Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

How To Keep Your Home Clean, Organized, & Fresh

People always ask me how I keep my home clean and fresh all the time. When friends  come over, I always here “Wow it smells so good here, what did you do? I would just laugh it off, not realizing that they really did want to know my secrets. I didn’t know that people struggled to keep their homes clean as it comes natural to me.  Our home is our sanctuary, and who wants a stinky sanctuary? Haha Well the good news is that I am going to share my cleaning secrets with you. It doesn’t matter if you have kids or pets, you can do it too. I have had dogs and cats, and no one could ever tell upon entering my home.

I love the smell of candles, fresh clean laundry and Clorox, yes Clorox. I mean who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry?I don’t spend a lot of money on cleaning products either. The secret is that I make my own, floor cleaner, carpet fresh, kitchen and bathroom cleaner. (All from the same 3 products.) Friends and family think I have spent hours cleaning my home to keep it smelling fresh but I don’t. Here are my secrets to keep your home neat, tidy and fresh smelling.  

Create A De-cluttering System.

The first thing you should do is get rid of clutter. A messy house always looks dirty. Did you know that clutter can make your home feel chaotic and affect your sleep?  Get organized and find a place for everything. If there is no room in your closets to put anything away, then guess what? It’s time to donate the things you are no longer using or need. Having too much stuff can stress us out and be exhausting. Clutter can stress us out because our lives are already overwhelming enough. It can have a negative impact on both adults and children.

Start small by picking one room or closet at a time.My goal is to help you be able to put a system into place where you can easily find everything. Here is an easy organization tip. Buy the large, $5 clear storage bins and line them up with the lids off. Label them near the area that you wish to organize. Now divide and conquer. Pick one item at a time, examine it, then simply drop it into the bin. No need for messy piles on the floor. That way, however you decide to dispose of the items, it’s all  packed into the bins and ready to go. Simply place the lid on and tote them away. After sorting and purging, go ahead reload those kept items back into your nice clean space.

Now label the bins:

  • KEEP- These are the items that you can’t part with, so find a home for them. Place them in some decorative storage baskets for your closet.
  • DONATE- These are items such as clothing and shoes that are still in good condition. You can donate them to your local church, charity, or goodwill. Trust me, you will feel so much better about giving these items away to someone in need.
  • TRASH- Any items that are broken, worn, has holes in them, or stained should be discarded.

Time to Deep Clean

Now that everything is in its proper place, it’s time to clean. When you first walk into your home, stop and take a deep breath. How does it smell? If you are nose-blind (like in the Febreze commercials) step outside again. Do you like the smell? If not get rid of any nasty smells in your house immediately! Now open up some windows for fresh air and get to deep cleaning. You don’t have to spend lots of money on cleaning products. Here are my 4 secret products to a great smelling house.

  1. Clorox bleach
  2. Tide pods
  3. Baking Soda
  4. Dryer sheets 

Okay so at first you may not be impressed, but as I said previously, “Who doesn’t love the smell of fresh clean laundry? Just about everyone has these products on hand in their house already. No need to run out and buy anything. Now here is how to use them around the house instead of in the laundry.

  • Make your own cleaner- Grab an empty spray bottle and dissolve half a laundry pod with two capfuls of clorox bleach. This can be used all around the kitchen and bathroom surfaces, and especially dirty countertops. 
  • Floors– Melt one pod in super hot water with ¼ cup of Clorox. You can use whatever your favorite laundry pod is, but I personally love “Tide with Downy”. The fabric softener and super hot water easily dissolve dirty, sticky, stained floors and the Clorox automatically disinfects.
  • Carpets-  Baking soda naturally gets rid of nasty smells in the carpets. I use baking soda on my rugs before vacuuming and that’s about it. It’s kid safe and pet friendly. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and let sit for about 1 hour before vacuuming. I usually do this first before I start my cleaning routine, then all that’s left to do is vacuum. 
  • Bathroom toilet-  Open the lid and pop one laundry pod in the tank. Let dissolve. Pour ¼ cup of bleach in the toilet bowl and let sit. 10 min.Then flush. As you flush, swish with a brush, the cleaner will come down into the toilet bowl surface. The softeners in the laundry pod will soften the grime and make removal much easier. Now cleaning the toilet will be a breeze and your bathroom will smell great.
  • Bathtub- Fill up your tub with super hot water, pop in a laundry pod and ½ cup of bleach. Make sure to keep windows open when using bleach. Let sit for one hour for tough tub ring stains. Any dirt should dissolve easily, if not get out a brush, scrub, rinse and then drain.  Your bathroom will smell amazing as the steam releases the fresh laundry pod smell into the air. I did not address bathroom mold because I simply (never let mold grow) in my home. It horrifies me and it’s a health hazard.
  • Dryer Sheets- I take a dryer sheet during the summertime and place it in my air conditioner with the filter. It makes my whole house smell amazingly clean. Remember to clean the filter often and change the dryer sheet daily.

Once your house is all clean, remember to put things back in their place right away, and clean as you go (meaning if there is any mess, clean it up immediately.) Don’t give it a chance to turn into a smelly mess. Your house will stay cleaner and be easier to maintain.I hope you find these simple cleaning hacks to be helpful, if you do share it! Now enjoy your newly clean and fresh smelling home, without spending a ton of money!

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

Simple Ways To Reduce Daily Stress

Are you stressed out? Are you worried or anxious most of the time? The secret to conquering daily stress is in how we start our morning routine.

In our busy, overscheduled lives it almost seems normal to walk around stressed and anxious all of the time. As soon as we wake up and turn on the news, we are bombarded with negative information which is not the best way to start the day. While listening to the radio on the way to work, we may hear more bad news while stuck in traffic. Social media isn’t any better for us. Whatever tragedy we may have missed on the news is right there waiting for us online. Thanks to the advance of technology, we live in an age of constant and immediate information, and that’s not always a good thing. 

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Every morning the first thing I would do after waking up was drag myself out of bed, make coffee then turn on the TV and listen to the news. It was my daily morning ritual while getting ready for work. I mainly was interested in hearing the weather so that could plan my outfit accordingly, but the depressing stories in between the forecasts always get me down.

Once I arrived to work, the same terrible news would make its way into chatter around the office. It seemed to follow me like a dark cloud, but then I thought to myself “Oh well, everyone starts the day off with this way.” But why do we do this? Yes it is important to know what’s going on in our world, but this isn’t the way we should begin our day. If you don’t believe so, think about the weekends and how you wake up. Automatically your mind knows to relax and let you sleep in a bit. That’s because our minds are conditioned to do so. 

Signs of stress.


For many years I struggled with anxiety and depression, so I can tell you from experience that these tips provided here today do really work. I have definitely improved the way I start my mornings. Daily stress needs to be reduced and managed. Remember that stress can eventually cause physical and mental health issues. So how do you know if you’re stressed? Chances are If you are walking absently-minded or too caught up in the drama in your own head to see what’s happening around you, then you’re stressed. Here are some physical symptoms of stress and anxiety that you should pay attention to.

  • Your stomach feels upset, achy or cramped
  • You grind your teeth at night
  • You get frequent headaches
  • You often have sleepless nights
  • You have panic attacks
  • You’re feel sweaty or achy all over 
  • Your face breaks out frequently as an adult
  • You have reddish skin or eczema
  • You have a low libido

When you are really stressed out, cortisol “the stress hormone” levels rise in your blood causing increased heart rate and blood pressure which puts your health at risk. Your hormones are out of control which compromises the immune system. Next, the body has trouble producing white blood cells that fight off diseases and infection. This leaves you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses and can also lead to chronic inflammation. If you are experiencing many of the symptoms listed above, then could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. You should talk to a doctor who might recommend that you work with a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist. Stress is unavoidable, so our main focus should be how to manage it in better, more effective ways. 

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The best ways to reduce daily stress.

  • Start your day better by avoiding TV, the news, checking phone messages, social media, and emails. For many years I was guilty of waking up and immediately grabbing my phone which can cause instant stress, and who needs that first thing in the morning? Try leaving electronic devices out of the bedroom. If you use an alarm to wake up, try soft music instead of that annoying buzzing sound. For years we are programmed to wake up this way, so why not change to a less stressful morning routine? Take a moment and look outside instead of turning on the weather report. You can always check on this later, after you mind is awake and at ease.
  • Eat Breakfast. You must properly nourish your body in the morning and a cup of coffee alone won’t do. After a long night of sleep, our blood sugar and metabolism are lowest. A healthy breakfast re-energizes the body and get us prepared to take on the day. Say for example you leave for work without eating and then become hungry while on the way to work. You think about grabbing a bite on the way to work, but then suddenly you become stuck in traffic! Now not only are you late for work, but your still hungry and may not be able to eat until lunchtime. This creates instant stress, no it’s not your fault your stuck in traffic or late to work, but you will be able to handle the  stress coming your way better with proper nourishment. Instead of arriving to work hungry and frazzled, you can be ready to move forward, be productive and take on the work day. 
  • Start off the morning with positive thoughts. Your first thought in the morning should be “I’m going to have a great day.” You can think your way into a having a better day by telling yourself just that, even if it’s a lie. Even if you are dreading that board meeting or whatever unpleasant task you have to face. When it comes to positive thinking, think mind over matter. Scientific studies show that thinking positively can moderate your how you handle stress.
  • Just breathe. Practice mindful breathing to get stress out of your system. When you are faced with something unpleasant, just take a moment and take in a deep breath. It’s the quickest and most direct way to calm yourself down.
  • Get moving. Exercise naturally lowers your stress levels and increases your confidence. I helps you to settle into a state of well being by boosting endorphins. (The feel good hormone.) It’s a great way to start the day but if your time pressed in the morning try getting in a couple a quick stretches. Then exercise later on in the evening. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. One thing that always helped me during a long work day, was to take a brisk 15-20 minute walk during my lunch hour. This is a great way to get some sunshine during the winter season, when daylight savings time causes it to get dark outside early, or for those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

Remember that stress, anxiety and depression if not managed properly, can begin to affect your physical health. I was a stressed out child growing up which lead to severe anxiety and depression once I became an adult. I firmly believe that this lead to a diagnosis of chronic illness later in my life. I always wonder if could have done something better to manage my stress when I was younger. Maybe it would have prevented my chronic illness? Now I feel it’s my responsibility to warn others about the dangers of living with chronic stress. Remember that you are your number one priority in life, and to take good care of yourself. If you find this information to be helpful, or try any of these techniques for yourself and like them, share it, I wish you the best!

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

How To Enjoy Doing “Absolutely Nothing!”

Are you super busy? Is your life extremely hectic with no time for yourself? In life we are taught that we always need to be productive, and if we aren’t then we are considered to be lazy. The truth is that we don’t need to be doing something every single day. You need to take some time to rest and recharge. Overextending ourselves can lead to things like stress, complete burn-out, mental health issues, or chronic illness. We should never feel guilty for taking time off to rest and recharge. 

I used to be one of these people who felt like I needed to be doing something great all of the time. I used to work long hours and although I loved my job, I was always looking for an escape. I am grateful for all of those years of hard work, but now I am considered to be a professional escape artist. Sometimes the demands of life and the world can be very overwhelming for many people, (especially me)!

Now I have no problem turning off my phone, the news, or tuning out what ever I think will spoil my day of solitude. I think it’s funny because my family often accuses me of hiding from the world. But sometimes you just simply need a break, and I’m here to help you realize that there is so much more to life than the demands of our busy schedules. I’m not saying you should strive to do nothing all the time. I’m saying it’s good to create a healthy balance in life.

Here are reasons doing “nothing at all” is actually good for us.

  • Relaxation is good for the mind, body and spirit.
  • Taking time off fuel’s creativity.
  • Escape from everyday chaos.
  • Reconnect with yourself and clear negativity.
  • Create a calm, more peaceful day.

How to take a day off from life (with no guilt):

You may be wondering what to do with your time, but there are many great ways to fill up the day that make you feel good. I promise you won’t regret it. In Fact you may decide later that you will want to take a week or even a month off. But for now, take one day out of the weekend for yourself and..

  • Turn off the phone and tell everyone you’re unavailable.
  • Leave the kid’s with the sitter and declare a “Me” day.
  • Go to a relaxing spa and get a massage, manicure and pedicure.
  • Spend a day at the beach just looking at the waves.
  • Learn to enjoy spending time alone and tune out the world.
  • Take a drive, explore and see where the day takes you.
  • Make no plans and spend the day listening to your favorite music.

In life we often encouraged to remain busy and have many goals, because we think if we don’t work so hard we won’t be successful. Every achievement is celebrated, but why can’t we take a day and celebrate doing absolutely nothing. It sounds strange right? Why isn’t it okay to celebrate someone who is taking a little time off to rediscover what life is really all about? Spending time in solitude is important, because during this time you may realize that you want to take a different path, change your life’s direction, or try something new. After taking a day off from life you will be ready and even more energized to tackle the next project that you are working on. You will also be more motivated and ready to deal with whatever challenge you are facing. After all, finding balance in life is they key to our true happiness.

Good Advice, Health, Lifestyle

Surviving The Loss Of A Pet

About a year ago, I lost the love of my life. No not my significant other, my furbaby. Her name was Cookie. She was a Yorkie-Terrier mix, which means she was all attitude and a whole lot of endless energy and fun. I have owned other pets, but no other pet has impacted my life the way she did.

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Our Story

My dog Cookie came to me at a time in my life when I was losing everything. I was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis, and had just been ordered by my doctor to stop working. I had not owned any pets for several years because I was always working, but when I stopped I invited one into my life again. Now I had the time to devote to a pet. One day while visiting my sister, I saw 3 of the most gorgeous little pups running around her neighbors yard. They were so friendly! in the loved these dogs and often stopped by to give them toys or treats. The owner didn’t mind, so I visited them too and fell in love. That’s when I got the surprise of a lifetime. He told me that they weren’t puppies but fully grown, and the female was expecting. Immediately I told him I wanted one, so he told me to come back in about 2 months. I waited patiently for my furbaby to be born! 

The day I met her, I cried as the owner placed this tiny being in my left hand. She fit perfectly. I cried because I loved her so much and I knew one day she would break my heart. Her mother barked as I wrapped her in her new blanket, and I leaned over to tell her “Don’t worry, she will have a good life with me. I promise to take care of your baby.” She was still so little that I had to bottle feed her, waking up at 3 am just like a real mom would feed her own baby. I should add that I don’t have children due to my chronic illness.

We had 5 amazing years together until she became sick. One day I noticed her having problems digesting her food. Then I noticed a lump so off to the vet we went. He found 2 more lumps on her belly and the look on his face was grim. My heart sank as he gave me the news. She was diagnosed with cancer. He said with her 15 lb weight they could start chemo but most likely it would kill her. I knew what my RA meds did to me, so I didn’t want to put her through that. I cried for about 2 days because I he told me she would live about another year or two. I declined chemo, but agreed to bring her in more often to keep her comfortable. I wanted to make sure she didn’t suffer. I dedicated my time to taking care of her and immediately stopped all dog foods and treats. It turns out she was allergic to the red dye found in most dog treats which also caused her seizures. I cooked for her daily, healthy batches of organic fruits, rice, vegetables and meat. Her digestion improved immediately and the seizures stopped. I supplemented her vitamins and spent a ton of money on Amazon, but I didn’t care. My baby was now terminally ill. I would do anything for her. I can’t tell you the amount of sleepless nights and vet visits but I have no regrets. She was my world.

You see the only time we were ever separated is when I was hospitalized. If I traveled far, she was always by my side. My little road companion loved car trips. Every time I came home my baby was there waiting for me. She slept near me always, and when I was sick she knew. She was the smartest, funniest little dog I had ever met. What a personality, and everyone instantly fell in love with her. What I didn’t realize is that now I was so focused on her health, mine actually improved and I began to go into remission. But life is so unfair, because here I was now finally getting better but my baby’s health was getting worse. As I noticed her health declining, I packed up my belongings and decided go and stay with my mom so I could afford to admit her to the animal hospital when necessary. I took her to the vet to make sure she would survive the 12 hour car ride. He said sure she’s great, she only had a slight ear infection and he gave me some drops and pain killer. Off we went to my moms house. During the trip she began breathing funny. I was so worried I must have drove 100 miles and hour to get her to the vet near my moms house. When we arrived she curled up next to my mom, and my mom said to her “I know you don’t feel good” as she lay her head in her lap. The vet thought she had asthma from breathing in toxins on the road. She gave her a breathing treatment and send us home.

Saying Goodbye

The next night I woke up at about 11 pm and noticed my baby struggling to breath. Back to the 24 hour vet hospital we went. He put her on oxygen and said that she had developed aspiration pneumonia. He did a chest x-ray and we found out that one of her tumours had burst causing her breathing problems. She would not survive. That night I had to make the unselfish choice to end her suffering. I walked into the room seeing her on oxygen, and even though she was still alive the light was already gone out of her eyes. I told her that I loved her very much more than anything. I told her she was the love of my life and I thanked her for being my guardian angel.

 I gave the vet the ok to give her the shot and put her to sleep sending her back to God. Then they took her off oxygen and she was put into my arms asleep. I nearly lost my mind as I carried her to the car. We took her home and I put her in my bed, I curled up next to my baby and she looked so peaceful. I had no idea what I would do with her body. I couldn’t bury her, I tried; but there was no way I could put her into the ground and walk away.  I had her cremated instead. Even in death that little creature still demanded to be near me.Taking her to be cremated was the next hardest thing to do as I nearly lost my mind.

 I thought I would never survive it, and my family became worried for my health. When I got her ashes back they handed them to me in my left hand. It was her complete cycle of life,  and i instantly remembered the way her mom’s owner handed her to me when she was born in that same hand in a tiny package. I was overwhelmed with grief and my heart was broken. Cookie taught me so many things about life and because of her I now appreciate all kinds of animals. I still have not gotten another pet because she still has my heart. I’m not ready to give it to a new creature. I felt guilty for a long time, wondering if I really did all I could to save. I recently me a wonderful nurse who put our who experience into perspective. She said “That little dog came into your life to save you, and now her job is done. I don’t think you would have ever gone into remission without her.” How amazing, I never thought of it that way!

How To Cope With The Loss

You will find the courage to go on. My only comfort is knowing that my beloved pet is no longer suffering. People tell me I was a good mom, lol and that she only survived to be 7 and a half because of the way I took good care of her. Here are some ways to cope.

  • Remember the love and all of the things they taught you! The funny moments get me through the tough days.
  • Make room in your heart for a new furbaby, but only when you are ready! I still am not so its ok if you aren’t too!
  • Don’t listen to anyone about how to grieve. Take all of the time that you need. I was told by many people that I should be over this by now. (I think they are heartless)
  • Spend time with other peoples pets. It fills helps to fill the void a little. I often see dogs in the park and they come up to me. I pet them and instantly feel better.
  • Talk to you beloved lost pet. I still talk to Cookie as if she is still here. I still tell her Love her everyday because I do! I believe their spirit never leaves us. I can often feel her around me the first few months that she passed I often would dream that she is right near me. I would wake up and smell her.
  • Remember that your bond is forever and that one day you will see them again. I firmly believe with all my heart that I will see every pet I ever loved on the other side. That is what keeps me going, and that is how I survive the loss.
  • Remember you did the best that you could for them. They know when it’s time to say goodbye, and that the love remains forever.

Here She Is! “My Little Love”

If you are reading this and still have your furbaby is still alive, thank your lucky stars! Know that when that day comes to say goodbye you will become super strong to be by their side. I waited for her birth and in the end I waited for her death. Knowing that she died peacefully in my bed  is my comfort forever. Thank you for reading this. It has been more than a year before I could even begin to write about “my little love.” I want the world to know what an angel she was, and how pets can save your life. If you like this article or find it helpful, please share it.