April 3, 2014

Organization Station: Creating a Cleaning Schedule

Like me, my cleaning schedule is kind of all over the place.  I don't follow one plan or schedule. I mean, I do have my usual daily cleaning: laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc. However, for deep cleaning and kid chores,  I take several ideas and fit them in where I have time.  So while my deep cleaning may not be as strict, it works for me and allows be to change it up as needed.

First of all, I keep all of our cleaning lists in our office/playroom.  This room is centrally located in the house and easy to pass through to see what needs to be done.

The main area to find my personal cleaning tasks, is at our family command center.

At our command center there is also our Family Rules, color wheel for art needs, cleaning projects, and a couple things that help us remember my mom.

My current favorite cleaning project is that beautiful list in white up there.  I am taking part in Ann Marie's (White House Black Shutters), 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.  It started on March 5th, as a Lenten challenge, but she's smart and made it available so that you can pick up at anytime and join in!  Basically all you do is print out that awesome printable that she provides and write down the 40 places that you want to tackle.  Your goal is to fill a bag (no matter the size) of clutter in your house that you don't need.  You can trash it, donate it, or sell it.  It just needs to go.  Of course, right after it started, I managed to break my arm, so I've been bouncing around my list and doing what I can.  It's going to take me longer than 40 days, but that's ok.  It will be done.

For more info, click here.

The first thing I tackled.
Can also just be a small project, like tossing old magazines.

This is another cleaning list I've been using.  It gives me one deep clean to tackle a day.  It's manageable and doesn't take up too much time.  I found this via Making Lemonade.  You can get the free printable here.

The other spot in the office/playroom that you can find cleaning lists, is right on the side of the computer desk, as you walk into the kitchen. I'll be needing a new space, since we will be getting a new desk soon, but I'll figure that out when the time comes.  Here you can find Aidan's chore chart.  This is his daily expectations and must be done after homework and before electronics are used.  We've been doing this since February and he's still doing the chores on a regular basis! Underneath the chore chart is a Spring Cleaning check list.  This is one that when I have extra time, I find an item on here to do and check off.

To entice Aidan, I made his chore chart in Minecraft fonts.  Naturally, he loved it and actually shows it off to his friends.

As you can see, this sheet gets one of my beloved page protectors.  As you can guess, I use a dry erase marker on this to mark off the tasks that I have completed.  I found this over at Honeybear Lane last year, and have been using it ever since.  You can find the printable in different styles here.

Finally, this last one isn't a cleaning schedule per say, but after I added it to our office/playroom, it helped cut down on the clutter big time.  We are a 3 bedroom house with only 1822 sq ft and no basement.  So out went the dining room and instead, we turned it into the office/playroom.  Unfortunately with 3 kids, the toys ended up being everywhere.  I came up with this solution.

It's not perfect, but it's perfect for our kids.  I like keeping toys and activities at 'kid-level', so that they can independently grab toys or books and use their imagination.  The 2 end book shelves are old.  They are from my hubby's college years. I bought the centerpiece at Target for about $30.  Here, they can take out and put away toys on their own, play with puzzles, books or grab some chalk for the chalkboard.  At the end of the day, the little ones have their chore duty of cleaning up this spot.

How do you keep your cleaning schedule organized?

April 2, 2014

Healthy Raw Cookie Dough Bites

Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite, go-to healthy snacks. If you are like me, you probably love batter. Whether cookie dough or even pancake batter, I just love it.  Sometimes more than when it's baked.  I stumbled upon this recipe about a year ago at Betty Rocker and have been making them regularly since.  They are quick, delicious, guilt-free, and the kids love them.

I have altered the recipe a little to my liking, or what I have on hand.  So you can easily swap out the coconut nectar with honey, agave nectar, etc. and the cacao nibs with chocolate chips. However, if you can get your hands on coconut nectar and cacao nibs, I highly recommend it.  You can find them at health food stores, Whole Foods, or here (cacao nibs) (Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Nectar 12 oz).

Healthy, Raw Cookie Dough Bites

2/3 cup raw almonds
2/3 cup walnuts
2/3 cup oat bran
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cacao nibs

In a food processor, blend together almonds, walnuts, oat bran, cinnamon and salt until it creates a fine meal texture.
Add coconut nectar and vanilla extract and mix into the meal.
Add in raisins and cacao nibs and just pulse until combined.
Take about 1 tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ball. Continue to make balls until all mixture is gone (makes about a dozen bites).
Place on plate or lined baking sheet and freeze for about an hour.  Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.


Delicious, quick and easy to grab on the go.  What's better than that?

Linking this up to Create it Thursday over at Lamberts Lately.

March 31, 2014

Spring Break Fun Part 1

 Oh, the fun of having 2 kids at different schools. Aidan is at the public elementary school in our neighborhood, and Eliana is at a private Christian preschool about 5 minutes from our home. The issue, is that our neighborhood's school is the one school in our town that is in a different district. And El's school follows the main public school district's calendar. Until now, both of their calendars have matched at break time. But, Aidan's spring break was last week, and Eliana's is this week. So to break it up, we went to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago last week, and this weekend, we will be going to Wisconsin Dells with one of my lifelong besties and her daughter.

Here is our visit to Shedd last week, in pictures.

School day + hour drive in traffic = messy hair (don't care)
"Oooh, oooh, feesh"

The only person to be unimpressed by the Belugas. Gotta love pre-teens!

March 26, 2014

Organization Station: Blog Life

Today I am going to start on a new series called, Organization Station. Clever, huh? Or not.  Anyway, by no means am I an organizing expert.  In fact, if you asked my family, they would literally laugh out loud that I am creating this series.  I am incredibly unorganized, and to make matters even worse, we are a family of 5 plus a dog with no basement, only 3 bedrooms, and an unusable attic. With that being said, I am constantly looking for ways that work to declutter our home and life.

This series was inspired by my Pinterest board on organizing, and all the lovely bloggers and their posts that I have found helpful along the way.

Today's topic is going to be what I am working on as well: Blog life.  If you are a blogger, and especially someone who is either new to it, or am just getting back into it (like me), you can be overwhelmed about keeping a schedule, working around sponsors and giveaways, and still maintaining your house, kid time, and spouse time.  Luckily, I found some awesome solutions via some amazing bloggers, and am here to share with you my findings and how I am working on getting it all balanced.

First off, get yourself a blog planner.  You can find a fancy one on etsy, or if you are frugal (read: cheap), like me, then you can find ample amounts on pinterest.  After searching and looking at a million different ones, I finally found one that works best for my needs.  Bonus? It's adorable!  Sure, it may be the end of March, but you can save yourself on ink and paper, by printing out only the pages that you need (I printed all except January & Februrary). 

How cute is this planner!

The blog planner that I found is generously available for free by the amazingly talented, Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She even tells you how to get it to look even more professionally finished than how I have it.  I went ahead and printed it out at home, and placed it in my beloved organization binder that houses my FlyLady cleaning checklist (I know you can see the words 'Control Journal' that is ever so faintly in the white, above!),  Here is how I use it:

My very first page is the 'Year at Glance' calendar.  I keep this in a page protector sheet (that's been used over and over again, hence the wrinkles).  Why do I use the page protectors? Because you can write on them with dry-erase markers and clean them, without using up the paper!  The rest of the pages are hole punched, as they are for specific months.  The planner also includes pages for giveaways & reviews tracking, sponsors tracking, stats and more!  Huge thanks to Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler for provided this great planner! You can download your own here.

Pardon the dust!

The other thing that I have in my binder for blogging, is this extremely helpful Daily Blogging Checklist from the ladies over at The SITS Girls. This is another page that I keep in those plastic page protectors, so that I can check each item off every day.  What I love the most about this checklist, is that it is tailored for 2014 social media needs.  As we all know, social media is constantly changing, so this updated list is really helpful in making sure that you reach all platforms.  You can download the free Daily Blogging Checklist for 2014 here.  Thank you to Tiffany and Francesca at SITS girls for providing this little resource for fellow bloggers!

These are just  a couple ways that I am learning to become organized with my bloggy life.  What have you found to help manage time and organization when it comes to blogging?

March 25, 2014

Almond Chicken Tenders

As a mom with kids ranging from 10 years old to 18 months, I am always looking for recipes that are kid-friendly for them, yet healthy.  All 3 of my kids love chicken nuggets, tenders, fingers.  If it is chicken that is breaded, there is a good chance that they will eat it.  About a year ago, I finally found a recipe that they devour and I still feel good about eating.  The best part is that they taste just as good without smothering them in a dipping sauce (even though my oldest prefers his honey dijon or ranch still).    They also work great for quick dinner nights and are super simple to make.

If you are looking for variety, these are easy enough to switch out the seasonings for a different taste!

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  While the oven is heating up, take about 1 cup of raw almonds and place them in a blender.  Blend until desired consistency.  I like to leave mine coarse, so it has a little crunch to it, like a real chicken tender.  Add seasonings. Note:  if you are short on time, or don't want the extra step, you can also skip this step and just use 1 cup almond meal.

Next, you'll need to prepare your chicken.  You can use regular breasts and slice them into strips, or you can do as I do, and just buy the precut chicken tenders from the meat counter.
After you prepare the chicken, take some extra virgin olive oil and lightly brush the oil onto all sides of the chicken tenders. Note: Again, here's another alternative.  You can use any oil, including coconut oil or you can just use a cooking spray.

Now you'll want to generously cover the tenders with the almond meal.  Repeat until all the tenders are covered.

Place tenders on a foil lined, lightly greased, baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes (until internal temperature reaches 165), flipping halfway through.

 Now watch you and the kids gobble it up! Enjoy!

Almond Chicken Tenders

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenders)
1 cup raw almonds (or almond meal)
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or desired oil)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and lightly cover with cooking spray.  While oven is warming up, blend almonds in a blender until desired consistency (can skip this step if using almond meal). Mix all the spices into the almond meal.  If using chicken breasts, slice chicken breasts into long slices, 1-2" long.  Brush or spray each tender with oil onto every side.  Coat the tenders generously with the almond spice mix.  Place tenders onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and fully cooked.

Come check out these great blog hops that I am linking up on: Made by You Mondays, Mommy Monday Blog Hop

March 19, 2014

Free Ad Opportunity!

Good morning, lovelies!

If you are a blogger, you may want to listen up:

As I am working to rebuild this blog, I am looking to giveaway sidebar ad space via a share for share trade!

Share for share means that I will give you free ad space on my blog, in return for free ad space on yours.  I will leave your ad up for a minimum of 30 days.  If you are interested in trading a 125x125 px ad/button/banner, please email me at helloloveliesblog{at}gmail{dot}com.

And if you are a blogger, or an etsy shop, or whatever, leave your details in the comments below! I am always looking for new blogs, shops, feeds to follow!

March 18, 2014

Review: Boots Botanics Ionic Clay Mask #powerofplants

I received this product free for testing purposes from Influenster. All opinions are of my own.

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you probably already know that I am involved with Influenster and receive their Vox Boxes from time to time.  This time, I received their J'Adore Vox Box and inside held my soon-to-be new best friend:

See that bad boy in the front right?  That is my new bff that has become part of my weekly wine-book-bath ritual.  Meet Boots Botanics Ionic Clay Mask.

Excuse my less than stellar phone photos, but this is my bath ritual.  A glass of red, a face mask, and a good book to read while I soak the stress away.

I meant to include a photo, but now with my arm all wrapped up, multi-tasking for photos is not exactly doable. But let me tell you, you don't need photos to learn how to use this product! You simply apply it generously, to a clean face and let it do it's magic and dry up - for about 10 minutes, or whenever you're done relaxing.  After that, you simply wash off and pat dry your face.  That's it! Your skin will feel cleaned and renewed.  And best part, you only need to use it once a week (if that)!

Goodbye shine, hello renewed skin!

You can find Boots Botanice Ionic Clay Mask at Target.
What am I drinking? Lynfred Winery 2011 Tannat

What are some of your favorite products from Boots?

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