Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Making a Clean Sweep

I like a clean house.
A lot of satisfaction is achieved knowing 
that I am the caretaker of this place we call home.
Not only does it keep us healthier,
it serves as a constant reminder to myself
that being a "homekeeper" is a noble career.
Although I'm not paid for my work,
the fulfillment comes in a job well done.
By taking care of what we have,
we are demonstrating our appreciation for all of our blessings. 

That being said, a few things have changed since we moved into our current home.
As of now, I don't work outside the home
(except for selling daisy totes at the farmers' market during season),
so I have the time to contribute to my household manager duties.
Our house is just over 1400 square feet,
so it is quite a bit smaller than our home in Florida.
I decided that I wanted to clean less and have more time for hobbies.
So the boys are now responsible for keeping their rooms clean
and will soon be doing their own laundry.
This takes much of the burden of cleaning off of me
and motivates me to do a better job on those tasks that are mine.
Here are some of the ways I have streamlined my cleaning.


There are so many uses for vinegar outside of salad dressings.
It is my go-to for anything that needs sanitizing.
It gets used on tile floors, in toilets before scrubbing
and the job it does on grout is amazing!
Here's where I used it in our last house
along with some Bon Ami to bring our grout back to life.
For the most part, I like to make homemade cleaners,
but Bon Ami is something my mom always used,
and it is still one of my favorite products around the house.

Our homemade glass cleaner is made with just a few, simple ingredients
and is used for glass furniture, mirrors and windows.
It does a fabulous job and costs just pennies per bottle.
The recipe is right on the bottle,
so that when it's time to make more,
we have the recipe at our fingertips.

I also believe in supporting companies who are keeping Mother Nature in mind.
The Mrs. Meyer's brand of general cleaner is what I use for
once-a-week dusting and cleaning our beautiful wood floors.
I like that I can buy a large bottle of concentrated cleaner
and add to my spray bottle as needed.
This is in keeping with my philosophy of buying less plastic,
as I am working toward adding less items to our recycle bin.
Paying attention to packaging is important.

Recently, we've decided that each of us will do our own laundry.
It's mostly to help C with his independent living skills,
but there are other considerations.
Big K isn't always a fan of my homesteading ventures,
so he'll be using traditional means to wash his clothes.
I prefer to make as many products as I can easily manage,
and our homemade laundry soap fits into that category.
I've been researching a way to make it even better
by using a cruelty-free bar soap.
Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap will be used from now on.

For the last couple of weeks,
we've been using wool dryer balls to decrease static electricity in our clothes.
So far, I'd have to say that I am pleased with the results.
These wool balls are supposed to last for years,
so here's another thing that can be crossed off the list of supplies.
I like that we are also supporting a company right here in the USA.
The bonus with using these is that it cuts down on the drying time,
so that you are saving money all around.

Of course, although we don't yet have a clothesline on this property,
it will be something added to our to-do list for a warmer season.
For now, our wooden drying rack has been used in the house
when temperatures are too cold outside.
The fireplace also aids in drying our laundry
while keeping us toasty warm.

our clothesline in FL

My cleaning routine has recently been modified.
After taking a few months to consider what works best,
this is what I came up with.
The daily tasks take less than an hour,
which leaves more time for things I enjoy.

Monday-clean bathrooms (floors too)
Tuesday-clean kitchen (fridge once a month)
Wednesday-clean wood floors
Thursday-dust all common areas
(boys are responsible for their own rooms)
Friday-grocery shopping or thrifting

Because our home is on the small side (1400 sf),
and because I have less on my plate,
it's much easier to complete my tasks.
The pleasure of keeping house is not something
that I've ever experienced in the 18 years that I've been at home.
With this new routine, and simple strategies,
I am finding myself content and gratified,
even downright joyful,
which is something that everyone can use
a little more of.

Be Blissed!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Garden Friday

This Garden Friday finds us surveying the crops
after the warm-up this past week.
When the winter turned colder,
initially I had been covering our garden veggies.
Last week, I decided to remove the covers
and just let the garden fend for itself.

Although the Vates kale doesn't look too good,
I have the feeling it will recover if I give it a good dose of fertilizer.

 The broccoli and kale seedlings didn't fare so well,
but new starts will be planted at the first of the month.
It will feel good to begin anew with some of these delicious varieties.

 The Brussels Sprouts bounced back after a few days of full sun.
This crop does well in the cold,
 even through snow and ice.

 The shallots also seemed to shrug off the cold.
They continue to thrive, regardless of what Ole Man Winter 
throws at them.

 The leeks look a bit bedraggled,
but they too, will benefit from a feeding.
We're thinking that the coldest weather is behind us,
so these beautiful leeks will have a couple of more months to grow.

This one was picked earlier in the week
and added to a vegetarian dish.
The subtle onion flavor is most welcome in any savory recipe.

It's been a busy week,
so not much got done in the veggie bed.
We've been clearing out our woods next to the house,
and that took up a lot of afternoons.
We are enjoying the work (C has been helping me),
knowing that the trees will be healthier for it.

What garden chores are you up to this winter?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Updated Recipe Pages

Some time was spent last week
updating our recipe index.
(It can be found under our header.)
The recipes are divided into two separate pages,
one for allergy-friendly and the other for everything else.
I was hoping to create a page with a photo of each finished recipe
and the corresponding link,
but couldn't figure out how to do that.

The allergy-friendly recipes contain no gluten,
but may have other allergens such as eggs, nuts or sugar.
Since beginning this journey of food sensitivities with C,
much has been learned, and tweaked along the way.
It's not easy preparing food for someone with multiple sensitivities,
but it does spark a bit of creativity in the kitchen.

The page of scratch recipes is made up of mostly original fare,
although there are a couple of dishes that I found and just changed to our liking. 
The ingredients are free from colorings, preservatives,
and packaged products,
because we prefer to eat "cleanly".
Most of the baked items are also fairly low in sugar.
The best part of this list is that most of the recipes 
take 30 minutes or less to whip up. 

My hope is that you find something delicious and satisfying
that you can fix for your family,
whether or not allergies are a consideration.
(Here's a post on our Family Recipe Binder.)

Let me know what you think!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Garden Friday

Garden Friday this week finds us snowed in!
With a good dousing of the white magic,
there has been absolutely no gardening going on!

After talking to my farmer friend back in Florida,
(who survived many a winter in WI),
I decided to remove the covers on the veggie garden.
I knew we were expecting snow,
and it seemed like a great experiment.

All of our crops are pretty hearty,
so it will be interesting to see what is affected.
We have beets, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, carrots, garlic,
leek, shallots, and spinach sown.
 I checked on everything Wednesday,
when it was coming down ALL DAY LONG,
and every pot was buried in snow.
With full sun predicted for Thursday,
I left things as they were.

Even the straw bales were hidden beneath a white blanket.
By this time next week,
we should have a good idea of what will survive.
The amount of snow we got
was much more than expected,
but what a great way to find out
just how the extreme conditions will affect our garden.

Stay toasty!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Wooly Solution to Static

Dryer sheets haven't been used by our household for years.
The chemicals found in them are undesirable,
especially considering C's allergies.
We haven't yet set up our clothesline at this new house,
so most things get put directly into the dryer after the wash cycle.
I was thrilled to find a solution to controlling static electricity in our dried clothes.
These are wool dryer balls that not only tame static,
but also aide in clothes drying faster.
The tumbling action allows for more space amongst the contents of the dryer,
cutting the drying time by a significant measure.
They are reusable, so a onetime purchase
is a very distinct possibility!
What a wonderful housewarming gift!

Here's the blurb from the listing on Amazon:

 "100% HANDMADE IN THE U.S.A. This lot contains six 100% wool dryer balls made by "A Little Green Bee". They are completely made out of wool, inside and out. We use wool roving to form the ball. They are a little larger than the size of a tennis ball and will shrink slightly over time. They are "All-Natural". All natural means that this product is 100% free from any synthetic fibers. These cute little felted wool balls are designed to reduce drying time, soften fabrics, cut down on static, decrease lint, and reduce wrinkles. Because they are reusable, you will never need to purchase fabric softener or dryer sheets. And unlike other wool dryer balls made from yarn, they will not unravel and will last for years. Over time your Wool Dryer Balls will develop pills on them (If they bother you- just run a sweater depiller or light razor over them to remove pills). These balls last for years and the more pilling the better. Pills = softer clothing because there is more surface friction. They get better with age. Put away those chemical dryer sheets, protect your family and the environment, and go green with natural dryer balls!"

It does my heart good to know that 
there is a natural solution to the problem of static.
Supporting farmers in the USA clinched the deal for me.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Painted Loos

One of the tasks on our current project list
(see it here)
was to paint both bathrooms.
Big K got on it right after the new year.

This is the Master bathroom.
It's too much white for us,
between the cabinets, closet doors,
 tile and the walls. 
There is no window in the space,
which prompted us to choose something fairly neutral.
Eventually, both of the loos will get a makeover,
but for now,
we just decided to paint.

The plan for the renovation is 
to remove the shower/tub combo
and put in a  tiled walk-in shower.
Neither of us care for the fiberglass tub surrounds
that we currently have.
The vanity seen here will become two separate vanities
with some sort of stacked storage cabinet in the middle.
We'd also like to add a window,
or open up the wall into the next room
to let some natural light in.
The door you see here actually leads to what we call
"the spa room".
It's a funky little space with two beautiful windows,
a jetted tub, and not much practicality. 
It'll be fun to make that a more functional space.

Ah yes, the throne.

The color is very soft, but not too dark in this windowless room.

It makes it feel more finished,
even though we may end up changing the color
once the renovation is done.
The tile will be changed out for sure,
so that the room will have an entirely different vibe.

Here's C's bathroom,
also known as the guest bath.
We have plans to redo this room as well,
but for now, it got the same color treatment.
It's a start.

The outhouse pictures will stay, of course.
Every room needs a bit of whimsy,
don't you think?

A Few of Our "New House Series" Posts:

Bad to the Bone Beadboard
Closet Project
Under the Spell of IKEA

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is,
'What are you doing for others'?"
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Garden Friday

Last week was a bit brutal.
Temperatures every night were in the teens,
and although we were cozy in our heated nest,
the garden had to tough it out.
I covered as best I could with sheets
and overturned pots.

Earlier this week, it warmed up considerably,
so everything was uncovered to let the sun shine in.
There were really no expectations,
not being too familiar with growing during these type of winter conditions.
Here is what I found after the unveiling.

The carrots couldn't have cared less about the frigid temperatures.
They looked just the same as when they were first covered.

The Vates kale looked pretty good,
although the sun seemed a welcome sight.
The Dino kale didn't look quite as perky,
but it may still bounce back just fine.

The broccoli looks weathered, 
but I have a feeling it was more due to thirst than cold.
I had neglected to water everything before the freeze hit.

Here's our bucket-o-leeks doing fine and dandy.

And, amazingly,the shallots seemed untouched by the bitter weather.

The Brussels Sprouts weren't standing quite as tall as they should be,
but with some adequate sunshine and a good, long drink,
they may be able to continue to produce.

Several broccoli seedlings didn't seem to know what hit them.
I'll keep an eye on them and see if they recover.

The biggest disappointment was the beets.
The tops looked damaged beyond repair,
but since these are root veggies,
they may be perfectly fine under the soil.

One more check on the parsley (planted in the ground)
left me dumbfounded!
It appears there is absolutely no freeze damage at all!
That's one hearty herb!

This week has been a welcome respite from the extreme cold.
We've had more sunny days than not,
and the garden will surely eat it up!
We may be back to some colder days in the coming week,
so I will make sure to give everything a good watering
before they go undercover again to wait out the cold.

How is your winter garden faring?