Monday, October 20, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--CLR style

For this week's tackle I participated in the CLR challenge at 5 Minutes for Mom.  As part of the challenge, CLR provided full size bottles of their product to participants to be used in the kitchens and/or bathrooms.  Since the past several weeks have seen us running from one activity to another, our master bathroom has become quite neglected and in need of a thorough cleaning.  So while the kids played this morning, I whipped out my bottle of CLR and got to work.

(I'm having some technical difficulties, so pictures to come soon)

Our bathroom needed a cleaning from top to bottom.  The floor needed to be swept and mopped, the counter wiped down, the mirror cleaned, and general clutter needed to be put away.  So I started by picking up so that I could spray down the countertop.  The counter and faucet got some cleaner as did the toilet.  

Now before you say anything, no that is not pee in our toilet.  It's the water.  The house that we're renting has nasty water in the toilet.  It always looks like that and dirties the bowl rather quickly.  In a perfect world, I would need to clean it daily to keep it at bay, but we don't live in a perfect world.  So what you see is what you get.

After the clutter, counters were wiped down, toilet bowl and floor cleaned as well.  Finally finishing with the mirror.  I had just enough cleaner so I looked up a natural cleaning web site, naming vinegar as a great mirror cleaner for next time. 

I liked the CLR on my toilet.  It's a not easy to find something that makes my toilet look so sparkly pretty.  It didn't have a harsh smell which is always a concern with two little ones in tow.  It worked well.  Next time, I'd like to try it on the shower doors.  I didn't have time to use it this time, but that's always another challenge spot in our bathroom.  Stay tuned;  you may see that post soon.

To see what others are tackling this week, including the CLR challenge, check out 5 minutes for mom and Tackle it Tuesday.

Sample Menu

This is just a quick sample menu of a few of the meals we love in our home.  There are some super easy ideas and some more complicated, but all are great and things that we do over and over again.  Hope you gather a few ideas to incorporate into your own home.

Vegetarian Quesadillas
Grilled Cheese and tomato soup
Homemade Pizza

To see what others are planning this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Menu Monday 10/20-10/26

I'm posting both this week's menu and a sample menu for next week.  Because why?  


We leave Saturday morning.  I'm so excited.  Ten hours in a car with a 3 year old and a 10 month old, but excited nonetheless.    I had planned on defrosting a turkey and eating off it for the week, but it didn't get defrosted today.  Dang.  So this week, we're relying on old standbys... things that we have a few items in the pantry.  And as always, sticking with the fall flavors that I'm so enjoying...

Blueberry Muffins
Cereal and Milk
Yogurt and fruit

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Carrots and dip
Tomato Soup
Fruited Jello and Pudding

Monday: Potato Soup

Tuesday: Potluck: Pea soup and homemade bread

Friday: Out with Family

Saturday:  In Anaheim


To see what others are planning this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Super Easy Bean Dip

We had company over for dinner tonight and at the last minute, I thought, "Hey it would be nice to have something to snack on when they get here."  So I looked up this super easy Bean Dip from Martha Stewart.

The basic recipe is this:
1 can of cannellini beans
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Puree together.

To this basic recipe, I added:
Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste

Next time I'd like to experiment with fresh minced garlic.  I think this would really add to the flavor.  Just adding the garlic powder made a huge difference.  We served it with tortilla chips, but it would go equally well with pita chips, cheese crackers, or wheat thins.  Super easy, super tasty!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Menu Monday 10/13-10/19

Hum... Fall is here.  And with it a crazy schedule.  We are hardly at home all this month, hence my spotty blogging.  Sorry.  Nonetheless, we do still have to eat and there are some wonderful flavors that I am anxious to try out.  The flavors of fall: pumpkin, ginger, chai, soups and stews. A warm bowl of stew after a morning out or stacking wood.  

I think meal planning for me is such a joy because my kids are good eaters.  After making homemade chicken noodle soup last week, I discovered that my 9 month old's favorite part was the broth.  We piled noodles and veggies on her tray, but she kept clamoring for my husband and I to feed her broth.  We are so lucky.

So while both of the kids want soup, the men (my husband and our roommate) want hardy.  The balance is finding something hardy and tasty that doesn't require a lot of meat and is still healthy.  Our roommate also commented that he didn't think he'd ever like beans.  But with the variety that I've built into our meal planning, he's coming to appreciate them.  I guess it's that or starve as our menu last week included: Lentil Tacos, Chili and the hope of making Pea Soup, although I didn't get to it.

Let's hope this week's menu goes over as well.
Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Blueberry Muffins
Cereal and Fruit

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Fruited Jello
Steamed Veggies

Monday:  Mom's here... Pumpkin Patch... hum???  In N Out???
Tuesday: No Potluck this week:  Hum... Crockpot Moroccan Lentil Soup
Wednesday: Lentil Tacos
Friday: Baby Girl and I at a Women's Retreat
              Daddy and Big Boy at a wedding
Saturday:  Baby Girl and I at a Women's Retreat
                   Daddy and Big Boy will have Pancakes... Daddy's specialty
Sunday: Vietnam Fried Rice, steamed veggies

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Simple Living: Part Six

Today Simple Living for me will be both easy and hard.  Today we're having a third birthday party for my son.  So this my challenge...

Simple Living will be easy, in theory.  All I have to do is sit back and enjoy the fact that we've been able to spend 3 wonderful years with Big Boy.  It will be a day filled with friends and family who love and cherish him.  And it will be a day of playing and enjoying fellowship.

But applying Simple Living will also be a challenge.  It will be a challenge not to let the expectations of entertaining others crowd my mind.  The realization that we are in charge of a party.  Not to be occupied with the endless to do list that is constantly on my mind.

My goal today is simply to breath.  To savor the moment.  To embrace the support system that is around us, that has helped us raise this wonderful young man.  To celebrate the last three years that God has given us together.  To cherish this time with family.  And to thank God for this special gift.

After this post, the computer will be turned off for the day.  The TV will remain off.  Dirty dishes will be left undone.  And Simple Living will begin.

To see how others are embracing Simple Living, check out Keeper of the Home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Frugal Friday

I was wandering through Target a few days ago, looking for a good deal on jeans.  I haven't bought a pair of jeans in ages.  So long so that I was completely shocked by the price tag.  But that's a bunny trail...

Upon entering the store, I parked near the garden section and wandered through.  It's always a quieter way to enter and just a favorite part of the store for me.  As I checked out the summer items on clearance, this thought occurred to me...

Patio and garden items are so hard to find in the winter.  I often go looking for a gift for my grandma or an exchange gift for my family and those searches find me in the garden section with nothing for Christmas.  Planters and decorative items have been replace by seasonal items and fake Christmas trees.  At a loss, I end up going to a specialty nursery looking for that perfect outdoors item.  And paying upwards of 3-4 times the amount I would have paid in Sept.  

So keep your eyes peeled.  Wander through the garden section next time you're out and about.  Remember that garden and patio items make lovely gifts and often highly functional.  And they are a fraction of the cost at this time of year.  

And don't discount those specialty locations.  This is prime time to score deep discounts there as well.  

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Dreaded Car Clean

Hum... what to do on this long "To-Do List?"

Oh, you would not believe the state of my car.  It's miserable.  I don't know how it happened.  I was doing a really good job keeping it all picked up and pretty.  But some how the Garbage Bug seems to have moved in.  He brought along his friends, the Pack Rat and Gary Clutter.  My car has become a mobile home, carrying extra clothes for the kids, bags from Walmart to be unloaded, and half drank sippy cups.  

Oh, it's miserable.  I shutter just thinking about it.  So I'm heading out to the garage.  If I don't return by dinner, send out search and rescue.  I'll try to post photos later.

Monday, October 6, 2008

My Simple Datebook

October 6, 2008
For today...

Outside my window... the sun is shining and the wind is rustling the leaves... the sky is a pretty blue and unfortunately... wood is still waiting to be stacked...

I am thinking... I have too much to do this week

From the learning rooms... Big Boy and I will be starting the letter A this week... alligator anyone?

I am thankful for... a stocked pantry

From the kitchen... big plans for chicken noodle soup later this week...

I am wearing... my favorite blue jeans and my softball shirt from the rec league in Sacramento

I am reading... Church, Why Bother?  Should get another chapter down today...

I am hoping ... to get everything done before this weekend...

I am creating... altered puzzles still... another project that I need to make some progress on this weekend...

I am hearing... the clip of the keys and creeks of the house...

Around the house...little finger prints on the walls and windows...

One of my favorite things...  fall...

A few plans for the rest of the week... wrapping presents... planning a third birthday party... hosting family... attending my MOPS group...working on puzzles and presents...

For more datebooks, check out The Simple Woman

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Menu Monday 10/6-10/12

Yeah, I think I'm finally getting into a planning grove again.  Fall is here and that means adding soups and stews and warm foods back into our menus.  I'm so excited about the fall flavors that are to come in the months ahead.  We had some warmer meals last week and I even picked up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store.  I'm anxious to make those Pumpkin Swirl Brownies that were on our menu last week.  They sound so luxurious.  As for the rest of the week, here's what we have planned:

Cereal and Milk

Steamed veggies
Fruited Jello
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches
Egg Salad Sandwiches

Monday: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Tuesday: Potluck: ????
Wednesday: Tamale Pie
Thursday: Pea Soup, homemade bread
Friday: Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Saturday: Big Boy's Birthday and Family in Town
Sunday: Family in Town

Blueberry Muffins

I need help with a potluck dish for Tuesday night.  We have Bible Study that night and I need a good main dish to feed several people.  Any ideas?

To see what others are making this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

Wow!  I have to try this Skillet Cookie Recipe from A Tad Bit Prudish.

This is a great tutorial on Repurposing an Old Book by It's All in the Details.

And finally, I'd better watch out for this Pumpkin Spice Latte.  If I learn to make a good one, it could become a staple in our house (by Baking and Books).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Children's Advent Book

Thanks to Free to Be Frugal, I just ordered a free Children's Advent Book for Big Boy and I to follow this holiday season.  As he gets older, I'm excited about finding new ways to deepen and grow his faith in the Lord.  From what I've been able to see, this looks like a great resource and a wonderful way to take a deeper look into the true meaning of the season.

Simple Living: Part Five

Simple Living this week has focused on us as a family.  With my husband working long hours, apples to can, and wood to stack, the kids and I have found ourselves at home a lot this week.  And as much work as it's been, it's also been refreshing.  It's given me a lot of time to reflect on how happy I am to have them in my life.  

Upon canning applesauce this week, Big Boy (who's almost 3 years old.  Wow!) wanted to be intimately involved in the whole process.  At first I was hesitant to have him in the kitchen with me, but it soon became a joy to have him by my side.  We waited until Baby Girl was down for her morning nap and went to work.  Although he didn't make it through the whole process, it reminded me to slow down and include him in new and unique ways.  Such as counting the apples as we peeled them.  Or talking about how nutritious they are.  Or reminding ourselves what a blessing it is to have been given several pounds of apples.

We opened up new conversation, talking about his favorite part of the week, the family in his life, and the imaginative world that is growing inside his head every day.  And I was reminded of what a unique and special creature he is.  There's no one else in the world like Big Boy; God created him special to be a part of our family.

Baby Girl would get up and join us.  And we were blessed to see that she too is growing in ways that we hadn't realized before.  This week, she started to wave at us.  It's so cute.  She's petite for her age and this little wrist just pops out and starts waving back and forth.  Big Boy and I were hauling and stacking wood while she sat in her exersaucer and waved us on.  While mentally grumbling about all the wood that needed to be taken care of, I stepped back to reflect on what was really happening.  My son, daughter, and I were all spending time together, being outdoors, not spending a dime, and preparing the blessing that God had given us for the winter.  
I also realized what a blessing it was to physically show my children the value of hard work.  That although it was a lot of work to stack the wood for the winter, it was necessary and something that was worth working for.  Although I suspect it will never be something that will consistently be an enjoyable chore, it is one that will be a valuable life lesson for my children.

Our evenings were spent staying up late, waiting for Daddy to come home.  I loosened up on bed time this week, sensing that Big Boy just needed to see Daddy at the end of the day.  It became more about what my children needed than what I needed, which was often an earlier bedtime rather than a later one.  More books were read, more cuddle time was had, and in general, we found greater patience with one another.

I learned a lot this week.  I learned that prayer can be spontaneous and immediate.  I learned that patience can only come from the Lord.  And I learned that some soft worship music in the background of life can go a long way to smoothing over cooped up frustrations.  Simple Living this week just meant being family.  Rediscovering what's going on with each other.  Like the fact that Big Boy really does empathize with his sister.  That Baby Girl loves to be held and gaze into someone else's eyes.  And that I am learning more and more to juggle the two of them.

Although full, this week was simple.  It was about working together as a family to make our family work.  And that was a true blessing.

To learn how others are pursuing simplicity, check out Keeper of the Home and Simple Saturday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Frugal Friday...

Just a few frugal tidbits...

Needing batteries?  Be sure to check out your local $.99 store.  They often have various sizes of batteries in packs from 2-6 for, you guessed it, $.99.  They're name brand and work just as well as those that you spend twice as much on.

If you're in California, keep your eyes open for end of the summer produce.  At Raley's this week, strawberries at on sale 2 lbs for $4.  Not a fantastic price, but doable for October.

Don't forget to check your local craigslist for Halloween costumes.  I've seen a couple of cute ones lately and they are definitely cheaper than shopping the stores.  And great quality.  There are also local children's thrift stores advertising about the costumes that they have in stock right now.

Finally check out this post by Free to Be Frugal.  She's got some great sample links for those aches and pains, and cold weather.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today
October 2, 2008

Outside my window: the quiet backyard that I'm still trying to get a hold on

I am thinking: I can't wait for Dave to bring home my Jamba Juice

From the learning rooms: Noah has learned a lot the last couple of weeks in canning apples

I am thankful for: getting lots of wood split and stacked

From the kitchen: jummy adapted white chili

I am wearing: jeans and my Alaska cruise t- shirt

I am creating: white turkey chili

I am reading: Church, Why Bother? by Philip Yancey

I am hoping: to finish up stacking wood tomorrow

I am hearing: The Waltons playing in the background... kids silently in bed

Around the house: we've been taking neighborhood walks in the evening

One of my favorite things: homemade treats

A few plans for the week: Caleb's birthday tomorrow, finishing painting the nursery on Saturday

For more daybooks, see the Simple Woman

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