Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Thoughts...

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
  Proverbs 15:13 NIV

Are you on Facebook?  Do you see those cute little pictures people post?  I love those.  In fact, I keep several of them on my phone... they are often my Happy Thoughts throughout the day.

This morning, our weather is cold and gray - but Spring is sure to return from vacation very soon.  I'm drinking organic coffee with French Vanilla creamer.  Ahhh... 

Let me share a happy thought or two with you today.  Hopefully these will bring a smile to your face - and maybe make you laugh just a little.

Spring is coming - and summer is just around the corner.  I've been amping up my running!  I'm up to 4-5 miles a day.  I'm up to 100 crunches and amping up my weights, too... However, this one still rings true for me....

This is my travel mug.  It's sparkly...and PINK...  so it's always a happy thought!

You know I'm a shoe addict so this one definitely speaks to me...

Anyone out there feel my pain in this one???

And my very favorite.... Yeah.... i totally get this!

Hopefully a couple of those put a smile on your face... and made your heart happy and your face cheerful!

Hoping your day is blessed!

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Eating healthy doesn't mean boring!

Do you like to eat as much as I do?  I love food - I'm not a picky eater, either.  Even things I've declared I didn't like, I now like - and sometimes love!

Today's post is a simple, fast, healthy recipe for you to share with your family.  If you make meals for people at church or work when they're sick or under enormous stress, this one is easy and fast - and most people like it.

The recipe is very easy to follow because nothing has to be exact.  Everything is measured according to your likes and dislikes.

Here's what you'll need:

good olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion (about fist size will do)
2 -3 cups fresh broccoli 
small container of grape tomatoes (optional)
garlic powder
salt and pepper
box of pasta, any shape or size you like
chicken stock
parmesan cheese
chicken (optional)

 While I'm making this recipe, I'm enjoying a 24 oz glass of ice water!  Cold and refreshing... in my favorite BPA free glass :)  What are you drinking?

Let's get started!

2 TBS olive oil, heated to medium.

1 small onion, chopped

 1 red pepper, chopped

2 - 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces

 Heat water to boil for pasta, cook according to package directions:  I use Barilla, white fiber, mini penne.  It takes about 7 minutes.

Continue to stir pasta until onions are soft, peppers are softened but still firm and broccoli is bright green (Yum!)  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and about 1-2 tsp of garlic powder, depending on how garlic-ky you like.  We like a lot of garlic.

Once pasta is al dente, drain and add to veggie mixture.  As you probably noticed, I opted out of the chicken this time.  Sometimes I add pan seared chicken, some times I don't. 

At this point, I like to add about 1/4 cup of chicken stock, stir, and simmer for a couple of minutes.  I will taste-test the mixture to see if I need more garlic, salt or pepper.

Once it's all combined, dish it out in a shallow bowl, and add parmesan cheese to taste.  As you see, I like a lot of parmesan cheese!

If you're looking for a healthy, veggie (or not) meal, try this.  The kiddos even like it :)

Only By His Grace,


Monday, March 25, 2013

Every nook and cranny...

Did you have a good weekend?  This weekend we had some crazy weather!  Saturday was sunny and 70 degrees.  Sunday was a high in the upper 30's with snow and sleet.  But that's life in the Ohio Valley!

Today I'm enjoying a cup of Organic Cinnamon tea as I write this post.  What are you having?

I want to talk to you about floor vents today.  It seems like I am always sharing some crazy off the wall thing with you.  Today I'm sharing my flooring vents.  Who know what the next post will hold?  It's always a surprise...even to me :)

As I've been working through the spring cleaning routine I have noticed how nasty my floor vents are.  Most of mine are an off-white, which makes them so much more prone to showing nastiness.

But I have a couple of options for you!  Before you start, please understand that my floor vents are plastic.  Please don't try this on wooden vents.  I think metal vents would respond well, as long as they are dried quickly.

Here's the process: Remove the nasty floor vent cover from the vent.

Fill a large sink or basin full of hot water.  Add in 1/2 tsp Shaklee Basic H2 and 1/2 scoop of Shaklee Nature Bright.

Allow vent to soak for a few (5) minutes.  Then grab a small brush to clean out those nooks and crannies.

Rinse clean and clear.  Replace vent cover.

If, unlike myself, you're not crazy about hand scrubbing 20 or so floor vent covers... another great option is to put those little buggers in the dish washer.  Run on the lightest wash possible with medium temp water.  Allow them to dry, and replace them.

What have you been working on during your spring cleaning?

Only By His Grace,


Friday, March 22, 2013

A little change can do ya good...

Today's post has nothing to do with spring cleaning. 

As I type this post it's a cold, March day; rainy, drizzly, and gray.  I'm sitting by the fireplace with a cup of hot chai tea latte - Organic, from Trader Joe's, of course!

A year ago I got a little fed up with my dining room.  I realized that my home was starting to look like the home of a much older couple.  I loved my dining set, but it was definitely better suited for another home.

Here it is:  Solid oak - beautiful starburst pattern, solid, heavy chairs. But the red and green, eucalyptus wreath, floral prints, and rooster centerpiece were a little dated.

I tried dressing it up with draperies:  Red embroidered ones were a steal of a deal...

Still not right.  So I added valance.  Somewhat better, but worse at the same time.

My husband and I decided it was time to modernize our home a little.  Step by step, bit by bit, as budget would allow.

We traded out the draperies for a neutral panel.  Changed some artwork.  My husband's aunt is a wonderful artist.  She painted the crock and veggie piece you see in this photo.  Here is her sight if you're interested in spectacular artwork:

And finally, last month we sold our dining set of 20 years and bought a newer, more modern table and chair set.

We brought in a black console table from the basement along with the two striped chairs you see in the corners.  The large artwork was a piece we had hanging in our living room.  When I painted the great room in February, it occurred to me how the painting had all the colors I wanted to use in the dining room.  So the switch was made.

I painted the lower 36 inches of the wall an oyster white.  We'll be adding chair molding (probably in black) a little later.  We need to make a few drywall repairs, first.

The striped chairs pull up to the table if we need them.  The table extends to 88 inches if necessary.  It's super long!

It is the first room you see as you walk into our home.  So we wanted it to be just right.

In the process, it occurred to me that the draperies I had were too ...... bland.... blah..... boring...?  I don't know, but I knew they weren't right.

Then one day, I was at Target and found these panels.  Original cost $39.99 per panel.  Billie's lucky clearance sale cost?  $14.88 for the pair!  That's right, less than $10 per panel, for lined draperies!  Check this out!

Our walls are an olive green (I know they look lime, but their olive).  These panels have the same green in them, and the pale teal... It all matches perfectly! (And you know I hate the word "perfectly" but it really is the case, here!)

Check out this panel against the wall and the chair.  Absolute genius!  I can't believe how lucky I was to find these :)

It always surprises me when a couple of small changes make such a large impact.



Total cost?  $15.00 for the draperies, $140 for the dining room table, $200 for the 4 dining chairs.  Everything else, the console, the artwork, the lamp, the striped chairs...I just shopped the house!

Keep your eyes open for a change... You never know what a difference it might make!

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Let's talk today about freshening our homes.  

One very easy tip I love is simple and free.  But you do have to be patient.  What is this simple, free tip?   Open your windows!  If the weather is nice - oh, about 70 degrees and sunny will do -- open those windows.  Let the fresh air in and the stale winter air out!

How about a little lavender scented spray for your pillows, upholstery and carpets?  You can purchase essential oils at most health food stores.  Just a couple of drops in a 16 oz spray bottle of water is all it takes to really freshen a room.

We all know the old lemon in the garbage disposal trick... but try simmering a sliced lemon in a small pot of water, or miniature crock pot.  The fresh lemon scent will immediately freshen the air inside your home. 

Both of these little tips will leave your home smelling fresh and clean... If you're expecting company - throw open those windows...let the outside in... enjoy the fresh air!

Only By His Grace,


Monday, March 18, 2013

Two steps forward, one step back...

When it comes to spring cleaning, do you feel like it's two steps forward, one step back?  Some home enthusiasts (I like to call them) will tell us not to fall behind.  They will say, "maintenance will keep you on track."  Know how I know that?  Because I've said it, too!

The week before my father passed away, I spent three days spring cleaning multiple areas of my house.  I posted about a few of these projects.  You can go back and check them out if you're so inclined.

I completely cleaned the first floor of our home.  The living room, the great room, the dining room, the powder room, the laundry room, the kitchen including scrubbing the hardwood floors... I cleaned my son's room, my daughter's room, the master bedroom and the master bathroom.  I cleaned the foyer and the landing on the second floor.

Then, on Friday of that week, my father was taken to the hospital with a fatal heart attack.  Over the next four days I never left the hospital.  I slept in the waiting room.  I brushed my teeth in a public restroom.  I wore the same clothes for nearly four days.  I showered once.  On Monday, I stood at my father's feet while he breathed his last breath.

And you know what?  My spring cleaning check list didn't matter to me.  Knowing it would take me weeks to get our laundry back in check, get my home back in order and catch up on email, blogging and other correspondence didn't matter.

My inbox was full for days.  The mail piled up.  The floors went unswept and unmopped.  The dishes waited.  The refrigerator went out and we lived out of a cooler for 6 days.  But none of it mattered.

So if you're following along during this little project I like to call Spring Cleaning...don't get discouraged if you fall behind a day.  Take two steps forward, even if you know you'll take one step back.  As long as you keep moving forward... 

One last thing... having a clean house is not the most important thing in this life.  Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all the work and maintenance our home demands... but when it's all said and done... it's not that important, really...

Do what you can.  Enjoy those you love.  Clean when you need to.

Only By His Grace,


Friday, March 15, 2013

Window, window on the wall...

A few days ago I told you about my handy-dandy window cleaner squeegee thingy.

I must tell you, I'm crazy about this gadget!  It has simplified my window washing routine so much I can't even begin to describe!  There. Are. No. Words!

When you have windows that weekly look like this:

You need a little help!
Here's my process.  By the way, it's the same process I use for my mirrors, too. Never streaks!  Never! Never! Never!

Basic h2 (1 drop per 16 oz water), my squeegee, and a microfiber.

 Spray cleaner on windows, wipe with the microfiber side of the squeegee.

Next, squeegee off the remaining liquid, wiping dry the squeegee with the microfiber cloth after each pass.  

 Follow the same process for the outside portion of the window.

After?  Set back an enjoy the spotless windows!  

This new tool and process takes me approximately 10 minutes per window; 5 minutes inside, 5 minutes outside.

These little gems are available at Home Depot and Lowe's.  They run approximately $6.00 - $8.00 relatively.

How do you clean your windows?  Do you have a favorite cleaner?  Do you use a squeegee?

Do you have tips to share?

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Hardwood floors...

I know this post is going to make you think I've lost my marbles.  You may be right - the jury is still out on that one.

I promise you I AM NOT O.C.D.  I just have a little issue with my hardwood floors.

Backstory: When we bought the house, it had been a rental - there were at least five families who rented... apparently none of them knew how to clean a floor.  When we bought the house, the hardwood looked like it had been grouted!  EEEWWW!

So from time to time, I get the hankering to clean the hardwood... like this:

Basic h2
nature bright
a toothbrush
hot water

 Here's a photo of the spaces that cause me issues.  See all the grungy dirt in there?

I spray in my Basic h2 (1/4 tsp) and my nature bright (1 tsp) to 16 oz of hot water.

I let it set a minute to work into that muck, then I scrub with an old toothbrush.

The stains don't come out completely, but they look better than when I started, and I know the floors are clean.  Now for the remaining 230 square feet of the kitchen...

How do you clean your floors?  What's your favorite cleaner?  Are you obsessed with grout and hard wood spaces?

Only By His Grace,


Follow by Email: I never share your information