Monday, January 30, 2012

Tried and True Tuesday

Tub and shower cleaner, y'all!  I love vinegar for everything.  Saw this on Pinterest, and just about everyone I know pinned it.  My Aunt Jane tried it first, so I had to join in.  Half dish detergent, half vinegar poured into a squirt bottle.  Easy enough.

Why didn't I think of this?  Is there anything vinegar can't do?  Seriously.  Here's my favorite concoction for counter tops and mopping:  one part vinegar, one part water, and about 10 drops of your favorite essential oil.  I use lavendar, or a combo of lavendar and a citrus oil.  And, it cleans glass, too!  Try these and tell the truth.  Blessings!

Link to cleaning recipe:

Tub and Shower Magic. Photo by gailanng

Style Icon

For the next few weeks, you might observe that posts are focused more on organizing, cleaning, and simplifying life.  I heard a piece of fashion advice a few weeks ago that rang in my head, though the source is fuzzy now...Nate Berkus Show I think.  Anyway, the word was this:  pick ONE celebrity whose style you admire.  Then, as you shop for clothes (or accept hand-me-downs or clean out your closet), consider, "Is this something so and so would wear?" and purchase accordingly.  So, it sounds a little stalker-ish maybe?  But, I like the simplicity.  One person, their style, and building on it.

My personal philosophy for as long as I can remember is "variety is the spice of life."  I don't have a signature scent, color, or...anything.  Maybe this is I have a full closet with nothing to wear.  It took me a good couple of weeks to decide on who my style icon is.  The fashion expert who suggested this strategy pointed out how focusing your purchases on one icon will actually save you money.  Lightbulb moment!

Your own icon could be from any point in time.  Audrey Hepburn or Mary Tyler Moore might be good choices.  But, after long deliberation, I decided on Zooey Daschanel.  Her style is quirky and retro-inspired.
The Cute Zooey Deschanel With Pink Dress

the cute zooey deschanel with unique dress The Cute Zooey Deschanel Dress zooey deschanel dresses zooey deschanel dress the cute zooey deschanel dress

the cute zooey deschanel dresses photo The Cute Zooey Deschanel Dress zooey deschanel dresses zooey deschanel dress the cute zooey deschanel dress

So, there you have it...  Feminine, colorful Zooey.  Note to self:  buy some tights and don't stress about being pale.  Who is your style icon???  Blessings!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tried and True Tuesday

Welcome to my new feature, Tried and True Tuesday!!!  I have labored over what feels like forever for the right fit here.  I am finally settled on this...  I try something new and tell you the truth about it.  And, hopefully, you'll be reminded to try something new in your life, instead of just repinning on Pinterest.  You know I love that web abyss.  If it was a town, I'd move there.  Permanently.  Without regard for other towns like Email.  I'd never go on vacation.  I'd instead bring in some sand for the back yard and make myself a cute bathing suit out of dish towels and fruity drinks including cleverly disguised green veggies (all of which I learned about in Pinterest).  And that would be a blissful vacation.

As much I REALLY love pinning, sometimes I actually have to put my money where mouth is (or my pins are, or something) and DO a project/recipe/idea.

So, having found what was one of the best repurposing ideas I'd seen, I followed the directions found here for a phone charging holder.
These were gifts for my Dad and brother.  I made them using Johnson's bath product bottles, Modge Podge, scrapbook paper, and letter stickers.

This was one is for us.  I made it for The Husband, using playbill art from two of his favorite shows, Les Miserables and Wicked.  But, that makes it a little feminine.  So, really, it's ours.

And, here's the truth (with an unfortunate wah,wah,wah sound effect from Debbie Downer).  Cutting the bottles is difficult.  Using Modge Podge on this shape is difficult.  Attempting to use fabric to cover it...difficult.  I found it easier to use the heavier scrapbook paper than the glossy magazine type paper. And, I did several more layers of Modge Podge than I anticipated.  Obviously I continued moving forward until completion, but I totally counted down the seconds until it was all finished up.   Sadly I wasn't in love with the end results, either.  However, I LOVE the way the original artist's did.  And she has many other projects on her blog worth looking into.  Bottom line:  only for use by determined crafters with an afinity for Modge Podge and the utility knife.  Give the directions a look, though, and see if it's right for you.

 Despite the difficulty level of this project, I will continue to try new things and give feedback.  What projects have you been up to?  Blessings!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Little Rekindling

Preface:  I apologize to any teen friends who might find this post awkward because I'm old. My friend Jennifer was saying the other day how grossed out her son was to see she and her husband dancing.  It's funny because I feel like I was a kid getting grossed out by my own parents just the other day.  Time flies.  Anyhoo, if you are in the age bracket of being grossed out, stop reading, and come back for the next post.

So...  The Husband is a busy grocery front end manager, who doesn't get home until 8:30ish.  He takes his days off every week (Wednesday and Sunday) so that he can attend church.  It's an admirable resolve that makes me love him even more.  But, with commitments on both of his off nights, we neglect to have much of a dating life.  Thankfully we are in the process of establishing a new tradition:  Whether or not we are able to "go out," we set aside one night a week to devote to spending time together.  And, we alternate which of us plans the evening.

The first of these date nights, I waited until The Husband was home to eat the large meal I had prepared.  Recipe, coming soon.  I usually eat with the kids earlier in the evening.  After that, I gave him a much needed pedicure.  He won't let anyone else touch his feet, but since he's pretty much stuck with me and stands on his feet all day, he allowed it.  The next week, our sweet friend Gina kept our kids while we went to dinner and to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  Buuuuuut, despite wanting to see it very badly, I feel asleep.  During the opening scene.  It's shameful how I can't stay awake for any movies.  Maybe if I just request they keep the lights on... 

Both date nights were very fun.  There's something special about spending time together that is thoughtful, rather than an afterthought.  I believe it could be a boost to any marriage.  Blessings to you and yours!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Are You Kidding Me?

Always fascinated with consumer reports, I recently caught one about how to use every last drop or crumb of your favorite products.  A few ideas were bounced around, but the main one is this:  Using whatever means necessary (often cutting up the packaging), scoop the goo out.  The theory is so simple, yet I don't know anyone who--at least openly--does this.

So, yes, I have some favorite products...  While combating gray hair and wrinkles now, my acne prone skin also persists.  Not gonna give away free advertising here, but I buy the only over-the-counter skin care for acne that has ever worked for me.  You see where this is going...  I'm in the shower, the "last bit" farts out, yada, yada, yada...  The price is not astronomical, but at $20 for four ounces, I want to use all of it.  Try as I may, no more is coming out with a simple squeeze. 

The weight of the bottle suggests a little might remain.  So, I grab the handy dandy scissors and cut the bottle at the middle.

What's that you're looking at?  It's a quarter of the cleanser still in the bottom!!!  No one's making any accusations here, but someone suggested that it's possibly due to bottle design...surely an unintentional quality concern.  Regardless of the reason why, they made a bottle-snippin' convert out of me!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Must Try Recipe

Creamy chicken and rice with green beans.  I mean, serious comfort food.  The best part is, you can prep this entire meal ahead of time.  I am crazy about my slow cooker, and now about layering all portions of the meal at once.  So, I've been taking favorite recipes and altering them in order to do just that.  The inspiration for this recipe was "Finger Lickin' Chicken" by Elsie Barton, featured in Sharing Our Best: A Collection of Recipes by Riverchase Church of Christ.  Don't you just love church ladies' cookin'?!

As a side-note, this, like much of my cooking, is dairy free and made with white meat.  Just accommodating my quirky mild health issues.  It's hard to find creamy dishes without milk, as  you might guess.  Additional side note, I'm not exactly sure how many quarts my slow cooker holds, but it's fairly large.

olive oil
1 1/2 cups of white or brown rice
2 1/4 cups of water or chicken broth
1 teaspoon Goya Adobo seasoning (good for so many things; find it in the Mexican grocery section)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
6 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
1 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can of green beans
aluminum foil
cooking non-stick spray

Coat the inside of the slow cooker with a small bit of olive oil, so the rice won't stick.  Pour in rice, water, and sprinkle Adobo seasoning evenly.  Personal preference:  I cut up breasts into thirds, or you could tenderize or butterfly it.  Set aside fat trimmings.  Lay the chicken cutlets over the rice and water.  Mix together mayo, juice, vinegar, salt, and black pepper, and stir until sauce is smooth.  Pour the entire sauce mixture on top.  All the ingredients will run together a bit.
Cut aluminum foil about the size of a legal size paper.  Either rub on a thin coat of Olive Oil or use cooking spray.  Open green beans and drain.  Pour beans into center of foil.  Sprinkle a small bit of Adobo, and throw in a few pieces of chicken fat for flavor.

Give foil a "hot dog fold," and fold over another time.  Roll up the short ends to close the packet up.
Lay the green bean packet right on top of the chicken.  You could add one or two more sides packets if you preferred: corn, pintos, etc.).  Always good to add a little olive oil or butter with those.
Put the lid on, set on low, and wait four hours.  Yes, y'all, that's all!  Put your feet up, run some errands, go to church, or get a manicure.
The whole family liked this one.  Yum, if I do say so.

So, while we're on the subject of cooking, I need to give kudos to a friend newly trying his hand at cooking.  Justin Brown actually likes my cooking enough to ask for lessons.  So, while I'm probably not qualified, I'll go ahead and use him as a guinea pig.

Our first two dishes have been along the lines of Italian favorites, marinara chicken, and here, making stuffed shells.  We made a filling bag using a plastic gallon bag, snipped the end, and stuffed those shells (thanks for teaching me, Chef Tasha Chambrot).  We used this recipe, and added in three cloves of minced garlic.  Recipe

Check out his blog  And, ladies, he's single.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Worms are Gross

Some readers may be familiar with Fly Lady of, whose cleaning routines help potential hoarders (like me) stay sane. So, I do my best to follow her guidelines, cleaning and purging 15 minutes at a time. In an economy like ours, though, I find it harder to get rid of things. As my sweet Mam-maw had grown up during the Depression, our family has battled with a bit of scarcity mentality for years. Maybe you relate, if your home looks similar to this (source):
In one of Fly Lady's emails, she reminded me of a story from the Bible that anyone, believer or not, would likely find interesting.  When the Israelites (Jews) were wondering in the desert, God provided manna (a type of bread) every day for their sustenance.  God promised them they would find it every single morning and not to keep it.  But, being human and scared, they tried to put away the leftovers anyway.  That manna turned into worms!

As stupid as the Israelites sound for doing this, I do a similar thing.  I keep things out of worry that one day I will need something, and it won't be there.  Hey, who doesn't have a stash of "skinny clothes" and "fat clothes"?  I lack faith that God will provide.  And that stuff that I'm not really using becomes figurative worms.  We have to make room for future blessings.

 Aside from Fly Lady routines, I am helped by occasionally sneaking a peek at my decorating inspiration notebook or Pinterest.  They're a gentle reminder that the thing missing from their pictures is clutter.  Having good, simple organizational systems help, but as Fly Lady says, "You can't organize clutter."  So, I'm facing those demons...  Just now started listing all the areas that need help and got overwhelmed.  Instead, let me back up and say today I'll spend at least 15 minutes in my closet. Ha!  Do what you can.

Here's my current inspiration (source):

Country living room
And (source)
Pinned Image
They may not be minimalist, but they sure aren't cluttered.  Try the 15 minute approach using a timer along with me.  Do what you can, AND be BLESSED!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Storage Solutions

Welcome to a new week!  I wanted to share a little project journey I just encountered.  We are fortunate to be able to use a shrunk, a German shelving system that usually takes up a lot of space.  Good, because we have a lot of space to fill.  Since we are living in our friends' home while they are out of town, they left the house partially furnished, including the shrunk.

Ooh, strong affinity for this piece.  However, it's not mine, and I don't have the freedom to refinish it.  I don't yet have time to tack paper in the back of the shelves.  Still I had a more serious need:  to create storage a bit out of the children's reach and divide their toys into smaller containers.  We're not doing so well with keeping a ton of toys in one big basket, emptying it, and having so much to clean up.  I'm optimistic that we would do better by getting down a little at a time and putting it away before making more messes (duh).  I like to think of myself as a recovering hoarder, so sometimes the organizational ideas come a little slower to me.

I have a lot of baskets.  They are all shapes and sizes and vary somewhat in color, and the matchy-matchy baskets are the current trend in storage.  I could spray paint these all the same color, but chances are I would spend more on the paint than the baskets are actually worth.  I was determined to spruce them up using something I already had.  Checked my decorating notebook, that thing I put together with pages from magazines before Pinterest came along.  Hey, print still has its place.  It dawns on me:  I have quite a few starfish and shells!  So, I spent a little time arranging the baskets and then gluing on the marine life.  Either I'm delusional, or it did create a relevance for the baskets.  And, now I'm excited...  making what I already have work.  Please pardon the folded laundry and napping dog; we're keepin' it real here.

Sea treasures work here because we live near the beach.  Here are some other inexpensive items that could also unify baskets:
  • chalk labels
  • small frames/ornaments with pics representing what's in the baskets (great for pre-reading kids)
  • small frames used as mini dry erase boards
  • larger silk flowers
  • wine corks
  • antique/repurposed knobs/pulls
  • spoons (maybe my favorite and quirky pick)
  • drift wood
  • little wreaths
  • bows

And, my mind keeps going...  Blessings!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Motivation for Creative Minds

These three links have really inspired me, so this post selfishly serves as a "note to self."  Hope others may find comfort and drive also by seeing them.

First was the "Self Starter" episode of the Nate Berkus Show.  I love that this woman found a calling after spending many years as a stay-at-home-mom.  Check it out.
The Self-Starter Hour

This is an audio clip with type illustrator and features storyteller Ira Glass.  Thanks to blog  Especially good for fellow bloggers.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Blessings for all your creative endeavours as you plan the new year!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Down Side of Being Thrifty

Walking in to my favorite thrift store makes me giddy... hopeful anticipation of what I might find.  Even my kids like going there, so no dread looms over.  But, the biggest high is when I find that "thing," that awesome object of my desire that, amidst the rubble, is at the right place at the right time.  Marked with a ridiculously low price.  Sometimes my diamond in the rough actually looks like junk.  But, I have a plan.  It will be fabulous.  After love and elbow grease are poured out on this object, I get a second high.  Now I have a lovely, unique, almost-left-for-dead-now-fit-for-a-(make believe)queen piece. Big Sigh

How could there be a flaw in my plan?  Amazing stuff, amazing price.  I need some household items (vacuum cleaner, for instance), which I'm not sure where I should purchase.  I start casually looking at the thrift stores.  Not finding what I want, my floor is getting dirtier and dirtier.  I scan online swap sites to see what might come up...  Still not sure.  Should I look at (eye roll) a retail establishment?  I can't pay retail!  I can't.  I won't.  Sad reality creeps in...  after habitually shopping the thrift store, I no longer feel deserving of the occassional retail purchase.  Doing so would trigger guilt.

Feeling that figurative punch in the gut, I must admit I'm no less deserving of a full price item than anyone else.  If you have ever been in this state, we must snap out of it.  Although I haven't been spending much money, I have found a way to forget  STUFF IS JUST STUFF.  So, let's give ourselves a break... shop and buy from the place that suits our true need.  Sometimes it's yardsales and flea markets; sometimes it's department stores and the web.  So, here's one resolution:  My identitiy won't be tied up in the places I shop. 

Praying for your blessings in the new year!