Posted in cleaning, food, organizing

Smile!!

Years ago as I was going through my house tidying up, this phrase popped into my head and it has been my motto ever since.  “Improve every room you are in, each time you are in it, even if it’s just a smile.”

smile emoji

I say that over and over in my head all the time as I move throughout my house.  It just stuck.  It might be silly, but yes, sometimes I just smile in a room all by myself.

I fluff the couch pillows and set them straight.  I straighten the shower curtain when I am in the bathroom or wipe the toast crumbs off the counter when I get a drink.

Sometimes I look around and don’t see anything right off that needs attention so I just smile and mentally bless my home!

“Improve every room you are in, each time you are in it, even if it’s just a smile.”

smile flower

My favorite way to clean the shower is with a cloth and some body wash or shampoo while I am IN the shower.  It is a million times easier, you are already in there and already wet! I do that at least once a week and my shower never looks dirty.  I do, however, like to use a good shower cleaner to really get a good clean and get the water spots off every few weeks.   This is the best one I have found.  I have used several and I have been happiest with the Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Foam! Click the link or the picture to purchase on Amazon.  When you do you are helping to support me at no extra cost to you! Thanks!

I made banana bread this week.  Yummy!  It hasn’t exactly been baking weather but I had 4 brown polka dot bananas left from the week before and I just couldn’t in good conscience leave them there!  I didn’t have any walnuts or pecans but I did have some chocolate chips that I threw in there instead.  I must say it may become a thing now!!

Have a happy weekend and don’t forget to improve every room you are in, if only just to smile!

smile

“>Click here to check out the awesome program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Total Time:

by Elizabeth

3-4 very ripe bananas
4 eggs
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup broken walnuts or Pecans (opt)
brown sugar
cinnamon
sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Grease 3 small loaf pans or 2 small loaf pans and a muffin pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the pans with brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.
In a blender, puree bananas, eggs and vanilla. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat shortening and gradually add sugars. Stir in banana mixture. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt blend into batter. Add walnuts if desired. Divide between the prepared pans. Sprinkle the tops with more brown sugar, cinnamon, and sugar.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Muffins, depending on size will bake 40-50 minutes. Check with toothpick for doneness.

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!)


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Posted in cleaning, food, organizing, Tips and Tricks

Hope for the “Less than Organized”

I have a confession to make.  I am not your born organized, super OCD, perfectionist.  I have always said that I am a “perfectionist wannabe”.   I WANT everything to be organized and pretty, but with an in-home daycare, a big family, homeschooling my kids, always doing some side job, etc., it has always been a struggle for me.   My brain NEEDS it to be clean and tidy to think clearly and not be stressed, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I am a hard worker and I have always tried hard to keep a clean home no matter how much I had on my plate, but then I would see other people’s homes and realize just how NOT clean and organized mine was.

Some people are born into the world organized!  My youngest daughter, Aimee, is one of those.  She was organizing her shoes instead of napping when she was two! Do you know how hard it is to scold a child for not taking her nap when she just lined up all her shoes perfectly and her room is clean?  She was charging her older sisters to clean and organize their closets by the time she was three!  (Young entrepreneur!)

aimee's closet

This is Aimee’s hall closet.  See what I mean??  She used dollar store bins and labeled everything with her pretty handwriting!  It’s a thing of beauty!  I won’t show you mine.  It is semi-organized with cardboard boxes and some plastic ones marked with my label maker. My towels are not lined up perfectly, my boxes and baskets are overflowing and there is just way too much stuff in there.

That picture right there inspires me! It can also make me frustrated with myself.  I used to let things like that bother me, I still struggle with that.  I would compare myself to others and beat myself up for not being that good.  I still want to improve myself and my home and my organizational skills daily but I am really working to not beat myself up!  I don’t want you to either.  We are a work in progress!

Comparison is the theif of joy.--Theodore Roosevelt1

I use routines that I have made into ingrained habits that keep my house pretty clean.  I still have a long way to go in the organizing and “closets that look like art” department,  but I’m working on it!  I often feel like I am not qualified to write this blog,  I am so far from having a “perfect home” but I know I have something to share with you.  Ways that I have found to maintain some order in a chaotic life!

So, the take away from this:

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others and beat yourself up.
  2. Let those more organized inspire you
  3. Make morning and evening routines a habit
  4. There is hope if you weren’t born with the “Clean Gene”

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Have you ever made homemade croutons?  They are delicious!  Yes, dried bread that is delicious!  If you think about it, why BUY dried bread that isn’t really that good when you probably already have everything you need to make a whole bunch of super yummy croutons for your salads this summer!

Click here to get the awesome program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!


Croutons

1 loaf cubed bread It can be random types of bread you have left over. Just fill a baking sheet.
1 cube butter, melted
Italian seasoning
Johnny’s garlic and herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put bread cubed on a baking sheet. Pour melted butter over all. I hold the cup up kind of high so it is a small stream and doesn’t all go in one spot. Liberally shake Italian seasoning and garlic herb seasoning over bread. Stir with a pancake spatula, kind of turning it over. Shake on a bit more seasoning. Bake for 15 minutes at a time. After every 15 minutes, take out and “stir” again. Sometimes it takes an hour sometimes only 45 minutes. You can tell by how dark it is getting. Let them sit out on the counter for several hours before storing. Try not to eat them all before they make it to a ziplock bag!

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!)


DVO

QuantcastCheck out this adorable picnic basket!  Isn’t it just the cutest?!  It’s insulated too!  I am going to use it for my daycare.  I am going to pack our water bottles, snacks, and wipes in it when we spend the mornings playing outside.  Click on the picture to order it on Amazon and when you do, at no extra cost to you I get a little kickback.  Thank you for supporting me!

This cool shelf is going in my laundry room.  It will fit perfectly and will nicely hold baskets, detergents, extra towels and cleaning supplies.  Click on the picture to order from Amazon!

Posted in camping, Coeur d' Alene River, family, food, memories, spiritual

Enjoy the Journey!

The sun was warm on our heads and cool fresh mountain air filled our lungs as the trees rushed by us.   The whine of the engines drowned out all thoughts of bills, schedules, and responsibilities.  This is nature therapy!

quad trail

We had a destination in mind when we set out that morning for a ride on the quads.  The day was perfect for a ride.  It is early in the season.  The river is high.  The runoff has created beautiful waterfalls.  It’s not yet too dusty.  But…..the Forest Service hasn’t been able to clear all the ATV trails and the roads yet.

We headed off in the direction of our destination.  We took time to make stops and take pictures of the beauty that surrounded us.

fun

At one point we came to a fork in the road.  We chose a road that seemed right and followed it.  After a while, we realized we had taken the wrong road.  We got out the map and determined we could still get where we were going on this road.  It was just going to be the scenic route! We decided to press on.  There seemed to be an awful lot of obstacles on this route. Snow, washed out areas and many downed trees across the road. Some we were able to move, others we could drive over or around.  A couple of places it was a bit sketchy getting around and over the trees being so close to the edge of the road and being so high on the mountain.

obstacles2

My middle daughter, Christi, is an amazing rider.  She really is. Granddaughter Brooklyn rides on the back like a champ! Sometimes she gets scared though.  Those obstructions and the way around them was a bit hairy and Brooklyn was NOT a fan.  We went around the first downed tree ahead of our girls and my husband looked back at Christi.  She looked at the tree and the cliff, then she looked at Brooklyn and looked at her Dad.  Brooklyn was already trying to get off the quad.  Christi got off and held her hand.  Chris walked back and drove her quad over the tree on the edge and to a safe place because that is what good Dads and Papas do!

After a few of those, we came to a giant tree across the road.  There was no getting around, over or under.  We were done.  We had to turn and go back.  No big deal, we weren’t on any time schedule.  We were enjoying the ride.  We got back to the place where we had made a wrong turn and chose the other road.   Pretty soon we came upon a truck stopped in the road.  As we began to maneuver around the truck we saw there was a man cutting a big downed tree across the road that we would not have been able to cross.  We waved at this nice man who was making it possible to continue our adventure.  He turned from his chainsaw to wave back and we realized it was an old friend! Now, what are the chances of running into someone you haven’t seen in several years, on the top of a mountain on a random forest service road?!  Slim, I tell ya! We stopped and chatted and helped him load his firewood, our obstacle, into his truck. We thanked him for clearing the road and exchanged hugs and handshakes and went on our way!

We did eventually reach our goal and had a picnic before heading back.  Lauren, my oldest, mentioned how even though we had many challenges along the way, it did make our trek more interesting.  More interesting, in fact, than our picnic. On our return trip, I had time to ponder that.

Our lives are so much like that expedition.  We are going along and think we know our way but sometimes make wrong choices.  We think we can power through and make our choices work anyway.  We reach scary places and God is always right there to help us if we ask.  He will gently tell us we are going the wrong way by one downed tree in our path after another.  Perhaps those snags are there so we can learn how to best get past them so we can teach someone else, or maybe it just makes a really great story! Sometimes, it takes a giant tree in the road to get us to turn around if we are headed in the wrong direction.   We might think “Why am I being prevented from reaching my goals?”, when in fact it is God’s hand directing our path.  He puts people in our lives to help us.  It may be a friend, or family or a stranger.  Sometimes those people don’t even know they are doing God’s work.

God has a plan for each of us.  The bumps in the road make life interesting.  Ask God for help when you are overwhelmed.  Look for His direction.  Be aware of the people in your life.  Enjoy this journey!

life

If you haven’t had Tacos while camping, well, you should!  Everything seems to taste way better in the woods anyway, but this weekend we had tacos in the great outdoors and  it was glorious!  I don’t know why I had never thought of it before.   I know that isn’t one of those things you think of as “camping food”, but really it is pretty easy to do with limited equipment.  Everything can be prepped ahead of time and if you are tent camping just leave out the lettuce.  Tomatoes don’t need to be refrigerated if you leave them whole.

I am not a huge “brand” person most the time, but right here I am going to be that lady.  McCormick Taco Seasoning all the way and either Cholula hot sauce (you know, the one with the little round wooden top) or Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce that, yes, they do sell in stores!!  S&W Organic Black Beans are amazing! Click on those links to order! You won’t regret it!  Those ingredients just make tacos for me!

Click here to get the program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!

Here is my taco meat recipe.  I hope you enjoy it no matter where you are!

Taco Meat

Serves: 6

 

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (15-ounce) can organic S&W Black Beans drained and rinsed
1 package McCormick
1 1/2 cup water
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:

Saute ground beef, onion and garlic together. Drain fat from pan. Add black beans, taco seasoning, and water. Stir, bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve in taco shells, flour tortilla, corn tortillas or lettuce wraps with lettuce, tomato, sliced olives, shredded cheese, sour cream and hot sauce.

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!)

 

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

Twenty reasons to keep your house clean

list

I love lists.  I love making lists, reading lists, marking off things on lists.  I make lists in my head all the time but they need to make it to paper or device quickly or I am sure to forget something.  I guess that is why I like them. They give me a sense of security and peace.

I thought I would give you a list today!  Just a fun list of twenty reasons to keep your house clean.

1,  A clean house is peaceful

2.  You can find things in a clean home.

3.  Your home is a reflection of you.

4.  You can truly relax in a clean house.

5.  You can think more clearly in a clean environment.  (Your brain has to process everything you see whether you realize it or not.  Like a program running in the background on your computer. It still takes up memory.)

6. A clean house is healthier, fewer bacteria and germs.

7.  A clean house attracts fewer insects and pests.

8.  You will always be prepared for company, or close to it.

9.  You don’t trip over things in the dark.

10.  If the house caught fire, you could easily get out or First Responders could easily get to you.

11.  If you get the stomach flu, at least the toilet is clean!

12.  You make better diet and exercise choices in an uncluttered space.

13.  People enjoy coming to your house.

14.  You enjoy friends coming to your home.

15.  You enjoy coming home to your house.

16.  Your kids like bringing their friends over.

17.  You can have “me time” guilt free.

18.  You are more apt to remember things.   Cluttered house=cluttered mind.  (See #5)

19.  You can be proud of your home.

20.  You and your family deserve it!

finn

I can’t resist sharing this little thing right here!  Seriously….how cute is he?!  He is our new little ball of fur and absolute adorable terror.  It is a good thing God made them so cute!  I mean, you can’t resist that adorable little face and his sweet little purr, until 3am and he is sticking his needle-sharp claws in your nose and wants to play!

Finn video.GIF

His name is Finn and we are in love!

I hope you all have an amazing Memorial Day Weekend!  Go out and make memories!

 

 

 Be sure to click here to get the awesome Cook’n program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!

Chicken Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

Serves:
4

 

Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 (20-ounce) jar good marinara sauce
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves torn
1/2 pound angel hair pasta or penne

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix Italian bread crumbs with panko in a large dish.
Place a baking rack on a baking sheet and spray it with pan spray.
Slather each chicken breast with mayo and dredge in breadcrumbs and panko. Put breasts on the prepared baking rack.
Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 155*. Take out and let rest.
Warm the marinara.
Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain.
Top each chicken breast with fresh mozzarella. Turn oven to broil and return chicken to oven and watch carefully until cheese starts to melt.
To serve, place pasta on the plate pour sauce over. Place chicken breast on top and top with fresh basil.

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!)

 

 

Chicken Breast Recipes / Chicken Breast Recipes

 

 

 

 

 

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

Work Smart, Not Hard

This was a lot of work.  It was a labor of love. Nothing good comes without some hard work.  If you ask my granddaughter or daycare kiddos, this playset is VERY good!  They are delighted.  This is going to bring hours of happiness and memories.

swing set collage

Work is a good thing!  A good work ethic is something to be admired, rewarded and something we strive for in our place of employment and at home.  God made us to need to work.  We would be very unfulfilled without work.  God worked!  God worked for 6 days when he made the earth and then He rested.  Do I think He needed to rest? Nope.  Not at all.  God made us in His image so I believe He was simply showing us how to pattern our lives.   We need to have a balance in our lives between work, rest and play.

work smart

Work doesn’t stop when you clock out.  It just changes form. There is no getting around the fact that there is work involved in a clean house.  Good habits and routines will drastically reduce the amount of housekeeping that has to be done, but let’s face it, the vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing toilets still have to happen.

I am going to share some tips with you to help you work smart, not hard, to get that work done and still have time for rest and play.

 

team

Enlist help. Like my husband did with the swing set, get the family to help you Kids, even little ones can help.  The bigger ones definitely should help! Your children need to learn to work. It’s a life skill they will appreciate learning! (Eventually!) They need to learn how rewarding a “job well done” is.  How nice it feels to have a clean room and how proud you feel of your home when it is clean.  I, personally, don’t feel that rewards or allowance for doing household chores is beneficial.  I don’t get paid to clean my house.  The reward comes from feeling good about the job you did.  Teach them to take the time to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

 

fun

2. Make it fun.  Whether it is just you or the whole family involved in cleaning, make it fun! Make it a good time rather than drudgery.  If you hate it, your family will pick up on that.  Why would they want to help do something that is clearly a terrible thing?  Fake it till you make it if you have to! Put on some music dance with the broom, sing loud and silly!  Do whatever it takes to make it fun.

When my kids were elementary school age,  we made it a game.  I wrote every chore that needed to be done on an index card. I broke the chores down into very specific things.  “Clean upstairs bathroom tub”,  “Clean downstairs bathroom toilet”, “Mop kitchen”, etc.  The index cards were placed upside down on the kitchen table and mixed up.  A bell was in the middle of the table.  We all gathered around the table.  I would ring the bell and start a stopwatch.  We all grabbed a card and ran to do the chore on our card as fast as possible.  When the chore was done it was placed in a discard pile, you got to ring the bell and then grab another card. It was wild and hilarious! I am sure we looked ridiculous running like crazy people through the house, breathless,  tripping over the vacuum, running into each other, the bell ringing loudly and often.  The person with the last card got to make crazy noise with the bell and stop the stopwatch.  Housekeeping got done in generally less than twenty minutes! Crazy, right?  And it was FUN!  It may not have been done perfectly but it was done, everyone was happy and we could go spend our day doing something really fun and come back to a clean house.

calendar

3. Break it up.  Everyone’s life looks a little different.  For some doing a housekeeping game on Saturday morning with the family will work.  Now that my kids are adults, I have the housekeeping responsibilities myself.  I do not want to spend my Saturday cleaning all alone.  I choose to break up my chores and do one or two each day before or after work.  The things that may take longer I do on days that I usually have more time or more energy. Most things really don’t take all that long.  It always remains the same so I always know what day I am doing what.  Monday is laundry and vacuuming, Tuesday is bathroom day.  I clean the toilet, the tub and take out the trash and wash the bath towels. Wednesday is sweeping and mopping the house and menu planning.  Thursday is the kitchen and some miscellaneous things. I take Fridays to do anything I may not have been able to get done during the week or just take the day off!  That is just an example. You know your life and how that might look for you.

pays

4. Do It Weekly.  Don’t procrastinate and wait until you stick to the kitchen floor and the tub has a nasty ring around it.  Do it while it still looks clean!  It is so easy to clean a fairly clean tub in comparison to the full aerobic work out to clean a yucky one.  It is house “keeping”  rather than the house “cleaning”.   The goal is to maintain, not struggle to clean what is already dirty.  This saves a major amount of time!

hard work

We had some AMAZING Chicken Gyros the other night!  I love Gyros and love the traditional lamb, but these were a great switch and super light. Perfect for a summer evening on the patio with a wine spritzer and family to share it with.

Speaking of wine spritzers, if you haven’t had these, you should! YUM!

spritzers

Barefoot Refresh. Delish!

Here is the link to the Chicken Gyros.  We grilled them outside instead of baking in the oven.  Was fantastic!

Go check out a Bitchin’ Kitchen!

Chicken Gyros

Chicken Gyro

 

Please check out the program I use for all my recipes and menu planning!  I couldn’t do life without it!

Cook’n is an amazing tool!

Memories being made right here…..

brooklyn cutie

 

 

Posted in cleaning, food, Tips and Tricks

Mountains or Molehills

Guess what I did today!!!!!!!  I hung towels on the line!  Did you expect something a little more exciting?  Ok, I may be a bit crazy for being so enthusiastic about a chore most people don’t even do anymore.  I will admit, it is a bit odd.  I just love the smell that you can only get from clothes hung outdoors.  No dryer sheet can give you that! I like that I can save money hanging clothes and it is a really good excuse for me to get to go outside.   It is a very relaxing job really.   Not only that, but it means that spring is actually here!

Untitled design (27)

Which means….. I planted flowers too!  I like the cheery colors I chose this year.  Yellow, orange and bright pink.   MarigoldsKalanchoe, and pink petunias.  Nothing like getting your hands in the dirt to make you feel close to nature and at peace in your soul.  It is such a great feeling!

hanging flowers.jpg

An article in “Modern Farmer” by Anna Brones entitled “Does Dirt Make You Happy?” suggests that dirt is an antidepressant, an immune booster and suppresses inflammation in the body.   I am all for that!  No wonder Spring feels so good! Go outside and get your hands dirty and come back to a clean house.   The outside dirt is such a wonderful thing but the “dirt” in our homes, not so much!

flower pot.jpg

I used the bathroom downstairs today.  I don’t use that bathroom very often.  I keep it clean but I don’t actually use it much.  I happened to notice the baseboard given my position. ummmmmm….ewwwwww.  The bathroom is uncluttered and clean but sometimes something like a nasty dirty baseboard can make a whole room look gross.  I am NOT a detailed person.  I am just not.  I can keep a whole house looking clean and tidy but when it comes to the little things I really have to work to get those done. It doesn’t just come naturally.   I know this about myself so instead of waiting, I went and grabbed an old toothbrush, cleaner, and a rag right away.  I looked at my watch. 2:14pm.  I sprayed the whole baseboard along the longest wall.  I started scrubbing at the end where I had started spraying.  I scrubbed, sprayed, wiped.  I also scrubbed the floor where it met the baseboard.

Right here I am going to interrupt myself to recommend that you NEVER use a sponge mop.  Just don’t do it!  I can’t think of anything more disgusting than spreading around the nasty grossness that never comes out of a sponge all over your house.  Sick.  If you must use a Swiffer type mop, fine, not as bad but don’t use it all the time. You don’t want to be pushing ickies to the edges of the room.  Use an actual mop that you can twist and wring out and replace the mop head now and then.  It will not leave you with gunk in the corners so much or be spreading nasty bacteria.  I also spray my mop with Clorox Cleanup after rinsing it when I am done.  I hang it to dry between uses.

Ok, back to the baseboard… I got the one wall done and decided to keep going.  The others were shorter although maybe even dirtier.  All done!  I looked at my watch.  2:19. FIVE MINUTES guys!!!  Five minutes to do a nasty job that doesn’t get done often but made the whole bathroom look way cleaner!  That is my proud moment for this week!  We can get so much more done in five minutes than we think we can.  We build those things up in our minds and make mountains out of molehills!

Go conquer some molehills friends, and get your hands in the dirt outside too! Spring is here!

molehill

Since spring is here that means its time to change up that menu!  Move over soup and casserole!  Salad and BBQ are ready for their turn.

I am going to leave you guys with my famous potato salad recipe.  I promise you it’s the best darn potato salad you’ve ever had and you will have people begging for the recipe!  Just be sure to tell them where you got it!

Here is the link to get the program I use for all my recipes and menu planning! Please Check it out!
E’s Potato Salad

E’s Potato Salad

Serves:
12 

 

Ingredients:

3 pounds red potatoes diced
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 bunch green onions sliced
1 pound bacon cooked, drained and crumbled
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon dill weed
2 tablespoons pickle juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
chives for garnish

Directions:

In a stock pot cover potatoes with cool water. Toss in about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 15-18 minutes, checking for doneness with a fork. Don’t overcook, you don’t want mashed potato salad. While potatoes are cooking stir together remaining ingredients, except garnish. When potatoes are done, drain and rinse with cold water. Gently stir potatoes into the mixture. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with chives and more paprika if desired.

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!)

 

 

Salads / Salads

 

 

 

Posted in cleaning, family, food, planning

Not the What, but the Why

 

 

bible

I sat quietly preparing for my day this morning, as I do each morning before anyone is up.  I was planning my work for the day, reading, praying and just getting mentally prepared for housework, cooking, and many toddlers.   I looked at my chores list that doesn’t change much from day-to-day and sighed.  Running a well-organized home is very monotonous.  Cooking, dishes, laundry, repeat.

notes

(The books I am reading right now are “Secrets of the Proverbs 31 Woman” by Rae Simons and “Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be” by Dona Partow.  I highly recommend them!)

books

“Housework” is often very devalued and looked upon as menial, less important and those that do it full-time have little to no status.  In actuality, those chores that feel monotonous, unimportant and often unappreciated are some of the most important things you can do.

Having clean clothes is pretty important.  Just stop doing laundry for a couple of weeks and see how everyone starts noticing! Making meals for your family is important. Important to your budget, and your family’s health. Sitting at the table eating dinner together is vital to family relationships.  Having a clean home is important for many reasons!

laundry

So why do we give it such little value?  When you clean your home, cook meals, wash clothes, put away toys and shoes, and make appointments for your kids and file paperwork and go grocery shopping, you aren’t just taking care of your home.  You are caring for your family! It’s not about the laundry and the dusting, it’s about why you’re doing it.  You are creating a safe and stable place for you and your family.  A place of peace and not chaos away from the crazy world.  A place that your kids can feel taken care of like God cares for us.  It is being organized so that there is less stress before everyone leaves for the day and has to deal with stress at school and work.  It’s planning ahead for dinner for the family when you all come home so everyone can unwind.

table

“Housework” is the most valuable thing you can do.  It shouldn’t be looked down on, or resented!  God has given us the very important job of caring for our families.  We are blessing them and blessing God by doing those seemingly menial tasks. It is not only valuable, it’s priceless.

While I was thinking on this I decided to change my sigh into thanking God for honoring me with the responsibility of caring for my family by “housework”.   He trusted me to do this!

Eph. 6:7  Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (NLT)

Ecclesiastes 9:10a  Whatever you do, do well. (NLT)

Each tedious task is an opportunity to bless our families and bless God.  Cleaning the toilet is still not glamorous.  Let’s be real.  It is still hard to be excited about vacuuming.  But I am going to really try to remember that it is not about the chore, it’s about the why.

This is my “why”!

family

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in cleaning, family, food, Tips and Tricks

Welcome Spring!

easter

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter!  I hope you all took time to thank our God for allowing His Son to die and rise again that we can be forgiven and be allowed to someday be in His presence.  The Bunnies and the chocolate are so fun but I never want to lose sight of the reason for the celebration!

jesus

We had a fairly quiet Easter.  My husband was working, as per usual on Sundays.  My oldest was sleeping because she works nights. My youngest and her husband spent time in the afternoon with his Mom.

My middle daughter and my granddaughter and I went to church in the morning and then we went to our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt.  There is a great little cafe in the park across the street from us, Chomper Cafe. They put on a great egg hunt and had cookie painting. They even provided pies, lemonade, and coffee.  The hot coffee was a big hit with the parents.  BRRRR!!!  North Idaho Easter is not your typical sunny spring day.  Around here we pick out a parka to go with our Easter dress.

Easter signals Spring! I love spring.  I love the fresh feeling and the clean smelling air.  It is a sign of new beginnings and hope.  It’s time to start fresh! It also means spring cleaning!!  No groaning… I don’t want you to spend a week in sweats and rubber gloves slaving away.

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“Happiness spring – cleans the heart.” ~ Japanese Proverbs 

 

seaon-of-rebirth

Here are 7 tips for spring cleaning without getting overwhelmed!!

  1. Never do anything that will take you longer than 30 minutes at a time.  If it is a huge project, break it down.
  2. You can do more in 30 minutes that you think you can. Don’t over complicate it.
  3. Wash all the bedding and hang it outside.  The spring air is the best laundry freshener!
  4. Buy a new shower curtain liner!  Instantly makes the bathroom fresher.
  5. Your dishwasher, it needs to be cleaned!  Dump in a half a cup of bleach and run a full cycle or try a dishwasher cleaner.
  6. When you clean your oven, put foil on the bottom that you can replace when it is dirty. (only if you have an electric oven) Self-cleaning is really hard on your oven so I try not to clean it too often.  Cleaning the oven in the future will be a breeze!
  7. Throw open the windows and let the spring air in!  It will do wonders for your home and you!

 

Cheering-Spring-Quotes-for-Good-Mood-3

 

I have tried some really awesome new recipes in the last week that I am excited to share with you!  I found an interesting twist on Chicken Pot Pie in my Taste of Home Magazine.  Chicken Pot Pie is like the all time comfort food.  It may be spring, but like I said, around here, it is still cold!  I am going to use every little bit of this chilly spring to make comfort food before we are grilling and making salads in ninety-degree weather.

This “Chicken Pot Pie” is simple and almost rustic, you could say.  It is open face instead of the traditional top crust.  I think its simplicity is beautiful!

galette

The original recipe at Taste of Home can be found here.

Despite the cold, my brave oregano plant had plenty of new growth to offer up for this dish!  I love being able to walk outside and cut my own fresh herbs.

herbs1

This is the link to my awesome recipe and menu planning program!

Here is my version of this fantastic recipe.

 


Chicken Potpie Galette with Cheddar-Thyme Crust Recipe

Servings 6

Prep Time:

Cook Time:

Total Time:

 

1 1/4 cup 1-1/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water
filling:
3 tablespoons butter
2 large carrots, sliced
1 celery rib, diced
1 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

 

 

Yield: 6 servings

Directions

Combine flour, cheese, thyme, and salt; cut in butter until crumbly. Gradually add ice water, tossing with a fork until dough holds together when pressed. Shape into a disk; refrigerate 1 hour.
For filling, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion; cook and stir until slightly softened 5-7 minutes. Add garlic; cook, 2-3 minutes. Add frozen peas.
Whisk together broth, flour, salt, and pepper; slowly pour over vegetables, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add cream. Stir in chicken and oregano.
Preheat oven to 400°. On a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll dough into a 12-in. circle. ( I found this to be tricky and needed an extra pair of hands to hold the parchment paper) Be sure to roll it quite thin. Transfer to a baking sheet. Spoon filling over pastry to within 2 in. of edge. Fold pastry edge over filling, pleating as you go, leaving center uncovered. Don’t worry about making it look fancy!
Bake on a lower oven rack until crust is golden brown and filling bubbly, 30-35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with parsley. Yield: 6 servings.

Originally published as Chicken Potpie Galette in Taste of Home April/May 2018

Source: tasteofhome.com

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!)

 

 


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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.

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!)

Bread / Breads

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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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