It’s that time of year, when the flowers are in bloom, the kids are still in school and you set your sights on Spring Cleaning.
Most women, at the mention of those two little words, cringe, and for a while I was right there with you. Room by room I’d start to sort through piles of unworn clothes, paperwork that badly needed filing and other knick-knacks I’d collected over the last year. (How on EARTH did I end up with so many mismatched socks and an excess of coffee mugs when I’m not even a coffee drinker?)
Feeling overwhelmed and burdened by something that SHOULD make me feel lighter, I took a step back, took a deep breath and got organized. Below is a guide to five ways you can clear the clutter in a way that is fast, efficient and (nearly) STRESS-FREE. I couldn’t totally sell it like it’s a beach vacation ladies, we are still cleaning after all.
1. Make Yourself A Schedule:
This is number one. With so many responsibilities for today’s woman, we won’t make time to deep clean or Spring clean unless we schedule it. Pick a day and a few hours on a calendar and make it an appointment for you and your home to have some uninterrupted one on one time. I have a large home, so I usually schedule 1-2 hours a day for an entire week to complete it.
2. Take It One Room At A Time:
For so long, when I’d take on a task such as “clean the house” or “Spring clean” I would tinker a little in each room, not accomplishing all that I wanted to get done and feeling like I didn’t do enough. Now, I make it a point to take just one or two rooms a day and complete them before moving on to the next. That way I have areas that are sparkling, and can focus all my attention on the next spot that needs my attention.
3. Prioritize The Critical Corners:
Spring cleaning means cleaning out and sorting through things you’ve probably haven’t gone through in a year (or maybe more). Old paperwork, coupons, receipts, clothes, chipped kitchenware, all the stuff that gets forgotten. It’s important to not only schedule out your rooms, but the corners of the rooms that needed the most TLC. For me that means the mail cubbies in my kitchen, sorting through silverware and cleaning out my pantry. In my office, its sorting tax documents, organizing receipts and business cards and cleaning off my computer. And so forth…
4. Commit To Letting Go:
This one is a hard one for a lot of people. I’m a purger, meaning I probably get rid of too much each year, whereas my husband likes to hold on to things. If it’s important documentation, tax receipts or sentimental items, find an organized, specific place for them. If it’s old mail you don’t need, shred it. If it’s clothing you havn’t wore since last year when you held onto it during Spring Cleaning, donate it or throw it away. It’s ok to let go. It makes room for the new.
5. Think Twice, Before You Buy:
Or sign up for that next newsletter or put your name in on a sweepstakes for cookware when your kitchen is already overflowing. There are so many ways in the world today for us to obtain more STUFF. Impulse purchases at our favorite stores and taking freebies we really don’t need just because they’re free. Fill your home with things that mean something to you. Things that are beautiful and have a place. And just because you discard the old, doesn’t mean you have to replace it. Think twice before you buy, and envision where it’s new home will be before you bring it home only to find there aren’t any vacancies left.
Remember, just take it one day and one room at a time. And make it FUN. I put on music, loud, and get comfy. I make myself a mug of warm tea and I always, always plan a reward at the end for my hard work. Sometimes its reading a health magazine cover to cover (a luxury in my busy days), watching an episode of my favorite show, or a pedicure.
So while Spring cleaning doesn’t feel like a vacation, it doesn’t have to feel like work either.
What are your least and favorite aspects of Spring Cleaning?
Happy Thanksgiving from my home to yours! I hope today finds you surrounded by family, whatever that may look like. Whether it be just you & your spouse, a house full of kiddos, extended relatives, or friends that have become family, I pray many blessings over your home and Thanksgiving table today.
My heart is so thankFULL everyday. This week has been a whirlwind of awesome that I just want to take time to soak it all in this weekend. I had multiple girl-day catch ups with some of the women who make my heart feel so full. At the new magazine I'm continually meeting amazingly talented artists and I get to interview an actress from one of my favorite shows next week.
I then spent the afternoon on the phone with a major reality show yesterday talking about parts of Mr. Charming's and I health & travel adventures and this week I'm honored to be a part of Earth Balance's Vegan Holiday Bake-Off! It's surreal and amazing and all the Glory to God for these opportunities!
For the Bake-Off I got super ambitious and made my FIRST EVER Bundt cake. Gluten-Free, Vegan and Refined-Sugar Free (aside from the optional glaze), it came out beautiful AND super-delicious. Not going to lie, I tasted a slice after it's photo session last night and it paired well with my breakfast this morning. hehe... I'd love it if you'd take a moment to vote for my cake, as I'd love to be in the running for the People's Choice Award. I'll share a slice if you do...
We enjoyed a breakfast of Paleo goodies mixed with a small slice of cake as we watched the parade and got to sit and enjoy the view of our holiday decor before the cooking for the day began! Aside from my Bundt, I've kept my holiday menu clean. I believe that even during the holidays, it's important to respect our bodies & our health and make good choices.
Does this mean starve yourself? Abolutely not.
Does this mean sitting out of all the fun and resenting the day? Absolutely not.
Just know your limits. While I eat a primarily Paleo diet, I am a PIE fan from way back. So on special occasions, or a random Wednesday, you know whatever, I allow myself the slice of pie. Why? Because mentally, depriving yourself is only going to make a healthy lifestyle harder. Today I am forgoing pie because, cake & I may whip up a batch of my Paleo chocolate chip cookies to share with the littles. You can see my full menu below.
I live by a 90/10 rule. 80/20 when I'm feeling fantastic. I make healthy eating and fitness my priority, every day. So I'm conscious of what I'm consuming. That's the best way to enjoy the best of both worlds.
My charming little Charlie is going bananas over all the smells in the house today, and I took some time during the bake off to get some new shots of my little love. Isn't he just so darn handsome? I think so. He and his fur-brother got a special breakfast of chicken livers, chicken, brown rice, carrots, peas and vitamins. So, he's happy as a clam right about now.
As for our menu, it looks a little something like this...
N&N Thanksgiving Menu
Fruit & Veggie Tray
Turkey Cooked With Onions, Celery and Organic Bone Broth
Mr. Charming's Famous Dairy-Free Sweet Potato Au Gratin
Whipped Garlic Butternut Squash
Coconut Flour Honey Biscuits
Garlic Roasted Broccoli
Glazed Maple Apple Bundt Cake
Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sparkling Organic Cider
Hot Crio Bru
So thankful for a roof over our heads, for food on our table, for the love in our lives, friends and family, our beautiful marriage, our fur babies and living our dreams. God is good. All the time. I'd love to hear about your healthy fare & delectable splurges. If you need any assistance planning a gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo, vegan or sugar-free Christmas or New Years menu, contact me. I'd be happy to help!
Now that I've moved into full-time working my blog & brand from home, people started sending me a lot of questions regarding tips, my schedule and how I work different aspects of my journalistic career along with my travel and my blog. While this blog doesn't serve as a marketing or blog branding blog, it is about whole living & balance, and being able to work from home came from the Lord's provisions, preparation, balance and working on my health.
I decided to start a small series on how I balance working from home and running my growing brand that I have fallen head over heels in love with. Below I've included the blog tasks I focus on each day, as well as the other tasks I have on that given day. With school & finals and multiple journalistic & coaching endeavors, its important to keep a structured layout that doesn't get boring.
Sunday is primarily a day off for Mr. Charming and I to enjoy church & family, but Sunday evenings I do write out my editorial calendar / class schedule / writing deadlines for the week before we go to sleep.
Monday is catch-up day. I answer all comments on the blog from the week before and I connect with the blogging & Christian community. I spend a couple of hours in the blog groups catching up with others and loving on their works as well.
My Other Daily Tasks Today: All social media management for our magazine, Runway, which takes most of my day, as well as meal planning for our week & housework.
I post my latest Tickle Me Tuesday post and prep one other post for the blog. I also participate in many Twitter chats today to connect more with community and study the business of blogging.
My Other Daily Tasks Today: School in the A.M for Nutrition, Conference call & social media for my songwriting and music works with Universal in the P.M., housework
Wednesday is dedicated to Wanderlust. I catch up with travel clients and finalize bookings on up-coming trips and reviews.
My Other Daily Tasks Today: I usually submit to more freelance clients or work on freelance projects & do housework. I also make menus and meal plans for new nutrition clients and work on my nutrition branding materials.
Thursday is the day I get my Hootsuite plugged in for the week and catch up on my pins. I also do a blog clean-up if it needs it.
My Other Daily Tasks Today: School in the A.M. for nutrition, Holy Yoga, housework and I try to plan a dinner with a girlfriend on Thursday nights since Mr. Charming is in school.
Along with my Fitness Friday series, I write two more posts to go out for the week or the following week. I also seek out new organic cafes to review for Zomato.
My Other Daily Tasks Today: I assist Mr. Charming in photo editing on his weeks photo shoots, grocery shopping, housework.
We travel most weekends, but when we are home on a Saturday, I do a quick social media check in and then its date day with Mr. Charming! It's not healthy to work ALL the time!
What I enjoy is the diversity. Growing up as an entertainer through my teens and twenties, my schedule was ever changing from shows and touring different cities to auditions and shoots. As an adult, I still love the different & I love consistently mixing it up.
I would love to know your weekly schedule tips! Also, if there is something you'd like to see in this series, leave it in the comment below.
Next up in the series: How to rock at Instagram Takeovers. Sign up to be alerted to when it goes live.
This post is part of the Beautiful Mess Link-Up - A Day In My Life Prompt.
I am a follower of the Beautiful Mess blog and I thought this link up looked quite fun, as some of my closest friends and family don't even really know what my day looks like because it varies so greatly between the magazine, the blog/brand, school and music, it fluctuates a lot, especially if I'm traveling. Today I am sharing a non-traveling day with you when I infuse my regularly scheduled tasks. If you do a post on this topic as well, I'd love for you to share your in the comments.
8:00 or 9:00 am - I've been sleeping in a little more since working from home since we are working to get our fertility in order and I hold my sleep on high importance. I'll wake up, make a pre-natal smoothie or healthy breakfast, play with and cuddle on the dogs and do my daily devotional to set my intentions right for the day.
10:00am - I take class at this time. I'm in an advanced program for Nutrition, getting my advanced diploma in Childhood, Pregnancy and Food Allergies. School is feeding my soul and allowing me to take my brand to a new level that I am so blessed God led me to.
12:00pm - After class and tests I usually work the next five hours on branding, marketing, recipe development, networking and post planning for Nosh & Nurture. I also work on Freelance projects and Social Media Management for Runway and my record label. I usually have lunch between 12 and 3, depending on when I am hungry, and it's usually a protein packed meal to get me through to dinner.
5:00pm - Around five, I will wind down to do some wifely house duties :) It makes me so happy to be able to still care for our home and my husband in traditional ways even though I work full time. A BIG perk from working from home. I will tidy up the house and if dinner wasn't put in the crockpot at breakfast, I will cook dinner now and spend more time playing with our fur babies. When Mr. Charming comes home, we spend time finishing up dinner, eating, watching one of our favorite shows or going out for a date night.
7:00pm - Around 7pm I will sometimes resume work for a couple hours, as this is usually the time I will have my conference calls and songwriting sessions for the label. Days I don't have these calls or sessions, Mr. Charming and I will spend the entire evening together, which is so good for my soul.
10:00pm - We usually start to wind down our day about 10 or 11pm and head to bed, snuggling up with an episode of Pretty Little Liars or a movie.
And that wraps up a general day! I also try to squeeze in yoga and walking with the pups, but on jam packed days my fitness has been falling to the way side (I know, bad!) My professor even scolded me today, haha. Oops! I realize I definitely work out SO much more when we are seaside... hint hint to Mr. Charming...
Guest blogging is incredibly fun for multiple reasons.
1.) It allows you to meet new people, find a sense of community and share in things & topics you care about.
2.) It allows you to promote other great content creators and have your work promoted as well.
3.) It allows you to sometimes get outside of your creative comfort zone and write pieces and recipes that may not fit into your own blog.
Then there is the other circumstance, where the content you create on guest blogs will be content that would speak greatly to your readers as well. Now, it is bad form to publish content you've written for another site on your own personal site, but I do like to however point my readers to content that I write that is useful or tasty.
In this case, I believe this to be useful.
Over at Around My Family Table- I wrote an easy to follow guide to check out:
Spring Cleaning Your Home & Office In 5 Easy Steps.
The more and more I look for natural ways to clean and improve my home, the more pleasantly surprised I am. Truth be told, in the beginning when I heard the notion of cleaning with vinegar and scrubbing with baking soda, I believed I needed the chemicals for my house to get clean and to SMELL clean.
But as I've experimented, I've learned that only do some of the recipes get the house CLEAN, that when used with the right natural oils, it can smell heavenly. No chemicals, no worries.
Below you will find an easy mix to spray on kitchen appliances, especially the surfaces where food gets stuck on, like your stove top and oven doors.
What You'll Need
2 C. Warm Water
1 1/2 Tbsp. Baking Soda
1/4 C. White Vinegar
*optional - you may add 5 drops of your favorite essential oil. I myself keep this one unscented to save cost.
Mix all ingredients in spray bottle. Use caution when mixing, as the vinegar and baking soda will foam up when mixed. Spray on stove and inside oven door and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Sprinkle a small amount of added baking soda to really bad stains or areas. Clean with a scrub sponge, one that's abrasive, but still gentle enough for a delicate flat top stove surface.
Wipe with a damp towel to remove any baking soda residue.
This worked WONDERS on my stove top. I have burnt on rings around each burner and soaking them in this solution allowed it to wipe clean with minimal elbow grease! My kind of cleaning and NO chemicals!!
I'd love to hear your natural kitchen remedies!!
Our bedroom is one of my very favorite rooms in our home. It's small and romantic and just so homey. Mr. Charming had the mattresses of all mattresses when I moved in with him and our bed is luxuriously comfortable. Our pups have their own little beds and our room is filled with photos of our travels, our friends and our wedding. It's just such a loving space.
One of the most important things is keeping our room fresh and clean to help lower allergens from the seasonal changes and rooming with two pups. Although they aren't allowed on the bed, the room still gets quite dusty and sometimes musty from four of us sharing the space.
All natural cleansing is at the top of my list when it comes to caring for our home, especially the bedroom because we do spend so much time here, and it's where we sleep and rejuvenate. I wash the bedding weekly with Honest laundry soap and Meyer all natural dryer sheets, but one of my favorite things to do is freshen our pillows and mattresses. I also keep the down pillows and our mattress zipped up in organic covers to eliminate dust mites and allergens from making it from the fabrics to our noses.
Once a month, I unzip the mattress and pillows and sprinkle them deliberately with the recipe below. I love the smell of lavender, as it makes the room smell pretty and promotes sleep and relaxation. Scroll down for the recipe and instructions for this sweet and easy room refresher.
natural mattress refresher.
1 C. Baking Soda
4-5 Drops of Essential Oil (I use Lavender for its relaxing properties & pleasant smell)
Mix baking soda and essential oil in a container with small holes for sprinkling. (I actually used a recycled gluten-free travel oatmeal container and poked holes in the top.) Remove sheets and pillow cases, and sprinkle generously on pillows and mattress and allow to sit for thirty minutes. Vacuum off completely using the hose attachment of your vacuum. Replace bedding.
So, as I stated earlier this month, I wanted to explore the world of creating natural, real meals for our dogs, Princeton and Charlie. Our lab, Princeton has suffered from allergies and inflammation for the last few years, and I find it a blessing that in learning so much about how what WE eat affects US, I can use the same tools to help extend the life of our fur babies.
Charlie, our baby schnauzer, at just nine months old, started to have seasonal allergy reaction and itchy paws and I knew I didn't want him going through his life suffering if I could help strengthen his little system.
So much of what's in conventional dog food, or "kibble", is processed fillers and harmful grain ingredients that react in dogs bodies much like they do in ours.
Now, I am not going to say this is cheap. But I believe in giving them the best life I can for what I can afford. We already bought higher end dog food before starting the natural dog food endeavor. Princeton has been on a grain-free food for a few years now, which has definitely offered him improvements in his health. However, the vet and our trainer has Charlie on an Iams Puppy, which I'm just not 100% comfortable with him consuming.
So, I went for it, and I got some meat, eggs, and veggies to make them a "Pup" loaf. The full recipe is below, but the process was SUPER easy and this was pretty affordable. When I did the math on the cost of the trade off natural/higher end dog food, it ended up $10 more a month for Princeton and around $5 extra for Charlie. To me, that's totally worth it.
I have about nine recipes that I'd like to try, and to make it a permanent switch I will be talking to a holistic vet so I can make sure they get the fats and vitamins they NEED to thrive. Always make sure you speak to your vet or a naturopathic or holistic vet to supply your pet with the best diet for them. We decided to make this switch because they are both regularly at the vet, and are in great health.
Sprouts carries a full line of supplemental coconut and flax oil and vitamins for dogs for those wanting to feed their pups a natural food diet. I loved seeing all of the healthy options. They also carry a line of dehydrated "real food" packaged items, but beware, my pups tummy's tolerate the natural diet well, but something in the dehydrated mix made them quite sick as they didn't keep the food down. It may have been the barley, as I feed them a mainly gluten-free, grain-free diet with lots of healthy fats.
I'd love to hear your plans for feeing your dog naturally, your experience or any questions you may have as I take on this journey. The recipe below is easy to pin to save for later.
While I'm exploring the world of natural food for my dogs, I wanted to put out a list of foods to never feed your animal. There are healthy fruits, meats and vegetables for our furry friends and then there are some that, although healthy for us, can harm them.
A handy little pinable graphic to keep on hand.
A year ago, that title would have sounded absolutely ridiculous to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm a dog person. I am most definitely a dog person. My two dogs, Princeton (an 11 yr old lab) and Charlie (my 9 mo old schnauzer) are my fur-children. We stuff their Christmas stockings, we throw little birthday celebrations for them, and Charlie even may have had pro pics of him in a graduation cap when he graduated training school, but I never thought I'd be making their food.
That was, until recently. A couple of years ago our lab started developing allergies. I could see in him some of the same symptoms I was experiencing, so for almost two years now, he has been gluten and grain free. We buy high end dog food and treats for both, but it wasn't until our little one had an allergic reaction and started licking his paws (at only 9 months!) that I realized I wanted to look into a healthier, more natural approach to caring for our fur babies.
My first thought was of course, we can't afford to feed another two mouths the same food we eat. We are, after all, trying to have a human little of our own & that isn't cheap. But as I started doing more research I realized it can be a lot more affordable than I initially thought. (JOY!)
My plan is to switch Charlie to a natural food diet (consisting of proteins, minimal grains, vegetables and some fruits for snacking) with the added fats and supplements he needs as a growing puppy. For Princeton, since he's so large and WOULD eat us out of house and home, I plan to stick with his higher end grain-free dog food and add in healthy fats to the food to help heal some of his issues.
In comparing the options, raw against cooked food, I have decided to do an all-cooked food diet. Since we are trying to conceive, there is just too much risk to have raw meat in our home. So while I support the decision of those who want to feed their dogs a raw diet, it just doesn't make sense for our family to do so.
I will be updating along the way with our journey and some of our recipes. I'm excited for the journey to give our little fur boys a healthier life. I'd love to hear your stories on natural food diets for YOUR fur babies and advice on how you supplement.
I also posted a handy pinable post on the top foods to NEVER feed your dog.