Monthly Archives: April 2014

10 Best Vacation Tips: How To Travel Stress-Free With Your Dog

*This post originally appeared in April, 2014, and I am reposting in lieu of the upcoming holiday.

If your family is like mine this is the time of year you are discussing and planning for your spring and summer getaways.  You’re probably also thinking about how to travel with the kids and dog for a smooth trip with the least amount of stress on everyone.

My family’s upcoming vacation involves a day-long road trip and we’re taking our dog Toby with us. In fact, the biggest reason we are loading up the car and hitting the roads this weekend is so that he can travel with us to enjoy the fun we are planning.  Traveling by car is the simplest Continue reading

10 Lovely Script Fonts — FREE!


I wanted to share these beautiful and FREE fonts from The Graphics Fairy with you!

Wouldn’t they be perfect for wedding, graduation, birthday, anniversary and shower invitations?

They can be found here, along with an easy “how-to” for downloading them to your computer.

I love free stuff, don’t you?

Be sure to check out my Font Love page on Pinterest for more free fonts!





Before & After: Well-Worn Bench to Versatile Extra Seating

This past week I received the sad news that a special and dear friend of mine passed away.

My sons affectionately called him Mr. Gene.

I worked with him for over 18 years before he “re-retired” last summer at the vibrant age of 92 to move closer to his daughter.

Before leaving Mr. Gene gave me a few items to keep in remembrance of him — an old, tattered picnic bench set among them. Both benches were worn and rickety… their smudged paint and banged up slats signs of the workhorses they had become for my friend.

And I loved every scar...


When I brought them home my husband asked me what in the world I was going to do with them.

I had no idea.

We didn’t need the extra seating on our patio and the weather would just add further damage.

So I hosed them down, spiders and all, tightened the screws and brought them inside.

I chose not to paint them and added a cushioned seat to both.

And this is how it went…

Supplies:  2″ thick foam cushion, cotton batting, pre-washed fabric, staple gun and staples, nailhead strips, hammer, scissors, fabric marker or pencil, tape measure.


Securing cushion with batting

1. Fold the long piece of cushion foam in half, mark it and cut it into two pieces, putting one of the cushions to the side for the second bench. Turn the bench upside and lay it on one cushion, trace around the seat with marker and cut away extra foam.

2. Lay batting on the floor, then the cushion, and the bench upside down on top of both, allowing enough batting on all four sides for stapling over the seat. Mark and cut the batting.

3. Pull the batting up over cushion and underside edge of bench. Staple once in the center on each side and smooth out wrinkles along the way. Finish by stapling all around to secure.

Adding upholstery fabric

4. Trace and cut upholstery fabric same as step 2. Allow all four sides of the bench an extra 1-1/2 inches for stapling. (I used extra corduroy fabric from my storage.)

5. At one end, staple the fabric over both the cushion and the wood seat, being careful to keep the pattern or lines straight.  Fold edges under as you staple to avoid future fraying. Turn bench over, smooth it out, pull tight and staple once in the center at the other end, then repeat next two sides. Finish by stapling around the rest of the underside to secure.

6. Carefully fold corner fabric back onto the bench ends like shown in the photo below.

7. Add nailhead strips around the bottom edge with hammer for a finished look. (Joann Fabrics had the strips, Hobby Lobby did not. The strips are much easier to keep in a straight line.)



When we have guests, the dining chairs can be moved closer together and the bench pulled in closer to allow for more seating.



The matching bench is at the foot of our master bed.

It’s been great for keeping a blanket off the floor, as a place to sit and get dressed, and as a springboard for our dog!




Both benches work well in our home… sweet reminders of a loyal and faithful friend.

“Loyal friends love through difficult times.” Proverbs 17:17

“Faithful friends are a rare treasure.” Proverbs 18:24

Heirloom Tomato Caprese

If you like tomatoes, you will love this salad inspiration. My mother introduced me to the vinaigrette, which tastes great as a meat marinade. The dressing and the fresh tomatoes are key to this easy recipe’s tantalizing flavors.  This Caprese is a bit more “Greek” in flavor with the Kalamata olives, but you can exchange the olives with fresh, chopped basil for the more authentic Italian version.

I’m the tomato lover in our home but maybe, just maybe, this salad will change some minds!

Heriloom Tomato Caprese

1 large green tomato
2 medium yellow tomatoes
2 red tomatoes on the vine (available in stores)
4 – 6 slices fresh mozzarella
8 – 10 Greek Kalamata olives, pitted
2 tbsp chopped green onions

Classic Vinaigrette (Garlic Expressions brand)

1 – Loaf freshly baked Italian bread

Slice tomatoes medium thickness and place in the center of a large serving plate. Add fresh mozzarella and the Greek olives on top. (Be sure they are pitted.) Drizzle vinaigrette over the dish, top with green onions. Tear large pieces of Italian bread from loaf and serve on the side. The chunky bread tastes divine soaked in the dressing and juices.

Tip:  Storing tomatoes in the refrigerator will evaporate their flavor. Leave them on the counter or in a bowl until you are ready to use.

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Creative Ways to Color Easter Eggs this Weekend

With just over a week before we celebrate Easter, there’s still enough time to color eggs. Above, are three fun, and fairly easy ideas I love from Better Homes & Gardens magazine.  Aren’t they pretty! Click on the BHG link for the how-to, and for more neat egg coloring ideas.

And here are the Easter eggs created at our house…




Colorful graphic lettering and the “Fruits of the Spirit” became the inspiration. Pulling up a photo found online, I eyed the typestyle on the computer screen and drew the letters free-hand with a pencil, then filled them in with colorful Sharpie markers. Press lightly when you draw to avoid line bleed through on the yellow words. So simple, right?

What do you do with colored eggs when you’re finished celebrating the holiday? Do you keep them refrigerated and add them to a recipe, or do you throw them away?

My boys and I love egg salad sandwiches, so we store them in the fridge and use them for that. I make the salad the same as I did at their ages: remove the shell and rinse the eggs, break into pieces with a fork, add a dollop or two of mayonnaise, sprinkle black pepper liberally, mix well and pile between two slices of soft bread. Best part is, the kids love to make it, too!

I  hope you are having a productive week! It’s been wonderful to have warmer, sunny days lately. Spring is definitely in the air and I can’t help but feel giddy about that!

Blessings to you,

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23


Spring Cleaning: How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen & Recipe for Southern Sweet Iced Tea

How to clean a kitchen

 Big Spring Deep Clean for the Kitchen

Have you heard the saying, A clean home is a happy home? Sounds corny doesn’t it?  But, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Who doesn’t appreciate coming home to a clean, orderly, neat house. It is satisfying to know your home is in order and looking its best.

Spring is the best time to clean and de-clutter the most used rooms in your house. The temperature outside is just right, and freshening the nest adds to the excitement of a new season. It’s also the best time to tackle the nitty-gritty, down and dirty cleaning you’ve probably been putting off  — like wiping fixtures and light bulbs, vacuuming behind the refrigerator and stove — getting the whole house squeaky clean!

I have gathered a list of cleaning to-dos for the kitchen. Don’t stress about trying to get the whole job finished in one day.  Break it up into smaller jobs so you don’t get overwhelmed. Try to complete one or two tasks during the week or during downtime, but don’t put off the the big spring deep clean for the kitchen too long, or you may miss the window of opportunity to finish it before the invitations for weddings, graduation parties and barbecues come in.

Start at the top of a room and work your way down. Here is a flexible list of cleaning supplies you will need:

• all-purpose spray cleaner, vinegar (optional), mild de-greaser, baking soda, clean rags and lint-free rags, old newspaper, cleaning bucket, rubber gloves, Magic Eraser pad, broom/electric sweeper, mop, duster, vacuum,  hand-vacuum,  touch-up paint, small sponge brushes (optional).

How to Clean the Ceilings & Walls

Wear a baseball cap to keep the falling particles out of your hair and eyes.

• Brush down cobwebs and vacuum up residue to keep allergens and dust mites at bay.

• Mist rag with water and wipe down ceilings and walls. Use all-purpose spray cleaner to remove smoke, grease or any other film on the surface.

• Touch-up scuff marks with paint. I keep a small amount of matching paint for each of my rooms in an air-tight, plastic bottle, labeled with room and color. Shake, then squeeze a small amount of paint on a paper plate and cover scuff mark. Discard plate and sponge brush. Quick and easy!

How to Clean Fan lights, Bulbs and Fixtures – If you are like me, it has been awhile since you last cleaned them.

• Unplug or turn off electricity for safety.

• Spritz dust rag with cleaner, never spray directly on a fixture or bulb, wipe clean.

• Fan blades – Use a pillowcase to lay over each ceiling fan blade, pull dust off and vacuum debris.

How to Clean Kitchen Cabinets & Drawers

• Fill a water bucket half way with mild cleaning detergent and warm water.

• Wipe each door of upper and lower cabinets top to bottom. Rinse with clean rag and water, then dry.

• Cabinets near stove may be extra grimey. Use mild-degreaser (I like Simple Green for grease removal and as an all-purpose cleaner) to lift grease.  Clean once a week to avoid tough build-up.

• De-clutter and organize cabinets and drawers.

• Tighten loose handles and knobs.

• Glass and mirrored doors — spray and wipe down with scrunched up newspaper until dry. Check glass pane for looseness and run a bead of clear rubber silicone along the interior corners where glass sits in place within the door.

How to Clean the Stove & Cooking Area

• Remove metal burner trays and vent filters, place in dishwasher for a deep clean to release gunk.

• Spray vent hood, along with top and front of stove, wipe clean.

• Pull the stove away from the wall to clean and vacuum.

• Clean outside and inside door of oven and walls.

• Consider the self-cleaning option if it’s available. Read manufacturers instructions.

How to Clean the Microwave

• Soak dish rag in plain water and partially squeeze dry. Place in microwave with 1/2 a lemon, turn on 1 minute to heat, steam and dissolve grime and odors.

• Allow rag and lemon to cool a few minutes, they will be hot! Use rubber gloves to wipe clean.

How to Clean the Refrigerator

• Pull refrigerator away from the wall and vacuum behind and under to avoid possible electrical fire. (Our last refrigerator had an electrical fire so I know the danger firsthand. Thankfully we were in the kitchen when it sparked!)

• Remove old containers and expired foods and condiments.

• Empty produce and meat drawers and remove them to spray out debris in the sink. Wipe down the interiors and dry.

• Spray and wipe exterior top and sides with mild cleanser.

How to Clean Stainless Steel 

• Use special polishing cream made to remove prints and spots.

• Do not over-apply the cleaner which could make the surface greasy.

• Using dry side of a lint-free rag, buff and shine.

• Never use abrasive cleaners on stainless steel.

How to Clean the Dishwasher

• Clean exterior panels the same as refrigerator. Wipe down interior door and along rubber sealer. Check for any build-up inside machine and remove.

• Follow stainless steel cleaning steps if needed.

I use Cascade Complete packets in our machine, and find I no longer need a deodorizing tablet or a rinse agent. Dishes sparkle and no more soap film!

How to Clean Countertops & Sink

• Spray with all-purpose cleaner and wipe down.

• Remove clutter, put away small appliances and unnecessary items.

• Scour sink with all-purpose cleaner and pad, or with baking soda and water to keep the drain fresh.

How to Care for Stone Counters

• Consider sealing, or resealing them every 6-12 months to ensure they remain stain-free. It is usually a simple task of wiping liquid sealer over counters, letting sealer penetrate for a few minutes, wiping dry.

How to Clean & Organize the Food Pantry

• Purge and organize boxes, cans, bags, storage containers.

• Spray and wipe down shelves, walls, ceiling, floor.

• Consider an efficient food storing system that takes up less space.

• Place a basket on the floor for paper towels, dog treat bags, extra items, paper towels, etc.

How to Clean Hard Surface Floors & Interior Doors


• Take outdoors and shake off dust. (Indoor/Outdoor rugs with pad work well at entryways, stove and sink areas.)

• Spray with mild cleanser, rinse with a hose, air-dry in the sun. Do the same for Rug Pads, or if they are fairly small, run through the laundry washer without detergent.

Baseboards, Doors & Trim –

• Use dust broom to quickly wipe down baseboards or spray and wipe clean if dirty.

• Do the same for interior doors and trim.

• Touch-up scuffs with paint.

Laminate & Wood Floors –

• Use soft-bristle broom or electric sweeper that will not scratch the finish. Sweep well under stove, refrigerator and cabinets. Vacuum pile of debris to suck up dust mites and allergens.


• Use a sponge mop and a mix of 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water to clean laminate and wood floors. Or, use floor cleaner suggested by flooring manufacturer. I have found some floor cleaners leave a film on laminate flooring so I prefer vinegar/water solution, or simple warm water for quick touch-ups on my laminate floors. Follow manufacturers instructions for cleaning hardwoods.

Tile floors

• Clean tile and grout with solution especially made for them, or mix baking soda and water for a homemade cleaner: Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into 2 gallons water and mix very well. Apply the liquid with string or sponge mop.

• For grout, use the same baking soda and water mixture. Scour extra dirty grout with scrub pad or toothbrush.

Extra Things to Do in the Kitchen 

• Scour out the trash can; organize under the sink cabinet; clean the pet feeding area, wipe down display items such as bowls, cookbooks, small appliances, etc.

It’s a big job to deep clean the kitchen, but well worth the effort and benefits that follow. Don’t get overwhelmed, complete each task as you can, then enjoy your accomplishments!

To quench your thirst while cleaning, make this real Southern Sweet Iced Tea to have on-hand. Baking soda… yes baking soda… is key to it’s smooth flavor. Try it with a little less sugar then the recipe calls for, unless you prefer it very sweet. Enjoy!

Have a blessed weekend!





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