Thursday, January 29, 2009

Declutter Your Home

How do you feel in your home? Relaxed, in control and surrounded by things you love and that reflects who you are? If not, your home is probably being over taken with clutter.

Clutter is things no longer used, things that remind you of a difficult time in your life, or things you liked at one time but your taste or styles have changed. It may be something you paid too much for and feel parting with it would be sinful. Remember the sin was probably in purchasing costly array and not in getting rid of it. Clutter is broken small appliances, piles of unopened junk mail or old newspapers. It’s hundreds of plastic containers saved from sour cream or cool whip that might be useful one day, cans of dried up paint, or little bits of lotions.

If you aren’t someone who enjoys clutter you will immediately feel better when you start cleaning things out. The cluttery type may feel guilty for wasting money by throwing things away or like she shouldn’t get rid of presents or baby clothes. Some people are often scared that the minute they part with something they will need it. Consequently they hold onto junk. Often these feelings stem from your upbringing. Hoarding or being a packrat is a common problem in many families. My grandmother use to save bread bags and meat trays!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and simply do nothing about clutter. Following are some helpful tips to get you started.

1. Start today
Procrastination is the major obstacle to decluttering.

2. Work a small area at a time
If you decide to sort out your messy kitchen drawer set a timer for 10 minutes. First completely empty the drawer and wipe it out. As you pick up each item ask yourself why I am keeping this. Why do you need four sets of measuring spoons? If you feel energized after cleaning out the drawer keep going. Remember; always work on one room at a time. If you have more clutter than can be accomplished at one time set aside a little bit of time every day until the mission is accomplished.

3. Parting with old stuff
Once you have decided to get rid of things, it’s important to get them out of the house as soon as possible to avoid dragging it back out. Unwanted items can be given to charity, other people or recycled.

4. Parting with sentimental items
It’s okay to be sentimental but be selective and not keep everything. Choose a box in which to keep sentimental items. Keep a few cherished baby clothes and give the rest to someone who will actually use them. Sort pictures placing each child’s in a separate box.

5. Broken things
Give yourself a deadline for broken items to be fixed or discarded

6. Presents
Remember it is your home. If you do not like something dump the guilt and get rid of it.

7. Paper
Deal with junk mail and newspapers immediately.

8. Worry
Have you ever bought something new but refused to get rid of what you were replacing? Ever thought what if the new one breaks perhaps I will keep the old one. A useful tip is “new one in, old one out”.

9. Storage
Once you have decluttered and decided what to keep, decide how you will properly store things. To maintain a clutter free home it is essential for everything to have its place where it can be easily retrieved. Store like things together. We use 20% of our possessions 80% of the time. Put this 20% in the most accessible places. Treat yourself to adequate storage items such as filing cabinets, ‘real’ storage containers, hampers, and baskets.

10. Benefits
A more relaxing orderly home will actually save time each day. You will know exactly where to find things. An orderly home will save you money. You will know what you need and what you have. Remember when shopping a bargain isn’t a bargain if it becomes clutter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Easy Shrimp Recipes

Tropical Broiled Shrimp

2 pounds shrimp
1/2 cup margarine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Jamaican Choice Tropical or Pickapeppa sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash, peel and devein shrimp. Melt margarine in saucepan. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, red pepper and salt. Let simmer 5 or 10 minutes. Pour over raw shrimp in 9x12x2-inch baking pan. Place on next to lowest rack in oven. Broil 20 minutes, turning shrimp every 5 minutes. Serve shrimp in gravy with plenty of hot French bread for "dunking."

Sizzling Shrimp

1 1/2 lbs large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place peeled shrimp in a 9 inch ovenproof baking dish or pie pan. Tuck slices of garlic in among the shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper flakes. Drizzle oil evenly over the top. Bake shrimp in oven for 10-12 minutes stirring once or twice. Shrimp shouldbe pink and oil will be bubbling.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spiced Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal & Overnight Baked Blueberry French Toast

Several years ago we went to the Amish Country in Pennsylvania. The quaint bed and breakfast we stayed in served baked oatmeal one morning for breakfast. I was very skeptical as it was set before me but it was truly delicious. Several times I have wanted the oatmeal. This morning I searched for a recipe that sounds similar. While searching I found a yummy blueberry french toast recipe. Both of these sound really good and easy to serve.

Spiced Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal

½ c chopped walnuts
½ packed brown sugar
1 cup rolled oats (not instant oats)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
¼ c (1/2 stick) butter, melted
½ tsp nutmeg
2 tsps cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
1 cup of apple juice

Preheat oven 325. Coat a 9x9 baking pan w/nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine walnuts, brown sugar, oats, apple, melted butter, nutmeg, cinnamon & cloves. Mix well. Sprinkle the mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour the apple juice over the entire mixture. Do not stir. Bake for 45 min. or until bubbly around the edges

Overnight Baked Blueberry French Toast

1 loaf Italian bread
1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
½ c. milk 1 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp baking powder
1 Tblsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups blueberries

Slice the bread on the diagonal to create 8 ¾ in thick slices, heels removed. Arrange bread slices in 10x15 baking dish.Whip eggs, milk, baking powder, & vanilla in medium bowl. Slowly pour mixture over bread, turning each slice to coat completely. Cover & refrigerate overnight.In the morning: Preheat oven to 425. Coat another 10x15 baking dish with vegetable spray. Sprinkle blueberries over bottom of pan. Mix together sugar, cinnamon & cornstarch and pour evenly over blueberries. Tightly wedge the bread slices over the blueberries, wettest side up. Brush the bread with melted butter.Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.To serve: Place the toast berry side down. Stir the remaining berry mixture in the baking dish and scoop over the toast. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kids Can Be Great Hosts

It is so important for our children to be gracious hosts. We can give them a lifetime gift, if we encourage them and teach them to communicate with their guests in a gracious, hospitable manner now. Kids can be taught to be gracious hosts, and treating guests and friends in a warm and generous way will become second nature to them.

All right, I admit it -- even though I write about being a gracious host, my own kids have had moments that have made me cringe! However, these times just made me more determined that they would be gracious and learn to be a good host or hostess. Still Redonia knows if we have more persons than the dining room can accomodate she must be host to what is normally the younger children in the breakfast room. Often she has questioned when will she ever grow up and be allowed to sit in the dining room. She knows it does not have anything to do with her growing up rather a hostess is needed in both rooms.

Teach your children that if they get a drink and guests are present to offer the guests a drink. In fact, if the host child has friends over they should be attentive to all the friend's needs. When my children were younger I would have my children show their friends where the bathroom is, if the guests were over night guests it was my children's responsibility to show the guests where the bath towels, etc was kept. Children should be taught to be friendly and not selfish when guests are present. Children should be taught to prepare for guests arrival, too. They should be taught that a clean home is an inviting welcoming home.

I think it is most important that children be taught to be hospitable. It is much easier to learn to set the table, be conisderate, open a door with a smile, or use proper phone manners when a child is young. I have had many young adults express frustration to me because they didn't learn these simple things when they were younger. Though it is important to these young adults now it is difficult to remember simple social graces not taught at a young age.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ways to Show I Care

Of late I have endeavored to be mindful of letting others know I care about them. In fact tonight Kent and my dinner discussion was centered around how important it is for people to feel cared for. I think the little ways are so many times the ones that matter most to people.

Sanguine people come quite natural with the warm fuzzies of life. However, I am really quite a long way from being sanguine. I wont tell you my personality type but I'm pretty sure many of you know I am not sanguine. I enjoy sanguines they are usually the life of the party. My sister, Vicki, is sanguine and I have lots of sanguine friends. They can cry the most tears, laugh the hardest, tell the biggest tale, and keep the biggest crowd around them. They are quite interesting to engage in conversation. Well, usually they engage me in conversation since they enjoy talking more.

Though I am an avid blogger I can hide behind this monitor rather than 'talk'! Writing comes a little easier for me. Regardless, I really do deeply care for people and I want to make sure I show it. I have been searching for creative ways to express myself. I also realize what is appealing to some may not be appealing to others so I need to expand my ways of showing I care. Following are some ways to show concern for others:

Notice them
Smile at them
Encourage them
Look them in the eye when Italk to them
Check on them when they are sick
Ask them about themselves
Allow them to be themselves
Let them tell me how they feel
Listen to them
Call them on the phone just to say hi
Answer their questions
Ask them their opinions
Give them my undivided attention
Believe in them
Tell them what I like or enjoy about them
Delight in their success
Tolerate their mistakes
Show up at their special events
Express how I enjoy being with them
Tell them about me
Help them take a stand and stand with them
Ask them to help me with something
Send them a letter, postcard, email, or text
Introduce them to my friends and family
Make time to be with them
Be excited when I see them
Remember their birthdays
Believe in them
Meet their friends and family
Include them in conversations
Laugh at their jokes
Do things together
Respect them
Find a common interest
Share a meal together
Spend time with them
Ask for their input in things I am planning
Share with them my plans
Help them learn something new
Be honest with them
Encourage them to help others
Love them when they make mistakes
Always be kind to them

While normally posts on this site are directed towards being kind and considerate in the confines of my home and yours, I realize if I am kind and considerate toward my family and friends inside my home I will also be kind and considerate outside my home. This year I will be more careful to exhibit care and concern for others. I will not allow my personality type, circumstances, conflicts, nor work load prohibit me from doing what I know is important to me and God.

Friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers know I CARE. I want to express my care this year in many ways. I pray not only my love will flow but also the LOVE of Christ which is a most perfect love. I will not make excuses nor allow anything to separate me from His love. Therefore, when I am connected to His Love so shall everyone feel it from me.

Blessings for a weekend with those you love.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Very Rich Hot Chocolate Mix & Pecan Muffins

Since most of the nation is experiencing cold I thought I would share a couple of delicious cold weather receipes...

The hot chocolate mix is a great receipe to use for gifting. Who said gifting should only take place at Christmas? Make a batch and take some to your coworkers, neighbors, child's teacher, or send with your spouse to his coworkers. Of course this can keep in a canister or sealed container and used at home. The muffins are delicious, too! Cinnamon and pecans pair great together. The muffins and hot chocolate can be a great breafast to warm you up or even a nice after dinner treat.


8 cups dry milk
1 pound instant chocolate drink, like Swiss Miss or Nestle's Quick
1 cup Dry Cremora or Coffeemate
4 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar

Mix the ingredients and put them into a plastic container or double plastic bag. Label the mix "Rich Hot Chocolate. Add 1/3 cup mix per ¾ cup of boiling water." Makes 24 cups

Pecan Muffins

1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 eggs (beaten)

Sift dry ingredients together and stir in chopped nuts. Mix all liquids (including shortening and eggs). Combine quickly with dry ingredients with little stirring. Bake in muffin tins in a 425 degree oven about 15 minutes.

YIELD: 10 to 12

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cleaning Schedule & Tips

Always start with the sink. Keep it empty and shining. A sparkling sink becomes your kitchen's benchmark for hygiene and tidiness, inspiring you to load the dishwasher immediately and keep counter, refrigerator doors, and the stovetop spick-and-span, too.

Every Day

  • Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher
  • Wipe down the stove top
  • Wipe down the counters
  • Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor

Every Week

  • Mop the floor
  • Wipe the cabinets, backsplashes, and appliances
  • Wipe the switch plates and phone
  • Wipe the inside of the garbage can

Every Season

  • Empty and scrub down the inside of the refrigerator
  • Empty and clean the insides of the utensil drawers
  • Scrub down the cupboard exteriors
  • Clean the stove-hood filter

Make cleaning the basin as routine as washing your hands. But don't stop there. Get the most out of your premoistened wipe by using it to clean around the edges of the tub and then the toilet before tossing it.

Every Day

  • Wipe out the sink
  • Wipe the toilet seat and rim
  • Swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush
  • Wipe the mirror and faucet
  • Squeegee the shower door
  • Spray the entire shower and the curtain liner with shower mist after every use

Every Week

  • Scrub the tub
  • Scrub the tiles
  • Mop the floor
  • Wipe the switch plates, doorknobs, and doorjambs
  • Empty and wipe out the wastebasket
  • Wash the rugs

Every Season

  • Take down the shower curtain, then launder it according to the care instructions.
  • Empty, weed, and clean the medicine cabinet
  • Clean baseboards

Make your bed right before or after your morning shower. A neat bed will inspire you to deal with other messes immediately. Although smoothing sheets and plumping pillows might not seen like a high priority as you're rushing to work, the payoff comes at the end of the day, when you slip back under the unruffled covers.

Every Day

  • Make the bed
  • Fold or hang clothing
  • Straighten out the night-table

Every Week

  • Change the sheets
  • Dust all surfaces — including electronics, books, picture frames, windowsills and ledges, and tops of door frames — and remove all cobwebs
  • Dust or mop the floors or vacuum the carpeting
  • Throw out old magazines
  • Wipe the switch plates, doorknobs, and doorjambs
  • Wipe and disinfect the telephone
  • Empty the wastebasket
  • Vacuum the heating and air-conditioning vents and the inside of the closet

Every Season

  • Wash the insides of the windows
  • Strip the bed and flip the mattress
  • Launder the mattress pad and dust ruffle

Family room,living room & foyer
Start with the sofa as long as it's in disarray, your living room will never look tidy. Once you've fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you're halfway home. If you pop in a CD while you dust, you should be able cover the whole room by the end of the third track.

Every Day

  • Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies with a handheld vacuum
  • Fluff the cushions and fold throws after use
  • Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cabinets when you see fingerprints
  • Straighten coffee-table books

Every Week

  • Dust all surfaces including picture frames, windowsills and ledges. Be sure to remove all cobwebs
  • Dust or mop the floors or vacuum the carpeting
  • Wipe the switch plates, doorknobs, and doorjambs

Every Season

  • Wash the inside of the windows
  • Vacuum the sofas
  • Dust the arrangements
  • Wipe the baseboards
  • Clean under the furniture including inside the sofa and chairs

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Stressed Hospitality is Entertaining

Often a trap we fall into is entertaining rather than being hospitable. A challenge for myself is to be hospitable. I can accomplish this goal by remembering 11889 Elizabeth Ridge is not mine. It is truly a gift from God. I am His servant and I must use my home as He desires. Another valuable thought is hospitality does not try to impress but rather serves.

It is my goal to serve this year utilizing every talent, resource, and ability I possess or acquire.

Blessings for a servant's spirit in your abode.....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Sequel to "Keep the Home Lookin' Warm": Keep the Heart Warm

I am certain most ladies want and even plan to have clean, orderly, nice homes. Some ladies refuse to try because they feel what they have is not nice or adequate. What a shame! Clean, order or even nice has nothing to do with the price tag or newness of the home or its contents.

Additionally, it has been my observation that regardless to the organizational structure displayed in a home it may still be perceived as a mess by guests or more importantly its residents. The first step to a nice home is having a 'nice' homemaker. The spirit of the homemaker speaks much louder than the order, cleanliness or decor of a home. A happy heart creates a happy home.

While I can not exist in a disorganized dirty home I can not exist in my home when my spirit is dirty, cluttered, or unsubmitted. I have been in homes that appeared beautiful yet my first impressions were not that of a beautiful home. In fact I felt I was in a dirty place. It would not be until I searched for the smell, the dust, or the clutter that I reazlied the home may be free of these elements.

My goals for 2009 will include issues of the home. We must realize that the goals of the other residents will not be adequately satisfied if they live in a cluttered environment. Please know I am referring to the clutter of a heart rather than that of the home.

May we realize we must maintain our heart in order to maintain our homes....

Blessings in 2009 for a warm heart which WILL produce a warm home.....