Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Tidings

This is the mildest winter we've experienced
since moving here almost 7 years ago.
We're not used to seeing the likes of this...

in January.

Petunias are quite content with cooler temperatures
and add a touch of brightness to the garden.

Black-eyed susans are something
I'd like to use in more areas.

The bare branches of winter
add an air of tranquility and stillness.

The brilliant blue sky is a sight to behold.
We are blessed to be able to enjoy
these glorious days.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Easy Cheesy Kid's Favorite

One dish most kids like is mac-n-cheese.
It's one of the mainstays for kids on the spectrum

Due to allergies, I had to come up with a recipe for Lil' Guy
so that he could enjoy this all-American favorite.
This recipe is wheat, gluten, dairy and soy free.
No morsel is left in his bowl.

It takes just a few minutes to whip up this classic.
And the look of happiness on a child's face
is worth every bit of effort.

Gluten-Free Mac-n-Cheese

1 C gf noodles (we use Tinkayada)
1/4-1/2 C rice milk (or other alternative)
1 T olive oil
1 T gf flour mix
3 slices rice cheese (or other alternative)
1/2 t salt
1 t paprika

Cook rice noodles according to directions.
Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, add olive oil to saucepan.
Sprinkle in gf flour mix.
Toast flour for 1 minute.
Slowly add milk, whisking to remove lumps.
Add cheese slices and stir until melted.
Add noodles to pan and stir to incorporate.
Toss in salt to taste.
Sprinkle with paprika, if desired.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider

"Simplicity isn't about what you give up.  It's about what you gain.  When you remove the things that don't matter to you, you are free to focus on only the things that are meaningful to you.  Imagine your home, your time, your finances, and your belongings all filling you with positive energy and helping you achieve your dreams.  It can happen, and Organized Simplicity can show you how.
Inside you'll find:
*A simple, ten-day plan that shows you step by step how to organize every room in your home
*Ideas for creating a family purpose statement to help you identify what to keep and what to remove from your life
*Templates for a home management notebook to help you effectively and efficiently take care of daily, weekly and monthly tasks
*Recipes for non-toxic household cleaners and natural toiletry items including toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo.
Start living a more organized, intentional life today."

This is one of the best books on organization I've read to date.
Not only is it filled with great ideas to start any decluttering project, it contains several worksheets that can help the reader manage budget, time, and inventory.   I really relate to the perspective the author takes on making room in your life for the good stuff by clearing out the stuff that's blocking you.  The compact size makes it easy to tote anywhere, for inspiration throughout the day.  If this book doesn't get you started on clearing out the clutter in your life, then you're just not serious about improving your life.  I look forward to reading this again and again.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Simple Thing-Pantry Door Rack

We are so fortunate to have a pantry in our kitchen.
Ample storage in general was one of the selling points
of this house when we bought it,
as it will be when we put it on the market.

Our pantry contains most of our dry goods
including staples like flour, sugar, pasta and cereals
accomodated on four shelves.
Plenty of room, right?

Well, one thing I never turn down is
a chance to add storage.

This lil' door rack adds tons more space for jars,
boxes or other containers.
When items are on sale, we buy in bulk,
so having storage saves us money, time and effort.
You can never go wrong when adding
a more efficient way of storing needed items.

One Simple Thing

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Let's Try it Again...

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent-Take Two

Last year, we ventured into
concocting our own dishwasing detergent.
You can find a post about that here.

You gotta figure that new endeavors
are gonna need some tweaking.
Being less than thrilled with the results of that first recipe,
the search was on for a new and improved version.

Here are the ingredients.

Homemade Dishwashing Powder
2 C washing soda
1 C borax
1 C baking soda

Add all ingredients to a container and shake well.
Wouldn't this be a fun project for kids to help with?

Use 2 T per load

***Update-We found it necessary to use 2 oz. of citric acid
in the mix to help with cloudiness,
as we have hard water.
We also use vinegar in the rinse dispenser.

It's all a learning process...

***Update II:  We finally settled on a recipe for these cubes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
2 C flour
1/4 C dark cocoa
1/4 t salt
1 C butter
3/4 C sugar (or sucanat)
1 t vanilla

Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. 
Cream butter and sugar, then add vanilla.
Add flour mixture, blending well and shaping into log.
Refrigerate at least an hour.
Cut into 1/4" slices and bake 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Aromatherapy:  The A-Z Guide to Healing with Essential Oils
by Shelagh Ryan Masline and Barbara Close

Aromatherapy: The A-Z Guide to Healing With Essential Oils by Barbara Close and Shelagh Ryan Masline (1998, Paperback) Image

"Filled with both traditional wisdom and the latest research, Aromatherapy contains all the information you need to purchase and use these powerful, magnificent oils.  It includes:
*Healing and sensual massages
*The luxurious European sitz bath
*Facial steam bath and rejuvenating clay mask
*Transcendent baths for relaxation and hydration
*Elegant hydrolat baths for clear, healthy skin
*Specific remedies for dozens of health problems from acne to varicose veins
With Aromatherapy you'll find foolproof ways to diminish headache pain, safely treat over 50 common ailments, alleviate stress, energize and uplift moods and much more."

This guide is a great resource for folks like me who are just starting to learn about this alternative healthcare option.  Being interested in a more natural way of dealing with illness, this book attracted me.  It's also comforting to know that our health is something that we can influence everyday by the choices we make.  Eating a balanced diet and exercise are two ways to accomplish this.  Adding essential oils can enhance our lives by keeping us proactive in our own healthcare.  The alphabetized order of the book makes it easy to look up just what you need.  This is one book I plan to add to my library.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Simple Thing-Shoe Rack

One of the first impressions visitors get of your home
is the front entrance.
Not only is it important to make it inviting for others,
but if you use your front door,
it sets the tone for what happens
after you turn that key in the lock.

We have a hall tree in our foyer
on which we can hang our coats and hats.
(In newer Florida homes, there are no coat closets.)

Our shoes were lined up neatly next to the front door.

One of the things that makes a house look orderly
is simply getting things off of the floor.

I like the idea of not tracking dirt into the house,
especially since we currently have carpet (>:/)
in most of the house.
I knew I needed a better solution.

An inexpensive shoe rack will do wonders
to add a sleek look to an entrance.
It's a good idea to think vertical
when you have a small area.
We can now house our shoes here
as soon as we come in from outside
and there is even room for guests shoes.
This type of rack could work in a mudroom,
laundry room, back porch, or even in a closet.

One Simple Thing

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Tidings

A rather bleak Friday encouraged me
to dig up our sweet potatoes.
It's so sad to see those once lovely chartreuse vines
turned to brown mush.
It's a little late in the season for harvesting,
so I wasn't sure how we'd do.

After a bit of research,
we are letting them dry out in the sun for a day or so,
then they will be stored in the pantry in a box
filled with shredded newspaper.

This one seems to have fused together.
Does that mean they didn't have enough room?
Is it edible? 
It reminds me of a bread bowl,
just grab a fork and dive into the middle!
I have SO much to learn!

I can't wait to taste them,
as this is our first harvest of this lovely veg.

I see some sweet potato bread in Lil' Guy's future!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Buttery Pecan Cookies

Around the holidays,
the search was on for special Christmas cookies.
I found a treasure trove on this cute site,
which includes games for kids
and all sorts of fun things to discover.

Buttery Pecan Cookies

1 C butter
2/3 C sugar
pinch salt
1 t vanilla
2 C flour
1/2 C nuts, chopped

Cream butter, sugar, salt and vanilla.
Add flour and nuts. 
Shape dough into log and chill 3 hours.
Slice and bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Food Stamped

Food Stamped
A Documentary Film by Shira and Yoav Potash

Food Stamped DVD

"Food Stamped follows nutritionist Shira Potash and her documentary filmaker husband Yoav as they attempt to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on a food stamp budget.  Shira teaches healthy cooking classes to elementary students in low-income neighborhoods, most of whom are eligible for food stamps.  In an attempt to walk a mile in their shoes, Shira and Yoav embark on the "Food Stamp Challenge," eating on roughly one dollar per meal.  Through their adventures they consult with Members of Congress, food justice advocates, nutrition experts, and people living on food stamps to take a deep look at America's broken food system."

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary and found it inspiring that a couple of ordinary working folks would endeavor to create this project for themselves.  Surprisingly, there seem to be many programs available (at least in California) for those with limited funds for food.  The most impressive was the ability to use food stamps at farmer's markets.  How many families could benefit from such an option?  Another city in New England featured a school district where the produce is grown locally and tended by an internship program for high school students.  The ingenuity is really astounding and one would hope that these ideas would trickle down to other districts, cities and states. 
The creators of the documentary took us through their day-to-day lives living on a food stamp budget, all the while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  We hear about how it's impossible to eat healthily on a modest budget.  Locally grown organic food just isn't available to low income families.  Or is it?  It was a challenge they took upon themselves and the results were quite surprising.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Community Resources

‘We trust people.
We truly believe — we are witness to it —
that people are decent.’

What a concept!

I read about this town in England
that decided to become more self-sufficient
and in the process,
changed the lives of virtually everyone living there.

Wouldn't this be an incredible way to impact a community?
People can be truly brilliant!

Read more about it here:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

One Simple Thing-Allowance

Last week we spotlighted chore charts in our
One Simple Thing feature.
This week we are sharing our allowance plan.

Marbles are our currancy.

Lil' Guy's chores are broken down into different times of day.
This gives him the sense that getting it all done is doable
if it's divided throughout the day.
Kids can feel overwhelmed with one long list.

 A marble is earned for each task completed
and yes, he does get credit for
remembering to brush his teeth and wash his face. 
These are big accomplishments for him
in the quest toward independence.

He must earn at least 12 marbles a day to earn his dollar.
If he earns a bonus marble (large one),
he gets an extra 50 cents.
We encourage a cheerful attitude, 
which includes how he interacts with friends, 
and initiating assistance to Momma and Dad.
He is required to save at least $1 per week.

Lil' Guy used to be a self-proclaimed "penny pincher",
but with the coming of Legoland and their store,
that earned income doesn't stay in his bank for long!

Overall, the system works great for us.
We don't have to remind him what needs to be done
and he is using his math skills
to not only keep track of his income,
but how he will spend it.

Learning opportunities take place all around us.

One Simple Thing

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party