Monday, October 22, 2012

Pinned It, Made It: Can I Clean My Bathrooms In 15 Minutes?

Can I clean my bathrooms in 15 minutes?

Always looking for ways to streamline my cleaning tasks, I pinned this article that tells how to clean two bathrooms quickly--in 15 minutes!

The question was: Would it work for me?

Well, let's find out!

Before starting the timer, I gathered all rags and supplies, including mop water.

I then set the timer for 20 minutes since I was planning to sweep and mop as well. (In the blog post, she did floors another day.) Floors already take me a while to complete--we have a good amount of hardwoods--so I'd rather just do the bathroom floors at the same time as the bathrooms!

She suggests starting with mirrors them cleaning toilet in Bathroom #1. I squirted toilet cleaner in both rooms first. Then back to #1.

Bathroom #1: Clean mirror, spray sink, counters and toilet with cleaner. (We don't use the shower/tub in this room so no need to clean weekly!) Run to Bathroom #2.

And yes, I'm cracking myself up with my references to the bathrooms as #1 and #2. LOL!!!

Bathroom #2: Clean mirrors. Spray sink, counters, toilet, tub/shower. Run back to #1.

Quickly scrub toilet and wipe down what was sprayed before. Repeat in #2.

Look at timer--exactly 15 minutes!

Back in #1, sweep floor and mop. Run to #2 and do the same thing.

Finish up just as timer beeps--20 minutes from start to finish!

The verdict:
It worked! But I moved fast--no dilly dallying!

My notes:
This was enough time to quickly do the basics but no extras such as dusting or wiping down cabinet doors. I'll do these things as needed on another day when I do dusting and cleaning surfaces.

This worked well for my size of bathrooms--small-average size.  Large rooms may take longer to clean.

I'm a timer motivated cleaner so this method is working really well for me-- I'm not as apt to put it off when I know it will be done in 15-20 minutes!

**This post is part of Pinned It, Made It Monday at Country Girl At Home.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


The winner of the pumpkin giveaway is...


She commented that what she loves most about fall:

"The thing I love most about fall is the changing leaves. It is like a new picture outside my window each day."


For the rest of you, I'm offering a coupon code good for 15% off anything in my shop through October 31, 2012. Use  coupon code FALL2012 at checkout!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Play Dough

I've wanted to make pumpkin pie play dough for fall for a long time! And finally got around to it this fall...

It helps that the littles are really getting into play dough now. And our last batch of Smurf-blue  dough was needing to be replaced.

I looked at a few recipes on the internet and came to the conclusion that by adding pumpkin pie spice and red and yellow food coloring (to make orange) to my basic play dough recipe, we would have pumpkin pie play dough.

I am super practical and prefer the simple route for many things,can you tell? I mean, why reinvent the wheel play dough when you can just add to it to get what you want?

I didn't have pumpkin pie spice and I saw no reason to buy any so I just added a couple shakes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves that I had in the cabinet. If you really want pumpkin pie spice, here is a recipe to make your own! I didn't measure the amount I put in but I knew it was ready when it smelled so good I wanted to eat it.

I'm really happy with how it turned out--nice and orange and smelling just like pumpkin pie!

One of my favorite smells of fall!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheeseburger Mac (Homemade Hamburger Helper)

I've been making Homemade Hamburger Helper type meals for  five years, since I first saw this post.

I didn't grow up eating Hamburger Helper and have only had the boxed kind a couple of times in my life. I do like easy skillet meals, though, which prompted me to try this in the first place! The homemade kind doesn't have all the chemicals that the boxed kind has so it's much better for us!

Our favorite kind is Cheeseburger Mac which I've adapted from the original post.

I know some of you are thinking, "I didn't think she ate pasta!" Which we really don't very often since eliminating wheat. But after a year of no pasta, I discovered that I could make this with rice pasta instead and it is super good!

The Tinkyada brand of brown rice pasta is very good. I bought a bag at a dent and bent type of store for $1 last year. We liked it. But regular price is around $3-4 a bag. That's high for pasta, especially if you aren't allergic. Since then, we've tried Trader Joe's brown rice pasta for $1.99 a bag(16 oz.). It's just as good! Since this recipe only takes 8 oz. of pasta, I can make two pots of this, each which serves us for two meals. Not bad, frugally speaking!

Cheeseburger Mac 

1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup water or broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Ketchup and yellow mustard, a few squirts of each
1 cup diced tomatoes, drained
8 ounces pasta-- rice pasta, regular pasta, whole wheat, gluten free,whatever...
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Brown a half pound of meat and chopped onions in a skillet. Drain grease. I reduced the amount of meat from a whole pound to a half pound; we don't think it's made much of a difference in taste! This is one way I'm able to stretch the more expensive grass-fed beef and afford to eat it.

2. Pour one cup of water or broth in a measuring cup; add a teaspoon of cornstarch and mix well. Pour it into skillet and bring to boil.

3. Add several squirts of ketchup and mustard to pot. We really like the cheeseburger taste this gives but you can skip if  you want!

4. Stir in diced tomatoes.

5. Add noodles and stir them in. If needed, add more water so the noodles can be mixed in without clumping too bad. The water shouldn't cover the noodles! As they cook, keep an eye on the noodles and stire often, adding a bit more water if needed.

6. Cover and simmer, stirring often until noodles are soft, about 10- 15 minutes.

7. When noodles are done, turn heat to low and add a handful of cheese, stirring it in until it melts. Turn stove off, sprinkle more cheese on top and serve to your hungry family!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Bushel Of Pumpkins And A Giveaway!

Remember these pumpkins I made last year?

I recently whipped up a big batch of them and they are in my shop

But for fun, I'm also offering up a set of 3 pumpkins as a giveaway here on the blog!

The giveaway will be open all week and I'll draw a winner on Saturday, October 20.

To enter: Simply leave a comment on this post for a chance to win! Make sure you leave a name and a way to get in touch with you if you win--an email address, link back to your profile or blog that includes an email, etc. I can't give the prize to Anonymous or to someone that I have no way of getting in touch with!:-)

For additional entries:

(Leave a separate comment for each one.)
  • Leave a comment stating what you love the most about fall!
  • Leave a comment stating your favorite cool weather or fall food to cook or eat. 
  • Leave a comment sharing your favorite fall activity! 
Happy Fall! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pinned It, Made It: Pajama Pants

For today's Pinned It, Made It Monday, I'm sharing some pj pants I made a few weeks ago.

I'd pinned the instructions for making pj pants by using an old pair of pants for the pattern.

Back in the spring, I'd thrifted a delicious ruffled vintage sheet that was just dying to be made into something sweet! Pajamas seemed to be just the thing.

My husband said as soon as he saw me pull that sheet out, he knew it was going home with us! Smart man!

So anyways, I needed some new pj's and I thought, "Why don't I try making some?" So I did!

The instructions for the pants were very clear and detailed, making them easy to follow. The pants sewed up with very little trouble. I used the ruffled edge of the sheet for the hem of the pants eliminating the need for hemming.

I will say that the fit of these pants is a bit wonky on me. If I were to make these again, I'd need to do some tweaking. I'm not sure sure if the fit issue is the pants I used or the tutorial!

But at any rate, they are still wearable! And I really like them! I think they're super cute and feminine. 

I made a matching top from a Burda Young Fashion pattern. I can't locate the pattern at the moment for the exact pattern number. I've made several things from this pattern--a loan from my sister. I promise I will give the pattern back! Hahaha.

**This post is part of Pinned It, Made It! Monday over at Country Girl At Home. **

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Picnic On The Deck

Now that fall is here and the days are cooler, we're enjoying much time spent outdoors! The littles enjoy playing outside so much that one day I decided to set up a picnic on the deck for lunch.

Toddler Girl (age 2 1/2) especially got into the idea. When she saw me moving their chairs outside, she ran to help!

We'd gathered a basket of sticks that morning for another project so I set those on the table for our centerpiece.

 I enjoyed the change of pace and the bright sunshine while we ate! The littles enjoyed it too, for the most part. We could hear construction going on behind our neighborhood, acorns falling and planes in the sky!

But for a dose of reality--- the lunch time/before nap time slot with toddlers is not usually all sunshine and roses! The littles were tired, irritable and one person did not like their lunch and made it known loudly. I'm sure the neighbors enjoyed our charming little picnic too! :-)

In spite of all this, a picnic on the deck is something we'll be doing more often!

It's a simple fun way to enjoy our lovely fall!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Organized Art Cabinet

Even though we have a play room now, we keep most of our arts and crafts supplies in the kitchen. We typically do these sorts of things at the kitchen table and it's nice to have everything easily accessible and out of reach of the toddlers.

I must admit, I feel spoiled to have so many cabinets in my kitchen that I'm able to devote one to non-kitchen items!

The art cabinet hadn't been properly organized yet; most things were stuffed in every which way and the organizing containers I did have in there were too big for the space making it a pain to pull anything out!

I rarely purchase organizing containers for a project but eventually I figured a few bucks would be worth having this area nice and neat! I just wasn't coming up with enough recycled containers on my own that were really what was needed.

I found these clear plastic bins with snap-on lids on clearance at Target for $2 each. I took a chance and bought four hoping they would be the right size for the space and the items being stored.

They worked great!  Labels were created from scrapbook paper scraps and packing tape. A plastic salad container was pulled from the recycling bag for stickers and I used one of the bigger bins from before to house all the random craft supplies that are not needed as often (pom poms, foam sheets, pipe cleaners, etc.) on the top shelf.

Next to our art cabinet, there is a skinny cabinet with 3 shelves where I've stashed some extra stuff like crayons, markers and colored pencils for older kids, some large bottles of paint, and some small toddler activities.

I love how these shelves are organized and how easy it is to pull out supplies and activities for the little ones!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Snippets of Life

1) Toddler Girl is at a very possessive stage of life. Real life example:

Toddler Girl holding toys.
Baby Boy stands and looks at what she has.
T.G freaks out: "Noooo! ______ (Baby Boy's name), mine!"
Me: " It's ok. ______ (Baby Boy) can look."
T.G. regains composure and holds toys out importantly towards B.B. "Ok, look!"

2) Abby and Dolly are two dogs in our neighborhood. They are known to roam occasionally especially around their own property. So we often see then when we are out and about. Unfortunately, Abby and Rock don't seem to get  along the best and usually bark and growl at one another.

One day recently, we were out for our walk, me pushing the double stroller with Rock on the leash by our side. Everything was fine and dandy until we approached Abby's house. I saw Abby and Dolly coming out carrying on and sensed Rock stiffening up. About that time, T.G. yelled, " Oh lordy! There's Abby and Dolly!"

She sounded so funny, I could hardly stop laughing.

Ahem... I do use the phrase Oh lordy on occasion.

3)  Baby Boy was enjoying emptying a bag of scrap fabrics the other day while I picked out a few pieces for a project. Rock, everyone's favorite, was nearby. I noticed Baby Boy laughing and laughing out loud and glanced over just in time to see him put a piece of cloth on Rock's head. He then stood back and laughed then repeated the whole procedure. Rock was such a good sport about his "hat"! And clearly, Baby Boy was amused!

4) Baby Boy loves tractors and notices them (riding mowers) when we're out. T.G. likes anything that B.B. likes so she likes tractors too! We like to sing a song about tractors and T.G. requests it often. So we sing. But for some reason, talking and singing about tractors makes her think about crackers. Haha.

5) We usually purchase natural peanut butter that needs to be stirred. I hate stirring peanut butter! It's so messy. Lately I've noticed that I'll wait and let Andy open the new jar of peanut butter. That way he'll stir it up. Which he doesn't mind doing. Plus he's just really nice like that!

6) A couple frugal blogs I've been enjoying lately are Living On Less Money and The Non-Consumer Advocate.

7) A verse I've been pondering: "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Daniel 12:3.

What's going on in your life?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Crockpot Sausage and Sweet Potato Stew

This is a wonderful cool weather stew! It's easy to put in the crockpot on busy days.

Plus with sweet potatoes and vegetables, it's really quite nutritious as well! Any sausage can be used-- turkey, pork, beef. I've used both keilbasa/smoked type sausage cut into slices and bulk roll sausage that I cooked and crumbled. Both are tasty.

I like to serve this stew with a green salad topped with fresh apple slices and walnuts or pecans!

Sausage and Sweet Potato Stew

Makes approximately 8 servings; freezes well.

1 pound cooked sausage, any kind, even homemade.
4 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces; about 2 pounds or 5 cups.
1 cup chopped bell peppers
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups broth, chicken or beef

Combine all ingredients in greased 5 -6 qt. crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Make Your Own Sausage

When I was getting my recent beef, pork and chicken order together for a local farmer, I noticed that they were sold out of their sausage, which we like very very much!

Instead of sausage, I ordered some of their ground pork instead. And I've been adding a few seasonings and making my own sausage!

I adapted a recipe from the Not Just Beans cookbook using spices I had on hand. Really, seasoning your own sausage is quite simple. Spices can be adjusted according to your tastes.

This is more of an Italian-style sausage. I use it wherever we would use sausage-- for breakfast meat or in recipes. 

1 pound ground pork or you can do a 50/50 combination of beef and pork
1 tsp. dried minced onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. minced garlic or 1 clove fresh (finely minced)
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/8 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

A teaspoon of fennel seeds can also be added for a more authentic taste but I didn't have any so left it out!

Sprinkle seasoning over ground meat. Knead until thoroughly blended. The Mix 'n Chop from Pampered Chef works wonderfully for this job! Make into patties or form into roll and refrigerate for 2-3 days to allow flavors to blend. I usually use it right away although the flavors are not as developed.

When ready to use, cook as you would cook regular sausage.

**Tomorrow I'll be sharing a yummy recipe that includes this sausage--perfect for fall!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Another Year

Today marks 8 years of marriage for us!

I looked at Andy the other day and asked if we were the same kids who got married 8 years ago. He said he didn't think so.  A lot of change and growth has occurred in the past 8 years. Good change and growth, I might add! But at the same time, so much about us has not changed.

We're still us.  And I like that.