Wednesday Weekly 3: Spring Clean

The winter holidays have come and gone and we are well into the new year.  March marks the arrival of spring, though the weather doesn’t always cooperate! I know we haven’t all kept the old-school spring cleaning in our home repertoires, but I know when the warm breezes arrive and scents of spring are in the air, I am compelled to get things cleaner than usual.

I manage to squeeze in weekly vacuuming and dusting, but I rarely have time to do some of the other tasks that help a home sparkle. Things like wiping down doors and door knobs, dusting baseboards, and other surfaces and wiping down picture frames. Sure, you could also take down and launder your drapes and blinds, deep clean your carpets, wash all your windows and screens, and flip all the mattresses in your house, but I like to keep my spring cleaning realistic and attainable.  

For spring cleaning, I like to focus on simple and effective methods for getting to woodwork, moldings and mantels, sticky doorknobs, fireplace, windowsills, and the other spots that could use a spring spruce up.

So here are my three tips for inspiration to clean a bit deeper.


Dawn Dish Soap


1. Dawn Dish soap: Added to medium to hot water in a stainless steel bucket. Just about a teaspoon will do in a small bucket filled 2/3rds of the way.  You only need enough dish soap to break down the soil. Use a microfiber cloth and if needed, a scrub sponge. This is my go-to wipe down solution. Even on my leather sofa and chairs. This gentle solution works and my furniture has survived the bottles and sippy cups and chocolate milk spills of little ones.


puracy spray


2. Puracy spray: This is an all surface cleaner and it advertises to do so much more. Having just learned about Puracy, I am a new convert. It is streak free. I have been using it on all my stainless steel appliances and kitchen counter surfaces at night. I am ready to give it a go on the windows, as the mirror in our powder room is gleaming.

Puracy is biodegradable and plant based with a hint of green tea tree and lime. The ingredients are natural, non-toxic, & hypoallergenic. This is made in the USA. YAY!


microfiber cloths


3. Microfiber cloths: I don’t really like how they feel, but they work so well, I will deal with the touch factor. If you haven’t tried them yet, do. And get these tried and true ones by vibra wipe. The imitation ones just aren’t worth it. Try them yourself and you will be a convert. They work.

Dig in deep now on your home, apartment or bedroom. Warm summer weather will be here soon, and I for one do not wish to be cleaning on the inside, when the sunny days are calling.



Tax Time

If you are not organized for preparing your 2017 taxes, well, you are not alone. Is anyone ever really ready to file their taxes?  Even though it happens at the same time every year, tax time still sneaks up on me. The good news is, that with a few simple supplies, the first few weeks of April don’t have to be such a scramble.  


Here’s my list of simple supplies that can help organize your tax prep. This is one case where the simplest solution is also the best solution. There’s nothing fancy in this list, but taking a few minutes now to assemble these items and designate a home for them can make all the difference come April 14, 15 or 16th! 

I’ve compiled a list of supplies, AND a basic list of documents that must be kept. Do you have your shoebox ready? You may need it! 

And here is the best news- April 15th is a Sunday this year, so you will have until Tuesday the 17th to get them postmarked.


File folders: boxed bottom and expandable (just one is fine!)

Manilla file folders


Pencil and eraser

Lined pad to tab your expenses by category.

Turbotax or your neighborhood accountant

Let’s put this must-have task list together (albeit dismal), so you can get this done.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but it includes the most common documents you will need to claim deductions and complete your taxes.  

1.Incoming mail: anything labeled Important Tax Document. You need these, save them, they are crucial for filing your returns accurately. Look for these to arrive in January’s mail: wage statements, year-end bank statements and loan and mortgage statements.

2.Receipts, not always the usual proof of purchase kinds. These include donation receipts and paid house tax receipts.

 3. Medical/Dental Bills- remember those prescription receipts and the co-pays to the Dr. These all count……and should be kept all the year long. And if there is a new baby in your household, you will need those Dr. expenses as well.

4. Employment-Related Expenses. Travel expenses that were not reimbursed? If you aren’t using an app like Mile-IQ, you need the hard copy of your mileage trackers. 

5. Have babies? You will need your daycare annual statement. I’m sorry to report that puppy daycare is not tax deductible.

6. 529 education savings plan, you need to track those contributions

7. Homeowner mortgage statement

8. Investment Statements- these year-end statements might be online if not in the mail. You must report the gains and losses.

9. Energy Saving expenses- a new water heater? new windows? Insulation or solar panels? These can get written off with the receipts.

10. Previous years tax return. Remember, by law, you must keep seven years of tax records. When the new tax season rolls around, shred the oldest year to make room for the new file.

11. Plenty of quiet time, to organize it all!  And once it is done, it is done.



Wednesday Weekly 3: Chicken soup for the MB&S (mind, body & soul)

March certainly roared in like a lion this year!  

Well, here it is the beginning of March, and we survived the ‘bomb cyclone” this past Friday into Saturday. Unlike so many, our power held strong- we picked up plenty of branches and debris over the weekend. Too many trees are down, and crews are working to get them off the roads.

And now there is talk of another nor’easter to arrive.

I found that with delayed snow travels and several in the family eating away from home, each of us appreciates the sustenance of home cooking. So, Sunday night found me making a fast semi-homemade chicken vegetable and noodle soup. Along with a favorite simple recipe from Cooks Country,  I can’t live without these utterly basic spice tools and soup base.

1. Bee House Salt Box

2. Oxo Pepper Mill

3. Minor's Chicken Soup Base totally chicken-y, add to your soups, enhance store-bought chicken broth.

 Photo from America's Test Kitchen

Photo from America's Test Kitchen

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup (from Cooks Country)

We were after a comforting, deeply flavored chicken noodle soup that was easy enough to make when you're feeling under the weather. Browning bone-in chicken pieces before simmering them in store-bought chicken broth creates an intensely chicken-y soup base. A standard mix of onion, celery, and carrot simmered alongside the chicken enhanced rather than distracted from the chicken broth's richness. And though egg noodles are common in homemade versions, tasters preferred spaghetti broken into bite-size pieces, which gave a nostalgic nod to canned versions but had loads more flavor.



1 ½ pounds bone in chicken breasts/thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 cups chicken broth
1 onion chopped
1 carrot peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 celery rib, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
5 ounces spaghetti broken in to 1 inch pieces ( 1 ½ cups)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Keep scrolling for the how-to!

If you prefer, 4 ounces (2 cups) of egg noodles can be substituted for the spaghetti. Fresh dill can be substituted for the parsley.

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook chicken until well browned all over, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add broth, onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and ¼ teaspoon salt, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until breasts register 160 degrees and/or thighs register at least 175 degrees, 14 to 17 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat; discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Transfer chicken to plate and let cool slightly. Using 2 forks, shred chicken into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bones.

4. Return soup to boil over medium-high heat and add pasta. Cook, uncovered, until pasta is tender, 9 to 11 minutes, stirring often. Add chicken and parsley and cook until chicken is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

TO MAKE AHEAD: Soup can be made through step 3, covered, and refrigerated for up to 2 days.