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Recommendations

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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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
Celebrations Conversations

One Father’s Day Post Remarkably Limited by Brain Fog

Pssst, friend, do you have a second? I’m so glad you dropped by! I want to talk to you about something. It’s kind of personal, but I’m hoping for your insight and grace.

My issue

I’ve been experiencing remarkable brain fog. It is frustrating, maybe, but honestly my mind is too murky to feel the frustration. It’s a strange sort of apathy. I have thoughts and ideas which lack cohesion and disappear before I can take decisive action.

Do you know what I mean? Have you encountered this type of thing? I’m sharing mine for two reasons.

  1. An explanation. I have been trying to only write as God blesses me with clarity. Admittedly, my blogs have been fewer.
  2. A request. If you have endured brain fog and obtained insight on how to overcome it, I’d love to learn. What worked for you?

My ideas

I have a few ideas as to why this may be happening:

  1. Age. I’m at that middle-age stage where hormones (or decrease of them) wreak havoc. I know brain fog can be part of the deal.
  2. Altitude. I’ve recently moved from sea-level to 7000 feet. I returned, last month, for a week-long visit to the town from which I moved. I’ve noticed my brain fog has been especially thick since I’ve come back to high altitude.
  3. Spiritual Warfare. I feel like there are spiritual truths I’m not quite grasping. A train of thought starts chugging and gains momentum for an intriguing minute but then it fades before the end of the track. It could be that the enemy is using spiritual warfare to run interference.
  4. Exercise and Nutrition. I finished a metabolic reset about a month ago. It was a set menu and exercise regimen. The workouts would have been extreme for me at sea-level, but they were really hard without time for proper adjustment to the altitude. I told myself I would either end up in the best shape of my life or dead… but maybe I ended up foggy. The nutrition was excellent during that two weeks, but not sustainable for my lifestyle or budget, so it’s possible the inconsistency is affecting my mind.
  5. Covid. I had Covid at the beginning of the year. One of the symptoms I experienced was brain fog and it was similar to what I’m noticing now. I’ve heard that, for some people, it persists for months. This could be my plight.
  6. Answered prayer. Ever since I decided to make SEO Someone Else’s Obsession, I have asked God not to let me write anything that isn’t worthwhile. Maybe my ideas haven’t fit His definition of meaningful and He has simply hazed them over in my brain. If that is it, then I’m thankful for the answered prayer.

My apology

So this is where I offer an apology. I really wanted to write a post of encouragement and appreciation to dads in anticipation of Father’s Day. Maybe I still will. But so far, I haven’t been able to hold onto any of my ideas long enough get a post done.

I had a moment of clarity yesterday while I was out on the trail and wrote an entire article in my head. When I got home and tried to type it out, I lost it. Chalk up another point to brain fog.

My thanks

For now, I hope a simple THANK YOU will suffice. Dads have it rough in today’s world. I know, I know – we’re told they have privilege because they’re men and we’re pressured to lend our support elsewhere. I say, hogwash!

I think dads who do what it takes to protect and provide for their families deserve more respect and appreciation than we could possibly muster. This world is trying to steal the leadership role that God gave to fathers in their households. A Godly man must work tirelessly to simply stand his ground, not allowing a godless society to envelop his family. And then he has to go above and beyond to model and instill a legacy of lasting faith for the coming generations.

If you’re this kind of dad, wow! You deserve great honor. If you have this kind of dad, celebrate him – not just on Father’s Day, but especially then.

And that is all God has helped me to put together for now. Tell me, have you been limited by prolonged brain fog? What was the cause? How did you overcome it? Do you have any suggestions for me?

What can you tell me about your dad? Do you have a favorite memory with him? If you’d like to honor him in the comments, it would be my privilege to celebrate him with you this Father’s Day week.

Related post: 5 Things You’d Have to Endure from Me if I Were Like My Father