Friday, January 17, 2014

Winter Organizing

Winter Organizing

January, at our prairie home on the hill, is organization month.
Most days we don't dare leave because of frigid temps or blowing snow, so this offers plenty of time to empty out a closet...or two.  As much as I love those magazines where everything is neat in uniform containers it's not always realistic. Like I mentioned above, most days we don't dare leave, but the closet still needs a makeover, so we get creative. 

Here are some tips on 'budget' organizing:

1. Make a plan. Unless you have a whole crew of people willing to help tackle the house in one day, (this does not include children), it works best to space out projects.  One-A-Day, especially if that 'one' is a closet or major cupboard.
   2. Set up a cleaning product and sorting area. This tends to be our breakfast bar. I'd rather have that cluttered than the whole kitchen table. (I just re-made a new year rule of no eating in the living room, let's not be  counterproductive.) ;)

   3. Don't put it off. One-A-Day adds up quickly when none are done a day. Wake up, set your plan, start early.

4. Use what you have.  That uniform, magazine look is awesome, but so is a clean and organized space.
I found a linen closet that looked so great in a magazine and had grand ideas of running to the nearest home improvement store. Too bad I had just enough time that day to hit up the grocery store for supplies before it started to snow and blow. As I was around the house I noticed a clear bin, perfect for pillows, 3 black baskets, and 3 wooden baskets that will work great for my closet redo. Also, ya know those Velcro ribbons that hold together pajama and bedding sets? Yep, I keep them ~ now they will be used to hold blankets and sheet sets together. 

5. If you have to buy new  - make it count.  I love bins, but don't always have the space for them. My "major" purchase was two packs of the off brand 'Space Bags'. One jumbo set, for big blankets, and one variety set.  Trying them out this weekend and am very excited!

6. Take enough breaks. Stop and assess your work, but also make sure to have a glass of water and some sort of snack. I want to say apples, but we all know it's Fritos and something chocolate.

7. Play some music and smile! This is NOT a chore! Here on the blustery, winter prairie we relish spring and summer and have no time to go looking for much needed items: bedding for camping, sunscreen and bug spray, swimming gear, and the picnic basket. Good to have it all ready by that first 50° day. :)

Happy Organizing!

I will try an' post some before/after pics on of my organizational journey on the Prairie Hill Living facebook page. 

 Meanwhile, enjoy yours!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Homemade Glue

This was a very easy recipe to follow!
I loved that we could make it quick for our afternoon project today too.

We put ours in a small mason jar - apply with cotton swabs, cotton balls, or Popsicle sticks.
Happy Crafting!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Meatless Monday :: Bean Taquitos & Rice

Bean Taquitos & Rice
10-12 Corn tortillas
1 large can of Pinto beans (undrained)
1 small onion - chopped
dash of S&P
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 ts. chili powder
Bring beans & liquid to boil in a saucepan, add onion and seasonings - simmer for 10 min.
Preheat oven to 350°
Strain beans (keep liquid in saucepan)
Mash beans - spread on corn tortillas - roll - set in baking dish.
Bake 15-20 minutes
Cheese Sauce
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. flour
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese
To bean liquid in saucepan, add 1 Tbs of butter - bring to boil,
add 1-2 Tbs. of flour - whisk until lumps are gone,
then add 1 cup of milk - bring back to boil for a minute or two - stirring often.
Take off heat when mixture starts to thicken - add cheese, mix and let stand for 5 minutes.
When taquitos are done in the oven, pour cheese sauce over top.
Layer on sliced avocado.
Sprinkle with fresh or dried cilantro.
For Rice:
1 cup white rice - cooked
1 can of  Zesty Tomato Bisque (Campbell's)
any tomato or spicy soup could be used!
heat thoroughly - soup will thicken a little.
Serve hot!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lavender - Bergamot Shower Jelly

Shower Jelly!
Where did I find out about this? Pinterest, of course!
Remember "Knox Blocks"?  Now think about taking one in the shower and washing up with it! Haha!
The idea of soap with a gelatin texture was so intriguing, I had to try this recipe! I was pleasantly surprised and totally love this soap - it lathers up so beautifully.
The ingredients are cheap enough and almost on-hand.
Lavender - Bergamot Shower Jelly
2 packets of gelatin
3/4 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup castile soap
( this can be ordered online, but I found a bottle for under $10 at my local food co-op)
5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
5-10 drops of bergamot essential oil
red & blue soap colorant
(this can be found at craft stores)
Empty gelatin packets in a bowl - add boiling water - stir until dissolved.
Add castile soap, essential oils and stir gently until mixed. Add drops of colorant until desired lavender color is achieved.
Pour mixture into gelatin mold, silicone mold or ice cube tray.
(I used a vintage, metal, ice cube tray - it worked well to loosen the sides and lift out the middle part)
Refrigerate until solid.
About 2 hours
One per shower or bath.
There are so many different essential oil combinations to try and would also be great fun for kids to make and use. 
*Be careful with essential oil - adult use or supervision when adding to mixture!
I'm thinking my next batch will be a eucalyptus scent to help with these winter-spring transitional colds!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homemade Detergents and Cleaners!

Homemade Detergents and Cleaners!
Today we are cleaning the, well, now I am cleaning. The children have disappeared.
I decided to hand wash the tile floor for a nice, deep, spring clean.  I have a super quick and easy floor cleaner recipe that leaves our floor shiny and bright!
Floor Cleaner
2 gallons hot water
1/4 cup white vinegar
(if possible, keep a gallon always on hand - so many uses!)
1/4 cup Super Washing Soda
(this can be found at grocery stores and Walmart - near the laundry detergent)
1 TBS dish soap
 Add wet to dry.  
(This cleaning solution + 2 microfiber cloths + 1 floor brush + 3 children = a clean floor and time to work on other projects!  Ah, wishful thinking! :)
After the floor comes loads of Saturday laundry. Ideally today is "sheet day", but it usually turns into loads leftover from the week and last minute " I need my black pants washed for church" day too.
I mainly purchase the less expensive, bulk detergents, but the current one does not get our clothes very clean and leaves a slight residue. I have decided to try out a homemade recipe with a couple of test loads this weekend to see how clean our clothes get and how many loads can be done with this amount of soap.
So far the making process is great...or grate!   I've got the deck door open and spring breezes flowing in while I grate a bar of Fels Naptha. Yes, there is still snow on the ground but it's spring and heck, we are going to enjoy it!  The grating part is not bad either, this soap is soft and smells so lovely. Next time I might try running the bar through the food processor, but it's only taken about a 1/2 hour to grate with breaks. 
Here we go:
Laundry Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Fels Naptha - grated
mix and store in airtight container
(I'm using a large gallon jar)
1-2 TBS per load
I've read this can be used with the front load - HE washers - fingers crossed!
* add some white vinegar to the softener compartment in place of fabric softener too.
 Good to have on-hand:
White Vinegar
Washing Soda
Baking Soda
That being said,
 I noticed the other day that our 1/2 gallon jar of dishwasher detergent was running low and will probably be gone sometime in the next two weeks so I have added one of the ingredients to our shopping list (we still have enough of the on-hand ingredients).  Guess what?!  We made this back in DECEMBER!!!
Dishwasher Detergent
1/2 gallon glass jar
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
1/2 cup Kosher salt
10 packets of unsweetened lemon drink mix
mix together and store in airtight container
1 TBS per load + 3 drops of dish soap
add a splash of white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher before starting
(this helps keep the dishes sparkling and I have noticed it also keeps the dishwasher clean, rust-free and running smoothly)
We are a family of five and pretty much run the dishwasher every day. This 1/2 gallon jar has lasted since mid December and still has a week or two to go!  Our dishes are very clean - no soap residue!
OK! One more goodie!
I love this one, we have been using this since December as well thanks to a load of oranges brought by our landlord. We're on our 3rd batch - all is well!
I have found that this cuts grease and shines (great for windows!), plus I can use it on the counter near open food without any worry!
Orange Cleaner
1 glass quart jar
peels from 2-3 oranges
white vinegar - enough to fill jar
cover, set in a dry, cool place and let sit for about 2 weeks
fill a spray bottle and use!
I hope these recipes brighten your cleaning day!
Happy Spring! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Chorizo & Arugula Pizza

Chorizo & Arugula Pizza!
Yum Yum Yum!
 Our weekly pizza party happened one day early because I couldn't wait to try this!
We already had pizza crusts in the freezer, ready to use, so it was just a matter of the toppings.
I checked out the usual suspects at our local grocery store - pepperoni, canned tomatoes, shredded mozz.  They're all good but time for something different. I grabbed a roll of Chorizo and the rest is history!
This recipe makes two pizzas:
Ready to top pizza crusts (2)
(or make your own)
1 can or bottle of pizza sauce
1 roll of beef chorizo - browned
1 large red pepper - diced
grape tomatoes - sliced
3 small yellow onions - sliced & caramelized
8 oz. bag of Mexican cheese
(not taco but the kind with a mixture of cheeses)
handful of cilantro
Arugula - enough to lightly cover top of pizzas
Thaw crusts(if needed), then add pizza sauce - top with browned chorizo, onions, red pepper, grape tomatoes and cilantro. Sprinkle on cheese and Arugula. 
Bake according to crust directions.
It's a bit on the spicy side so I suggest serving with sour cream or a nice n' cool guacamole.
Sooo Gooood!!