Simple Spring Cleaning Tip

Can you tell that I have Spring on the brain? I think the cold/chilly weather is getting to me! LOL! I have started my spring cleaning and have a tip (actually two) that have worked well for me over the years that I’d like to re-share:

Simple Spring Cleaning Tip

Image by jarmoluk (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

1. Do what you like LEAST, first. For me, it’s the windows, blinds and window curtains. Hate may be a strong word, but it expresses how I feel about doing windows! So, when I begin my spring cleaning, I start with the windows and get that chore done. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment and then I can move on to do the more enjoyable spring cleaning chores. And, in spite of the drudgery, I do love freshly clean windows. ๐Ÿ™‚

I follow this principle with my regular weekly cleaning and in other areas of my life as well. I start with the most unpleasant task – whether it be cleaning, work related or whatever it is that I am dreading – and get it over with.

2. Use a timer. This is a tip you may have heard before, or even use already yourself. When I begin a task I set a timer for how long I think a particular task should take, then when the timer goes off, I stop what I am doing and move on to the next task. I’m not rigid about this, though. If I am almost done with a task, I will either reset the timer to finish the task at hand or just continue until I’m finished without restarting the timer. Then I set the timer for the next task, etc.

Using the timer helps me stay focused, motivated and on task. I also sometimes use it to make cleaning-up a game for my son. We “race” to see how much we can get done before the timer goes off. It’s amazing how much you can get done in 20 minutes or less!

What’s your favorite spring cleaning tip?

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Tweetable: Spring Cleaning Tip

Delicious Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes Recipe

(Editor’s Note: Like I mentioned yesterday, this is a re-post.)

This simple and delicious recipe is a re-working of the recipe that that my mother-in-law gave me when Michael and I were married. It is so good, and so simple to make.

Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

sausageandpeppers

(Not the greatest picture, I know, but it gives you the idea of what it looks like.)

Ingredients:

Approx. 2 lbs Italian sausage, cut into medium sized pieces

2 green bell peppers, sliced (I often substitute red or orange bell peppers for added color/taste.)

2 onions, sliced

3-4 potatoes, peeled and quartered

2-3 granny-smith apples, peeled, cored and cut in chunks (optional)

garlic powder, oregano and basil to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the sausage, peppers, onions and potatoes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle to taste with the seasonings. Bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally so sausage browns on all sides.

If desired, toss in the cut-up apples 20-30 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time. (The apples add a bit of sweetness to the dish, so I almost always add them.) ***You want the apples to be heated through and soft, but have some texture, so don’t put them in too early or they will disintegrate. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way!)

My family loves this recipe! With some crusty bread and/or salad, you have a complete and filling meal. My son devours this whenever I make and, as a matter of fact, will request it if I don’t make it for a while!

(Linked to WFMW, Recipe Roundtable and Recipe Swap)

(P.S. Because there are only three of us, I usually cut the recipe in half, unless I want leftovers. The picture shows the halved recipe.)

Other recipes you might like:

Peas and Macaroni

Peanut butter play-dough

corn pone

E-Book Review and Giveaway: That Works for Me!

I have been participating in “Works for me Wednesday” for a long while now. You probably have noticed the link at the bottom of many of my posts. Even when I don’t have a tip to share, I head over to Kristen’s blog We are that Family to browse the list of tips gathered there. I *always* leave learning something new or find an idea or I’d find a new recipe to try.

So when I heard that Kristen and freelance writer Jennifer De Root were compiling the many tips linked up at Works for me Wednesday into an e-book, I was thrilled! I couldn’t wait for the book to come out because I knew it would be a great way to have easy access to all those great tips that have been shared over the last five years. (And, I was also excited to discover that a couple of my tips made its way into the e-book. How cool is that?)

My Review

The e-book did not disappoint. As a matter of fact, it’s fantastic “That Works for Me!” is a whopping, 180 page, interactive e-book chock full of “tried and true tips from Works for me Wednesday.” It is brilliantly organized into 24 categories ranging from baby, to cleaning to recipes to travel and everything in between. You can see a sample page here.

One of the great things about this e-book is that a part of the proceeds will be going to Mercy House, an organization that helps pregnant girls in Kenya, Africa.

More about “That Works for Me!”

The Giveaway

I am happy to be giving away TWO copies of the “That Works for Me!” e-book! To enter, all you have to do is leave your name and email address in the comments.

There are also lots of other ways to get extra entries, too. You can

1. “like” the “That Works For Me!” Facebook page and then leaving a comment here letting me know you have.

2. Follow @works4mebook and leave a comment here letting me know you have.

3. Sign up for blog updates here at Simple Catholic Living (on the side bar) and letting me know once you’ve clicked on the confirmation link.

4. “Like” the Simple Catholic Living Facebook Page and letting me know that you have.

5. Follow me @simple_catholic and letting me know you have.

I will be picking two winners on Tuesday afternoon, April 24th. I’ll be doing this the old-fashioned way and having my son pick the names out of a hat. ๐Ÿ™‚

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for details.)

How to Make Homemade Deodorant

I’ve wanted to make homemade deodorant a long time now. My main motivation comes from that fact that I have sensitive skin, and over the last couple of years, my pits have become particularly sensitive to regular deodorants, even those without antiperspirants. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Did you ever read the labels of your deodorant? I have tried the “all-natural” deodorants before, but they were too expensive for my taste and to be honest, they weren’t much better than the regular deodorants.

In my search for homemade deodorant, I read that baking soda works well as a deodorant, but I found it too abrasive for me. Then I found a bunch of websites who had a variation of this simple recipe:

Deodorant Ingredients

Ingredients:

How to:

The basic recipe calls for equal parts baking soda and cornstarch and a few tablespoons solid coconut oil depending on the consistency you want. I did a medium size batch.

  • I mixed 1/4 cup each of the baking soda and cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Once combined, I started mixing in the coconut oil starting with two tablespoons than adding a tablespoon at a time until it reached the consistency of regular deodorant. For me, it took 6 tablespoons of the oil to get a good consistency.
  • Then I put the mixture into a small, cleaned-out container I had found until ready to use.

This isn’t the best picture, but it gives you an idea of what the finished product looks like:

Completed Deodorant

ย To Use:

It’s very simple. Just use your fingers to apply the deodorant under your arms. Or, you can put the finished mixture in an old deodorant container and put it on as you would regular deodorant.

My experience:

I have been using the homemade deodorant for almost two weeks and love it. It has a nice, light scent from the coconut and my armpits are almost completely healed. Most importantly, it works well. I am one of those who perspire A LOT and so far the homemade deodorant has done a good job keeping the wetness out of my pits. It also has done a good job in preventing me from smelling bad, which is always a good thing! LOL! The real test, of course, will come summertime, but I really think it will do the job.

ย Notes:

  • In my research, there were some comments that the cornstarch was a problem for some people. If it is a problem for you, you may want to consider using arrowroot powder in place of the cornstarch.
  • I also read that since coconut oil has a low boiling-point, it melts easily when it gets warm. You may want to keep the coconut oil and/or deodorant in the refrigerator is the summer/warmer months. (I’ll update this when it get warm to let you know my experience.)
  • Some people commented that this homemade deodorant would stain their clothes, especially if they didn’t give the deodorant time to dry before getting dressed. I haven’t had that experience so far, but the test will come when the weather gets warm.

Is it frugal?

I think so. From what I read, a medium-sized batch should last about two months. The 16 oz jar of coconut oil $6.89 (I had free shipping). The baking soda was .89 cents, the cornstarch was .99 cents. With only using 6 tablespoons of the oil at a time, I shouldn’t have to buy more for about a year or so. Overall, we are talking about less than a dollar a batch. Not bad. ๐Ÿ™‚

Update July 11, 2012: I’m about to make my second batch of this deodorant, which means my first batch lasted four months. That’s longer than the deodorants I used to buy. At this rate, making a batch every four months, I won’t have to replace the coconut oil much longer than a year – maybe not till two years.

I also want to mention that the deodorant worked fantastic during the recent heat wave, even on the two days we had 105 degree weather!

Have you tried making homemade deodorant? What was your experience like?

(Linked to WFMW.)

 

 

Ten Great Christmas Music CDs

Last week I shared some of our favorite Christmas Movies and today I’m sharing some of our favorite Christmas music! There’s no better way to get into the spirit of Christmas than to listen to melodic hymns or dancing around the house to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

These are Special Times by Celine Dion

1. These are Special Times by Celine Dion. I’ve been a fan of Celine Dion’s music for a long time now, and this CD is definitely one of my favorites!

Noel by Josh Groban

2. Noel by Josh Groban. Oh man, Josh Groban’s voice is so beautiful and his rendition of Panis Angelicus lifts my spirit right to heaven very time.

Christmas by Michael Buble

3. Christmas by Michael Buble. This CD just came out this year and all I can say is “GO GET IT!” Or put it on your Christmas wish list. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are a lot of versions of “Ave Maria” out there and I must say that his is one of the best. I get chills listening to Michael Buble.

My Christmas by Andrea Bocelli

4. My Christmas by Andrea Bocelli. I’m not a huge fan of Andrea Bocelli but I like to listen to his music once in a while; and, his Christmas CD is just wonderous. His version of the “Our Father”, “What Child is This”, and “God Bless us Everyone” is just lovely.

O Holy Night by Jackie Evancho

5. O Holy Night by Jackie Evancho. If you enjoy this darling from “America’s Got Talent” you will love this CD. This CD only has four songs on it, but each song is so beautifully done. And if you get the DVD version there are videos of interviews of Jackie during her journey through the show.

A Holly Jolly Christmas for Kids

6. A Holly Jolly Christmas for Kids. This fun, 3-Disk collection of Christmas songs is sung for kids by kids. A great CD to to get you dancing with your little ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Very Best of Bing Crosby Christmas

7. The Very Best of Bing Crosby Christmas. You KNEW a list of Christmas music wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Bing Crosby, right?! There are a few Bing Crosby Christmas albums out so pick any of them and enjoy. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Ultimate Christmas

8. Ultimate Christmas by Various Artists. This compilation CD has all the well-known Christmas songs that are sung by artists such as Nat King Cole, Der Bingle, Elvis, and Judy Garland. And speaking of Elvis…

Christmas Peace by Elvis Presley

9. Christmas Peace by Elvis Presley. I grew up with my parents listening to Elvis all the time, so yeah, he’s on my list of favorites. Besides, tell me whose foot DOESN’T start tapping to Elvis’ “Santa Bring my Baby Back to Me”?! LOL!

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

10. Have a Jolly Holly Christmas by Burl Ives. My goodness, how can I NOT include Burl Ives? Have you heard his song “Christmas is a Birthday”? This song is sweet and meaningful and it’s worth buying the CD for this song alone.

I can’t resist one more!

The Christmas Collection by Il Divo

11. The Christmas Collection by Il Divo. Listening to this quartet gives me goosebumps so I just had to include them!

Canย  you tell I have a “thing” for men’s voices??! I do. There’s something about a man’s deep, melodic voice (when sung well) that I just love.

Now it’s your turn. Do share your favorite Christmas CDs with us!

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday and Works for me Wednesday.

(This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.)

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (September 5)

Here’s this week’s Sunday Snippets:

Sunday: The Beheading Edition of Saints and Scripture Sunday

Monday: Saint Jeanne Jugan: Champion of the Aged

Tuesday: 10 Random Things I want to Learn Before I Die

Works for Me Wednesday’sย  monthly theme:ย  Back to School Tips

Thursday: September Stands for Sorrow

Fearless Friday: Prayer for Those Trying to Conceive

Hope you all have a wonderful and productive week! God bless!

The Discipline Jar

For a long while we were having some major discipline problems with Andrew. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it (don’t we all!) which would result in some terrible fits and tantrums. We tried everything: time-outs, taking away privileges and or toys, even yelling. It was making all of us miserable and we were at our wit’s end.

I know a lot of people do reward charts, but I didn’t think that would work with Andrew. He is very physical and visual and I didn’t think it would be an incentive enough, even with the possibility of an award. As I was thinking and praying about this, I decided to try doing an “rewards jar” or “discipline jar.” I talked to Michael about it and we both figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

First, we went to the dollar store and picked up a jar (actually, all we could find was a plastic vase) and some decorative stones (Andrew loves rocks, so we went with the stones but you could use marbles or anything small).

stones

We let Andrew decorate the jar. He wanted to be able to see the stones so he only used a few stickers, and a picture of himself when he was a baby. Then we used a crayon to write his name.

Andrew Jar

Also, I typed up some house rules, a chore chart and a behavior chart. On the chore chart and behavior charts, I assigned a points system. I printed out the charts and taped them to the wall at Andrew’s eye level.

This is how it works: Each time Andrew cheerfully does his chores or behaves appropriately, he would earn stones that he can put in his jar. When he accumulated a certain amount of stones he can exchange them for a special treat. For example, every time he brushes his teeth he gets two stones or every time he does his school work or obeys mama and daddy the first time he gets 5 stones. The stone value depends on the difficulty and/or “unpleasantness” of the task. We also throw in a few extra stones in here or there when he’s been exceptionally good which is helping him stay motivated. ๐Ÿ˜‰

It has been three weeks now and we are so happy how well this is working! He often looks for ways to be good and earn stones. We have been heaping on tons of excitement and praise when he earns stones, which has been making him want to earn more!

Of course he still “has his moments” and there have been days whenย  his behavior was so naughty he lost most or all his stones, but overall, he is like a new little boy! ๐Ÿ™‚ And believe me, a happy, well-behaved child (for the most part!) works for me!

For the record, we make it very easy to earn a lot of stones quickly and we make it very easy to earn rewards. This way he can visually see his stones build up and he gets a special reward a couple days a week. As a matter of fact, I would say that on an average day, with minimal misbehavior, he can earn about 20 stones just for doing his daily tasks. On his exceptionally good days he has earned up to 40 or more! To balance that out, he needs at least 35 stones before he can start trading them in for points.

Now it’s your turn. What tricks or tips do you have for getting your kids to do their chores or behave as they should?!

WFMW: Recipe Edition (Corn Pone!)

What is corn pone, you ask? It is a delicious hybrid of corn bread and corn pudding! I was given this recipe several years ago in Ohio by my friend Rita, who was staying with us while going to graduate school.

This tastes just as good at room temperature as it does straight out of the oven, so it is perfect for taking to picnics or barbecues. The corn pone is usually a big hit when I serve it, so I think you’ll really like it!ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a picture of this tasty dish:

corn pone

Recipe: Corn Pone

Ingredients

  • 1 Can whole kernel corn (with juice)
  • 1 Can creamed corn
  • 2 Eggs
  • 8oz Sour cream
  • 1 Stick melted butter
  • 1 Box corn muffin mix (Jiffy brand size)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray 9×13 pan with non-stick spray.
  3. In medium bowl, combine together first 5 ingredients.
  4. Mix in the corn muffin mix.
  5. Pour mixture into pan and bake about 30 minutes or until center stops shaking.

Quick Notes

You don’t want the corn pone to be too “done” like corn bread or too “wet” like corn pudding; so, check after 25 minutes or so. The center should be gently solid and the top golden.

Variations

According to Rita, you can use fresh corn for this recipe if you want. Just cut the corn off four large ears of corn and omit the creamed corn. Follow the rest of the recipe as is. (I’ve actually never tried it with the fresh corn myself, though.)

Enjoy!

(BTW: Did you can get a free recipe book from Jiffy here. You can get the corn muffin mix – and many of their other mixes – for under a dollar and the recipes I’ve tried so far have been easy to make and rather tasty.)

This post is linked at WFMW, Recipe Swap and Recipe Roundtable.

Other Recipes you might like:

Peas and Macaroni

Sausage, Peppers and Potatoes

Peanut butter play-dough

Homemade Window Cleaner

works for me wednesday at we are that family

A long time ago, I found the following homemade Windexยฎ recipe on a blog that is now defunct. It works very well andย  more frugal than paying full price for the original! Not only that, it also makes the house smell so good with the essential oil added. ๐Ÿ™‚

Homemade Window Cleaner

1 Spray Bottle
Rubbing Alcohol
Water
Essential oil, such as Eucalyptus or Rosemary oil

Fill the spray bottle half full with water and half full of the rubbing alcohol. Add 10-12 drops of the essential oil of your choice. Mix gently.ย  Now you can clean your mirrors and windows per usual!

And that’s it for this week’s Works for me Wednesday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

WFMW – Mom, I’m bored! Edition

works for me Wednesday

This week on Works For Me Wednesday, we are encouraged to offer tips and ideas for keeping our kids occupied and happy during the summer. I can’t wait to read what others have to say; but, in the meantime, here’s a few of the things I am going to do:

In my situation, Iย  home-school and also work from home; so, for me, except for the heat, there won’t be a huge difference in what I do – with some exceptions, of course! In my experience, a balance between structured time and free time works best; as does a lot of flexibility!

1. Modified Homeschooling. Andrew is learning to read and loves doing “math.” I don’t want to lose that momentum, so I plan to continue homeschooling at least three days a week. What I will probably do is alternate reading one day and math the next. I’ve also been tapping America: The Story of Us and a few shows on the Discovery Channel for him to watch once in a while.

If you don’t home-school, it might be a good idea to set apart some time each day for the children to read or practice their math skills. If I’m not mistaken, some schools now send kids home with work to do over the summer. If so, schedule time each day for them to work on it so they aren’t trying to do it all right before school starts.

2. Day trips. Obviously, the summer is the time to get outside! You can do something as simple as a day or afternoon at the park or something as extravagant as a trip to an amusement park or zoo. Day trips don’t have to be expensive either. You can often find coupons or deals online and even free ideas, like here.

3. Crafts: I plan to spend time several times a week on crafts/activities. You can find lots of craft ideas online, but I love the book “365 Ways to a Smarter Preschooler.” Andrew has a lot of fun doing the activities in this book and can stay engaged for a long while, once he’s set up. This is were I got the peanut butter play dough recipe from, that Andrew just loves!

4. Quiet Time. I am a big proponent of quiet time. Even if your child doesn’t nap, it’s a good idea to implement a rest period. Heat and humidity can wear on everyone’s nerves, and when the kids get cranky, it can wear down the best of moms!

The best time for naps would be in the early afternoon when the sun is at its most strong. It would be a good idea to do the outdoor activities earlier in the morning or later in the day. Of course, do what works best for you!

5. Don’t forget free time! Part of the fun of summer is the freedom to NOT be scheduled, so don’t forget to plan time just to “be”! Summer is the time to lay in the grass and watch the clouds go by, get an ice cream cone and catch some fireflies. In a word, take time to just enjoy your family, let kids be kids and HAVE FUN!