Muppet Movie Celebration – Fun Everyday Ideas

Tomorrow, the latest Muppet Movie hits theaters and our family has always liked the Muppets. I was born the year Sesame Street started, and I grew up watching that and the Muppet Show. I can’t wait to see the new movie! I couldn’t resist sharing this practical and fun idea for a muppet party. 
Aren’t these cakes and cookies from Amy at Living Locurto adorable?
The post from Amy includes free printables, decoration ideas, lots more snack ideas, and lots of fun. See the full post for tutorials.

Practical Advice on How to Clean Your Stove Top

It’s everyday Tuesday and I’d like to share a quick cleaning tip with you. If you’ve never taken  your stove top apart and cleaned it, I think it’s about time! Many people don’t realize that you can pull apart your traditional stove without damaging anything.
I just finished canning the last load of tomatoes for the season and canning can leave a lot of icky stains on the white stove top. When I put the canner away at the end of the summer, I like to give a stove a polish and shine. That’s polish, not Polish, lest those of you who have an aversion to cleaning think I was being politically incorrect.
I won’t show a before picture, I’m too ashamed of how bad it was.
Gather your tools for cleaning. Usually a soft cleanser or a powdered cleanser and a scrub pad.
 Lift up the burner and gently pull it from the socket. It’s made with ends that unplug, really!
Then remove the drip pan. The drip pan can be washed in hot soapy water that has degreaser.
Remove the knobs from the control panel and wash those in hot soapy water too.
 Then, use the scrubber and hot soapy water or soft cleanser to scrub the back panel and all around the burner openings on the stove surface.
Did you know the stove top lifts up like the hood of a car? You can clean up all of the spills from things that boiled over because they collect in the big metal drip pan under the surface. Most stoves have little props on the side to hold the stove top up for cleaning.
Then, put everything back together and enjoy the beautiful clean stove. It’s almost like getting a new one, only cheaper.

Celebrate the Little Things – It Brings Great Happiness

Sometimes, little things make me immensely happy. The other day, when I was freezing corn from the garden, I started cutting the kernels off the cobs with a big knife, but then I remembered a tool I had found at a yard sale earlier in the summer.

I found a corn cob cutter slicer stripper knife (yah, I know it has a crazy long name) for 25 cents at a garage sale. This was the best 25 cents I’ve ever spent. within 15 minutes, I had a big pail of blanched corn off the cob. The cutter is designed to stand on the work surface and the operator cuts from top to bottom on the cob. But I found it was just as useful to hold the cutter in one hand and the cob in the other and sort of twist and wiggle it through the cutter.
I was so happy that I had to summon my friend who is staying with us from her room so she could come to the kitchen and see my glee. At the moment, I may or may not have been somewhat delirious from sleep deprivation (this was the evening of a very long day). However, she let me do my happy dance and saved judgment of my sanity for her own thoughts.
Have you have had a moment like that where a little practical thing or a great bargain just made your day? Celebrate the little things! If you overlook even a small celebration, you might overlook a moment of happiness in the middle of life’s craziness.

The House that Cleans Itself

Spring Cleaning Help

Does your house clean itself? Mine doesn’t.

I hate cleaning house. Well, it isn’t that I really hate the actual cleaning part, but I hate that it gets dirty again so quickly. For example, recently I spent a good part of a day cleaning, doing laundry, and baking. Then my two boys arrived home from school along with three teen boy friends. Within thirty minutes, there were shoes by the back door, crumbs on the floor and the Better Homes and Gardens scene was over.
Worse than keeping a house clean is keeping it organized. I consider myself an organized person, yet I still have days where I search everywhere for something I’ve misplaced. I’m always looking for new organizing ideas. Which is why I recently picked up a copy of “The House That Cleans Itself” by Mindy Starns Clark.
The back cover promised creative solutions to keep your house twice as clean in half the time and how to get your family on board in the process. Mindy Clark delivered on her promise. This is a terrific book! She has ideas for creating a flow pattern in your house and figuring out ways to minimize issues with clutter. She approaching organizing with common sense and applies innovative ways of thinking to her method. I enjoyed the book so much that I’m planning to pick up additional copies to share with friends.
One additional benefit to Mindy Clark’s approach is that she infuses the application with faith, and I love anything that integrates faith with everyday processes. Each chapter begins with a scripture reference. Throughout the book, the author includes examples from her own life and others experiences that help the reader apply the concepts. Each chapter concludes with a humorous embarrassing story from someone who has struggled with organizing.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for new cleaning and organizing ideas. It’s spring cleaning season. Why not start fresh with a new method?

Do You Have a Clutter Problem?

Breaking the Clutter Habit
If you had thirty minutes notice for unexpected company, how ready would your home be?  Would you have to conceal an embarrassing amount of clutter? I’m familiar with the mad clutter dash. I sweep the papers from the dining table into a laundry basket and stash it in any of four or five hiding places I would rather not reveal to my readers just in case any of you might be future house guests of mine.  Several days later when it’s time to pay the electric bill, I spread all the papers back out on the table in search of the yellow envelope, already having upturned three other stashed laundry baskets hoping it might be in there.
I doubt I’m alone in my constant battle with the clutter habit. Getting rid of the surplus that litters our lives is a multifaceted process.  It isn’t as simple as dealing with stuff.  For those of us who are clutter challenged, we usually experience it in all areas of our lives—our homes, our minds, and our bodies.

Environmental Clutter

First, creating new habits that minimize clutter in the home requires a massive purge of junk. I start with sorting the things that are immediately troublesome and later move to sorting closets and storage areas. For me, the mail is a big source of trouble so I start there. As you sort and throw away (yes, I mean throw away), ask yourself these questions: Do I use this anymore? Do I have duplicates of things? Am I saving garbage? Do I have an emotional attachment to things even if they are broken?
Once you deal with the clutter that is in sight, begin sorting your storage areas.  If you have a hard time parting with things, ask a friend to help you be ruthless in your purging. Once you establish some order, create new habits. Put things away when you use them; your mother knew what she was talking about! Do daily maintenance before bed every night and deal with the junk mail on the day it arrives.

Mental Clutter

Next, we need to look at mind clutter.  When our schedule is full, commitments, to-do lists, and responsibilities choke out any possibility of relaxing and undermine our housekeeping efforts.
Media such as television and radio over stimulate our brains while noise pollution from traffic and machines add to the overload. We clutter our heads with worry, self-hatred, feelings of worthlessness, and stress. These usurp the energy we need for managing our habits.
Combating mind clutter requires clearing the schedule enough to allow time to relax and rest.  Jesus understood the importance of getting away from the hectic crush of life. In Mark 6, he recognized that his disciples hadn’t had time to eat and he called them to come away with him “to a quiet place and get some rest” (vs. 31).
Perhaps God beckons you to come away to where He can speak to you and you can rest.  You won’t hear him through the clutter.  You will have to make the time.  Unlike the junk mail and paper garbage that we have to sort on our own, God doesn’t expect us to deal with our emotional baggage all alone. He says we can give Him our worries because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:8). 

Physical Clutter

Many of us who deal with any kind of clutter also have excess weight on our bodies. Frustration, depression, mental pain, and low self-esteem lead to emotional eating, which breeds more depression and mental pain. Overloaded schedules leave little time for planning healthy meals or for physical exercise.
Shedding those extra pounds requires a change in habits.  Start with something small that will motivate you to continue to create new habits.  Go for a walk during lunch hour instead of reading a book; or put away the chip bowl and sort junk mail while watching television.

 Whether you struggle with clutter in all three areas—home, mind, and body—or in just one area, victory begins with new habits. We grapple with disorder in our homes, fight the ever-growing quicksand of schedule confusion, and saddle our bodies with excess pounds accumulated by years of self-neglect.  But if we never make any changes, we’ll never know the sweet joy of living clutter free.

I guess I’ve got some laundry baskets to sort.
Reprinted from Michelle’s August 2007 Wisconsin Christian News column.

Finding Your Way as a Blog Reader

I’ve been thinking about some things that I take for granted. One is how to click my way through a blog page or website. It’s something that is as comfortable for me as switching on a light or opening the fridge to get a glass of milk. But for some, this foreign world of cyberspace is overwhelming. So today, I decided to give a little tutorial on how to leave comments on a blog. Many use this same process, but some might have a few different steps. Here’s a step by step for you to print and save near your computer if needed.

  1. Click on the word “comments” below a post. Sometimes it says “0 Comments” or it will say “2 Comments”. Then a box opens for typing your comments. Go ahead and type away!
  2. The next step is identifying your post as yours. You can post as anonymous, but many bloggers have drawings and contests, so you’ll want some name that identifies you. It doesn’t have to be your full name if you don’t want to share it. In Blogger, there is a drop-down menu by the words “Comment as:” and a box that says “select profile”. The menu gives options if you already have an account with Google, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad, AIM, etc. But you’ll notice another option: “Name/URL.” Selecting this will give you a box to simply type your name, no account needed! For example, I might type Michelle R, or M Rayburn, or Michelle Rayburn in the box. You may leave the URL box blank if you don’t have a website. Then click “continue”.
  3. Now, when you click “Preview” you’ll see how your comments will look. It might look like this: “Michelle R. said…” followed by your comments. Good! You’re almost there.
  4. Lastly, you need to type the word verification in the box before you click to post or publish your comment. What’s this box for? The word verification is to prove that an actual person is sitting at a keyboard typing as opposed to a computer hacking into a system and leaving random comments. It’s a security measure.
  5. Now click “Publish”.
  6. There! You did it! It seems like a lot of steps but once you do it a few times, it will be easy for you.
  7. In some cases, your comment doesn’t show up immediately. Sometimes the blog owner moderates all comments which means he or she has to approve them before they post. That’s another security measure for some bloggers.

Now that you know how to post, why not comment on something right here on FaithCreativityLife. You’ll be entered in the drawing this month if you do. It’s the only way to get your name in there for a free book.