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Monday, February 29, 2016

3 Amazing recipes with only 3 ingredients

Master dinner in 15 minutes or less

I'm not the best cook. I hate the cleanup, so I usually dread actually making a meal.
However, it has become easier as I tend to find meals that require fewer ingredients and less prep time.
SO. Today, I bring you three of my favorite meals that require only THREE ingredients and so little prep time you'll cry with ecstasy.

This lemon and garlic pork loin will
taste delicious with lightly seasoned
potatoes. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
1. Pork loin with sliced potatoes. Pork loins often go on sale and the other day I got two for the price of one. Needless to say, I about peed my pants I was so excited.
For this meal, all you need is the pork loin, five or six medium sized potatoes and olive oil.
The package should tell you how long it takes to cook the pork loin. The one I used only takes 45 minutes.
For my family of three, this is the perfect size. And the 45 minutes is perfect for cooking the potatoes too.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
All you have to do is coat the bottom of a 5X7 or 9X13 glass pan with olive oil, place the loin in the middle of pan and slice potatoes to fill the space around the loin. Voila! You have a complete meal in maximum of 15 minutes (depending on how fast you can slice potatoes).
While the loin and potatoes are cooking, I suggest you take the pan out a few times and move the potatoes around to make sure the ones on top don't dry out.
You can serve a vegetable with this meal too, if you don't mind adding that extra ingredient.

Nothing like a quick meal of a grilled
cheese sandwich, with tomatoes.
Tastes like grilled cheese and tomato
soup in one! (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
2. Grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. In recent years, I've become fond of eating tomato slices on pizza (in place of marinara) and on sandwiches. One such sandwich is basically a grilled cheese with tomatoes.
This simple sandwich is just as easy to make as it sounds!
All you need is two slices of your favorite bread, cheese of your choice and the ripest tomatoes you can find. I suggest you spend a little more on the tomatoes if you don't grow your own.
Prep time: 15 minutes or so, for slicing tomato and cheese (if applicable).
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Just put the cheese on one slice of bread, tomatoes on top of the cheese and a couple more slices of cheese on top of the tomatoes.
Grill in a pan or on a panini grill. No need for a side, like soup. This sandwich is filling.

Creamy Chicken Delight is
a quick, easy meal. (Photo
by Anna Jauhola)
3. Creamy Chicken Delight is one of those typical Midwestern meals using everyone's favorite: cream of mushroom soup!
I no longer own a crockpot. (GASP!) Please don't judge me. But, it always seems the damn thing never got cleaned. So, my recipe takes place in a large cooking pot.
Your ingredients will consist of chicken breasts (for us it's three), 1-2 cans of cream of mushroom soup (or one large can), and 1-2 small bags or 1 large bag of mixed vegetables. (You'll have to add or subtract from your recipe depending on how many people you're feeding, or if you're planning leftovers.)
Prep time: 15 minutes.
First, boil your chicken breasts in the large cooking pot to near done.
Drain the water, of course, and then add your soup and frozen vegetables.
Cook on medium low heat for about 25-30 minutes, checking it often to ensure the soup does not burn.
If the concoction is too thick, add a little milk or water.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

3 Effective Ways to Wake the Hell Up

As if people don't have enough problems getting good sleep, they might have more of a problem rolling out of bed in the morning.
This can be a problem for me, so I've researched three simple, yet effective ways to wake the hell up in the morning.

1. Get Moving. 

This isn't as daunting as it sounds. For this girl, who seriously has problems leaving her incredibly comfortable bed in the morning, a few stretches do the trick - starting with a good stretch in bed. I'm not a runner, jogger, yogi(?) or pilates-er (more like pie and lattes). BUT, to help me move my way even toward Mr. Coffee, I stretch. This could be as simple as grabbing onto the moulding at the top of your bedroom doorway. Or, you could do a few easy lunges. Whatever type of stretching is easiest for you, try it right after you get out of bed. You'll thank me for it.

2. Freshen Up. 

Okay, that sounds like we need to go to the ladies room and powder our noses. No. However, a good shower at a luke warm temperature, with minty or citrusy scented body wash or shampoo really does the trick. (Yes, GUYS, even you could try a manly lemon scent, or whatever.) If you shower at night, your morning routine could include a citrusy facewash. For me, I use a boiling hot washcloth to rinse my face. It not only gives me good exfoliation, but stimulates my skin. I also give my hair a good, slow brushing. This stimulates my scalp and gets the blood moving to wake up my sleepy head.

3. Have a Reason to Rise.

Buy a new coffee to try out. Have an outfit picked out the night before that you are excited to wear. Choose a surprise book to read to your child in the morning. Plan a breakfast you've wanted to try. Anything that gets you excited to get out of bed will help you easily accomplish this task. I love trying a new coffee from time to time. I've been known to set my alarm a half hour early just to get up and put on a pot of java. My favorite, by the way, is Jamacian Me Crazy by Stumbeano's in Fergus Falls, Minn. Wish I lived closer ...


Here are three great sites about effective wake-up routines that may help you.
How To Wake Up Fast -- This site gives a few quick tips.
For a Fabulous Morning  -- This is a medical site that gives you tips for increased energy in the morning.
My personal favorite is ...
My Morning Routine -- This site gives you hundreds of personal stories of morning routines from real, successful people from different professions.

Monday, February 22, 2016

3 Surefire Ways to Sleep Better

You've heard it often. People simply don't get enough sleep, let alone any kind of good sleep.
I'm one of millions who struggle to sleep well. In particular, headaches plague me prior to going to bed.
I've discovered over time three particular ways to help me relax and sleep better -- and they're backed by science. 

1. Drink a glass of water right before bed. Barring any health conditions, drinking water right before bed is extremely beneficial. If you don't mind waking up to go pee, drinking water before bed hydrates your body for a night full of expending calories, according to an article on newhealthadvisor.com.
Drinking water right before bed also helps clear your body of toxins, leaving you feeling refreshed and on a path to a healthier life.
Most importantly, drinking water right before bed promotes sleep! It's true! Water balances out your vitamins, minerals, hormones and energy to help you releax and enter a restful sleep.

2. Deep or purposeful breathing. I've often taken to purposeful breathing when I can't seem to sleep. It has helped me focus on sleeping and taken my mind off troubles. According to a relaxation exercise on sleepfoundation.org, lying in a comfortable position in bed and taking deep breaths into your belly are your first steps. Then, focus on any places you may feel pain or tension and relax those areas. For me, I'm often fending off a tension headache so I focus on relaxing my shoulders. I've found the most favorable position for this exercise is on my back. I'm able to stretch out my legs, lay my arms on the mattress at my sides and fully rest my head and neck. 

3. Keep the bedroom cool. I've always slept better when its cold, even if my room was down to 50 degrees (I'd pile on three quilts). Science backs my experience, saying that an optimal temperature for sleeping is about 65 degrees.
Of course this varies from person to person.
Scientists have said our body temperature natrually rises during the day and falls at night, preparing us for sleep. By keeping a cooler bedroom, you can help promote better sleep, according to Dr. Cameron Van den Heuvel.

You can easily implement these few simple tips into your life for a better night's sleep.
Do you do anything special to promote a good night's sleep?

~ See you on the flip side ~

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Must-have List of Chores for Your Children

Our son asked us not long ago if he could do chores to earn money.
He is six.
What a novel idea for a six-year-old, I thought.
Finally this week, we sat down and worked out a preliminary list of chores for him to do.
Jacob will do one big chore a day that will earn him $1, like taking out the trash.
Each subsequent smaller chore, like picking up his room, he will earn between 25 cents and 50 cents.

This preliminary, handwritten chores chart is the first step
to raising a responsible child. (Photo by Anna Jauhola)
In a quest to find other chores for him, I found many lists of age-appropriate chores for children.
While I have not finalized Jacob's list yet, I've found a few different ideas to toss at him throughout the week.
Use your best judgment in assigning chores to your children. For example, Jacob can certainly do many chores on the lists for 8-to-9 year olds, 10-to-12 year olds andeven the 13+ list.

1. Put away toys. This is simple for children of any age. For toddlers, you might work with them at first to make sure they know what you want. With older children, they should know where their toys go, unless they are spoiled rotten.

2. Clean up bedroom. I was never the best at this. However, I never just shoved stuff in my closet to "clean" my room. Again, helping your child a couple times helps ensure they know exactly what you want. Checking their work afterward will hold them accountable (aka, checking the closet and under the bed).

3. Fold the laundry. I started off with Jacob folding his own clothes and towels. He has helped put away laundry before, so he knows where everything goes. AND, he was quite successful this week at figuring out the correct (or my correct) way of folding shirts.

4. Take out the trash. We live in a tiny town, so I'm okay with Jacob walking the trash to the curb. He still needs a bit of help dragging the can if it's heavy, but he's willing to do it, so why not?

5. Gather trash within the house. Our house is small and can get cluttered. I often ask Jacob to pick up empty pop bottles, granola bar wrappers or loose papers he colored on and throw them away. This small chore helps keep the house at least picked up. This chore also includes putting the bathroom trash bag in the garbage every few days.

6. Vacuum. We have not tried this yet, but I am confident Jacob will do well and enjoy it. Granted, a three-year-old may not be able to handle a vacuum, but a six-year-old willing to do chores will relish the idea.

7. Feed the pets. We have a dog and two cats. They eat a LOT of food. Jacob has already taken to feeding and watering them when asked, but now it will become his responsibility.

8. Help clean the bathroom. I know what you're thinking. BLEACH. Nope. I don't like or use bleach, except to disinfect after illnesses. My favorite cleaner is called Simple Green, and it works better than any bleach product I've ever tried. Jacob has already agreed that he can wipe out the sink, tub and toilet. I'm jumping on this offer ASAP.

9. Bring in and put away groceries. Jacob loves grocery shopping, so it was a natrual move to also give him the chore of helping carry in and put away groceries when we got home. Really all he does is hand me items and I put them away while he gathers up the bags for later use.

10. Help clean the entryway. However your house is laid out, it always seems there's one area where shoes, coats and other miscellany congregate. For us, it's the entryway, where the washer and dryer, water heater, deep freeze and kitty litter all live. It can be quite the challenge to keep that place clean. With a little help (and maybe a bigger payoff) I'll have a great companion to help keep it clean.

Now that Jacob will have chores to do, it will hold me more accountable to do my own share of housework a little more often.

What chores work for your children? Does it motivate you to be a better housekeeper? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, February 12, 2016

3 Blogs to Help Heal Your Heart

Heartache comes in many forms

As Valentine's Day approaches, and many will receive or have already received flowers, balloons and so on, many others will receive nothing but heartache.
There will be break-ups, there will be family struggles, there will be self-pitty and self-loathing. So, for those of you who experience these emotions and situations, and perhaps feel Valentine's Day is a sham, I have found these blog posts about how to pull yourselves up and not take it so hard.
For those of you who have found happiness and don't understand why others feel hatred toward Valentine's day or love in general, I hope these posts can help you understand why some simply need a little healing.

1. How to Heal a Broken Heart and Wounded Spirit, on TinyBuddha.com.
This post by Heather Reese deals not only with relationships, but the aftermath of how life can keep throwing crap at you. It's a good reminder that pity parties can ruin your life if you don't stop it and open up to a more positive outlook.

2. 9 Things You Learn When Your Bad Mother Dies, on WomansDay.com.
OK, so this is my own article, but I've had my share of heartache and wanted to share with you my personal experience. Heartbreak in relationships aren't just between significant others. The majority of my heartbreak in life came from the poor relationship with my mom.

3. 7 Steps to Mend a Broken Heart, at HuffingtonPost.com.
Psychologist Ronald Alexander explains how to work your way through grief in any situation. The advice has been helpful for me as I deal with my grandmother's death. I'm still struggling with sadness and regret, and Alexander's advice has helped push me in the right direction to heal.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My fantasy: A tiny house in the woods

OH! And it HAS to have a screened-in porch

I've longed to live in the country again ever since I left northwestern Minnesota.
My fantasy is to once again live surrounded by trees, no neighbors
and to enjoy quiet, peaceful nights. Check out this particular cabin here.
Although this is not the specific design I have in mind, this cabin greatly represents my fantasy of living in the middle of nowhere.
I've been used to driving great distances to do anything my whole life. Even now, I drive 10 miles to get to work and drop the kiddo at school, making it a 20-plus mile round trip each day.
Growing up, any major shopping center was more than one hour away.
I again long for those days. Not only the peace and quiet of the country, but the freedom to do whatever I want in my own yard. 

As much as I'd like the luxury cabin above, below is a more realistic starting point for our family:
This Premier Builing barn-style cabin model may one day serve as my
family's home in the country. I see so many possibilities in this model.
Check it and other options here
I used to mow the lawn wearing headphones and screaming songs at the top of my lungs, not worrying what any neighbors thought. 
Laying on the lawn with a good book, soaking in the sun without cars driving by every five seconds was the best. 
Freely taking a walk through the woods and sitting by a big picture window with the screens open during a thunderstorm is what I miss the most.
The cool thing about the cabin above is we can add on a screened porch, or a larger deck, or whatever we want.
One day, I will be back in my wooded, country heaven with my husband, son, dog and cats, where we can all roam free. 

What is your fantasy? 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Board Creation ~ Visit me on Pinterest

As a part of my ongoing mission to better represent myself, I've created a board to Anna's Not Dead posts on Pinterest.
Follow it here.
It's just one more way to see my posts and ALSO hopefully get new followers.

Pins of posts from Annasnotdead.blogspot.com are now on a specificboard
on my Pinterest Page. Visit me there too!

On a side note:
I'd like to remind you I'm also working on professional blogs about writing at annajauhola.com.
Be sure to check it out.
If you have suggestions about either site, please be sure to send me a note through the contact forms.
The Anna's Not Dead contact form is at the bottom of the home page.
At annajauhola.com, the contact form can be accessed through the Contact button in the top menu.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, February 1, 2016

I'm hooked on yarn

Conquering the overwhelming feeling of "I can't do this" when I try something new is difficult. 
It took me years to finally sit down and say, "I can do this," after printing out a crochet pattern. 
When I mastered the pattern for wristers, it was empowering. This is a bit sad, yes, but the accomplishment showed me I could actually follow a pattern and it really wasn't that difficult. 

Red Heart's website is one of my favorite for patterns.
They are free! And you can order yarn and accessories.
As I moved forward with my knowledge of following patterns, I actually took it upon myself to make my son a blanket. Although I finished the blanket and it turned out well, it was flimsy and a portion ripped in the dryer one day. I have a few patterns I'd like to try for a replacement blanket, particularly one including a popcorn stitch. 
Jacob loved his blanket I crocheted for him in 2013.
Unfortunately, it ripped in the dryer. (photo by Anna Jauhola)
I learned to crochet when I was 10. My grandma randomly taught me the basic stitch one day, but she didn't know any more than that. So I didn't pick up crochet hooks again until college. And I didn't start seriously crocheting until a few years ago. 
One day, I hope to have not only a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, complete with ladder on rollers, but also a room filled with a huge supply of yarn in all colors and mixtures. 
*Reverent sigh* I would LOVE this room.
The other side would be the above mentioned bookshelf.