Posts Tagged ‘ simple life ’

Monday Madness

Saturday was a day of random. I stayed home all day with the baby, which is normal, but for some reason I didn’t feel normal. I blame the weather.

I left a load of laundry in the dryer instead of bringing it to our room to fold. I just grabbed what I needed when I needed it (a towel, Amelia’s favorite stuffed animal…) I even left the door to the laundry area open all day. And maybe even the door of the dryer.

I left the dishes undone until 3pm. Empty pizza box on the counter. Oatmeal spilled on the stove. Mess.

I puttied the holes in the coat closet’s walls and left the putty knife and globs of putty in the sink. With all the dirty dishes. Jar of putty by the coffee pot.

I mopped the living room floor but only the areas that got snow and mud tracked in the day before.

I half decorated the mantel. It had been looking lame since Christmas came down. But now it’s only half lame.

I ate lunch at 12 and again at 2:30.

I walked around all day with a cloth napkin hanging out of my pocket like a bandana. It came in handy a lot.

I got peed on and pooped on but one of those times I didn’t change my clothes. It dried.

It was a weird day. Very spontaneous. Very messy. I liked it. But I wouldn’t like it every day.

Now it’s Monday. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

My Housework Schedule, or Keeping My Head Above Water

After this was done, Ma began the work that belonged to that day. Each day had its own proper work. Ma used to say:

  • “Wash on Monday
  • Iron on Tuesday
  • Mend on Wednesday
  • Churn on Thursday
  • Clean on Friday
  • Bake on Saturday
  • Rest on Sunday”

Laura liked the churning and the baking days best of all the week.

I love Little House on the Prairie. The above expert is from Little House in the Big Woods. A few weeks ago I got sick of always feeling behind in the housework, so I implemented a little schedule of my own. It reminded me of the housework ditty from Little House, so I had to dig out my books and look it up. Here’s my modern version

  • De-clutter and Dust on Monday
  • Sweep and Mop on Tuesday
  • Vacuum on Wednesday
  • Laundry on Thursday
  • Clean Kitchen and Sweep on Friday
  • Clean Bathrooms on Saturday
  • Rest on Sunday

I sure am glad I don’t have to devote three days to laundry like Ma did. Yikes.

My system is working out pretty well so far. I especially like Monday’s De-clutter and Dust. It’s perfect for getting the house back in order after the weekend. Then it makes sense to get all that dust up off the floor the next day. Other than that, my “chores” are completely random. But it helps to have a small goal for each day. Otherwise I run around caring for the munchkin, switching laundry, cleaning one bathroom, making dinner, and feeling all day like I’m not getting everything done.

This is good. Bite sized housework. It works for me. What works for you?

The Best All Natural Cleaner

Other than water. But this cleaner is made of mostly water, so maybe I mean to say “including water.” Whatever.

Are you confused yet?

I’m going to tell you what this cleaner is now.

Right now.

Ok.

It’s water. And vinegar. And orange essential oil. But if you don’t have any essential oil, just water and vinegar is totally fine. It’s great actually. The essential oil just kind of masks the vinegar smell a little.

Which is helpful if your husband says that the smell of vinegar reminds him of when the cleaning ladies used to clean his parent’s floors. So basically he associates the smell of vinegar with “clean floors” but he doesn’t like our clean floors to smell like vinegar. And men say that women are confusing.

But in all honesty, the vinegar smell goes away as soon as the solution dries.  Try it sometime. I’ve been using this cleaning solution for the last 6 months and my house is still clean and odor (vinegar smell) free. I use it on windows, mirrors, sinks, counters, and floors. I’ve tried it in the tub, but it doesn’t quite do the job because HARD WATER, people. Just being honest. But for everything else….this cleaner is golden.

Here’s the very precise recipe.

  • 1-2 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Vinegar
  • 3 drops Essential Oil of choice. I like the citrus scents for cleaning, but it’s your world.

Dump it in a spray bottle and get to cleaning!

Cloth Wipes

Folding all these little cloth wipes makes me happy.

Happy because:

a) my mom made them

and

b) I know they are gentle on Amelia’s skin

and

c) they are free. Did I mention my mom made them? They cost me absolutely nothing. In fact, they probably cost her nothing as well, because she made them out of scrap fabric.

I love, love, love my cloth wipes. I keep a handful in a wipe warmer ($4 on clearance) with some homemade wipe solution and the rest of them in a drawer in the changing table.

When the warmer is empty, I throw in some fresh solution and another handful of wipes and we are good to go. Dirty wipes go in the dirty diaper bucket and get washed along with the diapers. Couldn’t be easier.

Here are the details for you other crunchy moms 🙂

Wipes

  • 8″ square
  • Flannel
  • Serged edges

Wipes Solution

  • 1-2 cups water
  • 2-3 drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 2-3 drops Calendula Oil

To make the solution I just carry the warmer over to the sink, run some warm water in it, dash in the oils, and swirl it around with my finger. I can even do it with the baby in one arm. If I am really pressed for time, or the baby is screaming, I just fill the warmer with water. Remember your highschool chemistry? Water is a universal solvent. It’s really all you need. I add the Tea Tree Oil as an anti-fungal and to keep the water fresh. Calendula Oil is healing and soothing to the skin, but you can definitely leave them out. Check the interwebs for more solution recipes. But please, try the cloth wipes. You’ll love them.

And just in case you don’t believe me, I asked Amelia what she thought.

Cloth wipes?

Oh yeah.

Disposable wipes?

Clearly, not a fan.

Crochet Food

Food is a favorite here at HuYoung Heaven. We love to cook it, eat it, talk about it, take pictures of it, and….play with it.

Yesterday I discovered the joys of crocheting play food. Food and crochet – together at last!

This lemon and lime combo were my first attempt and I think they turned out pretty well.  Just look at that little lime all cuddled up to the bananas!

There is a plethora of knit and crochet food patterns on the internet. Fruit today, cupcakes tomorrow.

My new handmade toy mania fits in nicely with our philosophy on “baby stuff.” We want to raise our kids without all the “necessities” that are pushed on today’s parents.

  • Baby monitor: don’t need it; we have a small house.
  • Disposable diapers: handy, yes, but 500 years in the landfill. And have you seen how cute cloth diapers are these days?
  • Diaper Pail: We have a 5 gallon bucket

I’m being a little facetious here but you get my drift. If I can make cute, safe toys for my kids and avoid cluttering up my house with brightly colored plastic ones then I’m all for it.

But please don’t come to my house in a few years and count up all the plastic toys we have – I’m sure it will be substantially more than I think  🙂

The Long Winter part II

I need this stove.  Look, a hot water reservoir on the right!  And a warming oven!


And a firebox! I’m pretty excited about the firebox. It’s where you build the fire. Because this isn’t just any old stove — it’s a wood stove.

Can you tell I’ve been reading Little House on the Prairie lately? Look at the cooking surface where Ma makes a pot of beans for dinner! Later she adds molasses and salt pork and throws the beans into the oven to make baked beans for supper. I can do that!

I’m not sure I could make bread in that oven, but baked beans I can handle. Cake might be tricky, but you know what? I’m not planning on getting rid of my electric oven, just adding this one.

It will look perfect in the dining room. No, there won’t be any room for the table, but that’s ok.  We’ll be so toasty warm we won’t even care that we have to eat on the floor.

Speaking of the floor, the vinyl in the dining room might present a problem. So I guess we’ll rip that out and replace it with something a little more flame retardant and less likely to melt. Should be simple.

And then…..a new wood cook stove! I’m sure it will really increase the value of our home in this suburban neighborhood.


How to make an herbal tea

As previously mentioned, I’m a chronic self-diagnoser. I avoid the doctor’s office like the plague. Flu shots- I don’t get ’em. Cough syrup – don’t take it. Not me, I like to fight off sickness the old fashioned way – with herbs.

This morning I woke up a little stuffy and with a little tickle in my throat. We all know what that means, especially when you’ve been around somebody that has a cold.

Here’s the tea that I’m drinking to prevent this from turning into a full fledged head cold.

Steep all the herbs together in just boiled water for 5-10 minutes. Strain and drink.

As you can see, I put all my herbs into the little strainer thing, set it in a 1 qt jar, then fill the jar with the boiled water. When the tea is ready, I just remove the strainer and pour some tea into my mug.

Let’s take a quick look at the properties of these herbs (as they relate to colds).

Mullein– good for all respiratory illness, helps loosen mucous and expel it from body

Elderberry- boosts immune system (similar to Echinacea), fights flu

Red Raspberry Leaf- high in vitamin C. This herb is in known as the “woman’s herb” and is wonderful in relieving many female problems and regulating hormones. It also tastes great, so I add RRL to most teas that I make for myself.

Licorice- anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxer, reduces the urge to cough, loosens mucous, boosts absorption of the other herbs it is used with.

These herbs have numerous other uses, but I’m just interested in fighting a cold right now. I’m also taking raw garlic (a natural antibiotic) and tonight I’ll make a new batch of tea with chamomile or lavender (both of which aid sleep).

So here’s to sipping tea and fighting colds! May the best woman win.

If you’re interested in learning more about herbs, www.bulkherbstore.com is a great place to start.

Frugalista Weekend Meal: Ham Bone Soup

I think this is going to be my cheapest meal yet. Check it.

  • Ham Bone: Free (leftover from a ham that was given to us)
  • 1 lb dried Navy Beans: $1
  • Bacon Grease: Free (leftover from cooking bacon)
  • 3 carrots: $.30
  • 1 onion: $.30
  • Water: Free (sort of)
  • Salt: So cheap it’s almost free

Total: $1.60  Divide that by 6 servings and it’s $.27 per serving. Take that $1 menu. Here’s how you do it.

Bacon grease. Throw some in a pot. A tablespoon will do.

Carrots and Onions. Cook them for just a minute or two in the bacon grease.

Now throw in your leftover ham bone and 1 pound of dried, rinsed beans.

Add 6-8 cups of water and you are almost home free.

Now you just need to simmer this for 2-3 hours and it’s done!  You may need to add a little salt, just be careful with that ham bone in there. It will impart a lot of flavor. I only added a smidge of salt to this hole big pot of beans.

Serve with bread and butter and a salad. Feel good about all the money you saved by cooking at home. Make plans for how to spend that money. Nikon D40 anyone?

How to make bread

I know a lot of people are intimidated by the thought of making bread. Don’t be afraid, I’m here for you. Nothing beats a fresh loaf of bread on a cold winter’s night. Unless it’s a hot bowl of soup. Hmmm, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Back to the bread. Take a look at the recipe, then I’ll walk you through it.

  • 7/8 Cup warm Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Yeast
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour

Not too scary, right?

Ok, let’s start with the water.  You want it to be about 110 degrees. Not hot, but not cold. Warm. If you are unsure, err on the cold side, because hot water will kill your yeast.

So, throw your yeast in the bowl, add the water. Also add the sugar. It’s not necessary to stir at this point. Throw it all the bowl together, and walk away for about 10 minutes. Find something else to do. Fold a load of laundry, get on Facebook, or just lay on the couch. Your mixture will go from this

to this. Notice how happy and bubbly the yeast is now?

Now you can add the remaining ingredients. I like to only add 2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup just in case I need it. Turn your stand mixer to 2 or 4, and let it all mix up. Then take a look at your dough and see what it needs.

Too gooey. It’s not forming a ball or cleaning the sides of the bowl. Let’s add that last 1/4 cup of flour.

That’s looking better. Now we just need to knead it! And by we, I mean the kitchenaid. It kneads real good. Just turn it to 4 and walk away. Let it do it’s thing for 3 or 4 minutes, then come back and give it a final check.

Looks great! It’s forming a ball, and it has cleaned the sides of the bowl nicely. There may be more exact ways of measuring when the dough is just right, but those are the criteria I use.

Now just leave the dough in the bowl, cover it, and leave in a warm place for at least an hour.  The back of the stove is good. Especially if there is soup simmering on the front of the stove.

We want the dough to rise in the bowl. This is called the first rise. Pretty brilliant, right?

Good job, dough. Now through the dough onto a floured surface and punch it down a few times with your hands. Shape into a loaf and place on a greased pan.

Now cover again, and let it sit (again!) for the 2nd rise. Should take 30-45 minutes. Here’s how it will look when it is ready.

At this point you can throw it into a preheated 400 degree oven. Or you can jazz it up a bit by brushing with some egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp water) and cutting diagonal slits on top.  (Note: it only takes 1 or 2 tbsp of egg wash. Don’t go throwing all the egg on there or you’ll have fried eggs on top of your bread.)

Now bake! 400 degrees for 25 minutes. You want the bread to be nice and brown on top, and to sound hollow when you knock on it. Again, not so scientific, but bread making really isn’t. Just trust me. It has a certain sound.

Look! Bread! You did it!

So to recap the main points:

  • Add sugar and yeast to warm water and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Knead for 3-5 minutes
  • Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Punch down, shape into loaf, and let rise 30 minutes
  • Brush with egg wash, bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Not too bad, right? 2010 is the year of bread. Not really, but it could be. So learn to bake bread this year. It’s worth it.

And I’m sorry the pictures go from natural light to nasty flash light. I lost the daylight, ok? It gets late early these days…..

Don’t forget to get your raffle tickets to win a Starbucks gift card! Info here

How to make Laundry Soap

December is not a good month to try to save money. With all those parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow….wait, did I write that?

Anyway, not a cheap month. Happy – yes. Indulgent – definitely. A good month to save for adopting – not so much.

One way that I save money year round is by making our own laundry soap. It’s easy, cheap, and easy. I made some toady – I’ll show you.

Grate 1 bar of unscented soap (regular or laundry). I like this Fels Naptha laundry soap.

The grating can get tedious, but you’ll get through it.

Now measure 1.5 cups Borax, and 1.5 cups Washing Soda and add to the soap flakes.

Voila! Laundry soap! Use 1 TBSP per load.


Bet you didn’t really think it would be that easy, did you? Maybe next time you’ll believe me.

Washing Soda, Borax, and Fels Naptha can be found in the cleaning or laundry aisles of WalMart, Target, Kroger, etc. I personally buy mine at Kroger in the cleaning aisle.

I tried to write a nice, neat breakdown of the cost, but it’s honestly been at least a year since I bought the Washing Soda and Borax. I’d like to say they were around $2.50-3 each, but don’t hold me to that.  They obviously last a while. The Fels Naptha costs $1 per bar. So each batch of laundry soap (that lasts our little family 3 months) costs maybe $1.50.

Not too shabby. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some laundry to fold.