Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cleaning with Vinegar Part 2

Or maybe it should be titled.. “cleaning the bathroom with vinegar part 2” .. :) Yesterday I posted on cleaning my toilet with vinegar and how well that worked and today is about the shower, tub and sinks..

I am a Scrubbing Bubbles fan, as much as I try and find things that work instead I find the SB to be so easy to use and quick. But, I wanted a natural cleaner that worked well and fairly easy. I have now found one and can happily say good bye to my Scrubbing Bubbles.

I used 2 ingredients: Vinegar and Dawn dish soap

I asked my daughter the other day to pick me up a spray bottle (I’m thinking for cleaning) and she brought me home one (she shopped in the health and beauty section, LOL )!! I took my 12 oz spray bottle and put about 3T of Dawn dish soap in it. Then filled it up with vinegar. Shook the bottle carefully to combine the ingredients. And that was it…

I sprayed this on my tile, my tub and my bathroom sinks. I used a scrub brush to clean the tile and tub and it worked incredibly well! After scrubbing I rinsed with a cleaning rag. I wondered if there might be any film left afterwards due to the soap, and there was not. I was truly amazed at how clean and sparkly the tub, tile and faucets were. Then I cleaned the bathroom sinks (we have double sinks in our bathroom) and they turned out clean and sparkly as well. I had one soap dish that was pretty soap scummy so I sprayed that and let it sit while I cleaned the sinks, the soap scum came off very easily. I found this combo of vinegar and Dawn dish soap to do just as good a job as Scrubbing Bubbles and was very easy to use (and easy to make). 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cleaning with Vinegar

One of my favorite cleaners is Shaklee’s Basic H2. However my second favorite cleaner is vinegar and I use fairly often in my cleaning. Recently I tried it on my toilet. I’ve been using Mrs. Meyers toilet bowl cleaner (another natural cleaner). I do love Mrs. Meyers. It smells very nice, works very well, and is ok to use when you have a septic system. But it is on the expensive side.

So this is what I did…

I poured about a ½ cup of vinegar inside my toilet tank and let it sit for 30 minutes, then flushed.. I then poured a little vinegar into my toilet bowl, let it sit for a few minutes and swished it around. My toilet bowl was sparkly and clean, except in a few areas where there were still stains where the water fills up the toilet bowl. So I tried something else..

I put ¾ cup baking soda into a plastic container and added about 10 drops of orange & lemongrass essential oils (I wanted the nice smell :).

Then I added ¾ cup vinegar to this mixture. It fizzed quite a bit..

I poured this into the toilet bowl and swished it around, let it sit for about 5 minutes and swished it around some more using a bit of elbow grease for the tough spots. After flushing again the stains were pretty much gone (I could see a few light traces in a couple of places). Over all I was pleased with the results and the bathroom smelled great! 

Vinegar makes a great cleaner for a few reasons..

Vinegar works as a great germ and bacteria killer. It’s the acetic acid in the vinegar that kills the germs.

Vinegar also absorbs orders, rather than masking them. The smell of vinegar will linger for about 20 minutes or so and then it will be gone leaving the room smelling clean.

Vinegar is also dirt cheap! A gallon of vinegar is very inexpensive and will go a long way cleaning your home.

Vinegar is a much better than the harsh chemicals in typical cleaning supplies (other than the all natural ones such as Shaklee Basic H2 & Mrs. Meyers).

More to come on this topic… 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Homestead Break

I just had a 3 day break away from my homestead. One thing I find is that it is incredibly hard to just stop and take a break while at home. On Sunday my hubby took me away for 3 days (gotta love that man :). It was my birthday gift from him. We went to the Oregon coast. It is about a 3 hour drive from our home. I had the most wonderful time. It was so nice to not have to worry or think about anything :).. My kids handled the homestead without me and I relaxed, walked on the beach, enjoyed seafood and much needed rest.. all with my super fantastic husband, who needed the break away as much as I did. Today I arrived home to a clean house and dinner simmering away in the crockpot (thanks to my daughter Sierra who did not want me to have to cook when I got home.. gotta love that girl :)… 

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming.. :)


Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Crockpot Sweet & Spicy Chicken   over brown rice, salad
Crockpot Island Pork over brown rice, salad
Crockpot meatloaf (instructions for freezing and cooking in crockpot here), crockpot mac & cheese, salad

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Homestead Moments

Today’s homestead moment was all about sunshine! We have had so little sun lately that I almost forgot what it looks like.. in fact a couple of days ago I had to laugh at myself.. I got all excited about the fact that the cloud cover was lighter that day! I have been seriously sun deprived.. :)

But today I totally enjoyed the sunshine and thanked the Lord for this blessing…


Friday, March 23, 2012

Stuffed Manicotti for the Freezer

My second freezer meal plan for this last shopping trip was stuffed manicotti. On Tuesday I made the stuffed shells. I was kind of “winging” it when I came up with the recipe. I bought 3 packages of manicotti. Altogether there were 42 manicotti shells. Here is what I did..

I cooked the manicotti noodles for 4 minutes. That was about ½ the time called for on the package. I would have used whole wheat manicotti noodles if I could find them. The grocery store I shopped at had a nice variety of whole wheat pasta, but no manicotti noodles. I will look for them online and see if I can find them for the future. But for this time, I bought the white ones (picture shows 2 pkgs, but I used 3).

While they were cooking I put together the manicotti filling. Here is what I used…

3lbs cottage cheese (this was the large container from Costco)
3 cups grated mozzeralla cheese
2 cups parmesan cheese
4 eggs
3t dried parsely
2t minced garlic
1t salt
½ t pepper

I mixed the ingredients together..

After the noodles were done cooking I drained them….

And then I stuffed them. I ran out of stuffing and still had 3 shells left to stuff so I just stuffed them with grated mozzarella cheese.

And laid them on a tray…

And put them in the freezer to freezer individually (flash freezing). When then were frozen I put them in a zip lock bag and back into the freezer.

I was going to serve this meal on Wednesday, but the menu plan this week is a little jumbled up.. so we had them tonight instead. I pulled out 12 stuffed shells and put them in a 9x13 pan…

I cut up one onion and about 3 mushrooms and cooked them with 1lb of hamburger until the veggies were soft and the hamburger was cooked completely. Then I added 1 quart of my homemade spaghetti sauce (you can use a purchased equivalent) and I added ½ cup water…

I poured this over the frozen stuffed manicotti shells…

Topped it with a little more grated mozzeralla cheese...

Covered the pan with foil…

And baked at 350 for about 50 minutes (bake until the noodles are soft)…

This was soooo yummy!! I served it with bread and a green salad and everyone gave it 2 thumbs up.. which is good because I have enough for 2 more meals in the freezer!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ranch Chicken for the Freezer

I’ve really been enjoying getting food in the freezer lately (as you can tell by my blog posts! :). My goal has been to plan a few meals and meal starters for the freezer every couple of weeks when I do my big shopping (which I’ve managed to get to every other week, with a stop at the local grocery store in between for fresh salad veggies).  This has been so nice to have on hand!! 

This week I tried a new freezer food, Ranch Chicken. We have not had this yet, it is on the menu for Saturday.

I purchased 8lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I used 5lbs of it to make Ranch Chicken. This was pretty simple to make. Here is the basic recipe:

5lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
3 to 4 cups bread crumbs (this is an estimate as I did not actually measure it out)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 ½ recipes of homemade ranch dressing (you can find the recipe here: )

I began by making the bread crumbs. I had some bread heels that I had saved for making bread crumbs. The bread was slightly dried out, but if it was not I could have toasted it a bit to dry it out first. I grated it up in my Bosch and then poured the crumbs into a bowl. I sprinkled salt and pepper in with the crumbs. I did not measure, just gave a few shakes..

Then I made up the ranch dressing. I actually made a double recipe and pulled a cup or so out of the batch…

Then I rinsed off my chicken and patted it dry and put it on a plate..

First, dip the chicken pieces in the ranch dressing….

Then coat them with the bread crumbs…

Lay them on a tray.

When the tray is full put it in the freezer.

I ended up with 3 trays. Let the ranch chicken freeze completely. When it is frozen remove from the tray and put in zip lock bags. You can now pull out how many pieces you would like for your dinner. For my family I am guessing this will make about 2 meals. If you have a smaller size family you will get more mileage out of this.

On the evening you want to serve this take the chicken out of the freezer and either fry it in a little olive oil or bake in the oven. 

If you fry it, it will take about 15 to 20 minutes or so in a medium high skillet that has been coated with olive oil. Turn it during the cooking time. It will be ready to eat when it is no longer pink on the inside.

To bake the chicken lay the chicken pieces on a cookie sheet that has olive oil spread on it and bake (from frozen) at 400 for 20 minutes, turn pieces over and bake another 20 minutes.

Serve with baked potatoes or rice pilaf and a big green salad.

The other 3lbs of chicken I used for a freezer meal that I was not able to get pictures of due to my household getting quite busy (company stopped by).. and I had to just hurry and get it made up. But I will share the recipe!!

Crockpot Sweet & Spicy Chicken for the Freezer

3lbs chicken meat, cut into pieces (this can boneless, skinless thighs or breasts)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup honey
¼ cup white vinegar
2t oregano
2t paprika
¾ t cayenne pepper

Put all ingredients into a gallon size zip lock bag. Seal the bag. Squish the ingredients to mix them up. Freeze. On cooking day defrost the bag just enough to be able to fit it into your crockpot. Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crockpot Chili using my own Pre-Prepared Foods

In the last several weeks I’ve been sharing freezer and winter canning foods. These items have come in so handy. It is extremely nice to be able to pull something out of the freezer or off the shelf and have a meal come together super quick. Makes all the time spent making these foods more than worth the effort. I take days when I am home and able to do more in the kitchen to help me prepare for days when I am not able to be in the kitchen. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had to go into town to grocery shop. My cupboards were pretty sparse. But I knew that my energy level might not be all that great after a 4 to 5 hour trip into town (I am feeling better, but the energy levels are still not back to 100%). I had crockpot chili on my menu. So before I left for town here is what I did…

I pulled out 2 packages of my hamburger mix that I made a couple of weeks ago. You can find that post here: . And I got 1 quart of my canned red beans off the shelf. You can find info on canning beans here: .

Then I put the hamburger mix and the beans in my crockpot…

Added spices (according to my crockpot chili recipe: ) and 1 can of diced tomatoes (my recipe calls for 2 cans of diced tomatoes, but I put diced tomatoes in my hamburger mix so I figured 1 can would be enough).

Put the crockpot on low and left for the day. After 6 hours I had a yummy crockpot full of chili…

I had originally planned to make cornbread with this meal, but was not feeling up to that after all the shopping and putting away groceries and all that jazz… so I served tortilla chips and salsa with the meal along with a salad and homemade ranch dressing that was already made in the fridge ( ) .

Everyone in the family walked away feeling full and satisfied and my effort in this meal fit with my energy level .. :)


Monday, March 19, 2012

This Week's Menu

  Sooo…  I’m back.. from a rough few days..  that flu bug was something else!  Had me down for the count for a couple of days and honestly I can’t remember the last time I felt so sick.  But I’m now on the other side of it and grateful to be feeling like my old self again and to get back to the business of my home.  So much falls apart when a mom gets sick.  First and foremost my cupboards are looking a bit bare, so top on my to-do list for today is grocery shopping.  I have some new meals on my menu this week and a couple freezer cooking ideas to share with you over the next few days among other plans.  For now I will leave you with my menu for the week….

Meatballs & gravy over mashed potatoes, salad
Stuffed manicotti covered with spaghetti sauce (recipe to be posted), salad
BBQ beef (crockpot freezer meal) over noodles, salad
Ranch Baked Chicken, cheesy brown rice (recipe to be posted for both these dishes), salad


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Updates from the Homestead

I was thinking a good title for these updates would be: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!! ~smile~ So I’ll start with the “good”..

My daughter Leanne finished all her class work for her degree! It is now just a matter of paperwork and she should officially graduate in a couple of months. We are so incredibly proud of her. She earned her BA in English in 2 years 10 months. She showed lots of dedication and spent countless hours devoted to her school work. As for her next step, well she is checking out a few different options as of now. I’ll keep you posted!

Now for the “Bad”…

Yep, snowy weather! In the middle of March here in the PNW is not real common. It can happen, but typically we are beginning to move onto spring like weather at this point. I guess this may not be bad for those who like winter weather, but I am one who looks very forward to the end of the cold and snowy stuff… so yesterday as I watched it snow and then rain and snow again and my niece in Chicago said it was 74, I thought, something is just not right with this picture!! :)

The Ugly.. we seem to be dealing with some sort of flu bug going through the house. Achy feeling, headache, cough, fever. It has been a long time since anyone in my family was sick (maybe a year or so). So no one is handling it well. But we pulled out the herb tea, honey and lemon juice, Ibuprofen and Netflix.. so far 4 have made it through, 2 currently have it (including me), and 1 child has not had it yet. Soon it will all be behind us, I am sure.

That is all from the homestead for now! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Motivation and Proverbs 31:27

Some days I lack motivation. I drink a second cup of coffee waiting for the motivation to come. And if it does not, I still press forward anyway. Maybe I don’t get as much done on those days as I do on days when I have lots of motivation, but I do get something done. Maybe it is just the way I function but when I sit down in the evening I feel so much better knowing I made progress on the day. I have a never ending to-do list and can’t afford many days of doing very little, despite my motivation level. I do try and take a day off every week and relax and spend time with my family. It is difficult sometimes because my husband works the regular weekend and his days off are during the week. I keep my kids and myself on more of a Monday thru Friday schedule. Sunday’s are usually a slow paced day around my house and during the week we keep to a schedule as much as we can while still enjoying Dad at home with us. Mostly we enjoy having him home in the evenings. He works graveyard (3rd shift), 10 hour shifts, so he is not here for 4 nights a week.

Back to motivation.. My mother-in-law once gave me a great bit of advice, and this has stuck with me now for years and years.. she said, “The first 5 minutes of any job are the hardest”. This is so true. Even if we have a hard time getting moving and we struggle, usually after we are into our job for 5 minutes the struggle is not nearly what it was just to get going.

I read a motivating verse this week in the Bible. It came from Proverbs 31:27. I love Proverbs and if you have been following my blog for awhile you know I periodically do a post on a verse from Proverbs 31 that stands out to me. Here is the verse..

Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the ways of her household. And does not eat the bread of idleness.

The word that caught my eye on this verse was "idleness". I looked it up on the free online dictionary and here is what it says.. Not employed or busy.

And I further looked up the word "employed" (because the first thing that would come to mind is going to a job)… but here is what I found: The work in which one is engaged; occupation. An activity to which one devotes time.

My occupation is homemaker and it is what I devote my time to.


As homemakers we have such an important job. Just read Proverbs 31 verses 10 to 31.. and it shows in so many ways how to be a wise homemaking woman. How to take on life and be responsible in a God honoring way.

I personally found motivation in this verse because I saw that the Lord desires that I watch over the ways of my household.. that includes keeping it clean and organized and food bought and prepared and so much more.

Now when I lack motivation I will think not only of the basic fact (the first 5 minutes of any job are the hardest) but I will ALSO remember that the Lord desires me to be busy, taking care of my responsibilities and watching over the ways of my household.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy 14th Birthday Isaac!

My son Isaac turned 14 yesterday! As I always say when my children have a birthday.. “Where has all the time gone?!” .. seems like he was my little shadow following me all around not all that long ago. Isaac is my 8th child and 3rd son. 

We had a very fun party for him. Most of the family was able to make it, but some had to work and could not. We had a great evening.

The birthday boy with his new camera..

My daughter Sierra really wanted to do something fun for his birthday cake. She is my creative artist. She found a website that had showed how to make rainbow cake in a jar. She had a lot of fun making these little cakes..

I made 2 pizza’s…

And had a taco bar. I kept the taco shells warm in my large crockpot and in the small crockpot I kept the taco meat warm..

Isaac is such a good kid.. I am so thankful for him. He loves to skateboard, ride his bike, play with his friends, play xbox, and ballroom dancing.. he is currently practicing for a dance competition coming up this spring.. He is smart and has a great sense of humor which we all love!

Happy Birthday to my Boy!! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

This Weeks Menu

Pizza & taco bar (Isaac’s birthday celebration)
BBQ Beef (crockpot meal from the freezer) over pasta, salad
Crockpot Teriyaki Pork (crockpot freezer meal) over brown rice, salad
Chili (using cooked hamburger from the freezer), chips & salsa, salad