I’m Singin’ In the Rain…

Making your home sing Mondays

Have you ever tried to actually Sing in the Rain?  Usually I’m a bit “froggier” during wet weather so I don’t sing with as much gusto, but I’m usually singing in my head at least…

I’ve found that doing my “chores” around the house is SOOOOOOO much better if I am listening to praise & worship music – or tappin’ your foot contemporary Christian music.  I get in a “groove” and if I’m singing while I work, the work seems to go by much faster.  I’m amazed at what I can accomplish in a short amount of time, if I’m thinking about what I’m singing rather than how many times I have to wash dishes every day…

I’ve also learned, that scent has an effect on my cleaning power, too.  Since I’ve been using more naturally derived – homemade cleaners, I enjoy cleaning more.  Much of my cleaning creations include a peppermint scent – which is just happy and bright – and doesn’t give me a headache!  Peppermint gives me a real boost – it’s energizing – and very pleasant.  There are other essential oils – like grapefruit, lavendar, eucalyptus – that will also leave a fresh scent that offers a bit of aromatherapy…

On a day when I’m down in the dumps or feeling depressed – honestly, if I will myself to get up and grab my homemade cleaner – not only do I accomplish something, but I actually feel brighter in spirit…

You can find more information about aromatherapy and essential oils here:

Mountain Rose Herbs

Aura Cacia

(But while we’re talking about peppermint – if you’re a big fan – check out this Holiday Peppermint Cake recipe!!!  Mmmmmmm)

Planner Forms, Home Organization, and Challenges, Oh My!

Maybe you know how much I LOOOOOOVE organizer forms.  Organization – especially Home Keeping – is something I’ve written about many times in the past, and has been a subject of research and serious study in my life for about 18 months.

I’ve tried the Flylady – more than once – and even though her system is great and really works for so many and she is gentle and encouraging – I was still very overwhelmed by the process and so many steps.

I’ve found other organizer forms from a variety of sources and have used many different products – both free and paid for.  I love the pretty forms Cindy Rushton has to offer in her Organized Mom Super Set. Her products are especially geared toward stay at home moms and homeschooling moms.

I love Donna Young’s variety of forms and the sizes and layouts she offers at her site.  They are efficient and they are free, but they are not girly or fancy…

I’ve found several other forms and styles I liked – at places like D*I*Y Planner, Amy Bayliss and others, but they didn’t offer a complete set of matching forms for my needs.  Cuz yes, I AM the kind of woman who wants coordinating sets…

I stumbled across an organizer site several months ago – checked it out – even had some contact with the owner who answered a few of my questions, and then never thought about it again.  Until last week.

And I found the site again – as well as the owner’s corresponding blog which gave great views of the pages and products:

Grace Works Purpose Planner

His Graceworks (blog)

With whole planner sets (including binder) or individual pages, they are designed to coordinate and work together beautifully.

What I love about them:

  • Price.  Reasonable prices for refills and page sets.  They even have beautiful binders (classic size or petite size) that are very reasonably priced!
  • Beautiful.  In beautifully scripted fonts that are still easy to read and follow, I am inspired just by looking at the pages!
  • Variety.  Seriously – GW has an incredible variety of pages – whether you are a homeschooling mom, stay at home mom, a mom in ministry – there are great pages for personal devotions, personal planning, and grocery / menu planning!
  • Christian.  This is my favorite part – created by two Christian women, the pages are designed with Scripture verses sprinkled throughout each page – reminding me of my value and purpose as a mom, helping me stay on track and keep focused on what really matters.

Check out the Planner site – but also check out the blog.  Tricia is starting a NEW 28-day challenge to help you with Menu Planning!  If you need help in this area – don’t hesitate to follow along.  There are points awarded and prizes to be earned – and if you can’t participate now, you can still get some inspiration and guidance to help you practically plan and prepare your family meals!

It’s Raining Coffee!!!

Woohoo!  Company Girls – Happy Friday!

Wouldn’t it be GREAT if it was raining Coffee???  Or Tea???  Sure our clothes might change colors, but think about how the caffeine would affect our, ahem, cellulite!  When I’m brave enough to make my own soap, I think I’ll use coffee grounds as an exfoliant!

Speaking of dirty clothes – I was brave enough to make my own laundry detergent last week – and so far so REALLY good!  It’s very inexpensive and made about 3 gallons and has done a bangup job on the piles of laundry I accomplished this week (no applause necessary!)  I plan to keep using it – although I need to find an essential oil to add a little bit of fragrance.  I DO love the fresh, clean scent of good laundry detergent.

I found my laundry detergent at Tip Nut’s 10 Homemade Laundry Soap Detergent Recipes.  I used Recipe #1.  It is IMPORTANT to allow the soap to fully melt or you’ll get a gritty mess.  I also plan to use 2 gallons of WARM water next time, because I think it will help everything incorporate.  My first batch was better after I used my stick blender to stir it up really well.

Vinegar really is a CHEAP, effective fabric softener. I love the way vinegar works as a fabric softener – it really makes everything soft and doesn’t leave a lingering scent. I can get 2 gallon jugs of vinegar at Sam’s club for about $4, and vinegar is useful for other cleaning in the house, too!

About 18 months ago we started using more eco-friendly products for home and cleaning – and making our own detergent and cleaners is not only something I enjoy, it’s very cost effective and I’m finding GREAT sources for recipes online!

My other favorite thing for laundry is Dawn dish detergent.  I saw several posts on my Homemaker Mentor Society group this week about using Dawn for greasy stains.  I had a little bit of some Dawn Pure Essentials left and used it on a STAINED shirt that I haven’t worn for months but couldn’t bear to get rid of.  The stain is GONE!  Hello, my Little Friend, Dawn!!!  (Now I have 3 favorite Dawns in my life!)

I have another recipe I hope to try soon – for Lotion Bars.  Do you like lotion bars?  With winter and dry skin coming – I hope to find a more natural and inexpensive way to keep our skin softer…  Once I’ve tried it, I’ll let you know and share the recipe. =)

Do you have any favorite homemade cleaners or skin care products you use?

(P.S. – check out 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar for more info about how awesome it is to use in laundry, for cleaning, and more!)


Moms – Want More Time? Get Organized!

stopwatchAs a mom, you probably wear many different hats – chef, taxi driver, maid, home keeper, schedule coordinator, planner, assistant, organizer – and more.  Do you ever wear more than one hat at a time? Do you ever wish you had more time in the day?

Well, since that’s not possible, you just have to approach your family schedule and home organization in a different way!

Since it’s usually up to you to keep everyone in the family organized, you could probably use some help. Right?

These days – with work and home and church and family – moms are very busy – sometimes too busy. At times you may feel like you don’t even know if you are coming or going anymore. Life gets downright hectic and can leave you feeling worn out and exhausted.

Eventually you get to the point that something has got to give.  Know what I mean?

Life doesn’t have to be so stressed and hectic? All it takes is a little organization on your part and you’ll have your house and family running smoothly leaving you extra time and less stress. Read the rest of this entry »

A Company Girl – Inspired!

Christin, at Journey to A Gracious Woman featured this meme of sorts on her blog last week and I was intrigued.  I visited Home Sanctuary and found it to be another one of those warm, inviting, encouraging blogs that I just HAD to subscribe to on the spot. And it’s really more of a club than a meme.  Cool!

You know – like walking into a little coffee shop that smells of fresh coffee & pastry and holds pretty little trinkets or candles in every nook and cranny.  Aaaah.  (Is it completely shocking that I’m totally HOOKED by a coffee theme???)

The theme for Company Girl Coffee is:  “Sanctuary is in the Small Things.”  Creating sanctuary at home.

I. LOVE. IT. Read the rest of this entry »

A Home Keeper? Who ME???

So, I’ve personally seen a mini-tranformation in myself over the past month.  Incorporating a “planner” to guide my days has really had an effect on my attitude, my energy level, and my purpose.   WHO KNEW???

Not only that, but I’ve rediscovered my LOVE for baking.  And now I CAN’T STOP!!!  (But it’s okay – Roy & I just bought new walking shoes and we are going to start walking with the girls…)

Last week I made Banana Sour Cream bread. YUMMO!  I also mixed up my first batch of Amish Friendship Starter and Sweet Sourdough Starter.

I also tried a new recipe, Cheeseburger Meatloaf – and we loved it!  I did not use chili sauce (don’t care for it).  I didn’t have quite a full pound of ground beef, so I added in about 1/2 cup of diced ham.  I thought about wrapping it in bacon, but our bacon was not usable (bummer!) so I skipped that part!

Over the weekend I mixed up a batch of Amish Sugar Cookies (with a few modifications) from my Mom’s Favorite Recipes book.  DEE-lightful.  (Recipe below.) And my first batch of Sweet Sourdough Bread is rising in the oven.  So I’ll be a Baking Mama this afternoon and I’m looking forward to it.

Our problem is we LOVE baked goods far too much, but I already have a plan to give some away.  We do not need all the calories – and it’s a nice way to say “Thank you” or “I’m thinking of you” and HOPEFULLY everything turns out well so we CAN give it away. LOL

AMISH SUGAR COOKIES

cups sugar*
1 cup shortening*
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract*
5 teaspoons baking powder
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

Cream sugar, shortening, and eggs; add sour cream and vanilla. Gradually blend in remaining ingredients; mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets; flatten slightly with the bottom of a sugar coated glass. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes; cool completely on wire racks. Frost if desired.        Makes about 4 dozen.

* I used just less than 2 cups sugar – it seemed like a lot.  I just didn’t fill the measuring cup full.  I also used 1/2 cup butter, 1/4 cup margarine, and 1/4 cup solid coconut oil for the shortening.  I used 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla cuz I love it…  Don’t plan to use a sugar coated glass, either – just drop by teaspoonfuls…

I will be baking my first Friendship bread recipe this week, and will share that recipe later.  We are taking a family mini-vacation to southern Kentucky to visit Roy’s family (grandma, aunts, cousins) for a few days, and I hope to take some goodies with us.

If they last that long…  =)

Until next time…

have-a-blessed-day

Friday Faves: My Home Keeper’s Notebook

So are you an expert Notebooker?  Are you new to the idea?  Are you still trying to figure out why anybody would take the time to put a “Home Keeper Notebook” together?  Just like any other organizational system, a Home Notebook is great for some and useless for others (although I tend to lean more for the “great” for just about anybody).

The Flexibility of your system is entirely up to you.  If you prefer everything preformatted and coordinated, a  Mom Agenda or The Fly Lady Control Journal would  probably work nicely for you.  If you are spontaneous (like me) and like to keep things fresh, putting together your own Home Notebook can be fun (or challenging) and creative.  And with the TONS of forms & templates available online already, if you don’t have time to create your own, a little research can set you up nicely!

After many (feeble) attempts at settling into one system, I’ve found one that works for me.  What inspired me to get here were the pictures I saw at Homekeeping Heart’s blog.  When I saw her pics, I was like “OOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!  I get it!”  (Visual learner here!)

And I copied her general layout.  I have  pretty covers on my binders.  I use a zippered penkeeper.  I have colored tabbed dividers with pretty divider inserts.  Efficiency is important to me, but so is beauty.  And my content is entirely personalized for efficiency for my Home Keeper duties & responsibilities.

I continue to modify the actual forms I’m using.  It’s fun for me, so I try new ones.  I’m finding that my daily routine changes so often for one reason or another, but that I have a general task list that should be accomplished weekly.  As long as my bathroom, kitchen, & floors are clean – I am easier about the rest on a daily basis.  The trash gets picked up. The dust gets wiped away eventually.

I think that has been where I’d get hung up in all the previous “systems” I’ve tried to use to be organized.  Trying to stay within the box of each system, and not really formatting it to FIT ME and the way my family lives and the limitations of our house, etc.  Since I’m not relying solely on one system or website or resource, I’m finding that the creativity is allowing me some breathing room and I’m settling in nicely.

I’m baking more and spending more time in my kitchen, and that is both creative & messy.  With my new bread starters, and trying new recipes, the kitchen has been my home.  And I’ve loved it.  BUT – I’m doing dishes all the time it seems, and washing dishes is my VERY least favorite chore.  I’m leaning to establishing a system of major baking / cooking once a week to start, and when I get better at it, I’d like to be cooking 2 times a month.  That’s a goal of mine.  Once a month cooking seems impossible at this point, but it’s something I’ll still strive for – only because I can make one large mess and then clean it up.