Posted in cleaning, family, food, organizing, planning, Tips and Tricks

Tips for Trips

We had a super busy weekend.  Granddaughter Brooklyn had an Ice Skating Competition in Montana.  It was a great excuse to have a weekend away!  Sometimes you really need a three-day weekend to recharge.  We got to stay in a pretty nice hotel, go swimming in the pool, sit in the hot tub and enjoy some good food as well as watch some amazing skaters!

Brooklyn did great!  We are so very proud of her.  Her dedication really shows.  She is going to need a whole closet for her medals soon! She was pretty wiped out on the trip home.  She worked hard!

Since we were in Missoula, we had to stop at Wheat Montana Farms & Bakery.  I use their flour and oat cereal exclusively for my bread, baking, and granola.  It’s great stuff!!  I can’t purchase it in fifty-pound bags locally so whenever we are anywhere near Missoula we stop in and buy it there.

flour

It had been quite a while since I had been away for a weekend but my inner checklist for what to do before leaving kicked in.  Doing these few simple things before leaving not only gives you peace of mind while you are away but makes coming back so much easier!

*The day before you leave be sure you are caught up on laundry.  You are going to have plenty when you get back.

*Plan what you are going to have for dinner the day you get back.  You will have just spent money all weekend going out and the last thing you want to do is spend more money on pizza your first night home.

*The day you leave run the dishwasher and empty it. Don’t leave any dishes in the sink.

*Make sure there is nothing in the washer or the dyer.  If there are clothes in the washer they will get sour and if there are clothes in the dryer they will be wrinkled.

*Tidy up and make the beds.

*Make sure the animals are taken care of.

*Close the blinds and turn down the thermostat.

*Turn off the lights, leaving one on.

*Lock the doors.  Make sure someone else has a key in case of emergency.

I went through all these things before leaving for the long weekend.  Our cats are used to us being away for a couple days a week in the summers and they are usually fine.  This time, however, they must have been playing around the bathroom door while we were gone.  One of the cats got shut in the bathroom.  I don’t know how long he was in there but he sure let us hear about it when we got home!  I still think his sister had something to do with it.  Pretty sure I saw her grinning.  I wouldn’t put it past her!

See what I mean?  Evil looking, isn’t she?! Don’t let her fool you, she is straight up crazy!

I am going to leave you with my whole wheat bread recipe.  I hope you enjoy it!

Be sure to take a long weekend and recharge your batteries soon too!

Click here to get the awesome program I use for recipes and meal planning!
Wheat Bread

Serves:
14Yield:
1 loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup Wheat Montana All-purpose white flour
1 cup Wheat Montana Prairie Gold whole wheat flour
1/4 cup multi-grain cereal or super grain blend of choice
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup raw organic flax seed
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/3 cup organic sugar or 1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup instant potato flakes (NOT potato pearls)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons instant dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
butter for brushing on top

Directions:

Mix all dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Put warm water, butter, and vinegar in bread machine pan. Dump in dry ingredient on top. Start bread machine on “Dough” cycle. When done kneading and rising, work the dough a bit to get out air bubbles, shape into a loaf and put into greased/sprayed loaf pan. Heat oven to 375* and let the loaf rise to about double. Bake for 27 minutes, turn pan around and bake for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and brush with butter. Let cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of loaf pan onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 2 hours before cutting. Store in a ziplock bag.

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Bread / Breads

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Posted in cleaning

The “WHY”

why

I was contemplating today the reasons WHY we should have a clean house.  Is it really that big of a deal?  How important is it, actually? If we are ok with dirty dishes, clutter, piles of laundry and a ring around the toilet then why should we even bother with trying to establish habits that will keep our house clean and tidy? If I am not a natural clean freak then what is the harm in just being a bit on the messy side?

It is hard to commit to doing something if you really have no reason in your own mind for doing it.  If I told you it was very important for you to put your finger on your nose for five minutes every single day,  you would have a hard time doing it not knowing why on earth you should do that!

I have my own reasons for having a clean house.  For me, I know that my home represents me and shows a lot of how my mind works and I guess I am just a bit vain and want my house to show the best me.  I have a hard time focusing amidst untidiness. I feel very on edge and irritable with too much stuff out-of-place.  I can’t have peace in my soul with dishes in the sink.  I get really out of sorts when I can not find things so that is pretty motivating as well!  Part of that is my character and a lot of it is human nature.  Our minds don’t function well in disorder.

But beyond just character and human nature, there are very real reasons we should be clean and tidy.

Your health and the health of your children are one of the biggest reasons you should commit to developing the habit of a self-cleaning house.

dirty-dishes-sink-37885821 (2)

An unclean refrigerator, an overflowing trash can, unwashed dishes in the sink, food left out or food particles on the counter or stove all are a breeding ground for disease and bacteria. Mmmmm….. dinner with a side of E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter!

mice

Food left out, chips or popcorn on the floor or in the couch, pizza boxes left on the coffee table all are invitations for little critters to come dine and poop and make themselves at home in a cupboard. Critters are known for spreading disease.

Dishwashers and washing machines that are not cleaned properly can harbor mold and bacteria so that washing your dishes and clothes in them can actually make you sick.

Dirty ovens are a fire hazard and the smoke they emit every time they are turned on is harmful to your lungs.

Without regular vacuuming and dusting, you are exposing yourself to dust mites, pet dander, and mold that cause or make allergies worse.

Untitled design (8)

Unclean bed sheets can hold bacteria and also mites and dander that cause a number of health conditions.  The house we lived in when my kids were growing up was older and had a spider problem.  Making the beds daily prevented spider bites.  In other words, it kept the spiders from getting into our beds!  Talk about motivation to make your bed every day!

spider

The bathroom…… ewwwww.  Let’s be honest.  Bathrooms are the worst.  If not cleaned regularly they WILL have bacteria and parasites such as worms,  E. coli, and Staphylococcus.  Every time you flush the toilet bacteria and germs are dispersed through the air. (Reason number 173,593 why I always close the lid first, but even then…)  The warmth and humidity from baths and showers make it a breeding ground for mold.   Even the cleanest bathroom is going to have some of this nastiness in it but imagine when it is not clean! Shudder!!!

bathroom

General clutter and untidiness lead to more dust that can make allergies and asthma worse. Clutter can cause accidents and falls. I am pretty sure I have broken a toe at least five times and clutter or things like not pushing a chair back in are to blame.  I left the vacuum cleaner out once and my baby toe was a victim.  Clutter on the floor could prevent a First Responder from getting to you in case of a fire or other disaster.  My children are still terrified of this apparently… I didn’t mean to scar them, just make them clean their rooms!

fire

Research shows a link to cluttered and dirty homes to obesity and also laziness because of the mental impact disarray and uncleanness has.  A messy home can actually contribute to depression!   The act of cleaning your home and then enjoying a clean home has been proven to reduce stress!! With so much unrest and chaos in the world,  your home should be a clean and peaceful place to be.

So there you have it! The WHY!  The reasons for establishing self-cleaning house habits.

*Your health
*Prevent pest problems
*Safety
*Mental health, clarity, and peace

If that’s not a motivator, I don’t know what is.

Now, I am going to go clean the bathroom, AGAIN!

Posted in cleaning, family, planning

House cleaning vs. Housekeeping

This happened last weekend!!

IMG_0833

Saturday was my husband’s birthday and what better way to spend it than with friends and family riding in the snow in beautiful North Idaho.  It was a blast! We are beyond blessed that we can do this practically in our backyard.

The sun was bright, the air was clear and chilly but when we stopped for breaks it was comfortable in just a sweatshirt.  There was still plenty of snow to make it fun!  It was thrilling and our need for nature therapy has been met for now!

When we came home our house was clean and welcoming because we did our morning habits.  We changed into comfortable clothes, started a fire in the fireplace and grilled steak for dinner.  Hubby said it was one of the best birthdays he has ever had.  WIN!

Those little habits can make your weekend seem like a vacation! Isn’t that what a weekend is supposed to be?  It is a break from work.  A time to enjoy life, enjoy and spend time with family and friends.  A time for memory making and forming bonds.  I don’t want you to be a slave to your house and your laundry.  I guarantee that you can have a clean and relaxing house to come home to and be able to spend time on the weekends doing the things you love if you begin to establish small habits.

It is easy to make “house cleaning”  a HUGE deal in our minds. A massive undertaking. We have to have six hours, twenty different cleaners, the right frame of mind, no make-up, sweats and rubber gloves and do it all at once.  This drudgery is overwhelming and discouraging even before you start.  I prefer “housekeeping”.  Keeping your house clean rather than ruining every other Saturday scrubbing and having your house look crummy two days after all that effort and will until the next scouring session.

Housekeeping is a string of continuous small habits that are short, easy and almost unconscious.  Housekeeping frees you to have weekends that are vacations rather than days of backbreaking, unappreciated work.  It allows you to come home to your own bed and breakfast and feel peace and rest.

It is my passion to free mom’s and dad’s to spend more time with their kids making memories and husbands and wives to be able to do the fun things and even single people to be able enjoy life!  I want to free all of you from “housecleaning”.  I want everyone to able to enjoy a peaceful clean, organized and welcoming home and enjoying doing the things you love!

So, who is up for a challenge?!  For the next week do these simple habits every day and see what happens! I would love to hear from you!  Are you ready for a self-cleaning house?

  1. Make your bed every day
  2. Clean your bathroom every morning
  3. Empty the dishwasher and put out a clean dish towel and dish cloth
  4. Take out the trash
  5. Start a load of laundry and put away the clothes in the dryer
  6.  Be proud of your home!

Do your habits, make memories and enjoy your weekend!

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Posted in cleaning, food, organizing

Cheat Code for Life

I did some fun studying this week.  Yes, I said fun.  I am weird like that.  I love studying and learning new things or learning more about something I am interested in.  I am fascinated by how our brains work, always have been. This week I dove into something I have studied a bit about before but wanted to learn more so I could share it with you!

study

The dictionary defines a Habit as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until is has become almost involuntary.  It is a simple form of learning.  An automatic response acquired as a result of repetition. A habit does not require conscious attention.

We use habits every day.  Every moment of every day!  Good habits as well as bad habits. When was the last time you had to remember to breathe, or even how to tie your shoes?  You just do it without thinking.  It is a habit.  I have a terrible habit of clenching my jaw.  I have absolutely no idea I am doing it until my jaw hurts.  It has become such a habit, a bad one, that it is unconscious.

My Self Cleaning House plan revolves around habits.  Doing the same simple things, the same simple way, every single day until it becomes such habit that it seems your house cleans itself.  It does not require conscious attention anymore.  Sound good?!

In order to set that in motion, I think it is important to learn a bit more about habits and your brain and how you can control the habits you want to make or break.  Lifehack right here!!!

brain with background

I am not the least bit nerdy or “science-y” so bear with me as I explain what I have learned about habit formation in my own words.

There are three different types of habits.

Motor habits: physical actions, posture, walking, standing, tying shoes, muscle memory type things.

Intellectual habits: psychological, observation, logical thinking, reasoning, common sense.

Character habits: related to emotion and feelings, trusting, honesty, friendliness, time management, work ethic, cleanliness, charitable, sympathetic.

Ok, that is sort of interesting but how do we form new habits or break old ones? How does this relate at all to having a self-cleaning house?

A habit, good or bad, can be broken down into three parts.

  1. The cue
  2. The behavior
  3. The reward

Knowing that your brain works this way is almost like having a cheat code for life!

The cue.  Let’s use something we all do, brushing our teeth.  We get up, stumble to the bathroom and stand in front of the sink.  That is our cue.  We can do this still half asleep and usually do.

The behavior.  We grab the toothbrush and toothpaste and start brushing.  Our muscle memory even takes over here because we all know we brush our teeth the same way, every single time.   Just ask your dentist.

The reward.  Ahhhhhh… nothing like having fresh breath once again as you begin to feel human and slightly awake.  A clean mouth is a wonderful feeling!

So in order to form a habit to begin to make a self-cleaning house we need to decide first of all what habit we want to cultivate.  Let’s say cleaning your bathroom each morning.  That is the behavior you want.  The cue would be what you do just before this habit should be done. We are going to “attach” this new habit to an existing one making it far easier to achieve.   In my case that would be finishing up my make up and washing my hands.  As soon as I dry my hands I put my makeup under the sink and grab my cleaner.  I take that hand towel and cleaner and give the mirror a swipe if it needs it, wipe down the sinks and countertops and get the toilet seat too.  Toss the towel in the laundry.  I just timed myself.  I didn’t hurry and I cleaned the entire mirror.  I have a large bathroom with two sinks.  It took me 80 seconds. My smaller bathroom took 50 seconds!

The reward is a clean bathroom.  Ok, I know it’s not like that great feeling when  you brush your teeth or win an Olympic medal, but take the time to admire how great it looks!  We usually don’t follow through with making habits because the reward isn’t great enough or instant.  So pat yourself on the back, smile and know that you are one of few who are going to work this morning with a clean latrine! Anyone that stops by can use the potty without fear of the creepy crawling gunk and wash in a toothpaste drool free sink.  You know what? Even if no one stops by, I get to use a clean fresh bathroom and so does my family.  To me, that is pretty much an Olympic medal, or at least as close as I am going to get!

So, to recap.

Cue: Washing hands

Behavior in response or attached to that cue: Cleaning  the bathroom in under 80 seconds

Reward: Olympic medal! Ok, it just feels that way.  You have a beautiful clean bathroom to be proud of.

If you continue this ritual every day, yes, everyday, no weekends off, no “I don’t feel like it” days, no “it’s not fair I always have to do it” days, and no “I am in a hurry” days. (Remember the 80 Seconds?)  you WILL develop a habit so strong and ingrained you couldn’t stop if you wanted to.

Some quick tips to make you more successful!

  1. START! Be determined.   As I always told my kids, “There is no try, Only do or do not.”   I may or may not have made my kids hate Yoda.
  2. Keep it up! Be consistent without interruption. Excuses will kill a habit formation instantly.
  3. Have a positive environment.  Help yourself to be successful.  If you are cutting out junk food, having a cupboard of it will not be helpful.  You know yourself best.  How can you help yourself?  Write yourself notes to stick on your mirror to remind you, Stay away from people who aren’t contributing to your success at your goal, etc.
  4. Don’t quit!  Even when you think you have established a habit, don’t stop.
  5. Enjoy it!  It is so important to take time to enjoy what you have accomplished by your new habit so the positive is reinforced in your brain and it will want to continue to practice the habit.

I hope you enjoyed that little study session!  Now here is one of my family’s all-time favorites! Can you tell we like soup in the winter?!

pork cider stew3

Pork Cider Stew with Sage Dumplings

Serves:
6

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic cloves, crushed
1 onion chopped
4 stalks celery chopped
1 cup baby carrot chopped
1 bulb fennel, thickly sliced and then chopped
1 apple cored and chopped
1 cup apple cider plus more if needed
4 cups chicken stock plus more if needed
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
Dumplings:
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk- yes, WHOLE milk
3 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place the pork on a plate and sprinkle with flour, then gently toss to coat. Heat half the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add one-third of the pork and cook, turning occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until brown all over. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat in 2 more batches with remaining pork.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, fennel and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes. Add the pork, apple and cider and bring to the boil. Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and 1 T of the chopped sage and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

Bake, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until pork is tender. Bake for a further 30 minutes (IF necessary!) or until pork is tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Remove from oven and place on stove. Add 1-2 more cups of chicken broth/cider to create enough liquid to cook dumplings. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Heat over medium high heat.

For the Dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Microwave the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high until just warm (do not over-heat), about 1 minute. Stir the warmed milk mixture and the sage leaves into the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until incorporated and smooth.
Drop golf-ball-sized dumplings over the top of the stew, about 1/4 inch apart (you should have about 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dumplings have doubled in size, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve.

Don’t forget to check out my all time favorite recipe and meal planning program here!

Source: taste.com.au

Cook’n is a next generation recipe app that makes it fun and easy to share favorite recipes.

Click here to get Cook’n (it’s free!)

Cook’n is a next generation recipe app that makes it fun and easy to share favorite recipes.

Click here to get Cook’n (it’s free!)

Soup / Soup


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