Laundry Lessons… Another College Rite of Passage

Laundry Lessons…Hard to believe that thirty years ago, my mom was trying to teach me how to do my own laundry as I headed out the door to college. Now I have three college daughters of my own who really need to start doing their own laundry…the right way.

(So don’t say that your mom never showed you how to do your own laundry…I am writing it here in plain English.)

How much detergent...Too much detergent is a waste of money and produces an excess of suds in the wash. Too little detergent can keep your clothes from getting clean at all.How many clothes per load…Cramming every single article of clothing you own into one wash load makes it harder for clothes to get cleaned effectively. Use your common sense.

How often should I wash my clothes…Socks, underwear, and workout clothes should be washed after every wearing. Everything else, at least for the most part, can simply be aired out and put away for another day…(no, girls, that does not give you a valid excuse to leave your entire wardrobe all over the bedroom floor)…

What settings should you use…Select the smallest load setting and shortest wash setting appropriate for each particular load…again, use some common sense…or call your mom…

What water temperature should I use to wash my clothes… According to the U.S. Department of Energy, up to 90 percent of the energy used while doing a load of laundry is used to heat the water….

We have been told differently since birth…or maybe since college days…because there was a time when hot water was needed to dissolve powdered detergent, but times have changed…and liquid laundry detergents have now advanced to the point of being able to get clothes just as clean in cold water as hot.

So stop…(stop using hot or warm water, that is…not sure that any of us can get by with not doing laundry, at least not for very long.)

Now that I have started doing smaller loads throughout the week, I am enjoying the freedom of “bachelor washing”…washing almost anything and everything in one load.

Cold water makes doing this “safer”…is gentler on fabrics than warmer water…and helps keep clothes from fading or shrinking. Even better, switching to cold water is the simplest way to save money. (There are detergents specifically made for cold water use, if throwing all your clothes into the same water scares you still)…

What water temperature should I use to rinse my clothes... rinsing in hot or warm water doesn’t get clothes any cleaner…it just increases your monthly utility bills.

Which detergent should I buy...(I am working on a future post about natural cleaners and detergents, so stay tuned)…Be smart enough to look beyond those super-expensive brands so that you can see the generic and store-brand options.

Read the label to see how best to use a particular product. For example, some detergents go into the soap dispenser, others go right into the drum. 

Many of my friends were on a laundry detergent-making sprint back when Pinterest first got big…(I personally never found time to try making my own…too busy on Facebook, I guess)…but here’s a recipe for homemade laundry detergent that was given to me back then…

3 cups washing soda, 3 bars of Castile soap, 3 cups of Borax, and ¼ -1/2tsp essential oil-such as grapefruit, lavender, lime or orange.

Wow…that stinks!!!...Add a few drops of essential oils-such as lemon or lavender-to the water in the washing machine. Soak very smelly clothes in a machine filled with the hottest water available and 1C vinegar for an hour before washing them as normally would.

Wow…that stain will never come out!!!…Simply pray hard and then work a few drops of detergent into the stained fabric and wash as usual.  If the stain doesn’t come out, you needed a good excuse to go shopping anyway, right?!

To Separate or Not to Separate…That Is the Question


Most of us were taught to sort your laundry into four piles—lights, darks, whites, and towels.
But is taking time to sort clothes time actually a waste of time?! After all, if I can simply wash a small load every day, or every other day, instead of setting one day a week as Official Laundry Day.

Not even towels need to really be washed separately…simply throw them in with other cotton clothes.

Clothing labels are key to keeping your clothes in great condition longer.

Check the tags whenever you buy a “better” piece of clothing, such as a dress or nice pair of pants, These tags are on there for a reason. you have no one else to blame if you buy a perfect dress and then discover that it has to be dry cleaned…or wash or dry your favorite whatever-it-may-be onand ruin it because you failed to take time to read the tag.

You might want to take a few seconds to look over your stuff first for unzipped zippers that might snag other clothing, unbutton shirts to keep them from stretching out the buttonhole, and turn jeans inside out so that they last longer and keep their color.

Even though I no longer take the time to sort all of my laundry into the four legalistic piles-lights, whites, darks, and towels,-. there are still a few exceptions…

New clothes that have not been washed more than a a couple of times often transfer their color to other clothing. Wash these items by themselves until they are “broken in.”

There are certain fabrics, such as silk, that should always be washed alone or dry-cleaned….(more on this later)…

Stop and Smell the Coffee

It has been found that coffee has health benefits, such as increased cardiovascular function, a decreased risk of basal cell carcinoma, and protection against liver disease…and many people like me simply cannot function without a freshly brewed pot of coffee close at hand.But recently my coffee machine stopped working and had to be replaced.

Buying a new coffee machine was a really big decision at our house, and here are the factors that I considered while comparing shopping options and trying to make sure that I would buy a coffee maker that I absolutely love.

Cleaning…Think about how easy it will be to clean, most likely meaning something that can go in the dishwasher.

Cost…Coffee makers involve long-term costs, not only a one-time initial expense. 

Single-serving machines-such as the Nespresso Inissia, Ninja Coffee Bar Single-Serve System, and Keurig-require constantly buying coffee pods and capsules which can run anywhere from $5 to $7 a package. 

Drip machines require constantly buying new filters and grounds or beans.
Effectiveness…Make sure that you buy a machine that can brew at high heat. Most top-of-the-line machines will list their brewing temps on the box or online. 

Material…Decide what kind of carafe you want-glass or stainless steel. Glass pots let you see and smell the coffee as it is brewing. A glass pot keeps warm for about 20 minutes. A thermal, stainless pot will keep coffee warm for up to an hour, but will have to be cleaned by hand.

Size…Take stock of how much you coffee you actually drink. If you barely go through a cup a day, buy a single-serving machine. If you drink coffee to keep you functioning all day long, buy the biggest pot available. 

Special Features…Other special features to consider include an automatic-start machine that you can set the night before and automatic shut-off.

Setting Up the Ultimate Kitchen … Blenders


Summer is such the perfect time to drag out the blender and make a piña colada and sit by the pool…but making the perfect mixed drink might require the blender that you’ve been using for thirty years, ever since your wedding shower.

But with all the options available, shopping for a blendercan be complicated. How do you know which one to buy?!

Just like shopping for anything else, there are a few criteria to consider while you shop…factors such as lifestyle or needs, storage space required, type container…and how much you’re willing to spend.

Lifestyle or Needs…Do you really even need a blender at all, or can You simply get by with an immersion blender or something more along the lines of a Magic Bullet…What will you using the blender for…simply to make the occasional mixed drink, or to grind almonds and make your own nut butter every single day…

Storage Space Required…If you will be storing the blender in the space between your kitchen counter and upper cabinets, be sure to measure this space.

Type of Container…Even though there are still plenty of glass options, most of the big blender brands come with plastic containers. Glass containers can get heavy and break, but some of us just don’t like how flimsy cheaper plastic option can feel.

Cost…How much are you willing to spend, as based on how often you will be using it…

Vitamix (often considered the gold standard of blenders) ..,Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series BlenderBlendtec. Ninja 


Breville Boss

  • Cost…$ 379.95
  • Functions: 5…smoothie, green smoothie, frozen dessert, soup, and pulse/ice crush…variable speed dial 
  • Motor…2 horsepower
  • Reviews
  • Size…9.5 x 18 x 7.8 inches


    Cuisinart® 2.25 Horse Power Blender 

    • Cost…$199.95
    • Functions…preprogrammed smoothie and ice crush functions””” electronic touchpad controls: low, high and pulse
    • Motor…2.25 peak HP motor
    • Reviews
    • Size..7.75×11.5×16″H

    Hamilton Beach HBH750 Countertop Drink Blender w/ Polycarbonate Container, Programmable

    • Cost…$891.25
    • Functions…100 pre-programmed cycles, memory card slot
    • Motor…3Hp, 120v/60/1-ph, 8.6 amps
    • Reviews
    • Size…19.8 x 14.1 x 12.1 inches

    KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Blender   

    • Cost…$599.95
    • Functions…Three pre-set Adapti-Blend™ recipe programs: Smoothies, Juices, and Soups, which heats soup and keeps it hot….precision power dial with continuous variable speeds from 1 to 11 and high/low pulse option.
    • Motor…3.5-peak-horsepower 
    • Review
    • Size…10 1/2″ x 9″ x 17 3/4″
    • Size..

    Nachos and a Nap


    Everyone needs a nap now and again, but if you’re feeling sleepy and yout to-do list is pages and pages long, you definitely want to maximize any time available for a nap.

    The best time to nap is mid-afternoon, between 2 and 3pm…at least three hours before you plan to go to sleep for the night.

    The length of your nap affects the way you feel when you wake up. If you don’t time it right, you’ll feel even sleepier than you did before you dozed off. 
    So what are your napping options, and how do you make the most from how the body’s sleep cycles work?!

    Here’s a quick list…

    1. Alarm-Assisted, NASA-Approved Power Nap..lPower naps are basically any short nap that’s under 30 minutes, but this one is special because it’s the kind of nap astronauts and air traffic controllers use. A NASA study from 1995 concluded that the ideal nap time is actually 26 minutes. Those 26 minutes will leave you feeling 54 percent more alert and can improve performance by 34 percent.

    2. Emergency Napping..lfeeling suddenly tired and needing to sleep before you can continue doing what you’re doing 

    3. Energizing Coffee Nap…Science has actually shown that you can get more out of your naps by drinking coffee before you snooze. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine’s effects to peak, if you can plan it so that you wake up from your nap at that 30 minute mark, you’ll feel your most alert.The Coffee Nap is basically a quick wink, but in the few minutes leading up to your nap, you have to drink your favorite caffeinated beverage.

    4. Habitual Napping…taking a nap at the same time every day.

    5.  Leisurely Cat Nap...It may not seem like it, but you can actually get a full sleep cycle in if you nap for 90 minutes.A nap that lasts between 30 and 60 minutes will cause you to wake up in the middle of deep sleep and leave you feeling groggier than ever. Aim for a full 90 minutes so you can get a little extra sleep and still feel refreshed when you wake up.

    6.  Planned Napping, taking a nap before you actually get tired.
    7.  Spontaneous Quick Wink..This is the nap you don’t plan…It’s less of a full-on nap (technically it falls into the power nap category because it’s less than thirty minutes, but more on that one in a minute!) and more like when you just need to close your eyes and relax for a few minutes, and it turns into a brief nap. Just 15 to 20 minutes of snooze time and you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take on your to-do list.

    Chicken Burrito Bowl…:Damn Delicious


    Fajita Bowl..:My Food Story


       Hawaiian Chicken Bowls...:Life in the Lofthousr

      Mason Jar Burrito Bowl…Gimme Delicious Food

       Mexican Chicken Quinoa Bowl…Project Meal Pla

          Animal Crackers in My Soup

          A grilled cheese sandwich is a basic cheese sandwich made by heating one or more varieties of cheese between two buttered slices of any sort of bread until the bread crisps and the cheese melts.

          Pumpernickel, dark brown, and rye breads have been used, topped with Swiss cheese, Gouda, and havarti respectively. Other options include apples with mozzarella, peaches with edam, and pear with gorgonzola or brie; Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella; or turkey and ham, with which “a variation on a Monte Cristo” can also be created.We all already knew that, right?!

          But did you know that Americans consume around 2.2 billion grilled cheese sandwiches each year.

          The modern version of the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s as an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, called the Cheese Dream, and became popular as an inexpensive option for feeding friends, family, and company at Sunday supper. 

          The sandwich was often accompanied by olives, pickles, sliced tomatoes, ham, and bacon…browned on both served with very hot, rich tomato sauce.
          Today many versions of the grilled cheese sandwich are found on restaurant menus across the United States.

          Cheddar is the most common cheese used for grilled cheese sandwiches…and the sandwich can be cooked on a griddle, grilling, frying in a pan, or in a panini grill…

          Pumpernickel, dark brown, and rye breads have been used…Swiss cheese, Gouda, and havarti have been used… apples with mozzarella, peaches with edam, and pear with gorgonzola or brie have been used…Italian herb, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella have been used…turkey and ham with which “a variation on a Monte Cristo.” All these have all been used.

          So why settle for the basic grilled cheese sandwich when such  ingredients can be added.

          The Wisconsin Grilled Cheese a Academy is committed to creating the tastiest and most sublime gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches…with 149 variations on the grilled cheese sandwich…why not check it out?!


            Grilled cheese sandwiches are often served with tomato soup.

            So here’s an excellent recipe for tomato soup, when you want more than the Campbell’s can has to offer.

            Homemade Tomato Soup

            • 2Tbsp unsalted butter
            • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
            • 2 cloves garlic
            • 28oz canned whole peeled tomatoes
            • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
            • 1 1/2C chicken stock
            • 1/2C heavy cream

            Melt butter in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic, stirring constantly, until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

            Add tomatoes, their juices, stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes.

            Working in batches, transfer tomato mixture to a blender. Puree tomato mixture. 

            Return soup to a clean pot. Set over low heat. Whisk in cream. Season with salt and pepper. 

              Bent For Bento Boxes

              We all know that half of the battle in eating healthier is planning ahead. 

              I recently purchased a set of Rubbermaid Balance Meal Kits to use to make pre-portioned bento-style lunches.. These kits consist of four containers-protein, grain, fruit, and vegetable-each with a coordinating symbol on it.

              Here are a few copycat cafe-style protein boxes that are easy to put together ahead of time so that you can make sure to always have a healthy lunch on hand.


                  1.  Copycat Starbucks Fruit and Cheese Protein Box…Momables

                  Fruit…3-4 apple slices, 2 tablespoons almonds mixed with 1 tablespoon dried cranberries
                  Grain…5-7 whole grain crackers
                  Protein…wedge of Brie, 1-2 small slices of aged cheddar,1-2 small slices of Gouda 

                  2.  Deli Snack Box…Damn Delicious
                  Grain…Pita bites crackers
                  Protein…Thinly sliced turkey breast, hard boiled egg, sharp cheddar cheese
                  Vegetable…Cherry tomatoes

                  3.  Egg & Cheese Protein Box…Skinny Fork

                  Fruit…Gala Apple, Grapes
                  Grain…Whole Wheat English Muffin
                  Protein…Sharp Cheddar, Mini Babybel Light Original Cheese Wedge, PB2 – Peanut Butter 2, Boiled Egg

                  4.  PB&J Protein Box…Cooking Light
                  …apple slices, fruit preserve (sandwich)
                  Grain…whole-wheat bread (sandwich)
                  Protein…peanut butter (sandwich), mozzarella cheese stick
                  Vegetable…baby carrots, cucumber slices

                  5.  Thai Chicken Wrap Bistro Box…:Gimme Delicious Food

                  Vegetable…slaw made from cabbage, red pepper, carrots, cucumber, cilantro

                    The Right Life Starts with the Right Pen

                    Usually the most important starting point in cultivating purpose in in our lives, especially when walking through hard times, is to write down our dreams, goals, and deepest desires. Seeing goals written down on paper, right in front of you, creates motivation.  

                    But before you can do that, you must find…or borrow a pen.

                    But what pen?!

                    Well, obviously that depends on what you need…Factors to consider include bleed-through, colors, cost, design, diameter, refill options, writing grip, and writing style.

                    The following is a list of pens that I have actually owned, used, and loved over the last thirty years of my “adult life.”
                    Baron Fig Squire

                    BigiDesign TiArto 
                      Lamy AL-Star 
                    Lamy Vista
                    Lamy Safari
                    Parker Jotter

                    uni-ball Signo .38 UMR-1…
                    uni-ball® Jetstream Rollerball Pen

                    Gel Pens…Gel Pens use thick and opaque ink in which pigment is suspended in a water-based gel. The ink shows up more clearly on dark or slick surfaces than typical inks used in ballpoint or felt tip pens and can be used for many types of writing and illustration.

                    Gel pens are available in a rainbow of bright, pastel, opalescent, metallic, and glittery colors.

                    PaperMate InkJoy
                    Pilot Juice Pens 

                    Sakura Gelly Roll Pens

                    Large Brush PensTombow Dual Tips
                    Medium-Tipped Brush Pens...Koi Coloring Brush Pens

                    Metallic Brush Pens... Kuretake Zig Fudebiyori Metallic Brush Pens


                      On the Go Brush PensPilot Petit3 Brush Pens
                      Small-Tipped Brush Pens...Tombow Fudenosuke
                      Watercolor Brush PensEcoline Liquid Watercolor Brush Pens.

                        12 Creative Blogs from 12 Creative Minds Created to Create Creative Children

                        Art should play a role in the development of your kids. There are many benefits For children beingelsed to art during their formative years. these include self-confidence and problem solving ability, 

                        Taking time to be creative at an early age will help them during their actual school years and later in their careers. In the business world, these children will be be valuable employees who are able to embrace diversity, envision  innovative and valuable ideas and solutions to a problem, take risks and feel comfortable with the outcome and any mistakes, see other points of view, and think outside of the box.

                        Most importantly, these kids will never losing touch with the creative child inside of them.

                        Today I would like to share some of the best blogs that I have found that we, as parents and teachers, can use to gather ideas and inspiration to encourage creativity in our children.


                            1.  Art Bar Blog… This blog is written by a former graphic designer who now teaches art from her home in Connecticut. 

                            She believes that providing a space, time, a table, a willing parent, and art materials for children to create, explore, invent, and tinker develops their ability to flourish into a lifelong creative thinker.

                            Her art projects have been featured in publications, such as Real Simple.

                            2.  Art for Kids and Robots…Jeanette Nyberg, author of Tangle Art & Drawing Games for Kids, finds both art and kids to be creative, interesting, and fun. She also believes that art is not fostered nearly enough in American public schools and offers art projects for kids on her blog to hopefully fill in that gap.

                            3.  Elise Gets Crafty…Elise Blaha Cripe, author of the Get to Work Book, started a blog in 2005 and began sharing craft projects and tutorials. In 2008, she opened her first online shop, where she has made and sold everything from letterpress prints to wooden plant stands.
                            Fun at Home with Kids…Asia Citro, Author of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, The Curious Kid’s Science Book, A Little Bit of Dirt, and the Zoey and Sassafras seri

                            4.  Hands Free Mama…Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, and Only Love Today…started this blog in 2010 and now has 98,000 followers on her Hands Free Revolution facebook page.

                            Her goal is to provide strategies that will allow for parents to be less distracted and more fully present in the moments spent with family.


                            5.  Hands On As We Grow...Jamie Reimer, uses the blog “Hands On As We Grow” to post simple “hands on” activities…such as crafts, art projects, gross motor activities, and fine motor activities…that are simple to put together for your kids. 

                              6.  hello, Wonderful…Agnes Hsuan, author of My Color is Rainbowoffers the best ideas to create, celebrate, and enjoy those magical everyday moments and create memories  with your kids, saving you hours of sorting through endless websites and inspiration boards. 


                              7.  Meri Cherry…Meri Cherry is a reggio inspired atelierista and private art teacher in Los Angeles with nearly twenty years experience. she believes that creativity is not only fun, but also a great source of self-confidence. Her mission is to inspire both the  young and the old to be creative, think outside the box, and go for their dreams. 

                              8.  Picklebums…This blog was started in 2005 by a former early childhood teacher from Victoria, Australia.


                              9.  Pink Stripey Socks…Leslie Manlapig, co-author of STEAM Kids- 50+ Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, and Math Activities for kidsSTEAM Kids Christmas- 25 Activities for kids, and Happy Handmade, is a minimalist who believes that crafts can encourage others.


                              10.  Red Ted Art…Maggy Woodley, author of Red Ted Art: Cute and Easy Crafts for a blogger who loves all things crafty  and desires to share easy, do-able, and fun craft ideas and how-tos for all ages.


                              11. Simple as That Blog…Rebecca, a professional photographer and mother of four, from Alberta, Canada, has been sharing easy-to-follow crafts and recipes, organization tips, mom-hacks that will help your home and your life run a little more smoothly, photography tutorials, and ways to save your family’s story since founding this site in 2005

                              She enjoys putting together simple DIY projects using easy-to-find materials and a few basic supplies, and believes that…

                              Fewer elaborate projects means easier-to-organize supplies.
                              Fewer distractions means more focused attention for my kids.
                              Fewer to-do’s and less stress means more joy in the everyday.

                              12.  The Art Pantry…The Art Pantry is a design studio specializing in children’s creative play spaces, founded by Megan Schiller. Her mission is to design organized and functional spaces dedicated to creativity and quality art supplies in order to foster children’s independence, investigation, and creative play.

                                    Cooking Up A Really Good Cookbook to Cook Up Some Really Good Home Cooking

                                     One of my big goals for this year has been to create a family cookbook filled with the flavors, memories, and nostalgia of our family’s unique Mississippi heritage.
                                    Being from the Deep South, most, if not all, of our best memories center around food…and creating a collection of my family’s hand-me-down recipes will make sure that these traditions and favorites will be passed down from generation to generation. To me, that seems like a very good reason to write a family cookbook. 

                                        This treasure trove of experience, history, and love all rolled into one will also be a great way to share my own personal life  experience with future women following in my good, or not so good, footsteps.

                                        The three most important elements of any great cookbook are superior content, captivating design, and thoughtful editing. 

                                        Superior Content...The most part important part of a cookbook is the actual content. Writing a great cookbook involves passion and a vast amount of knowledge…technical, historical, scientific, or anecdotal knowledge. 

                                        Being from Mississippi, I have gathered quite a bevy of good recipes over the last thirty years. My goal is to simply share these great family recipes with my family,  friends, and perhaps a few more readers. 

                                        My first step in beginning to work on this cookbook has been to compile my recipes together in one place, sort them into categories, and eliminate any recipes that I won’t need.

                                        The typical cookbook contains 250 to 500 recipes in total.
                                        Chapters should be somewhat balanced in terms of length, and consistent within as to recipe order…Organize your chapters in a way that makes sense to the reader…perhaps according to course or according to seasons…

                                        Captivating Design

                                        Layout…Double-page spreads for longer recipes keeps the reader from turning a page with sticky fingers. Try to have photographs facing the recipe page.
                                        Photography……Good photography is essential for a good cookbook, but be honest. Show the photograph exactly as made following the recipe. do not show ingredients actually not mentioned in the recipe 

                                        Typeface…Typeface must be large enough to be seen three feet away on a messy kitchen countertop. This helps us find our place quickly. Mixed-typeface designs can add interest to your page and often help the reader glance through a recipe more quickly.

                                        Thoughtful Editing

                                        Recipe Titles...Recipe titles should be both descriptive and interesting, so that the reader understands what the dish is all about by simply glancing at the page.

                                        Headnotes… Headnotes, the little bit of copy before the actual recipe, should reflect the unique voice and personality of the writer. Describe how you were first was captivated by this recipe, things to watch for when making the recipe, why you included this recipe in this book, why you love it so much, a bit of the recipe’s history,information about a particular ingredient, additional recipe tips or variations, or a personal anecdote that relates to the recipe in some way, shape or fashion. give the author a chance to

                                         Ingredients…Copyright law does not protect the list of ingredients in a recipe. If an ingredient isn’t available at the local Piggly Wiggly, tell your reader how to order it online or what other ingredient to substitute. 

                                        All ingredients should be listed in order of use. Indicate if they are chopped, minced, melted, etc. Include accurate package sizes and to provide the pan sizes needed for each recipe. 

                                        …American cooks do not typically use the metric system. as an American cook writing recipes for a mostly American audience, why bother?!

                                        Measurements should be as precise as possible.

                                          Be descriptive in your instructions. Use the five senses as you write them out. Instructions should be very clear and make a picture to the reader. Baking times should be accurate and tell how to know that the recipe is finished. State whether to cook a recipe covered or not. Tell the reader if you can make the dish ahead of time and freeze for later. State the number of servings.