Thursday, January 21, 2016

How To Clean Your Room in 60 Seconds

Actually in less time than it will take to read this post you can clean your room! Not spotless, but taking the clutter out and making it presentable. 

Probably most of you who are reading this don't need this for yourself, but you may have kids...need I say more?

  1. Set a Timer -- Everyone has an electronic timer or a stopwatch on their phones. 60 seconds,  Go!
  2. Make the bed, 15 seconds -- pull up the sheets, blankets, bedspread, smooth. Put pillows in place.
  3. Dirty Clothes, 10 seconds -- grab all the dirty clothes that aren't in the dirty clothes bin and toss them there!
  4. Clean Clothes, 20 seconds -- any clean clothes that are lying around should be hung or quickly folded and put away
  5. Trash 10 seconds -- pick up anything to be thrown out (candy wrappers, a tag from new clothing, a used tissue) and put it in the waste basket.
  6. Close everything, 5 seconds -- run around and close all drawers and cupboard doors.
  7. DONE!
If your kids have trouble cleaning up their room, make this a game. Explain it, set a timer and challenge them to see how much they can get done in one minute. If they have a lot of clean clothes that need folding or hanging, or a lot of toys, books, and other activity things, switch "clean clothes" for "toys" and leave clean clothes for a second one minute challenge. Have a basket for toys or several for kinds of toys. 

Do this everyday with your kids. I know, that's easier said than done. I will admit, that I did not do this. The first day, it's going to take longer if there are games and puzzle pieces all around, so help with that. But if we could get them in the habit of racing around their rooms to clear the clutter, it could take only 60 seconds and all of us would be happier. 

And maybe, just maybe, they will get used to enjoying a neater room.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Bright Side of Your Meal

What does your meal look like on your plate? 

I used to have plain white dishes that I loved because they matched every tablecloth, placemat, center piece, and holiday. I will never forget the night they matched my meal...the whole meal: baked skinless chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and cauliflower. 

Ever since then I try not to go for a monochromatic theme for my meals. 

Photo Credit

And since I try to eat more low calorie I like to fill up on veggies and healthy side dishes. So I'm always looking new ways to make this interesting and delicious. Because I have learned to really like vegetables.

So here are    side dishes I like to serve with my meals. Most recipes/directions for the things below can be found on my Side Dish Pinterest board here.

Variations of Waldorf Salad:
  • Celery, apple, walnut with a dressing of 1 part mayo, 2 parts lemon yogurt, 1/2 part Italian or raspberry walnut vinaigrette. *Remember this dressing. Use any flavor yogurt you like on any of these combos.
  • Chopped lettuce, apple, walnut, dried cranberry
  • Baby spinach, apple, walnut, raisin
  • Chopped cabbage, apple, walnut, (raisin, optional)
  • Or substitute your favorite green, pear for apple, pecan for walnut, grape halves for raisins or craisins.
Green Beans
  • Stir fry  with cut up multi color peppers
  • Stir fry with almond slivers
  • Stir fry with onion slices
  • Stir fry with mushrooms (whole or sliced)
  • Stir fry then stir in salted sunflower seeds
  • Stir fry then stir in sesame seeds
  • Roast with olive oil and garlic

  • Roast--the best way ever to eat carrots!
  • Cook in orange juice
  • Cook with brown sugar
  • Shred and mix with apple or pineapple, raisins, peanuts, and a lemon yogurt dressing

  • Stir fry with onions and/or peppers
  • Stir fry with walnuts
  • Roast with garlic
  • Roast with onions and or peppers
  • Salad with apples, raisins, bacon, celery, spring onions, dried cranberries, nuts, or any combination of the above. My favorite dressing is always a combo of a fruit yogurt and a little bit of Italian dressing or olive oil with salt and pepper. You can add a bit of mustard to this one, too.

Sweet Potato
  • Roast in olive oil...mmmmm! My favorite way!
  • Baked and eaten with salt and pepper. (I forgo butter. It's great like it is!
  • Roast with onions and peppers
  • Roast with Brussel sprouts

Brussel Sprouts
  • Roast  in olive oil 
  • Roast with onions and peppers
  • Roast with garlic
  • Grill!

  • Coleslaw with apples or pineapple, raisins or dried cranberries, peanuts or cashews
  • Thai coleslaw--use two colors of cabbage, maybe grate some carrots in it. Make a dressing of 1 part rice vinegar, 1 part sesame or olive oil, some garlic, cilantro, and, a tiny bit of dried red peppers for zing! Toss in sesame seeds or chopped peanuts if you want.
  • Roast! Cabbage steaks--slice cabbage into 1/2 inch thick slices; brush with olive oil and minced garlic. Roast in hot oven till edges begin to brown. Better than you think! You can use wedges, too.
  • Grill! Same as above for roasting, but do it on the grill. Use a basket or grill pan.

  • Toss with just about anything. My favorite is fruit: blueberries, strawberries, orange sections, grapefruit sections, mandarin oranges, mango...or go more greco-roman and do black olives, tomato, feta, cucumbers, sweet multi-color peppers. Just be sure to get lettuce with color! the dark greens and reds will make your salad so much more appealing that iceberg alone.

  • Roast (do you see a pattern here?) I think all these veggies taste best roasted with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Garlic and onions add a great deal.
  • Add them to just about any vegetable for a pop of color, extra vitamins, crunch, and taste!

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Two Challenges: Are You Up to Them?

I write to inspire families to connect around the table more often. That is the goal of what I write here. I'd really like to know if I am reaching that goal.

How many times a (week/month/year) do you eat with your family? Breakfast, lunch, or dinner count, just sitting down and eating. 

No matter how often or how seldom, I think you would be happier if you did it more. So as 2016 starts, consider setting a goal to eat together one more time a week than you currently do. Or 4 more times a month. 

If you think you can't do it, roam through this blog for solutions to whatever it is that keeps you from doing it from simple meal ideas to more energy to keeping the peace to getting them to stay around long enough to have a conversation.

And take a picture. 

Not a photo of a special meal--a birthday or holiday--but the meal you eat together as a family. I would love to see that photo. If you will send it to me at
I will send you an email with five of our favorite recipes. So, it's your turn to inspire me. 

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Can't wait to read Around the Table: Connecting With Your Family at MealtimesDid you know it is available on Kindle?

You can get a copy today for only $4.75!

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Get a Conversation Starter question each week night by *liking* the Around the Table Facebook page! 

How about "pinning" this post to your Pinterest page?

Linking with these great blogs. 


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