Spring Journal Prompts

I wonder how many of my readers keep a journal. While I don’t write in mine everyday, I find journal writing to be very therapeutic. Not only does it allow me to record my personal thoughts, it also works as an spring board for inspiration. You may have noticed that I missed posting last week. I admit the creative juices where running extremely low. Even though I had a topic in mind, I just couldn’t get my thoughts down on paper (or computer!). It was time to refocus. I did this by getting out my journal and writing down all the things that inspire me. I often do this when I am bored, lonely, or sad. My list might include the smell of fresh cut hay, the sound of a train whistle, the feel of a puppy’s furry head, the sight of a pink sunset, and the taste of my mother’s apple pie. As you can see, in this list I incorporate things that stimulate all of my senses. I also love to make these lists for each season by reflecting on how that particular season stimulates my senses and inspires me. This week in my journal, I am focusing on the spring season.

spring journal prompts

Now let me say that here in Canada, spring seems like it will never come this year. We still have traces of snow on the ground and there is basically no life showing from the trees and plants (although the crocuses have been faithful). However, in my spirit, I know that spring is not too far away, and so I have felt the need to start a series in my journal on the delights of springs. I thought I would share with you my list of spring journal prompts for one week.

Day 1: Sights of Spring

Day 2: Sounds of Spring (Not only does this include the sounds of nature, but for me, it also includes certain songs like This is My Father’s World.)

Day 3: Smells of Spring

Day 4: Tastes of Spring

Day 5: Textures of Spring

Day 6: Books of Spring (It seems that every season there are specific books that I enjoy reading. For instance, I always want to read Anne of Green Gables in the spring.)

Day 7: Activities of Spring (This is where you can list ways in which you can enjoy the things listed above. For example, a walk in the woods allows you to listen to the birds singing, feel the buds on the trees, and see the bright blue eggs in a Robin’s nest.)

Let me know in your comments, what your favourite spring journal prompts are and/or your answers to the prompts listed above.

Happy Spring!

Joanna

5 Spring Cleaning Hacks that Actually Work

Does anyone else get the urge to start spring cleaning when the weather warms up and the days grow longer? I started spring cleaning a few weeks ago when the weather was quite nice. However, the day I am writing this, it snowed. But, since I’ve already started my spring cleaning, I can’t stop now, right?

5 spring cleaning hacks that actually work

Over the years, I have done a lot of cleaning for family members, clients, and myself. Throughout those years, I have always been trying to find fast and efficient ways to clean difficult areas. These five tips that I am sharing today have been proven to fit those qualifications.

1. Salt and dirt covered boot tray

I love having a boot tray at my door for the winter season because it traps all the excess dirt and salt that always manages to cling to my boots. However, even the tray itself needs a little care, especially when spring rolls around. After trying various methods to clean it with little success, I was excited when I tried this hack, and it actually worked.

Shake off or vacuum up the lose dirt. Mix together a solution of 1/2 part water to 1/2 part vinegar. Pour this mixture over the tray and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with a sponge or cloth (paper towel tends to not be quite sturdy enough). This requires very little scrubbing and removes the salt stains excellently.

cleaning boot tray
A vinegar and water solution effectively cleans salty boot trays

2. Dusty lampshades

I’ve seen this hack on Pinterest millions of times (maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but it feels like it). Of course, I had to give it a try. You simply take a lint roller that you would normally use on your clothes and use it on the lampshades. You’ll be surprised at how dusty your lampshades actually were when you see the grey dust collecting on your white lint roller.

cleaning lampshade
A lint roller is an excellent tool for cleaning dusty lampshades

3. Fuzzy sofa

I have a woven fabric sofa which tends to get “fuzzy” with use. It’s especially annoying when the fuzz is dark and clearly seen. I’ve always loved using a fabric defuzzer on my wool coat, sweaters, and other clothing items. So, the idea suddenly came to me one day to try it on my sofa. When I was done, my sofa looked new!

fuzzy sofa
A fabric defuzzer works well to remove fuzz from a woven fabric sofa

4. Tub ring

It’s no secret how much I love vinegar! It works well on a variety of surfaces (not so good on wood), but I really like to use it when cleaning the soap ring on my bathtub. It works best undiluted, but gloves are essential when going with that method, since it tends to dry out your skin. After pouring the vinegar on a scrub brush (avoid a metal scrub brush that will scratch your tub and rust easily), scrub the soap ring. If necessary, pour a little extra vinegar directly onto the ring. However, I have found that when doing this, the vinegar tends to run down into the tub where it is not actually needed. Pouring it directly on the scrub brush seems to work the best.

cleaning soap ring on bathtub
Vinegar works exceptionally well to remove soap rings on your bathtub

5. Toilet bowl

Using dish soap to clean the toilet bowl, leaves it shiny and smelling fresh. Squirt a little dish soap around the top edge of the toilet bowl, let sit for a few minutes, then scrub with your toilet brush. Spring cleaning is also a great opportunity to replace your toilet brush.

cleaning toilet with dish soap
Dish soap leaves your toilet smelling fresh

I hope you find these hacks as helpful as I have. Let me know in the comments your favourite spring cleaning hacks.

Happy cleaning!

Joanna

3 Essential Household Books

With Google and Pinterest at our fingertips, we sometimes forget the value of the printed book. Especially when it comes to techniques and tips for household and life skills. The thing is, not everything online can be trusted. Anyone, whether expert or not, can post instructions and tips for things they may have never even tried. A book is different. A book takes a lot of work, time, and money which requires the author to be fully engaged in their content. Nobody is going to spend money on a book that isn’t practical and reliable. For me, there is something inspirational and rewarding about thumbing through the pages of a trusted resource. That is why today, I want to share with you three of my favourite books that every household should own.

The Organized Life

Secrets of an Expert Organizer
Stephanie Denton

The Organized Life

I purchased this book several years ago on a whim when I saw it on the clearance table at a local bookstore. I’ve read it many times, and each time I feel my organization juices running! Divided into 12 area-specific chapters (such as closets), this book allows you to choose where you want to start. Although the first chapter should be read before anything else. In that chapter, Denton expertly describes the cost of clutter and gives techniques on how to deal with it. This book’s colourful and creative format makes it an easy read. Since every page contains valuable and inspirational tips and tricks, you might find yourself jumping up to tackle that area/topic before even getting to the next page! This book can still be purchased online so don’t delay! Purchase at Amazon.ca or Amazon


Household Hints & Handy Tips

Reader’s Digest

household hints & handy tips

Published in 1988 before the invention of Google, this book contains a plethora of tips not only for your house but also for everything from first aid to personal care. It includes instruction for repairing plumbing, polishing shoes, applying makeup, treating animal bites, and toilet training your child! My copy was given to me by mom who received it as a Christmas gift from my grandmother many years ago. Even though I love to use Google, I could never part with this tangible, information-packed publication. The good news is, this book can be purchased online at Amazon.ca or Amazon.


MaryJane’s Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook

For the farmgirl in all of us
MaryJane Butters

maryjanes ideabook cookbook lifebook

Don’t let the tagline of this book deceive you. This book is for more than just the farmgirl (although I personally self-identify as one). Butters shares topics ranging from making sourdough biscuits in the “Each Other” section to building a wall tent in the “Outpost” section. In between, she shares food storage and cooking tips in “Farm Kitchen,” basic sewing techniques in “Sewing Room,” and metal and woodworking projects in “Make it Easy.” These are just a few of the broad range of topics discussed. More can also be found in the “Garden Gate” and “Cleaning Up” sections. This books is full of high-quality, beautiful photos as well as stories from MaryJanes own personal experiences as a wilderness ranger, entrepreneur, and a true-blue farmgirl. Purchase online at MaryJane’s Farm Shop.

Happy reading and have a blessed weekend!

Joanna

Peanut Butter Chocolate Easter Eggs

What says Easter more than chocolate? And what pairs with chocolate better than peanut butter? A few years ago, I found this recipe in the Country Woman magazine and couldn’t resist giving it a try. I was not disappointed. What a tasty, delightful treat these Peanut Butter Chocolate Easter Eggs proved to be. This is a great recipe to use with children. They will have a lot of fun decorating the finished product. These are the perfect Easter eggs since you get to “paint” them and eat them, too!

peanut butter chocolate easter eggs

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1-1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • Confectioners’ sugar icing, optional

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, beat peanut butter, butter, and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar and cracker crumbs. Shape mixture into 16 eggs;  place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm.

In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip eggs in chocolate mixture; allow excess to drip off..

Return eggs to baking sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

If desired, decorate eggs with icing. Let stand until set. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator. Yield: 16 eggs.

Confectioners’ sugar icing: In a bowl, mix 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons corn syrup, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 1-2 tablespoons milk until smooth. Tint with paste food coloring if desired. Yield: 2/3 cup.
*I used gel food colouring tubes that I purchased at my local grocery store.
peanut butter chocolate easter eggs

The other fun thing I enjoyed about this recipe, was the chance to share with others. I enjoyed giving these away as gifts to elderly family members. No one is too old for a little Easter chocolate!

Happy baking and until next Saturday, God Bless,

Joanna

Spring Apartment Tour 2018

The official first day of spring is in just a few days. Even though we still have snow here in Canada, I have been working on making my apartment feel bright and fresh for the coming spring season. So, today, I am excited to participate in a YouTube challenge for Spring DIY and Decor. For this challenge, I am sharing my spring apartment tour.

spring apartment tour

Many of my decorations are DIY projects. If you’d like to see more about how to make these decorations, let me know in the comments below.

Hope you enjoy!

Happy spring and Easter!

Joanna

Hygge as a Lifestyle – Part Three

Welcome to the third and final post in my series “Hygge as a Lifestyle.” Let me first reinstate the definition of hygge. Hygge is a Danish word meaning “comfort, warmth, and togetherness.” In Part One of this series, I wrote about the importance of unplugging from technology in order to fully experience the hygge lifestyle. In Part Two, I encouraged my readers to evaluate your environments, wardrobes, and schedules. In my third and final point, I want to focus on the “togetherness” aspect of hygge.

Once you have made your environment comfortable and warm and purposefully set aside times away from technology, it is now time to reconnect.

hygge as a lifestyle

Reconnect

With God

Curling up with a hot drink and a good book sounds attractive. So why not curl up with the Good Book. Spending quiet time reading God’s Word, praying, and journaling is an amazing way of reconnecting with our Creator. Turn on some soulful music, get out one of your favourite journals, and spend some time talking to God. I can’t think of a more comforting, hygge activity. Experiencing “togetherness” with other believers is also extremely important for a healthy, thriving spiritual life. Creating a comfortable “togetherness” with other believers may be easier in a small, informal setting. Hosting a weekly Bible study with just a few people is a great example. This gives you an opportunity to read together and share your thoughts openly on spiritual matters.

reconnect with god
Reconnect with God through Bible reading and journaling

With Yourself

Many people fear being alone. They fear quietness. They are afraid that spending time alone will make them antisocial. While there are definite benefits of spending time with God and others (see points above and below), there is also a great benefit of reconnecting with yourself. That, of course, requires time alone.

I encourage you to sit in silence for a few minutes each day and reflect on your purpose, your dreams, and your personality. Find a comfortable place to curl up and make notes in a colourful notebook. Get to know yourself. Until you fully understand what matters most to you and what makes you “tick” as an individual, you will not be able to properly relate to God or to others.

Once you get to know yourself, you will realize why you respond the way you do in certain situations. You’ll be able to explain to others why certain things are important to you. This will greatly improve your relationships. I also firmly believe that this will strength your relationship with God. God is all about having a personal relationship with each one of us. How one person worships God may not be how someone else needs to worship. While scripture gives us definite lists of things that God likes and doesn’t like, it does not in any way imply a cookie-cutter relationship with God. He created us each uniquely and with unique ways to worship Him. Getting to know yourself will help you discover the best way for you to worship.

With Others

When we think of creating “togetherness,” the first thing that comes to mind is usually our family and close friends.

There are a host of activities that can be enjoyed as a family. This includes playing games, sitting by the campfire, singing, baking, and even working together. Just google “family activities” and you will find a plethora of ideas. Sometimes just sitting and talking can also be enjoyable. Things to talk about can include happy memories, future vacations, or family projects.

reconnect with family
Reconnect with family by playing games together such as yard dominoes

The list is also endless for activities to do with friends. Many people find it enjoyable to craft together (think scrapbooking, sewing, etc) while others enjoy talking about their lives over a cup of coffee.

Find something enjoyable to do with each of your family members and close friends to fully experience the hygge lifestyle.

What are your thoughts on creating a hygge lifestyle? Be sure to share your ideas in the comments.

Until next week, God Bless!

Joanna

Hygge as a Lifestyle – Part Two

Hygge. That has become one of my favourite words. That’s why I decided to write a series on living a hygge lifestyle. Last week, I briefly defined the word “hygge” and shared my first tip for experiencing a hygge lifestyle. If you missed Part One be sure to read it. I have two more points I want to share, and today I will be writing about my second point.

hygge as a lifestyle

So, my second point is:

Evaluate

Evaluate Your Environment

Look around your living environment. How does the “stuff” there make you feel? Do you feel overwhelmed by the mass amount of your belongings? This might be a good time to do some de-cluttering. Maybe your space doesn’t look comforting to you because it is too empty. Your home is a great place to display your mementos, heirlooms, and all the “stuff” you love.

things I love
I fill my living environment with things I love

You might also want to look at the decorating colours you have chosen. I don’t have the space in this article to discuss colour psychology in depth, but studies have shown that there is a definite link between colours and our moods.¹ If you want to experience hygge, you might want to try decorating with browns, greens, and blues as these colours have proven to be the most peaceful and calming.²

We all know how important comfortable furniture is when you want to relax. So that is another great thing to evaluate in your environment. Make sure that you have at least a couple furniture pieces that call your name.

If there are a lot of people who live in your house, you may want to ensure that each person has their own room/space that they can personalize and where they can relax.

Evaluate Your Wardrobe

Another thing to evaluate when attempting to develop a hygge lifestyle, is your wardrobe. How comfortable are your clothes and shoes? I am definitely writing about physical comfort. It’s hard to have a feeling of hygge if your sweater is irritating your skin or your shoes are too tight. However, I also think that your clothes should also be emotionally comfortable. Do you feel confident in your clothes or do you feel conspicuous? We all have a different style so I am a strong believer that we should not merely attempt to blend in with the crowd. But, I think that most of us know what it is like to wear something that makes us feel self conscious and definitely not hyggly.

clothes you love
Keep only the clothes that you love and feel comfortable wearing

Colour is also important in your wardrobe. I have personally found that the colour I wear, affects how I feel that day (or perhaps how I feel that morning determines the colour I wear!). Evaluate your wardrobe and decide what makes you feel comfortable.

Evaluate Your Schedule

Hygge “activities” (such as curling up on the couch and reading a good book or playing a board game as a family) don’t usually just happen. In our fast-paced modern lives, hygge time is something has to be scheduled into our lives.

Schedule hygge “activities”

Next week, I’ll be sharing my third and final point in the series of “Hygge as a Lifestyle.”

Until then, have a hygge day!

Joanna

1 You can read this article about colour and behaviour this in the The New York Times.

2 To read more about colour properties be sure to check out this article from Colour Affects.