The Fort Worth Homemaker’s Day

schedule-compressed

By Liz

You might be asking yourself, what does a day in the life of this homemaker look like?  I get emails wondering what it is I do all day and we now have such amazing technology that keeping house must be a breeze, so I think many of my readers think I have plenty of time that gets wasted on a daily basis.

Unlike many other homemakers, I don’t home school any of the 5 kids .Regardless of the fact that they are much older, honestly this was never in my wheel house, I know my weaknesses and frankly I was not equipped with the patience level to home school.

Also, like many other homemakers, I don’t do many DIY projects.  You will probably never see a post about how I turned an old sock into an adorable stuffed animal, although you will see mentions of me using old socks as dust rags.

I also don’t have a long reading list. While I agree that reading helps one broaden their minds, helps you relax and is some pretty cheap entertainment, I just never seem to have enough time.  Kudos to all those other homemakers and blogging moms that are able to read 40+ books in one year, because it usually takes me months to get through just one book.




So exactly what does a day in my life look like?  Here is a schedule of a typical day:

6:00 – 8:30 Read, answer emails, compose posts.

8:30 -9:30 Exercise, shower, dress, hair.

9:30 -10:00 Dust and sweep all of the downstairs of my house. (This gets done daily due to dog hair tumbleweeds that drive me crazy).

pot-of-dog-food

10:00 -10:30 Prep and put on a pot of homemade dog food in the slow cooker, then prep and marinade chicken for evening dinner.

10:30 -11:00 Fold and put away 2 batches of laundry.

11:00 12:00 Proof read, edit and photo shop for upcoming posts.

12:00 – 1:00 Make and enjoy my lunch hour, (eating does not take me an hour, but if there was anything that stuck with me from my days in corporate…it was enjoying the respite of the lunch hour before delving back into work).

breakfast-sandwiches

1:00 -1:40 Make a batch of egg sandwiches for the freezer.

1:40 – 2:00 Played with puppy and other dogs outside giving them some exercise.

blanched-tomatoes

2:00 – 3:00 Blanched, pureed and freezer bagged all garden ripened tomatoes (to be used in sauce at a future time).

CPP-books

3:00 – 4:00 Work on homework assignment from the Saturday class I am taking (I had mentioned this previously, I am working on keeping my CPP certification as a Payroll Professional).

4:00 -4:15 Empty dishwasher.

4:15 – 4:30 Bagged up dog food from slow cooker.

4:30 – 5:00 Judge Judy and coffee break (Guilty pleasure, hey!…I am only human).

5:00 5:30 Dinner prep (slicing veggies, shredding cheese, etc…)

dinner-cooked-on-the-grill

5:30 -6:30 Grilling dinner outside while periodically coming in to check on side dishes.

6:30 – 7:30 Eat with family, package leftovers, wash dishes.

dog-walk

7:30 – 8:30 Take dogs for a walk.

8:30 – 10:00 Downtime…finally!!! (Usually this time is spent either watching a movie or talking with my hubby and kids).

10:00 BED..it’s been a long day and I am tired!

For those of you who might be wondering, NO, I did not embellish this schedule.  This is a typical day for me, other days also include errands, grocery shopping, scheduled appointments at the doctor, dentist, vet, mechanic, etc…

I do try to make a habit of doing less on the weekend, but with the class I am taking on Saturday’s this summer, that has me out the door at 7:00a.m. and not returning until 2:00p.m. I still have homemaking items that I accomplish on the weekends, but these tasks get done on a less stringent schedule.

So there you have it, a day in the life of The Fort Worth Homemaker, I did not write this post to complain, I just wanted to let the public know that homemakers far and wide generally are not sitting around watching daytime T.V. talk shows; shopping and spending money all day; or taking naps for hours upon end.  And if you are a homemaker that does exactly those things…please let me know your secret, cause who couldn’t use some of that?

 


Feeding my Family on $80 for a Month Part IIII

case-of-money

By Liz

 

If you haven’t had a chance, please check out Part I; Part II and Part III of this series.

Well, here we are…week 4 on my quest to save $500 for a month by only spending $80 for groceries for the past 30 days for my family of 7 plus 4 dogs.  In case you forgot, as I mentioned in my Penny Pinching June article, we have a decent sized walk in pantry, a chest freezer, a refrigerator in the kitchen and a refrigerator in the garage (used for mostly defrosting food or overflow of milk, eggs and other items) so prior to this experiment we had a decent stock pile of meat, dry goods and bread the only thing I was needing to purchase for the past month was items like milk, dairy and produce as these all have a short shelf life.

 


So how did I do this week with only $16.50 left of my $80 cash budget?

I can tell you, we put a really good dent in our food stockpile over the past month and we are down to our last loaf of bread, but we still have enough to probably use this method for another week or so, however, my family has been getting a little antsy when it comes to their guilty pleasures, things like ice cream, cookies, chips and soda, basically, all those treats they are used to having during the summer.

Now I admit, I do indulge my family on these items some of the time. We do not have these things on a regular basis in our home. In order for me to save money regularly, we don’t always have said treats and junk food. I usually make one or two baked goods for the week (a batch of cookies or a cake), things like chips and soda usually make an appearance in our house if we are having a cookout or the rest of the family comes over and although we eat our fair share of ice cream during the summer, I have noticed that generally by the 4th of July, the family starts getting burned out on it and by mid-August, I am discarding these now freezer burned treats.

Again this final week, I went to Aldi, still avoiding the variety and temptations that Winco has to offer, here is a snapshot and list of what I purchased this week:

80-dollars-prt-4-02
2 gallons of milk
10 pounds of potatoes
Bananas
Garlic
1 package of cheese slices
1 jar peanut butter

80-dollars-prt-4-03

For a grand total of $14.44. YAY!!! I actually came in under budget with $2.06 left to spare!

So what did we eat for this week?

Monday: Slow cooker, smothered chicken queso over rice.

Tuesday: Grilled hot Italian sausages and pierogies.

Wednesday: BBQ chicken on the grill/foil packet veggies (onion; summer squash & mushrooms)/garlic bread.

Thursday: Fresh slow cooker pinto beans/quesadillas.

Friday: Caprese salad pasta tossed with whatever was leftover of the sausages and chicken.

Saturday: Basil mac and cheese/fried chicken (that I forgot we had and was found in our chest freezer).

Sunday: Grilled steak/baked beans/simple salad with cucumbers and tomatoes.

Looking back, I am thankful it was a successful experiment and I was actually able to save my family the $500, if not more for the month. This was a challenge though, not going to lie about it, I probably would have had an easier go of it, if my meal planning was not as vast as it was and we ate things like beans and rice every Sunday or homemade pizza every Friday, but like I said previously, we like variety and it was nice to know that I was able to accomplish that with my stockpile and pantry offerings, sprinkled in with some fresh perishables.

piggy-bank

As previously mentioned, I will probably institute these kinds of penny pinching months at least twice a year into our savings plan and depending on what kind of deals I can gather during the regular months, and probably to the dismay of family, maybe, eventually make this a quarterly event. I will keep you updated.




Five Frugal Friday

piggy-bank-02

By Liz

Summer is here, the days are getting hotter and longer and our revolving door is in full swing with work, education, cookouts, vacations and family time.  Looking at that list you would think that it might be tough to save some cash, but here are some things I did this week that saved us some green.

garden-jalepenos

1. Spared some jalapenos.  Our jalapeno plants are taking off this year, so much so that there is only so much I can serve my family.  I harvested this batch for the day and flash froze them for future in salsas, food bowls, and my open faced jalapeno bombs.

garden-veggies-in-chilli

2. Used a fresh harvest for dinner. Keeping with our micro gardening theme, two days after I flash froze all those jalapenos, we had a few more that were ready to be used, along with a bell pepper and a handful of pitiful shaped Roma tomatoes. I peeled and pureed the tomatoes, diced up all the peppers and used them in my pork chili that evening.

detailing

3. Detailed the inside of my car. This one was really all my hubby’s doing. My car has been used this spring to haul bags of dirt, compost, free fire wood, and hairy dogs. To say that the inside of my car needed a good cleaning would be an understatement.  My hubby spent hours going through every little nook and cranny.  My car looks and smells new again and we didn’t have to pay to have it professionally serviced.

hair-color

4. I colored my hair. Probably much to the dismay of my hair stylist (sorry Leslie), I color my own hair approximately every 4 to 6 weeks. I know that the day will come when I will need to seek professional services for this bit of vanity, but for right now, I can get away with a box of hair color that is less than $10, and believe it or not, I always seem to get compliments on my hair, so I know that I have a chosen a color that suits me and doesn’t make me look like I have clown colored hair.

payroll-studies

5. I am spending my Saturday’s this summer keeping up my certification. OK, depending on how you look at this one, it might not really be considered frugal. Every 5 years I have to re-certify as a CPP (Certified Payroll Professional) making sure I am up to date on the latest rules and laws as it governs the payroll industry. Even though I am unsure if I will ever go back to this profession, education is never a waste of one’s time or money. (and it never hurts to have a Plan B in your back pocket).

So there you have it, some ways I was able to save some dough this week. What kinds of things did you do to save some moola?

 


Airing my Dirty Laundry

ironing

By Liz

When I first meet people and tell them that I am a full time homemaker with a household of 7, I can almost see their faces turn into posters of pity, thinking that I must be buried under loads of dirty dishes and laundry; that my house must surely be perpetually messy and I spend my time chasing after young, disheveled, banshee like children about to climb all over the furniture or take crayons to my walls.

Thankfully, I have paid my dues in that area and those days are long behind me.  My brood is mostly made up of teens and young adults now, but that doesn’t mean that the chores for this full time homemaker cease to exist anymore.



As you can imagine we generate a lot of laundry in our house.  This may come as a shocker and I am probably going to come off as a discredit to my fellow homemakers, but I do enjoy doing laundry.  I know many others may despise this necessary chore, but I find a certain relaxation in it.

First of all let me say, that even though I do the majority of the laundry, the rest of the family does help out and does what is necessary. Secondly, we do not have a designated “laundry day”(with the exception of bedding, that gets done every Sunday) where all the laundry is completed in one day. We do laundry just about every day.  I guess you could say it is done in moderation, just like any successful, diet, exercise, or budgeting program.

I read and hear all the time how exasperated people get when they talk about doing laundry.  This always makes me laugh. What is it about laundry that gets people so beat down? You dump the load into the machine, close the lid and press a button. It’s not like the old days where you had to drag your clothes down to the closest river and beat your clothes on a rock, or even more modern, pull out a bucket, washboard and the most skin irritating soap known to man and scrub until your fingers bleed.

sorting

Our system is a pretty easy one.  Everyone has a clothes hamper in their rooms, when it starts to get full, they are to empty their items into our clothes sorting system, kept in our garage. Our sorting system is made up of 4 large plastic hampers that are designated, one for whites, one for jeans, one for towels and one for colored clothes. When those hampers are brim full, it is time to wash that load.

detergent

We do save some money on our cleaning products. For many years, we had used commercial products, but then I started reading about more cost efficient, homemade products. I was very reluctant and skeptical to try any of these, but one weekend, I decided to make a batch and experiment for a week, if we didn’t like it or it did not do a sufficient job, we could always switch back to the commercial brands. I am happy to say, that it worked out and we now use a homemade version of laundry detergent, thereby, slashing our cost on detergent, “thanks Mary Hunt of Everday Cheapskate”.

washing-machines

Our machine’s are high capacity, energy and water efficient brands and we wash everything in cold water (unless hot is really needed to get something sterilized). I would love to be able to tell you that with all that laundry for 7 people that we save a ton of money by line drying. I love line dried clothes, it was the method we used when I was a kid in the Northeastern part of the country there is nothing like the smell of sun bathed, crisp linen sheets or clothes.  However, here in Texas, it is just not feasible. While yes, we have plenty of sunshine, we also have plenty of dust and allergens being blown around most of the time.

I remember the first time, I insisted to my now husband that I wanted a clothes line in the backyard of our old house.  With some reluctance on his part, I finally got my way. When the day came that the line was up, I could not wait. I did a batch of towels in the morning, got them out and up on the clothes line before I headed off to the office (back in my working days).  Later that day, when I had come home and proceeded to take the clean, dry clothes off of my line, I noticed there was a sticky green/yellowish film on each and every towel.  Turns out, spring pollen had thwarted my efforts that day to try to save on energy, because now I had to re-wash the load and run it through the dryer.  That is how it is here in the Metroplex, there always seems to be something floating in the air.  If it’s not pollen, mold, ragweed or other allergens, then the dirt and dust from all the construction in the area certainly will hamper this kind of effort.

dryer-balls

So our dryer gets used on a daily basis as well and while we know that this appliance is a money sucker, we do what we can to minimize the monetary sting.  We have invested in a set of wool dryer balls to help with static and minimize wrinkles, instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets; we dry back to back loads as to ensure maximization of residual heat; we clean the lint trap at the beginning of each load; and every 6 months, we pull the machine out away from the wall and clean out the venting system in the back of the machine.

After the machines are all done doing the hard work, I then get in some much needed down time.  I bring my baskets of dried laundry into the living room at a time when no one else is occupying it and start folding and making individual piles for each owner.  Depending on the time of the day, I may turn on the T.V. and catch up on the news while tending to this chore, but more often than not, I do it in silence and use this as my reflection time with my life and with God.

folded-clothes

 

When all the piles of clean, neatly folded laundry is completed, they sit for a short time in our living space.  Before dinner hits the table, each owner has come to get his or her piles and they are responsible for putting them away, just as on Sundays, each person is responsible for re-making their own beds once the bedding has been laundered. Believe it or not, and I am not making this up, when each kid comes to collect their piles, they do genuinely thank me or I get a kiss on the cheek.  And I don’t even pander for it, maybe that is part of the joy I get from doing this task.

Now many of you might not have these same kinds of luxuries, such as older kids that can take care of their own clean laundry and linens.  Maybe you have to fold,  hang up and put away every stitch of clothing, maybe do some ironing and maybe you have to make every bed in your home, and while I agree this might seem like a cumbersome chore, I believe it is all part of homemaking.

Don’t forget, this has become yours and my chosen profession, because we feel it is important to sustain a well balanced, happy home and family; and like with any profession, it may come with some big and tiresome job responsibilities,  but it also has a great benefit program.



Do you have to much Stuff?

 

chaos

By Liz

“Everybody’s gotta have a little place for their stuff. That’s all life is about. Trying to find a place for your stuff.” — George Carlin

When I was making my first cup of coffee this morning, I went to retrieve a coffee mug from my see through glass paneled pantry cabinet and as I looked up, noticed that these cabinets were housing an array of coffee mugs, vases, cookbooks, pitchers, popcorn bowls and several other items that don’t get used on a regular basis and while my coffee was brewing, I thought to myself, “I really need to weed out all the junk in these two cabinets”. After I poured my coffee, I thought about the cabinet space directly below it that is closer to the floor.  That space is occupied by more cookbooks, large serving trays that only come out on holidays, old food storage containers and place-mats.  I realized that we only really use 2 of the cookbooks on a regular basis that occupy the space in these cabinets and maybe 2 or 3 sets of the place mats come out into regular rotation.

stuff

So I started to make a mental inventory of what I could get rid of from that space, but as I was making that list in my mind, I would veer off to the unused tablecloths and tea set in my dining room sideboard and the pile of refrigerator magnets in my junk drawer and some of the Christmas presents that I received months earlier still sitting in their original boxes on a shelf in my bedroom closet. All of a sudden, I was feeling completely overwhelmed and my head was spinning with thoughts of where I should start this purge?, and when do I have the time?,  and just like that, it usually gets put on the waaaay back burner and this exercise is in jeopardy of not getting accomplished.

My husband, myself and our brood moved into our current house, only a few short years ago.  Our previous house was approximately 1600 square foot, and as the kids started to get much bigger, we always seemed to be on top of one another. So we moved into our current house that has approximately 2800 square feet, much better when it comes to breathing room and personal space for all of us. When we were getting ready to move from our old house, we needed to get rid of a lot of stuff, after all, there were many years of accumulated crap.  We had at least two garage sales, donated countless boxes of clothes and household items and threw out bag after bag of trash, and this was all before we even packed our first moving box. At the time, it was overwhelming and a huge hassle.  I never wanted to have that undertaking again.




I dislike clutter and as I have mentioned before, my home decorating style is minimalist. There are not a lot of knick knacks donning the flat surfaces in the rooms of my house, simply because I despise cleaning all of it.  However, it appears as though my closet and cabinet spaces area a different story. So, because I didn’t learn my lesson during the time of our move, we apparently, still have a huge abundance of stuff.

The problem is the thought of spending the time to go through it to get rid of it.  When I think about it; I get discouraged and feel completely overwhelmed.  I know I have to do it, but it becomes something I procrastinate on. However, then it becomes this double edged sword, and then seeps into my thoughts, day and night and I think…”yeah…I really have to get to that”.

Yes, I am aware of the “one in…one out method” and I really do try to adhere to that, and I also am very aware of designating a specific day to tackling this clutter dilemma. The problem is working up the ambition to do it, because that feels like such a massive undertaking.

So I have decided to take a slightly different approach.  This upcoming weekend, I plan on picking up at least 2 moving boxes, assembling them and come Monday afternoon, plop them down in the middle of my kitchen, bedroom closet or in the middle of my living room.  I am going to start my timer and give myself 30 minutes to physically touch items and determine if it is something that has seen the light of day in the past 6 months and if it stays where it is, goes into the box designated for donation or the box marked for trash.  When my 30 minutes is up, I will be done with this exercise for the day and I will put the boxes into the garage and if they are not full, pull them out on Tuesday, Wednesday, etc…until the two boxes are full.

car

Once I have filled the two boxes, they will go to their final destinations either out on the curb on trash day, or dropped off to the donation bin at our closest Goodwill.  Then I will repeat the process the following week.  Even though it is going to take me quite some time to go through my house using this method, I know that I will still feel a sense of accomplishment and I will be achieving my goal of decluttering my “stuff”, albeit 30 minutes at a time, and I will certainly be making a more contentious effort, while I am out….not to bring home more stuff!




Five Frugal for Friday

moneyBy Liz
This week was supposed to be an easy week, but it wound up being busier than anticipated, such is life…right? As busy as it was though, I did find time here and there to sit out on my back patio and read and relax before the weather starts to become unbearably hot and humid.

I hit 2 stores on grocery day this week, and even though this blurb is about saving and not necessarily spending, there were some pretty awesome deals that I could not pass up.

Here is my frugal five for the week:

strawberry

1. Strawberry shortcake. I love angel food cake; it’s light, sweet and low on fat and calories (a dieter’s dream).  I found this discounted cake, strawberries were on sale for 95 cents and whip topping was 86 cents. Total for dessert for the family = $4.16 (or 59 cents per serving), and I did not have to fire up the oven to do it.

spatula

2. Silicone spatula. While at Walmart, I spotted this cool looking, silicone, wooden spatula still in its package (I did take pics in its packaging along with a copy of my receipt, but I could not locate the original pics on my camera). It was not priced, so I located the nearest price scanner in the store and it scanned for a whopping 10 cents…SOLD! I don’t think you can buy anything for 10 cents nowadays.  I think the only reason it was priced so low, was because the packaging had pictures of bunnies and said Happy Easter on it and since Easter was a few weeks ago, the store had marked it down, but my family does not care if I make cupcakes in August with an Easter themed spatula.

3. Almonds. On my way to the checkout at Winco, I passed a cart with some marked down almonds. Each one pound bag had been marked down to 98 cents.  When the cashier originally scanned them, they rang up for $4.26 per bag, until she noticed the discount sticker, she then changed the price to the 98 cents, I picked up 3 bags for a total of $2.94.

almonds

4. I rescued a lemon. On Tuesday, I had made a batch of blueberry, lemon scones. The recipe only called for a small amount of lemon zest only. Even though the lemon only cost me about 20 cents, I could not throw it out. It sat in my fridge in a zip lock bag for a couple of days. Then I decided to make a quick side dish with our chicken on Thursday, which only consisted of these 3 ingredients a little salt.

breakfast-sandwiches

5. Breakfast sandwiches. My kids love breakfast sandwiches and when I had checked my bread freezer,  I had noticed that it is almost time for me to do my monthly shopping at the bread store outlet.  In my freezer was a couple of packages of everything bagels that had been in there for awhile and I did not want them to get freezer burnt, so I pulled them out and made 2 batches for a total of 12 breakfast sandwiches for a total cost of $4.34 or 36 cents a sandwich.

And that my friends is my frugal five for the week. Did you manage to have some frugal moments this week?




My Menu Planning System

 

schedule

By Liz

I often get asked how I come up with a variety of nutritious, delicious, cost efficient meals for me and my family of 7. Unlike most meal and money saving plans, we really, really like to have variety. So one thing that you might notice here, is we don’t have pizza or rice and beans on our menu once a week, each of those is more like once a month.

My system maybe old school, but it is what works best for us.  On our fridge, there are two empty, monthly, block style calendars.  One is for the kids to post their work schedules and school hours and any kind of extra activity that may arise that is out of the norm.  The other is used for dinner planning, as it is the main meal in our house. Also on our fridge is a note pad to be used when I do our weekly grocery shopping.  This is a running list of items that we are either out of, or we are low on.  I have tried to challenge myself to go grocery shopping once a month, but our family goes through a lot of milk, fresh fruit and vegetables.

For our family of 7 we have the fridge in our kitchen, however, its design lacks optimal storage space on the inside, but it came with the house, so it is ours until it dies. We also have an extra fridge that is in our garage that holds mostly beverages, overflow of milk, eggs, juice and coffee creamer as well as meat that needs to be thawed or cut to portion size pieces; the top freezer portion contains bread, rolls, bagels muffins and buns.  In addition we have a 12 cubic foot chest freezer that holds primarily meat, batch cooked meals, ice cream, frozen vegetables and any kind of convenience food that we found worth our hard earned dollars and passes our personal, nutritional guidelines. Also worth mentioning is that we have a good size walk in pantry for all of our dry goods and staples.




Once a week, I will sit down with the kids’ and menu planning calendars and start filling in my dinner menu. I will browse my chest freezer for meat, chicken or fish, check my vegetables and dry goods to pair it with and start building my week of menus. Since the kids’ schedule is ever changing, I do this on a weekly and not a monthly basis, but it is nice to see what we had to eat in a month’s time. It also helps me fill out my running grocery list. If I am in need of an ingredient or will be using the last of a staple, then up on the list it goes.

I don’t plan out our breakfasts. Our house contains mostly adults and not all of us are morning people. I myself, rarely eat breakfast, I know it is the most important meal of the day, but I have always struggled with eating in the mornings.  I am good with just a cup of coffee or two. Some of the family however does like eating early in the morning and because of that there is always a supply of eggs, fruit, bread, jam, peanut butter, oatmeal, yogurt, premade muffins, breakfast sandwiches or burritos (that I make up in batches every two weeks).  We do share a weekly breakfast together, after Sunday service; I will cook brunch for the family that usually consists of a meat, toast, potatoes and eggs made to order, fresh hot coffee, juice and or milk. Once a month I will make either French toast or pancakes served with fresh fruit in place of the toast and potatoes.

Lunches are not planned out either, due to different schedules.  Our house has a revolving door between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to midnight, between work, school and socialization. So our lunches tend to be mostly leftovers, either as is or reworked a little. For instance, if the previous night we had chicken or steak, lunch then becomes either fajitas or quesadillas or if we have leftover baked potatoes from the night before, this easily becomes a broccoli and cheese stuffed potato for lunch.  We also, always have tuna, peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese on hand in case someone wants a sandwich.

market

My system makes it easy for me make the most of the money we spend on groceries. Since we have a freezer full of bread products, I only shop for this once a month. Since we have a freezer full of meat, I only pick more up if I come across a great deal (and I usually do) during my shopping trip. Since we have extra fridge space in the garage, I can stock up on milk, juice and eggs for the week and since we have pantry space, I can stock up on dry goods when they have reached rock bottom prices.

I love to cook and even though I have a formal education in culinary arts, it is not always very practical when operating a large household.  My menu planning contains mainly easy, healthy dishes that require minimum ingredients, time and most important….minimal clean up. Again, it might not work for all, but this is what works for us.




Dusting it Off

dusting

By Liz

Do you like to clean? Do you look forward to getting your home ship shape? Maybe put on your favorite music and sing and dance while cleaning like no one is watching while you do so? Yeah……me neither.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a clean house, but I don’t like to do it.

Many of my family and friends know this about me and have asked why I just don’t break down and hire someone to clean my house.  Simply answered, I just can’t justify my laziness in this area. We all have things we hate to do, but sometimes you just “gotta suck it up buttercup”….right? So if there is any way I can shorten my weekly ritual, and still get clean results, you bet your bippy I am going to find it.

Let me first give you a quick synopsis of my home décor.  There is very little of it. When I was a kid living at home, my mom had so much stuff, it was like being in a museum.  I think because her parents were from the Great Depression era, that way of thinking (never throw anything away) and decorating were a part of the baby boomer generation as well. So back then, in our house, you could always be sure that there was a knick knack of some sort occupying every flat surface that was available in the house, and it was my chore to dust it all!




Needless to say, when I became an adult and moved out on my own, I took a more minimalist approach to decorating. I do have some tchotchkes of my own that I display, but they are few and far between which means, there is a lot less to clean.

The following is a list of the best tools that I have found for dusting that make this chore easy and produce the best results.

1. Microfiber cloths. This wonder material is great for surfaces that you need to dust, but don’t want to put any cleaner on. I use this cloth to knock the dust off of my T.V.s; table top glass framed pictures; and it does wonders getting all the pet hair off of our leather couch.

2. Orphaned, cotton socks. Slip one of these babies over your hand and you now have a 2 sided polishing cloth to use with your furniture polish. The great thing about this tool, is once the sock becomes to dirty and dusty, simply pull it off your hand and replace with a clean one.  Since we are a family of 7, we seem to have an abundance of these dusting cloths, if you don’t have many in your inventory, I am quite sure you can ask friends or family to start saving them for you, even though you might get some strange looks.

3. Walmart’s, Great Value, Furniture Polish. After many years of dusting and trying many different products, this furniture polish is my all time favorite because it works great! It doesn’t go on heavy so it does not leave a thick residue behind. It leaves my furniture dust free with a nice, streak free shine to it; and the answer is NO… I am not getting compensated to say this.

4. Ostrich feather duster. I love this tool, I use it every week, sometimes 2 times a week to dust the whole house (if the spirit moves me)without using my furniture polish and cotton socks. It is easy and I can glide through my entire house and dust off all surfaces in less than 15 minutes. I generally use the polish and sock method about once every 4 to 6 weeks. A helpful note: only use 100% ostrich down feathers for the best results.  Ostrich down is softer, more pliable, and more valuable than run-of-the-mill feathers. Forget cheap synthetic dusters, brightly dyed chicken-feather dusters, or even regular ostrich feathers. They don’t work.




You might be asking; what is the best way to keep these tools clean?…glad you asked.  To remove the dust from your feather duster, simply take it outside and shake it upside down vigorously. If you require a more thorough cleaning of the duster you may use warm soapy water, followed by a clean water rinse, then hang to dry.

For both your cotton socks and microfiber cloths, proper care is a snap. No fabric softener, no bleach, no heat – that’s all you have to remember! Wash in the washing machine with detergent only. Tumble them dry on low heat or no heat.

Now let me add that these aren’t all the tools I use for my deep spring cleaning, all of them make an appearance during that time, but a few more come out as well, but that is another article to be had later on and just a reminder that these products are meant to be used in this fashion for maintenance of your dusting needs. If you have neglected your dusting duties and are starting from a position with a few inches of dust on your surfaces, you will need a deep cleaning first, and then you can maintain your clean surfaces with these 4 products.




Five Frugal Friday

piggy-bank

By Liz

This was an odd week here; the weather took on a very bi-polar tone.  The beginning of the week we saw severe storms with tennis ball size hail, mid week we pushed a 90 degree, muggy day, then the next day the weather was cloudy and we did not break the 60 degree mark. The household seemed to be in tune with the weather as well, the week went by pretty quickly, although it felt like I did not do much or get much accomplished.

Well despite the instability of the week, I still managed to do 5 frugal things before Friday:

books

1. I  went to the library and checked out a book “The Color Purple”, by Alice Walker and the movie.  I finished the book and was able to find time to re-watch this wonderful movie. (Maybe this is part of the reason I did not get much accomplished this week).

cake-mix

2. My husband came home from the grocery store with 4 boxes of discounted Ghiradelli, dark chocolate, cake mix. They had been marked down to 75 cents each.  So I pulled up my recipe for 3 ingredient muffins and used one of the mixes to make a batch.

sophie

3. As much as she hates, it; I hate it even more….I trimmed my dog, Sophie’s nails instead of taking her to the groomer to do it.  Sophie has black nails, so it is really hard to see the quick and I am always afraid I am going to cut her.

nail-bag

4. Gave myself a pedicure.  Every 2 to 3 weeks (depending on how long the color lasts), I make a fresh cup of coffee, (sometimes have a glass of wine) put on a movie, and get my nail bag out and settle in to pamper my toes.

money

5. I had managed to come under my cash budget for groceries. I still had a whopping $17.00 to spare.  I know this does not sound like much, but whenever this happens, the remaining cash goes into our “secondary house fund”.  Scoff all you want but, it adds up over time.

So that is my fiver for the week, what did yours look like?




Brunch is for the Dogs

Roxie_Sasha

by Liz

Do you like eggs? Me too!  They are absolutely delicious, not to mention affordable and versatile and packed with a ton of protein.

Do you know who else loves eggs? Dogs do. Well at least my dogs do.

At our house we treat our dogs to Sunday brunch, along with the rest of our brood, after all, they are part of our family as well, so why shouldn’t they enjoy in this protein packed, tasty treat.

I usually make my doggie quiche in advance because I had those last containers and baggies of leftovers, that, tried as I might, just could not unload on anyone in the house and it was fridge cleaning day.

I store their quiche, well wrapped, in ½ pie size wedges and stored in the freezer.  On Saturday mornings, I will take a wedge out and put it in the fridge to thaw.

After Sunday service, while firing up my kitchen to start making brunch for my crew, I take the dog’s quiche out of the fridge and leave it on the counter to take some of the chill out of it.

When the family is done enjoying Sunday brunch and the kids are helping clean the dishes, I will briefly reheat my doggie quiche wedge in the microwave, mash up and distribute to my four legged, furry gang.

To tell you that my dogs love this treat would be an understatement.  My dogs will start whining the minute we come through the door from church because they know what day it is.  As the family starts winding down from eating, the whining gets even louder,  and as I put their quiche wedge on a plate to be reheated, their excitement is hardly containable, as they start their pathetic, albeit, adorable begging poses and tail chasing.

Needless to say, they are some very happy animals, when they are done with their treat and I feel good knowing that they got to enjoy an inexpensive, healthy, homemade treat.




Recipe:

Doggie Quiche

(Makes 2; 9 inch quiches)

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes or rice

1 dozen eggs

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

¾ cups milk

1 – 1 ½ cups of chopped or diced cooked meat (optional)

  • Just a quick note, dogs do not need seasonings to enjoy food. They do not need salt, pepper garlic, hot sauce or anything of the like, in fact, I am pretty sure it is unhealthy for them, so please refrain from seasoning as you would for a human.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl mix potatoes or rice with 1 egg and ½ cup shredded cheese. Mix until well blended.
  3. Spoon and smooth out into the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie dish.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown.
  5. Take out of oven and let cool 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, break in remaining eggs and milk, whisk until all yolks are broken.
  7. Divide and sprinkle diced meat and cheese onto the cooling pie crusts, then add half of the egg mixture to each pie dish.
  8. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until eggs are set.
  9. Cool completely and then cut into desired sized wedges.