Friday, June 6, 2014

New Blog:Sarah Luvs It

I've got a new blog where I will be focusing my attention. It's new and improved! Please check it out and become a follower if you like what you see!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Clean Printable

Here's a free printable! Enjoy! Size can be printed as an 8 x 10 photo.

The Queen

Clean Your Stainless Steel Like a Pro

I realize that I've been gone for a while, but we won't go into all that. The important thing is...I'm back!

Stainless steel...I believe the steel part. Stainless? Give me a break. Those of you that have had stainless steel know what I'm talking about. It looks beautiful until you walk by at an angle where the sunshine enhances all it's flaws...fingerprints, smudges, this morning's yogurt that you had for breakfast. You get the picture. A pain to keep clean.

I, myself, am the proud owner of stainless steel appliances. After my first set, I vowed never again. But, alas, I purchased another set of stainless steel appliances because it's what everyone buys nowadays. SO, it was time to get smart on cleaning them because you know how I am. I like it clean, cheap, and natural.

Are you ready? This will change the way you feel about your stainless steel...

Cooking spray. That's right. Cooking spray.

Just grab a microfiber towel (to cut down on dust and streaking) and a can of cooking spray. Any kind you want. I use the canola oil spray. But you can use olive or vegetable oil if you prefer.

To begin, wipe down your appliance with some water just to clean all the smudges and any residue that might be on the surface. It'll have tons of streak marks at this point. But don't fret. It's about to get a whole lot better.

Now spray the surface of your appliance lightly with your cooking spray and take the microfiber towel and carefully wipe the surface of the appliance, starting from top to bottom. Follow the grain of the stainless steel. Make sure there is no excess oil or dripping. That's why I suggest starting very lightly and adding more if needed. Just continue until your appliance surface is to your liking. This usually takes me all of three minutes and does a better job than any cleaner on the market. You can also pull out a bottle of any of these oils and dab it on a towel and then wipe it on the appliance. It's your preference.

I hope you enjoy this tip and happy cleaning!

The Queen

Monday, June 24, 2013

Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

First of all, I'm sure that you all noticed I've been MIA for a while. The end of the school year plus ballet and baseball nearly did me in and the blog had to take a back seat to my life for a while. Now we're just down to baseball and life finally feels manageable again! Kudos to all you guardians who live in the car for the sake of allowing your kids to be well-rounded! And kudos to all you guardians who say no to extra activities...I live in a world where I desperately want to do both!

So, today I was enjoying some free time with an old friend from out of town. We came around to the subject of selling houses. The Hubby and I have sold one house and it's an experience that I don't wish to repeat any time soon. For a neat-freak like me, it nearly pushed me to the edge of certifiably insane. However, it provided me with some wonderful training in getting a house ready for the market. So I'd like to share a few helpful tips today for keeping your house in tip-top shape for others to look at!


1. Relax - I wish I would have told myself this more and then I wish I would have listened. My house was in perfect condition every time it was shown and it still took 14 months to sell because it sold when it was supposed to. In hindsight, I should have eased up a bit and let fate take it's course. Sometimes we put too much emotional investment into believing that if we clean it more, it'll sell faster. And then we take personal blame for the fact that things aren't moving quickly. Do what you can and then wait patiently.

2. Get rid of the clutter - Less clutter makes a space feel bigger. Who doesn't want more space? Buyers love to walk into a place that feels airy, spacious, and open. Put away things like treadmills, exercise bikes, oversized furniture, knick-knacks on shelves, etc. Get rid of as much as you can without the space feeling cold and empty. Don't neglect de-cluttering places like closets too. Buyers love closet space and it's up to you to show them how much they'll have. Get rid of clothes you don't wear, take down pictures that make a wall feel too busy, remove a rug that distracts from the massive floor space, and please, please, please, remove that old fake tree in your living room.

3. Get rid of personal objects - By this I mean that you should take down things that define the space as yours. Replace family pictures with something universal. Clear the fridge of colored pictures from the kids and invitations from your neighbor's BBQ. Buyers want to picture the space as theirs, not yours. Keep in mind that you won't have to go without your things forever...just a while.

4. Neutralize your colors - Paint over that red wall and tone down your furnishings. Use accent colors to your advantage. Use soothing colors like green as accent pillows or blankets. Avoid using colors like bright yellow that have been proven to irritate people and make them want to leave an area quickly. Buyers are turned off when they know they have to immediately invest time and money into getting rid of overwhelming paint colors. Beiges and grays provide neutral backgrounds, plus add warmth without making the room feel smaller. Keep your ceilings white to make the rooms feel larger.

5. Never air your dirty laundry - Keep things like laundry and dirty dishes under control. NEVER have baskets of dirty clothes laying around or dirty dishes in the sink. Also, never leave the house to be seen with the dishwasher, washer, or dryer running. The noise can distract from what you really want them to focus on...your great house!

6. Make the beds - Enough said.

7. Show clean floors - Vacuum and mop if necessary.

8. Wipe down the bathrooms - There's nothing worse than walking into a bathroom that makes you cringe. A dirty bathroom could make or break you.

9. Dust and clean mirrors - Fingerprints, dust smears, and toothpaste splatters can distract from a beautiful room.

10. Open the blinds and turn on EVERY LIGHT in the house - This includes lamps that you have too. Light makes a space feel bigger and cleaner. Turn on EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

11. Bake some bread - I know that sometimes all you have is a ten-minute notice and this can't always be done. But seriously, who doesn't love the smell of bread?! It has a way of making people feel comfortable and at home. The reason I don't suggest lighting a candle is because you'd be surprised at how a scent that you love can be completely repulsive to another person. If you must use something other than baking bread, stick to a simple spray that dissipates quickly. From my personal experience and opinion, I suggest a light citrus smell, like tangerine or lemon. These are rarely offensive. Spray at least 15 minutes before a buyer comes so that the scent has time to become subtle, not overpowering.

So there you have it. I could easily go on and on but these simple steps will certainly put you on the path to selling your home!

What are some of your favorite tips for staging a home to sell?

The Queen

Friday, May 10, 2013

Teacher Appreciation: Creative and Affordable

The blog is slowly evolving into telling you about all sorts of projects that I enjoy, aside from cleaning. The great part about being clean and organized is that it allows me time to do things that I love!

Teacher appreciation week is this week and what better way to show your appreciation than by putting together this fun little gift basket!

I went to the store just to walk down the aisles for some inspiration. If you know me, you know that I have to come up with something that qualifies as functional and cute...but mostly cute! After spying some adorable ticket stubs and a huge popcorn tub, I knew there was some major potential. Here's what I came up with. I've included a free printable for you to use for the tags. You can simply write in your child's name on the line. Just click on the photo and print on an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of cardstock.

The best part about this project: each basket only cost about $7.00 to make! And they're HUGE!


1 popcorn tub
1 box popcorn
1 bag Red Vines
1 can Lemon Twist soda
1 box Junior Mints
Ticket Stubs
1 cellophane basket bag
Tissue Paper
Ribbon of choice
Cardstock (White and one other color)


1. Wipe out the inside of the popcorn tub just to remove any dust that may be inside.

2. Put about three sheets of crumpled tissue paper down in the tub so that all the items will be raised up a bit.

3. Put the Red Vines in.

4. Put the tickets in.

5. Put the popcorn in.

6. Put in the Junior Mints.

7. Put in the soda can.

8. Add a little more crumpled tissue paper around the base of everything to stabilize it. You don't want all of it to roll around when you're carrying it later. You could also use paper basket filler or Easter grass if you have some.

9. Place the entire basket in a basket gift bag. Tie with a ribbon.

10. Tape the following sign on the outside right under the ribbon.

Click on the link above to print on an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of cardstock. Makes 2.

Voila! A fun basket for a wonderful teacher!

What's some of your favorite teacher appreciation ideas?

Happy Friday!

The Queen

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Best Double Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

Today I'm posting a recipe because, let's face it....after cleaning house all day, sometimes you just want to congratulate yourself with something sweet. And this is about as sweet as it gets. 

This is hands down the best double chocolate chip cookie EVER. I found it on the back of a Betty Crocker cake mix ten years ago and my life has never been the same. This recipe never turns out wrong and never falls short of a marriage proposal. It's that good. The great thing about this recipe is that the possibilities for variations are endless. So get creative!

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 box Betty Crocker Devil's Food Cake Mix (must be Betty Crocker)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup shortening (I like Butter Flavor Crisco cubes)
Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. This will have the consistency of a soft dough. Form small cookie balls. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookie balls on the sheet and bake for 9 1/2 minutes, no longer! One they are finished, let them sit on the hot cookie sheet for an additional 5 minutes. Then remove and enjoy! These cookies will remain soft for days if stored in an airtight container. But don't wait days to try one warm with some milk and treat yourself after a hard day of cleaning house! Makes about 24 cookies.

You can try several variations on this cookie. Instead of chocolate chips, try peanut butter chips or white chocolate! Or if you're like me, you can't resist chocolate and mint! Here's the ones I made about an hour ago with mint chips! Yummy!

You could also leave out the chocolate chips altogether and make ice cream sandwiches with these! Make sure the ice cream sits out for just a few minutes so that it's easy to put between the cookies.

The dough freezes beautifully also. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Make cookie balls and lay them on the sheet. Place cookie sheet in freezer for a couple hours while dough freezes. Then transfer the dough to a freezer Ziploc bag. Pull out as many or as little as you'd like to make and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 1/2 minutes, since they're frozen.

I hope you like this little treat!

Happy Cooking!

The Queen

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Easy Meal Planning

"What's for dinner?" Oh, the dreaded question!!!! The topic that frequently sends us into a panicked frenzy! But it doesn't have to be frustrating....part of staying organized is planning ahead and when it comes to meals, you can't afford to skip the planning! In our fast-paced world of "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" moments and over-scheduling, mealtime often takes the brunt of our busy days. We stop for a meal at the closest fast-food place and our health and wallets suffer.

Many people don't meal plan because they think it's too time consuming and hard. But it doesn't have to be! Find what works for you and stick to your plan. I promise with some practice and self-discipline, you'll find that a little planning goes a long way! You'd be shocked at how many people walk into a grocery store each week without any plan whatsoever. The just grab a cart and go, buying things that look good, only to get home and have no idea how to use it all together that week. So things go to waste and we often default to eating out. I don't know about you, but for my family of 5, we could easily spend $30-$50 each time we eat out. And that's for only one meal! Do you know how many groceries that could buy?! A ton!

There's all sorts of ways to plan meals from weekly, monthly, and beyond. You can plan by themes or food types, plan meals for certain days of the month, and so on. Whatever you prefer is fine. But here's how I do it and hopefully I can provide some helpful ideas to keep your life running a little smoother.

I plan meals weekly. I sit down each Sunday night and plan meals for the next 7 days. I plan right down to the sides that will be served with each meal. Many people only plan dinners. But I plan all three meals for each day. I have found that this ensures that I don't have to keep running to the grocery store for odds and ends that I forgot and it also keep me from buying things that I already have. I go grocery shopping on Monday mornings. I like shopping on Mondays because everyone has been home all weekend and I usually need to replenish what everyone has eaten! Sunday night is the perfect time to take stock for Monday's shopping trip. As I plan, I keep all the recipes I'm going to use nearby. I have a running grocery list next to me and make sure that I write down every ingredient that I need. I also make sure that I plan what kind of snacks my kids will be eating and what they will need for their school lunches. With careful planning I won't need to go back to the grocery store until the next Monday.

Here is the link to the chart that I use. I designed this after figuring out how I liked to plan. I print a new one out each Sunday and keep it in the kitchen. Feel free to print it out and use it! I keep each sheet in my cookbook after I use it so that eventually I have weeks and weeks of meal planning built up and can just pull one or two out and whip out a week in no time. I put an X through the meals that didn't go so well so that I don't waste my time with it. I also make sure as I plan that I put the title and page number of the recipe I'm going to use so that it's easy to find.

Sarah's Weekly Meal Planner

A few helpful tips:

- Plan easier meals for busier days.
- Use the crockpot! They're great for busy days, sick days, or hot summer days!
- Use the produce that spoils fastest earlier in the week. Save heartier produce for later in the week.
- Prep meals in the morning before the day runs away from you. If you can cut produce or put a casserole together to put in the fridge, do it. Then all you have to do is throw it in the oven!
- Post the meal list where your family can see. I rarely get complaints about what we're having for dinner because it's been up all week for everyone to see and they've had all week to accept what we're having. If you find that your kids don't care for things that you're having, let help you plan and cook! Studies show kids are much more likely to eat a meal they helped with, often trying things that they may not have otherwise agreed to taste.  

Now, please don't go away with the idea that I'm some kind of meal planning superhero. We still have our crazy days where things don't go as planned. But for the most part, I try to stick to the plan. You will find that you're healthier because you know what's in your food and that you'll save tons of money!

What are your favorite meal planning strategies?

Happy meal planning!

The Queen


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stop Toying Around

I'm sure that many of you, like myself, realize that each holiday seems to come with some kind of "toy expectation" from your children. My children aren't greedy or ungrateful, but culture has put toys at the forefront of holidays in their minds. Toys are fine, but as Easter came and went this past weekend, I once again watched my children each open one new toy from their baskets and thought, "Ugh...just one more to add to the pile that I'm constantly picking up".

But I knew Easter was coming and wanted to get a jump on the toys before we started adding more. Keeping a hold on the toy situation in your house can dramatically cut down on the clutter and free up tons of needed space!

Here's some helpful tips for clearing out toys and for keeping a proper perspective on their place in your house!

1. Involve your kids in the process of clearing out their toys. Pick a day and tell your kids about two or three days before you clear out so that it gives your kids time to think about what they'd like to clear out. You would be shocked at how helpful the kids can be in clearing out their own things. They got rid of things that I never would have thought they didn't want. What a treat!

2. Be sensitive. Children can't see as objectively as we can yet. A few more months of holding onto that "one bear" may be worth sparing their feelings. But help your children see that things don't make us happy. Consider scanning a copy of an important paper or picture, framing a small corner of an old blanket, or encouraging them to consider others with less that may enjoy their toys also. Children are unfailingly kind and sympathetic and are often very willing to let a toy go when they know it will make another child happy.

3. Be choosy.   Need I really say this? If it's broken, it goes. You'd be appalled at how many broken toys are hanging around. So let go of all the emotional ideas that Toy Story planted in your head about the lone, headless Barbie and throw her out. And let the guilt go with some frozen yogurt.

4. Keep your word and put those toys to good use. Pick a donation spot and take your children with you to drop things off. This allows them the experience of sharing with others and feeling good about it. Pick a local charity, church nursery, neighbor with children the same age, school classroom, etc. The list is endless!

5. Pick a single, designated spot in the home for toys. Trust me on this one. Many parents pick several spots in the house for a basket in the family room, a bin in the bedroom, a spot in the office, etc. This just allows toys to be all over the house! If you have a toy room, put ALL the toys in the toy room. If kids play in their bedrooms, put all the toys in the bedroom. They may want to play in another area of the home every once in a while, but they'll be more selective in what they pull out because they have to carry it to another spot. And then they know it goes right back to where the toys belong. It's so much easier to find what they're looking for when they know that all the toys are in one spot - not five. In my opinion, if you can keep toys out of the bedrooms, do it. It's total chaos for us trying to keep clothes and bedding and toys all separate. My children are allowed drawers in their room where they can keep important personal belongings, but if it's a toy that they don't mind sharing or have personal attachment to, it goes in the toy room. Make sense?

6. Use smart storage. I used to put their toys in deep, gray Tupperware bins. But because they were so deep and couldn't be seen through, they dumped everything out to find what they wanted from the bottom and then walked away once they found it, leaving everything else on the floor. Why do kids feel the need to dump everything out?! So I finally invested in some new Tupperware that was clear, wide and flat. It still fit all their toys but allowed everything to lay out flat so that they could see it all. Now all I have to do is put the lid back on instead of putting all the toys back. And I can stack them lower to the ground which makes them entirely accessible for the kids to reach and put away.

7. Buy your children experiences. We've learned that toys quickly lose their appeal, but memories last forever! Instead of spending $15 on a toy, spend $15 on a ticket to a museum they've wanted to visit. Toys have their place and offer immediate fun, but over time can become broken, lose their excitement, and take up valuable space. The old adage is true when it comes to toys: LESS IS MORE. My kids are way more excited when I tell them I'm spending three dollars to get them into a local pool for the afternoon than when I give them a three dollar toy. TIME IS WORTH MORE! If toys are the answer for a particular occasion, think outside the box. We LOVE games. They don't break, they offer hours of fun, they involve everyone, and they require some brain power! Art sets, Lego sets, books, etc. also require brain power and creativity. You get the idea!

8. Reevaluate every six months, especially before birthdays and holidays. This is a no-brainer. Every year before birthdays and Christmas, we do a major clean-out. It saves time and money when you go to buy gifts. You know what you already have and you know what you will and will not use.

There you have it! My tips for keeping toys at bay!

What are some of your favorite tips for storing toys and keeping them organized?

Happy Cleaning!

The Queen

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pinteresting Solutions: Reviving your favorite shirt

I can't wait to tell you about today's Pinteresting Solution! This must be a week for laundry related posts because it's all I seem to be able to focus on right now...probably because that's all I've been doing for the last week. Vacation and laundry don't mix. There's loads of it to catch up pun intended.

I read about this solution months ago and have wanted to try it ever since. But I've been a little nervous because it required taking a razor to one of my favorite shirts. But I'll tell you I ever glad I mustered the courage! This one is a keeper! Here it goes:


You know how some shirts tend to accumulate those tiny little lint balls all over? I have a yellow shirt that I LOVE. But it's one of those shirts that accumulates those tiny balls and it makes the shirt look run down and old.

So this tip suggested taking a razor and running it over the shirt. The shirt remains in tact while the razor pulls the small balls off. It leaves your shirt looking new again. So after mulling it over I finally decided to take the plunge.

And guess what?! PERFECTION! It did a wonderful job! But here's some tips that I suggest:

Here's my shirt before the experiment:
(Look at all that balled up lint. Sad!)

Now go find your husband's favorite razor (sorry, Honey! I guess you're never meant to have a sharp razor!). I suggest as new a blade as you can get and one that's preferably a four-blade razor.

Now determine the direction of the shirt's grain - which way are the threads running? This is the way that you're going to pull the razor. Don't go against the grain to reduce risk of holes or snagging. You can see in the picture below that the grain in my shirt is running the width of the shirt. I have the razor placed the way I'm going to pull it. You'll also notice to the right how the lint is starting to accumulate in the lower corner. Make sure to pull it off every so often and just tap off the razor over the trash can or sink. Don't get the razor wet...all that lint will become a wet sticky mess on the razor.
Pull the lint that's starting to build off as the razor pulls it to the side.

I found that I did this worked best on a flat surface, being very careful to not let the fabric fold or bunch. Go slowly. You can also do this while wearing it. Just be careful.
As you can see above - HUGE DIFFERENCE! I'M IN LOVE WITH THIS!
Try it at your own discretion and tell me what you think!
What's your favorite way to revive your favorite piece of clothing?
Happy Cleaning!
The Queen

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

CleanCooking: Laundry Soap

I woke up this morning and looked at the piles of laundry that needed done. I went to start a load and oh, no!!!! Out of laundry soap! But lucky for me, there was no need to run to the store and I'm going to teach you how to make your own laundry soap today!

What I find amazing about the following ingredients that we're going to use is that they're all-natural detergent boosters! Wonderful! What I find interesting about store-bought detergents is this: if they're so great for cleaning your clothes, then why do they need detergent boosters?! It doesn't make sense! So why not go straight to the booster source that's all-natural, cheaper, and does a better job?!

I had everything I needed to make this laundry soap lying around the house...honest! Most of these things can serve as multi-purpose cleaning agents and they're great things to pick up when you're at the store next time. An added bonus: this will make a HUGE batch of soap for a fraction of the cost.

Here's what you need (this card can be saved and printed off. It's a 4 x 6):

Gather all the items together.

Empty all the contents of the Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda in a large container.

 Mix it all up with a spoon of your choice. I prefer a potato masher!


Now add about 20 drops of essential oil if you'd like. I prefer lavender oil when it comes to laundry detergent. It's a very pleasant, soothing scent. Continue to stir so that all the detergent is coated  in the essential oil and you don't have small pockets of oil. At this point your detergent should smell amazing!

Now start a load of laundry. Here's my favorite laundry combination for getting a load really clean and fresh!

Depending on load size add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide in place of bleach.

Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup white vinegar in place of fabric softener.


Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the laundry detergent that you just made.

There you have it! Start your load and it comes out beautifully! No more need to waste your money on laundry detergents that are pricey and ineffective!

I promise that even your largest load setting will get clean with 1/4 cup of this detergent! It lasts a long time which I love and there are several other uses for the detergent if you're short on the following:

 - Sink or shower scrub
 - Toilet scrub (you can use Eucalyptus oil instead of lavender for added antibacterial properties!)
 - Fixture Cleaners
 - Dish Detergent (Use 2 TBSP in detergent compartment. I would eliminate essential oil for washing dishes.)

Also keep in mind that this works in HE washers. You don't need all that "fancy-schmancy" HE detergent! Just use this! This detergent also keeps your washing machine in better chemical build-up or detergent residue. It's a win-win! Another positive is that this tends to be gentler on sensitive skin. We are no stranger to eczema and allergies in this house and things like this detergent help keep things at bay. Detergent is on some of the most intimate parts of our lives: underclothing, clothes, bedding, blankets, towels, etc. So why not be as nice to your skin as you can?!

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

What's your favorite detergent or laundry tips?

Happy Laundering!

The Queen