The 21st Century Is Back!

I am so happy to announce that The 21st Century Homekeeper is back on the air, thanks to Miller’s Grain House and Prepare Magazine.

I sure hope you will join me for The 21st Century Homekeeper radio program.  My show airs on Saturdays at 6 pm eastern, 5 pm central but you can listen to it ON DEMAND any time you.

This week, the link is:    The 21st Century Homekeeper

But you can go to this link any time and peruse through the shows:   Your Preparation Station Radio Network

21st-century

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Homemade Votive Holders

This is an old post but I brought it out because these little votive holders are so cute and easy to make!

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All you need are some of those little gourds that look like pumpkins, a small sharp knife and a votive candle.

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First cut off the top of the gourd. Hold your knife at an angle and cut into the gourd. Its a little tough so be careful.

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Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.

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Once you have the top cut off and the seeds and pulp cleaned out, check to see if you need to trim the inside of the cut out hole so that a votive will fit.

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You can use a small ice cream or dough scoop to clean the seeds and pulp out of the gourd.

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Put your votive in the carved out gourd……

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And light the candle. Try grouping several of these little beauties for a warm, inviting harvest table decoration.

spices

Spice Mixes You Can Make

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. Plus, you can determine what goes in to your mixes, you don’t need the artificial ingredients and preservatives that are in most commercial mixes.

I like to store my mixes in small glass jars with tightly fitting lids. You could go all out and print out labels for your spice mixes. I just write on the lids or use jelly labels that come with some of the small jars.

For all of these mixes, you need to make sure your jar has a tightly fitting lid to keep moisture and air out of your mix so it will last a long time. Most of these I have kept for months and months and they are still delicious.

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.

Chili Seasoning:
1 tsp paprika
2 tsps ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
2 tsps garlic powder

Cajun Seasoning:
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ tsp dried oregano
2 ½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Apple Pie Spice
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 Tablespoon allspice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger

Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground ginger
4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Poultry Seasoning
2 3/4 tsp. rosemary
1 1/2 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. black pepper

CampbellsSoup

Cream Of Soup Recipes

You know that casserole or recipe that calls for a can of cream of something soup?  And you look and you have none?  Or you’re like me and you just prefer not to use them?  Here are three recipes to replace those cream of soups in your cooking.  I have both a from-scratch soup and an instant version for you. 

The basic plan?  For the from-scratch soup you make a heavy white sauce using butter, flour and milk or broth and add flavors like chicken, mushrooms or asparagus. Each recipe makes about 10 ounces so its like having a can of undiluted cream of soup at your fingertips.

Basic Cream Of Soup
1. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
2. Blend 4 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
3. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Don’t skimp on the cooking time. If you do, your soup may taste of raw flour.
4. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly.
5. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.

For Cream Of Chicken Soup
Replace half the milk with good chicken stock OR add 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon granules to the milk.
Add 1/2 cup small bits of cooked chicken after step 5

For Cream Of Asparagus Soup
Add 1/2 cup drained, minced, canned asparagus and a pinch of garlic powder after step 5

For Cream Of Mushroom Soup
In a large skillet over medium heat cook 1 cup diced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter. Don’t crowd the skillet and cook til the mushrooms are light brown in color.
Add the cooked mushrooms after step 5.

For those times when you need an instant solution, here is my Instant Cream Of Whatever Soup Mix.  This is the basic recipe.  In the instructions for making the soup out of the mix, I’ll show you what you need for making each type of soup, Cream of Celery, Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken.

Instant Cream Of Whatever Soup Mix
2 cups dry milk powder
¾ cup cornstarch or cook-type clear jel
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Combine 1/3 cup dry mix with 1 ¼ cups water in a small saucepan. Whisk until smooth.
On medium heat, bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes, until thick. Cool.

For Cream Of Chicken Soup
Replace half the milk with some good chicken stock. I have also used a teaspoon of chicken bouillon granules in place of the stock and it turned out very well.
After you add the milk, stir in 1/2 cup small pieces of cooked chicken.

For Cream Of Asparagus Soup
After adding the milk to the instant soup, add 1/2 cup of drained, minced, canned asparagus and a pinch or so of garlic powder.

For Cream Of Mushroom Soup
In a large skillet over medium heat cook 1 cup finely diced mushrooms in 1 tablespoon butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Don’t crowd the skillet with mushrooms or they will get watery. Let them brown til they are golden in color. Add the cooked mushrooms after adding the milk in the basic recipe. Another thing I have done is to add shitake mushroom powder to the soup after adding the milk. Its strong flavored and makes the soup taste delicious.so I add just 1 Tablespoon. I make the mushroom powder by dehydrating the mushrooms then blending up the dried mushrooms. Store mushroom powder in a glass jar, tightly covered, or in the freezer. 

You will probably use these immediately when you make them, but if you need to store them, keep them covered tightly in the refrigerator for about 3 days. They won’t keep much longer than that because of the milk and butter in them.

living room

Cleaning The Living Room

The living room or den is the room where a family does most of their, well…. living. Its a busy room and takes a lot of wear and tear. So, it can usually stand a good cleaning any time you want to give it one.

living room

Begin by picking up the room and using your 4 bags/boxes/baskets like we have been doing all week. Get everything out of this room that doesn’t belong. Sometimes I place personal belongings in a basket and tell the children to come get their things in the next ten minutes or the things are leaving home.

Here is how I go about deep cleaning the Living Room…

  • Make a pan of hot soapy water or use the kitchen sink.
  • Once you get the room emptied of stuff that doesn’t belong, take up nicnacs and decorative items.
  • Clean and wash picture frames and nicnacs, set them out to dry.
  • Take down the curtains and take up the rugs, wash them if possible or hang them out to air.
  • Take up tablecloths, doilies, all fabric coverings and pillows; wash and dry if you can or air dry.
  • Wash down the door frames, window frames, baseboards, all woodwork, ceilings and ceiling fans.
  • Wash windows
  • Clean off shelves, rearrange books, wipe down the shelves while they are empty.
  • Clean up work areas. Organize work materials.
  • Organize movies, cds and dvds, organize the whole tv/entertainment area
  • Dust all furniture, polish if needed
  • Move out furniture if possible, if not just clean around and under as best you can.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture
  • Vacuum floors, sweep and mop, polish wood floors
  • Replace rugs and curtains
  • Replace furniture covers if using and pillows
  • Arrange magazines, papers, books that don’t have a shelf. A basket might be nice, or simply stack them up neatly.
  • Replace nicnacs and pictures…. do you need them all in this room?
  • Light some candles and relax.

 

Pretty white bathroom

Fast and Furious Fall Cleaning

Today we will tackle the BATHROOM.. The master bath or family bath, children’s bath or guest bath….matters not to me. Which ever one needs your attention the most. We just have one so I guess that’s where I’ll be cleaning today!

Pretty white bathroom

Today is the day you might want to don your “bleach-wear”  At least wear some socks so you won’t track up the floor when you’re washing it.

First Things:
Pick up the room. Take out all dirty laundry and towels.

Take down the shower curtain. Put the plastic one in to wash.

Wash the cloth one if you have one.

Take down curtains
. Prepare them to wash or just air them outside.

Take out the trash, fill the trash can with cleaner and water to soak of needed, if not give it a quick rinse and set it outside to air while you clean.

Second Things:
Get yourself a box or basket. Pick up all the nicnacs, soaps, lotions, etc that are sitting on the counter-top and tub, put them in the basket.

Sweep the floor, shake out rugs and take them to the laundry or air outside.

If you use spray cleaner, go ahead and spray the tub and sink and commode to let it sit a while.

If you use commode cleaner of some kind, go ahead and put some in the commode to let it soak.

Pull everything out of the linen closet and under the sink area. Go through it carefully and throw away what is out of date or old or unused. Find yourself some storage containers like baskets or small plastic trays to keep your bathroom items in. Try using a medium sized basket to put blow-dryers, curling irons, etc, in.

Take everything out of the medicine cabinet too and go through it ruthlessly! Throw stuff away that is expired and truly useless.

Put your linens out on the dining room table while you work.

Make yourself a sink of hot soapy water or hot water with your cleaner of choice in it. Get your rags ready.

Now the Nitty Gritty Cleaning!

Wash the inside of the cabinets and shelves in the linen closet. This is a good time to line them! Don’t forget the floor of the closet. Refold the linens and replace them in the closet. Consider spraying them with some nice lavender water or other light scent.

Wash out the medicine cabinet.

Wash down walls and window frames, door frames and tile if you have it.

Take down blinds if they are dirty and soak them in the tub in warm water and dish soap while you clean.

Wash the ceiling if it needs it.

Wash the walls. Use caution if your walls are papered or painted, be gentle.

Wash the baseboards or the area where the floor and wall meet.

Scrub the tub if you’re not using it to soak the blinds. If you are, just wait on this. A scotch brite is great for cleaning the tub if your tub is not resurfaced porcelain.

Scrub the counter tops, commode tank and outside of the commode.

Scrub the floor.

Scrub the shower. Don’t forget the walls of the shower or tub area.

Change your wash water if needed.

Scrub your blinds with a brush, rinse them and take them outside to dry while you clean the tub, inside and out.

Wash the windows and mirrors using glass cleaner. Check my blog for homemade recipes.

Wipe down shelves and inside cabinets, cabinet tops.

Wash the sink.

If you are going to use bleach, this is the time to do it. Bleach isn’t a cleaner, its a disinfectant. So all the cleaning has to be done first, then we use bleach to kill the germs that may be left behind and to brighten up some of the bathroom fixtures.

I use bleach all over my floor because I have tile with grout that gets yellowed. I open the window and pour bleach over the grout, spread it with my sponge mop, close the door and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
Then I go in and mop it up with water and dry it with a towel.

I also bleach around the commode and around the tub. Its an old tub and needs some bleach now and then to keep it nice and white. If your tub area has mildew problems, consider pouring a little bleach around the tub surround. Be careful with the bleach and don’t inhale it!

Please be careful with bleach. Don’t let me hear that you have mixed bleach with other household chemicals and cleaners, I may have to come and discipline you severely!

Get your rugs washed and dried and back in the room.

Replace your nicnacs and notions, lotions, potions. Wash the bottles with a cleaning rag before putting them up.

Rehang the shower curtains, rehang window curtains.

Light a candle and just look at that clean bathroom!

pumpkin butter canned 2

Roasted Pumpkin Butter

Here is a repost from last year…… pumpkins are coming in and this Pumpkin Butter is a requirement around here! 

Pumpkin Butter is one of those things that, to me, doesn’t sound all that good. But it really is! Its so delicious and sweet. Really sweet. It seems to take more sugar to sweeten pumpkin than it does apples or other fruit. pumpkin butter toast

Here’s how I made Pumpkin Butter today. Its very easy and you can water bath can it as long as you add some lemon juice to the pumpkin butter.  The lemon juice increases the acidity of the butter and you will be able to can it like you would apple butter in pints in a water bath for 15 minutes.

First I roasted the pumpkins and I added some Cushaw pumpkins along with my Sugar Pie pumpkins. Its what I had and the two got along very well.  I cut the pumpkins open, scraped out the seeds and saved them to roast, then put the pumpkins on a cookie sheet in a 350*F oven til they were soft.

pumpkin- bake

 

 

 

 

Once they were nice and soft, I let them cool, then scooped out the cooked pumpkin. I put all the cooked pumpkin in a slow cooker.

Now, the ratio of sugar to pumpkin is shocking.  I use 1:1 sugar and pumpkin so if I have, for example, 3 cups of cooked pumpkin, I use 3 cups brown sugar. You could use rapidura or sucanat if you like.

For every 3 cups of cooked pumpkin I also add 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the juice of half a small lemon.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

4 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground allspice
Stir well. Store in a tightly covered container.

Let the pumpkin, sugar and spice mixture cook in the slow cooker for several hours, I normally allow it to cook for 6-8 hours on LOW. This will cook out a lot of the water and make your pumpkin butter thicker and concentrate the flavors.

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Now to can the Pumpkin Butter, you’ll need all the trappings of water bath canning:
a large pot with tight fitting lid
jars, kids, rings
jar lifters
ladle or large spoon
canning funnel
plastic knife or small wooden utensil
stove top

Fill the water bath canner about 1/3 of the way with water and bring to a boil.
Allow the pumpkin butter to continue to cook in the slow cooker.
Heat a pan of water and put the jars in and let them get boiling hot.
Heat some more water and add the lids and rings.
Heat yet some more water to add to the water bath canner after the jars have been put in it.

Fill your jars (use pint or half pint) with HOT Pumpkin Butter leaving a 1 inch head space. Pumpkin Butter is thick and gloppy so a funnel is a necessity so your jars won’t get all messy and sticky. Also, you may need to stir around in the pumpkin butter once its in the jar to get the air bubbles out.

Insert a wooden utensil or plastic knife into the pumpkin butter in the jar and get the air bubbles out.
Clean off the rims and edges of the jars.
Add hot lids and rings.
Put the filled jars into the water bath canner water.
When all your jars are in the canner, add more BOILING water to cover the jars.
Bring to a boil, Cover the pot with its lid and start timing.
Allow the canner and water to boil for 15 minutes.

Turn off the heat, remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter. Place the jars on the counter top on a clean towel. Allow the jars to cool completely before you move them.
Once the jars are cool to the touch you may tighten the rings.
Label and date the jars.

pumpkin butter canned

 

bedroom2

How To Clean The Master Bedroom

These are the essentials of a thorough cleaning and de-cluttered/organized bedroom. If your Master Bedroom doesn’t need a thorough decluttering, consider using the Bedroom Cleaning System included in this post.

First – Take down curtains and wash them if you are able. If you cannot wash them, hang them outside to air. Be sure not to hang them in full sun if you think they may fade.

Second – Strip the bed linens and put them in to wash or in the laundry room.
Turn the mattress if you are able….. but don’t hurt yourself for goodness sake!

Third – Hang up and put away all clothes or laundry. If there are clothes that need to be put in another room, do it. If there are clothes that need to be stored, store them. If there are clothes that need to go to Good -Will, take them!

If you just don’t have any way to store those clothes, get rid of some of them! Why do you need all those clothes?

Fourth – Get yourself three baskets, boxes or bags. Label these containers:

Throw Away
Give Away
Put Away

Walk around your room and put everything that you don’t want in the room in one of these boxes.

When this is done…

Find a fourth box…. put all your trinkets, doo-dads and nicnacs that you are going to keep in this box (think about getting rid of some of these! ). Put your alarm clock, pictures, wall decor, everything that will stay in the room. Place this box in the dining room or kitchen. You can enlist a child to dust and clean these items or save this for yourself for later.

Fifth – Pull everything out of the closet. Oh yes, the closet. Pull it all OUT. All of it. Everything. Now go through it quickly and put each item in one of your four boxes. Hang up clothes and sort them into the boxes quickly. Don’t take too much time with this. If you have not worn the item in 2 years, toss it or give it away.

If an item you pull out of your closet does not belong in the closet, if the closet is not where you really should store it, then move it to its rightful place. If you don’t have anywhere else for this item, then its rightful place is the closet. Only you know…

Dust, sweep and clean the inside of the closet. Rehang the clothes. Arrange the contents of the closet that are going back in it, correctly and neatly.

Sixth – Clean out from under the bed. Pull it all out, divide the under-bed contents into your four boxes. Sweep and mop under the bed when everything is moved out from under it. Take this opportunity to go through any storage bins you have under the bed. Throw out what you don’t need, organize and label the rest.

There are lots of good ideas for under-bed storage. Those bed risers that I talk about every year are really a handy thing to have. Using bed risers can give you up to 10 inches of space to store things. They cost about $ 8.95 – $14.95 for four of them. This is one of the best investments for the household I have ever made. I bought mine at Linen’s and Things but these at Amazon are very similar. Plastic Bed Risers – Set of 4

Flat plastic boxes are great for under the bed too.

Seventh – We’re on the home stretch! Dust the ceilings, tops of windows and door frames, and walls. If you walls are dirty and you want to wash them, go for it! Use a mild detergent or soap and warm water if you have painted walls. If you have wallpaper, you will want to use a barely damp sponge and a drying towel. Work from the top of the wall down to the floor. If you have carpet, cover it!

Now to the Nitty Gritty Cleaning of the Room:

*Wash the windows. Use my homemade window cleaner or what ever you have on hand. Use newspaper to dry them for a streak free shine!
*Clean up the window frames now and dry them well.
*Clean the baseboards with a soapy solution of mild dish soap and warm water or your natural cleaner.
*Dust all furniture. Use lemon oil or orange oil on all wood. Use a mild soap and warm water on other furniture according to what its made of. Wash doilies and table covers.
*If you haven’t yet cleaned the nicnacs and needful items that go in your room go do that now. When they are cleaned, replace them where they go in the room.
*Think about adding a doilie or a table skirt to soften the room. Think about what you use to make the room a pleasant place to be with your husband or just to go to relax.
*Press and rehang your curtains.
*Sweep, vacuum and mop the floor depending on what you need to do. If your floors are hard, use which ever chemicals you have success with. I use a wood soap on my hardwood and then a wood shiner product made by Glade. Sometimes I even use orange oil on the floors and rub them to a deep shine. You must rub the wood very vigorously so that it won’t be slick!
*Dress the bed. Its getting to be cooler here in the US so dress your bed in sheets and two quilts OR with one quilt and one blanket. Think about getting a skirt to hide the under bed contents. I found a white cotton one at Good Will for $3.49 !
*Replace rugs

Light a candle and enjoy!

fall_cupFor each room we have worked on this week, I have a Room Cleaning system. I often type up and print out these systems and hang them where they can be seen in each room for cleaning day. Its really helpful to have a system for cleaning each room if you’re new to homemaking or if you have older children helping you who need to be reminded of what to do in each room.  Feel free to add and take away specific cleaning duties in each room until you get a System that works for you. Here is an example of my Bathroom Cleaning System.

Bedroom Cleaning System

Take up rugs, shake and launder if needed.

Pick up clothes, put away.

Pick up everything that is out of place and put it away.

Dust furniture and nicnacs.

Organize dresser tops, table tops.

Sweep or vacuum.

Mop if needed.

Make bed.

Replace rugs.

fall-leaves03

Tidy Idies For the Master Bedroom:

Try not to begin the habit of using your Master Bedroom as a storage room with boxes of stuff everywhere and clothes thrown across the bed.

*Organize as you go. Pick up and deal with clutter daily.

*Check to see if any casters or rubber floor protectors are needed under the feet of the bed, dressers, etc. Metal frame beds can be especially harsh on wood floors.

*If you store items under the bed using a bed skirt/ruffle will usually hide them.
Make a storage list for items in storage bins that you store under the bed. Put the list in each bin. That way you know what’s under there and you don’t have to go on a digging expedition for anything.

*Are their items in your dresser that should be hung instead of folded?

*Closets. Everything should have a place, even if it’s in (well labeled) storage bins/containers.
Consider a “closet makeover”. Closets don’t have to look like a dumping ground. They can be painted or papered, organized and neat. The more time you take that first time to make your closets user friendly and attractive the better you’ll do at upkeep.

*The 20 Minute Tidy is a way to keep the Master Bedroom clean. Just a few minutes a day can add up to big changes.

Here are a few more tidbits you might find useful from Deborah Tukua’s book, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home

~An upright trunk makes a great bedside table and provides an inside storage space of 3 feet deep.
~Dresser drawers stick? Rub a moist bar of soap across the runners to help it glide easier.
~Has the life gone out of your mattress? No money for a new one? Extend the life of your mattress by purchasing an egg crate foam mattress covering. It’s much cheaper than buying a new mattress, usually around $12.00, yet adds plush comfort to your bedding for at least another year.