy. If we had spring-like weather year round, you’d get no complaints from me.

All that being said, I still feel the need for spring cleaning. And that’s way less exciting than flowers blooming and birds building their nests. So I am making spring cleaning lists and checking them twice (or more) so that I can share them with you. Are there certain household chores that you only do once a year during spring cleaning. I know I have some. Darn those windows that need washing! (I’m thinking now if I can “persuade” someone else to do them for me.)

I’m going to take a nap now. I’m awfully sleepy. (Possibly because the Benadryl I had to take earlier. Possibly because I just want one.) Y’all have a great day!

Please comment about those household chores that you “save” for spring cleaning time. I’ll add them to my list. I may not do them, but I’ll write them down. 🙂

Blessings,

Lynne

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