So Fresh and So Clean Clean

Its been a looooong time since I last posted but I am back! Not sure how often I’ll post but hopefully more frequently then I have been.

I have been wanting to do this post for awhile and even took pics of me making everything but unfourtunately I lost the pics when my iPad met an untimely death in my bath tub (I mourned my loss for several days). However I shall still write a post about it, just minus the pics *sigh*.

I enjoy making a lot of my own cleaners because it saves me money and I think its fun to try new things. Besides it  feels great when something actually works out. Several months ago a friend of mine, Mama Gail, gave me a recipe for her homemade laundry soap. It looked really easy to make and seemed to do a good job cleaning clothes. Also only having to spend a few dollars to make 5 GALLONS of laundry soap seemed to good to be true.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/2 bar Fels Naptha soap

1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda!)

1 cup Borax

1 5 gallon bucket with lid

water

Grate the 1/2 bar of Fels Naptha soap and put into a large pot. Add water, about 8 cups of water is fine. Heat over medium to medium high heat, stirring until the soap is all dissolved/melted. Add the Borax and Washing Soda and stir until all dissolved. Fill the 5 gallon bucket halfway with warm water and add the soap mixture. Stir the mixture together with a wisk until well combined, fill the bucket up the rest of the way with warm water (leave a few inches at the top for stirring room). Give the mixture another stir and let sit 24 hours to thicken. Use 1 cup of laundry soap per larg load of laundry, adjust amounts according to size of load.

I have been using this laundry soap for about 2 1/2 months and love it! It cleans our clothes really well and leaves the clothes smelling clean but not strongly scented. It also does well with sensitive skin. I was concerned at first about how this would do with little beans and mine skin because we both have eczema and can’t use many products because they hurt our skin. This laundry soap however caused no reaction, rashes or anything!

I will break down the cost of the laundry soap soon. I had all the prices for everything but lost those too with the sinking of my iPad:(

Thanks again Mama Gail for the great recipe!

Advertisements

Mothers Day craft and fun

I am sorry for not posting anything for a week. I was busy last weekend and didn’t really feel motivated this week to do any posting (though I really wanted to do this post). So I have finally kicked myself into gear and getting this post done!

I had a great Mother’s Day, I didn’t do anything really special just hung out with my mom for the weekend which was nice. For Mother’s Day little Bean gave me  some solar lights shaped like flowers to put in our garden (he is really proud of our garden) and he also gave a pack of Reese’s because he knows its my favorite candy:) I love my little bean, he is so thoughtful.

However I wanted to share what I did with my preschool class for Mother’s Day. I searched around on Pinterest for ideas and came up with the following things to do: hand cutout cards (I know very generic), homemade bath soap (the kids loved doing this) and homemade bath salts/foot soak.

We spent a week making all of these things (making it, drying time, assembling, etc). We first started with the cards by folding a piece of construction paper in half, hotdog style. I then traced the child’s hand onto the piece of paper but made sure that their thumb and pointer finger were on the crease. Cutout the hand print and when you unfold it, where the thumb and pointer finger connect it will make a heart shape. We then glued the hands into a card, put a poem on the front and helped the children sign their names on their card. I didn’t take any pictures of us making the cards but there is a picture at the bottom of this post that shows “the finished product” including the card. Here’s a link to the blog where I got the idea for the handprints from (I don’t know what language it is in but the pictures show you easily what to do)

http://krokotak.com/2012/03/tchestit-8-mart/

Also here is the poem we put on the front of our cards. I have seen this poem throughout the web so I don’t have a specific site to give credit to for it.

This is my hand.

My hand will do

A thousand loving things for you

And you will remember

When I am tall…

That once my hand

Was just this small.

After the cards we then made the soap because it needed several days to dry. You need the following things to make our Homemade Soap:

A bar of Ivory Soap (however many you think you need)

Microwave

paper towels, wax paper or parchment paper (to put the soap on)

large bowl

water

cookie cutters, small molds, etc. (optional)

First put a bar of unwrapped ivory soap in the microwave on a paper towel, wax paper or parchment paper. Then turn the microwave on for 3 minutes (it takes less than that but that will give you plenty of time) and watch what happens!

A Soap Cloud! The children really loved watching the soap “grow” and become a Soap Cloud. We made 3 Soap Clouds so there would be enough soap for everyone. The Soap Cloud was kinda warm so I didn’t let the children touch them until after they were all broken up.

After we made the Soap Clouds they were then put into a large bowl and crumbled into a powder using my hands. You could stop here with the project and just let the kids play with the Soap Clouds and powder, maybe pretend its snow or use the soap powder for another project (if anyone has ideas of what you could do with soap powder let me know by posting a comment and maybe I’ll feature it in another blog post).

(Me crumbling up the Soap Cloud)

However we wanted to go further and make Homemade Soap so we continued onto the next step.

I added water to the soap powder and mixed it together until it became kinda like play dough (slightly drier). I then gave a ball of soap to each child and had them press it into the cookie cutter of their choice. Make sure the soap is firmly packed in so it wont crumble or fall apart when being removed from the cookie cutter. We let the soap dry for two days and then removed them from the cookie cutters. If you don’t have cookie cutters or small molds you can just let the children squish the soap into whatever shape they want and let it dry that way too.

Homemade Soap after the children first put them in the cookie cutters (sorry for the bad editing)

Next we made the Bath Salts. Here’s a list of what you need:

Epsom Salt

Essential Oil (we used Ylang-Ylang)

bowl

spoon

seran wrap

Our recipe called for us to put 20 drops of essential oil in for every 2 cups of epsom salt. I put the drops of essential oil in and then we let the children take turns stirring it. After it was well mixed we covered the bowl with seran wrap and let it sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours we put 1/2 a cup into snack baggies (that’s enough for 1 bath or 2-3 foot soaks).

Adding the salt

 Adding the essential oil

So after a week of fun and the classroom smelling really pretty here is the end result. The Mother’s all really loved their gifts and thought they were adorable.

Finished Product

We put the soap in a snack baggy with crumpled tissue paper to dress it up and protect it. Though not pictured on the inside of the card where the handprints are we wrote Happy Mother’s Day and had the children (with assistance) sign their name. We also hole punched and threaded the bags together with a little note explaining what the children made and how much bath salt to use for a bath or foot soak.

Meal Planning, in with the new and out with the old!

I like to meal plan. It makes dinner time so much easier. After working all day and coming home the last thing I want to do is to try and think of a good meal to make. If I don’t meal plan I usually end up standing in front of the fridge or freezer or pantry just staring at the food wishing it would magically come together as a meal and then end up eating soup or hotdogs or some other lazy food. So instead I meal plan, it saves me time and money and endless staring.

What I have done in the past to meal plan is get a notebook, pencil, my cookbook and go online to allrecipes.com . I would write down the days of the week on a piece of paper and list the various meats I would like to eat each day (example: pork on Tuesday, beef on Friday, fish on Saturday, etc) I would also make note of anydays we wouldn’t be home to have dinner, such as on Wednesdays we had dinner at church. Then I would also make the last day of my meal planning week leftovers day, any leftovers we still had we would eat them for dinner that night. After all of that I would then go through my recipes and pick out what recipes I wanted to make. I would keep in mind that on certain days little bean has practice so we would need to do a freezer meal that day or cook something thats really quick. This is an example of what one of my meal plans would look like:

Sun.- Crockpot stew, buttered bread and fruit

Mon.- Modenese Pork Chops, mashed potatoes and corn

Tue.-Asian salmon, rice and broccoli

Wed.- Church Dinner

Thur.- Frozen meal chicken and dumplings, fruit

Fri.-Frozen meal pizza casserole, garlic bread and salad

Sat.- Leftovers

After making my meal plan for the week I would then make a grocery list. I would check my cupboards first to see if I already had ingredients that I needed for a recipe and anything I didn’t have I would put it on my list. Then I would go through and add any other groceries I might need for snacks or lunch boxes or breakfast, etc. After that I would grocery shop and cook my meals throughout the week that I had planned out.

That was my old way and still a fine way of doing meal planning. However my meal planning now a days has gone more high tech with the discovery of peppperplate.com. I love this website! It is perfect for meal planning and organizing recipes. Seriously go check this site out http://www.pepperplate.com/

Its very easy to use. You can import recipes from other websites with just a click of a button or manually eneter recipes in a very easy manner. Once you have your recipes on the website you can simply just add a recipe to whatever day of the week you want and make a grocery list from the recipes you added for the week. Whats even better is that there are apps for this on the iphone and ipad (maybe droid and others, I haven’t checked into that), so you can do all your meal planning on your computer and it will put your grocery list and everything right on the app (you can actually do the mealing on the app too with just a couple less features). I love this because I can just take my ipad to the store and grocery shop with this. You can organize the grocery list to follow the aisles in your grocery store and other things. This is a very intuitive website that makes my meal planning soooooooo much easier. I pretty much just meal plan the way I did before but on my computer and now no grocery list to loose or a bunch of papers laying around my house!

Freezer meals, mmmm mmmmm good (part 2)

There are tons of recipes that you can freeze. Most of the recipes you already cook are probably freezeable. Don’t think that you have to go out and find specific “freezer recipes” you can use what recipes you already have. Thats what I do, I go through my recipes and simply pick out ones that I want to cook and think will taste great being reheated. I tend to avoid recipes that have a lot of fruit or veggies in them because they don’t always freeze well for me. You can go give it a try and see if freezing veggies and fruit works for you. I usually end up with mushy veggies or fruit after they have thawed or been reheated, which I really don’t like. So most of my freezer meals are starchy types (pasta, rice, potatoes) with meat in it or its just meat. Don’t worry me and little bean eat plenty of fruits and veggies typically as a side to the main dish. As I said before in my previous post I make sides (veggies and fruit) for each meal and don’t freeze them.

Here is some links to various blogs or websites that has recipes that I’ve used and enjoy or has great tips on freezing food. Look through and see what you find and try what interestes you.

http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/2011/02/10/freezable-foods/

This article gives you a lot of great tips on what you can and cannot freeze. There’s tons of things mentioned that I would have never thought to freeze. Really worth checking out especially if you have never frozen foods before.

http://formamas.blogspot.com/2011/08/pizza-casserole.html

This pizza casserole is so yummy! I did do some changes to the recipe to fit my tastes. I did 1 pound of ground beef and half a pound of ground italian sausage. I also used penne or rotini noodles and added some Garlic Garlic and Onion Onion (those are seasoning mixes from Tastefully Simple). It turned out great. I didn’t have to double this recipe. The recipe alone provided enough for me and little bean to eat a meal that night and have leftovers for lunch and freeze 2 meals from it!

http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-garlic-chicken-5478

Made this a couple weeks ago and love it! I just bought a family pack of chicken tenderloins and doubled the recipe. Cooked it all up and froze half of it and we ate the other half.

http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2011/11/chilis-copycat-salsa-recipe.html

I”ve made this salsa several times and its sooo good. To freeze this I put 1/4 cup amount each in dixie cups. I put the cups in the freezer and once frozen pop the salsa out and put them in a freezer bag to store in the freezer or simply keep them in the cups and pull one out when I want to have a snack. I like to freeze them in 1/4 cup amounts so I can pullout as much or as little as I want. I then just put them in a bowl in the microwave and warm it up until completely thawed but not warm.

http://www.pepperplate.com/recipes/view.aspx?id=1499916

These freeze great and my little bean just loves these for a quick and filling breakfast in the morning. I just put 2 puffins on a plate in the microwave and heat for 1 min. He then can eat them at the table or we can wrap them up in a paper towel and eat them on the run:)

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/piggy-wiggys/detail.aspx

I make a bunch of these and just freeze them. They are great for a quick snack or meal. And can easily be thrown into a lunch box for school lunches. My little bean loves eating them and helping me make them;)

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/modenese-pork-chops/detail.aspx

This is a really yummy recipe that freezes well.I’ve used it for several years and always enjoy it. I made one change to the recipe instead of white wine I use apple juice, I like the flavor it has with the apple juice.

Listed below is a bunch of other blogs and websites that have freezer meals. I haven’t had a chance to try these yet but you might find something yummy that you would like to try. I hope to try some of these soon, if you try some of them let me know how it turned out and what you thought of it. Now just to be clear all these recipes listed here are not my own creations, lots of other people made these recipes and shared them on their blogs or website. I am simply sharing their recipes on here for you guys to easily find and enjoy. Make sure to tell them how much you’ve enjoyed their recipe should you try one of theirs, thank you.

http://whenthedinnerbellrings.blogspot.com/2011/06/super-easy-way-to-getting-meals-ready.html

http://www.budgetgourmetmom.com/breakfast-pockets/

http://www.ringaroundtherosies.net/2012/02/freezer-cooking.html

http://sixinthesuburbsblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/breakfast-omelet-muffins.html

http://momonamission.me/?page_id=2140

http://www.aturtleslifeforme.com/2011/06/freezer-meals-on-cheap.html

http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2012/01/smoothie-packs-my-favorite-smoothie.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BudgetBytes+%28Budget+Bytes%29

http://joelens.blogspot.com/2007/01/freezer-friendlymake-ahead.html

http://www.neverhomemaker.com/2010/06/frozen-banana-bites.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+neverHomemaker+%28%28never+home%29maker%29

Freezer meals, my way (part 1)

I love to cook. I always have loved cooking. I find it to be relaxing, exciting, invigorating and just simply enjoyable. When I go to a grocery store my brain gets all happy and does a happy dance when we’re in the produce section. When I go out to eat I always end up analyzing my food, figuring out what ingredients would make it better or if its already great then I try to figure out what ingredients they used so I can make it myself. I know this must all seem strange or just silly but this is how I am and I love it!

Now being a single mom means I am busy a lot of the time, work, church, school activities, housework, etc. So cooking a meal from scratch everyday isn’t always possible, hence the reason I love doing freezer meals. I have read on other blogs about how they will set aside one day a month to make a bunch of different freezer meals at once and then use those meals throughout the whole month. That is certainly a great way to do it and if you have the storage space go for it! However I do not normally have that amount of time to set aside or storage space to do that. So this is how I do my freezer meals…

I usually make a meal plan for the coming week (I’ll do another post on meal planning sometime soon). I try to make something different each night and to use a different meat each night, so things don’t get boring. When I meal plan, I plan on making the main dish for a meal double of what I need for me and little bean (doubling a recipe if I need to). I go and do my grocery shopping once a week to save me time and gas.

I then cook the meals throughout the week on their designated day. When I cook the meal I will make the main dish double of what I really need. That way I can freeze half of it and the other half we will eat for dinner that night and still have leftovers for lunch the next day. I don’t usually double the side dishes becuse they are typically pretty quick and easy to make. I make just enough of the side dish’s for dinner and to have leftovers for lunch the next day. So in one night I made dinner for my family  and froze another meal to use another night. Do this a few nights each week and you’ ll have plenty of meals stored up! The next time I meal plan I can then include one or two of my freezer meals or more and save myself time, especially if its a busy day.

Either way of doing freezer meals works great. My method of doing freezer meals probably works best for small families, 1-4 people I would guess. This method works well for small families because you can buy the family size packs of meat at the grocery store and save money incomparission to having to buy smaller packs. Any groceries that you can buy in larger sizes or amounts tends to save you money. Also it won’t be as easy for a larger family to cook a doubled recipe each night, it would be such a large amount to prepare and cook.

The other method of doing freezer meals would probably work better for a large family as long as they have the time to set aside and the space to store it.

I will post part 2 tomorrow. It will include some recipes I like to freeze and links to other blogs with freezer meal recipes and tips. I found a lot of these from pinterest. Pinterest is so great, you’ll probably hear me reference pinterest a lot in future posts!