Tag Archives: Home Front

The first day of spring has arrived but here in Vermont we can expect cool weather to continue for another month or so. There is still time to enjoy a bowl of hearty black bean and sausage soup. The combination of sweet Italian turkey sausage, jalapeño peppers and fresh cilantro gives this black bean and sausage soup a distinctive flavor. If you have any leftovers they are easily reheated in the microwave or can be frozen for later use. Serve along with a leafy green salad and a loaf of bread and your have a meal!Black Bean soup

 

Black Bean and Sausage Soup

 

Ingredients:

 

½ pound sweet Italian turkey sausage

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced

3 (15.5 oz) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

 

Directions:

 

Spray a large nonstick saucepan with nonstick spray and set over medium low heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate and when cool enough to handle, cut into ½ inch slices.

 

Heat the oil over medium heat in the same saucepan then add the onion, garlic and jalapeños. Cook, stirring until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the beans and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the flavors have blended, about 8 minutes.

 

Transfer 2 cups of the bean mixture to a blender or food processor and puree. Stir the puree and the sausage into the soup. Simmer, uncovered, until the soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove form the heat, stir in the cilantro  or sprinkle on top and serve.Black Bean and Sausage SoupIf you have an emersion blender that could also be used to puree the soup.Black Bean and Sausage Soup

 

 

We are all looking for ways to improve our lives and achieve success. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut or just don’t know where to begin to achieve the best results in the shortest time. Following are 10 ideas to help you stay focused and improve your professional and personal life:

 

 

  • Healthy Breakfast

 

 

Begin each day with a healthy breakfast for maximum energy. So many of us skip this very important meal, but if you are serious about being successful, adopting this simple habit will pay dividends in your daily productivity and mental clarity.useful habits

 

 

  • Make small goals every day

 

 

Pay attention to details to achieve your goals. This will help you to focus on the results of your efforts and see the value of every step of the way. Realizing the purpose of the smaller details makes us appreciate the big picture and directs our purpose for getting there.

 

 

  • To-do lists

 

 

Make lists of all that you want to accomplish daily. A weekly, monthly and yearly plan are important, but getting into the habit of breaking each day into the steps necessary to reach our goals reminds us of what is most important. It also keeps us accountable to ourselves and makes sure that we allocate each 24-hour period in the most efficient manner. Articulating our goals in written form also allows us to appreciate milestones along the way to achieving the big picture. This is necessary to inspire future actions that will result in the success we crave.

 

 

  • Learn how to manage your time

 

 

Managing time efficiently is required in addition to making lists. Each day only has 24 hours, so we need to make the most of every moment to get the best results from our precious time. Adopting a habit of proper time management is essential at leveraging each moment.

 

Implementing good time management makes anything possible, but it requires conscious effort and consistency.

 

 

  • Make decisions and stick to them

 

 

Be decisive not impulsive if you want to reach your goals. Carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages of our actions and possible changes allow us to make the most of every opportunity.

 

Also, take the time to consider things that didn’t go as planned turns our mistakes into learning experiences that will guide us to better decisions in the future.

 

 

  • Stick to your goals

 

 

Stay committed to your goals and be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve them. The only way to find success is through hard work and staying on track. Many people get easily distracted and give up. Winners know that commitment is the key to success.

 

 

  • Budget your money

 

 

Budgeting and tracking expenses are key to getting the most of our financial resources so that we have enough money to achieve our goals. Sound financial habits keep us aware of how we are allocating our resources and makes us aware of what we need to do to be able to afford the things we need for success. If done properly, good financial management should result in savings for the future or more money to invest allowing us to do more down the road.useful habits

 

 

  • Exercise

 

 

Exercise regularly for a better mind and body. This will give you energy, help you sleep better and make you healthier and happier. Too much mental activity is not good.  We also need physical activity to keep us balanced and energetic. Having the best home gym is a step in the right direction as it will remind us of the importance of daily exercise to help us find the success we each deserve.

 

 

  • Be positive!

 

 

Stay positive to help yourself to overcome challenges. Negativity only drains our energy and thus winners must constantly practice positive self-talk to stay motivated and on track. So don’t get discouraged by small setbacks. Keep reminding yourself of the big picture and the small successes each day and soon these will add up to a winning year!

 

 

  • Sleep

 

 

Get Enough Sleep to keep your body and mind performing at their best. A regular eight-hour sleep cycle will allow us to process new ideas, focus better during the day and improve our memory and mental capacity. Not getting enough sleep will ensure that we are not at our best and may lead to other problems such as illnesses, depression or accidents which will get in the way of achieving our goals.
In order to achieve success, we all need a plan. This must include healthy habits and good practices. I hope these 10 tips have given you fresh ideas to jumpstart your journey to a better life. We are each the architect of our own destiny. Anything is possible if we imagine it and take the right steps to see it through.

 

Guest post by Evelyn Kail

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know I’ve been working on de-cluttering our home in preparation for an eventual move. Even if you aren’t preparing for a move spring is a great time to do some spring-cleaning. Do you have clothes cluttering up your closet? Clothes that you’re just hanging on to because of a memory associated with them? Or perhaps it’s a favorite pair of jeans that used to fit and almost fits now but you haven’t worn them for ages. I have numerous things in my closet that I haven’t worn in some time for various reasons. For example a sweater that my mom knit more than 50 years ago! That is so hard for me to throw out but I haven’t worn it in years. Maybe it’s time to donate?

 

I’ve read about tips like putting your clothes on hangers and then hanging the hangers backwards in your closet. After a year throw out all the clothes that you haven’t touched and the hangers are still backwards! Great idea but I’ve never done it.

 

Recently a company called Tommy John created this amazing graphic to help you purge your closet of unwanted clothes. Tommy John is a men’s underwear company, but the graphic works equally as well for a woman! If I follow these simple steps I will definitely have fewer clothes hanging in my closet! I love the fact that I can answer a few simple yes and no questions and have a cleaner closet! I definitely hold on to too many clothes.spring cleaning

 

How is your closet? Do you regularly clean it out and get rid of or donate clothes you don’t wear? I’m not encouraging you to go spend more, but to take the steps to have a manageable wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

 

spring cleaning

By the way if you want to save 20% on your first order here is the promo code for my readers: TJ20Spring.

Most of us try to make good use of our money. We try not to over spend, limit our debt and have a saving account. But everyone has to eat. You can’t just cut food out of your budget like you can a cable bill. The issue is how to eat well while saving some money. In other words the question is how to be thrifty in the kitchen?trifty-kitchen

 

All the advice out there usually boils down to a few essential principles: cook at home, limit your purchases of pre-made convenience foods, and avoid wasting the food you bring home. Yes, there is some comparison shopping involved and yes, there is meal-planning.

 

No matter the size of your budget or family, you’ll see the difference in your bank account, and possibly your waistline too, if you stick to a home-cooking regimen. Whether you’re just starting to make your lunch or you’re ready to pickle the cucumbers you grew in your backyard garden, you’ll find plenty of culinary inspiration, as well as guidance on how to maximize your thrift in shopping for and preparing your food.thrifty

 

To get started on your thrift journey save everything. Pack your freezer. Have a bag for vegetable scraps. When it’s full make your own stock. Use the stock to add flavor to sauces, stews and to make soup.thrifty

 

Leftover that can’t be frozen can be used in other ways. Fry extra potatoes for breakfast. Stir-fry leftover rice with veggies, egg and soy sauce for delicious stir fried rice.Stir and serve hot!

 

Savings also start with your purchases. Have a good supply of staples on hand so that you will always have some options for meals. Wash and prep your vegetables when you get home, then store correctly so they last and try to use them quickly. It’s also important to be creative with what you have. See what’s in the pantry and freezer. If you have a recipe you want to try, but don’t have exactly the right ingredients, improvise a bit rather than buying more stuff.

 

Start small and keep going. In no time you will be cooking meals from a well stocked pantry and saving money at the same time as you begin your journey to be thrifty in the kitchen.thrift

Monday Muffins: Banana Chocolate Chip Mini MuffinsBanana Mini Muffins

 

I love banana mini muffins especially with the addition of mini chocolate chips.  Mini muffins satisfy your desire to enjoy a morsel of goodness, but you don’t have to feel guilty that you enjoyed an entire muffin! These mini muffins are delicious and low fat which sounds like a win-win to me! Perfect for snacking or packing in lunch boxes. Plus like many of the other Monday Muffins I have shared, they freeze well. The next time you have an abundance of bananas on hand mix up a batch of these healthy mini muffins! Banana Mini Muffins

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup light vanilla yogurt
½ cup fat-free milk
½ cup uncooked quick oats
½ tsp vanilla
1 large egg, beaten
1 large banana, mashed
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips

 

Preheat your oven to 375.

 

Combine yogurt, milk, oats, vanilla and egg. Set aside for five minutes to allow the oats to soften then stir in the banana.banana muffins

In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the two mixtures to moisten. Dough will be very thick. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Prepare your mini muffin tins by spraying with cooking spray. Spoon batter into the tins and bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Banana Mini Muffins Enjoy right away or let cool and freeze to enjoy later.Banana Mini Muffins

When taking on home improvement projects, it’s tempting to attempt to do it all yourself. And while I’m a big believer in self-reliance, there are simply some things that are too complicated for a hobby DIY-er. Sure, it can be hard to admit that you need help and don’t have the expertise to do a project alone, but sometimes, you’ll end up saving money in the long run. Doing it yourself can result in costly mistakes if you’re not sure what you’re doing. More often than not, if you make a huge mistake, you’ll end up hiring someone to come fix it, and it will be much more expensive than it would’ve been originally. When are some instances when it’s a good idea to hire an expert?

 

Garage doors

 

A garage door seems like a fairly simple thing, doesn’t it? However, those springs that work the mechanism are amazingly heavy and bear a lot of weight. They can be really dangerous to handle yourself, and as this video states, it causes a lot of accidents for ambitious DIY-ers every year. When you need to install or make repairs to your garage door, it’s a good idea to hire someone else to fix it. This is just as much a safety precaution as it is making sure someone qualified is doing the work. If you install the door incorrectly, it could seriously hurt someone, whether it’s during the actual installation process, or after the fact.

 

Difficult plumbing issues

 

If you have a simple clog in your toilet, you can usually solve this problem with a plunger and a determined attitude. However, if you have a faucet that’s spraying water uncontrollably, or a burst pipe, it’s probably best to take a step back, and call your neighborhood plumber. They know what they’re doing, and they’ll have the tools to get the job done quickly with minimal damage. It’s also important to get things like cracks and drips taken care of early and efficiently before they cause major leaks and flooding in your home. Long-term water damage can undermine the foundation of your house or cause mold infestations that threaten your family’s health.

 

Electrical issues

 

Electrical issues can be really dangerous. When you don’t know what you’re doing, you run the risk of electrocution, as well as other complications. Unless you know exactly what the issue is and you already know how to fix it, it’s best to call an electrician to come in and assess the problem.

 

Interior Design

 

This one may not seem as important, but doing it yourself can be just as costly of a mistake as anything else on this list. If you’ve ever walked into Hobby Lobby and been overwhelmed by all of the decor options, and ended up buying way more things than you actually need because “they were cute,” you’ll know what kind of costly mistake I’m talking about. When tackling a new interior design project, it can be way too easy to get overwhelmed or over excited, and get a lot of expensive furniture and decor that you won’t end up using.

 

If you hire an interior designer or consultant, they’ll be able to look at the space objectively and help you decide what pieces will actually look good there, and what will actually be functional. You don’t want your home to look cluttered just because you thought the entire kitchen section at your local decor store looked good to you. Additionally, if you’re going for a very specific look in your bigger rooms, like a modern design for example, a professional will have insights on the subtleties that you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

 

Redoing your floors

 

Some flooring options, like peel and stick laminate flooring, is fairly simple to figure out and can be done easily yourself. However, there are bigger projects, like replacing the carpet or doing tile, that are difficult to do yourself. For example, when you’re tiling a room, you not only have to remove the flooring that’s already in that room, but there’s a lot more involved with installing tile than a simple laminate. You’ll probably have to cut some of the tile, grout, and seal everything. If you do it incorrectly, you’ll have to painfully pull it back up and redo it with a new piece, as that piece will be ruined. If you hire a flooring specialist for this sort of project, you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll have all the necessary tools and they’ll get the job done efficiently.
There are plenty of simple projects that you can take on yourself, but it’s important to realize when the project is too big to handle alone. It’s okay to step aside, and let someone experienced take over.

 

 

Guest post by: Aurora M.

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