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.

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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 food, planning

Menu planning

Sunday is usually my “prep for the weekday”.  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 a roast in the crockpot 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 crockpot.  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 a 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 convenient!  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

Whatever 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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Posted in cleaning

Morning Habits

What did you do this weekend? This is what we did! In our neck of the woods this is what we enjoy doing with our free time. Making a lot of noise in the woods in the freezing cold. Seriously though, it was a blast! My granddaughter got to shoot the .22 rifle she got for Christmas for the first time. It took a lot of coaxing and a bit of bribery to get her to take the first shot. After that she kept begging for more ammo, which she so charmingly calls “gunlets”!

My husband and daughter got to shoot their brand new AR’s and then every other gun they own as well.

After spending the day in the woods we came home to warm up. I love coming home to a clean home that welcomes us! Earlier that morning, before we headed off to brunch and shooting we took a few short minutes to do our morning habits that ensured we would be returning to a clean and comfy house later that day. We won’t talk about the mud my hubby drug in on his boots when we got home …..

Morning habits are key to a Self Cleaning House!

*Make your bed when your feet hit the floor.

*Clean the bathroom before you leave it. Nothing major, just wipe the counter, sink and mirror and toilet seat.

*Empty the dishwasher and put any dishes in it.

*Take the trash out of necessary

Ten minutes tops to be able to come home to a clean house!

We were cold when we got back and hubby had started to feel a bit under the weather. I decided to make my homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner. I made mention while I was making it that I don’t have a recipe. I just have it in my head. This makes my girls crazy. So I have been challenged by them to write my recipe for chicken noodle soup and share it with you! I hope you enjoy!

 

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Serves: 6
 

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion diced
3 cloves minced garlic
2 carrots sliced
4 ribs celery sliced
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6-8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 pound rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast
8 ounces good quality wide egg noodles

Directions:

In large Dutch oven melt butter. Sauté onion, garlic, carrots, celery, basil, bay leaf, salt and pepper until vegetables are softened. Add 4 cups of the chicken broth and bring to boil. Add noodles and chicken and reduce heat to medium. Stir often, add more chicken broth as necessary. Turn off as soon as noodles are cooked.

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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 Uncategorized

Kitchen Queen

It is a beautiful winter afternoon.  The sun is shining and reflecting brightly off the snow on the ground.  The snow is melting and I found outside my front door, a pansy peeking out a little prematurely.  I would like to hope for spring but I know better!  I am sure winter hasn’t given up yet.  I love all the seasons and I love the outdoors!  I can hardly wait for BBQ-ing and camping but for now, we still have a lot of yummy soups and breads and pot roasts and potatoes to make, that go with snowy nights and a fire in the fireplace.

crock pot, queen of the kitchen

As I am writing I am smelling the wonderful aroma of Steak Soup in my crock-pot, AKA the “Kitchen Queen”.  The crock-pot is one of the best ways to save time and effort in the kitchen.  It’s like having a personal chef at home cooking your dinner while you are at work or out running errands.  Tonight I have plans with a girlfriend after work.  I put Steak Soup in the crock-pot so that my family will have dinner ready for them when they get home and they won’t have to wait for me or make anything.  I love to bless my family with wonderful meals!

I want to share my recipe for Steak Soup with you!  Happy “Crock-potting”!

 
Steak Soup
Serves: 4
This is SOOOO easy!
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

 

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef
1 (16-ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
1 (28-ounce) can tomato diced
1 onion diced
2 cubes beef bouillon
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Directions:

Crumble ground beef in bottom of crock pot. Put onions on top of beef, then package of veggies and bouillon. Pour tomatoes over top. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

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!)