Friday, February 28, 2014

homekeeping | soaking laundry

Happy Friday!

I do ALOT of soaking of laundry in this house.
I have found it helps tremendously for removing the stain before I can actually wash the item. As you may remember from my homekeeping series last year, I still assign a type of laundry to each day so I don't feel buried in the piles and piles of laundry if I did it all on one day.
I recently found this large {16x16} vintage enamelware basin. It is in such good shape. I had been hunting for one for awhile, but since it was to be put to actual use soaking laundry, there could be no chips {at least on the inside} that would rust and stain what I was actually trying to clean.

When I soak anything that has a stain, I always use cool water {hot water can set a stain}, a bit of laundry soap and a scoop of an enzyme powder to lift stains and just let it soak overnight. And then set aside to air dry until it's ready to launder.
I use Shaklee's unscented detergent and nature bright stain remover powder. Since I do laundry almost everyday, I keep all my laundry arsenal out on display so its easily accessible. I decant the nature bright powder into a large glass canister which looks so much more attractive than the bag it comes in and I seem to use it on almost every load that goes into the wash. :)

We are expecting glorious weather again this weekend which I hope comes true since I could use a little thawing-out from the mid-week cold spell. We need to get back out into the yard and finish cleanup and start making progress on building our garden! Yeah!!!

Hope you have a great weekend.

Friday, February 21, 2014

on motivation

It's a quiet morning while Reed is in school and Luc is napping. I have been looking forward to a day without chasing all week, yet I am kinda feeling melancholy. I caught up with a few blogs, perused Pinterest a bit and then started feeling guilty like I should actually do some housekeeping since much didn't get done this week. So, I washed out the knife drawer organizer that's been bugging me every time I open it and see crumbs. That's done.
Now here I am, chatting with you. I just can't get motivated to really do a darn thing. Remember when you were a kid and you'd say "I'm bored" and your mother threw out tons of suggestions and nothing sounded enjoyable so you just moped around waiting to be inspired or motivated to do something? Or was I the only one that did that? {wink}
That's where I am at.
When weeks are extra busy like this one has been and my routine is off, I find it so hard to get back on track. The house isn't going to magically get clean or any of my long list of want to-do's done the longer I delay.  I guess I think maybe tomorrow I will feel motivated??? And frankly that's usually what happens. One day I wake up and am just motivated to keep house, to create, to fluff, etc... And then once I get into it, I get really into it and it's hard to stop for the day and I am often puttering about well into the late evening trying to get just one more thing done. Almost forty years and I haven't quite figured out how I make that switch so suddenly...

So, what motivates you?

Monday, February 17, 2014

recipe | skillet chocolate chip cookie

I love trying new & exciting recipes but sometimes it's just nice to visit the classics. Nothing fancy, just good, straightforward ingredients that give a very delicious end result. I was looking back through some old Martha Stewart issues  {I think I almost prefer those older issues} recently and came across a recipe for a skillet chocolate chip cookie. I used to make those way back when...but I guess it was pushed aside as I found other new dessert recipes to try.
I decided to make it for our family valentine's dessert. The house smelled amazing like only chocolate chip cookies baking can do.  I served it slightly warm with a scoop of ice cream on the side.  It surely will be making a regular appearance in our house!

Here's the Recipe. Enjoy!

On a side note, I have been dabbling a lot at converting "regular" baking recipes to GF and vegan rather than just following those special type of recipes. The tricky part for me is the egg substitute {so much science behind that}, so with this recipe only calling for one egg, I knew it could be an easy conversion.  If you need or choose to eat GF and/or vegan, I would be happy to share my modified recipe with you.

Friday, February 14, 2014

all-natural heart soaps for valentine's day

Making homemade soap has been on my to do list for as long I can remember {probably when I became a Martha fan many, many years ago}.  I finally bought some all-natural soap base from bulk apothecary back in November to make some fishy soaps for the boys for Christmas, but never got around to looking into all-natural tinting, so I never made them. So, when thinking of ideas for valentine's day,  I decided to make heart soaps, but still needed to find an all-natural way to color the soap since white heart soap is just no fun! I found on Martha two soap projects that caught my eye. One was for making heart-shaped soaps with cookie cutters and another was for using herbs or fruit purée in soaps. I combined the two project ideas and puréed thawed strawberries to add to the melted soap base for the red color. Let me preface by saying, that although I love Martha, rarely do I encounter one of her projects without a hitch, yet I am usually pleased with the results, so I keep going back.  And a very strong cookie cutter is necessary to cut through the thick soap. Mine started to get misshapen the more I cut out, so some are a bit irregular heart shaped. :) A soap mold is probably better, but when you have a lot to make, this method just made sense.

Makes 16 {approx} two-inch soaps

2 lbs all-natural soap base {I get mine from bulk apothecary}
6 - 8 Tbsp strawberry purée, strained to remove seeds
10 x 10  pan or baking dish, oiled
cookie cutter

Cut soap base into small cubes to melt easier, {for 2 lbs, it took about 45 minutes to an hour to fully melt}
Put soap cubes in "dedicated for soap making glass measuring cup" {I bought a 4 cup size and it's the perfect size for this much melting at once, it made just over 4 cups when melted}
Place measuring cup in pot with low simmering water and let melt.
Meanwhile purée strawberries {or whatever fruit or herb you are using}. Because I didn't want seeds in this soap I chose to pour it through a sieve
Add purée to melted soap and stir until completely mixed throughout.
Pour into oiled or greased 10x10 pan {I didn't mind using a baking dish I use to bake in since this was all-natural soap and it sure cleaned up squeaky clean. }
Let cool at room temperature for an hour and the put in freezer for a couple hours. {Martha's directions said freeze until it came away from the sides, but mine never did until it came to room
temperature a couple days later}. I still ran an offset spatula around the edges and had to gently coax it out of the dish.
Cut out soaps with cookie cutter, using some good strength and maximizing how you cut out. You can always re-melt the soap and start over if you oops cutting out or want/need to use the leftovers.

Put in soap dishes around the house or package them up to give as gifts.

Reed is giving these as his valentines this year. We have also been enjoying ours at the kitchen sink and in the tub. The boys have so much fun trying to keep hold of the slippery, slippery soap...we just laugh and laugh!

Hope you have a lovely valentine's day.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

homekeeping | how to clean stuffed animals

Are your kids anything like mine {or at least Reed, at this point} and they have quite a collection of stuffed animals?  I know I adored them as a child as well, just don't remember having had so many...
Reed just moved out of a small toddler bed into a big bed and he sure wants every stuffed animal to sleep with him.
I really try so hard keeping up on housekeeping to keep dust at a minimum, yet things such as stuffed animals {and baskets, but that's another post} can so easily be overlooked that collect dust too.  The thought of him sleeping all snuggled up to all the dust in them, made me cringe!

We are having yet another snow storm in Georgia today, so while we are all tucked in safe & snug at home, I thought what a perfect day to involve Reed in "bathing" his stuffed animals. I asked Reed to gather all his   {and Luc's} stuffed animals and bring them down to the laundry room. He made many, many trips up & down the stairs. Bless his heart! We did four loads of stuffed animals if that gives you any idea how many he has. Most of them he received as milestones in his life or are gifts he asks for, so how do I say no to something he so dearly loves so much?

This is how I have found to clean them good. My dryer had a steam {sanitary} cycle so I throw a load of them into that and then do another super dry on high heat to make sure they are really dry from any steam moisture. Initially I was concerned if they would be damaged by the high heat, but they come out just fine and are so fluffy and clean.  I think even without a steam cycle, you could toss a wet towel in to create your own steam. I used to do that to get wrinkles out of clothes, sheets, etc.
Reed helped me load them and then sat on the floor in front of the dryer for the first load watching them go around and around in the dryer. After they were all dry, he made many trips returning them to their respective homes in either his or Luc's room. He so loves to be involved and help, and I so appreciate the help, frankly. :)

I try to do this every month to keep allergies at bay. I sure felt better tonight tucking him into bed knowing he is snuggling up to clean animals. :)

Have a great rest of your week. :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

homemade peanut butter

Last week we were "snowed in" here in Georgia! Ironically,  it was just the kind of week I needed.  No chasing here & there, just playing with the boys, tending to housework and going to bed early {like 9 o'clock early!}. I am convinced that's why I was able to resist the illness that plagued Jeff hard the weekend earlier.

It was nice to be able to stay all warm & cozy inside all week waiting for the weather to warm up enough to melt the snow {that's what we have to do down here}. While Jeff shoveled our treacherous driveway {to give it a chance to melt and not ice over}I made some homemade peanut butter in my vitamix to give him the best tasting PB & J for lunch when he finished! Super easy, took maybe 5 min to grind smooth and creamy. The ingredients : peanuts of your choice. We like Trader Joe's 1/2 the salt roasted peanuts, but any kind you like will work.  It tastes soooo much better than any store bought PB.  And when it first gets blended, it's all warm and gooey. {Great to dip bananas in too}The best! Made ours with good quality grape jelly and sprouted whole grain bread.
I love using the weck jars. I love how they look, but they are also practical because you can freeze in them. If you make homemade peanut butter, its recommended to keep only a week or so in the fridge, so you can just make a big batch and freeze some for another time. It defrosts just great.

On a side note, if you don't already have one, I tell you it's really a great investment. I looked at them forever, hesitating because of the cost, but now I am so glad I took the plunge. It leave it on my counter because I use it almost everyday.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

delicious {& healthy} breakfast on a cold morning

The biggest meal I struggle with is breakfast. I just have never been much of a "first thing in the morning" breakfast eater. So, I am doesn't happen everyday, but on a cold, windy morning,  a warm bowl of homemade oatmeal was just perfect. The best part is it takes very little time so it's reasonable for a busy morning.

homemade oatmeal-makes one serving

1/2 cup old fashioned oats {not quick cooking}
1 cup of milk {dairy or not}
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Add all ingredients to pot and turn stove to med-low stirring occasionally since milk can boil over rather quickly.
I let it cook for about 7-9 min to my desired consistency. Remove when it looks a smidge runnier than you prefer as it will thicken a bit as it cools. To me the cinnamon and vanilla are enough flavor that I don't need any sweetener, but a bit of raw sugar wouldn't hurt ya if you like it a little sweeter... :)
This morning I topped mine with thawed frozen blueberries and toasted sliced almonds. It really kept me full so I wasn't tempted to snack.

What do you eat to start your day?