Monthly Archives: April 2013

Helpful Hints for Around the Home

CleaningWhen I first got married I would have loved to know all these hints. Unfortunately, I had to learn most of these the hard way, trial and error, until someone showed me the easier way. These hints would have saved me a lot of hard work, which is why I want to share them. Hopefully, you won’t have your water boiling over or end up scrubbing pans for days on end. And while this list isn’t extensive, these are a few things that I’ve learned during my cleaning experience. And I have had a lot of cleaning experience. I was employed as a housekeeper for about 7 months. And I had a wide variety of clients and cleaned many different houses. Without further ado here are my hints:

  1. Put a wooden spoon over your boiling water to keep it from boiling over.
  2. Spray sticky substances with Windex, leave it alone for a few seconds, then wipe-off! Viola! Works well with sweet tea and pop (s0da for those Easterns reading this), making clean-up easy!
  3. Immediately after eating a bowl of oatmeal, fill bowl with water. This keeps the last few oats from sticking to the bowl and makes it easier to clean. This also works well with other dirty pots and pans.
  4. Magic erasers (by Mr. Clean) save you lots of time and heartache when cleaning the tub and shower. They get rid of black marks and soap scum easily.
  5. Fill a microwavable bowl half full of water and add a tablespoon of white vinegar. Place in microwave and run microwave for about five minutes. Take out and wipe down microwave with a wet sponge. No more scrubbing the microwave!
  6. Old tooth brushes can be recycled to clean the bathroom. All that scum that clings around your faucet will come off now. Also, a tooth brush can be used to hard to get spaces on the toliet, etc. The possibilities are endless and you get extra wear out of your toothbrushes.
  7. Use bread knife to get fused on substances off of a stovetop. Be careful to not rub too hard. This works wonders and makes scrubbing a little easier. Just don’t do this with burnt on sugar (see hint 2 for help).
  8. Having trouble cleaning your mini George Foreman grills? After using, unplug and place wet paper towels inside. Let stand for a few minutes then wipe the grill clean!
  9. Bar Keepers Friend works wonders for cleaning dirty sinks. Simply sprinkle a little throughout the sink, then take a wet sponge or cloth and wipe. I suggest using a toothbrush to get the in tight spots. I also recommend using gloves with this product.
  10. Mopping! Okay, so mops work well in most rooms, but if you live in an old home that tends to get dusty, I recommend getting on the floor and doing it yourself. Yeah I know it takes a little longer, but the results are worth it. And you won’t have to mop quite as much.
  11. Organization is the key to keeping things clean. The problem is, it’s easy to organize, but then we get lazy. Don’t get lazy because you’ll end up having to organize all over again. There is a place for everything and everything in it’s place. Don’t just think you’ll clean it up later, do it now! Then later you can relax!

Working Out in the Internet Age

We live in the age of Internet, and I think you all know this. The Internet has changed everything from the way we reworkingoutad news to our shopping habits. So why shouldn’t the Internet change the way we workout? I’m all into saving money and I’m totally obsessed with Pinterest! That’s why I decided to challenge myself to workout only using online workouts! I wanted to see if I could really get a good workout using free internet sites, and I found that I could. Who needs dvds? Video games? Or classes? All you need is a computer, some dumbbells, and a desire to change your body. The good thing is internet workouts work your whole body! I can do a ten minute arm workout, a 15 minute abs section, and a leg workout, too. I’m slowly working towards my bikini body (without the bikini of course). I love mixing it up and trying new things, which is good because I’m constantly finding good new workouts. And the best part is it’s free! I didn’t pay a penny for any of these workouts. Here are some of my findings! Follow me on pinterest, because I’m constantly pinning new workouts. Who said working out should get boring? I have too many routines to get bored with.

  1. Jeannette Jenkins Ab workout-This is a killer 10 minute ab workout. You will be seriously tired by the end of this one. It’s fast paced and works the whole body while focusing on the abs.
  2. Inner Thigh Gap Workout-A great inner thigh workout! It doesn’t take too long, so if you really want to push yourself you should do this a couple of times
  3. Malibooty Workout-Great booty workout! Also, works the leg muscles. Not challenged enough? Try doing this multiple times.
  4. 10-Minute Arm Workout-This arm workout is for toning not bulking. It’s the perfect way to work your arms. I’ve been doing it for about a week now and I’m already seeing definition.
  5. Drop a Jean Size Workout-I love how this workout includes exercises that work the whole body: arms, legs, back, and abs. You can’t beat that. Also, it includes blueprints for good half hour workouts to get the heart pumping.
  6. Turkey Burner Workout-Challenge yourself by adding more reps to this workout. This is another workout that works multiple muscle groups for a good whole body workout. I like using this one in combination with other workouts.
  7. Jillian Michael’s Six Week Ab Workout Level 1-I love how the warm-up gets the heart pumping and stretches the muscles. The warm-up feels like a workout in and of itself. As you get better you can speed up the workout by skipping to the second section of the program.
  8. Thigh Toning Exercises-Great ways to work your thighs around the house. I don’t have a ball, so I’ve only done the stairs and wall exercises.

And this is just a start! There are so many more workouts available online, so skip the gym, no more pricey treadmills, forget the dvds, and workout at home! If you don’t know where to start, try checking out my healthy living board on pinterest.  Now get up and start working towards the body you know you’ve always wanted to have.

The Cup: A Content Movie Review

I saw a commercial for this movie the other day, and thought it looked good. I’m a sports movie junky. Much to my surprise Netflix had “The Cup” available on streaming. Now all I had to do was check the content online and I would be good. Unfortunately there weren’t any content reviews online, which is why I’m writing this blog post. Warning: this review may contain possible spoilers. I’ll do my best not to give everything away.  

 

“The Cup” is the true story of two jockey brothers in Australia. The brothers come from a family with a rich history of horseracing. Their father was a jockey who died in a tragic racing accident when the boys were little. Damien Olliver is hired to ride Media Puzzle in the Melbourne Cup. Media Puzzle is owned by an Irishman and isn’t expected to place, due to a sitting out a year with an injury. On the eve of the Melbourne Cup, Jason Olliver is injured in a tragic horseriding accident, and the younger brother must decide if he will race in the cup or not. It’s not quite as exciting as some of your standard sports movies like “Remember the Titans” or ”Glory Road,” but in its own way it creates drama. Since the movie is set in Australia everyone has an accent, which at times makes them hard to understand. My husband and I had to turn on closed captioning to understand what they were saying. The accents are fun to listen to, though. And they make curse words harder to hear, unless you have closed captioning on. Altogether it’s a pretty entertaining movie. There are a few things in it that you might want to investigate before deciding whether or not to watch it. I list them below.

 

Content:

Language: Like I said, cursing is hard to understand because of the accents. There are a few (possibly 3 or 4, if you count “crap”) curse words sprinkled throughout the movie as well as the frequent use of “bloody.”

 

Sexual: Damien is living with his girlfriend (not a really noticeable fact other than he calls her his girlfriend once at the beginning of the film). There is some chaste kissing throughout the movie. There’s one scene where Damien and his presumable girlfriend are in bed and go under the covers together, insinuating but never showing. As horrible as this all sounds, since the relationship with the girlfriend is never a focal point, you really don’t notice it.

 

Spiritual: The family is catholic. At one point Mrs. Olliver prays to her dead husband for help. There are a few mentions of the afterlife. And Damien tells his brother to do right in heaven. Also, one character talks about his sister who is dead and how she is with them in this race.

 

Violence: None!

 

Disturbing Elements: Jason is pretty disturbing looking hooked up to the machines. Also, Jason’s accident is horrific. You see him on the ground and you see the horse coming down on top of him. There’s no blood and you don’t see the body on the ground afterwards, but still it’s pretty gruesome.

 

Drugs and Alcohol: They do drink periodically throughout the film. Also, a few screen shots take place inside a bar, but these are only spectator scenes (they’re watching The Cup on TV from a bar).

 

Spa in a Box

This Christmas my husband gave me what was, without a doubt, the most creative Christmas giDSCN4421ft. He totally surprised me with it. So what was it? Well, I’m glad you asked. It was a box with “S. I. A. P.” written on the outside. Intriguing! Inside was what he called “Spa in a Box.” Instead of giving me a day at an expensive spa (something we definitely couldn’t afford), he gave me the gift of quality time spent together and wonderful products. You see, he agreed to personally pamper me with the stuff he bought and create a spa like atmosphere at home. Pretty romantic! This gift is perfect for quality time. I combined some of his gifts with ideas of my own for my readers to create a list of choices for your own Spa in a Box. This could be the perfect gift for friends, family members, and wives. I only recommend offering to do the services for your spouse, possibly close friends and sisters? Otherwise, leave them to their own fun. By the way, I don’t recommend individually wrapping everything inside of the box, not unless the presentee likes opening tons of presents (I do)!

  1. Exfoliating Facial Buffs-work wonders with a good favorite facial cleanser
  2. Gel Eye Mask-soothes the tired senses. Bonus it can be used either cold or warm.
  3. Facial Mask-don’t forget the cucumbers!
  4. Bath and Body Works Lotion-Added bonus if you know her favorite scent!
  5. Toe Separators
  6. Smoothing Block
  7. Nail Wide Brush
  8. Nail Polish-pick a crazy color that she probably has never tried before or pick her favorite color
  9. Body Spray or Perfume-more bonus points if you pick the right scent
  10. Candles-what could be more relaxing then these?
  11. Chocolate-because every women finds it relaxing
  12. Nail Filer-every women needs an extra one
  13. Leave-in-Conditioner-let her pamper her hair while she’s taking care of the rest of her body. Added bonus this will last her a long time. Find out what her favorite line of hair products are. I highly recommend Fructis for this.
  14. Scrunchies-because every women loses these.
  15. Bathrobe-if you want to splurge a little, buy a brand new robe. We can always use a good comfy bathrobe.
  16. Hand Cream-if you purchase it in smaller bottles, she’ll be able to keep it in her purse.manicure
  17. Flip-Flops-cute ones! Something perfect to show off the new manicure.
  18. Facial Moisturizer
  19. Hairspray-pick her favorite
  20. Hair Gel-again pick her favorite. This is only recommended if you know what she likes.
  21. Exfoliating Cream
  22. Lip Gloss-chose a favorite like
  23. Washcloth-roll them up into a cool design. Also, include a matching hand towel.
  24. Nail Clippers
  25. Eye Cream-you could get several different types of these
  26. Oil Free Make-up Remover
  27. Scented Foot Salts-for a good foot soak
  28. Bubble Bath
  29. Bath Oil-in a soothing scent
  30. Body Wash-possibly matching the lotion’s scent
  31. Shampoo and Conditioner-get her her favorite brand, possibly something that she doesn’t like to spend money on?
  32. Babysitting Coupon-because what mom wouldn’t want a child-free spa time
  33. Tea or hot chocolate-whichever she prefers

Stretching Clothing

I have this dress that I bought at Old Navy, and I totally love it! I got it for only $10 dollars! It’s my favorite church dress. I love pairing it with a pair of bright colored tights and boots. Or bright colored tights and high heels (I think you’re getting the picture)! My favorite bright color at present is purple tights, although I’m considering getting red tights for Christmas next year. Anyway, I had to wash this dress a few weeks ago… well, I forgot to let it air dry and dried it in the dryer (I probably should say shrunk instead of dried). I was heartbroken. The dress used to come to just above the knee; now it’s a good 4-5 inches above the knee. Not a good Pastor’s wife outfit. I had already lost my dress, so I had nothing to lose in trying to stretch it. I followed an Ehow tutorial on how to unshrink clothing, and here’s the results!

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I soaked my dress in lukewarm water with 2 tablespoons of my favorite conditioner. I let it soak for a little over ten minutes, then I took it out and began the stretching process.

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I laid out a beach towel on the kitchen table, and started stretching. I pulled and pulled on the dress (like I said I had nothing to lose). Then I pulled some more. I even got my husband involved in the pulling process. I would then leave the dress alone for a few minutes and come back and pull again. I made sure to pull the arms, waist, and skirt part. I wanted the whole dress to stretch out. After awhile I decided lying down wasn’t the best way to dry the dress, so I hung it up on a wood hanger. I didn’t want the shoulders of the dress to shape to my hanger, so I made sure to use a hanger that wouldn’t do that. I stretched it every now and then and left it alone to dry. Voila (my new favorite word)! It worked! Check out the results!

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I was so happy that I wore it to church the next day! It did take a long time to dry, but it was worth it. I definitely recommend this process for any clothes that shrink because of neglect or dryer time (as in my case). And trust me, I won’t be putting this through the dryer again! Smile

Counting My Blessings

Okay, I’ll come clean. A lot of times it’s hard for me to see the blessings that I have. I get so focused on what others have and what I don’t have that I fail to see the blessings that God has given me: I fail to count my blessings. Yeah, so it might seem like someone else has a lot of stuff and I have very little. But what I do have is a blessing from God. Colossians 3:16 says “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”  Or Psalm 95:2 “Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” Obviously, I have a lot to be thankful for. My salvation is something that daily I should be giving thanks to God for; He didn’t have to give me, a sinner, eternal life and yet He did. But on top of that God has richly blessed me with so much more. I shouldn’t just stop and be thankful on on Thanksgiving; instead, I should be thankful every day, realizing that God has given me so much that I don’t deserve. Today instead of focusing on what I don’t have or what I want to have, I’m going to thank God for what I do have. I’m going to make a list of my blessings, and I challenge you to make one, too. Think of all the blessings that God has given you, then write them out and thank God for them. James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” Every good gift is from God. Here’s my blessing list:

  1. Salvation (I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but you can never mention salvation too much). God in His infinite love sent His son Jesus Christ to die on a cross so that I can have the free gift of salvation! Wow!
  2. A husband who works hard and loves me. He challenges me in my walk with the Lord, and he seeks to grow me.
  3. Charlie! My puppy! I don’t know what I would do without her. She brings so much joy and unconditional love into my life. She’s an amazing pet! When I’m feeling sad, she’ll just curl up in my lap and let me pet her.
  4. My cats (Bella and Ivy), the little stinkers. Who right now are in a particularly cuddly mood. I love sitting on the couch and having them curl up in my laps (but not all the time, girls)!
  5. A new laptop for my birthday! Which is what I use to write all my blog posts. My husband surprised me with a touch screen laptop, which is amazing for playing games like the Treasures of Montezuma.
  6. A great youth group. It’s been such a blessing getting to know these guys and girls and getting to minister to them. They are some of the most friendly and accepting people in the church.
  7. A new bedspread that I got for half the price I was expecting to pay at Kohls! I love Kohls’ sales!
  8. Spring! After the long cold winter we have had Spring is such a blessing. I got to wear shorts yesterday when I worked out.
  9. Pinterest! Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I’m constantly finding new good recipes, cool DIY ideas, clothes, and exercises! I love being able to use Pinterest.
  10. My blog readers! It’s pretty cool writing stuff and knowing that other people are reading what you write. I’m really blessed to have as many readers as I do. You guys are a huge encouragement to me.
  11. A great family and extended family. I know a lot of people can’t stand their in-laws, but my in-laws are amazing. They pray for me and encourage me. I’m blessed to have them as well as my own family. My mom is amazing–she has 4 kids living at home, teaches Sunday School/Wednesday nights, volunteers, keeps a home running, and still has time to talk on the phone. Not to mention my amazing brothers and sisters! I love them all.
  12. Healthy food to eat, when we were first married fruits and veggies were a luxury due to a tight budget. I’ve learned how to shop, and how to save money on these items. And they’ve become a staple in our diet.
  13. The Bible! I know a lot of languages still don’t have the written word of God, but I do. I don’t have to hear what a missionary or preacher says God’s Words says; instead, I can read it for myself on a daily basis.
  14. A Wii! I love my Wii! I use it to play games, work out, and just pass the time. I’ve become a lot more fit due to my workout regime with the Wii. I may not have the latest and greatest system, but I love it!
  15. My Wednesday night kid’s group! I teach the 3-5 year olds, and I enjoy every moment of it. They are so inquisitive, and teachable. Not to mention the fact that at times they are incredibly sweet.
  16. Clothes to wear! I may not have all the latest fads in my closet, but I do have some really cool clothes.
  17. AE jeans! I didn’t think I’d ever find a pair of jeans I actually liked, but I did. I love these jeans, and I’m never going back. Other jeans were too rough or didn’t fit right. These jeans are perfect! I wear them all the time.
  18. Friends! God’s blessed me with some great friends since I’ve moved to PA. I’m blessed to be able to get to know new people, and also I have a great group of core friends from before PA. I may not have the most friends ever, or even be popular, but that doesn’t matter I have people who love me!
  19. Unemployed! I finally have time to work on organizing and decorating my house. Not to mention training Charlie! And I have some cool projects that I’m waiting to start (will post on that later).
  20. A loving heavenly Father who freely gives to me even though I don’t deserve it. “Morning by morning new mercies I see, Great is Thy faithfulness.” God in His infinite mercy gives to me things that I don’t deserve and daily blesses me. And when I go through trials, He faithfully teaches me and gives me the strength to make it through. He is continually growing me and preparing me for heaven!

Teaching Kids About Salvation

Cross

This Easter I’ve noticed some things about the Easter story that I never thought of before. I’ve always been taught to pray the sinner’s prayer; the problem is at times that prayer can become a way of earning salvation. Now, I’m not saying the prayer is bad (it’s not), but it can be used wrongly. We put such an emphasis on praying a prayer and fail to put the emphasis on faith. Then we start teaching this to a bunch of little kids and telling them that they need to pray a prayer. They’re going to start thinking that their salvation comes from the prayer and not from the work of Christ on the cross. I know that many who are teaching this don’t mean to lead kids wrongly, but they end up doing that anyway.

This Easter I had the privilege on teaching Children’s Church. I got to teach about Jesus’ death and resurrection! While studying for my lesson, I was struck by the salvation testimony of the thief on the cross. Luke 23:39-43 says, “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”” The thief didn’t pray a prayer; instead, he believed that Jesus Christ was God’s son and trusted that Jesus would save him from his sins.  Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? It’s about believing that Jesus is who He says He is and trusting that He does, indeed, have the power to save us from our sins and trusting in Him to save us. John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Romans 10:9 says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I think this is where the sinner’s prayer comes in. It’s the confessing part. If we believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, then we as Christians are commanded to confess with our lips, to proclaim what He has done for us. The problem is, when we’re teaching children, the prayer often becomes misconstrued as the device that saves us. There’s nothing wrong with praying a prayer to “confess with your mouth,” but there is a problem when that prayer becomes the focal point. It’s really easy for a kid to misunderstand. That’s why this Easter I taught them about the thief; the thief who one day I will see in heaven. The thief who believed in His heart and confessed with His mouth Christ’s Lordship. That’s what I want these kids to do–believe and confess, not rely on a prayer.

I know I wrestled for years over whether or not I was saved. The thing that sealed the deal for me was the realization that at some point I had confessed Christ as Lord and had believed He saved me from my sins. I don’t know the date that I was saved; I don’t know the prayer that I prayed. But I do know that I’m saved. In the Old Testament faith was trusting that God would provide a way for Israel to be saved from their sins; they didn’t know about Christ’s death, but they knew that God had promised them salvation and they hung onto that promise. Wow! That takes a lot of faith. Today it’s much  easier for us to believe because we know about Christ’s redeeming work on the cross.

John 19:32-33 says, “So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead , they did not break his legs.” My pastor pointed out that they broke the legs to hurry up their death. The thieves would no longer be able to pull themselves up, so they would suffocate to death. That painful act for one of those thieves hurried him into eternity! He no longer suffers! But they didn’t break Christ’s legs because He was already dead.  What’s the significance of this? Christ willingly gave up His life for us! “He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30).

“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God”” (Matthew 27:54). Another possible conversion at the cross! My point is that these people simply believed and confessed; they didn’t pray a magical prayer. Again, I’m not saying the prayer is wrong, but we should be wary of holding onto it. Remember, “we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isaiah 64:6). There is nothing we can do to earn our way to heaven, not even praying a prayer. It’s all about faith. For an adult praying a prayer is their way of confessing, but for a child being taught to pray a prayer puts them emphasis on the prayer and not on faith. My concern is that children will, like I did, misunderstand and worry about the prayer. That’s why I think we need to teach kids to believe that Christ can save them from their sins and that He is the Son of God. We don’t need to teach them about a sinner’s prayer, although we certainly do need to teach them how to pray. I’m just concerned that we’re teaching kids to pray a prayer and viola! they’re now saved! For some of those kids they just prayed the prayer, and they didn’t actually put their faith in Christ. They’ll cling to that prayer, to that action, for their salvation. Never realizing it’s all about faith! Or some may pray the prayer and then for years doubt their salvation because they aren’t sure if they prayed it right. When kids come to us, we pray with them. Often times we coach them through the whole prayer because they’ll tell us they don’t know how to pray. They need to be telling God what they just told us. Christ doesn’t command us to be eloquent! The thief didn’t make an eloquent testimony of faith. Instead, he just believed. The thief knew he had sinned and asked Jesus to remember him. This man is in heaven right now because He acknowledged Christ’s lordship and believed Christ would save Him. Let’s put the emphasis where it really belongs!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Okay, I know french fries don’t exactly go with healthy, but this recipe is healthy. And it’s easy (at least once you’ve cut up the potatoes). All the recipe calls for is cooking spray (low calorie) and potatoes. I actually used sweet potatoes last time I made these, but it works just as well with regular potatoes. The only difference is that sweet potatoes are a lot harder to cut up before they’re cooked. Also, sweet potatoes are harder to peel.

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Two ingredients!

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Cover a cookie sheet in cooking spray. Cut up your potatoes into long strips that resemble french fries, and place on cookie sheet. Spray again with cooking spray once you have the french fries on.

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Place in the oven at 425 degrees for 5-7 minutes! And you have fries! Serve with ketchup or your favorite dipping agent. This makes a low calorie substitute to fried french fries. And like I said this works well with potatoes, too.

 

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

One Sweet Potato

Cooking Spray

Pre-heat oven to 425. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut up potatoes into long strips, and place on greased cookie sheet. Spray potatoes with cooking spray. Cook for 5-7 minutes at 425.