Saturday, May 29, 2010
Doesn’t look like much yet…
But, add a little green paint that was left over from the potting bench project…
And a few hooks, wires and ribbons…
Some sticker letters…
Some cheap dollar store flowers…
… and suddenly you have a very summery wreath…
that looks just perfect with the new screen door.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Sliced Mozzarella cheese
Add about 1 T butter and chopped basil to a hot skillet.
Sauté until the basil and butter start to give off a wonderful aroma.
Place sliced bread on the sautéed basil.
Add some yummy mozzarella cheese and another slice of bread, buttered on the side that faces away from the cheese.
Brown on both sides, as you would for grilled cheese.
Slice in strips and serve with warmed spaghetti sauce for dipping.
Enjoy a simple but yummy twist on grilled cheese. Makes mommas happy.
Baby chicks in the garage.
A fun time playing with friends.
Corn and green beans popping up in the garden.
Dinner out with the girls (I hope).
Chime in! Leave me a comment and share your favorite things about today. It makes me smile and dance around the living room when I hear about your day. I’m really not kidding. ;)
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I quit buying most household cleaning supplies. I hated the toxic smell when I was pregnant. I just kept imagining the fumes making their way to my tiny little baby. I dreaded cleaning the bathrooms.
I tried buying some of the “earth-friendly” cleaners. I guess I’m just too much of a skeptic. It seemed to me that they were just reformulated to make a buck. They still took up the same amount of room on the back of a truck and produced just as much trash. I’m too hard to please.
So, I’ve taken a grandmotherly recipe and made it work for me. Thought I’d share my favorite way to clean.
An old spray bottle
An old plastic container with a lid
Something that smells good (essential oil or herbs)
Pour vinegar about 1 inch high in the bottom of the spray bottle. Add some yummy smelling stuff! You can add 4-5 drops of essential oil or throw in something out of your herb garden. I used lavender. Fill the bottle the rest of the way with warm water.
Fill the other plastic container with baking soda and make some holes the lid.
You now have everything you need to clean most of your house. Small package, but huge results! I love not having to tote around 17 different cleaning bottles.
For windows and mirrors; Just spray the vinegar and wipe with a soft cloth. I find that old cotton napkins (the stained up ones you don’t want to throw away) work really well.
For sinks; Sprinkle the baking soda in the bottom and then spray generously with the vinegar water. Use an old washcloth to wipe the sink clean. The vinegar loosens the gunk and the soda provides a bit of scrubbing power.
For toilets; Pour a fair amount (about what would fit in the palm of your hand) of baking soda into the toilet and brush as normal. Spray the seat and toilet with the vinegar water and wipe down with an old cloth.
For the bathtub; Pour soda in the bottom of the tub and spray entire tub with vinegar water. Add a little water to the soda to make a paste and scrub the tub with it. Shiny, bright bathtub with very little work.
For laminate floors; Spray with vinegar water and wipe down with your favorite, handy-dandy mop.
For vinyl floors; Same as laminate, except when they are really disgusting I put down some soda before I spray and then give them a quick scrub with a bristly scrub brush.
Kitchen; Just use the vinegar water to clean most surfaces. Add the baking soda for stainless steel to get a pretty shine.
Laundry; Vinegar works well as a fabric softener. Lightly spray clothes (or hair) that have a bit too much static.
Insect bites; Make a paste of baking soda and vinegar water and apply directly to the bite. It will take away the sting of bee bites and reduce itching of mosquito bites. After the paste dries, just wash it off in cool water.
Cats that misbehave; Spray lightly with the vinegar water. They will remember their manners next time! We used it to train the cats not to run into the house and not to climb on the window screens.
I’ve been using these items to clean my house for a long time and have been truly happy. It sounds entirely too simple, but I hope you’ll try it out. I do think you’ll love it and you’ll love the lack of toxic fumes. The most costly item on the list is the fragrance, and that can easily be left out. I just add lavender because it makes me happy.
Try my cleaning methods and let me know what you think. Do they stack up to your favorite store cleaners? Do you have a recipe to share? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Check it out!
Monday, May 17, 2010
Yeah. I’m there. At least close to there. In fact, I have a yard sale planned for the beginning of June and the wait is making me crazy.
Seven years ago, this house seemed so big. So empty. Seven years, four kids, two cats, a garden, several hobbies, lots of camping gear, and one cow later, I can barely walk through some rooms. The garage failed to hold vehicles long ago. Now, one of the rooms in the basement houses lots of outgrown clothes and baby items. ….and miscellaneous pots, pans, TV’s, books, the list goes on! I thought about posting a picture, but….
It doesn’t seem possible that one family could have so much stuff. Some of these things that clutter our home are needed or at least appreciated. Some of them just add to the stress of cleaning and living in our home. Now that I am past all the pregnancies and my babies are getting to a point where they can occasionally play for 20 minutes without needing my help, I am tackling the clutter that has been making me crazy.
Thought I’d share my favorite ideas and ask for you all to share some of your favorites.
These are the kids’ laundry baskets. Color coded, no less. As I fold clothes, I drop their socks into the bottom of the baskets. Then, I pile in the clean clothes and tote them upstairs. From there, it’s the kids’ job to put things away and mate their socks. Even the three year old can do it with a little help. Then, the baskets are put at the top of the stairs. The baskets also come in handy for “toy sweeps.” I have the kids visit each room looking for anything that belongs to them and kindly take it to their room.
The kids each have a designated towel hook for their bath towel. There is an extra hook in the middle, which makes the kids think we should get another baby. Pretty sure that ship sailed with that fourth c-section! Anyway, this saves me a ton of laundry.
Baby books are so hard to keep up with. This basket has helped me bunches! It’s easy to grab the whole basket and to veg-out on the swing or wherever and add a few things to each book. The big envelopes are a great timesaver, too. It is so nice to be able to slide little keepsakes, photos, pictures they draw, their weight and height from the latest doctor’s visit and birthday party invitations into their envelope and add them to the books later.
These cool storage bins are so nice for organizing meds. I have one for injuries, filled with bandages and Neosporin. The other tote is for sickness. It holds meds for anything from a tummy ache to a sore throat.
When I needed some cheap, yet manly bookshelves for Eric’s office, I found these great gorilla racks. Very rugged. Very manly. Very, very cheap. Let’s hear it for SAM’S Club.
Again, the gorilla racks come to the rescue! I love buying in bulk. It saves me trips to town with four kids age 6 and under. This is very, very valuable. This lovely gorilla rack allows me to see what I have, send the kids “shopping” in the basement, and easily put away my latest coupon/sale buying finds.
So, I hope you’ve found a few ideas you can use. I’d love to hear the organization/de-cluttering ideas that work well for you. I’m really struggling to keep the kids hand-me-downs organized. Craft supplies get me in trouble, too. So leave me a comment and share a tip or just complain about the mess that gives you headaches. I love hearing from you!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Pizza is one of my favorite meals to make on the grill. It has a smell that is a cross between a great pizzeria and carnival food. Grilled pizza has a great taste, too. The best part is the crust, very crispy on the bottom, but soft everywhere else.
1 1/2 cup very warm water (like bath water)
1 T yeast
1/4 cup flax seed (optional)
1 T sugar
1 1/4 t salt
1/4 cup olive oil
* herbs of your choice, I used basil
* flour, about half white and half whole wheat. I would guess that it will take about 4 cups to make the dough somewhat firm and workable.
I love slices for this job because it's easier to control.
Let the pizza cook with the grill lid down as much as possible. I try to keep the grill at least 250 degrees. My grill is totally taken up by the pizzas, but if it wasn't I would use a more indirect heat (the burner that isn't under the food). As it is, I just monitor the pizzas to avoid burning and move them to the top rack when they are nearly done. Don't try to move your pizzas around until the dough is cooked very well or you will have a mess of toppings and dough.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I've been thinking about ways to be more productive during my working hours so that I can have more playing hours. Before we had so many kiddos, I could usually keep up fairly well. With four kids, age 6 and under, getting things done has become very difficult. Overwhelming. Stressful.
I've been doing some evaluating, looking for the things that slow me down and the ways to improve in those areas. For the next few days, I'm going to be exploring this topic. I'm hoping you'll join me in a conversation about getting the work done and leaving some time for playing.
Our first topic will be managing clutter. Sometimes I feel as if my house has been taken over by all the stuff we own. It slows me down, makes it hard to clean, and generally frustrates me. I've been looking for ways to simplify and organize. Hope you'll take some time to think about how you manage all the "stuff" in your home and join me for the discussion in the next post. I need all the help I can get!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I've looked most everywhere.
'Cept for the refrigerator,
I didn't check in there.
It could be in the bathroom
Sittin' on the floor.
Or maybe in my bedroom,
Hidin' back behind the door.
Could have left it outside
When I was playin' on the deck.
Maybe it's in my sister's room,
I didn't really check.
Momma says to go and look,
Or I can't have a drink.
'Cause in a day or two the milk
Left inside my cup will reek.
I can't find my sippy cup,
I've looked most everywhere.
'Cept for the refrigerator,
Oh look! It's in there.
Cheesy, I know... But can't you mommas relate?
My kiddos play together as best friends (most of the time).
There are three ripe, red strawberries waiting to be picked.
My honey has the day off tomorrow!
Good friends whose kind words have kept me smiling this week.
Hope you'll leave me a comment and share a few things you are thankful for today.
I love hearing from you!
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Today, I made a soft, sweet brown bread. I didn't measure much, just threw stuff in a mixing bowl. If you have ever wanted to try bread-making, I hope you'll find inspiration here.
My Crazy Take on an Amish Bread Recipe
3 cups warm water
3 T yeast (or 3 pkgs)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 T salt
3 T flour
1 T molasses
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Start with about 3 cups of warm water. Most tap water is 120 degrees or more. You want your water to be no hotter than 115, so add a bit of cool water. It should feel good to the touch, like a nice warm bubble bath.
Pour the water into your mixing bowl and add 3 T yeast. I like to add ground flax seed as well. It's heart healthy stuff and it adds a bit of a nutty flavor. Very yummy, but optional. Leave it out if you don't have any in the cabinet.
Mix all that good stuff up in your bowl and leave it for 5 or 10 minutes. Perfect amount of time to get out the next batch of ingredients and grease your bread pans. I love to use shortening for this job. Just shortening. I know lots of people say to flour your pan, but my experience has been that the bread simply falls out of my pan with the shortening only method.
Now, on to the good stuff. Add all the rest of the ingredients except the bulk of the flour. Measuring is highly over-rated, so just come close enough and it'll be fine. I rarely measure anything and never with any accuracy.
Now, you can start adding the flour about 1/2 cup at a time. I sometimes use all white flour, but I often use quite a bit of whole wheat flour. The best advice is to introduce whole wheat slowly and add the amount of whole wheat as your tastes and experience grows.
You'll start with something that looks like this....
As you add flour a half a cup at a time, it will begin to look like this...
When it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl, like this...
Then, it's time to switch to the dough hook.
Don't get too crazy about keeping track of the time. If you let the dough rise too much, it will climb out of the bowl and onto your kitchen counter in an attempt to take over the world... or at least your kitchen. Temperature and humidity do change the time it takes for the bread to rise.