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Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Photo Books

Clutter! It isn’t always junk, right? Sentimental piles of things can grow faster than children!

What do you do with the special painting you purchased on your honeymoon that no longer matches your décor? How about the medal you earned for completing your first marathon or the years-of-service plaques from your place of employment?

What if you could display one tidy little book instead of all the stuff? Enter today’s helpful little hack of the hour.

Photo Books

Many of you know I recently moved. I had to fit everything I kept in a single 26′ moving truck. If I wanted my furniture, and I did, I didn’t have room for much else. I really needed a helpful hack!

I decided to take photos of the special things I couldn’t keep. I photographed art, medals, certificates, plaques, trophies, and trinkets. I expressed my gratefulness to God for each memory that came to mind as I sorted the items for trash or donation.

If you want to know how God brought immense joy in the journey, read The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 6

“How abundant are the good things
    that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in you.”

Psalm 31:19

I created a digital album in my phone where all these items now live. It takes no physical space and I can view each item whenever I want. Someday soon, I will make a photo book with the pictures. When I do, I will have paired the piles and collections of clutter down to 8″x8″, which I can hold, display, and share.

A photo book with a measuring tape to show the dimensions of 8"x8".
A photo book I made in 2012

I was shocked when I counted how many photos were printed in the photo book above. 168! What would be different if you eliminated 168 dusty items from your storage and living spaces into one compact little book?

I recently discovered Chatbooks while working on another project. I created and ordered a photo book right from my phone. It seemed fairly intuitive and their turn-around time was impressive. There are also several other sites through which you can design and print photo books.

Clutter can be contained with the help of this little hack of the hour. What are you storing that you and your loved ones could just as easily (or perhaps more easily because of accessibility) enjoy in a photo book? Have you made photo books before?

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Meatballs

Hi there! Are you hungry? I am! Maybe that’s why this little hack of the hour is popping to mind. But I’m glad it is because it is a great one to keep on hand!

Meatballs

Meatballs are so versatile! They can be made from many kinds of meat or vegetarian ingredients. They can be store bought or homemade. They cook in large quantities and freeze well.

I always have a bag of meatballs in my freezer. They have saved my sanity on several occasions. Here are some examples from my experience. Have you found yourself in any of these situations?

  • Guests coming over before payday or your next grocery store run
  • Last minute potluck invitation
  • The kids have friends over and they’re scrounging for food
  • Out of town friends call and say, “Hey, we’re nearby! Can we come see you?”
  • A friend or neighbor has a mishap and needs help with tonight’s meal
  • You need food for a crowd that won’t break the budget
  • etc. You get the idea!

All the above dilemmas (and more, I’m sure) can be solved with meatballs. I prefer to heat them in my crockpot, but if time is short, the stovetop is faster. Here are 3 “Recipes”. (I put that in quotes because when there are only 2 ingredients, is it really a recipe?)

Meatballs three ways

  1. Meatballs and your favorite marinara sauce.
  2. Meatballs and your favorite BBQ sauce.
  3. Meatballs and your favorite teriyaki sauce.
A photo of Ragu marinara sauce, Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, Soy Vay hoisin garlic teriyaki sauce.
These are our favorite meatball sauces. What are yours?

Instructions: Simply place frozen meatballs in a pan or crockpot with the sauce of your choice and cook until the meatballs are heated through.

Serving options for meatballs

You can serve the meatballs alone as an appetizer/snack or you can add one more plentiful ingredient to stretch them and feed more people.

  1. Meatballs marinara and rolls make an Italian-style meatball sub. Of course, pasta is also a delicious pairing with meatballs marinara.
  2. Meatballs and BBQ sauce are fantastic over baked potatoes. Bread is a good choice too because BBQ meatball sandwiches are delicious.
  3. Teriyaki meatballs over rice is simple perfection. Fresh or canned pineapple is also a wonderful accompaniment to teriyaki meatballs.

You can add other ingredients if you want. But you don’t have to! Meatballs are filling and I’m usually surprised how quickly appetites are satisfied.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:13

Meatballs are a helpful hack because they can be inexpensive, quick, and easy. Do you have any in your freezer? Will you think about stocking them from now on?

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Emotions Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Lightheartedness

Today’s helpful little hack of the hour is lightheartedness. At first blush, one might think this character trait would be dependent on circumstances. But I have found that it doesn’t have to be!

Definition of lighthearted

light·​heart·​ed | \ ˈlīt-ˌhär-təd  \

1: free from care, anxiety, or seriousness HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, a lighthearted mood

2: cheerfully optimistic and hopeful EASYGOING, they can be lighthearted in the midst of misery— H. J. Forman

http://www.merriam-webster.com

As mentioned in definition #2 above, we can be lighthearted, even when things aren’t going our way. When you’re feeling down, smile! It might seem fake at first, but the face muscles inform your mind and can actually help you feel lighter.

A photo of sky and tress with a poem by Mama Lava that says "Laugh more, frown less. Whenever possible, say 'Yes!'"
Choose lightheartedness!

“Laugh more, frown less. Whenever possible, say yes!”

I wrote this little ditty to help me remember. And just to clarify – don’t say “Yes!” to an overwhelming number of commitments or things that would be wrong for you. This is phraseology. It means to frame things, even to yourself, in a positive light.

From restrictive to permissive

Instead of saying “No cookies”, say “Yes, I will enjoy a piece of fruit”. Replace “No more staying up late” with “Yes! I get to sleep”. It helps to shape the way you feel about things.

This little hack of the hour might take some practice, so why not start today? Smile and say yes! You might uncover a perspective that is more free and lighthearted.

“Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

Psalm 32:10

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: School Supply Stock Up

Hopefully this helpful little hack of the hour is timely where you live. Are the kids in your neighborhood heading back to school? If so, your local stores probably have their school supplies on sale.

School Supply Stock Up

The price for a box of 24 Crayola Crayons is 54 cents at my nearby Walmart right now. Composition books are the same. Markers, glue, scissors – all are at the lowest prices of the year.

New crayons with pristine tips
Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com
A box of crayons stores easily until it’s needed. Just don’t forget where you put it!

If you have kids in school, you know how they love brand new supplies. Why not pick up extras to freshen their stock at Christmas?

Even if you don’t have children at home, now is the time to stock up for:

  • your own art and journaling/notetaking endeavors
  • Operation Christmas Child boxes
  • Sunday School supplies
  • missionary packages
  • birthday gifts
  • donation to shelters
  • entertainment for children who visit you

There are many possibilities. What else can you think of?

Back-to-School season usually brings the lowest prices of the year on school supplies. That is why I had to mention it as today’s helpful little hack of the hour. No matter what the school calendar looks like where you live, if you watch the sales you will know when it is time to stock up!

“Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
    you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
    to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
    and praise your glorious name.”

1 Chronicles 29:11b-13

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Recommendations

Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Fels-Naptha

Got stains? Fels-Naptha!

Fels-Naptha, by Purex, is is my first helpful little hack of the hour because it is the best laundry assistant I have ever found.

And it’s cheap! You might find it in your grocery or drug store aisle for under $2 a bar, but it has been getting harder to find in stores. Amazon prices it right around $2.50.

I have been using Fels-Naptha on every fabric stain for almost 30 years. It has completely removed:

  • Grass stains (even deeply embedded on football uniforms)
  • Mud
  • Blood
  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Black from car engines and tires
  • Red sauce
  • Juice
  • Baby diaper blow outs
  • New stains, old stains, dried in stains
  • and more!

Quick story: I brought each of my 5 babies home from the hospital in the same outfit. It was a cute, mint green, Winnie the Pooh, sleep sack. When preparing to pack my hospital bag for baby #4, I inadvertently washed and dried that outfit with a tube of cherry Chapstick. It melted all over the fabric and I almost panicked. Instead, I grabbed my Fels-Naptha and went to work. I washed it again and it was as good as new! Thank you, Jesus, and Fels-Naptha!

A bar of Fels-Naptha stain removing soap.
Fels-Naptha is my helpful little hack of the hour because it works!

Directions:

  • Wet the stained fabric and the end of the Fels-Naptha bar.
  • Rub the Fels-Naptha onto the stain until it forms a visible layer of soap.
  • Fold the fabric so the stain folds on itself like a taco.
  • Rub the two sides of the stain together – one side against the other – until suds form.
  • If the stain is bad, you can let it sit for an hour. Launder as instructed on the garment tag.

I have given bars of this soap as gifts. It smells nice, is inexpensive, and incredibly useful! Whenever anyone in my family spills something, we all say “Fels-Naptha”. And by that we mean “Don’t worry, it’ll come out!”

Fels-Naptha is my first, and possibly favorite, helpful little hack of the hour because it works! I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t already have a preferred, tried-and-true, stain erasing, wonder working, laundry bar.

And while you’re washing those stains away, remember that the blood of Jesus will remove every sinful stain from your life and makes you “white as snow” in the eyes of the Father.

White as snow
White as snow
Though my sins were as scarlet
Lord I know
Lord I know
That I’m clean and forgiven
Through the power of your blood,
Through the wonder of your love,
Through faith in you I know
That I can be
White as snow

“White As Snow” by Maranatha! Music

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

Categories
Recommendations

Choose Foods That Will Make You Feel Better

Hello, my precious friends! I hope you’re feeling sunny and bright on this wonderful day. But even if not, I’m so glad you’re here!

What I have to share might help with some physical, mental, and emotional angst we’re carrying. Much of it is likely linked to what we’re eating. Why not choose foods that will make us feel better?

I want to choose better foods to address three specific areas of interest

1. Brain Cognition

If you read my last post, you know I have been dealing with brain fog. It has been interesting. You all have been so supportive and kind. I really appreciate your encouragement and prayers! I have been doing some research and reading up on things that can help with clarity of thought. I’ve been specifically focusing on which foods I should choose for better brain cognition.

2. Lower Cholesterol

I conducted a similar study awhile back when I received lab results indicating unexpectedly high cholesterol. I wanted to do better. I discovered that I could choose foods which would lower the numbers.

It was a chaotic time in my life and instead of making the necessary changes, I put my research in a file for a later date. My most recent lab tests revealed that my cholesterol is still a problem. No surprise there since I never really addressed it.

3. Gut Health

Another interest (just pure fascination), which has caused me to study food choice, is gut health. I’m learning about foods in both probiotic and prebiotic categories. By maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, we can counter much of the inflammation from which we suffer. I’m not an expert, by any means. I’ve just done some digging and saved the information I’ve gathered into my growing file of findings.

microbiome: noun / the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body).

Dictionary.com

An overlap in the research results?

Was there a significant overlap in the suggested diets for these three areas of interest, or was it my imagination? This week, I finally sat down and opened my fat file to pull my research together. I charted it into a concise cheat sheet with the goal of centering my diet on these healing foods. I also wanted to share it with you because life is beautiful, and we enjoy it most when we are feeling our best!

A chart illustrating the overlap of suggested foods to eat for enhancing cholesterol levels, brain cognition, and gut health
Choose foods that will help you feel better! Here is a cheat sheet.

I put the foods which I read could help lower dangerous LDL cholesterol into the blue circle. (Some of them can also boost the helpful HDL cholesterol while they’re at it!) The teal ring encapsulates foods which have been found to assist with brain cognition. The foods in the purple circle are said to improve gut health.

There really is a large overlap! The foods that are known to be good for all three areas of interest are nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, green tea, fruits, and soy products. These are in the center where the circles converge. Choosing these over other things can help you feel relief from several ailments at once!

The graph also logs foods which have been shown to help with one area of concern or overlap on two of them. Around the edges of the illustration, I have listed the specific items I found mentioned under some broader category headings. For instance, “whole grains” are widely touted, but specifically, I saw oats, bran, quinoa, and brown rice repeated in my research.

A few disclosures

I cannot certify that these findings are proven or complete. This is just a compilation of what I read, from sources I consider to be reputable. I plan to use it as a tool for my own meal planning and thought you might be interested as well.

Full disclosure – One of my granddaughters is visiting for a couple weeks and my grandson will arrive just after she leaves. Summers and grandkids pretty much require ice cream dates and other treats which are not on this list. They yield a different kind of wonderful feeling and I’m all here for it while I can be! I will embrace these ingredients completely in my daily menus next month.

But I’m looking forward to mid-July to see if I begin to feel better. I will eat with intention and keep you posted. There, now I’ve said it “out loud” and I welcome the accountability!

Use the cheat sheet in any way that is helpful

How about you? Have you noticed a correlation between your quality of life, sense of wellness, and your diet? Do you choose foods based on what will make you feel better? Are you interested in any of the categories I’ve studied? If so, please feel free to save, print, share, or do whatever you like with this chart I’ve made. Here’s to better health for us all!

One more thing…

P.S. one last thought. I called these foods “healing” because of the benefits they offer to our physical bodies. But they are only so because they were designed and given to us by an All-Powerful God who is Jehovah Rapha, our Great Physician. He is our Creator, Healer, Life Giver, and Sustainer.

Never do I want to elevate the created thing above the Creator. My faith is in God. He is the Good Father who gives good gifts. Healthy food is one of those gifts, given for our enjoyment and benefit. So is the gift of taste. I’m incredibly thankful for the creativity in His provision, aren’t you? All glory to God by Whom we are enabled to live well, eat well, and be well!