Celebrating One Year in the Red!

Yesterday, February 2nd was my one year anniversary for Stylin' Granny Mama. Whoo, hoo. I have come a long way from when I started out. I decided to celebrate today, Friday to coincide with National Wear Red Day. This day was set apart to raise awareness that heart disease and related illnesses such as stroke, are the number one killer of women. Here is a short article by the American Heart Association, Behind National Wear Red Day

Pixabay

Pixabay

I have learned so much over the last year and there are a few special souls I would like to thank. First of all my daughters Rebecca and Rachel. Rebecca was the driving force behind my starting this blog and my photographer. She is the one who manages the design of my blog. She also helped my husband pick out a nice camera and is attempting to teach me things about taking pictures. Rachel is my make up guru. She became interested in make up when she was a teenager. She was a key component in a once local photographer's senior session themed shoots. She did a beautiful job making pretty high school gals look like glamorous models. Even though she only does make up as a side business now, she keeps current on all sorts of make up and knows how to make a person look amazing. You can check out both of these talented girls at their sites: Rebecca Trumbull Photography and Rachel Christensen Instagram. 

There are many other people I could thank too, My husband Mark, for bearing with me for all the hours I spend on the computer. My extended family for all their kind words and support. And It wouldn't be a blog without my subscribers and viewers. I also want to give a shout out to all the other beautiful bloggers that have been a source of encouragement and inspiration over the year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today, I thought I would post an outfit in honor of my 1 year anniversary and in honor of National Wear Red Day.

SGM 1 year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

I'm hanging out at home this morning, but I am also meeting a friend for lunch, so I opted for warm and casual. I started with my red and navy plaid shirt and my Rock and Republic jeans. 

SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day

I added a navy fringe necklace, red faux leather jacket and my new SO lace up ankle boots from Kohl's. For this look I left the shirt hang out to create a more casual look. 

SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day

Another possible way to style this look is to do a half tuck on the shirt and cuff the pants.

SGM 1 year - Nat'l Wear Red Day
SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day
SGM 1 Year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

Here is a close up of the boots. I really like the gold rivets and the taupe color of this recent purchase. 

SGM 1 Year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

Now I am thinking about the future. As women, who are more susceptible to heart disease and stroke, we definitely need to be thinking about what we can do now, to take care of our heart and arteries. Exercise, eating better and reducing stress are all areas in my life that need some tweaking. How about you? Is there a history of heart disease or stroke in your family? What actions are you taking now, to give your heart a better chance? 

I am also thinking about the future of my blog. A blog's life depends on subscribers and views. If you want to make a living at blogging then you also need to investigate how to transform your blog into a business. For now, I want to continue to work on the content of my blog. I am still developing as a writer and as a women who knows and understands clothing, fabrics and accessories and how they can be combined to make us look and feel beautiful. Networking and collaborations are also a big part of getting a blog out there. This month I will be doing my first collaboration with another wonderful blogger, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. 

My heart of hearts is in the written word. I love to write. I love to imagine. I love to inform. I am hoping with my blog this year to write posts that not only look pretty, but give my readers something to chew on, whether it be about faith or about fashion. 

I hope that those of you who subscribe will continue to support my efforts and if you know someone who might benefit from Stylin' Granny Mama's wisdom or wit, that you will pass along the link. 

Thanks again and have a great weekend! 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Travel Log - Post 4

After five nights of camping under breezy, tropical, star-filled skies we packed up our tent and gear and headed north. We made a few of our favorite stops along the way. 

Frenchy's Salt Water Cafe is one of our favorite places to visit when we are in the Clearwater area. This "burger" is a deep fried filet of grouper and there is nothing quite like it! This is not the sandwich you want to eat if you are on a diet. Ha, ha. My hubby had to order deep fried oysters as well.

grouper burger

Instead of exploring the shops of Clearwater Beach, we moved further up Route 19 to Tarpon Springs. This little town has the flavor of a true fishing village. These fishing docks specialize in harvesting sponges. They even have a museum with a movie that gives information on how the sponge industry got started. We stopped in a few of the shops, where I bought a few gifts for family members then we got dessert at one of the Greek bakeries. Yummy!

This was my casual outfit for the day. I love the lose and comfy feel of the boyfriend jeans. I topped the jeans with a navy and white striped top. The tank top stripes go horizontal across the chest and vertical from the waist down. It's a fun look and even though the bottom flares out it still looks slimming because of the stripe direction in the right places. I wore my white fly away cardi when in the air conditioning.  Also, it helped to cover up my nasty, bright red bite marks. You can see them somewhat on my legs and lower arms. 

Here you can see the top a little better. I added some navy accessories and navy Keds for comfort while we were walking through the shops in Tarpon Springs.

Hopefully, now that we are no longer camping with the bugs, my bites will start to heal and my body will no longer be polka dotted. I love polka dots, but not on my skin! 

Have a great day.

Click on the links to see my travels from the start:

Travel Log - Post 1, Travel Log - Post 2, Travel Log - Post 3

Travel Log - Post 1

I thought I would change things up a bit, here on the fluff page and talk about travel. The hubs and I love to travel and even though we haven't had unlimited resources over the years we have been as far west as San Diego, CA; out east to NYC; down south to N. Carolina, S. Carolina and Florida and across the "big pond" to England. We are already talking about going back to explore Scotland!

Traffic can become a real problem if you drive for travel. Yesterday we were stuck in a traffic jam! It took us one hour and fifteen minutes to go four miles! Ugg. I was ready to jump out of the car and start doing laps, to try to get my steps in! But I was driving at the time, so I don't think that would have worked. While we were driving we were going past a construction zone. I don't know if you have noticed, but some of those orange barrels have lost weight. 

We affectionately call construction around Toledo, "orange barrel season"! You know there is fall, winter, spring and "orange barrel season". These things I was looking at yesterday were not barrels, they were more like stalagmites! Yes that's right! Stalagmites! Those things in caves that sort of look like cones that grow up from the floor. Except these were orange and white stripes. I'd say they'd be stylin' if they were black and white stripes or navy and white stripes, but no! The highway companies did not ask me what colors to make the barrels. 

Anyway, here is my travel outfit for yesterday:

traveling
travel

I wore my Rock and Republic jeans from Kohl's as they are most comfy, but still hold their shape. An eyelet peasant blouse with a hint of peach and the open weave short sleeve sweater. I also had on my leopard flats that I bought at Christopher and Banks. Layers are great for travel because you can take them off and put them on as needed. I also wore a tassel necklace inspired by Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style. And yes I do have a bag clip on my sweater. Trying to remember last minute things to pack! Ha, ha.

I hope to post again, some where along the way! Check back next week for more.

My Favorite Memorials - The Lincoln Memorial

I really like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Funny thing, I've never been to Washington and I have never seen the Lincoln Memorial in the flesh, or should I say in the stone! However, I have seen plenty of pictures, not only of the building, but of the man himself sitting in his great white marble chair.

Wikipedia - Public Domain

Wikipedia - Public Domain

There are several things that charm me about this memorial. The building itself is stylized as a Greek temple. I love the clean look of the white colonnade surrounding the exterior walls. The position of the building on the green and at the one end of the reflecting pool also adds to its beauty. Having never been there, I can only imagine, that like the Mt. Rushmore Memorial it is much better in person.

Another thing I like about this memorial is the sculpture of our 16th President. I absolutely love this photo taken by Jeff Kubina. See his link below the picture.

Photo Credit Jeff Kubina

Photo Credit Jeff Kubina

The sculpture was designed by Daniel Chester French and sculpted by the Piccirilli Brothers. I love the facial expression, the weathered hands and the wrinkles in his clothing. He really looks as though he could stand up and start reciting the Gettysburg Address. The designer and the sculptors did a marvelous job showing the weight this man was under in his lifetime.

I also chose this memorial as a favorite because of the man himself, Abraham Lincoln. He is by far one of my favorite presidents. The things that he accomplished in his lifetime are phenomenal and I believe he was a man of deep and thoughtful character. There have been more recent findings that suggest that he struggled with depression. I think to myself, how could a man not struggle with depression who was leading a nation engaged in civil war and who had lost three of this four children. However, even in his states of melancholy he led our nation through a war and ended slavery. If you have never seen the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, by all means do! It does a great job of capturing the man and the times.

The final reason I like the Lincoln Memorial is that it stands in Washington, DC. Having that memorial there stands as a reminder to every president since 1922, that this was a man who had a standard that should be strived after. I wonder how often our leaders look out from Capital Hill and see that Memorial and remember. Isn't that what memorials are for?

 

My Favorite Memorials - Mt. Rushmore

The summer of 1988 my bother was getting married out in Denver, Colorado.  Kevin, four years my senior asked myself and our older brother, Jeff, to stand up in the wedding. My spouse and I decided we would make a vacation out of it and planned a trip that would include the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. We figured we might as well take advantage of the drive out and do some sightseeing. It was hot that summer. That was the summer much of Yellowstone National Park was hidden under clouds of billowing smoke. Fortunately, Mark and I were still able to see a number of beautiful scenes and plenty of buffalo and elk. 

Downloaded from Wikipedia site - Public Domain

Downloaded from Wikipedia site - Public Domain

One of the most memorable things we saw that summer was the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. This is one of my favorite memorials. There are many reasons I like it. Let's start with it's massive size and the idea, motivation and work behind completing such a colossal project. From the conception of the idea by Doane Robinson to promote tourism in the area, to the actual sculpting of the granite mountain by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum (father and son), the work took from 1927 to 1941. Read more here. Pictures really do not do it justice. You have to see it face to face, ha, ha.

Another reason I like this memorial is the men whose faces are carved into the rock. These were men who made a difference in our country's history. All of them were presidents, each with his own unique style of leading this nation. But they all did great things. George Washington, our nation's first president, fought in the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson our third president, authored the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln our 16th president is famous for The Gettysburg Address, The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13 Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which permanently ended slavery. Theodore Roosevelt our 26th president was the main force behind making our national parks, forests and monuments, a way to preserve our natural resources. He also began construction of the Panama Canal.

When we arrived at Mt. Rushmore it was day time. The sky was blue and the sun was shining on the stone faces. We walked around, read the signs and tried to stay cool. We discovered that at night there was a multimedia presentation and lighting of the monument. My husband who had seen it several times before thought I might enjoy it. So we left to go set up our tent at a campground and came back when it was getting dark. I am so glad! It was phenomenal! The multimedia presentation included music and photographs of the work in progress as well  interesting background information. Then it all went black and they lit up the massive portrait in stone. It was impressive!

Everything about this memorial makes it a personal favorite. It is history carved in rock, a memorial, not only to the four men whose faces grace the granite cliff, but to all the people who have lived and served and died for our country. If you ever get the chance to see this memorial in person, don't pass it up. 

Grow Your Diet: Week 4

Since this is the last week in my series on growing our diets and there is more than just one more food I wanted to mention, I will give this last post a list of other foods that we should add to our diets. I looked at serval websites to see what the "authorities" were listing as the top healthy foods. There were a few that they each had in common.

broccoli

1. Broccoli - and other cruciferous vegies like kale, cauliflower and cabbage have vitamins and cancer fighting properties. Broccoli specifically has components that help protect against colon and lung cancer. Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane. This compound, which gives these vegies their bitter taste, also seems to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. For more info see the short article here

salmon

2. Salmon and other oily fish. I know not everyone loves fish and I am not especially fond of trout and some of the other more oily fish, but salmon is delicious especially grilled or baked with seasonings. My husband and I also like canned salmon and sardines. While these have a much higher sodium they still have the same health benefits. Some people suggest using fresh salmon for grilling or baking and canned for making sandwich fillings or salads. Read more on fresh versus canned here.

leafy greens

3. Dark leafy greens. I haven't tried all of the dark leafy greens, but spinach is one I am most familiar with. I like my spinach fresh rather than cooked, but I don't mind cooked spinach in things such as soups, quiche or paninis. Fresh spinach is great on a sandwich or in a salad. Spinach is loaded with vitamins A, C and folate. For more info on leafy greens see this article on Web MD.

avocado

4. Avocado. These are a great food that can be sliced and added to sandwich's, salads and even omelettes. Or they can be smashed, sprinkled with green onion, salt and pepper and made into guacamole. I only use those ingredients. Some people add lemon juice, tomatoes and other seasonings. Avocados are loaded with vitamins, potassium (more than bananas), healthy fats and fiber. Check out this article for more specifics.

potatoes

5. Potatoes. Not too many of us would have to be convinced to eat a potato. I come from potato loving stock. Baked, mashed, fried, you name it, we loved it and ate it. My dad was a fabulous potato masher and I inherited his gene for mashing. Now that he is gone, my mom still asks me to mash potatoes at family gatherings. It has taken me a while, but since I got married I've been introduced to sweet potatoes and have acquired a love for sweet potato fries! Okay, they are not the healthiest version of the spud, but at least it's a change from regular Idaho's. Potatoes are rich in B vitamins and blood pressure lowering components. Of course if they are fried or baked with mounds of butter and sour cream, they are not as healthy. See more info here. 

There are many more foods that are high in nutrients and disease fighting compounds and are delicious to eat. I hope you will explore more of these and grow your diet and your health.

Grow Your Diet: Week 3

What did you have for breakfast this morning? A bowl of Reese's Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Two of my faves. And don't forget Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops! Or maybe you had a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. Maybe the only thing you had was a cup of coffee. Breakfast, as we have been told is an important meal. It is breaking the fast from the night's sleep and getting us started for the day. When my hubby and I are home and don't have to rush to work in the morning we like to cook Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Oats are a healthy choice to begin a busy day.

oatmeal

When I eat oatmeal I add brown sugar, skim milk, walnuts and if I have them fresh blueberries. Oatmeal has a mild flavor, so adding things like cinnamon, apples and various nuts can make your breakfast a meal you look forward to. 

Oatmeal contains a substance called beta glucan, a soluble fiber. This fiber is what helps to lower our "bad" or LDL cholesterol levels. See WebMD's short article here. A few years ago I was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol. My doctor suggested oatmeal along with diet, exercise and fish oil supplements to help bring it down. My husband and I started eating oatmeal about two to three times a week when we were able to fit it in. Six months later when I had my cholesterol rechecked it had gone from a 213 overall to a 204 overall and my HDL or "good" cholesterol had gone up and the "bad" or LDL had gone down. I'm sure oatmeal had something to do with the change along with the exercise and fish oil. If you have high cholesterol, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any sort of diet or exercise changes.

Oatmeal is also a versatile add in for many recipes. Add it to muffins for an extra heart healthy boost. Put some in with your meatloaf instead of bread or breadcrumbs. And of course oatmeal is absolutely delicious in cookies. Again, we can't just make cookies and eat them and think that we are eating healthy....wish we could! But we can make small adjustments in the things that we cook to make them healthier.

I hope you will think about adding oats to your diet. You will enjoy the change and your heart will love you for it. 

 

Grow Your Diet: Week 2

I'm feeling particularly nutty right now, so I thought it might be good to discuss adding nuts to our diet. Nuts are a great source of protein as well as being full of all sorts of heart healthy substances like Omega 3's, vitamin E and fiber. Mayo clinic put out a short sweet article that gives a good overview of different nuts along with their calorie and fat contents (amounts found in 1 ounce of nuts). Note they do say in the article you can diminish the amount of good you are doing for your heart if the nuts are covered in sugar, chocolate or sprinkled on a mound of ice cream, hot fudge and whipped topping. That last was my own addition. 

peanuts

Technically, peanuts are not a nut, but a legume, but I love peanuts. Peanuts, while not as popular as a heart healthy choice do have plenty of disease fighting benefits of their own and even contain the same age fighting molecule found in grapes and red wine, resveratrol. Here's another good article about the peanut. Peanuts are easy to get, are inexpensive and great to have at parties or when kids are around. They are a much better choice than chips or pretzels as they actually are a source of good nutrients. 

walnuts

Another wonderful nut is the walnut. Walnuts are a source of Omega 3's. Omega 3 helps your heart function at a healthier level. In addition walnuts add their nutty flavor to everything from oatmeal and salads, to desserts (but not too much). I actually like walnuts plain. Just pull a few out of the bag and start munching. The walnut is so popular it even has it's own website, California Walnuts.

pistachios

Pistachios are another good choice for just eating. While you can use them in desserts or muffins, my family loves pistachios right out of the shell. If we are going on a trip, we often take a bag of pistachios to munch on in the car. We get the ones still in the shell as they are a little bit cheaper than the ones that are already shelled. Again, the nutritional benefits are similar to peanuts and walnuts. Check out the American Pistachio Growers site for more info on health benefits and ways to use this yummy little nuts.

There are many other nuts with similar nutritional assets. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more. Nuts are a nutrient rich food, especially for children who are picky eaters. Just be sure they aren't allergic. Nuts are also portable. They are a good snack for hikers, bike riders and other sports participants as they don't need refrigeration and don't take up much room. For women who are calorie conscious, nuts are still a good snack or garnish choice for salads or cereal, just be careful to measure the amount of nuts you are using as the calories can add up fast.

Remember, we are trying to grow our diets, so adding flax seed from my article last week and nuts are two healthy ways to make our diets more nutritionally beneficial. This week figure out which nut you like the best and let me know in the comments section below. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Grow Your Diet: Week 1

The title of this post may be confusing. Let me clarify, I am not talking about eating more food. I struggle with my diet and my weight every day, so I would be the last person to encourage eating more! What I would like to focus on the next few weeks as we talk about growth blog wide, is the idea of expanding your palette and finding food that will grow your health.

Dieting and diet are a daily struggle for so many of us. We want to eat better, look better and feel better, but all too often we start a diet just to fall off the wagon again. So how do we make a change for the better? How do we grow in the area of our health?

If you have ever seen the movie, What About Bob? Richard Dreyfuss plays a successful psychotherapist, at least he appears to be, until he meets Bill Murray's character, Bob. In the movie, Dreyfuss' character has written a best selling book called "Baby Steps." The book, though fictional, gives us a template from which to put together our own plan for making changes in our diets and lives. The movie is a hoot, a must see and leaves you with a satisfied feeling at the end. I came away from it with the term, "Baby Steps." Change can happen if we just approach it with baby steps.

For today's first baby step in growing our diet I am going to focus on flaxseed.  This tiny seed is said to be an excellent food having health benefits that affect cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Sounds good to me! I take flaxseed oil supplements, in addition to using the ground seeds in cereal. The verdict is still out on whether oils or ground are better for you, but my feeling is some is better than none. Adding supplements to your routine is easy for some, but not for others. If you have a whole foods approach to life then you will want to purchase the seeds and grind them yourself. The ground seeds can be added to oatmeal, breads, meat mixtures such as meatloaf or smoothies. You can also buy flax already ground, at a little higher price point per ounce.

flaxseed

This is the brand I buy and seems to be the most common. There is brown flaxseed and gold flaxseed.

grinder

This is a coffee bean grinder and it works great for flaxseed. I just throw about 1/4 cup of the seeds in, put the top on and then push the button. Voila! Ground flax. The ground flax can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but typically will last longer left whole in the fridge, so only grind what you are going to use for the next day or two. See this article on flaxseed expiration.  Flax does have it's own nutty flavor and while it is not offensive it may require getting used to.

Flaxseed and Grinder

I hope you found that helpful. Let me know in the comments section below, if you use flax and how you use it. I would love to hear other people's ideas. 

 

Keeping the Cross Visible

This week we are shelving our Quickie Clean Up tips to spend a few moments contemplating Good Friday.

When I survey, the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain, I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.
— When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts

The cross has been a symbol of Easter ever since Christ laid down His life over 2000 years ago. I love crosses, because they remind me of what was given up for me. They encourage me to remember it was a cross that bridged the gap between God and I.

Cross

Here you will see a few images of the cross. Use them to remind you of what happened on this day so many years ago.

Cross

Don't forget the humiliation, pain and violence of that death.

Jesus on the cross

It was for you. For me. For all of us. 

It is so very easy to forget this sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We get caught up in our busy lives, taking care of our parents, children and grandchildren. We work our jobs, get together with our friends and all thoughts of the cross are filed away with the dust and cobwebs down in the catacombs. Perhaps it is this forgetting that keeps us from living a real Christ-like life. Perhaps it becomes easier to soothe a guilty conscience or gloss over a "little" sin when we don't have that cross continually on that hill in front of us.

I challenge you today, to go down to those catacombs and make that trip up the Via Dolorosa all the way to the top of the hill called Golgotha....and remember.

Quickie Clean Up: the Living/Family Room

Are you ready for today's Quickie Clean Up? Let's get started! This is for your living room and/or family room. I live in an older two story farm house and we only have a living room, so that is what has served as our family room as well. There are homes that have both living rooms or sitting rooms and family rooms where you have your television, book cases, bins for toys and so on. This clean up session will work for both.

1. Start up high. Dust down any cobwebs. This is a possible tool for getting to the higher places. Obviously if you have vaulted ceilings you will need something more professional for reaching those high corners.

2. Dust picture frames, pictures and other items hanging on the walls. This would also be a good time to clean mirrors. Microfiber cloths are great for picking up surface dust. They are readily available at many stores This is one option.

mirror

3. Look around the room between shoulder and waist height. Are there things out of place or things that need to be discarded; a candle nub on the fireplace mantle; a vase of flowers that has wilted on the piano? 

4. Dust at this level, not just the surface of the piano or bookshelves, but items also....clocks, book bindings, lamps, candle holders, etc.

5. Look at the other furniture in the room: chairs, couches, tables, coffee tables and so on. Is there anything that belongs somewhere else? Children's toys, that book you finished, DVD's the family was watching last night. Put things back in there appropriate places. If it doesn't have a place, make one or get rid of it.

6. Fold any throws or blankets in the room. Fluff and straighten the cushions and pillows in the room. 

7. Dust or wipe down the chairs, tables, TV stand and other large items like bookshelves. The type of material the furniture is made out of will determine the cleaners that you use. For most things regular dusting with the microfiber cloth will keep things clean. However, real wood surfaces benefit from occasional cleanings with products like Murphy's Oil Soap or other wood cleaners. If your items are made from some sort of strong acrylic or glass, a cleaner like Windex Multi-surface is a safe bet. But know your furniture. Leather couches can be wiped down with a damp cloth and will look fresh. Microsuede or other cloth can be vacuumed.

8. Now look at the floor. What is out of place? If this is a gathering place for the whole family and everyone contributes to the "mess" then everyone should help clean up. I know this is a never ending battle until your children move out, but it is worth it to keep trying to get them involved in the care and keeping of your home. Often a good method is to assign everyone a bin or basket. Throughout the day, their items can be placed in their baskets. At the end of the day or the week, they take their belongings back to their rooms. Here are some possible bins and other things for assigning each member of the family: milk crate,  decorative bin,     basket.           

(As you can see, I am not as adept as my daughter at putting in these links. I'll get there!)

9. Check over the floor for small items like lego pieces, bobby pins or fruit snacks, candies, changes and so on. Pick items up and place the non edibles in a small cup or dish to be redistributed later (the edibles should be pitched).

10. Vacuum.

Some will say to vacuum first and then do everything else as vacuuming can raise dust. If you have a decent vacuum, that doesn't explode dust every time you use it, and you change the bag regularly, you should be okay to vacuum last. I always feel that vacuuming finishes the project. 

Hope these steps will inspire you to do a little more spring cleaning this weekend. Next week our focus will be Easter so be sure to check in for more fun.

Quickie Clean Up: the Bathroom

This week our Spring Cleaning is going to focus on the bathroom. I'm sure you ladies out there don't let your bathroom get as bad as I let mine get, but it never hurts to be reminded of several quick steps we can take to keep them smelling fresh and looking clean.

1. Clean the toilet. This should be obvious and I think to most of us women it is, but it is very easy when life gets busy to just let it go. If you can do it once a week you are super woman! If you get to it every other week, I think that's fine. You decide how often you think you need to clean. If there has been illness in the house you'll want to clean more often. Personally, I'm lucky if I get mine clean once a month....so do as I say, not as I do! Ha, ha.

2. Wipe down the outside of the toilet, the seat, tank, bowl and footers by the floor. It is amazing how filthy this area can get, especially if you have children still living at home.

3. Put away clutter. I usually do this while the toilet bowl cleaner is doing its' job. Clutter accumulates everywhere and our bathroom counters are no exception. Get items back where they belong. Medicine, hair pins, toothpaste all need their own space. Once again, storage is a great tool for organizing and reducing clutter. Storage does not have to be expensive. Go to the second hand store and buy a few glass containers like I did, for your hair bands, Q tips and cotton rounds. The glass looks pretty on the counter and it tidies everything up. There are tons of options on the web. Here are a few:

4. Clean the sink and countertop using a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. If you vanity top is shiny like mine, you want to keep it that way, so don't use Comet or other cleaners with abrasive particles in them. A cleaner like Windex Multi-purpose with Vinegar (my go to, for almost everything), or some of the Lysol products do a great job. There are tons of cleaners out there, so make sure you read labels. Find the right cleaner for the job and for you. 

5. Clean the mirrors. Mirrors can get gummed up with toothpaste spatters, fingerprints, hairspray and makeup.

6. Replace any burnt out lightbulbs. A bright bathroom looks cleaner than a dingy one.

7. Scrub out your tub/shower. Depending on the finish on your tub or shower pick cleaning products that will clean and leave a smooth, shiny finish. There are cleaners that contain bleach that you spray on the tiles then rinse off after a few minutes. I would not recommend using those on a regular basis, but once in a while is great for eliminating mold from the grout in between the tiles.

8. Replace or clean your shower curtain or the doors on your shower stall. Again these are places mold and soap scum can build up.

9. Sweep and mop the floor. As with the kitchen, if you don't have time to do both, at least sweep. Sweeping can go a long way to making the floor look better.

10. Empty the trash.

Honestly, now that I've written this I feel like I should go clean my bathrooms! Hope you are enjoying these quickie clean up tips and that they are motivating you to do some spring cleaning.

Next week, the living room/family room.

Quickie Clean Up: the Kitchen

Spring cleaning often involves deep, intensive cleaning, but the next few weeks I am going to offer tips on quick cleaning. This is the sort of cleaning we should do on a regular basis, but more importantly it is cleaning we can do in a hurry, for instance, when you find out your relatives are going to drop by for dinner, or your husband invites friends over for a game night. 

Since my kitchen is the first room people see when they enter my house that is where I am going to start. I am going to try to keep this to ten steps.

1. Put away clean dishes. (I always have dishes sitting in the drying rack and in the dishwasher after it is done washing. By putting away all the clean dishes you not only have bowls and spoons available for guests, but you have a free dishwasher to start loading up again.)

2. Load the dishwasher.

3. Wash and dry all other dishes and put away. (I do not put certain pans, sharp knives and some of my plastic storage containers in the dishwasher, so what often happens is a pile to the right of my sink of dirty dishes. Get them done. Less clutter on the counter means a nicer looking kitchen.)

4. Clean off the counter tops. (When you are washing those extra dishes take your soapy dish rag and clean off all your counter tops including under the toaster or other small appliances. Don't forget to remove excess papers and other mail that tend to accumulate on the counter. If you are not ready to throw it away, find a place for it at your desk or designate a tray or drawer for papers.)

5. Clean off the table. (My kitchen table is not only the place for eating, but serves as a desk for doing paperwork and a central area for socialization. Sometimes placing a nice wooden or decorative tray at one end of the table can help corral the mail or magazines, not yet looked at. Try to get to this paper as soon as possible, but if you are in a bind, the tray and all it's contents can easily be picked up and moved to an out of the way location while company is visiting.)

6. With the same soapy water that you were doing dishes in you can wipe down the outside of the fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher. This simple act can make your appliances look like new. (For tough grease or sticky stains you might need a tougher cleanser such as Mr. Clean Multi-Surface or Windex Multi-Surface with vinegar.)

7. Wipe down the outside of your cupboards. It is best to use something for wood surfaces such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Just follow the directions on the bottle and you'll have fresh looking cupboards in a flash.

8. Shake out any rugs you might have on the floor. If it is a nice day. I like to shake them, then hang them to let the air freshen them as well. (It is also useful to have more than one set of rugs. I have a rug right inside the doorway so when people step in they can wipe their feet or remove their shoes if they are snowy or muddy. I also have a rug at the sink area. A little padding beneath your feet can make washing the dishes more tolerable and the rug soaks up some the the water that may spatter while I am rinsing or washing.)

9. Empty the garbage. (There is nothing worse than a smelly garbage can, no matter where you keep it.)

10. Sweep and mop the entire floor. (Be sure to remove the dust bunnies that accumulate around the chair and table feet. If time allows use a floor cleaner specifically designed for your flooring type. If you are strapped for time, a Swiffer works great, but make sure the Swiffer clothes are safe for your flooring.)

I've found doing these ten steps keeps my kitchen fresh and clean, even if my fridge is dirty or there is food expiring in my pantry. Those things we will deal with another time.

If you are really in a bind, you can skip some of the steps, like shaking out the rugs and mopping, or wiping down the cupboards, and major appliances. As long as the counter is clean and the sink free of dishes, the table wiped and the floor swept, your kitchen will still look neat and clean.

Next week we will take a look at our bathrooms. Be sure to come back for more Quickie Clean Up tips.


Spring Launch

I decided to use this day on Fluff to let you know what is coming up in March. We all think about spring this time of year. For many of us our desire for spring is one of desperate anticipation for sunshine and warmer temperatures. Others are looking forward to being able to break out their warmer weather clothes and maybe take advantage of those new colors put out by Pantone earlier this year. You can see the new colors here. For some of you, spring means cleaning, throwing away and getting a fresh start.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

I love the fact that we celebrate Easter in the spring. After all, didn't Jesus give us the ultimate fresh start? Isn't spring when we look forward to flowers blooming, trees budding and birds singing? I think they do those things because Jesus rose from the dead! Oh I know, there are real physical, scientific reasons that flowers bloom, trees bud and birds sing, but humor me.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

For the month of March we will be focusing on a spring theme Blog wide! The faith page will focus on identifying sin, confession, a sacrifice of praise and renewal. The fashion page will be all about those spring colors. You'll see the Pantone palette come to life in outfits I pulled out of my closet. We will also have a special bonus on the fashion page on cleaning out our closet. You'll find tips for what to get rid of and how to organize and I'll be looking for your comments on how you accomplish your closet clean outs. On the family page I'll focus on reordering our priorities in our families with questions like, "Who am I neglecting?" and "Who have I offended?" I'll also post ideas for celebrating Easter as a family and starting over. On the friend page we'll spend some time talking about "toxic" personalities and asking ourselves how we are influenced by our friends. We will also be encouraged to pray for friends as well as make new ones. Finally, the fluff will spend time looking at our homes. We'll talk about cleaning, organizing and just trying to make our homes ready for the summer months of sun and fun.

I hope you will join me. Be sure to like and share my post on Face Book with your friends. This helps me get a wider circulation. Have a great weekend and I hope you'll come back next week.

 

Feeling Comfy?

Midwest winters can get long. By mid to late February many of us are feeling like becoming snowbirds would not be a bad idea. I get tired of layering, tired of wearing heavy coats, thick scarves and gloves and tired of clouds. Having Seasonal Affective Disorder (described here) makes winter, not just an inconvenience, but an actual walk through a valley of shadows. While there are goods ways for dealing with SAD, like light therapy, melatonin and other medications and physical exercise, I often revert back to just doing something to make myself comfortable.

So, ladies here is another list. These are some of the things I do for comfort:

1. Curl up with a good book.

Just a few of many!

Just a few of many!

2. Watch something happy, silly or exciting. Absolutely, no sad movies during these cloudy months. (That's me. Others might feel a sad movie actually makes them cry and thus feel better. I prefer Gilligan's Island reruns.)

3. Take a nap. (I don't do this as much because as I've gotten older I have a harder time sleeping, but if the mood strikes, especially if I am fighting sickness, a nap is lovely.)

4. Go shopping. (If you are like me and love to shop, this is a real pick-me-up, but if you have a shopping addiction, this may not be the best choice for you. I try to go to one or two stores and have something in mind that I am looking for. But just walking the aisles, seeing spring colors and fashions lifts my spirits.)

5. Put on something baggy. What! No, you did not hear me say that! Well, once in a while, if I am going to be staying home, I do it! Hello sweat suit! Just to be fashionable, my black pants have fake rhinestones on them. (I'll post a picture of me with it on soon!)

6. Have English Breakfast tea in a fun mug.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

7. Eat something comforting. Yes, I know, this is an issue for so many of us, and if you read the article on SAD, you know we crave carbs and overeat! However, not everything we reach for needs to be bad for us (although, let's face reality, bad food makes us feel good, at least while we are eating it.) I grew up with a dish my mother used to make several times during the long, snowy Buffalo, NY winter called Chicken and Biscuits. Part chicken pot pie and part stew, the smell and the warmth of the oven as it baked made me feel....well....cozy! It was an act of love on Mom's part as it took all day to boil the chicken, cut up the carrots, potatoes, onion and celery, put it all together and finally bake it 45 minutes then put the homemade biscuits on top to cook some more. But it was worth it.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Hands of my son in law.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Hands of my son in law.

I'm sure you all have your own ways of getting comfy. Let me know a few in the comments section below. And hang on, Spring will come, it always does.


Movie List: My Favorite Things

I thought it would be fun since it is Valentine's weekend to post a list of some of my favorite romantic movies. Old, new, black and white, musicals, comedies, dramas....romance is everywhere.

It Happened One Night - Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert (1934)

The Sound of Music - Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (1965)

While You Were Sleeping - Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman (1995)

The Lake House - Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves (2006)

Gone With The Wind - Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh (1939)

Pride and Prejudice - Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen (2005) or Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (1995)

The African Queen - Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn (1951)

The Princess Bride - Cary Elwes and Robin Wright (1987)

There are so many good, romantic movies out there and these are just a few of the ones I like. When I watch a movie I want to be drawn in. I want to leave this world behind and be in the world on the silver screen. All of these movies do that for me. Clark Gable and his snappy dialogue, both with Colbert and Leigh, not to mention his good looks, keeps me watching. The dance between Andrews and Plummer and the following dialogue and song in the dark gazebo are moments to be remembered. From Bill Pullman "leaning in" towards Sandra Bullock to Cary Ewles saving his "true love", these are movies I love to watch over and over.

In the comments section below tell me what your favorite romantic movies are!

So What's the Fluff?

Welcome to the Fluff section of my blog. My eldest daughter, Rebecca, (who is also my main photographer) came up with the idea of a junk drawer. That's the place you toss stuff that you are not sure where to put. However, junk drawer starts with a "j" not an "f", so Fluff came into being. I mean, I couldn't have Faith, Fashion, Family, Friends and Junk drawer! It would totally ruin my writer's need for alliteration. This will be the page where you might find recipes, book reviews, music recommendations and all sorts of other things.

After all, an actual woman can't survive without her junk drawer, or her fluff for that matter.