Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Using Everyday Items Around the House to Clean, part 5: Baking Soda

This is it! The last part of my "Using Everyday Items Around the House to Clean" series (say that 10 times fast!) I have finally made it to Baking Soda! We have seen this little friend in the other posts, especially with vinegar and citrus, but today we are going to making Baking Soda the "STAR"! I asked on Facebook, again, some ideas from my friends, and, again, I was blessed with some knowledgeable people! See those smart people, and a few of the internet sources I used, below.

So, Baking Soda, what can you do?

Deodorizer: (this was the #1 way I saw uses for Baking Soda)

  • Sprinkle in a trash can 
  • Sprinkle in diaper pail
  • Sprinkle on carpet (I use this one in the boys' room...stinky, stinky boys) 
  • Place a box in the fridge (when I was kid, this is the only use I thought it had) 
  • Pour 1/2 cup into your garbage disposal and then pour vinegar (or warm water) over the baking soda
  • Sprinkle on camping gear after a trip (I wish I had known this last weekend!) 
  • Clean out tupperware with baking soda to remove stale food smells (JOE DEBNEY, you are expected to do this when you finally bring home all my tupperware from work!!...love you!) 
Stains: (this was mostly with a mixture of baking soda and warm water)
  • Get stains out clothes
  • Coffee stains on cups (sprinkle Baking Soda and then rinse with warm water)
  • Scuff marks and grease spills (sprinkle and then rinse with warm water)
  • Scuff marks and crayon markings off walls (sprinkle on wet rag and wipe away)
  • Remove kool-aid from counters with a baking soda and water mixture
Basic Cleaning
  • Add to laundry (saw quite a few ways to do this. Check out the sites provided to see more details)
  • Clean combs and hairbrushes in a baking soda and water solution
  • Clean stainless steel (sprinkle on a damp rag and rub)
  • Clean a flat top range (from my favorite, obsessive cleaning friend!) 
  • Scrub the inside of your fridge AND microwave with a little baking soda in some warm water
  • Clean children's toys in a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 quart water)
  • Mop tile floors and/or bathroom floors with a mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda and water. Just mop and rinse
  • Clean shower doors (1/2 lemon dipped in baking soda) 
Some non-cleaning, but really cool other uses
  • bee stings (hey dad, did you know this?!) 
  • settles stomach issues (saw this quite a bit in my research, but most came with warnings about OVER indulging)
  • Toothpaste (2 T coconut oil, 3 T Baking Soda, 1/2 packet of stevia powder, 10 drops of peppermint)
  • To put out a grease fire, sprinkle baking soda on the flames 

Let me just say that this is a SHORT list. Many of the other uses, though, were about the same, just more specific (like deodorizing your pets). I hope this opened your eyes to some new uses for baking soda. My eyes were sure opened! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Cowboy Soup and Cornbread (all crockpot!!)

(I promise I started this post on Tuesday (while waiting in car line), but time got away from me...so it's being posted on Wednesday. And Tara, over at MommyTime, is still working with a sick baby. So stop by her blog and let her know you are thinking of her). 

Howdy folks! 

This past week I had the pleasure to make quite a few things in the crockpot. I was really excited about the recipes I found on Stephanie O'Dea's website and couldn't wait for the cooler weather to try them. So what's all the excitement about? In my house, with two boys, anything cowboys (except for the Dallas Cowboys) is awesome! So when I saw her recipe for Cowboy Stew, I jumped right on it. And if you saw my post last week about bread in the crockpot, you know that I was on the lookout for ways to use my crock as a breadmaker. So, the cornbread recipe, Roasted Garlic Spoonbread, was PERFECT! So you are going to get a two-for-one deal! Yay! 

See the links above for the original recipes. Below is my modification. 

Cowboy Soup

  • 1 lb ground turkey (browned) 
  • 2 cloves garlic (pressed) 
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
  • 2 bags of single serving microwave steamed corn 
  • 2 cans whole baby potatoes, drained
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can Ranch Style beans (on the baked beans aisle....but next time I'm just going to use kidney beans)
  • 1 cup water
  • Brown the meat with the pressed garlic on the stove, drain fat (if any), and let cool while you prepare the rest. 
  • Empty all the canned food into the crockpot, making sure you drain only the potatoes. 
  • Add the browned meat and the water and stir. 
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5. 
  • Season to taste. I added a little seasoning salt closer to the end of the cooking 

This soup tasted like a chunky "beef" and vegetable soup. I think next time I might add some chili seasoning to give it that "rustic" taste. Serve with the cornbread (recipe below after pictures) 

Crockpot Garlic Cornbread
  • 1 box of Jiffy Cornbread mix
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese *See note at the end of the recipe
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled (15 cloves) ** See note at the end of the recipe
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine Jiffy cornbread, sugar, pepper, milk, melted butter, and eggs. No need to use a mixer---just whisk it together until there aren't any big lumps
  • Stir in cheese and garlic cloves
  • Spray your crockpot and then pour in your batter. 
  • Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours or HIGH for 2-3 hours. It's done when a toothpick comes out clean (I use a cake tester) 
  • *After tasting this, my husband and I both agreed that cheddar cheese mixed in this would be great! So, I would say 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • **This comes out VERY, VERY, VERY garlicy. I love, love, LOVE garlic, but this was a bit much for me. I would say add about half the garlic (8 cloves) to still have that taste but not quite so overpowering. 
This went GREAT with the Cowboy Soup. You COULD actually put them on at the same time, go to church, and then come back to a great Sunday lunch. Just make sure you don't mix up the HIGHs and LOWs on your crockpots. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Curriculum: C and D

Fridays tend to be my "guest post" day as Tara, from MommyTime, and I cook through Stephanie O'Dea's A Year of Slow Cooking's recipes. But Tara is taking the week off from blogging as she is working on helping her little one heal from a recent surgery. Keep her family in your prayers, please. Having little ones sick is very hard on the mama.

So today I'm going to go ahead and review This week and last week's curriculum with Abigail. We moved away from creation to our next story, Issac, and this week's story of Jacob and Esau. We focused on letters C and D. One quick thing about this curriculum. I'm using the 3-Year-Old curriculum on Hubbard's Cupboard for Abigail. She's pretty smart, and this age group has lessons for 3 days (but could easily be done in 2-5 days, depending on how much time you want to put into it). If you use this resource, please make sure at least look at all the suggested links. I have found some really great stuff through them that I passed on to J and Jed's teachers.

Last week: Abraham, Sarah, and Issac...and the Letter "C"
Bible Lesson:
       This week's lesson was about Abraham, Sarah, and Issac. We talked about what trusting God means.  Since my pastor has sent out the article, "Homeschool Blindspots", Joe and I have re-evaluated the way we raise and discipline our children. My children will be brought up in the church, much like I was, but the difference is when my children disobey, they won't just get disciplined, but we will discuss why the behavior is unacceptable. We want to make it about the heart, not the mind. So this lesson was a great one for Abigail, but also for me. Abigail and I discussed the doubts Sarah had versus the faith that was tested in Abraham. Yes, it was a little deep for Abi, but she got the basic point that God always keeps his promises. At the end of the week, we painted our nails a "starry" glitter to represent God's promise to Abraham. Hey, we'll take it anyway we can, right? :)

Science Lesson:
      This week's science had to do with emotions. Abigail and I discussed how our faces show different emotions. The curriculum provided a website where there were people's faces and the child has to click on the feelings. We then made a "feelings" book for Abigail. She showed me different feelings on her face, and I took photos to make into a book.

        We worked on the letter "C". Since "A" and "B" are in her name, those were decently easy. When we got to "C", though, it took a little work. So we talked about the different things that start with "C", practiced sorting and distinguishing between the first three letters, and then made cookies (not pictured, but I used the recipe from Hungry Girl for oatmeal raisin cookies...YUM!) She then decorated her "C" for presentation.

This week: Jacob and Esau and the letter "D"
Bible Lesson
      This week's lesson was a little more difficult to handle. The curriculum called for telling basically the entire story of these two brothers (up to where Jacob left). It was a bit long, so I summarized it. We talked about how we should love each other, and that even if we have a disagreement with someone God can help us get through it. The key verse this week was Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God." I think the story was a little over the head of my 2 year old, so I had to remember what I learned in my years of teaching, "monitor and adjust". We also talked about doing "D"evotions. She sees Joe and me do one in the morning, and while I'm taking the boys to school, she and Daddy do one together (from a book especially for Dad and Daughter). So while I was cleaning a few hours later, this is what I saw her doing...going through her devotion book. How sweet!

    This week's letter was "D". We talked about "D"ebney (our last name) and all kinds of things that start with "D". She decorated her letter "D" with dots! I also had her practice tracing and writing "D". She did a great job! Then she drew a picture for Daddy and, with my help, wrote "DAD" at the top. She was so excited to show him at the end of the day.

Next week's lesson will be featuring the letter "E" and the story of Joseph and his brothers.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thursday's Craft: Ballet Skirt

If you have been following me on Facebook, you might have noticed that we are right in the middle of birthday season. Besides November, I think September seriously has the most babies in the world (do the math, it may make sense as to why). This month, alone, we are averaging 2 birthday parties a weekend. As we approached the parties, one mother (hey, Kim...again!) asked for me to make a ballet skirt that her daughter could slip on over her gymnastic leotard as they leave to go to ballet class (one busy mom of three, I must say!) I accepted the challenged, and offered it to two other mothers as birthday gifts for their girls for their birthday parties this month.
And so the massive sewing of ballet skirts began! 
I must say that I tend to do a few trial and errors on Abi before I try to make something for someone else. It helps me get through the kinks so I don't give someone a gift that is second rate. With the ballet skirt, the first one took me 4 hours (!!!), a lot of stress, and some nasty thoughts toward the tulle I was using. The first one I cranked out was a mess, I used too much tulle and I didn't make the skirt wide enough, so it would fit like a pencil skirt on my itty bitty little one. After taking a break (a two DAY break), I came back to the sewing machine with a purpose to conquer this skirt. SO glad I did! The ones I finally ended up making came out great! 
So here's how I did it: 

  • Two colors of tulle (I got 2 yards because I was making 5 skirts)
  • Matching thread
  • Matching quilt binding (yes, I said quilt binding. It's my new favorite thing to use)
  • elastic 
  • Safety pin 
  1. Measure the child's waist (A) and length from hip to knee (B). 
  2. Cut the tulle as so: (A + 3 inches) and (B +1 inches) 
  3. Cut elastic: (A -1 inch) 
  4. Cut quilt binding (A) 
  5. About 1/2 inch from the top of the tulle, sew a gathering stitch. Basically, run a stitch across the top back stitching ONLY at the beginning. You are going to need the loose thread at the end to gather into pleats or ruffles. 
  6. Gently (and I mean gently. You have no clue how frustrating it is to get halfway through and then have it break) pull the base stitch. This will cause the material to gather. Do this until it reaches the length of the child's waist, and adjust the ruffles so they are equal. 
  7. Open the quilt binding. Place the top of the gathered tulle in the crease that is already in the binding. Pin close. Along the bottom of the binding, sew a zig-zag stitch. Not only will this help keep any material from unbinding, but it will sew the tulle into the skirt and look pretty. 
  8. (ALMOST DONE!) Place a safety pin at the end of the elastic. Thread the elastic through the opening end of the quilt binding. Be careful to watch the other end. Since the elastic is shorter than the binding, it will get lost in there and you will have to fish it out. Once the unpinned end of the elastic reaches the opening, pin it. Finish threading the rest of the elastic through until it gets to the other opening. Pin. (This will cause the quilt binding to gather...and that is what you want)
  9. Place the open ends on top of each other and sew the waistband closed. I run the stitch and the back stitch a few times to make sure it is secure. 
  10. Voila! Done! 
Once I got this down, I made 3 in about 30 minutes. You really could make quite a few of these really quickly. Perfect for a girly sleepover or party! 

Picture 1 is an example I did by adding a bit of ribbon on the bottom of the skirt. You could also cut the bottom into little loops or points if you want. I liked it just simple. The other one is without. I guess whatever is your fancy. :) 

And PS: I looked, and looked, and looked, and looked for a tutorial on how to do these. I couldn't find one. Now I know why, it was EASY! So, I hope this helps for those who need a visual and steps. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Using Everyday Items around the House, part 4: dryer sheets

It's cleaning day again! As part of my 5 week series of using what you have around the house to clean, as seen on my schedule, we are on week 4...dryer sheets! When I came up with the list of what I wanted to talk about for 5 weeks, dryer sheets was a bit of an afterthought. I had just finished using a dryer sheet for something else besides making my laundry smell springy fresh, so I was a little inspired. I knew of a few things you could use these little friends for, but had no clue of some of the neat tips. I sent a plea out on Facebook asking my friends and family for ideas. Let me tell you, I have some really creative, crafty friends. So here is how I'm going to organize this week's lists of uses: "What I Know", "What My Friends Know", and "What the Web Filled in". (PS: if you shared an idea, check out your shout out on the bottom! Yay for teamwork!)

What I Know

  • Deodorizer: stick that sheet in a trashcan (a tip I learned after having boys...icky boys' bathroom!) or in your shoes (a tip I learned in high school since I suffer from smelly feet syndrome) for a quick freshener.
  • Mosquitoes: Rub your exposed skin, stick a sheet or two in your pockets, or hook on to your belt loop to keep those pesty bugs away. This is a tip I learned from my friend's (hey Kim!) wedding planner. My friend's wedding was outside, and that planner had us set out Bounce at the end of every other row. So cool! 
  • Duster: rub a dryer sheet over the TV, the window blinds, the book case, and the lamps for a quick duster (and much cheaper than buying all those other cleaners). This is great for the kids to do as well. After you use it for your laundry, just stick them in an old wipes container (or whatever you have), and on days you are dusting, have the little ones go around a do a light dusting of everything. 
  • Static remover: I learned this in high school after I had the embarrassment of walking around the halls of my high school and didn't realize my skirt's static had caused my skirt to work it's way up my tights to expose my (then) cutie patootie. :( Just rub a sheet over your clothes, tights, panty hose, etc to keep that static away. 

What My Friends Know
  • Pet dander remover: just rub your little critters (or big if you have one) with a dryer sheet to help remove that pet dander. 
  • Dish cleaner: if you have a pan with burnt food on it or something that is really going to need time to remove that crust, soak the pan with a dryer sheet overnight. It loosens the ick to make cleaning that much easier in the morning (and this wins the award for coolest tip!) 
  • Mattress help: There were two things with this. 1. Place between mattress cover and mattress for a deodorizer AND 2. to keep bugs away. No one wants to think about the little noseeums that are in your bed, so just put a few dryer sheets in your bed and feel better for it. :) 
  • Crazy hair: Rub a sheet on your hair to keep the static away. You know how it is on cool mornings when you put on that nice warm sweater and then have your fashionable look ruined by hair flying everywhere. With a dryer sheet, you can keep those fears away! 
  • Room deodorizer: strap dryer sheets on your ceiling fans for a quick room deodorizer. If you have guests decide to make a stop by your house and you don't have time to light candles or boil some citrus, this would work great, AND when they leave, you can wipe up the dust that collects on the fan! What fun! 

What the Web Filled In
  • Bugs: wet your car and then  scrub those bugs off! Nothing like pulling up in your awesome mommy-mobile (van) and then have bug carcasses all over the front. This, again, could be a great chore for some of your older children to do to earn an allowance. 
  • Sticky residue: Hate it when you take a sticker off your clothes or coffee mug only to have that sticky left behind? Just rub a dryer sheet over it to remove that residue. 
  • Pet fur: have a pet that sheds? Just use a dryer sheet over your furniture and floors to pick up the fur. (You could also strap it on to your Swiffer and get that fur up as well)
  • Wood: use a dryer sheet to wipe up the sawdust that comes from one of your many projects where you are sanding wood. 
  • Thread: Run a threaded needle through a dryer sheet before you begin sewing. It will keep your thread from tangling. (2nd place winner for cool tip!) 
  • Scum: Use a dryer sheet to remove the soap scum in your bathroom. Just wet and rub over the tub, walls, etc. 

I must say, this exceeds my expectations for that dryer sheet. Who knew that little bugger could do so much?! I hope you are inspired to NOT throw away that sheet after you take it out of the dryer. Just have a designated place for the used ones so you can have them ready for a quick cleaning. I really think this is a task I'm going to put Abigail to today! 

Next week's topic: Baking Soda (and this is the last week!) 


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Crockpot Raisin Bread

I love to make bread. I really, really do. So as I was looking through Stephanie O'Dea's recipes for bread ideas (because I know I saw desserts and such), I found a plain, well, gluten free, recipe for bread in the crockpot. I was SO excited! Here's the thing, though, I don't really do gluten free. And by "do" I mean it is not necessarily a priority in my household. I know it's important to some of my friends (Kristin!), so I will provide the link to her bread, and then show you how I adapted it for me and mine. And remember, Tara, over at Mommy Time, and I have been working through these recipes. Since we have started, she and I both have come across some great recipes, and there is even a Facebook page (Slow Cooking Freezer Meals) where we can share (because Sharing is Caring). :) 

Oh, and PS: there are three very nifty links in the above paragraph. Check them out. You will not be disappointed. 

Original Recipe "Perfect Gluten Free Bread Baked in the Crockpot

And here is my recipe: "Raisin' Crockpot Bread" (Pun intended) 

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup warm water
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup raisins
8 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Don't mind my generic products from, like, 4 different stores.


  • Warm the milk

  • Dissolve the yeast in the water and let sit until it foams (about 10 minutes) 
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix yeast/milk mixture, eggs, sugar, salt, butter, and raisins. 

  • Gradually add the flour in until the dough is firm. 

  • At this point, you are supposed to add the dough to a greased loaf pan and place it inside your crockpot to cook (picture 1), but my loaf pans wouldn't fit inside the crock. So, I just put the dough inside the crock (picture 2). First though,  I mixed the sugar and cinnamon. As I was dumping it into the crock, I was sprinkling the mixture in. Turned out great! 

  • Turn on high for 3-4 hours, checking it every 45 minutes or so.  
  • This rose crazy high, so after about an hour in the crock, I deflated it. 
  • After about 3 hours, mine was done. So I turned it out on the cooling rack. Check out this baby! 

  • So....it's huge. Once it cools, I cut it in half and froze half of it. I'm going to make some french toast with the other half. 
What I love about this is that it shows that I could bake some bread in my new (kitchen) best friend. If you are in to baking bread in the crockpot, give this a shot, but make sure you keep on eye on it. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Guest Post: Slow Cooker Black Beans

Ready for another adaptation of Stephanie O'Dea's crockpot recipes? I AM! I AM! And now that the weather if finally getting cooler, there is just something comforting about whipping up something in the crockpot. Check out this recipe from my friend Tara over at MommyTime. And please look at the note from me (in purple) on after her post. 

Friday! So, if you have been keeping up, Jana and I from Just Makin’ It are cooking our way through Steaphani O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking. We are on recipe 7. Everyone make it through this week? Great. Let’s talk about Black Beans. Black beans… black beans… I wish I could come up with something nice to say. They smelled good… We just aren’t besties. I started this recipe with full intentions of making Black Bean Enchiladas. I threw it on my menu plan twice because I couldn’t bring myself to make them the first week. I finally made them. They smelled awesome in my slow cooker but they just weren’t for me. I think it’s a texture thing. I just couldn’t get over it. More about that in a second.
Click on the link below to get the original recipe.
Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans Recipe
Adapted from Stephanie O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking
6 cups of water with 4 chicken Bullion Cubes
2 Soup Spoons full of minced garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 pound of black beans (Make sure to do the overnight soak or the quick soak- directions are on the back of your bag of beans)
Add ingredients to your slow cooker. Make sure to stir and set it to low and cook for 8 hours.
They smelled so good when they were cooking. I could not wait to try them. When they were done, I quickly made myself a bowl and,… I can’t put my finger on why the texture got to me, but I just couldn’t finish the bowl. The taste was great. If you like black beans then try these, but if you are like me then skip the beans and make chicken enchiladas for dinner :)

As I was checking out her post, I noticed she was not too happy with the results. I beg you, though, if you are like her to not ditch the beans if they just don't turn out right. I LOVE beans (they are good for the heart, right?), especially in the cooler weather. Try adapting my recipe for Kidney Bean Meatballs with the black beans. It might be that extra kick you need and you get that healthy protein you need! Happy cooking, all! 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday's Craft: Using Apples!

Oh crafts. It's the one thing I love, love, love to do, but never seem to have time to indulge. I set up Thursdays as my days to share my crafts, but haven't really stuck to it so hot. Most times I will make something and not take pictures, so then I don't want to post it. OR I will get in a sewing frenzy and whip up quite a few things (normally for my daughter) and then I don't have time to post. But today is your lucky day! While  my daughter is creating her own craft today, I am going to do a quick post on crafting with apples.

Two weeks ago, my daughter's curriculum was covering Adam and Eve. We did a few things with apples, and I thought since apple season is here (go here for an awesome place to pick apples) I would share a few ideas to do with all those apples I know you are going to get! 

Apple Prints: (super easy craft to do with any kid, really...and a yummy snack for later!)
  1. Apple (and a knife to cut it)
  2. Cinnamon/sugar 
  3. Kool-aid fizz tablets and 1/2 cup water
  4. Construction paper
  5. Red, green, and brown marker
  • In one bowl, dissolve kool-aid fizz tablet in water. 

  • While that is fizzing, cut your apple in half, and have your child count the seeds on the inside. 

  • In a separate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar. 
  • Dip the apples first into the kool-aid and then into the cinnamon/sugar mixture. 

  • Press the apple firmly onto the construction paper and then lift. Glue seeds in the center of the stamped apple. 

  • With the red, green, and brown markers, draw the outline of the apple around your stamp. Add a stem and a leaf. 
When you are done, you can core the apple, add peanut butter and top with raisins! Yum! Crafts that are yummy! 

2. Apple Wreath (I do not have pictures of this one. Sorry!)

Items needed: 
  • 3-4 apples. Go for a variety, but it is not necessary
  • Oven or dehydrator 
  • Fishing line 
  • floral wire
  • (Optional): fall leaves, pine cones, etc and hot glue gun
  • Cut the apples into 1/8 inch slices
  • Dehydrate them (go here for directions) 
  • String your dried apple slices until you have the size of wreath you want
  • Shape the floral wire into a circle the size of your wreath. A tip here, would be to find a bowl or pot that is about the size of your wreath and shape it around that. 
  • Feed wire through the apple and tighten at the top. 
  • (Optional) Hot glue other "fall" items onto the wreath such as leaves and pine cones. 
And you're done! This will be a craft we will be doing in the near future (as soon as we go to an orchard to get some great apples!) I'm excited about this one! 

So that's about it for now. What other crafts do you do with apples? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Using Everyday Items Around the House, Part 3: Salt

Here I am again! I missed last week's cleaning post. Please forgive me. So, the original dates that I put on the schedule (here) are going to be off by one week. This week we are going to talk about SALT! So, uh, a little background and my relationship with salt....we used to be best friends. I mean seriously. I was a saltaholic back in the day, my favorite kind being pretzel salt. It was so bad, that was what people gave me as birthday and Christmas presents. We "broke up" when I gave up salt for Lent back in '98. It was probably one of the hardest things I had to do. No, seriously. It really was. I was that addicted. Since then, though, salt and I get together to make some very important things (such as bread). Now we can rekindle our relationship on a whole new, and much healthier, level: cleaning. I already knew some of the great things salt could do, but in my research, I found a lot of really interesting tips. So, I'm going to put this in two categories: "Salt Stands Alone" and "Salt and Friends." Some of this information is a repeat from the last two weeks (with Vinegar and Citrus).

And, as always, please comment with your suggestions, warnings, tips, and ideas on any of these. I know there are a TON of old recipes that I don't know about (or even some new ones). Let's work together!

Let me introduce my friend: Salt

Salt Stands Alone (BTW, many of these are mixed with water, not necessarily a friend, just water)

  1. Dish and Hand washer: Mix a little with water to make an emergency dish or hand cleaner. This works if you need something at the last second. NOTE: if you use it on your hands, you will need use lotion, as this will dry out your hands. 
  2. Burnt on food in pans: scrub a little salt on the burnt food. This works great, and I have used this while camping. It's a great natural scrubbing pad. 
  3. Oven cleaner: Much like the pans with the burnt on food, sprinkle some salt and then scrub. If you need to mix a little water with the salt, go ahead! 
  4. Dusting: Sprinkle a little salt on the things that get dusty around your house, such as fabric flowers. The salt will attract the dust. All you will have to do is shake off or wipe off after a few minutes. So cool! 
  5. Bugs (Ants): Sprinkle some on your pantry shelves to discourage ants. Another new one for me! It makes sense. I never have had a problem with ants around my salt! 
  6. Bugs (Mosquitoes): Wet a mosquito bite, then sprinkle on some salt. This will cut back on the itching. Yay! Take some camping! 
  7. Fishy scales: Soak your fish in salty water for about 10 minutes before you scale it. The scales will come off easier. 
  8. Testing Eggs: Dissolve salt in water and then place in the questionable egg. If it sinks it's GOOD; if it floats, BAD! So easy! (never a problem in my house, though, since we go through about a dozen eggs a week!) 
  9. Ironing: Sprinkle some salt on a damp cloth and clean off that iron. This will save your clothes from getting that nasty residue on the shirt you wanted to wear that day! 
  10. Weeds: Weeds hate salt. Sprinkle it on there. 
  11. Spilled Pies: (I LOVE this idea!) If your pie is bubbling over, sprinkle salt on the spilled juice and then finish baking. It will keep it from burning and making your oven a mess. Yes! 

Salt and Friends:


  1. Mix with salt to make a basic household cleaner. Make sure, though, you don't use on porous surfaces, as the acidity in vinegar can damage the product. Also be careful with wax surfaces. The salt will damage that for sure! 
  2. Mix with salt to clean the fridge's inside. This will also help as a deodorizer. 
  3. Mix with salt to clean off stains such as coffee, tea, and vinegar
  4. Mix with salt to clean and shine tiles

  1. Mix salt with citrus juice or pour right into the center of a squeezed lemon to scrub metal surfaces. This will clean and shine. Be careful, though to make sure you rinse. Leaving that citrus on there too long. Rinse after shining. 

  1. LOVE THIS: Mix equal parts salt and starch to make a putty that can be used for plastering holes in walls. Get that deposit back! 

So that's about it (for me at least). There are really a TON of things to do with salt. It's good for cleaning your pores, keeping potatoes from turning brown, etc. Check out these websites below. This is where I got much of my info and they had more ideas that I didn't share. Check them out. Don't forget, though, to leave YOUR ideas. 

  1. http://www.preparednesspro.com/blog/the-vitality-of-salt/ (This is also the source of the picture above)
  2. http://www.bellybytes.com/articles/salt.shtml
  3. http://living.amuchbetterway.com/clean-your-house-with-salt/
  4. http://www.greenfootsteps.com/cleaning-with-salt.html (this site is almost word-for-word the same as the previous source. Someone is plagiarizing here! I'm not sure which one is the primary source, so I'm putting both) 

Next week's topic: Dryer Sheets (please email me your ideas! I have a few, but really only a few!) 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Birthday Party

So, if you follow me on Facebook, you will see that I am in the midst of birthday party season (8 this month alone!), and for the next 3 months, I am packed with parties, just in time for Jesus's birthday in December. So my mind is on birthdays. I asked my daughter, whose birthday is in January, what she wanted for her theme this  year. Last year we did fairies, and the year before we did butterflies. After going through a few options, she seemed settled on "Stars". And my mind was OFF! Visions of ideas began running through my head (luckily she is still too young to realize that her mama is a planner and once she has chosen a party, that's it. There is no changing it). I normally begin planning my kids' parties about 2 1/2 months ahead of time. That gives me time to begin picking up items for decorating, food, and gift bags. This normally includes about a week of me researching other people's ideas, and then coming up with what works best for us. Let me tell you, though, unless I want to throw a "Night Under the Stars" prom, there are not that many people who have Star parties.

SO.....this is where you come in. I want to pick your brains. What kind of ideas do you have for a 3 year old's Star themed party. Her birthday is in January, so remember I can pick up stuff on sale from New Year's Eve. Think of decorations, food, cake or cupcake ideas, games, gifts, etc. Try to remember we are on a budget so, "Gift idea: all guests get a new telescope" is going to be a bit much.

Give it your best and let's see how creative we are! I can't wait to see what you are thinking! (PS: This is not a ploy to have you do all the work; I just know that I have some incredibly crafty and creative friends out there who have great ideas.)

And, for a muse, I will now provide a picture of my little girl:

Oh my goodness! She is adorable! 

Tuesday's Food: Lemon and Dill Fish and Spinach

It's Tuesday! You know that means I'm going to share another one of my crockpot recipes. I missed last week's post, and I'm so sorry for that, so today I'm going to post something nice for you fish lovers out there.

Just a note: I don't like fish. I know, I know. I'm from Charleston, and I don't really like any creature that lives in the water, with the exception of alligator. It's the smell. I have a very sensitive sense of smell. I know I need fish, though, so every once in a while (my goal is once a week) I make fish for the family. I figured one of these days I'll be able to handle fish without drowning it in vinegar or some other seasoning.

Now, on to the recipe. I got the crockpot recipe from Stephanie O'Dea's website (here), and I made a few adjustments. So here is my twist of the recipe:

Lemon and Dill Fish and Spinach:

1/2 pound to 2 pounds of fish. (It is suggested to have salmon, but all I had on hand was halibut) 
--2 lemons
--12 oz of fresh spinach
--1/2 t black pepper
--3/4 t kosher salt
--2 t dill
--1  bottle of Apple Crisp Cider (again, I had Hornsby. The recipe called for white wine, water, or apple juice) 


1. Wash spinach and place inside the crockpot. 

2. Place fish on top of spinach. 
3. Mix seasoning together and then sprinkle on both sides of the fish. 

4. Slice the lemons and place them on top of the fish. 

5. Pour the bottle of the apple cider (hard cider) on top (if you don't want to use cider, you can use 1/4 cup of water, white wine, or apple juice). 

6. Cook on low for 2 hours. 

I served mine with steamed potatoes (that I cut up and put in another smaller crockpot for the same time the fish cooked), steamed broccoli (that I served sprinkled with white cheddar cheese), and sliced homemade bread. YUM! 

If you like fish, I really think you would like this. It didn't make my house smell fishy (more like lemon), which is saying a lot for someone like me. I loved how healthy this meal was, and I was able to use the leftover fish to make "tuna" sandwiches the next day (mixed with 1/2 cup of crockpot yogurt a Tbsp of salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 2 T of italian dressing, and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese).  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Put on the Clothes of Christ

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3: 12

My second child, Jed, was the most trying baby. He had to be touched at all times, and not just anybody, but by me. As a baby he slept in his bouncy seat, elevated on a box, next to my bed so my hand could lie on him all night. If I were to ever roll over and remove my arm, he would wake up and cry, very loudly, until I put my arm back. When I took a shower, I had to put him in a car seat and set him outside the shower. I had to place my hand on him as much as I could while I took a shower because he was inconsolable any other way. Five years later, he is still my touchy child. I'm not so much a touchy person, so you can imagine how having to constantly touch someone could eventually try one's patience. 

And that was exactly what he did. He tried my patience. 

As I got older, I was convicted of the lack of patience I had for the way my son showed love and felt loved. If you are familiar with the Five Love Languages, my son's primary love language is "physical touch". What I was NOT doing was sufficiently loving my son the way he needed to be loved. And, in turn, I was not showing him the proper love of Christ. 

For the past few months, we have been covering Colossians in church, taking a few verses at a time to really, really take a look at how we are to treat each other, love God, and grow in our relationship with Him and with others. This week's sermon was on Colossians 3: 12-14. What really hit me during the sermon was how much I was lacking in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and, mostly, patience. Don't get me wrong; I have been working on showing these fruits of the spirit for the past couple of months. I have been seriously stepping out of my comfort zone to reach others in a way that is more pleasing to the Lord. Unfortunately, that reaching out went to those outside my family. I tend to have such a high expectation for my own children in how they behave, how well they do in school, how they treat others, that I forget many times that they are children. And in that forgetting, I tend to lose my patience. I have begun placing reminders around the house on how to treat my own family. I have found myself loving my family the way I perceived the way I was loved growing up. (Does that make sense?) And that is not a legacy I want to pass on to my children. I want to have a better understanding with my kids. I want to be slow to anger (James 1:19 is SUCH a great verse!) And most importantly, I want to teach them how to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient with all others, especially those closest to home. 

I pray that you, too, will put on these "Clothes of Christ." Set an example for your family on how to treat others in love. It is a constant reminder for me that my family is precious to me, and I want them to see how precious we are to the Lord through my words and actions. 

As for that second, crazy child of mine. I find that when I really see him for the loving child he is (instead of that kid who constantly has a TON of energy and the endless need to touch), I am a better person for it. He makes my heart happy. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Guest Post: Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

So, this has been another off week for me. For some reason getting a steady schedule this school year is harder than before. Here it is Friday, and I finally seem to have my act together, but I had no posts for you. :( Lucky for you, though, my friend Tara over at Mommy Time, has come through with another crockpot recipe. If you haven't already been to her website, you really need to. She's fantastic! Check it out. Tell her what you think. And here is her post: 

It’s Friday! It’s been one of those weeks. I am barely keeping my head above water over here. I’m sure many of you feel my pain. Don’t you love Slow Cooked Fridays? I do! I look forward to the one day of the week that I know I have no plans to cook (really cook). I have no idea what I am going to be throwing in that slow cooker tomorrow, but, I am sure it will involve chicken and no real work for me :) Speaking of, my crock- pot bit the dust at the ripe ‘ol age of 7 months. It was cracked in the bottom. I have no idea what happened to it because my last crock-pot lasted through years of cooking. I think everyone must be on a slow cooker kick with the new websites coming out about crock pots because when I went to Target to buy a new one.. they were sold. out. I ended up with this one.
Here’s my thoughts on it so far.  LOVE the automatic shut off! Great function. One I have never had before. However when it goes into the warming mode, it makes a really loud squeal that makes me jump. It sounds like our fire alarms, but not as loud. I think I will get used to it.  Other than that, I am happy.
The recipe,… still want it?
Before I just fork it over, let me say it was good. When I read the title, “Restaurant-Quality Crock-pot Tomato Soup Recipe” I knew I needed to try it. I love tomato soup and the very idea of having some fresh tomatoes simmering away quietly in my slow cooker just made me giddy.  Was it restaurant quality? YES!  The man really liked it, I of course liked it and guess who else! Thing 1 and Thing 3 ate bowls of this stuff. Thing 2 wasn’t up for even trying it. I was surprised and very pleased!
Here’s how I made it.
Restaurant- Quality Crock-pot Tomato Soup Recipe
Adapted from Stephani O’Dea’s A Year of Slow Cooking
3 lbs of vine- ripened tomatoes
1 tbsp onion powder
2 cups of tomato juice
3 tbsp white sugar
1 chicken bullion cube
about 2 tbsp basil
1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
I got exactly 3 pounds. We did have enough soup left over to freeze a small batch.
Rub a dub dub dub, 3 lbs. of tomatoes in a tub. I use Environne to wash all of my produce (no affiliation, I just love the product!).
Once they are good and clean get them ready to quarter.
Don’t bother peeling them. Slow cooker meals aren’t supposed to be a ton of work :) Quarter them and add them to your slow cooker.
Add the rest of your ingredients.
Cook it on low for 6-8 hours and let it go.
After my timer went off, I used my soup blender to help me to get it to the consistency that we enjoy. A few chunks and creamy all at the same time. I stirred in one cup of heavy cream and served it in a bowl with parmesan as garnish.
If you are a fan of tomato soup and have a slow cooker, please try it. It is as good as the stove top versions that I have tried and the best part is you start it in the morning and when you are ready to eat, it’s ready to be served.
I hope everyone has a great weekend!
God bless!