Keeping it Simple at Home

Welcome to the June edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival – Around the House cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what we do to keep the little things from overwhelming us. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

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One of the things many people comment on when they come over is the fact that our home usually doesn’t seem cluttered. We are by no means minimalists, although I have a secretly harbored dream of being a minimalist. We have kids. I have a husband. We have a dog. And, frankly I would never be willing to give up my books. And as decluttered as we are, my home can get trashed just like any other. It seems like any time I get sick, I come out to find that a cyclone has hit the house. The good news is, that even as quickly as my home can become trashed, and it can happen in remarkable speed, we can just as quickly get everything back in order.  Here are a few quick tips on how we do this:

  • Have less stuff. Sure, it sounds simple enough, but this idea is overlooked a lot. The more stuff you have, the more stuff there is to put away, and the more stuff there is to clean. I don’t know about you, but while a may be a decluttering diva, I don’t particularly want to spend hours each day cleaning or even picking up. There are other ways I prefer to spend my time. So, clear out the excess stuff that you probably don’t even need. Better yet, don’t even bring it in the house at all. Keep your money, and your sanity, by keeping things simple.
  • Everything needs a place, and only one place, to have as its very own home. When items don’t have a home, they never go to their spot, and you spend your time moving them from place to place. That is a lot of work, and it just adds frustration. If the item is important enough that you use it, you need it, you love it, or it adds to your life in some way, it is important enough to have its very own location.You won’t waste your time playing musical locations and you will always know where the items goes. Even better, everyone in your household will know where the item goes, saving you the time you once spent answering the question, “Have you seen….?”
  • Clean as you go. This is an easy one to forget, especially when you are tired and busy. However, cleaning is so much easier if done right away. Just ask me about the time that I went ahead and stayed up late decorating a birthday cake but decided to clean up in the morning. Dried icing is not your friend. Besides, if you are cleaning a little bit all of the time, there is no build up and cleaning is easier.
  • Quick pick-ups. This is a must at our house. Five minutes can make the difference between chaos and calm. A quick pick up throughput the day is easier than letting everything pile up. With everyone pitching in, it may not even take the entire five minutes. Even on busy days, quick pick ups need to happen for us before bedtime. Our days start out so much better when we wake up to a clean house. It gives us a clean slate, and keeping everything going is much easier.
  • Be realistic. That artful display of carefully organized whatever supplies in neatly stacked containers may look nice when you first put it together, but is it really realistic? Are you going to take the time each time you need something to put everything back the way you had it? Is your family? Part of keeping things organized means being realistic in your expectations and making things easy. Keep it simple to keep it done.
  • Make things functional. The organized mail rack in the living room isn’t doing you much good if you bring mail in through the kitchen. It makes more sense to have the kids’ art supplies near where they actually work on art projects. Keep things you use often where you can easily get to them and save the more long term stored items in the out of the way places. Only keep out things you are using. If the kids tend to not play with play food when they are in a dollhouse mood, switch them out so that you only have the current item out.
What tips do you have for keeping a home simple?

 

photo credit: the bbp via photopin cc

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Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple ideas around their homes. We hope you will join us next month!

 

 

 

Simply Living Blog Carnival June 2013 Call for Submissions: Around the House

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

Around the House House work never seems to end. What tips and tricks have you figured out to help keep your home running smoothly? Help others simplify their homes and their lives.

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by June 11. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on June 18.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.

Vegetables That Promote Bone Health and a Recipe for Fennel-Dill Artichokes

I am happy to host a guest post today from Elaine Rosales. As our family continually strives to work on  our diet regarding food allergies and healthy living, nutrition is a topic which comes up at our house more and more. We are attempting to balance simplicity with nutrition and moderation. Check out Elaine’s awesome recipe!

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Vegetables That Promote Bone and Joint Health

artichokesMany people, especially those nearing their senior years, are now looking for effective ways to take good care of their bones and joints. This is very important, because as you reach your 30s, your bone mass will start to gradually decline.

Many think that the best way to stop or reverse bone loss is to take high doses of supplements, such as calcium. But here’s the truth: you can actually keep your bones strong and healthy simply by modifying your diet. You will be surprised and happy to know that there are natural substances that can help keep your joints and bones healthy even as you age.

The Potential Benefits of Fennel

According to one study in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, eating fennel seeds may have a beneficial effect on the loss of bone mineral density, as well as on bone mineral content.

The research says that fennel helps reduce osteoclast differentiation and function, which helps to decrease bone turnover markers and offers a protective effect on the bones. Osteoclasts are cells that break down weakened bones, while osteoblasts are cells that build them back up.

Fennel, also called bronze fennel or common fennel, is a plant that produces both a seed-like fruit and a leafy growth used as an herb. It is actually a treasure trove of nutrients: it contains folate, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, phytonutrients, and antioxidants.

Try This Simple Fennel Recipe: Fennel-Dill Artichokes

Ingredients:

4 artichokes

1 cup carrots, quartered lengthwise

1 cup fennel or celery, thinly sliced

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup melted coconut oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons or more fresh dill, chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper

 

Procedure:

  1. Trim the tips of the artichoke leaves and cut off the stems, so they sit upright.
  2. Put the artichokes in a large pot, add water until they’re properly covered, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat, and let simmer until just barely tender. This takes about 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Mix the carrots, celery, and fennel, and then spread evenly in a baking dish. Put the artichokes in an upright position on top of the vegetables.
  5. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, fennel seeds, lemon juice, salt, dill, and sprinkle with black pepper. Pour all over artichoke mixture.
  6. Cover the baking dish and bake until all the vegetables are tender. This takes about 45 minutes.

This recipe makes four servings. Remember that this is a high-starch dish, so eat it in small amounts. You can also combine it with a protein and fat meal.

Don’t Miss Out on Other Healthy Vegetables

Fennel is just one example of a vegetable that has beneficial effects for bone health. High vegetable intake is actually associated with positive effects on bone mineral status for many years. Vegetables supply your body with bone health-promoting nutrients, like potassium and vitamin K1.

Potassium is needed by your body to help keep your body fluid pH levels at an optimal range. Sufficient potassium intake can help optimize your sodium to potassium ratio, which is an important factor for ensuring optimal bone mass.

However, if you eat a diet loaded with processed foods (which are high in sodium but low in potassium), there’s a high chance that your potassium to sodium ratio will be far from optimal and will set the stage for many health ailments.

In conclusion, eating a diet rich in high-quality, organic, and locally-grown vegetables – while ditching high-sodium processed foods – will help you to increase your bone density and strength naturally, and will help decrease your risk of developing fractures.

Remember, though, that healthy eating is just one aspect of bone and joint health – you need to combine it with other natural lifestyle strategies, such as optimizing your vitamin D levels, exercising regularly, and getting enough  high-quality sleep.

About the Author

Elaine Rosales enjoys reading articles written by Dr. Mercola. She is currently researching different treatment protocols for joint pain, and how optimal joint health greatly depends on various natural lifestyle strategies such as proper diet, exercise, and sufficient rest.

photo credit: minwoo via photopin cc

One Ingredient Wrinkle Minimizer

Wrinkles, while often associated with older age, are not caused by age alone, but by other influences which sometimes seem to go along with the natural course of aging.  There are many products on the market sold as wrinkle minimizers or defenders, usually containing a long list of ingredients, many of which are questionable for using,  and having questionable results.

You may already have a secret, all-natural, wrinkle minimizer in your kitchen: Virgin Coconut Oil!

Coconut oil is great for your skin.

  • Coconut oil helps hydrate the skin. drinking plenty of fluids will help hydrate your skin from the inside out. Putting coconut oil on your skin will help hydrate from the outside in.
  • Healthy oils. We’ve all heard the importance of eating plenty of healthy fats which contain Omega’s. Using coconut oil on your skin also helps add in those healthy fats, keeping the connective tissues soft and supple and defending against sagging and wrinkling.
  • Protection from the sun. Sun damage can aid in an increase of early wrinkles. New studies show that virgin coconut oil aids in sun protection, acting as a natural antioxidant that protects the body from free radical damage and prevents premature aging and degenerative diseases. At the same time, your body will still be able to make Vitamin D from the sun while wearing coconut oil. While coconut oil on its own may not be enough sun protection for you on those days spent out in the full sun, using it on a regular basis will provide some protection against other times.

Just keep a small container of coconut oil in the bathroom and lightly massage into your sin at night (massaging also helps strengthen facial muscles). You can even use coconut oil as an all-natural make-up remover. Try it for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference.

Giveaway: One-Year Subscription to Crafting Connections: 3 Winners! $120 ARV {5.18; Worldwide}

This is a joint giveaway with Living Peacefully with Children and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked “Win it!” for the mandatory entry and optional bonus entries.

Photo Credit: Living Peacefully with ChildrenCrafting Connections is offering three of our readers a one-year subscription to Crafting Connections Magazine. One reader will receive a one-year print subscription, and two readers will receive a one-year digital subscription.

Crafting Connections is a full-color magazine whose purpose is to help adults and children connect with  one another and create an authentic life using crafting mediums. With an emphasis on nature and creation, Crafting Connections hopes to help families connect with one another through authenticity and creativity.

 

From our reviewer, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children :

About Crafting Connections

Photo Credit: Crafting ConnectionsCrafting Connections Magazine launched in the autumn of 2012. The owners, Andrea and Danielle, have a strong desire “to create authentic, connected and creative lives for [themselves] and [their} children.” While there are many crafting magazines available for adults or for children, they recognized a need for something that would appeal to families as a whole. They wanted to help other families who were looking for ways to connect with their children while growing and learning with and through their own creativity.

 

Crafting Connections Magazine

Photo Credit: Crafting ConnectionsI was pleasantly surprised when I received a copy of Crafting Connections magazine. The full-size magazine is in vibrant color and printed on heavy paper. When the owners said they wanted a magazine for adults and children to enjoy together, they meant exactly that. The size, color, and strength of this magazine make it perfect for snuggling with little ones and leisurely looking through. The magazine can stand up to multiple children turning pages and still hold its own.

The content of the magazine is down to earth. You won’t find unrealistic projects that leave you wondering why something sounded so easy until you attempted it. There is no perfection in its simple ideas, and that is exactly where the true perfection lies. The magazine gives ideas for families but stresses that the finished projects are culminations of the people, lives, and creativity of the individuals who make them.

Photo Credit: Crafting ConnectionsThe actual projects focus a great deal on nature and reusing items that would otherwise be in your recycling or garbage bins or using natural items found in or around your home. There are no calls for expensive or hard-to-find items, and you can easily substitute items.

The magazine would appeal most to those families wanting to do nature- and/or craft-themed projects with their young children but who could use some simple ideas to do so. If you are a wealth of ideas when it comes to this type of thing, you may not find the magazine as beneficial. While many of the projects are things that my older children (my four children range from almost three years to ten years old) like to do, the magazine is targeted mainly for families with smaller children.

 

BUY IT!

You can purchase your own magazine subsription at CraftingConnections.net. One-year print subscriptions (4 issues) cost $60. One-year digital subscriptions (4 issues) cost $30. If you would like to try out an issue to see if you like the magazine, you can buy a single print issue for $15 or a single digital issue for $8.

 

WIN IT!

For your own chance to win a ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Crafting Connections, enter by leaving a comment and using our Rafflecopter system below.

One winner will receive a ONE-YEAR PRINT SUBSCRIPTION TO CRAFTING CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE. Two winners will receive a ONE-YEAR DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTION TO CRAFTING CONNECTIONS MAGAZINE. Contest is open WORLDWIDE.

MANDATORY ENTRY: Visit Crafting Connections and tell us one thing that has inspired you to get crafting with your little ones! You must enter your name and email address in the Rafflecopter entry system for your entry to count, after leaving a comment on this blog post.

Leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you win. Email addresses in Rafflecopter are not made publicly visible. Please leave the same valid email address in your mandatory comment so we can verify entries.

This is a joint giveaway with Living Peacefully with Children and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only, and we’ll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do visit and enjoy both sites!

BONUS ENTRIES:See the Rafflecopter entry system for bonus entries to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry. All bonus entries are entered directly into Rafflecopter. Give it a try, and email or leave a comment if you have any questions!

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Simply Living Blog Carnival May 2013 Call for Submissions: Daily Lives

Welcome to the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. We hope that you will join us on the third Tuesday of each month as we share posts about simple living in our lives. Submission deadline will be the second Tuesday of each month.

Daily Lives Everyday life can be hectic. Talk to us about how you keep everyday things from overwhelming you. Are you an organizer or declutterer? Do you avoid shopping like the plague? Perhaps you treat yourself to picking up dinner for your family sometimes. What in your daily life helps keep things simple?

To submit an article to the blog carnival, please e-mail your submission to mandy{at}livingpeacefullywithchildren{dot}com anddelilahfineandfair{at}gmail{dot}com, and fill out the webform by May 14. Please write a new, unpublished piece for the carnival. We will e-mail you with instructions before the carnival date. We ask that you publish your post on May 21.

We want you to use creativity and to express yourself as you see fit. To that end, you are welcome to post at your discretion with a few guidelines in mind. Please be respectful in your posts. Avoid excessive profanity and poor grammar or spelling. As the co-hosts of the carnival are all advocates of peaceful living and gentle parenting, we ask that you not post about non-gentle practices or violence toward others. While we will not be editing your articles, we do reserve the right to not add your post to the carnival if it is not on topic, is poorly written, or goes against the guidelines which have been set forth.

Blog carnivals are a great way to generate blog traffic and build a supportive community. Your blog will receive links from many other blogs and you and your readers will have the opportunity to discover other blogs with similar goals in mind. Please join us as we embrace Simply Living through Simple Living! We hope you will consider joining us every month as we discuss ways we simplify our lives.

An Easy Way to Make a Simple Compost Bin

If you have wanted an actual compost bin but have been intimidated about how to go about it, her is an easy way to make an inexpensive one.

Do you have any large containers laying around? We had an old trash can that had previously been in the garage holding hockey sticks. We moved the hockey sticks and were considering what to do with this trash can. I realized it was a compost bin in disguise!

Take your container, in our case an old trash can, and turn it upside down. Drill some holes in the bottom, making certain to drill a hole in any area which is depressed so that rain water can easily drain through the holes. You don’t want rain water collecting and sitting in your compost bin.

It’s that simple. Set it upright and place it in an out of the way corner of your yard. You are ready to add your kitchen scraps, yard waste, or other organic material.