Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Renewal and Refocus

This is a time of renewal for many beliefs.  In many Christian faiths it is the season of Lent, the 40 days where a person takes inventory of life, does penance for any wrongs, and practices self denial of vices in preparation for the arrival of their Risen Lord on Easter Sunday.  This year the  New Moon before Ostara happens to coincide with Lent. Many Pagan believers use this time until the next new moon at the Equinox for 28 days of renewal, refocusing and prayer.  

I am taking on the challenge of 28 days of renewal and refocus.  I have spent a long winter being ill and taking care of sick family, and have spent too much of my free time on social networking sites such as facebook.

It is a time to regroup, reflect, and renew.  No matter what faith we identify with, sometimes we all need that time for ourselves to rediscover what we are truly capable of.

I will also be using this time to plan a Spring Feast for my friends using a new mini Cook-book written by Zedral Z (also known as Nar) Recipes for Ostara (also available in Kindle format).  It will be a nice deviance from tradition, with some fun food and friendship to go with it.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Upcycling and Folding

Today ends week one of the new 'system'.  I have already lost interest in folding laundry, but it seems that much of it may have been extras from cleaning the smallest's room this last week.  I can finish up the folding process tomorrow, and then will make it a goal to get up a tiny bit earlier than 8am next Sunday.  The positive is that its all CLEAN!!  Ok i have one load in the washer and one load in the dryer...but those are the LAST 2 loads.  I can deal with them tomorrow after i get back from a last minute trip to Glendive with a friend.

I Upcycled some Storm Window panes from our original upstairs windows into 'white boards'.  One is my Shopping list board, the other is my menu board.   I wrote the titles with magic marker, and then can use dry erase or 'over head' markers to write on them.  They look pretty neat up on my walls, and hopefully will be a great tool for all of us.

Going with the theme of the glass boards, i also put my weekly plan into an extra picture frame i had on and and now can but a star by everything i complete then erase it at the end of the week.

I am feeling very smart today, but tired.  Time to go deal with my dishwasher so its fresh for the morning and head to bed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CHAOS theory in Home Management.

This post was going to be about my Kitchen plan for today, and then i went off on a tangent.  Sometimes i have to write what i am guided to write, because there is always a message in there not only for myself but hopefully for everyone who chooses to follow this blog.

Day 3 of my new plan got derailed.  I planned to give the kitchen a good wipedown but instead ended up doing 3 dishwasher loads of dishes.  At least yesterday i gave the livingroom a good deep clean and got the furniture swept under, and the floors vacuumed, and all the flat surfaces wiped down.  yes, i really am looking at the positives of what i did do, rather than focusing on what didn't quite go to plan.

Tomorrow is the entryways.  Its a little intimidating, but i think i can handle it.  I just need to get into the routine of giving each room a good lick every week.  One full week a month sometimes just is not enough, so i rearranged it a bit from Fly Lady so that each room gets a good once over every week. I think that is my new star habit to work on...weekly maintenance.  Sometimes i just cannot get to each room in a day, and we use almost every room in this house every day (not a huge house).  The idea is to just do what i can in 15-30 minutes depending on the ...direness...of the room, with the goal of adding in daily maintenance to each area as the family SEES how happy our home is with out junk everywhere.

Here is a layout of my room schedule (not including things like dusting and wet-mopping or glass):

Mondays:  Living Room.  It gets pretty hashed over a weekend and sometimes we just are too worn out from Laundry Day to do much more than pick up the floor and clear a couple hot spots.  Monday i give the whole room a good thorough 'blessing' by moving furniture to sweep out toys/crumbs and running the vacuum in the spots the broom doesn't get to well.

Tuesdays:   Kitchen.  Yet again, thorough wipe down.  Moving items to wipe UNDER, wipe down of cabinet fronts, and a quick clean out of the Fridge.  I did get the counters wiped down well today, so i will stick a star up just for that feat!

Wednesday:  Entryways.  Need I say more?  Usually by today the front door area needs a thorough tidy and declutter (how many coats do these kids need?) and I won't even go into how the coat closet looks...iz a catch all spot/staging area for thrift store destined items, AKA the mini-hoarding room.  The back door area is where we kennel the dogs at night, so it needs a good scrub and vacuum from the dirt/hair/dog food that collects back there.  Its also the staging area for my Swiffer/Broom/Aprons and shelf of stuff that won't fit in my kitchen cabinets but i still use too often to store in the basement stuff.

Thursday:  Bathroom.  Right now we only have one.  The main bath is in perma-renovation stage for now with an open-ended finish date (cash/supplies/manpower), so the basement bathroom gets used by all 5 of us plus guests.  Even with a daily Swish and Swipe (see Fly Lady for details), it still seems to need a good scrubdown of the shower which is epic crumbling concrete that doesn't seem to have ever been sealed right. I use non-slip foam shelf liner and a no-slip shower mat for the floor to protect our feet from the concrete floor, so i wash those in the washer weekly.

Friday: Bedrooms.  Basically this is just a quick sweep and vacuum of the older kids rooms, a quick run through of my own room, and a good thorough pick up and put away in the littlest's room.  A change in everyone's sheets and our rooms are ready for the weekend.

Saturday:  FREE DAY!!.  I have worked hard all week and deserve a day of rest and relaxation.  I focus on me, my kids, the Man, the dogs, friends.  Sometimes i schedule a Party to celebrate the week to come with lots of food and the company of family and friends.

Sunday:  Laundry.  Yup i saved this one for last.  Like i posted in the previous blog, its something we all have to deal with and i have decided to commit to dealing with it all in one day.  Getting it all done in one day is so freeing for me.  Sure i still have tons of clothes to get rid of, but i now can do it all in one day as i go, rather than bit by bit through the week.

Things such as Trash, Dusting/glass, and mopping floors are spread throughout the week as well, but i will save that for another post so i don't overwhelm my readers with a crazy schedule they think may work for them.  I don't want anyone to get overwhelmed by what MY goals are.  Babysteps, always.

The one thing i have taken away from my last couple years following the Fly Lady and her methods is that i MUST make it my own.  She is a great launching point for learning how to build habits and routines, and i still will send anyone to her first.  She has great methods and i have learned so much about myself and HOW to build my own habits and weekly plans, HOW to use a calendar, and to finally love ME and embrace my perfectionism with a timer.  What it boils down to in the end is that it is my home and my schedule and i must learn to manage my time and home around the ever-changing 'flexible' schedule of a young family.  I cannot let perfectionism block my way, even when the routine MUST change because school is out for a couple of days or out for the summer.  Move your habits around to fit the current schedule, because sometimes the routine changes and CHAOS tries to toe its way in again. Developing habits is the first step to your 'flexible' routine.  This is why i have chosen to schedule specific days for my basic cleaning, kind of an old fashioned idea, but its where my head is right now and where i need to be.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Sure this is a random post about laundry, but its something we ALL have to deal with.  I have always had issues with laundry, even before i had kids.  I procrastinate and let it pile up until i run out of something and then its an emergency and i NEED to get some done.  When i do get it 'done' it sometimes can sit in the basket for days, getting rummaged through until i finally get fed up with it not folding itself and fold it.

Some of the methods i have tried:

Take it all down to the Laundromat and pay someone else to wash/dry/fold...and i still have to put it away
Take up 15 washers/dryers at the laundromat myself
Wash it all in one day, and let it live on the couch because i get side tracked with real life and don't get it folded
Wash a load a day (theoretically wash/dry/fold/put away...became a rotation of washer to dryer)

I live my life side tracked.  Serious...washing dishes...oh! shiney!  Or cleaning up the livingroom and suddenly a "MOMMY!!! I NEED YOU!"  is hollered by the 3yo.   I work every day on focus because i know i can do it.  Like Fly Lady Nikki says: Focus makes you fabulous.  So i work every day on focus.  I have developed a weekly plan to help me focus, its a 'living document' and changes weekly as i tweak where i need my focus.  I finally have the 'unload' the dishwasher in the AM and run it in the PM thing down and it helps IMMENSELY.  I still have other little baby steps i'm working on for my dailies, but that one thing...the dishwasher, is a HUGE step for me in keeping my home in order.  Its like Marla Cilly, the Fly Lady's Shiney Sink.

Laundry.  I am always trying to get my family more involved in what is really THEIR stuff.  I believe i have finally had my AHA moment in this area of "Home Management" that i lack talent in, and that is designating a specific day to do the laundry.  Schedule our day around laundry, with LAUNDRY being the goal and focus...even if the dishes pile up, even if the rest of the house slowly becomes hashed and wrecked.  Get the kids involved with sorting socks, gathering hangers, and putting away their own stuff (even the 3yo knows where her stuff goes).  I am amazed at how much less effort laundry is when we all 5 team up and get it done!  This is how it's supposed to be.  I believe i shall declare Sunday to be that day, at least until something comes up and i must delay it a day or so.  This is how it shall be for now at least, until I need to change it up again to keep things alive and interesting.

Speaking of the team up motivation, the Man even teamed up with me and got the dishwasher loaded up quick so we could have some ice cream!  He knows i struggle with keeping up after not only myself (i can be somewhat of a slob...shhh) but 3 kids, 3 dogs and at times him.

One day at a time, one task at a time, one star at a time.  The light at the end of the tunnel is a tiny pinhole, but it's there.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Lentil Cookies

I originally came across this recipe on a Mom's forum i was on several years ago.  It is a super yummy high protein and fiber snack thats great for kids and adults alike.  I have copied the recipe from since i have long since lost my own copy.   If you click the link you can print it straight to recipe card size, which is great for me since my personal recipe book is a repurposed Photo book.


  1. 1
    In a small pot over medium heat, combine the lentils and the water.
  2. 2
    Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  3. 3
    Remove from the heat and puree. If using immediately, let cool. The puree may be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.
  4. 4
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. 5
    In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice.
  6. 6
    In the bowl of a stand-mixer with a whisk attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium speed.
  7. 7
    Add the egg and mix until just incorporated.
  8. 8
    Add the vanilla and lentil puree and mix until combined.
  9. 9
    Add the flour mixture and blend on low speed until just combined.
  10. 10
    Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oats, dried fruit and coconut.
  11. 11
    Form the dough into balls about 2 teaspoons in size and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, leaving about 1-inch of room in between.
  12. 12
    Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 195 degrees F is reached on an instant-read thermometer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mocha Coffee Creamer

3 cups Sugar
2 Cups Milk powder (I prefer Nido by Carnation, whole milk)
1/2 Cocoa Powder (baker's)

In a large bowl ( i use a food processor), mix together ingredients until blended.  Store in air tight container, add to coffee a few teaspoons at a time until it reaches your taste.  Can also be added to hot water for a delicious Hot Chocolate.

Soy Milk powder or Rice flour can be substituted for the Milk powder, and Splenda or powdered Sugar alternative can be substituted for the Sugar.  Carob can be subbed for the Cocoa powder.  If you choose to Substitute, you may need to play with the ratio a little to make it taste right to you.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chili Dog Nachos

2lb ground beef
Med. Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Cumin (to taste)
Chili powder (to taste)
small can chopped Jalapeno peppers (drained)
Black or Pinto beans, drained and rinsed (if desired)
one 16oz can tomato sauce
4 Hot Dogs, sliced or Chopped 

Brown ground beef with chopped onion and garlic until onion is translucent, add in Cumin and chili-powder and Salt and pepper.  Cook until spices are moistened and blended in.  Add can of Jalapeno peppers and beans and the tomato sauce, and Hot Dogs.  Simmer for 5 mins or until it thickens.  Top with cheese, olives, sour cream, and guac and dip your favorite corn chip!

...i cannot believe i forgot the HOT DOGS!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Permasick not fun.

I have been perma sick since November so i really haven't gotten too much done in the world of canning.  I have been pre-cooking and freezing chicken and ground beef as it goes on sale, though.  This is SUCH a time saver for many meals, and i get to use my Food Saver i got for free from Freecycle.  I totally recommend freecycle by the way, great way to find items and pass on items!

The chicken lately has been boneless/skinless chicken breast, but a few weeks ago whole chickens were on sale!  I quarter the whole chickens (wings go in the soup pot bag in the freezer) and pile them in my super large roaster and bake with the lid on until nice and golden, at 425 (about an hour to hour and a half).  The Chicken breasts i throw in my medium roaster (doesn't matter if they overlap) and roast with the lid on to keep the moisture in for about 45-60mins at 425.  The quartered chicken just gets cooled and packaged by 'dinner'.  The chicken breast gets cooled and  cubed up and then packaged by the pound for meals i want chunk chicken for.

Cooked ingredients just save time.  I now have chicken ready for a chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and veggies, or cubed chicken ready for a salad topping, chicken salad sammiches, or stir fry!  All i have to do is add it to the pan, heat, and eat.

Canning shall commence as soon as i kick this current bug.  Always a bad idea to can when you aren't feeling well!  I have Spaghetti Sauce and Chili on deck ready to throw together and process!  We are running low on both items (i did do a tiny bit of canning one week when i felt better), as well as chicken/turkey stock, and beef stock.

In other news i have discovered the wonders of  Nony is a funny and fresh perspective to cleaning and decluttering, and she totally promotes Fly Lady as a great starting place...which is exactly where i started!!  I am now to a point where i need to hone and pinpoint MY home's problem areas.  I am not Marla Cilley, i do not have the same house or the same lifestyle, so its time for me to make it MINE.  I started out with some charts (instead of the control journal) that i can put stickers on to reward myself.  This week i have been battling a fun epic snot cold, so my stickers are spotty...but i DO have stickers up!  i was going to work on a few 'spring clean/deep clean' items, but decided that it can wait a few days until i start to feel more human.  I did get under the couch cleaned out, so that is a pretty big thing.  I also have decided to at least buy a bouquet or 2 of fresh flowers every week, if anything to make up for the fact that i have no skill with house plants.  I did buy a miniature potted rose plant, so we will see how long i can keep that alive LOL!  have to put a WATER PLANT on my weekly schedule for next week, if i can keep it alive there may be hope for slowly adding a few more.

now to head to bed and rest up to see what tomorrow brings.