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

 

 

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Posted in cleaning, family, organizing, Tips and Tricks

Less is Best!

We went camping last weekend!!  Yes, it rained and possibly snowed just a bit.  It was cold and wet, but we went camping!! I am just a little excited that the camping season is upon us.  At least for us crazy diehards, it is.  We did go to our State Park where we had electric hookups.  We didn’t go all survivor style or anything.  We just needed to get away for a couple of nights and have some nature therapy.

camping

I love the fresh air, the dirt, the grass, the trees and walks in the rain and roasting marshmallows.  Most of all I love the memories we are making.  Memories are what holds families together.  Memories will be what’s left when we are gone.

puddles

I want to give my family a clean, organized home that is a comforting safe place to be and leave them memories that will live on long after I am gone.  I know that sounds like having your cake and eating it too!  How do you have time to make memories if you are keeping a clean and organized home?

I know for me, personally, I had a tough time trying to balance cleaning and laundry and cooking with spending time with my kids.  I loved reading to them and baking with them and working on schoolwork together,  but it was hard to do when I had so much that had to be done!  I knew that there had to be a better way.

I have spent years developing that “way”!  Thinking it out and perfecting my system.  I wish I could have had my ducks in a row when my kids were really young.  I hope they knew I was trying! It is my goal and passion to pass what I have learned on to you!

Breaking down household chores into little bits and doing those little bits each day, establishing habits that are seemingly effortless, and eliminating excess, creates what is the “Self Cleaning House”.

Eliminating things that create clutter helps to cut down your workload and keeps your house tidy.  More is NOT better.  Less is best! For example, I HATE dusting!  The best way I avoid doing this job is simple.  I just don’t have things that need to be dusted.  I am a minimalist when it comes to knickknacks and decorations.  Having very few “things” makes a room look more open, less cluttered and just simply beautiful.  It makes it easier to tidy up and much easier to do the dreaded dusting.  Less “stuff”, even if its pretty “stuff” gives the illusion of a much more tidy home.

 

dust

We get used to seeing our stuff.  It becomes like furniture.  It’s just there.  Even if we don’t like it, it just sits there and pretty soon we don’t see it anymore!  Do yourself a huge favor this week and take a close look around.  Walk into your home and pretend you are a guest.  Look at everything with fresh eyes.  What do you see?  What do you like?  What don’t you like?  What looks out-of-place or outdated or just blah…?  Then gather all those things up and take them immediately to your local St. Vincent’s or another thrift store you choose to support.  Don’t stick them in the garage or closet just creating more junk to clean around.  Be rid of the stuff!!   Just say NO to stuff!

Dusting a flat surface takes very little time.  I still don’t enjoy it but at least it doesn’t take long.  Less time doing housework equals more time with your family and more memory making!  Get rid of some stuff and go do something you love!

 

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.

570bc37441c099f88b8c703fbba7ef0f-spring-quotes-spring-renewal-quotes-e1507164654569-300x282

“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!)

 

 


DVO

 

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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

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 everyday and see what happens! I would love to hear from you!  Are you ready for a self-cleaning house?

  1. Make your bed everyday
  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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Posted in cleaning, family, food

Welcome Home

It is a beautiful snowy winter morning here in North Idaho.  I love all the seasons!  Each has its own beauty and uniqueness.  About the time I am tired of one season the next is coming up. There is always something fun to do each season.   We have had a lot of snow this winter which means I feel like baking!

winter

Today seemed like a good day to make granola.  It is super simple, delicious and makes the house smell like you’ve been slaving over a hot stove baking all day!  Not only that but it is much cheaper to make than store-bought and tastes better.

granola

There is something about smell that makes a house “feel” clean, cozy, welcoming.  All the things that you want for your family and friends.

I spend a lot of time in my home and  I want to feel like it loves me!  I want my home to hug my family when they come home from work.  I want your home to feel like that too!

You can’t always be making granola but you can do things to make your home feel welcoming when you come home after a long day.  Have dinner in the crock pot,  have your favorite beverage waiting for you in the fridge, have your favorite scent in the wax warmer.  Think about your future self and how you will want to feel when you walk in the front door. It can be very simple things that take only a moment.  If you know it will be dark out when you return, leave the porch light on and the light over the clean kitchen sink.  There is something about having a light on for you that makes you feel loved.    Treat yourself (your future self) and your family the way you treat your guests.  Put your favorite book by your chair.  Set your coffee pot to start automatically in the morning and put your husband’s favorite coffee mug next to the pot.  Have a warm fleece throw on the couch to cozy up in.

Cuisinart DCC-1100BK 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker, Black

 

Sherpa Flannel Fleece reversible blanket

Make yourself and your family feel like they are walking into a retreat and a refuge from the world when they arrive home.   You get beat up all day,  your home should be your safe place, your peaceful sanctuary.  A home is more than a place to hang your hat. Your home is where you can be restored. You and your family deserve that!  Your home is yours and it should love you back!

I would love to hear how you make your house a welcoming warm place to be for you and your family!
Shop Amazon Warehouse Deals – Deep Discounts on Open-box and Used Kitchen Gadgets

Here is my granola recipe!

Granola

Different flavor combination ideas, or come up with your own!
Pecan pie: pecans, honey, brown sugar, vanilla
Hawaiian: macadamia nuts, honey, vanilla, coconut
Pumpkin: Pumpkin pie spice, rum extract, walnuts

3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sweetener : honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coconut opt
1 cup raisins opt
1 teaspoon spice of any kind cinnamon opt
1 frothy beaten egg white


Mix oats, nuts, salt, and spices into a large bowl.
Add honey, brown sugar, oil, and beaten egg white
Mix well.
Spread out on a large baking sheet on parchment paper
Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Give it a stir and return it to the oven for 10-15 more minutes watching to be sure it doesn’t get too dark.
Stop when the granola looks toasty brown and smells incredible.
Let the granola cool completely in the pan without stirring, then break up and store in an airtight container.
Click here to get the awesome program I use for recipes and meal planning!

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


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Posted in food, planning

Menu planning

Sunday is usually my “prep for the week day”.  My husband works Sundays so I have time to myself to get things prepared for dinners, our lunches for the week, start on laundry, make sure uniforms are clean and ready and gear up for daycare for the coming week.  The whole family comes to dinner on Sundays too, so it’s a busy day!

This last Sunday was especially busy!  Granddaughter Brooklyn had an ice skating show Sunday afternoon.

Isn’t she just the cutest Tinkerbell you’ve ever seen?!  They are not very clear pictures. The plexiglass at the rink is pretty beat up from hockey!  You can see that she is quite good though!  Especially for six years old! We are all so proud of her!  She has a competition coming up in March in Montana.  She will be practicing hard for that.

The Ice Show went longer than I had anticipated Sunday evening so I was really glad I had put roast in the crock pot for pulled pork “Frito Burritos” as Brooklyn calls them.

My pork roast was a bit small so I put a small beef roast in another little crock pot.  (I have three!  I don’t feel you can have too many crock pots!) I put some beef broth over both roasts and a bit of salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin and turned them on low for the day.  I put some rice in my rice cooker (An invaluable appliance!)  and turned that on before leaving the house.

If you don’t already have a rice cooker, click on this one to check it out on Amazon!

When we all met back at the house for dinner the roasts were ready and so was the rice. My girls helped cut up some olives and tomato while I warmed up some black beans and refried beans and shredded the roasts.   We got out the hot sauce, sour cream, jalapenos and the FRITOS!  We wrapped all that up in giant burrito size tortillas.  YUM!  I wanted to get pictures but it was gone too fast!

Menu planning is vital for a well run house.  It is important for your budget, your health and for your sanity!  When you plan ahead you can avoid having to eat out.  I didn’t know that the ice show would go so long but I knew I wouldn’t be home to prepare something so I used my crock pot.  Had I not planned ahead we probably would have had to order pizza.  That would definitely not be good for the pocket-book.

After a long day at work, no one wants to try to figure out what to make for dinner or run to the store at 5:30.   The drive thru seems like a good option at the time but your health and weight will pay for that.

To save money, be healthy and have peaceful evenings, take a few minutes out of every week to plan a menu.

Take stock of what is in your freezer and pantry.  Try to use things you have first.  Check out your grocery store’s ads.  Buy meat when it is on sale.  My grocery store’s ads come out every Wednesday so that is the day I make my menu for the next week, Sunday-Saturday.

Look at your calendar, what do you have going on?  Do you need to plan a crock pot dinner? Is everyone going to be eating together? Is there a night it’s just you and you can have leftovers?

Check the weather for the week.  I am very much a “what do I feel like eating today” sort of person so weather is something that I look at when I make a menu.  If it is raining and cold I am not going to want salad for dinner.  I am going to want soup and I know this about me, so I plan for it.

I use an awesome tool for menu planning.  I have been using a computer program, Cook’n for all my recipes for a very long time and I absolutely love it!  You can import recipes with a click of the mouse and drag and drop them into your week or month’s menus.  I highly recommend the program.  They also have an app for Android and IOS that is super covenient!  The company has been around since the early nineties and has only gotten better over time.  Their support is great too! I seriously couldn’t live without this!

It makes menu planning fun!  Please check them out here:

http://www.dvo.com/index.php?CID=blondie

What ever you use, whether it be a computer program, App or a pad and pencil, just use it!  Plan! It will save time and money and it will give you and your family peaceful dinners together.  Take a few minutes so that you can spend more time doing what you love with who you love.

Here is a link to the Neato Frito Over Stuffed Burritos that we had for dinner on Sunday! Check it out!  They were amazing!

foodiewithfamily.com/neato-frito-overstuffed-burritosNeato-Frito-Overstuffed-Burrito-a

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