Archive for the ‘housekeeping’ Category

In light of the coming weekend forcast full of 80 degree temps and sun shinning,  I am spending the day in the kitchen.  The only housework I want to do tomorrow is the kind that hangs laundry on the line or plants flowers in the window boxes (Pansies as we have been known to get more snow.)  If it is going to be that nice in April I am going to enjoy it, darn it!

On my list today is:

  • yogurt
  • ricotta (homemade since we can’t buy any fresh here…it’s not hard)
  • sausage
  • roasting a chicken
  • a special dessert (for Mr “I’m not so into this” Trying Traditional)
  • Vietnamese meat balls
  • hardboiled eggs

This is on top of the usual homeschool, dishes (and if I accomplish all on my list, we will have lots of dishes, picking up,meals, etc.

This reminds me.  Why is it that the twins are like a tornado?  If the older two and I go around picking up, they are in the opposite rooms making a mess.   There are only 8 rooms in our entire house and while we are picking up three rooms, they are messing up at minimum two of them.  And I am not a neat freak.  I would love to have a nice, neat home, devoid of stuff, clutter, and well, more stuff.  I would love to have a decor and even more so an actual living (but that is another battle.)  What I am talking about is the general mess of four children, a three-legged dog, and two adults.  From where I sit I could reach laundry (all clean and on it’s way to being put away), dishes, four purses, pencils, erasers, cloth napkins, random socks, sippy cups, two squeaky toys, a towel, a lock for at the YMCA, books, one pen and a ruler.  This is all around my kitchen table.  Sigh.  So, when naptime hits I try to really work on the house and schooling when I feel like collapsing for an hour.

Back to my kitchen list:

So far I’ve finishe the hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, and ricotta…well, almost.  The ricotta is straining and the yogurt is heating.  I started at about 10 this morning on both.  Mind you there was lunch, potty-training, and all sorts of interruptions mixed in.  The yogurt is in the dehydrator (to keep it warm) until 7 tonight.   Next is the chicken (can it really be after 2 already) followed by the sausage and meatballs.  I’m making my own sausage to avoid nitrates and processed sugars, besides it isn’t hard.  The special dessert may or may not get done today, we will have to see. 

Here is how to make raw milk yogurt and ricotta in case you are interested:

Raw Milk Yogurt

The yogurt is pretty much like the recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon

  • 4 cups of raw milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (with active cultures)

That is it, only two ingredients, if only all recipes could be this way!

In a double boiler (or a heat safe bowl set over a pot of boiling water for a home-made double boiler.)  Heat milk to 110 degrees.  You want to heat it slowly.  Have a 1 quart jar ready to let your yogurt culture in with a lid that fits (always an issue around here.)  Once milk gets to 110, remove from boiling water and remove/discard/drink 2 Tbsps of hot milk, stir in a heaping tablespoon of your yogurt into the remaining milk.  Pour this into your prepared jar along with two more heaping Tbps of yogurt.  Stir really well and screw lid on tight.  Place in your dehydrator for 8 hours at around 90 degrees.  This is to maintain a warm temperature ideal for culturing all those beneficial bacteria.  Ive heard of people using warm towels and a cooler, a crock-pot, and all sorts of things.  I’ve blessed to have my handy dehydrator to do the work for me on this one.

Whole Milk Ricotta

Not necessarily a true ricotta (traditional ricotta is made from the leftover whey when making other cheeses), this is made from whole milk.   It works quite well for me, though, seeing as I would have at minimum an hour drive there and back to pick up the real deal.  The ricotta was made pretty much like this, though I used 11 cups of raw, un-skimmed Jersey milk, 1 cup of cream, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and healthy 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar.  I would type it all out, but really, why re-invent the wheel when there is so much that needs done. 

So, now that it has taken me 2 hours to write this, my ricotta is drained and very tasty thank you very much.  Time to go get that bird roasting and to season some sausage, suppose I could put it in the Kitchen Aid?


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Has anyone else been absolutely stumped when it comes to what to cook for supper lately?  I think it is all the sewing, but I am beyond un-inspired when it comes to meals as of late.  I did stop sewing this weekend for a much needed home clean-sweep.  Isn’t funny how once you get started it is hard to stop! 

We started cleaning out flower beds, but then cleaned out the garage yesterday.  Oh, our garage gets so very cluttered in the winter.  It is a very small garage.  Forest’s old Toyota Celica would go in, the mini-van I am not fond of…not so much.  If need be the truck would fit in there, though you might have to climb out the window.    During the winter, it is the dumping spot for all sorts of nothingness.  Eight trash bags later, you can walk freely and park the girls’ bikes in there.  Yes, it has been warm enough for them to be out biking! 

In our garage is our beloved freezer.  It is still relatively full and I took a visual inventory while out there.  I was concerned I made too much applesauce last fall, but not so as we still have quite a bit left.   There is still a ton of veggies left out there as well as odds and ends of meat, lots of broth, and a few bags of fruit.

Here’s my list of things I want to use up, we seem to have a surplus of them:

  • broth
  • zucchini
  • rhubarb
  • sour cream (it was on sale, I bought extra, we already had plenty)

To help plan on using some of these things up, I am going to try a loose meal plan for the week.  I used to do a meal plan and it really helped.  It is time to get back into that habit and I am thinking next week will be a no-grocery week so we can eat out of the freezer and save a bit of money for some bedding plants and mulch.   To complicate things, soccer starts this week.  It’s been a blissful two weeks without swimming, now soccer starts.  We have practices Mon and Wed at 4:30 and Forest is going to help coach.  There is no game schedule yet, but if I am remembering right this is a fairly short season.   This week I am also working on Fri and Sat, so that is two meals I do not need to bother with.  My goal for Mon and Wed will be quick and easy meals or (like Sunday lunch) a crockpot meal.

Monday- Oven Fried Shrimp, wild rice, and broccoli

Tuesday- Beef, Pepper, and Mushroom Fajitas

Wednesday-Beef Stew in the crockpot with potatoes, peppers, and onions

Thursday- Sausage Lasagna (with  lots of zucchini in it)

Sunday Lunch- Whole chicken with new potatoes and carrots

While doing at that, I also cleaned out the pantry cupboard and refrigerator.  Next is the rest of the kitchen cupboards.  There is a big yard sale in my near future.  I have quality things I want to get rid of and would like a bit o f cash for an upcoming trip.  Also on my list is a massive sorting of all little girl clothes and toys…the two things that seem to take over my home!

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new banner

I’m still having blog issues, I’m pretty sure it is me.  Regardless, I had this nice crisp photo that I added my blog’s  name to.  As you can see up there, it is all blurry now…sigh.  At least it isn’t snow.  Seeing as how I look out at the trees blowing around like mad, water everywhere, and not a patch of snow to be found, I figured it was time to oust the snow and put up something green.  At least it makes me feel better!

Speaking of feeling better, today is day three of all four girls fevering and being miserable in their own way.  No other symptoms aside from a dry cough, for that I am thankful.   It’s not easy, especially for the twins as they just want me to hold them.  Not much else is getting done around here aside from hugs, movies, and books.  Could be worse, though, it could be one at a time, a week at a time.  That was what January was and so far I’m thinking this is a good trade.

Blueberry pancakes, just because:

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How resolute are you?  Did you think of some goals for 2009?  Are you keeping any of them?  What’s your progress?

Here is where I stand:

My house- as I have posted a couple times I am slowly working on it.  I am not only wanting to physically re-do my home, but functionally as well.  Something I’m giving a try right now is a load of laundry every day.  I’ve tried it before and it didn’t stick, but it just sounds so much more appealing than waiting until everyone is out of socks.  Here’s what my plan looks like:

  • Sunday-hopefully none as we try to keep this a more relaxed day
  • Monday-mediums
  • Tuesday-towels
  • Wednesday-whites
  • Thursday-reds
  • Friday-jeans
  • Saturday-sheets

The above are my main “catagories” when doing a load of wash.  Occasionally I have other odds and ends and I know these will creep up and need to be done.  I’m okay with that.  Spending all weekend doing load after load of laundry, though, is just not cutting it for me.  I have other simple ideas like this that I want to try, but first I try this one for a few weeks and see if I can’t get it to stick.

Myself:  Yoga is still kicking me in the pants.  I am really out of shape, my strength and balance being the worst.  Thankfully I still have good flexibility.  Since the New Year, there has been a n illness working itself through the house.  I had it, Liz has it now, Forest had it…It’s been spread out enough that I haven’t spent any extra time at the Y.  I figure during illness and bad weather (our Y closes if it is really bad out and we’ve had quite a bit of snow the last couple weeks) if I make to at least one class a week I am doing good.   This next week looks very promising to make it to at least two Yoga classes and I hope to start working in a bike ride as well.

My Faith:  I’ve started in a little, but nothing substantial to report.  I’ve slacked here, I admit it.  Time to push this one up a little!

Something that I feel falls under home and self both is crafting.  I like to think I am a creative person.  I love working with fabric and paper both.  I can quilt, knit (this is new for me and I like how it’s portable without planning ahead), scrapbook (though this is not my favorite), sew for the home and my family, and paint.  My friend and I are thinking of opening an online store and I personally would like to it by fall of this year (see D~ I’m setting goals for us.)  For right now I am trying to research what people want to buy that is handmade.  I’m also trying to find what I can do effectively.  For instance, I love to quilt but it takes forever, is hard to find the fabrics I like (vintage prints, and some of the more modern designers)  in our small part of the middle of nowhere.  I also find that it is something that take me a good long time.  It ends up being hard to price out.  I also haven’t found people willing to drop a few hundred dollars on something they only see pics of on Etsy.  So, I have to find the right niche.  I love to create things and hope to make a little bit of extra cash.  Doing something you love makes you happy, keeping it picked up and in order helps my home. 

How are you doing on your New Year’s Resolutions?  It’s still January, don’t lose hold of them yet!

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feeling better

Such high and lofty goals for last week…struck down premature by a fever and a husband out of town.   I have a hard time recognizing when I need to ask for help, last week I asked.  My parents brought some food over after I had emptied the fridge and resorted to ordering pizza.  Thankfully, Forest came home on Friday before the snow hit too hard and life is back to ” normal” (what is that anyway?)

So, here, as promised is the beginnings of my clean out.  I am half finished with the closet.  I didn’t take before pics, but I have gotten this far so consider these during:

My shirts have been sorted into needs to be thrown into the rag pile, given to others, and keeps.  When I was done with this, I later went through and turned the ones I still wasn’t sure about around (as in hung from the back of the bar.)  That way if a few months go by in the proper season and they still are turned I know that it is time to give them away.  I also sorted through some stuff that was just sitting around.  The shelf above my shirts is mainly pictures/frames.  I plan on using these in my living room and office when all is said and done.

I still have a ways to go, though:

The step ladder isn’t usually there.  We use it to slip stuff up into the attic (for example the Christmas stuff on the floor.)  Our shoes need sorted through in a bad way as do dress pants and dresses.  All in time.

Then there is the living room.  It’s small and was arrange awful with hand-me-down furniture.  Well, it still is small and still has hand-me-down furniture, but I’m working with what I’ve got here.  Looking at the photos I’m thinking it needs a fresh coat of paint and a better ceiling…and different carpet and better trim….and new curtains with a fresh coat of paint on the front door as well.  It all takes time and money, though, and this is what I’ve got to work with (see, I keep telling myself that.)


Pretty bad and pretty small (ignore camera hungry kids still in PJ’s.)   I emptied the room except for of the futon (I really dislike futons, but it’s furniture and it is on loan from my sister.)  All toys did not return including the shelf they were “on.”  They will now be in the office.  I should note, this is all part of the original house.  It’s a 1940’s ranch that was 600 aq ft when we bought it (before kids.)  This is the living room and you can see into the older two’s bedroom that is a bit smaller than the living room.  The kitchen was even smaller than that, followed by bedroom number two, and finally the bathroom being the smallest, though fair sized for it’s age.  I would love to knock out the wall between the office (old kitchen) and the living room, but Forest keeps saying something about support walls and the roof for the addition we put on (we as in my Grandpa, dad, and a few guys at church minus the foundation that we hired out.)  It’s been a great starter home, I’m ready to move on…college loans dictate no.  I’m dealing by trying to use what I have to make it my own.

So here is the after:


That last photo was taken with me sitting on the futon holding the camera up to the corner of the room.  Now, keep in mind, I realize my furniture is not the right scale for the room, but it was in our budget (free or on loan.)  None of it coordinates and the only piece I am really even fond of is the one two of the girls are sitting on (though I’d like to paint the legs.)  The recliner is huge and it rocks so it just doesn’t fit.  It is going to have to go eventually.  The futon also is huge, not my style, but at least it is comfortable.  My sister needed a place to store it when we needed a couch.  I’d love to get one of those cute IKEA couches that have washable slipcovers.  But it just isn’t in the budget.  Time to focus on the positives. 

  • There is more floor space and it is easier to walk through the room. 
  • I plan on cutting off the bottom portion of the shelf and painting it so it is more my style and hopefully with paint I have on hand.
  • I have tons of photos of the kids, the only art I have.  They will be arranged in frames and hung to help give the room some “finish”
  • No more mass amount of toys at the front door!

It should be easy to come up with some cash to paint the doors and wall, I think I have enough on hand for trim.  New curtains would be nice.  I’m actually thinking of making Roman shades out of the ones there in a color/fabric that I like and getting rid of the sheers.  That is all do-able.

So while I feel better with the start on the living room, the next project up (I’ll actually start this one as I am finishing the last two) is the office (old kitchen.)  Why you ask?  Because that is where all the toys went to:


Yeah, I need serious help,  this is the room we walk through to get from the kitchen (down those three steps) to the living room/girls’ bedrooms.  Thankfully, Forest is home and I’m able to work on all this piece by piece.  I’ll update as I go.

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in the works

  1. still have a birthday post in the works
  2. head cold has wrecked my plans the last few days, but not today
  3. today I am starting on my resolution about my house. 

Yep, it is time to start getting my home in order and making it mine.  My budget right now is $0 so that will make it interesting and I am ok with that.  My focus right now is layout and stuff.  I’m starting with my closet (easy, quick gratification getting rid of stuff) and the living room (my main problem room.)  The living room would be easier if I could perhaps move in some new furniture or knock out a wall.  Not in the budget though.  Eventually paint and maybe even some fabric or trim might be afforded.  Until then, I will make do with what I have.  I think, no I KNOW, that is the problem.  I have too much for our little home.  Time to sift, sort, and no more stashing!

I plan on posting photos tomorrow of my progress.  There is a great couple of posts over at the Restyled Home on living in smaller homes.  Make sure you read the comments as there are some wonderful tips and suggestions.  I think seeing her wonderful photos, the posts I mentioned, and then my determination to make my home more comfortable all hit good and strong last night.  That and a phone call with my best friend….guess I just needed a couple people to tell me to get over it and deal with what I have.  (Kidding D~, you didn’t tell me that!)  Plus, it’s winter and dreary…I need to keep my mind off of that.

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Talk about hitting the ground running, it feels so good to have a productive day. 

In the last 24 hours I have:

  • cleaned out my sock and underwear drawer
  • sorted through and organized my jewelry box
  • got rid of the pile of misc. items on my dresser
  • sorted through all four girls’ summer clothes, separating what they will wear next year and what won’t fit next year, and what needs to be saved back for the twins
  • 7 math lessons with the older two
  • swim team practice (with all four girls)
  • cooked three meals
  • hung a cabinet for my parents
  • unpacked four boxes for parents
  • watched a movie with the girls
  • talked to an old friend on the phone for awhile
  • and even took a short nap!

If only every day was this productive.  I am exhausted, though, and hope that I didn’t push myself too much.  I really think tomorrow will be the day I feel 100% and I can’t wait.  Being sick is just not a good option for a mom of four.  Oh, and much of the above “extras” (not daily things for us) was either done with all the girls in order to keep children out of husband’s way while he worked on the project that will not end front porch or with his help.  Have to give credit to my amazing husband because he is, well…amazing 🙂

Things I’m trying to juggle right now: family needs due to health (our household getting over the cold as well as the two with cancer), parents unpacking, working short shifts to cover some extra costs we have right now as well as to save up a bit for the holidays, school and food (as always), and deep cleaning the house.

A note on those last two.  Food as always has a new twist with Jane swimming so much.  She is hungrier (understandably) and has swim meets that last 10 hours.  I need to try to bring food to these things and being that we homeschool I am not a seasoned lunch packer.  I found a couple bento sites (here and here) that have been very helpful after last Saturday’s food disaster.  I brought us PB sandwiches (she ate both), cheese (she ate both), milk (she drank it all), carrots (those too) and an applesauce and yogurt…thankfully I ate the yogurt and paid for a piece of pizza at the concession stand.  That meet was only a sprint meet (4 or so hours), she only swam three events, but swimming really seems to stimulate her appetite.  This week will last about 10 hours and she is in 6 events.  I’m planning on bringing a very hearty stew, cheese, crackers (home made if I can), fruit, lightly steamed veggies and dip, and who knows what else.  I figure we might end up purchasing one meal, but we’ll see.  Oh yeah, and it’s 45 minutes away from home and we have to be there at 8:30 so breakfast will be interesting as well. 

The other thing I wanted to expand on was deep cleaning the house.  You can see from my “what I’ve accomplished” list that I’m trying to get rid of stuff that is cluttering my life.  As I helped my parents move I saw how stuff becomes part of you.  My parents fighting over stuff, digging stuff out of the trash when the other wasn’t looking, stressing because the new place doesn’t hold all their stuffStuff, stuff, stuff.  My grandmother with 5 shoeboxes full of obituaries, over 600 matchbooks that she hasn’t collected and more of since 1988, two ziplock bags full of hotel soap, and things that are broken and collecting dust because they are sentimental.  I do not want stuff to have that kind of hold on my life.  In going through my jewelry (not more than four “real” pieces, the rest all costume) I was careful to think if I was going to wear it, how long it had been since I had worn it, and why I was keeping it.  There was so much that I just got rid of as it wasn’t even worth giving to a thrift store.  There were a few things that were mine when I was a child that I held on to for the girls and then a few crazy-odd things I am giving them for their dress-up box.  It felt good to get it done and I want to do it to the entire house. 

It’s so easy to hold onto things.  Pretty soon they pile up and something has to be done with them.  It becomes a source of frustration in your life and a hindrance to a calm spirit (not that anything round here is calm, but really, I don’t need any help with clutter in my day!)  You may think “oh, I paid good money for that 20 years ago” but what good is it doing you if it is a constant thorn in your side.  Or you may think “Emily made that for me a few years back, but I just don’t know what to do with it.”  Find someone that needs it, will use it, and appreciate it.  It’s just stuff, you can’t take it with you when you die, and when it gets down to it what really matters are the relationships in your life.  Is your stuff getting in the way of your relationship with your children, spouse, or God?  Is it worth that…I think not.

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