Is It Real Or Fake?

Have you ever wondered if a ministry or just a group of Christians who claim to be led by the Holy Spirit really is a work of the Spirit? Ever get that little niggle at the back of your mind regarding a group of people who say one thing but don’t seem to follow through? Or if someone who tells you they are led by the Spirit really is led by Him? Here is a short check list that you can use to quickly measure that group or even your own ministry.

Every one of these characteristics must be met, not just one or two or even all but one. That ministry or person must….

  1. Exalt the true Chriswolft (Jesus!)
  2. Oppose Satan’s interests
  3. Point people to the Scriptures
  4. Elevate truth
  5. Result in love for God and others

These ideas come from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards’ The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God.

Be sure that any ministry you endorse in any way fulfills all of these. Its not enough to be a good person and love people. We must teach truth. Don’t be taken in by someone who speaks pretty words or appeals to your self esteem.

Homeschool Lunches

If you are a homeschooling Mom, you already know how hard it can be to prepare a good lunch every day of the school week for a group of hungry children and still be able to get your housework done and assist the children in their own work….and get supper ready!

This is our 23rd year of homeschooling and just as with curriculum choices, what to prepare and serve for lunch can sometimes be a matter of trial and error. My goal is to help you along with some of the poor choices and good choices I have made over the years and give you ideas for lunches.

noodle_soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Lunch vs. Cold Lunch

While some people always insist on a hot lunch, I think we can find a balance here. There are some days when a cold lunch is just as nice and just as filling. The weather has a lot to do with what we eat. Cold days call for soups and stews, warm breads and muffins. Days when we are rushed for time and have errands to run may be good days for a quick, cold lunch or a lunch that can be packed and taken along.

You can also introduce Tea Time into your afternoon. As a homeschooler, you have that luxury of teaching your children how to slow down and read aloud while enjoying good food, tea and the company of others. Tea Time is a good time to offer snacks.

Here are some quick ideas for making lunch time more manageable for your homeschool:

Plan Ahead – Make up your menu at least a week ahead of time. Factor in leftovers and meals for which you can cook once, eat twice. Plan on cooking for lunch and supper at the same time, often.

Set aside Lunch Food – Don’t let your family or yourself pilfer the lunch food during the week. That way you will have what you need come lunch time.

Choose Food that Helps Children Concentrate – Avoid foods that are high in artificial/hydrogenated fats and processed sugars. Choose whole grains, lean meats, fish and vegetables, fruits and beans. Even a pizza can be a healthy choice if you make it with a whole grain crust and lean meat.

Schedule lunch for the same time every day. This helps children get into some good habits. Washing hands, cleaning up their work area and helping prepare lunch are all great ways to teach your children how to do things for themselves. Having lunch at the same time every day also teaches your children to wait and to have patience.

I usually plan on three hot meals per school week and two cold meals. Here are some lunch ideas for you to start with:
Hot Meal Ideas:

Whole wheat tortillas with cheese and/or refried beans – Check out my recipe for soft flat bread.  Its very easy to make and great with refried beans.

Chicken and Corn chowder with crackers – This is easier than it sounds. Use pre-cooked chicken, (or use sausage), chicken broth to cover, bring to a simmer, add 1 can of creamed corn and 1 can of drained kernel corn. Once its hot add some cream or milk to the thickness you like. Taste and season with black pepper and salt. Check out my homemade cracker recipe, its delicious.

Potato soup – Boil some cut up potatoes til they are tender, add milk, salt to taste and then shredded or cubed cheese to taste.

Canned chili beans and brown rice, shredded cheese – Cook your rice and season it with salt and butter., Then to the cooked rice add 1 can of chili beans. Top each serving with shredded cheese, green onion, tomato, cilantro.

Crusty bread with vegetable soup

Whole wheat toast with peanut butter

Cinnamon Apple Toast - My children like this with a scrambled egg on the side. 

Whole wheat toast with baked beans spread on top

Homemade chicken nuggets with honey mustard or ranch dressing – Cut up chicken breasts into small, bite sized pieces. Put them in a bowl and cover with buttermilk. Let the chicken sit while you get everything else ready.  Heat some oil in a big, heavy pan. I use a cast iron dutch oven. Drain the chicken then dredge the pieces in flour. After they are all dredged with flour you can sprinkle them with salt. Fry the pieces in hot oil til they are dark golden brown. Drain on paper towels and while they are draining, if you want that Chick-filet taste, drizzle the fried pieces with a tiny amount of honey.

Cold Meal Ideas:

Apple slices and nut butter for dipping

Fruit and cheese, crackers

Raw vegetables and dip

Hummus and dippers

Homemade vegetable chips and sandwiches

 

A Few Mixes To Have On Hand

These mixes are easy to make and store.  I prefer to buy ingredients and make things like mixes myself instead of paying someone else to make them.

spicesTaco Seasoning
2 Tsp dried minced onion – more on this later
1 Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp arrowroot powder
½ Tsp Garlic powder – see below
½ Tsp ground cumin
1 Tsp Chili powder
½ Tsp ground red pepper
1/4 Tsp oregano dried

Store in dry place.
To make Taco Meat: Brown 1 # ground beef or turkey. Drain. Add ½ cup water, seasoning pkt. Simmer 10 minutes. Fills 8 – 10 tacos

Garam Masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine, store in an air-tight container

 

Pizza Sauce Seasoning

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

 Homemade Sloppy Joe Seasoning

Combine all of the ingredients in a small glass or plastic jar with a tight fitting lid. Label and store in your pantry shelf until needed.

2 tablespoons dried onion OR use 2 T Onion powder
2 T Paprika
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Chili powder (chipotle chili powder is good in this)
1 tsp dried Marjoram
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Black pepper
1/4 tsp celery seed

This makes one recipe of sloppy joes using 1 pound of ground meat, so increase the amount you make, double, triple or even more, to store and use. If you make a ton of it, you’ll need to use 1/3 cup of mix per pound of ground meat.

 

 

Deep Cleaning The Kitchen

My little kitchen

My little kitchen

 

The kitchen is usually the hardest room deep clean because we use it so much and its hard to have it out of commission for a day in some families. So I suggest that you utilize your crock pot or other means of having supper tonight so that you can concentrate on cleaning instead of breaking to cook.

Take a good look at your kitchen….. does it need:

…to be majorly decluttered?

…to be degreased?

…to have structural work done?

…to be emptied out and started over? laugh.gif

You must choose what you need to do in your kitchen today. Do you have time to devote to this project? maybe you should not get in to a really deep, deep cleaning of the kitchen today. Perhaps you should do a medium clean. That’s what I am going to do. You just find your happy place and get in the groove, OK?

First Things First:

Take out trash.

Pick up countertops

Take everything out of the kitchen that doesn’t go in the kitchen… use your 4 bags/boxes/baskets!

Take down curtains – wash

Take up rugs – wash

The kitchen can become a catch-all if you’re not careful. If your family has a habit of depositing things in the kitchen, and you’re OK with that, try to have a receptacle for all their stuff. Baskets are great for keys, change, pocket contents.

Mail really clutters up kitchen counter tops! Try using a box or basket to hold mail, both outgoing and incoming.

Move out furniture and take everything off your countertops that you possibly can. I will use my living room to store these things while I am cleaning because I have just cleaned my dining room and I don’t want to mess it up!

I will use laundry baskets to hold everything.

I don’t recommend that you attempt to clean the frig and the oven today unless your kitchen just doesn’t need all that much concentrated cleaning elsewhere…that’s a lot of work that might not get finished if you’re not careful!

But if your frig needs it, feel free to tackle it!

Next

Sweep down cobwebs

Make a sink of hot soapy water or use your chemical cleaner. Get out your rags and start washing down

the ceiling if needed, door frames, window frames, baseboards and walls. Wash windows.

Take up your rugs and put them in to wash. Take down curtains and wash.

Put a load of dishes in to wash while you work, or go ahead and wash all the dishes by hand.

Clean the top of the refrigerator, the stove exhaust hood, all large appliances. Go ahead and spray cleaner in the oven if you’re adventurous. Take out the drip pans and put them in a pan of hot soapy water to soak.

Clean of shelves and inside cabinets. Wash them down. Order and organize your pantry food and your pots and pans.

Wash inside your cabinets while they are empty.

Re-line cabinets if needed. Did you know that in the “old days” we used to use newspaper for this??

Replace everything that goes in the cabinets, washing and dusting off as you go.

Wash down the outside of the cabinets, use de-greaser if needed or a wood soap. Dry them and then polish them with lemon oil if they are finished wood. This is going to be the really hard, arm-breaking scrubby part for me today. My cabinets just need a really good deep scrub. But when its done, it will make the whole kitchen look better!

Don’t forget the areas over the stove!

Change your wash water if needed.

Wash down all the bottles, canisters, containers, etc. that sit on your counter tops.

Scrub the counter tops. Wash and replace the drip pans.

Sweep the floor. Make up your mop water and get to scrubbing. I will use a scrub brush this morning and scrub under the stove and all around the cabinets. Then I’ll mop the rest of the floor.

Can you move the stove and clean under it? That would probably be a good idea.

Consider setting up a Baking Center if you cook and bake a lot. I sat mine up in one of my cabinets. I put these items in the Baking Center:

Mixer

Food processor

Flours

Yeast

Baking powder and soda

Salt

Cornmeal

Shortening

Oil

Spices

You could put more in it, like measuring spoons and mixing bowls. It really is a time saver for me!

Finally...

Put all your curtains and dry rugs back down when the floor is dry. Give the appliances one more look and a polish.

Rearrange all your counter top things.

Light yourself some candles, make some tea and enjoy your kitchen!

Cooking Over A Fire

I have cooked over an open fire and in a fireplace for years and have learned a few things along the way.  Here are a few things that I think are very important.  Oh … you wonder why someone would want to cook over a fire instead of over an electric or gas oven? I do it because the food tastes better, it slows me down, its peaceful out side and because I just like it. You may not choose to cook over a fire on a daily basis, but if you go camping the know-how might come in handy.

First and foremost, you need the right equipment. Cast iron is the best choice for cooking over a fire. I have used other metals in a pinch but for durability and better cooking you need cast iron. There are several brands out there and you will get what you pay for. I recommend that you comb antique stores and flea markets to find heavy, old cast iron that has already been cured. These older, heavy pans are ideal for cooking over a fire. The heavier a pan, the more the heat will be distributed throughout the pan evenly. This is necessary for any kind of cooking but especially for open fire cooking where you are cooking over a few coals

Three things to remember when cooking on a fire:

1. If you place a pan directly on the hot coals, your food will likely burn.
2. If you hang your pan too far above the coals, it will not cook.
3. If you try to cook over a fire instead of a bed of coals, you will be frustrated. So what you need to work toward is a bed of hot coals, and a pan that is not too close nor too far away from the coals.

HOW close? Well, that depends on what you are cooking, and most of that knowledge will come with experience, however you can logically expect the coals to be hotter when you are closer to them.

How to Make a Fire For Cooking

A fire for warmth and a fire for cooking are two different things. For warmth you want that roaring crackling fire that fills up the fire box and continues to burn with medium sized flames.
For a cooking fire though you want to start with that roaring fire and really feed the fuel to the fire. This is going to make it roar and make the flames really big for a while. But the idea is to feed the fire as much wood as you think you will need coals to cook over. The flames will die down as the wood burns and the wood will become hot coals or embers. These coals are what you will cook over, not really the fire itself.

Remember that coals die out and have to be replaced with new coals. It’s better to have too many coals than not enough. So fuel up your fire to make it big at first and allow it to die down. I make my fire big and then move the coals over to the side of the burning fire. This way I can have coals being made constantly in the big fire while I am cooking on the cook fire.  If I know I will be cooking very large amounts of food I will build two separate fires and transfer coals to my cook fire in a small bucket as they are needed.

You can always fuel your fire while you are cooking but you need to be careful of two things. First, don’t refuel in such a way that the fire burns violently near your pans of food. It may burn your food or throw ashes and embers into it. Second, you must time yourself when you fuel the fire. It takes some time to make a coal, about 20-30 minutes. So start early making more coals when you are cooking.

Always, always use wood to cook over. Other fuels may cause fumes that are harmful. Use dry wood that has been aged if possible so that it will be completely dry.

After the fire has died down you will need to gather the coals up to cook over. This is where you need some of your cast iron tools like a shovel or spatula. Rake the coals together in a spot that you can reach. This is your cooking spot. You may have one to 4 cooking spots in most fireplaces. You can have as many as you like in a fire that is outside. Leave yourself plenty of room to move around and for the coals to reach all the pans.

Obviously you will have to replenish your hot coals from time to time as you are cooking. So, for example, if you are using a fireplace to cook in, choose another place to the side or rear of the fireplace to keep a fire going. I cook all along the front and one side of a fireplace, and allow the fire to burn in the left rear portion of the box. Whenever the coals burn out or loose some of their heat, scoop hot coals from the fire area to the cooking area. Some of the spent coals can be removed during cooking, but I usually wait until the cooking is over to do that because it stirs up ashes that can get in the food.

There are many, many items that you could purchase to use for cooking in your fireplace, but here are my favorites:

Spyders – These are three or four legged trivet-like things that hold your pans above the coals. They have a ring for the pan to sit in and an open bottom. They can be purchased in varying heights so that you can cook close to the coals or several inches away from them. Three different heights would be ideal, but two would do. The really tall ones are great for keeping food warm. Often a cast iron pan will have long legs cast onto the pan itself. Either one of these, the trivet-like contraption or the legged pan, can properly be called a spyder.

If you equip your fireplace with a trammel or hanging arm, you can buy all kinds of doo-dads to hang on it and hang your pots from. I like the one that adjusts from short to long so you can adjust how quickly your food is cooking without moving the pot off the fire. This is especially handy if your fireplace is small and you are cramped for room in there.

Utensils – Well, obviously you want long ones….but don’t get them any longer than what is comfortable for you to manage. My very longest ones are 18″. Also consider getting cast iron utensils instead of stainless or wooden ones. They just last longer. You need a spoon, a slotted spoon, a fork or three of various sizes, two spatulas, one short and one long, and that is all that is really essential. As you cook more and more you will find that there are other utensils that you would like to have. Choose very sturdy ones, for you will find that you use them for lifting Dutch Oven lids, pots and pans and other heavy items out of the fire. I finally got a utensil that is nothing more than a big hook to do just that!

You might want a spit to roast meat on, but I bind the meat up with cotton thread, season it and hang over slow coals for about 6-8 hours to roast. Works well, if you can stand the aroma for that long!
Another good way to roast meat like venison steaks, is to skewer the meat onto a large fork and prop the fork up in front of the fire, turning frequently til the meat is done.

There are reflector ovens made for the fireplace and they are really great…..once you learn how to use them properly, and that takes practice.
They can be used to cook meats, breads, cakes, cookies, or casseroles. They are relatively slow cooking, but they do the job very well, as soon as you learn how to keep the coals at an even temperature and how to pull the oven back from the fire when it becomes too hot.

There are also Dutch Ovens. I recommend one with a lid that has a lip on it so that you can put hot coals on top of it without them sliding off. The coals on the top of the lid helps the food to cook from both the top and bottom of the pan, much the way a conventional oven does. This is the best way to bake in the fireplace, besides the reflector oven.
You want Dutch Ovens that have LEGS. You will need at a minimum of three Dutch Ovens to cook a large meal. They can be used to cook cakes, cornbreads, puddings, soups, stews, roasts, on and on.
I find that I like to move my Dutch Oven around and reposition it with new coals every 5-15 minutes. It’s very easy to burn a cake or breads in a Dutch Oven!

Other Pots and Pans – Well, just get cast iron and make sure that they all have LEGS on them! You want the coals to be able to get up under the pans to cook the food, this way you don’t have to sit the pan ON the coals and risk burning. If your pans don’t have legs, just make sure that you have something for them to sit on like a spyder or cast iron tripod. Make sure they have handles, or bales, too. The idea is to cook safely on the fire. With a lid on your pan, you can lift it, move your pan and generally be in control of the pan while it is hot.

You will need a safe place to sit hot pans coming off the fire, lots of dish towels and all of the usual fireplace accoutrements like a shovel, ash bucket, bucket of water for emergencies, poker, large flat rocks for heating and using to keep food warm and towels or cloths to protect your hands while you lift and move around hot pans. You will also need a large pan or tray to place your utensils on while you are using them to keep them clean.

One last thing I have learned about cooking over a fire. When I am pushed for time and I have hungry people to cook for I have to use higher heat and therefore more grease in my cooking. However, if you are not pressed for time and you can relax a bit, you can cook with lower temperature coals and use less grease. This may not seem important now, but as you cook on the fire more and more you will catch yourself adding more grease to whatever you are cooking because the temperature is too high.

You are going to have to grease the pans a lot more than you are probably used to doing anyway with conventional cooking, especially considering our low fat ways these days. But as you become more experienced, you can cut back on the grease considerably.

One last thing about cooking over a fire. Take your time when you cook over a fire. Make sure your hair is out of the way and that your clothing is not going to drag in the coals. And don’t cook with little ones all around you.

The Importance of Age Appropriate Chores

Do your children have regular chores to do in the home?  Ours definitely do.  My husband Mark, and I, have 5 children born in 1982, 1985, 1991, 1995, 1998.. All of our children have had specific chores to do since they were very small and we have added chores that are appropriate to their ages to their list until they have moved out and are on their own.

We have had very good results with having our children be responsible for household and yard work.  Our three oldest are now the kind of people who see something that needs to be done and do it, without being asked or directed. Our oldest child is now training his own children to work and to be helpful in the home.

The chores that children and young people are required to do will help them in many areas of life later on. Studies have shown that adults who had regular chores at home make better employees and better leaders. The Bible verse of Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” does not only apply to the spiritual life of the child. Any good way you train your child will remain with the child.  As for myself, I have some good habits now that I remember my Mother training me in. Though I didn’t actually practice them faithfully until I was in my 30′s, those good habits like hanging up my clothes immediately when I change, putting away my shoes, washing my face and brushing my hair first thing in the morning, have all remained with me.

Here are a few of the benefits of assigning chores to your children early in life:

1. Doing chores, children learn how to co-operate and work along side others. Children doing chores with siblings or other family members learn how to work as a team, which is a very important concept in business. They also learn how to get along, share and listen to the ideas of others.

2. When chores have to be done before a child can play or do other activities, the child learns time-management.  They also learn how to delay gratification which is another skill that many adults lack.

3. When children work together with others to complete a chore, they learn responsibility. If everyone doesn’t do their part, the chore is not complete and a child can learn through this that his or her contributions are important. Boys especially need this assurance that they are contributing to the welfare of the family through their chores and work in the home.

4. Children learn self-sufficiency through completing chores and tasks that are assigned to them. What seems like an easy task to an adult may take a lot of thinking and experimenting for a child to figure out. But the process of figuring it out is necessary to develop skills the child need to be self-sufficient.  Parents must develop their own skills of offering enough help to encourage but not so much as to do the whole chore themselves.

5.  One of the most important things children learn by doing chores is care for others.  Parents can teach their children to nurture and show care for siblings and family members by having them do things like; folding and putting away siblings clothing, helping with a sibling’s homework or helping to clean a sibling’s room, making beds, etc.  Human beings are naturally selfish so helping others is a skill that must be learned and fine-tuned.

Not all chores are appropriate for children of all ages.  Obviously, you would not assign dish-washing to a 12 month old. Mothers who have had a few children learn pretty quickly what a child of any age is capable of, but often we sell our children’s abilities short.  Small children can do many things that, while they may not be done perfectly, the mere act of doing them builds confidence and character in the child. Older children can often be trusted to do difficult chores well. We each know our own children and their capabilities, but sometimes we have to step out and allow them to try things that we consider hard or complicated.

Small children have a helpful and sweet nature that can be used by Mothers to begin the process of training.  Here are a few things that a 12-18 month old can do, and can continue on with these things up til about 3 years when more tasks can be added.
Go and get items as directed
Fold wash cloths and dish towels
Put items in a drawer with help
Set his own place for meals
Pick up and put away toys with help
A child this age can be encouraged to voice his own prayers

For the 3 to 5 year old, many possibilities are opened up for service to family members. This is also a good age for beginning to teach the child to take care of many of his own personal needs. Include the previous tasks for the 18 month to 3 year old also.
Dress himself
Fold up and put away more complicated clothing
Set table
Take dishes to sink after meals
Clean up small messes from floor
Feed and water pets
Take out small bags of trash
Make bed with help
Stack up books and magazines

At the ages of 5 to 7 years a child really begins to be a help to the family and begins to see that he is indispensible to the harmony and happiness of the family’s routine. This is the time when the child learns most of what it takes to run a household. Include the previous tasks listed.
Make bed by himself
Change sheets on his bed and for others
Do his own personal care routine unsupervised
Fold blankets
Sort laundry, load laundry with some supervision
Fold towels and some clothing
Sweep and mop small areas
Dust furniture
vacuum
Hang shirts on hangers
Make rolls and biscuits from dough
Pick up and straighten
Set out plants in the garden
Weed garden
Water garden
Harvest from garden
Bring in wood
Labeling food for freezer or canning jars
Some sewing and embroidery

Between the ages of 8 and 12 years a child is capable of taking on many more responsibilities. This is the age when boys begin to feel protective over their Mothers and sisters, if it has been instilled into them, and when they are most likely to want to be outside instead of inside. Provide opportunity for your sons to have outside chores, however, do not neglect the inside chores.
Begin to allow a few choices to your daughters about meal planning, table settings and family games.

Sweep house and porch
Run vaccum in any room
Preparing garden for planting
Hoe and rake garden
Help prepare daily meals
Make bread with some supervision
Hang all laundry on line
Fold all clothing articles
Make a simple lunch unsupervised
Make cookies, cakes, muffins and simple desserts
Iron on low temperatures
Serve meals and pour drinks
Stack wood

By the time a child is 12 years old, he is capable of doing most anything you can do in the household. With training a 12 or 13 year old child can be depended upon to run the house in the prescence of an adult for short periods of time. For instance, when Mother has a new baby by her side, the older children should be able to be relied on to help Father with the small children to the point that he can attend to his work and have trust in the older ones to take care of and protect the younger ones. This is very alien and strange to many parents today. To leave a 13 year old child in the position of caring for his or her younger siblings, even if it is in the prescence of an adult, seems careless to them.Most 13 year olds are not capable or willing to be given this responsibility. And giving this responsibility to an untrained child is foolhardy at the least. That is why training at a young age is so important.

I will brag on my children for just a moment. I know that training children early in life works. When my oldest child, who is now 28 years old with a lovely wife and two little girls of his own, was just 12 years old, I was very ill. The Dr. said “complete bed-rest for at least a week.” I sat in bed and the little ones sat with me as we read and worked on school. My oldest son did laundry, prepared lunch for me and the children, did his own school work and straightened the house and he prepared dinner before his Dad got home. What a relief for me and for my husband that this child remembered everything he had been taught and managed the house so well.
He even sewed a button on a shirt. The other children pitched in and did their chores. The household ran very smoothly. That one week showed us that children can learn difficult things, they can be taught and they can do what is required of them.

To neglect our children’s training may seem like the easy thing to do when you are a tired mommy. It may seem like it is something we can forget about when the child becomes difficult to teach or discipline becomes an every day thing. But I think we can agree that it will not be the wise thing to do. We must train up our children and provide for them this base and foundation for living a godly and Christ-Like life. We must train our children so that they can be good employees, good employers and good mothers and fathers for their own children.

Cleaning and Decluttering The Dining Area

Today we will be working on the eating area. This is a difficult thing to dictate what to clean because some have dining rooms and some don’t. Some use the dining room regularly and some don’t . So we are going to have differing levels of need for our eating areas today.

I moved my dining area recently. It used to be in a room by itself but now its part of the living room. I like it like that=, makes it more cozy.

Here are some general cleaning recommendations for most any room, with a few suggestions thrown in here and there for the eating area. if you have suggestions of your own, feel free to post them!

First Things first:
De-clutter. Get everything out of the eating area that doesn’t belong there on a daily basis. If you have a real clutter problem, get out your 4 boxes, baskets or bags and label them like we did for the master bedroom. You will throw away some things, store some, put away some or give away some.

Clean out hutches, cabinets, clean off shelves, tables and chairs. Get everything out of this room but the furniture.
Move things off walls and off of all surfaces.

Anything that can be wet, go ahead and make a sink of hot soapy water and immerse it. Anything else, just sit it on the kitchen counter for now.

Now Start Moving Things Out Of Your Way

Take down curtains, toss in the wash if you can or air them outside.

Take up rugs, wash or air.

Take up chair pads, wash or air.

Get the chairs out of this area for now.

Get rid of cobwebs. use a towel on the end of a broom or other tool. Don’t use polish or cleaner for this you can streak your ceilings and walls!

The Nitty Gritty Cleaning Part

Make up a pan of hot soapy water or use whatever chemical you like.

Wash ceiling and walls if needed taking care with the kind of wall coverings or paint you have.

Wash down the door frames and window frames. Wash doors and baseboards. Dry if needed.

Wash windows.

If you can touch up paint in this room today, now is the time to do it.

Clean the furniture, wash and/or polish. Clean and polish chairs. Spend time cleaning and polishing the table.

Replace anything that truly goes in the storage areas of this room such as the hutch, cabinets, shelves, etc.

Sweep,vacuum and/or mop. Polish wood floors.

Bring chairs back into the room.

Spread out your tablecloth, if you are using one.

Replace curtains and rugs.

Place a nice little arrangement on the table or a candle.

table candle

Be Clutter Free

Have you ever de-cluttered your home only to turn around a month (or a week) later to find it cluttered again? Yeah, me too. So here are some ways I’ve tackled the clutter bug over the last 34 years of homemaking and 5 children. Well, lets be honest… 5 children, a husband, me and a small zoo.   declutter_part2

Here are a few ways I use and you can use too to keep your house from cluttering up so quickly.

  • For every thing you buy and bring into the house, get rid of one thing. Oh boy. this is really a hard one for some people What it does is it requires you to THINK about your purchases. Do you need it? Are you willing to give up something for it? So if you buy a shirt, you need to get rid of something in your current wardrobe. If you purchase a nicnac for your house you get rid of one nicnac.

 

  • Don’t own more clothing than will easily fit into your closet and dresser. This one, I’d like to leave off because I have 1960′s closets. they are about 1/4 the size of most walk-in closets in new homes today. But its helped me get my eyes off owning too many clothes. And my husband and I share a dresser, so that helps.

 

  • Declutter small areas in your home all year around. Take an hour or a few minutes and declutter one small area of your home; a paper pile, an unorganized cabinet, a linen closet. Pretty soon it won’t take long to straighten these areas and you’ll only have to do it periodically.

 

  • Take the time and effort to create New Habits - That’s what your clutter is made of;habits. So instead of piling mail on the kitchen table, make an inbox and out box and get rid of junk mail as soon as it comes in the house. When we had a fire place I had a box where I kept junk mail and I used it as kindling. Another habit that is good to start is taking off your shoes when you enter the house and taking those shoes to your room or closet. Don’t try to start too many new habits at once, just one or two is enough. It takes 21 days to enforce a new habit according to the experts, so don’t give up.

 

  • Work to get all your family members in on your plan for a decluttered home. Hey now, stop laughing. You are the Home Keeper, you can make some home rules. If you have trouble getting your Number One on board, remember that being reasonable and matter-of-fact gets you further than whining or yelling.

 

  • Go ahead and invest in good storage methods – What do I mean by that – well bookshelves, cabinets, things like that. If you have books and they are all over the furniture and floor, its hard to keep things orderly. Go ahead and make yourself some shelves or find some affordable ones at flea markets or Goodwill. Have the right kind of storage will go a long way to decluttering your home. There are all kinds of storage containers and doodads available, your goal is to find what really, truly works for you.
kitchen

My small, galley style kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an example: I have a very small, galley kitchen. But I also have lots of pots and pans, home canned goods and herbs that I have no where to store. I bought a stainless steel baker’s rack years ago and it has served very well. It has kept my kitchen organised and given me a place to hang herbs to dry. It was a good purchase.

 

Migraine Tincture

Disclaimer:  The instructions I offer here in this post (and in all my posts about herbs and home remedies) are what I use personally at home. Of course the standard disclaimer goes: I am not a doctor and don’t prescribe medicines or herbs, this is just what  we have done here for generations with great results.  

 

I do occasionally suffer with a Migraine headache. They aren’t as bad as they used to be and I chalk that up to menopause. Yes, the “M” word actually does offer a few benefits.  But I still get them now and then and they really do hurt.  They seem to be worse in the fall and winter so I thought I’d share with you how to make a tincture that will help with these nasty headaches.feverfew tincture

I have used Feverfew for these headaches for over 20 years. I just go outside, pull a leaf off and pop it in my mouth. I bite down on the leaf and though bitter, the oils in the plant usually relieve the pain before it gets started good.

But in the winter when the plant isn’t growing outdoors and my brown thumb rears its ugly head with my indoor herbs, I was out of luck.  And since I’ve been on somewhat of a Tincture Kick lately, I figured, why not?

I don’t particularly like tincture taste, it kind of burns. I could make tinctures with glycerin, but I prefer to use more old fashioned ways so I use vodka or pure grain alcohol or even brandy.  The alcohol pulls the oils from the plants and its the oils that do the trick.

Now, Feverfew is quite bitter. I don’t like it either but I figured if I put some other herbs in the vodka with it, it might taste better. I used Feverfew, Spearmint and Lemon Balm.  Spearmint and Lemon Balm are often used for headache as well as Feverfew.

I mashed equal amounts of the herbs into a half pint jar, covered with vodka let it sit for about 4-6 weeks.  Now its winter time and I have strained the liquid off, put the used herbs in the compost bin and bottled up the liquid in a dropper bottle.

At the first sign of a migraine, which for me is the aura, I’ll start taking the liquid, about 1/2 teaspoon at a time.  I’ll increase the dosage if needed. Many herbalists recommend using 30 drops every 2 hours for an acute attack and 30 drops 2 times a day to prevent migraines.

Feverfew contains a sesquiterpene lactone called parthenolide.  Parthenolide is believed to be the primary active chemical responsible for alleviating both the severity and the frequency of migraine headaches. For more information about how Feverfew works on migraine headaches see the article at Webmd

 

The picture below shows the kind of dropper bottles I use. That’s elderberry tincture on the plate.

dropper bottles

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can purchase Feverfew, Spearmint and Lemon Balm at Mountain Rose Herbs. I am not an affiliate these are just links for you to use if you like.   They also carry tincture bottles and droppers.

 

 

My Homemade Cough Medicine

tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is my homemade cough medicine recipe.  I make a quart jar of this every year and we go through it in about 3 months. It will keep nearly forever at room temperature.  I find that it feels good on a sore throat if it is heated up before administering.

We also take it dissolved in hot tea, its delicious!

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar ( Bragg’s is great)
2 tablespoons honey (local raw honey is best)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add 1/2 tsp if you can stand it, its good for you!)
1 teaspoon grated, fresh ginger. Peel first.
Mix well, store in a tightly covered jar at room temp. Use a teaspoon at a time, as needed, for cough and/or sore throat. It might be too hot for small children so reduce the hot pepper accordingly.