Guest Post: 4 Cleaning Hacks to Make Cleaning Your Home Easy

Guest Post: 4 Cleaning Hacks to Make Cleaning Your Home EasyToday, I’m privileged to have Bobby Smith, a regular blogger at SelectAware, an online coupon site, share four ways to make cleaning easier.

When it comes to an easy way to keep my home clean, I have a listening ear. As a task-oriented individual, I prefer to clean from top to bottom within a few days and be done with cleaning for the next week or two.

For some reason that next week or two turns into five or six weeks requiring  another top to bottom cleaning.

Realizing that my current cleaning is not really working for me anymore, I am listening and receiving these tips from Bobby as Cleaning Hack #1 is calling my name.

As you consider your cleaning strategy, listen as Bobby shares these insightful solutions to keeping our homes clean. ~ Tracy

4 Cleaning Hacks to Make Cleaning Your Home Easy

Guest Post: 4 Cleaning Hacks to Make Cleaning Your Home Easy

Photograph used by permission from Suzanne Dubose Photography

Cleaning is one of those tasks best fit into the “habits” territory. Generally, people either tend to love it or hate it, but changing how you go about it seems to take major effort.

Often, we clean based on how we were raised. If our parents showed us a number of useful cleaning tricks, we just continue to use them as adults, rarely seeking out new methods or products.

We’ve heard it takes 21 days to form new habits. Try using these 4 cleaning hacks to make cleaning your home easy over the next 3 weeks and see if new habits are formed for you!

Cleaning Hack #1 – Clean Daily

Although it sounds terrible to clean every day, by dedicating a small amount of your time daily to cleaning, it’s remarkably effective. With a small checklist, like this one from Real Simple, you can cover the basics of picking up and wiping down surfaces quickly.

No more embarrassment when an unexpected guest shows up at your door!  Other benefits: keeping up with your stuff, feeling more productive and an increased positive outlook.

With daily cleaning underway, it also cuts out time for a more intense scrub down later. The more intense oven scrubbing and refrigerator clean out are more likely to get done quickly when everything else is already in order.

Cleaning Hack #2 – Simplify Your Products

The grocery aisle is loaded with various cleaning products, all designed to help you tackle specific cleaning tasks. But, are they really necessary?

Chances are, you can eliminate most of what’s in your cleaning basket and pare it down to a few key products. Baking Soda, vinegar, ammonia, dish detergent, and hydrogen peroxide can do wonders in cleaning your house.

Buy in bulk when you do need to purchase cleaning products, and be sure to utilize all available coupons for discount stores to save both time and money in the long run.

Cleaning Hack #3 – Use the Right Equipment

While reducing the number of cleaning products makes cleaning your home easier, sometimes you have to pay more attention to the tools needed. It’s remarkable how much faster and easier cleaning becomes with the right sponges, rags, and scrubbers.

Another trick is to use cleaning gloves. People become more inspired to scrub harder and tackle dirtier jobs while wearing gloves.

And don’t even think about buying cheap equipment. Find the best vacuum you can afford by seeking out coupons, rebates and more  to maximize savings opportunities and eliminate frustration down the road.

Cleaning Hack #4 – Get Organized

One of the simplest and most effective ways to make cleaning your home easy is to get organized. Purge closets of unnecessary junk and straighten them out with a system for where things go.

Quit throwing junk into drawers and use drawer organizers instead to keep everything in order. Try bins and boxes with labels to help keep stuff contained.

When everything has a place, it makes it far easier to put it back there and take care of your stuff.  Which leads us right back to Cleaning Hack #1….

At first glance, good cleaning habits can seem hard to get implemented. However, with these four cleaning hacks to make cleaning your home easy, it’s far more manageable. And like every good habit, once you see the results, it’s worth it.

This post is authored by SelectAware, a leading online coupon portal for thousands of major retailers and merchants.

2014: Happy Easter!

2014: Happy Easter!

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

My favorite day of the year has arrived as we celebrate the resurrection of Christ! Rejoice, for He is Risen!

Matthew 28:1-6a

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 

And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 

He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” 

Power of the Cross

Oh, to see the dawn of the darkest day
Christ on the road to Calvary
Tried by sinful men, torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood

This, the power of the cross
Christ became sin for us
Took the blame, bore the wrath
We stand forgiven at the cross

Oh, to see the pain written on Your face
Bearing the awesome weight of sin
Ev’ry bitter thought, ev’ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow

Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life
Finished the vict’ry cry

Oh, to see my name written in the wounds
For through Your suffering I am free
Death is crushed to death, life is mine to live
Won through Your selfless love

This, the power of the cross
Son of God, slain for us
What a love, what a cost
We stand forgiven at the cross

Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Happy Easter!

2014: Reflections on Good Friday

2014: Reflections on Good Friday

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

With our Easter celebration underway, we continue to pause and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.

As we continue to tell the Easter story through the use of our Resurrection Eggs, we focus today on the death Christ endured for us.

The verses and symbols of his robe and crown of thorns, the cross, the nails, and the sponge and spear tell of the unimaginable pain Christ suffered for me and you.

Though this day seems dark and full of pain, the story is not finished for resurrection day is coming.

Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter. But because Christ loves us, He died and rose again which makes Sunday so glorious!

A Garden in the Night

Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:40-46

A garden in the night,
A soul in tortured prayer;
Engulfed in sorrow all alone,
Our Savior struggles there.

He knows His hour has come
To bear the price of love.
He reaches out, His spirit drowned
In agony and blood.

“My Father, let it pass,
This darkness now begun.
But here I am, Your sacrifice,
So let Your will be done.”

Lord, help us watch and pray,
Your burden gladly bear
That we may live and die like You,
Our lives a holy prayer.

Words by Ken Bible
© 2005 by CCLI Song #4479756.

2014 Easter Activities: Resurrection Eggs

2014 Easter Activities: Resurrection EggsDuring this week between Palm Sunday and Easter, our family focuses on the events from Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem through his death, burial, and resurrection.

In teaching our children about our faith and why Easter is more than egg hunts and filled baskets, we use Resurrection Eggs as a teaching tool.

Defining Resurrection Eggs

Resurrection Eggs are plastic eggs filled with symbols that represent a portion of the Easter story.

If placed in order, the eggs tell of Christ’s entry with a leaf symbol to Christ’s trial with cloth and thorns to His resurrection, an empty egg.

In past years, we limited the eggs to 5 which is a great starting place with younger children. But, as their attention spans increase, we expanded our Resurrection Eggs to 12 this year. I created our own set from these instructions posted by Jenny Martin at Southern Savers.

Teaching with Resurrection Eggs

When I visited my son’s classroom at school, I downloaded and printed the verses that explain each egg. I then cut the printed sheets into 12 strips – the verses for one egg per strip.

Each student chose an egg. To make this activity efficient, I handed out the strips, so that one would open the egg and discover the contents while another child read the corresponding verses.

Our activity went like this: Student with egg #1 opens the egg and reveals a leaf. Student with egg #12 (the last egg) read the verses about the content of egg #1. After questions or discussion, student with egg #2 opens the egg to show the crackers/bread. Then student with egg #1 reads the verses about egg #2.

We then continued revealing an egg, and then having the student that previously opened his egg read about the contents of the next egg. When we get to egg #12, the student with egg #1 reads about the empty tomb.

These Resurrection Eggs continue to fascinate my children as they remember the meaning of this Easter week. Miss 4 loves to get out these eggs and tell the story to her stuffed animals.

I love to hear my children tell of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. What a great teaching tool and focus on these life-changing events. Happy Easter week!

Question: Do you use Resurrection Eggs to remember the Easter story?

2014 Easter Activities: Community Egg Hunt

2014 Easter Activities: Community Egg HuntAt the beginning of April, I helped with our community egg hunt. As the social activities in our neighborhood have been non-existent for a couple of years, I was not surprised to find a low turnout. However, those in attendance had a great time.

Advertised in our quarterly newsletter and posted to our neighborhood’s Facebook page, our community egg hunt was on a Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in a cul-de-sac close to our playground.

Had it rained, the invitation indicated that the event would be canceled.

All members of the community were welcome to come as the children, ages 12 and under, hunted for eggs.

Each participating child was asked to bring the following:

  • Ten plastic eggs, each filled with a small item (e.g., sticker, coin, trinket, wrapped candy, etc.)
  • Basket or container for collecting eggs
  • Supervising parent or adult

In helping with this event, I assisted with preparing, setting up, executing, and cleaning up our community egg hunt.

Preparing for our Community Egg Hunt

With the residents invited, we took the extra step to personally notify the residents in the event cul-de-sac. This courtesy was extended to give them a contact name should they experience any issues. Having a one-hour event, we planned the following tentative schedule:

Tentative Schedule

10:30 a.m.: Collect eggs and children’s activity

10:45 a.m.:  Parents and teens hide eggs while children get organized into age groups

11:00 a.m.: Hunt eggs

11:15 a.m.: Open eggs and enjoy the contents

11:25 a.m.:  Conclude with refreshments

To pull off this event, we gathered the following supplies:

    • Tent/canopy
    • Table
    • Tablecloth
    • Centerpiece
    • Clipboard with resident names and addresses to verify residency
    • Pens
    • Two egg collection boxes – one for children ages 0-5 and another for children ages 6-12
    • Egg hunt book from the library
    • Blankets on which children can sit
    • Chair(s)
    • Water
    • Lemonade
    • Cookie tray with 84 cookies from Sam’s Club
    • Cups
    • Napkins
    • Cooler
    • Plastic trash bag

Setting up for our Community Egg Hunt

Our team of volunteers arrived around 9:30 a.m. We setup the tent and table. Then arranged all the items and waited for the children to arrive.

Executing the Plan for our Community Egg Hunt

10:30 a.m.: Collect eggs and children’s activity

As each participating child arrived, he or she added the 10 filled-eggs to the appropriate box. Then the child came to the blanket where we played a game. At 10:30 a.m., I read the egg hunt story titled, Last One In Is a Rotten Egg.

10:45 a.m.:  Parents and teens hide eggs while children get organized into age groups

While reading the story, adults went to the playground to hide the eggs. The plan was to hide the younger children’s eggs in front of the playground and the older children’s eggs behind the playground. However, with a small showing, all the eggs were hidden in front of the playground.

After the story, which teaches about playing fair, instructions were given that each child was to hunt 10 eggs. We then marched out to the playground to have them line up. Once in place, we gave the signal and sent them hunting.

11:00 a.m.: Hunt eggs

The big ones did a great job helping the younger ones. They wandered all over the place finding all the eggs and making sure everyone received 10 eggs.

11:15 a.m.: Open eggs and enjoy the contents

As they began opening the eggs to find their prizes, we headed back to the tent area for cookies and lemonade.

11:25 a.m.:  Conclude with refreshments

We munched and concluded our community egg hunt by finishing the games we started prior to reading the book. The older children enjoyed figuring out the buzz word from the list of given clues.

Cleaning up our Community Egg Hunt

With a few homeowners coming out to watch the festivities and getting in on the refreshments, we ended a little after the one-hour scheduled time frame. With everything together, tear down was quick.

We packed up the leftover items into the two empty boxes, folded up the table, and took down the tent within 15 minutes. Making sure all the trash was picked up and the area free from debris, we headed home chatting with our neighbors.

My oldest and youngest participated in our community egg hunt and enjoyed the activities, especially the lemonade and cookies. With a plan in place and the supplies gathered, the event was executed as scheduled.

Having the participants bring plastic filled eggs alleviated the element of guessing how many would attend. Also, limiting the event to one hour made this event relatively easy to assemble.

We had a great time at our community egg hunt, and my children are ready for more egg hunts this Easter season. Happy hunting!

Question: What additional activities do you include with your egg hunts?