Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Caffeine Free

I know!  Can you believe it?  And stick with me, because this is actually going somewhere.

But caffeine free? I think I actually heard several friends that know me well gasp in surprise!  That is because if they have known me for long they know I usually have a diet coke in my hands.  The only reason it was diet was because I had gestational diabetes with my third pregnancy and was scared into switching to diet.

Not the best trade off, but it worked for me.

I am not a juice drinker.  I am not a coffee drinker.  And no, even though I am from the south, I am not a tea drinker.  That leaves, you guessed it, WATER!

And while water is really good for you, really it is, in my opinion it gets boring.

So diet cokes became my staple.  I won't even share how many I could consume in one day.  It became a habit and a crutch.  But with the hounding of a daughter and the encouragement of a few friends, I have been on a quest to cut the diet cokes from my life.

And actually not really because of the caffeine, but all the artificial sweeteners and such in them.

Here is what I found-
  • I do not think the caffeine was my addiction, I think the carbonation was.  Last time around (yes I have been down this path before) I had really bad headaches from withdrawal.  This time, not so much.  I did wean myself rather slowly which might have helped.  

  • Not all "natural" drinks out there are created equally.  Some just plain taste bad.  Like really bad!  I have now found one that has old fashioned sugar as a sweetener, and I limit myself to one a day.  Unfortunately it also has dyes in it (so much for natural) so those too will be out soon.  I can only tackle one thing at a time.
  •  Water is still boring.  But I am learning to deal with that, because I drink a lot of it.  If I keep a water bottle in my hands I tend to drink more, not want to reach for a canned drink, and HOPEFULLY will drop a few pounds.  We will see. 

  • I really do want to be more healthy, but I have zero will power.  Zero.  I can get on a trend and stick with it for a good while, but if something throws me off, I am done.  Like, I had been on the treadmill 5 days a week since July when I got horribly sick with pneumonia and bronchitis right before Christmas.  I was in bed for a week and coughed for over 2 months.  True story!  Getting my rear end back on that treadmill has been like pulling teeth.  I am finally back to 3 days a week, but I am still not having fun.

  • I need motivation!  And I am thankful for the friends who know that!  Guilt works for me.  So do words of affirmation! (No surprise there, right?)  And occasionally I cheer myself on just for good measure! ;)
So why ramble on and blog about something so silly?  Because we all have our "thing."  OK, we have LOTS of things, but the point is we all have things in our lives we struggle with.  Some serious, and some not so serious.

Overeating.  Addictions.  Depression.  Hard marriages.  Hurting children.  Disease.  Loneliness.  Over spending.  Money problems.

The key is ALL.  As in everyone you know.  Even bloggers who seem to have it all together (not that you thought I did).

Don't be fooled.  No one has it all together. No one.

You are NOT alone in your struggles- whether small, seemingly insignificant ones, or the really big ones that threaten to overcome you.

 Reach out to others, and reach up to God! And if you need a friend, you have one here!


Monday, February 20, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat- Week 7: The Dining Room

 OK, I am going to just jump in feet first and say it- I am so excited about this week's challenge.  Why, you ask? One, we are DONE with the kitchen.  And two, because I do not currently have a dining room.  We have had many in the past but short of being just another place to hold extra stuff, they are not a good fit for our family so I am ok with our lack of one.  Dining rooms tend to be areas that only get used a few times a year and otherwise go unnoticed.  Or get turned into a school room, but that's another post!

BUT, lest you think I got out of this week's challenge entirely, let me put your mind to rest.

I may not have a formal dining room in this house but I do have two additional storage areas- one that "should" be housed in a dining room-type space and one that happens to be a good place to hold the overflows that usually end up in our dining room.  When one moves frequently and lives in a variety of types of homes (yep that's us), one gets a little creative and has to think outside the box.

Actually, I am not particularly good at that, but luckily I have a few friends that are. So, let me show you a few of their creative solutions to my lack of a dining room while we tackle some clutter and clean those spaces.

Your to-do list -
  •     Open up those buffets and such and declutter!  Start by taking it ALL out, purge what you do not need, and then put it back, neatly please.  We are currently using this dresser as a "hutch" because it will not fit in my daughter's bedroom.  This is actually the second house we have done this, and it has grown on me.  I will miss it when it someday goes back where it belongs

Inside it are things like placemats, tablecloths, and a few silver trays I use for entertaining.  One of the deep drawers is also the perfect place to store the punch bowl.  After taking out a few things to move on to Goodwill, four of those drawers are empty!  Yay me!

ahhhh, I love empty spaces!

 The second area we keep dining room type stuff in is in our basement wet bar area, so I cleaned it up as well.  Remember, if you have things spread out in different areas, catch them all.

 A few notes, especially for those of you with formal dining rooms!

  -So here's the deal, grandma's china may be lovely but if it does not get used it is just taking up space.  If you love it and use it, keep it.  If not, give it to someone who will.  This past year I finally let go of one of our Christmas china sets.  Now I have only one, but someone somewhere is now enjoying the other set (I hope).  Win win!

 - Almost 25 years ago I thought it was a great idea to register for 12 wine glasses and 12 champagne glasses, along with 12 of a lot of other things I did not need or use.  Eventually I gave our movers a break and passed them on (you are welcome!).  Yes, they were pretty, no they were not necessary.

 -Yes, I admittedly own several sets of dishes.  (Although not Christmas ones anymore!)  I promise I often feed large groups at a time and I use them.  ;)

 -Yes, you CAN have too many tablecloths and placemats.  Ask me how I know.  I now have a few less.  Grandma's old "antique" one was lovely, but, with a few holes in it, I was not going to use it. Sensibility trumped sentimentality.  I think she would understand.
 -If you entertain and can justify owning glass plates and a punchbowl, by all means keep them. I do.  But if not, most churches have sets like that and are usually more than happy to let you borrow theirs.  Again, make decisions that are right for you and then be happy with those decisions.
  • Now that those furniture pieces are cleaned out, time to clean them up and make them shine!  Clean top to bottom.
  • If you do have a separate dining room, pull all the furniture out from the walls and clean behind each piece, vacuuming or mopping, whichever is applicable.
  •  Now is also the time to deep clean your table and chairs.  If you have one in the kitchen, sorry, but go back and hit it, too.  Not just the top, but the legs and all.  Chairs too!  Just think about how many dirty hands touch the rungs and sides of chairs.  Ok, don't think about it- just scrub! Castille soap and water are great for this job!
  •  Other areas to clean- mini blinds (did I tell you I loathe mini blinds?), windows, curtains, chair rails, light switches, and chandeliers.  This is the time to get it all.
  •  Last area, the floor.  Just like in the kitchen, work your way around the baseboards and then on to the floor.

Remember, our goals include deep cleaning all those surfaces, de-cluttering what we don't need or simply do not use anymore, and reorganizing.  This is what can happen when you put your mind to it-

The local Goodwill store likes us these days!

Tired yet?  Trust me, this is probably not going to be a one-day job for most of you. If you do not have a dining room at all, then make that kitchen table sparkle and reward yourself with a treat.  Chocolate works great!

6 weeks of challenges down!  How are you doing?  We love seeing all of your pictures each week and are amazed at all of the people still in the running for our prize giveaway at the end of our series.   A BIG thank you to 621 Gifts and Redeemed for supplying such great treats!!!

Wanna see another one of my favorite signs from Redeemed?

Beautiful, huh?

So... another week of cleaning and we are on our way to taking our homes back one week at a time!  Glad you are with us!

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Are You Known For?

For some reason the word and theme of Gentleness has come up in my world several times these past two weeks.  Several!  I have learned that when things keep repeating themselves, it is a clue to pay attention.  I often times think it is how God speaks to us.

Forgive me for sounding judgmental, but the world has been anything but gentle these past few weeks.  The recent presidential election threw everyone into a panic and instantly changed even sweet, older ladies into hardened opponents.  It has been ugly folks!  And those are just the Christians.  Let's not even talk about the rioters and those spewing hate from one side of the country to the other.  

Through it all, all I could think of was, what is wrong with everyone?  Where have they put their brains?  Do we really need to attack people, literally in many cases, because they do not agree with us or believe in what we believe?

Oh my goodness.

Where has our gentleness gone?

After all, we ARE called to gentleness. 

 Just look at what the Bible has to say about it-

Philippians 4:5 (NIV)
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

 Galatians 5: 22-24(ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Regardless of how we feel or even what we think, as Christians we are called to be Christ-like.  To display the characteristics that He displayed.  To be gentle.  

I am not saying we have to lay down our beliefs and convictions, but I do firmly believe that we can and should share with others in gentleness.  No one ever won someone over with yelling and throwing a fit.  (Just ask any mother!)  Gentle words are more likely to be heard than any rant ever was. (Just ask any kid!)

So what, my friend, are you know for?

For your rants.
For your harsh words.
For your tantrums.
For your judgmental attitude.

Or for your patience.
And kind words.
And reasonable tolerance.

I don't know about you, dear friends, but I want people to know me by my gentleness.  To see God reflected in me. And to be drawn to me because of that.  It is something I am working on.

How about you?  What are you known for?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Little More Love

One last "spreading the love Wednesday" for you!

We have had fun the past two Wednesdays giving away Bibles, first one for children and this morning, one for families to Sarah M.

Our last giveaway- this one is for you ladies! This hardback journaling Bible is beautiful!

The single columns allow for space for notetaking or fancy journaling.

 Can't wait to share it with one of you!

But ladies, let's not let the love stop here.  Let's aim to spread love throughout the year and not just save it for February.  The world could use a little more love and a little less hate!

Leave me a comment to be entered to win and don't forget to let me know how to reach you if you win.  We will choose a random winner next Wednesday.


Monday, February 13, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat- Week 6 The Dreaded Stove and Loose Ends

OK friends, with your recipes done we are ready to embark on our final push for the kitchen.  After this we will really only spend one week in each "area" of our house so be ready for some serious digging in!

But this week- we should have called this "the week that almost did not happen!"  Seriously!

The first time we tackled 34 Weeks of Clean my friend, Cristi, from Through the Calm and Through the Storm reminded me of Kitchen Countertops!  I personally did that when we did the cabinets, but failed to mention it to you. SOOOOOOOOO, if you have not tackled that area yet, today is the day.  Clear them off, clean them up, and see if you can keep them clear!  Now THAT is the challenge.  In our family we each have a water bottle that we drink out of, a different color for each person.  Because I got weary of them being all over the house, I gave in and put a basket on our kitchen counter for the water bottles to be held.  Somehow they make it close, but seem to not make it in. Let's just say we are still in training!

I challenge you to only put half of what you take off those counter tops back- it might seem stark at first but you will be surprised at how much neater it will look and how much more prep space you will have.  Out with the clutter, my friends!

And the loose ends- are you ready?

The Stove/Oven and Microwave, tops of cabinets, windows, blinds, and light fixtures.  Hang in there - I promise this is the end of this room!  The good news is that after this deep cleaning we should only need a light weekly maintenance to keep it sparkling.  At least that is my story and to keep you as friends I am sticking to it.

So our final push-

  • Clear/clean off any counter top space you have!  Get rid of the piles you have sitting there (I KNOW I can't be the only one) and resolve to not let them creep back up on you by next week, or tomorrow!  See, the water bottles CAN be contained! ;)
  • Microwave- Clean it!  Inside and out!! This is a good job for teens, just saying! ;)
  •  Stove/Oven- This is a good job for a maid, but since I cannot convince my hubby I need one, I guess I am the one tackling this one.  Yay for automatic oven cleaners, yuck for the burnt smell no matter what.  I admire you who can keep the bottom of your oven clean.  I am not one of those people (obviously). I have tried. I have failed.  Crack your door or window if you can to get rid of the smell!
I do love a gas stove, but I do not love this one!  Too many spaces for crumbs to fall through and hard to clean.

Yes, it was THAT bad.  Full disclosure and no judging, please!  My hero husband came to the rescue and did this project for me while I was gone one day. This is what I came home to-

Yes, this scared me a little!
It is now back together and looks great!

And the oven!

Just recently because of this beauty...

I ended up with this mess.  Now, my oven is never spotless, but I assure you it is not usually this bad.  And while that dessert was worth it, it did take a while to clean! 

This time around, I sprinkled it with baking soda, added white vinegar and heated the oven up!  After it cooled, I scraped off the mess and wiped it down!
It's not perfect, but it is MUCH better!

  •  Tops of cabinets.  While I do like the fun decorative space they provide, when I build my own house someday I am putting in cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling. Until then, the dust must go!  Make sure you not only take all that decorative stuff off the tops and wash off the LAYERS of dust, (anyone else?), but then also take the time to vacuum or wipe the layer of dust off the cabinets.
  • If you have blinds in your kitchen, now is the time to wash them down.  You can dust them on a regular basis, but they do occasionally need a good, deep cleaning!  I have taken ours down in the past and put them in the tub, but our current ones are wood so I just do them slat by slat.  Remind me if I ever get to build my dream home- NO BLINDS!!  Ugh, they are a pain to keep clean.  If you have curtains (smart you!), just wash them and rehang.  While you are there, wash those windows and wipe down the ledges!
  • And last but not least, wipe off any light fixtures you may have in your kitchen, replace any burned out light bulbs, and check your fire extinguishers!  If you do not have one, small but handy ones can be purchased at your local Walmart or such.  Consider that your friendly public safely announcement. You are welcome.

Wow!  We are DONE with the kitchen!  Take a step back, admire your hard work and pat yourself on the back!  Imagine me cheering yay you!  You did it!  

Let me also take a second to encourage you to keep moving forward.  We all have busy lives.  Some weeks are crazier than others.  Some times we gets lots done, other times we should just celebrate that the children got fed and bathed, right? 

Thank you again to Redeemed and 621 gifts for their gracious donation of prizes for our final drawing.  Keep sharing those pictures on our Facebook page to not only stay in the drawing, but to encourage and spur others on!  You all are AWESOME and I love the community you are creating!

Until next week - Happy cleaning and many blessings,