Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to store produce...

Today, I'm going to share with you a blog post that gives you tips on how to store your fresh produce and how long it lasts and where to store it to keep it fresh.

Check out: How to Store Your Produce for easy tips on keeping your fruits and veggies fresh and well kept.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My excuse.....

My blogging excuse.......

He happens to be the reason why my blog has not been updated lately.
Our little guy arrived 4 weeks early, which was a total surprise - I was so not ready! I still needed to finish washing all the baby clothes, bedding and cleaning his room and painting the letters of his name to put above his crib. I hadn't even packed a hospital bag! I still wanted to make freezer meals so I would have some handy quick meals on the days were the baby is really fussy, but that never happened. Lesson learned: ALWAYS be prepared.

It has been such a blessing to have such wonderful friends and family around that have brought us meals the past two weeks. It was so nice not having to worry about having to cook a meal while tending to a hungry baby.

This week I'm working on figuring out a menu plan for February. I'm thinking that it will consist of a lot of slow cooker meals. Do you have any favorite slow cooker dishes that you recommend?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baskets, baskets, baskets!!!!

Yes, I love baskets! My laundry room needs some help and baskets are going to be my handy little tool into making it look neat and orderly (or so I hope!). I decided to take a trip into town this afternoon while on a mission to find baskets. I ended up going to AC Moore (a craft store that is like Hobby Lobby (which I REALLY wish we had here in town) and Michaels). I finally found what I was looking for: wicker baskets! Not too small and not too big - perfect. Not only were they the right size, they also were on sale! $10 per basket no matter the size! The original prices ranged from $14.99-29.99, so I bought three of them.I had been wanting to get some baskets for a while now, but couldn't bring myself to buy a small basket for $6.99 when I really wanted/needed the larger ones....so when I found this deal I was quite pleased! I wasn't able to use a coupon since the baskets were on sale, which was a good thing because I would of been a failed couponer since I had accidentally left my coupons at home, but since they couldn't be used with sale-priced items it worked out fine. After I left A.C. Moore, I decided to run into ROSS quickly to see if I could find anything there that might help with organization. While I was in there, I found the perfect baskets! CHEAPER than the ones at A.C. Moore!!! How annoying! I debated whether or not to keep the baskets I had just bought or to return them. I decided to just keep them and go ahead buy several of the other ones from ROSS as well. A girl can always find a use for a basket. I spent a little over $40 on baskets today, but these baskets will be put to good use.

I spent my Saturday working on my laundry room:



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap, Toothpaste & Fabric Softener!

Happy New Year, everyone! I did my January monthly shopping on the last Wednesday of December, since I knew my hubby would be off work on Monday and I wanted to spend my day with him - not grocery shopping. Plus, I also wanted to enjoy the last of my Christmas break from teaching making food to freeze and in order to do that, I needed to go shopping before today! :) I spent my entire day out on Wednesday shopping and running errands! I only spent $118, so I was quite happy about that! I spent ALL day Thursday in the kitchen working on putting together freezer meals. This month I made: Poor Man's Steak patties for the freezer (all I need to do is put them in the oven to bake), crab meat lasagna (made exactly like regular lasagna, but with crab meat instead of beef), hearty hamburger soup, Russian borsch soup (a beet soup - it's really good!), and taco soup. I plan to do several slow cooker meals as well - like roast and other meat and potato dishes. I also made a batch of granola.

Besides for putting meals together and doing all the laundry in the house on Thursday, I also made some homemade household products: toothpaste, laundry soap, and fabric softener.

Here are the recipes and pictures for "how to" make your own products:

What you'll need:

*Grater - for grating the bar of soap for your laundry soap
* 1 gallon jug (I used a clean water/milk jug)
* A soap dispenser (for storing your toothpaste) - the kind where the lid comes off is probably the best idea - so you can wash/rinse it out when needed. I bought mine at the dollar store.
* 5 gallon container with lid (or I suppose you could reuse your gallon jugs and make several jugs of soap rather than one big container of it...).
*White vinegar
*1 bottle of Suave conditioner
* Liquid peppermint castile soap (I bought mine locally at Vitamin Shoppe as they had the cheapest deal)
*Peppermint essential oil - for flavoring the toothpaste
*Bars of either Castile or Ivory soap to grate for the laundry soap
*Hot water
*Coconut oil - I bought mine at our local Walmart. It is kind of expensive, but coconut oil has lots of uses and is good for you.
*Olive oil
*Pans and glass bowls for mixing all your ingredients.
*Washing Soda - can be found in the laundry/cleaning section.

2 Cups of Suave Conditioner
(Basically, that is an entire small bottle - I used the ocean breeze scented conditioner, but you can use whatever scent you want).

3 Cups White Vinegar
Mix conditioner & hot water, until conditioner is dissolved completely. Add the vinegar
and mix well. Store in a large container (empty fabric softener container, empty large vinegar bottle, etc.) Pour into a downy ball or use approx 2 tbsp. in the fabric softener spot in your laundry machine then wash!!

I measured and microwaved my water in this glass bowl that had a spout on it, so I could pour it more easily into the gallon jug without losing too much of the softener in the sink while pouring.

The recipe only makes 1/2 gallon, but it's so easy and quick that doubling it wouldn't be a problem.


Combine the ingredients listed.

*1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's castile liquid soap (can be ordered from drbronner.com or you can probably call around and find it at a local health store) -I bought the peppermint one, since I knew I'd be using it for toothpaste rather than the regular soap
*5 tablespoons of coconut oil
*1 tablespoon of olive oil
*10 -- 12 drops of orange oil - I didn't have this, so I left it out.
*10 -- 12 drops of peppermint oil
This is what it looks like before you begin to stir.

Blend the ingredients together thoroughly. If the consistency is thicker than desired, more olive oil or water can be added until it reaches a pourable texture.

Store it in a clean soap dispenser.

Let's just say that next time I make this toothpaste recipe, I'll be changing a few things. My husband and I both tried it and we ended up using a lot of mouthwash to get rid of the horrible soap taste. The toothpaste texture is great and it smells just like toothpaste, but I think it might have too much soap in it. I will admit, because I wanted more of a "pourable" texture, that I ended up putting in a few extra drops of soap - not thinking it would cause that much of difference. I should of added more water or olive oil. Live and learn. This is a really easy recipe and can be whipped up in no time! :)

Liquid Laundry Soap
1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

I grated the soap over paper towels, since the soap wanted to go all over the table and I didn't want to waste any of it.

Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted.
You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.

Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.

Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.

Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

*I haven't done this yet, but I'm thinking of adding in some lavender liquid castile soap to give it a lavender scent, but I may try adding it with my next batch. *