Category Archives: Homemaking

Honey Glazed Salmon Recipe and if apps are your thing, you’re gonna need to read this!

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Okay, so I have a confession to make.  I didn’t actually eat this salmon.  Um…I actually don’t like seafood.  I’ve tried it a couple of different times in my life to no avail.  You see, I want to like it.  It’s so good for you!  But I….Just. Can’t.  Like, I actually gagged when I was trying to get the raw salmon out of the package and into the baking dish.  Sorry, but I did.  Me and seafood…we got issues.  But that’s a topic for another day.  Or possibly for a therapist.  Anyway, I opted for a protein shake in place of the salmon.  See?  I’m not a total loser…heh heh…still got my protein in!

The rest of my family loved this meal!  My husband is always crying about how he never gets to eat any seafood because I don’t like it.  Big man-baby pansy. So I’ve decided to try to start throwing some on the meal plan every so often.  And I’ll just have a shake on those nights.

The best thing about this?  It was ready in about 30 minutes!

Here’s how to make the meal above:

1 bunch bok choy, washed, stalks cut off, roughly chop the leaves
2 C chicken or vegetable broth (or water)
2 tsp minced garlic, divided
2 tsp minced ginger, divided
2 Cups instant brown rice (you don’t have to use instant, I just did because I needed this meal to be quick)
1 lemon
1 1/2 lb salmon fillet
crushed red pepper (as desired)
2 T. honey
8 T. soy sauce
olive oil

Preheat to 425.
In medium bowl whisk together 1/2 the garlic and ginger, then add the juice of one lemon, soy sauce (I found this to be a little much and will probably reduce it to 6 T. next time), and honey.

Place salmon in baking dish and pour half of the sauce mixture on top.  Bake 15-20 minutes, until salmon is opaque.  Pour on rest of sauce halfway through baking time.

While salmon is cooking, bring broth to boil in small saucepan.  Add rice & stir.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 5 min.

Heat skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil.  Add remaining garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper to taste.  Add bok choy and a little bit of soy sauce.  Saute about 2-3 minutes.

This recipe came from the app called Mealime.  Which leads me to my next point!  I have a few great app suggestions I’d like to share with you.  I love these because they all help me keep myself on track throughout the day.

First up is Mealime.

It’s a great meal planning app that you can customize to suit your tastes or goals.  I know the paid version offers a little more customization, but for now, the free version works perfectly for me.

Why do I love it?  I’m glad you asked!  Do you ever get just totally burned out on meal planning?  Nothing sounds good, you don’t want to take the time to do it, you can’t think of anything….
This app takes all of that away.  You set your preferences.  You can even tell it foods that you don’t like and it won’t give you recipes with them in it.  It comes with a complete grocery list for all of the meals.  If you don’t like a meal that it has planned for you, you just swipe it away and it’s replaced by another.  I LOVE it!
The only negative that I have found with this so far is that it’s a ‘Dinner only’ planner.  So there’s no breakfast or lunches or snacks planned.  But for me, dinner is the hardest part of the meal plan to come up with.  I’m sure there are other apps out there that will plan all of your meals for you if you want, I just didn’t need that so I stopped looking when I found this one.

The next app that I am loving right now is called Our Home.  I use it to assign the girls’ chores and keep track of my own somewhat, too.

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The girls each have the app on their phones, as well.  When they come home from school, they can open it up and see what they need to get done for the day.  You can schedule the tasks to repeat weekly, daily, monthly, etc.  It’s pretty awesome.  And they can check them off as they are completed.

I have recently started using some of the features on the Fly Lady app to keep track of different cleaning projects I like to get done each month.

FlyLady.net iPhone/iPad App

This app can be used as little or as much as you like. From daily tasks to complete all the way to monthly chores.   I like that she sets up different zones to focus on each month, so that in addition to my normal housework, I can be reminded to do other projects that might get overlooked like cleaning out the linen closet or the pantry.  I don’t really think about those things often, so I can get reminders about those type of things.

And finally I want to share with you a great workout app that I think would be perfect if you are wanting to start exercising but don’t have a clue what to do.

8fit is also a free app, with the option to upgrade to the paid version for more perks.  I use the daily beginner workouts as my warm up for my lifting sessions and it’s perfect!  I don’t get bored with doing the same old warm up because it’s something different every day.  You can set your level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and the type of exercise you’d like to do, and also set your goals.  Each exercise has a video demo of how to correctly perform the movement.

So that’s it!  I hope you’ll give some of these a try.  I’m all for anything that makes life a little easier and these really do the trick for me!

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A Day in the Life

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When I think back to what life was like when I started this blog, I am amazed at how different things are now.  My girls were 6 & 3!  They are now 14 & 11.  Oh how the times have changed for this family.

I used to have time for lots of things like gardening, canning, cooking from scratch.  And while those things and those times hold a special place in my heart, the thought of doing that now makes me want to run & hide.

These days, I’m more into working out and being a professional kid hauler running from one practice to another, doctor appointments, school functions, softball games, etc.  I’m still cooking a lot, but I’m way more lax in how I approach nutrition.  I love to eat healthy foods, but I don’t have guilt trips or stress over eating the occasional junk either.  I used to make our ketchup, mayo, broth, jam, canned veggies & sauces, pickles, etc because I was bound and determined to let no unnatural items touch the stomachs of my loved ones lol.  And while those things are great, and I applaud anyone who is actively working towards taking care of their family in the best way that they can, frankly, I just don’t have time for that anymore.

These days our mornings are spent in a mad dash to get ready for school.  Once the kids are off it’s home for my one hour workout time.  This is one area I will never give up.  There are days when it has to happen at night instead of morning (which I hate, btw) but one hour of each day is all mine.  I have struggled to really disengage from the never ending list of responsibilities and chores that need tending to, but I really try to clear my mind and focus on my health and fitness in that hour.  My goals and expectations for myself, and my long-term health are the things I try to keep at the forefront of my mind.  Because I do want to be healthy and active and here for my family for as long as possible and I don’t want my health to be a burden to them.  I know that anything can happen to anyone at any time, but I’m going to try to ward off health issues for as long as possible.  My game plan for that is to exercise daily and find a good balance between great nutrition & the freedom of indulgence in moderation.

After workout time, if there isn’t anywhere I need to be, I try to tackle laundry & housework.  I’ve tried (and failed at) several different systems over the years, but what I have found that works best for me now is to divide it up throughout the week.  Mondays I clean both bathrooms top to bottom.  Tuesdays I dust (everything from baseboards to blinds & furniture, ceiling fans, etc ).  Wednesdays I vacuum & mop.  Thursdays are for meal planning / grocery shopping & errands.  Fridays are for tackling outside chores, when it’s nice, or just catching up on anything I missed earlier in the week.

Things are a little more relaxed in the summer when school is out & I’m sincerely looking forward to that with just a little over month left of school.  More free time for fun with the girls & SLEEPING IN!

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After 13+ years of being a stay at home mom, I honestly am surprised that I haven’t tired of it by now, especially with the girls being older & more independent now.  And looking back, I know we sacrificed material things & vacations.  But I can’t say that I feel deprived or sad that we missed out on the things that others have.  The day will come when we’ll do those types of things, Lord willing, but for now I can only say that I feel so abundantly blessed to be able to do this every day.

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**Pictures courtesy of my awesome career choice & our recent hiking trip to Clifty Falls State Park**  😉

 

 

Sometimes the ordinary days are the best days…

Yesterday was such a good day (except for the fact that I was in mourning over the previous night’s Walking Dead episode 😦 ).  Well it was good, kind of. I got a call from the school that Hannah wasn’t feeling well & had to pick her up, causing her to miss her first basketball game, so that part wasn’t so great.  But the rest of it?  Wonderful!  Wonderfully boring and uneventful.  And sometimes those days are the best days.

I started it off with a 30 minute walk/jog through our little town.  It was breezy, sunny, & cool…in other words, a perfect fall morning.

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After that I had an awesome back & biceps workout then took the pooch for a walk with my auntie.  I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning & doing laundry.  Lunch was a delicious spinach & feta omelet & apple.

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In the afternoon, I read a little, crocheted a little, until I got the phone call from the school nurse.  I snuggled up with my little sick kiddo & we watched cartoons.  She took a nap, then Katie & I made supper together which was baked pork chops using a homemade rub (delish!), peas, & PW’s au gratin potatoes.  More snuggling with the sickly child in the evening and early to bed.

Was there anything special about today?  No.  Not really.  But sometimes those are the best ones. ❤

How I Finally Learned to Stop Hating this Old House

This house….boy, where do I begin?  This house….well, before I start with this house, let’s go way back to 1997.  In 1997 we were living in a new house on an acre out in the country.  I loved that house.  I mean LOVED it!  It was new.  It had 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms.  It had a GINORMOUS kitchen.  I had a big garden.  We had horses behind us that Katie loved to sit out back and watch every day.

So why in the world did we move, you ask?  Well, it turns out that that beautiful new house had a very hefty house payment.  We were making it, but not comfortably and little did we know, but big financial changes were just on the horizon for us.  We didn’t know that, but we did know that we weren’t comfortable with scraping by.  The other negative was that the house sat on a road that is a very heavily traveled road that links our small town to the nearby bigger town.  There was a lot of traffic and nobody was obeying the speed limit.  The girls were 5 & 3 and I was scared to death that at some point they would get out of my sight for a minute and out to that busy road.

We listed our house and were completely unprepared for it to sell in only a month’s time.  Worse than that was that the people needed to be in right away.  We had nowhere to go!!  I was looking to move into our cute little town.  I had grown up there and I missed it.  I wanted to be close to the school, park & library.  The problem with a small town is that there isn’t always a lot of real estate to choose from.  And the other problem with this particular small town is that the houses are O-L-D.  So odds are pretty likely that if you are buying a house here, you’re going to have lots of fixing up to do.

It just so happened that my parents had just purchased a big farm house out in the country and their realtor had bought a house in town to flip.  I remembered them telling us about it and about all of the work it needed.  So when our house sold and I saw that there was absolutely nothing for sale here, I thought of my mom’s realtor.  A few phone calls later and a walk-through and we’d made an offer that was accepted!

Prior to this house, all of the houses that Brian & I had lived in (with the exception of our very first rental house) were modern and nice.  So, when you go from that to an old, crooked, drafty house it can be quite an ordeal.  Not to mention that our girls were actually frightened of their new home.  Yes, for real.  Frightened.

Everything in the house needed attention.  There’s no other way to put it.  The roof…oh my the roof!  Old, single-pane windows and several of them were broken.  The old original wide-plank wood floors with huge gaps.  And everything was crooked.  The floors, the stairs, the walls.  No wonder the kids were scared!

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The previous owners had done some of the work themselves.  Siding, furnace, air conditioning….but there was (and still is) A LOT left to do.  But, the beauty of it was this:  we had bought this house cheap and we could afford to fix it up.  Maybe not all at once, but we could do it.

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This is what she looked like when the previous owners bought her! Can you imagine???

 

However, life had other plans and not long after we’d been here…maybe a year?  The economy tanked and Brian was laid off from his job.  Talk about scary times.  What a blessing in disguise this ugly old house was.  Because of it, we were able to scrape through that time.  And the remodeling has been sloooow going ever since because #1) we used a lot of our remodel money to live on during those lean times and #2) we are now so busy that it has just taken a back seat.  And finally #3) we are NOT do-it-yourselfers, a fact we quickly learned once we moved in and started projects.

My hair was so short!!

My hair was so short!!

But we have managed to do some things over the years…windows, floors, roof, a new deck, paint (most of the rooms).  The kitchen cabinets are still ugly.  The ceilings are still hideous and my bedroom still hasn’t been touched, but it’s home.  The girls are 13 and 10 now and we are crazy busy with life now.

I’m ashamed to say that I have sometimes been embarrassed to have people over.  You know, it’s all so hip and cool to have an old house in the middle of remodeling because there’s proof all around that it will one day be updated and nice.  But when you’re just living in an old house & the renovating is nonexistent?  Not cool.  Not cool at all, my friend.

We are no longer kidding ourselves.  The remodeling is not happening anytime soon.  We can’t afford it now.  We don’t have time for it now.  We don’t even have time to paint for Pete’s sake!  And even when we do have time, we don’t want to.  We just want to sit.  And play board games or go to the movies.  Or some other fun thing because seriously, life is flying by us every day.  Perhaps the day will come when I live to remodel.  But that day is not today.

And so, I’ve learned to stop being embarrassed by my unfinished home.  And quite frankly, the people who visit us here could care less about what our house looks like.  And maybe there is a lesson somewhere here for my girls that says something like, your true friends will love you for you.  Not for your house.  Not for you possessions.  A house is a home when love lives there, crooked floors and all.  ❤

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Menu Plan Organization….HELP. ME.

I seriously hate having to sit down and plan my meals for my grocery shopping trip. I don’t hate being prepared ahead of time, I actually love that part because I don’t have to scramble each day to try to figure out what I’m going to make for supper.  What I hate is the process of deciding what to each for each meal (and snacks!) for every single day of the week. U-G-H!!!!

*Funny Story – last night I was going to make homemade chocolate chip cookies. But alas, we had no butter. I called The Spinster and she had some but not enough. Hannah then proceeded to walk sadly from room to room in the house saying “Buttah”. (picture a huge bullfrog ribbiting out the word buttah). She’s something else, that one.

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So here’s my dilemma, I have recipes in books, in a recipe box, in a binder, on my laptop and on hundreds of blogs that I want to test out. It’s very overwhelming. I tried several different ways to organize all of them (created my own spreadsheet, online recipe organizers, etc) but nothing has really been what I want.

In the perfect world that exists in my mind, I would have my recipes organized seasonally. That way I’d be utilizing produce at it’s peak time. I just can’t figure out how to make that happen in a way that doesn’t push the limits of my sanity.

I’m thinking about using my blog…kinda…maybe…to start doing that whole menu plan day thing that is so popular. That way I can come here and go straight to that category and maybe have some kind of semblance of organization?? I don’t know. I may try it.  I may not.  As you can see, I am fantastic at making decisions.

I’m going back towards more from-scratch cooking now that softball season is in the slow part of the year, with the hopes that when it comes back around with a vengeance, I am so disciplined in my food/snack making that I will breeze right through it brandishing healthy, wholesome snacks around every turn. Yeah…I’m laughing too.  But my girls love all of the homemade snacks I make.  Especially the cheese crackers.  And honestly, they are so stinking easy.  I don’t know why but every time I think about making them, I get all like “but I have to use the rolling pin”, as if that is sooo hard.  It takes probably 15 minutes to mix up the few ingredients and roll them out, then pop them in the oven.  Sometimes I amaze myself with how much of a wimp I am.

Well, I have no idea if anyone is still reading this blog since I kinda fell off the face of the Earth for oh, I don’t know, a couple of years…but if I do and if you happen to have any suggestions or would like to share how you organize and create your menu plan each week, I will be eternally grateful and probably so happy that the rolling pin is gonna feel like chump change.

Microwave Cleaner

I guess everyone probably knows this already, but after reheating some baked beans in the microwave this weekend, and forgetting to cover the bowl, resulting in a bean explosion, I thought I’d share this awesome tip on how to clean the microwave easily.

And this works on stuff that has been baked and caked on for decades too. You will be amazed at how easily everything comes off.

Not that any of us ever allow that to happen. Heh heh…

 

MICROWAVE CLEANER

1 C. vinegar in a bowl

Microwave for 5 mins.

Let sit 1 min.

Wipe out with damp cloth

 

Bert & Ben’s Sweet & Sour Green Beans

By far, one of the best, and most favorite, gifts I have ever received is my Aunt Bee’s Mayberry Cookbook.  I’ve found some really delicious recipes here and the book is loaded with pictures and funny stories/scenes from my all-time favorite show.

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We are gearing up for softball season now, so that means we will have quite a few nights where I need to find a quick and easy solution for supper.  Menu planning at my house is at least an hour and a half job.  I love to cook and I don’t like eating the same things every week, so I put a lot of thought into each meal and try to keep a lot of variety. I try to keep us in 80/20 range on the healthy vs. not so healthy meal range.  You know, 80% clean meals, to keep us all healthy and 20% good ol’ stuff we love to keep us content.  Southern Fried Fitness is a great blog that posts recipes for each of those categories.

Making an appearance on the menu this week will be BLT’s with my favorite Mac & Cheese recipe from another beloved book, Autumn From The Heart Of The Home by Susan Branch.  And from the Mayberry Cookbook, I’ll be trying out Bert & Ben’s Sweet & Sour Green Beans.  Sounds yummy, hope it turns out that way.  I usually just make P-Dub’s green beans because they are so delicious and a huge hit around here, but I also want to try new stuff as much as possible.

So, this is what Bert & Ben’s Sweet and Sour Green Beans looks like:

2 cans green beans (I’ll be using fresh)
4 strips bacon (we like Simple Truth brand)
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt (I’ll be using kosher)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 T. sugar (will probably use Stevia even though this is technically a “20% meal”)
1/2 C. cider Vinegar
2 T. flour (all I have is whole wheat)*Original recipe calls for the liquid from one can of green beans, I will just use chicken broth in place of that.

Fry bacon til crisp, reserve drippings.  Crumble bacon.
Saute onion in bacon drippings. Grease.  It’s bacon grease.  Calling it drippings doesn’t change what it is!  But that’s what the recipe says, so that’s what I’m calling it too. :)Stir in liquid, flour, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar.  Bring to boil.
Add green beans and bacon.
Heat until warmed through.  (I will cover the skillet and let them cook a while since I’m using fresh instead of canned.)

And here’s the yummy Mac & cheese recipe from Susan Branch’s Autumn book.

Product Details

10 oz. elbow macaroni (I’m using whole grain rotini because that’s what I have in my pantry)
2 eggs
1 T. dry mustard
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
2 C. half & half
1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated

Preheat oven to 375.  Cook and drain macaroni.
In large bowl, lightly beat eggs, salt, pepper and mustard.
Stir in half & half, then cheese, then macaroni.
Pour into buttered 2 qt. casserole. Bake 25 min.
Put under broiler 1 min to brown and crisp the top.

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Life on the outskirts of town.