Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: You've Got Mail!

That's right! You've got mail! and you probably get it every day like me. The question is, do you want to reach in your mailbox and get it out? My husband usually checks the mail as part of his routine when he gets home from work, so I don't get a close-up look at it too often. However, last time I was working on the flowers around the mailbox, I noticed the icky condition of my mail container. My mind immediately thought, "I wonder what the mailman thinks about this!" The outside of my home and the mailbox is really all there is to testify of my cleanliness to the mailman. Disgusted by the green growing on my white vinyl mailbox, I got out the cleaning supplies and shined it right up!

Now it looks fresh and clean! Of course, I try to keep on close watch on it now to make sure it doesn't reach such a state of grossness again - yes, grossness is a word today :)

If your mailbox is wood, it may need a light power wash, stain, or coat of paint. Whatever kind of mailbox you have, make sure it stays clean!

Happy Cleaning!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Cookie Dough Cheese Ball

Parties, Parties, Parties! I love all of the festivities that center on Christmas, and I LOVE to try new and unique recipes for those party goodies! Thanks to Pinterest, I have tried lots of new recipes so far this season, and by far the crowd favorite is the Cookie Dough Cheese Ball. I've made it three times already - YUM! Naturally, I thought I'd share this fantastic recipe with my readers!

Cookie Dough Cheese Ball:

* 1 (8oz.) package or cream cheese, room temperature
* 1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
* 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
* 1/2 cup powdered sugar
* 3 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
* 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
* crushed graham crackers

* Blend together first 3 ingredients until creamy; add powdered sugar and brown sugar, blending well.
* Fold in chocolate chips; cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.
(It is important for the cream cheese and butter to be room temperature, but no warmer. If you melt too much in the microwave, it won't turn out well.)
* Shape dough into ball; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.
* Roll in graham cracker crumbs before serving.
* Serve with Teddy Grahams, graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, or anything that you think will taste delicious with the dough ball! Enjoy!

Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Seven Steps to Squelch Holiday Stress

Whew! I just finished my December calendar and planning...I have one night open in December...Wow! There is so much going on this time of year! I love it, but it can be very easy to get frustrated in all of the holly jolly if you don't plan ahead. I'm sure you have a few Christmas parties to hit, Christmas programs to see, a church Christmas program, and then of course, family to visit and gather with. My December is full of all of these things, and I want to enjoy them! In order to avoid stress throughout the Christmas season, I plan out everything before it starts. In order to help you, I've compiled a list of steps to reduce Christmas stress.

Seven Steps to Squelch the Stress:

1) Write every event down on your calendar. 

My husband gave me a Shutterfly calendar last year for Valentine's Day, and I write every event that I know of down on it and plan from there. Once you can visualize your days, breaking them down into manageable tasks becomes more simple. 

2) Make a list of all the baking you need to do for the whole month.

Include parties, home movie nights, meals, food gifts, and of course any family gathering food items you will have to make. 

3) Make a list of grocery items you need to buy. 

I normally don't buy everything at once because of my couponing cycles, but trust me, you do not want to run to the grocery store every other day for something you forgot last time. Meticulously make out a list of everything you will need to use for the month of December.

4) Shop for groceries.

Ok, yes this is simple and connected, but going to the store and buying everything on your grocery list is a different chore. Plan a time (probably longer than normal) to go get everything on your list. 

5) Tackle the gift list. 

Use a cute and functional printable to help you keep track of whom you need to buy for, what you bought, and how much it cost. Here's a few that I found helpful this year. Christmas gift plannerKids Gift PlannerMaster Gift List

6) Plan a Christmas Shopping Day (or two, or three).

The key is to set aside specific time to go down your gift list and purchase the items on it. If you have to visit several places, plan a few days and shop at stores close together instead of going all over town in the same day. This will save you time. 

7) Plan individual calendar days.

Leave time for special Christmas events. Schedule a night to decorate the tree. A day or night to wrap presents. A family Christmas movie night. Write these things down and SCHEDULE TIME for the things you need to do. Schedule when  you need to bake something. For example, I want to take some baked goods to my nursery worker crew. So, I put on my calender when I need to bake those items. This keeps me from forgetting my plans and prevents me from last-minute rushes. 

December has plenty of deadlines, but carefully preparing and planning will help you meet those deadline with ease. Stay organized so that you can beat the Christmas chaos and have time for the important things! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Pack Your Bags

Sorry if the title misled you, but no, this post is not about packing. Although, chances are, you are going to pack up your bags and hit the road at least once during the Christmas season. With all the packing, list-making, baking, gift-wrapping, and all the other hustle and bustle, sometimes the house tidying gets overlooked and we end up leaving the house in a slightly more-than-messy state. So, your challenge for the holidays, don't pack your bags without cleaning your house. Of course, if you are on a normal cleaning schedule, this will help, but it is very easy to get off schedule when you have what seems like a million other things to do.

I was always taught by my mom when I was growing up to clean the house before we left for vacation. This way, we wouldn't have to worry about cleaning when we got home from vacation. The training I received from her stuck with me. I cannot stand to leave my house in a mess when I am leaving for anything overnight.

Of course, there will always be loads of laundry to do after unpacking upon return, but it is so nice to come home to a clean home.

A few things that I like to make sure are done before I leave:

* Dust
*Laundry is done (so I don't have double loads when I return)
* Bathrooms are clean
* Dishwasher is at least turned on (if time allows, unload it)
* There's a place for everything and everything is in its place
* Trashcan is empty
* Plants are watered
* Floors are swept/mopped

So, while you pack your bags, keep your house clean too! You'll be glad you did!

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Tips on Packing for Tots

Well, it's that time again in our household...time to pack up and take a trip! We are heading north for a thanksgiving trip that I am so super thrilled about! Of course, the hard part is all the packing. Now, after I have packed for myself - and no, I don't pack for my hubby b/c he would hate everything I picked out - I must pack for the little one.

I feel relatively used to this packing thing. After all, little O has been on many trips with us since his birth including two complete road trips to Pensacola, FL; a plane trip to California; a plane trip to NYC; a visit to Tennessee; a road trip to Louisville,KY; and a road trip to Atlanta, GA. So, this next trip is nothing new. We travel a lot! And I have tried to make my packing as precise, compact, and simple as possible. Trust me, going through the airport with a baby, stroller, and two bags can be quite the dramatic scene if you are not properly prepared. So, here's how I pack:

1. First I pull out my Toddler Packing List and get busy filling my suitcase and diaper bag according to the trip-appropriate list. Remember, if you are flying, you want to carry only what is absolutely needed, but do take what is needed. For instance, an extra outfit, although you may not need it, is necessary. You don't want to be stuck with no clothes for the little one. Also, check TSA guidelines for what can and can't be in your diaper bag.

2. You must be careful to think ahead at what your trip may hold. If you are staying in a hotel, you will need to take your own crib sheet and blanket. If you are staying with family, check to see if you need to tote the pack-n-play.

3. Check the weather. Go to weather.com and check out the forecast for where you will be to make sure you packed appropriate clothing.

4. Take a stroller. I always take my umbrella stroller when I am traveling. I am not worried about the airline ruining it, and it fits into the car nicely with all of our luggage (the big stroller takes up the entire trunk). It's also much easier to fold and unfold at the end of the jetway.

5. If you are going to be on a long flight or long road trip, bring some form of entertainment. We love books and small toys that keep little minds occupied. It is also wise to keep your little one awake all through the check in and waiting-to-board process. This way, they will probably be ready to nap when you get on the plane. (Out of 14 take-offs, little O has only been awake for 1).

6. Bookbags serve as nice diaper bags when traveling by air. You can keep it on your back and still have two very functional arms! (Something I learned after trip #2).

7. Make sure you plan for meals for your little one. Most airlines will serve drinks (during which time you can get some apple juice to fill up that sippy), but you must think about your little one's mealtime and where you will be. Pack a PB&J if you will need it. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

8. Don't stress about those glaring eyes from the other passengers as you board the flight with an infant - Kids will be kids and you cannot control everything. If they ever cry at home, chances are they will cry on the plane at some point. On one of our trips, O actually didn't cry the entire flight, but a disgruntled passenger in front of us placed all the blame on him for the crying of a baby behind us. Oh WELL! it happens. Don't let it stress you out!

9. Sit by the window or on the aisle...not in the middle! Your baby, even if he is sleeping will take up more room. The window seat is my favorite because I can lay him in my arm, let him stretch out, and we still don't cross that imaginary line into the other passenger's bubble. Once my seat was in the middle of two, and I called the airline and had them switch me because of the baby! (they don't want unhappy passengers either).

10. Keep all documents in a handy spot. You have enough to hold on to and enough to worry about - don't worry about your documents. Keep your boarding passes, IDs, and a copy of baby's birth certificate all in one spot (like an outside zipper) that is easy to get to when you need it.

Hope this will help some fellow Moms in the future! As for me, I'm all packed and ready to go!

Here's the checklist that I use.

Toddler Packing List

For the suitcase:
o       Clothes (Pack one outfit per day plus 40% extra)
o      Pajamas
o      Socks
o      Shoes
o      Burp cloths
o      Coat (if needed)
o      Hat, gloves (if needed)
o      Crib sheet
o      Bed blanket
o      Blanket
o      Towel(s)
o      Washcloths
o      Toiletries:
o       Soap/Baby Wash
o       Shampoo
o       Lotion
o       Baby powder
o       Diaper rash cream
o       Vaseline
o       Q-tips
o       Cotton swabs
o       Brush
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Extra Pacifier
o     Snacks/Food needed

For the carry-on:
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Changing pad
o     Pacifier
o      Bottles/Sippy Cups (only what you must have before you get to your baggage)
o     Burp cloth
o     Snack cup
o      Medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Cough)
o     Thermometer
o     Diaper rash cream
o      Milk (in cup)
o     Diaper disposal bags
o     Spare outfit
o     Bib
o     Spoons
o     Small toys/books

For the car (non-flight trip):
o     Diapers
o     Wipes
o     Changing pad
o     Pacifier
o     Bottles/Sippy Cups
o     Milk
o     Juice
o     Burp cloth
o     Snacks
o      Sandwiches/Meals (if stopping to get something will be difficult)
o     Medicines (Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Cough)
o     Thermometer
o     Diaper rash cream
o     Diaper disposal bags
o     Spare outfit
o     Bib
o     Spoons
o     Toys and Books
o     Blanket
o     Music
o     Baby mirror

* TSA does not limit the amount of milk/formula or medicines allowed for infants as long as they are declared at the checkpoint. However, they will most likely perform a liquids test on the bottle/cup, so be prepared. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Look Up

Give your ceiling fan some credit. If your summer was anything like the summer here in good ole central NC, then your fan did some hard work for you this year. Chances are as the weather gets cooler (which is a nice change) your fan is taking a well-deserved break. But just like you need a bath after hard physical labor, your ceiling fan would appreciate one as well. Grab your stepstool and duster and clean the fan (I recommend you clean it while it is at rest. Trying to clean while it is awake can result in losing and painful fight for you..haha). I like to use my dry Swiffer wipes or the Swiffer 360 to clean off my fans. Just make sure you clean the who fan, not just the blades. And while you are up there, check to see if any light bulbs need replacement.

Thanks for enduring my personificiation of the ceiling fan! Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Wash, Dry, Fold, and Sweep?

No, don't sweep your clothes, Silly! When is the last time you swept and mopped behind your washer and dryer? It's easy to clean around these wonderful appliances if you have a laundry room, but get behind them and clean out at least twice a year! I do not have a fully laundry room, I have a laundry closet (something that I definitely plan to change with my next house). In order for me to clean out, I get hubby to pull the washer and dryer out of the closet so I can get in and clean it. Dust collects from your dryer and builds up, and I always find a few "run-away" socks and stray items back there.

So how about it? Do you need to do some cleaning today? Take a few minutes and take care of it! Happy Cleaning!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Right and Responsibility

Election Day. After all of the debates, tiring ads, voting campaigns, and primaries, the time has come for Americans to vote. Tomorrow, a President will be elected to govern our nation for at least four years. Senators will be put into office to decide what laws will and won't be passed. Officials on the local level will be placed in office to decide state and county matters. You may ask yourself the question, "Where does my one vote fit in in the big picture?" "Does my vote really matter?"

The answer is a resounding, "YES!" Should  you vote? YES! Does it really count? YES! Why?

First, by voting, you are exercising your right as an American citizen.

  - A right that was paid for by the blood of so many who fought for the freedom of our nation. From the War for Independence all the way to our current wars in the Middle East, brave men and women have died, knowing that their sacrifice paved or preserved the way of American freedom. I recently watched a news report that interviewed different citizens, asking them who they would vote for. Of course, the media showed a voter for Romney and a voter for Obama, but the third interviewee caught me off guard. In a very nonchalant manner, the man simply said, "Oh, I don't vote."  YOU DON'T VOTE????? He didn't give a reason, just a simple shrug of the shoulders. It is simply not in my ability to comprehend why a person would not want to exercise their right to vote. So to an individual like this, I simply say, "You give up your right to complain if you give up your right to vote."

I believe that voting is not just a right as an American, it is a responsibility I have as a Christian.

 As a Christian, I must not just vote for the candidate with the most logical platform or the candidate who has the most charisma, but I must vote my faith. There are many issues at stake in this election, but some issues are just non-negotiable. Which issues you ask?

* Life - 

The value of life. Instead of valuing the sanctity of life, our government has shifted to valuing the quality of life. As a Christian, I MUST vote for the candidate who values the sanctity of life - This is biblical. A government that only values the quality of life will quickly gain the power to determine who lives and who dies. A candidate who is for the killing of the innocent and defenseless will NOT receive my vote.

* Nation of Israel - 

It's simple. God promised a long time ago in the Abrahamic Covenant to bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse Israel. I want to vote for a candidate that is on Israel's side. 

*Marriage - 

an institute established by God as a relationship between one man and one woman for one lifetime. A candidate that seeks to re-write the biblical definition of marriage should not get my vote as a Christian. 

* Religious Liberty - 

We live in an America that is slowly but surely trying to force Christians to become silent in their beliefs. Why? Because a sinful society does not want to accept biblical authority. I do not want my children to grow up in an America where biblical churches are forced to shut down or even where individuals are arrested for claiming to be Christians. Don't think this is possible? All it takes is a majority of anti-Christian leaders with power and charisma. 

Now, I understand that neither party or candidate aligns perfectly with the Bible or biblical values. However, I like the way one of my favorite preachers said it, "When two candidates are running in the wrong direction, vote for the one who is running slower!" I'll do just that and pray for God to raise up a more godly leader in the next election. 

I've already committed to trust the Lord and understand that He is in control and working out His plan. I can't see the big picture, but I can vote what I know is right. I pray that you will do the same as you head to the polls tomorrow. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

It's a cool, crisp and beautiful fall day...what a great night for soup! I love this recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup - definitely a family favorite. And to make it even better, it's a CrockPot recipe. Put it in in the morning and voila! dinner is done! Give it a try and ENJOY!


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans Ro-Tel (any kind will work but I use the lime & cilantro flavor)
2 cans chicken broth
1 can black beans (rinse and drain)
1 can kidney beans (rinse and drain)
1 can corn
1/2 onion chopped
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups of water

tortilla chips
sour cream
shredded cheese (Mexican blend is yummy!)

Put Ro-Tel, chicken broth, black beans, kidney beans, corn, onion, seasoning, and water into CrockPot and stir well to mix. Place chicken breasts on top of mixture, making sure they're at least partly submerged in liquid. Cook on high 6-7 hours or on low 8-9 hours. Before serving, remove chicken breasts, shred, and return to soup. Stir and serve! Add tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if desired.

Enjoy the yumminess!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: If These Walls Could Talk...

If your walls could talk to you, one thing they would scream is "Clean Me!" Yes, it is true, your walls need to be cleaned every now and then. Fall is a great time of year to get this done :) Take a look at what I cleaned off of my own walls (I know, kinda embarrassing!).

Dust does collect on your walls, and depending on the airflow in your home, dust will be heavier in some places opposed to others. 
My favorite way to conquer that wall dust? I use my handy-dandy Swiffer mop (the original) and simply run it up and down the wall, being sure to collect the cobwebs from the corners. Double check behind furniture and areas that seem unseen. In one bathroom, I found a significant build up behind the toilet. So make sure you cover the entire wall and your walls will thank you! 
Happy Cleaning!

(Sorry this week's post is a day late. I was busy with my son's first birthday party yesterday :) which you will hear more of later!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: "Base"ic of Fall Cleaning

Fall. It ignites my inner cleaning woman...haha...yeah, it really does! One of the must-dos on my fall cleaning schedule (more to come on fall cleaning later) is cleaning the baseboards. Until this week, cleaning baseboards involved a bucket, a rag, and some hot soapy water. Needless to say, it was a very tedious process (one that I didn't exactly look forward to) that could get very messy. 

Thanks to my newest almost-addiction -- Pinterest, I found a new and much faster, less messy way to clean baseboards. Simply use a dryer sheet! Yes, it is that simple! This week I cleaned all of the baseboards in my house in about an hour (remember I'm watching a very mobile 11-month old)! As long as it hasn't been years since you've cleaned your baseboards, the dryer sheets should revolutionize your baseboard cleaning! The sheets pick up and hold onto the dust all while leaving a barrier that dust does not want to cling to! Yes! I know what you are thinking....This is AWESOME! 

Here's a look at the dirt that my sheets collected. 
Yuck! is correct...but think...that dirt is no longer camping out on my baseboards! 

Do your baseboards need a cleaning? Schedule about an hour, grab a few dryer sheets, and voila! 
Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fair Favorites

Mmmmm....the smell of meat on the grill, dough being fried, the sight of thousands of people coming and going, the bells and whistles of games, the twinkling of thousands of lights on the Ferris Wheel....Yep! You guessed it! It's fair time in Raleigh!

Our NC State Fair is here this week, and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you! If you live in the area, don't miss out on the fun...and of course the FOOD! (Which happens to pop up in my favorites more than anything else!)

1. Yes, this is why I go to the fair...

This is the best spot to get your deep fried sweets! It's located across from the long building that hosts all of the church food booths - Visit this place! 
My personal favorite....the deep-fried cookie dough! AMAZING is all I have to say! 
It's a mouthful of ooey gooey yumminess!

Another favorite...Deep-fried oreos! These things are rich, but soooo good!

The deep-fried Snickers is pretty good too (my husband's fav). 

2. Hot Wisconsin Cheese

I apologize, I don't have a pic of this booth, but if you like cheese, this is a MUST! My favorite is the Jalapeno cheese sticks with the jalapeno ranch sauce! Yes, it is that good!
This stand is located near the entrance to the main midway. 

3. Roasted Corn

Roasted Corn-on-the-Cob is definitely something I am going to get every year! However, one year I tried it from a different vendor and was highly disappointed. Roasted corn is a must-have, just make sure you have it from the right place. 

I recommend this vendor. They are located across from the Hobbies and Crafts building as you enter Gate 8. They have received rave reviews from the local media, and I give them two thumbs up as well!

4. The Pig Races

A Free, Fun activity the whole family will certainly enjoy! Who doesn't like to watch those little piggies, ducks, and goats run around the track to win the coveted cheese puffs awaiting them? 
Haha! Seriously though, the man that runs the show does a great job of getting the crowd involved and even including them in the festivities. 

I do recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes prior to showtime to insure you get a seat. 
The races are located beside the petting zoo near Gate 9.

5. Butcher Boys

I cannot believe that I never tried these guys until last year! Their London Broil steak sandwich is delicious! It's sliced right in front of you and it definitely beats that nasty "chopped" steak that sits in a tub of grease all day. 

I add onions, peppers, mushrooms, cheese, and bbq sauce to mine (the sauce is on the side and you have to put on yourself - don't miss it or your sandwich may be a little dry). It is quite satisfying to the taste buds. 

Looks amazing right? You can also refill any cup for $1 here. We keep our cup from Butcher Boys and take it back every year. They have a few locations, but this one is on what I call the "food midway."

6. The Exhibits

You can bet our family is always going to go through the Exhibit Hall, the Exhibition Center, and the Kerr Scott Building. There are many neat things to see such as the largest pumpkin, watermelon, etc. You can milk a cow and view the best of show in livestock. See the artwork or check out some vendors in the Kerr Scott Building. 

7. The Best Fudge Ever...

This favorite of mine is located inside the Hobbies and Crafts building. They are always giving away free samples of their chocolate fudge, and I would be lying if I told you that I've never left with a box of it for myself! 

You'll find many fudge vendors at the fair, but this one takes the cake! (or should I say the fudge?)

8. Frozen-Dipped Cheesecake

A classic, the frozen dipped-cheesecake is sure to please the cheesecake lover's heart (that would be me). This location has the best that I have tried, and if you are feeling brave, try the deep-fried cheesecake from this vendor. No, I haven't tried it for myself, but I have heard wonderful things about it. 

You can also find the infamous Krispy Kreme Burger here :)

9. Pickles!

So, this is more of a tradition favorite than an eating favorite, although we do by a fifty-cent Kosher Dill while we are here. The Mount Olive booth located inside the Exhibit Hall has a jar full of pickles, and your job is to guess how many are inside. They pick a winner every day! 

After years of participating, my brother-in-law brought home the prize a few years ago - a gift basket full of Mt. Olive products and the pride of winning of course!

10. Candy Apples and Cotton Candy

I'm one of those "weird" people who does NOT like candy apples. I do love the caramel ones and the cotton candy though! This vendor sells plain red candy apples and plain caramel apples for only 1.50 each - The best price I could find. And here they are normally very fresh and just right. 

You can find these guys on your way in or out of Gate 8 past the Hobbies and Crafts building (actually they are very close to the roasted corn and the pony rides). 

The Fair - Such a fun tradition in October. There are a few  other things that didn't make the list because I didn't have a pic or I didn't try them: Deep Fried Mushrooms (my favorite food next to the cookie dough), Pumpkin funnel cake (sounds good), Jesse James footlongs (booth by the Exhibition Center), and of course, riding the Ferris Wheel!

I hope that you get the chance to go to the NC State Fair this year! Let me know what some of your favorites are!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Shut the Front Door!

About a month ago, I was in a serious cleaning mode (something that fall weather just seems to do to me) and as I was coming in the side door to our house, I was suddenly taken back by the condition of the door and everything around it. No, it was not dilapidated or rotting away, but it did have a nice coat of dust, dirt, and grime on it. And Oh, the cobwebs around the light fixtures...YUCK!

Naturally, I had to do something about it...I took out my cleaning bucket and rag and went to town wiping off all of my exterior doors. Surprisingly, it didn't take long at all to give the doors a good wipe-down and knock down the cobwebs with my outdoor broom. To prevent the cobwebs from being back in place the next morning (those persistent little spiders), I sprayed some spider repellent where the cobwebs had been. My outside doors look fresh and ready to brave the rest of the fall season.

Now, the question is...what do your doors look like? Take time this week to give them a quick wipe down! That's this Tuesday's Tune-Up! Happy Cleaning!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Tune-Up: Your Microwave

If you are anything like me, you have a cleaning routine that you stick to on a regular basis. Even if it is not on a detailed schedule, when you clean, you clean the same things. Unfortunately, I tend to miss the little things when I clean in my normal, systematic fashion. I have a list of things that have to be done monthly, bi-monthly, and semi-annually, but there are still all those little things that I seem to miss.

Those little things are going to be the focus of my new weekly update called "Tuesday Tune-Up." I want to try to help us all freshen up the little things that we seem to overlook in our cleaning on an everyday basis (At least I know I do). You know, it's those little details that you've grown so accustomed to that you don't realize it needs attention until company comes over and it seems to magically jump out at you - YIKES!

This week, take a look at your microwave. It can be the collector of some really NASTY grime and gunk. My microwave is built-in above my stove, and all of the steam that rises can cause dust and a strange sticky film to build up on the door and vents. And the inside - well, all of that cooking we do tends to leave quite a bit of greasy splatter all over the place. Really, go open yours up and tell me it's not gross if you haven't given it a good bath lately! So, this Tuesday, take about 5 minutes and clean it up on the inside and out! You'll be glad you did!

I like to use a Mr Clean Magic Eraser - It works marvelously against all that muck and greasy grime. (Of course hot water and soap works well too.)

Just a little of attention, and your microwave will be shiny and fresh! 
Happy Cleaning!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Free Coffee?...Yes, Please!

I love to stop on the way out and get a cup of coffee somewhere...and this week, I can do it for free! 
McDonalds is giving away free cups of its small premium roast coffee now through 9/29! 

Make sure you stop by and get yourself a cup this week! Hopefully this will spice up your mornings! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Waiting til' "I Do"

I read this article on fox news and just had to share it! We are so bombarded by a culture that pushes young couples into losing their virginity at an early age. Not only am I against having sex outside of marriage for all of the health and safety reasons, but more importantly, I believe it is biblically wrong. God set up the physical relationship shared between a man and wife, and He created it to be a beautiful experience that continues to grow as a man and woman spend their lives together in marriage.

(Click here to read article)

Like the author of this article, I too can say that waiting until my wedding night was well worth it! I would not trade the decision for anything. Call it old-fashioned, judgmental, crazy, whatever you want, you will never convince me that I did not do it the right way. I have an amazing husband and life gets better and better as we grow closer together - We have a trust and intimacy that I believe would be missing had we not waited until we said our vows to celebrate our oneness as husband and wife.

Moms, read this article to you children! Let them know that "everyone is NOT doing it!" and that they too can enjoy a guilt-free marriage one day and get married the right way!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Candles

Decorating on a Dime from Dollar Tree!
I absolutely LOVE fall! The cool, crisp air, the changing leaves, and the colors! Naturally, decorating for fall is something I look forward to every year! I like to add something new if I can each year, and since the budget is tight this year, I needed something CHEAP if I was going to add something to my collection of fall decor. I found a candle that looked similar to this and decided to shop at Dollar Tree to see if I could remake it for an awesome price!

You too can spruce up your home with new fall decorations with these on-the-cheap candles from Dollar Tree. All of the materials came from Dollar Tree and you can make two candles for just $6!

This can be made with a vase, candle, one pack of raffia, and unpopped popcorn.
I bought a normal box of popcorn, opened the bags, and rinsed the popcorn in a strainer to get the butter and grease off. Let it dry, and it takes just 5 minutes to put this touch of fall together!
Happy Decorating!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Defy Gravity

This year we rented out this AMAZING new place in Durham for our annual Different Student Ministries Kick-Off Retreat! Wow! Four hours of fantastic fun - that's all I can say. I had never heard about anything like this before, but I definitely recommend it for anyone with kids in the Raleigh/Durham area.

This place is 7,000 square feet of trampolines! Like I said - AMAZING! Your kids will love it!

In addition to the fun that this arena provides, I love that there is a Kid Jump time Mon-Fri from 10am til 12pm. The cost for kids 6 and under is $8/hr and the accompanying adult jumps for free! 

They also have a foam pit that I'll admit I was totally scared excited to try out - I became an olympic gymnast! 

Family Night takes place from 6-9pm on Monday nights and the whole family jumps for $35/hr. (This saves money as long as you are a family of 3 or more!)

Defy Gravity gets a thumbs up from me! Check it out!
(Yes, we are still kids at heart!)

Here's their site:

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Just a reminder to all of you avid couponers! Harris Teeter begins super doubles up to $2 today! Plan your trip and save lots of cash! Look for deal postings soon to come! Happy Couponing!

Super Double Coupons - We'll double coupons up to $2.00 face value! September 12-18, 2012!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

DIY Pita Chips

I really wanted something to dip in my guacamole the other day, so I decided to make my own pita chips and thought I would share the recipe since they turned out oh-so-yummy!

Step 1: Use a pizza cutter to slice a flour tortilla into small triangles (make them look like mini-chips!)

Step 2: Spread your chips onto a baking sheet or stone. 

Step 3: Take your favorite olive oil and brush it over the tortilla pieces. 

Step 4: Sprinkle seasoning over pieces. (I used garlic salt and pizza seasoning. Italian seasoning would work well too.)

Step 5: Bake @ 350 for 7 minutes (shorter time for softer pieces, longer for crispier pieces). 

Step 6: Cool and enjoy!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Get $$ for Lysol Products - Rite Aid

This deal starts at Rite Aid on 9/9 - Print your coupons now so you are prepared!

Here’s a fantastic deal coming up next week at Rite Aid on Lysol Power & Free Cleaner! Check this out:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August Adventures

Wow! August has been a CRAZY month for me and the fam. We started the month with Owen's first official vacation. Atlanta was our destination for three days with the whole Rabon crew. Stone Mountain, a tour of Turner Field, and an Atlanta Braves game filled the schedule of our short trip. We did have a blast though and it was the only small getaway we had this summer.

Of course without any breaks between our mini vacation and youth conference, we left with our teens on Sunday night to head to youth conference for the week (Yes, we took Owen, but Nana tagged along to keep him during the day - lifesaver!). It was a wonderful week and God worked in the hearts of our teenagers!

The next weekend we held our annual Different Student Ministries Kick-off Retreat. This was followed by RCA's High School Retreat at camp for three days. - Whew! At this point I feel like the teens' momma - Haha!

And finally, we finished off the month by traveling to Murfreesboro, TN where Phil was invited to preach at Franklin Road Baptist Church's opening teen revival. It was wonderful to see the work and ministry of Franklin Road and we thoroughly enjoyed our week there as God worked in the hearts of their teens.

Now September is here, and although we won't be traveling quite as much, the calendar is still almost full :) But as I said to a friend this week, "What fun is life if your plate isn't full?" I'm thankful for all of the busyness in my life! Now, on to September! (And welcome back the Pumpkin Spice Latte!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Free 4x6 Prints

Please don't miss your opportunity to get 50 Free 4x6 prints at Target! I got mine today!

1. Go to coupons.target.com
2. Select the $5 off 50 4x6 prints coupon and print it
3. Go to Target and order your 50 prints (one-hour developing)
4. Pick up free pictures! Yay!

Target has their 4x6 prints on sale through Saturday for $.10 each. 50 prints @ that price = $5 and your $5 coupon from Target's website will make them FREE!!!!

I asked the worker at the counter today if many people used the coupon. She said NO! Take advantage of it before Saturday ends!

Monday, August 13, 2012

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

I got this from Jennifer Flanders on her blog http://lovinglifeathome.wordpress.com/ and wanted to share it with you! How truly important it is for us to communicate RESPECT to our husbands!

25 Ways to Communicate Respect

Actions speak louder than words. You can say you respect your husband, but he’ll have a hard time believing that unless your behavior backs it up.
What does respectful living look like? Here are 25 ways you can communicate respect to your spouse without uttering a word. If you’ll make it your habit to do these things, the next time you tell your husband how much you respect him, he won’t have to wonder if you really mean it.
  1. Choose Joy
    It’s true: A happy wife makes a happy life. Please don’t use moodiness as an attempt to manipulate your man, but in all things rejoice, because that’s the right thing to do. (1 Thessaonians 5:16;Philippians 4:4)
  2. Honor His Wishes
    Give weight to what your husband thinks is important. Make those things a priority that matter most to him, whether it’s having dinner ready when he gets home from work or keeping the house tidy or limiting computer time. Don’t make him ask twice. (Philippians 2:4)
  3. Give Him Your Undivided Attention
    Yes, I know that women are masters of multi-tasking, but when your husband is speaking to you, make a point to lay other tasks aside, look into his eyes, and listen to what he is saying with the goal of understanding and remembering his words.
  4. Don’t Interrupt
    Have you ever been around a person who won’t let you finish a sentence? That gets old fast. Even if you think you already know what your husband is going to say, allowing him to say it without cutting him off mid-sentence shows both respect and common courtesy.
  5. Emphasize His Good Points
    Sure, he has his faults (as do you), but dwelling on them will only make you (both) miserable. Choose instead to focus on those qualities in your husband that you most admire. (Philippians 4:8)
  6. Pray for Him
    Ruth Graham advises wives to “tell your mate the positive, and tell God the negative.” Take your concerns to God. Faithfully lift up your husband in prayer every day, and you will likely notice a transformation not only in him, but in yourself, as well. (Philipians 4:6-71 Thessalonians 5:17)
  7. Don’t Nag
    Your husband is a grown man, so don’t treat him like a two-year-old. Leave room for God to work. You are not the Holy Spirit, so do not try to do His job.
  8. Be Thankful
    Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Don’t take your husband for granted. Be appreciative for everything he does for you, whether big or small. Always say thank you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18Ephesians 5:20)
  9. Smile at Him
    Smiles spread happiness. Smiles have even been shown to create happiness. Smiles are contagious. And a smile makes any woman more beautiful.
  10. Respond Physically
    Did you know that the way you respond (or don’t respond) to your husband’s romantic overtures has a profound effect on his self-confidence? Don’t slap him away when he tries to hug you or make excuses when he’s in the mood. Your enthusiastic cooperation and reciprocation will not only assure him of your love, but will make him feel well-respected, too. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  11. Eyes Only for Him
    Don’t compare your husband unfavorably to other men, real or imaginary. It is neither fair nor respectful and will only breed trouble and discontent. Avoid watching movies or reading books that might cause you to stumble in this area, as well. (Psalm 19:14Proverbs 4:23)
  12. Kiss Him Goodbye
    I once read about a study done in Germany which found that men whose wives kissed them goodbye every morning were more successful than those who weren’t kissed. Success and respect often go hand-in-hand, so be sure to send him off right, and don’t forget to greet him with a kiss when he returns home, for good measure. (2 Corinthians 13:12)
  13. Prepare His Favorite Foods
    Although the rest of the family is not overly-fond of spaghetti, my husband loves it, so I try to make it at least two or three times a month as a way to honor him. Next time you’re planning meals, give special consideration to your husband’s preferences. (Proverbs 31:14-15)
  14. Cherish Togetherness
    I love to sit near my husband, whether at home or away. Our church shares potluck dinners every Sunday afternoon, and although the men and women normally sit separately to visit, I like to position myself close enough to my husband that I can listen to the conversation, as I think everything he says is so interesting. At home, I’ll take my book or handwork to whatever room in the house he’s working in, just to be close to him, because I enjoy his company, even when neither of us is talking.
  15. Don’t Complain
    Nobody wants to be around a whiner or complainer. It is grating on the nerves. Remember the serenity prayer: accept the things you can’t change, courageously change the things you can, seek wisdom to know the difference. (Philippians 2:14)
  16. Resist the Urge to Correct
    I know one wife whose spouse can’t tell a story without her stopping him fifteen times to correct inconsequential details: “It wasn’t Monday evening, it was Monday afternoon…. It wasn’t blue, it was turquoise…. He didn’t ride the bus, he took a shuttle.” Please. Please. Please. Don’t ever do that to your husband — or to anyone else, for that matter! (Proverbs 17:28)
  17. Dress to Please Him
    Take care of your appearance. Choose clothes your husband finds flattering, both in public and around the house.
  18. Keep the House Tidy
    To the best of your abilities, try to maintain a clean and orderly home. Seek to make it a haven of rest for your entire family. (Proverbs 31:27)
  19. Be Content
    Do not pressure your husband to keep up with the Jonses. Take satisfaction in the lifestyle he is able to provide for you. (1 Timothy 6:6-10Hebrews 13:5)
  20. Take His Advice
    Do not dismiss his opinions lightly, especially when you’ve asked for his counsel in the first place. Make every effort to follow your husband’s advice.
  21. Admire Him
    Voiced compliments and heartfelt praise are always welcome, but you should also make it your habit to just look at your husband in a respectful, appreciative way. Think kind thoughts toward him. He’ll be able to see the admiration in your eyes. (Luke 6:45)
  22. Protect His Name
    Honor your husband in the way you speak of him to family and friends. Guard his reputation and do not let minor disagreements at home cause you to speak ill of him in public. Live in such a way that it will be obvious to others why your husband married you in the first place. (Proverbs 12:422:1)
  23. Forgive His Shortcomings
    In the words of Ruth Bell Graham, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Please do not hold grudges against your husband. Do not allow a root of bitterness or resentment find a home in your heart. Forgive your husband freely, as Christ has forgiven you. (Mark 11:25Matthew 18:21-35)
  24. Don’t Argue
    You are not always right, and you do not always have to have the last word. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” Be willing to accept the blame. It takes two to argue, so “abandon a quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs 17:1421:1925:24)
  25. Follow His Lead
    If you want your husband to lead, you must be willing to follow. Neither a body nor a family can function well with two heads. Learn to defer to your husband’s wishes and let final decisions rest with him. (Ephesians 5:22-24)