Monday, December 31, 2012

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

picture from
William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)
BLESSINGS on the hand of women!

Angels guard its strength and grace.
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Northrop, H.D. Beautiful Gems of Thought and Sentiment. Boston, MA: The Colins-Patten Co., 1890.

Found at Poem of The Week: 

Monday, December 10, 2012

When There's Nothing Else to Eat

So I was making a grocery list to determine what I had in the fridge and what I needed from the store.  I noticed that there was about a cup's worth of leftover turkey (or chicken, or ham), a long stalk of celery, a couple of sliced green onions, a couple of handfuls of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise in the refrigerator.  Then I checked the pantry and found half-a-box of small elbow macaroni.  I never do this--I'm not creative with food, I normally must have a recipe--but for some reason these ingredients just came together in my mind as a really good salad.

I put off going to the store and cooked the macaroni, chopped the meat and diced the celery.  After rinsing the macaroni in a colander under cold water and quick-drying it on paper towels on the counter, I combined all the ingredients together with enough mayonnaise to moisten.  I didn't season it with salt and pepper, leaving that for family members to do.  Then I tried it.  Maybe I was hungry but it was the best macaroni salad I've ever had!

I'm writing this post just to remind myself how I made it.  Even though it's simple, I'm liable to forget.  This was enough for 4-6 large helpings.  (My daughter, a 115 lb. college cheerleader with a coach who will tell you you're fat, actually went back for a second large helping.  This is not normal for her!)  It just goes to show you how often we throw food out or think we have nothing to eat when the leftover and last bits of something can turn into a fabulous (if simple) dinner.  All the ingredients are "to taste."  Some might like more of one thing and less of another.  Print Recipe

Turkey Macaroni Salad
1 cup small elbow macaroni, prepared (or whatever pasta you have on hand)
1-2 cups turkey, (or chicken, or ham), cooked and chopped
1 stalk of celery, diced 
1-2 sliced green onions
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese 
1/2 cup mayonnaise (enough to moisten the ingredients)
Prepare macaroni according to directions.  Rinse in cool water and drain thoroughly.  Combine all the ingredients adding more mayo if necessary.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Snow-Couple Bell Ornaments

Snow-Couple Bell Ornaments
2, 6-1/2 inch square pieces cotton batting
1, 4x4 inch piece of black felt
2 tiny jingle bells
2, 1-3/4 inch diameter clay pots
2, 6x1 inch homespun scraps
2, 14 inch long pieces light-weight wire
4, 1 inch cinnamon sticks
4 buttons
2, 1 inch diameter wooden balls
white, black, and orange paint
small brush
heavy thread
sewing needle and glue
Allow paint to dry after each application.
For each head, paint wooden ball white.  Paint an orange nose on face.  Use marker to draw eyes and mouth on face and add details to nose.  Paint pink cheeks on the snow lady.  Cut two 6-1/2 inch diameter circles from batting for bodies.  Trace patterns, onto tracing paper.  Using patterns, cut one each of hat crown, hat top and hat brim from black felt; and ear muffs from green felt.
For each body, use heavy thread to work running stitches along edge of batting circle.  (A sample of running stitches can be found on my Natural Angels post).  Center bell on circle and place flowerpot over bell.  Pull thread ends to gather batting over flowerpot; knot ends together to secure.
For each set of arms, thread wire through one cinnamon stick and button hole, then back through button and cinnamon stick; continue for opposite arm.  Leaving one inch between arms, twist wire ends to secure.
Glue arms and head to top of body.
For snowman hat, glue short ends of hat crown together.  Center and glue crown on brim; glue top on hat.
Glue hat on snowman, earmuffs on snow lady and remaining buttons on bodies.  Tie a 1x0 inch homespun scarf around each neck.  (Original Source:  Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 2, pp. 21, 25, and 123)
Snow Couple Bell Ornaments Google Docs Pattern

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time Out for Homemakers


A love of homemaking does not always come naturally.  Taking simple steps can keep homemakers from feeling their work is drudgery.  First of all, homemaking requires a few reality checks.  Real life means that keeping house may not always turn out as perfectly as we would like.  Even the best homemakers simply do not have the time to do all that they would like or as well as they would hope for.  When all the children were at home and outside activities and obligations were at an all-time high, I had to learn to delegate as many tasks as possible to the children and my husband. 

My husband’s career was very demanding at the time all the children were in school and with a lot of outside interests, so I asked him to do only a few things that could be done with a child “helper.”  We parents might wish to complete tasks more efficiently than we could with a small child or reluctant teenager, but household tasks can become great bonding experiences where teaching and sharing occurs naturally when we involve our children.  Though tasks done with the family member's help or delegated to family members may not turn out as well as if done yourself, they do get done and time is freed up for the homemaker’s higher priority items.  Through consistent practice, helpers will improve with their assigned tasks.


Assigning tasks to others is a good time to really evaluate whether all tasks are actually necessary, anyway.  Reevaluating daily activities of all kinds and whether they are wasteful could free up time and energy for the homemaker.  For example, time can be wasted just looking at the mail.  Most of the time junk mail gets shredded immediately and catalogs thrown out in our house.  Measures have been taken to prevent most junk mail from ending up in the mailbox in the first place. Answering only essential phone calls is also a real time-saver (you do not have to take a call on your cell phone in the Walmart bathroom stall BTW). 


I have blocked out Mondays as “My Day” to recuperate from the weekend and plan my week.  I relax my standards and just ignore the dirty floors and dishes and cook a simple meal for dinner.  Many times dinner is a meal that was doubled and frozen for later.  If I do any cleaning it’s my own clothes, personal bathroom, and bedroom that get done.  It does not have to be Monday—but at least one day a week is “MY DAY” and I look forward to it!

Become A Homebody

Before running errands, plan them out on paper first to use gas and time efficiently.  I usually reserve Fridays as the errand day and I try not to make any extra trips until then.  Errands can really zap your time, money, and energy but some people like the excuse of “getting out.”  If staying home seems stifling, make your home more inviting for you to be in.  After consulting magazines and the internet, I learned to create a spa retreat getaway in my master bedroom/bath.  It is a place I love to be.  Creating a love for home can be done by creating a special space in the home, garden or yard; taking long walks in the neighborhood and enjoying the beauty of nature; having regular visits with a neighbor who also likes to visit; spending time playing with pets or children; practicing yoga during your children’s “quiet time” or nap time; develop a hobby or learn something new.


Being a homemaker might mean living on a very limited income, but we can still pamper ourselves.  One thing I love is dark chocolate covered dried pomegranate fruit found at my local grocery store.  It tastes like it came from a gourmet shop.  I hide a bag of these in a drawer for when I need a special treat just for me.  I also like to try DIY spa treatments like the ones found in Take Time Out:

·         Steam Clean.  Fill a large ceramic or glass bowl with boiling water and drop in one herbal tea bag for each cup of water.  (Try chamomile, lavender, peppermint, or lemon tea bags).  Cover your head with a towel and hold your face eight to ten inches above the steaming liquid for three to five minutes.
·         Rub on an exfoliater.  Add drops of olive oil, one at a time, to a packet of sugar to make a spreadable paste.  Or mix a packet of instant oatmeal with enough water to make a paste.  Rub onto your face and rinse.
·         Soften your hands.  For the softest hands, slather on rich hand cream and wear cotton gloves overnight to seal in moisture.
·         Keep your feet happy.  To slough dry skin off feet, mix together two tablespoons of each of the following:  Epsom salts, table salt, baking soda, and warm water.  Rub this mixture vigorously over any rough areas.  This rinse.
·         Scent your own lotion.  Shop at a discount store for a bottle of unscented body lotion.  At home, add a few drops or sprays of your favorite cologne and shake well.  Continue to add cologne, a little at a time, until the lotion is lightly scented.
·         Recycle potpourri.  When you’re ready to change potpourri scents, place the old potpourri in an airtight bag or container.  Store the container in a cool, dark place until the following year.  If the scent has diminished add a few drops of scented oil and mix gently.


Finally, homemakers need to include spirituality in each day.  Favorite ideas from Take Time Out include:  writing favorite verses on blank business-size cards.  Then place them around the house near places where you often stand--on the bathroom mirror, next to the telephone, or on the refrigerator.  Or write verses on colorful slips of paper, fold the slips in half, and place them in a pretty bowl in the hallway.  Each time you pass the bowl, stop and pull out a verse to read.  These are quick and simple ways to keep a spiritual focus to each day.  My favorite idea was to create a Victory Journal by writing down specific prayers.  Whenever a prayer is answered, write the result down below it.

To be a Happy Homemaker, it is important to consistently take the time to delegate housework and eliminate time-wasters.  Overcome the feeling of being stifled at home by creating a special haven in your home, outdoor space or neighborhood.  Each week block out “Me Time” and enjoy the simple pleasures of pampering oneself.   Most importantly, boost your self-esteem by keeping a spiritual focus each day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"En Bonne Ménagère..."

Photo from Homemaking for Teen-agers, Book 2, McDermott and Nicholas, 1958
Which means "Like A Good Housewife."  I read it in a book recently and just couldn't resist using it.  How often does one use that phrase anymore? For all you "Good Housewives," here is a recipe for "How to Preserve A Husband" from The Saturday Evening Post All American Cookbook (by Charlotte Turgeon and Frederic A. Birmingham).

How to Preserve A Husband

First, take care in selecting one who is not too young, but tender.  Make your selection carefully and let it be final.  Otherwise, they will not keep.

Like wine, they improve with age.  Do not pickle or keep them in hot water.  This makes them sour.

Prepare as follows:  Sweeten with smiles, according to variety.  The sour kind are improved with a pinch of salt of common sense.

Wrap well in a mantle of charity.  Preserve over a good fire of steady devotion.  Serve with peaches and cream.

The poorest varieties may be improved by this process and kept for many years in any climate.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Eliminating Closet Clutter

While some would like to convert a whole room into a closet, if I could do away with closets altogether I would.  I personally don't like anything that attracts clutter like closets, garages, basements, and sheds.  However, I don't mind adorable little girls that fall asleep in their closet ;o)  I have a neighbor friend (mother of 14 children-half are now grown) who uses only old-fashioned, small armoires as closets.  They built their home without closets!  Ain't no clutter there, I can tell you!

First Step to Clutter Freedom

Take everything out of the closet and if necessary make any repairs to the space.  Kids can be really hard on closets and they may have to be re-painted every so often.  When cleaning and organizing a closet, you want all storage space to be see-through so you don't have to look for items.  Hang belts, bags, purses and shawls on the wall and put shoes on a rack.  Put sweaters in a box on the shelf at the top of the closet.  Give the closet an overhaul every six months before the next season begins.  I like to take that time to decide what to give to charity and what to store (in a clear box) for the season.  Winter clothes should be stored over the summer and vice versa.  Tuck bay leaves and fabric softeners amongst the clothes to keep bugs away.

Give away clothes that don't fit...

buyer's remorse purchases, or clothes you like but never wear.  Take them to a favorite consignment shop.  Have a closet rule:  "one in, one out."  This will ensure that you buy only what you truly love and your closet isn't overrun with things you don't wear.  I enforce this with the family too.  If my son gets new sneakers, the old ones are used for yard work, etc. and the old-old ones are thrown out (cause they are pretty nasty!)  This applies to all clothing and accessories, however you will probably donate or consign the items that are in good condition rather than throwing them away.

Divide clothes into groups:

work, home and fun, dressy, and repair.  Use different colored hangers.  Hangers are really important!!!  It's worth the expense to buy good hangers and it's important to use them properly and not try to put too much on the hangers or rip pants off of a hanger.  I like the kind that have rubbery surfaces that keep pants neatly folded over and they don't slip.  They hold shirts in place as well.  Camisoles and spaghetti straps stay in place on hooks provided.  I keep the hangers that my skirts come with from the store (the kind that clamp on).  You can buy these at the store as well.  This is what I use for skirts.  You can also hang throws and table clothes with these, which make it easy to remember what linens you have.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Fun

Three favorite recipes for fall: Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Play-dough...

Halloween Crisp Candy Corn Treats

1/2 c. butter
10 c. crispy rice cereal
9 c. mini marshmallows
2 c. mixture of candy corn and Indian corn
3/4 c. mini chocolate chips--if desired (refrigerated or frozen)
Melt butter and marshmallows; stir until smooth.  In a large bowl, mix rice cereal, candy corn and mini chips together. Add marshmallow mixture to cereal mixture; stir quickly to combine.  Spread on a large buttered 9 x 13 inch pan; press with buttered hands.  While warm.  Refrigerate and cut into squares.

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 T. butter
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. seasoning salt
2 c. washed, cleaned pumpkin seeds
Heat oven to 300 degrees F.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add seeds and spices; toss to coat.  Spread seeds on a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.  Bake 40 minutes, stirring often, until they're browned and crisp.  Yield:  2 cups.
Print Recipe

Pumpkin Play-Dough

I purchased a lump of this play-dough at an arts and crafts festival when my kids were little.  This smells great, so remind small children that it is not for eating.
5-1/2 c. flour
2 c. salt
8 t. cream of tartar
3/4 c. oil
11-12 oz. container pumpkin pie spice
Orange food coloring:  2 parts yellow, 1 part red
4 cups water
Mix all of the ingredients together.  Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear.  Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth.  Store play-dough in an airtight container in refrigerator.
Print Recipe

Monday, October 1, 2012

Simple Oktoberfest Family Meal

This meal can be cooked over an open fire or right in the oven.  Be sure to use a pan to catch possible drippings if you cook in the oven.  A great way to enjoy a beautiful fall evening at home or camping.  Print Recipe

Simple Oktoberfest Family Meal
1 lg. sweet onion, sliced
3 lg. bell peppers:  green, red, and yellow
4 medium potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
6 medium carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 small cabbage, sliced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 to 1-1/2 lb. cooked Polish sausage
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
Place onion, peppers, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes on three pieces of double-layered heavy-duty foil (about 18 x 18-inch).  Cut sausage into 1/2-inch pieces and add to foil; dot with butter.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Fold foil around the mixture and seal tightly.  Grill, covered, over medium coals for 30 minutes.  Turn and grill 30 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender, (if you open bundles to check, be careful of steam escaping, and carefully fold back if more time is needed, so they don't leak).  Yield:  6 servings.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rx for Houseplants

  • Leaf tips turn brown and lower leaves turn yellow and drop off:  Over-watering is the culprit.  Allow the soil to dry and water less often.
  • Leaf tips turn yellow, then brown before drying:  Under-watering--soak pot in water, then water more frequently.
  • Leaves look faded and are streaked with yellow or brown mottling:  Too much light--move plant to less intense light.
  • New growth is elongated, pale and undersized:  Not enough light--move to stronger light.
  • Leaves become yellowish, but veins are green.  Lower leaves drop off and new growth is weak:  Under fertilization--start a schedule of fertilizing.
  • The plant puts on new growth rapidly but the stems are weak and streaked:  Over fertilization--flush the buildup of fertilizer out of the soil by watering the plant several times in a few hours.
  • Leaf edges curl under and dry out:  Too high a temperature in the room--move to a cooker spot.
  • White cottony growth appears in crevices between the leaves and stems:  Mealybugs--dab each bug with rubbing alcohol.
  • Stems and leaves get tiny brown "warts":  Scale--gently scrape the scale off with a knife or fingernail.
  • Leaves get a mottled dusty look.  Eventually there are webs on the branches:  Spider mites--rinse foliage thoroughly with a lukewarm shower.  repeat each week, if necessary.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How To Care for Houseplants

After years of being too afraid to care for houseplants, I took the plunge.  I discovered that I have a black thumb as opposed to a green thumb.  Years later, after trial and error and still not getting it right, I decided to follow some instructions.  (Duh)  I learned that there were many things I was doing right, and some things I was doing very wrong :(

I knew that using good soil mixes for each type of plant is really important.  If you go to Walmart or Lowes, you'll see that potting mixes vary towards the type of plants you're trying to grow.  It's sickening how some folks can grow plants in anything, but that doesn't work for me, so I have to be careful with soils and containers.  Containers need drainage holes to drain water and allow air in to lower soil areas.

Besides saucers to catch runoff, I place soft knitted dish clothes under my plants to protect the furniture they are on.  Clay pots are porous and it's a good idea to liberally rub petroleum jelly onto the inside of the pot before filling with soil and plant.  Plastic and ceramic pots allow no air through so they are good for small plants where rapid drying is a problem.  Saucers for large floor plants can be purchased with casters that help them move easily.  Always clean old pots and planters really well before using them.  After cleaning with hot sudsy water, I even rub my pots with hydrogen peroxide to ensure that no diseases are left.

If the plant looks top-heavy or there are many roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, it's time to repot the plant to a bigger container or divide.  A plant wilting between waterings or undersized new growth is a signal too.  New leaves should grow to the same size or even bigger than older leaves.

When potting, a small layer of stones or pea gravel should be placed towards the bottom for proper drainage--a half inch for small pots or 1-3 inches for pots over ten inches in diameter.  Cover the drainage pebbles with a layer of potting mix and firm lightly with your fingers.  Fill to the level that will allow for the depth of the soil ball of the plant and a half-inch space between the soil surface and the rim of the pot.

Remove the plant from the old pot by turning the plant upside down and tapping the rim of the pot firmly against a solid surface.  Gently lift the root ball out by firmly pulling up on the trunk.  Center the plant in the new pot and hold in place with one hand while you add the remaining soil.  Firm the soil by lightly pressing downward with your fingers.

Water the soil slowly from the top, or set the pot in a saucer of water for an hour or so.  Let the plant drain and then place it in indirect light for a few days while it adjusts to its new home.  After that, move it into the amount of light that is right for it.

Repotted plants do well if they have not been moved to a pot that is too large.  If the pot is too large, the plant will spend its energy putting out new roots instead of new growth.  If the plant doesn't need repotting, it should have it's soil replenished yearly.  Remove top 2-4 inches of soil with a fork; avoid harming fragile feeder roots.  Refill with fresh soil mixed with slow-release fertilizer, and if desired, top with grit.

This is mainly what you need to know about houseplants.  I've had trouble with mealybugs and I'm writing a post on Rx for Houseplants next.  If only I had just studied up a bit, a lot of plants could have been saved.  But I'm renewing my effort to have beautiful, healthy plants that provide much needed oxygen for my home.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Greatest Gifts to Give a Grandchild

These are excellent excerpts from Creative Homemaking for Happy Living, Relief Society Homemaking Booklet, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1984.  Barbara Winder was the General Relief Society President and her counselors were Jay Evans and Joanne Doxey.  This article was written by Elma S. Bradshaw.

  • Get down on the floor and talk to them face to face at that eye level (it helps to see things from that point of view).
  • Make it a habit to attend the events in which the grandchild participates, such as: swimming, baseball, football, cheer, gymnastics...
  • Let your grandchild practice a speech or instrumental number before you prior to the big performance.
  • Grandchildren love to show you how far they can jump, how fast they can read, or how high they can climb--be interested!
  • Listen--really listen--with your ears, eyes, and heart to a teen grandchild who has a problem.

Give the Gift of Self-Worth

They like to feel important and to have evidence that what has been done or said is of value:

  1. Display drawings on the refrigerator door or kitchen wall.
  2. Compliment them in the presence of others.
  3. Hire them to wash your car and then lavish with praise for their efforts.
  4. Provide opportunities to succeed in a variety of tasks and activities.
  5. Write your grandchild a letter on their birthday and list all the special qualities they have for which you admire.
  6. Share useful skills such as sewing and building, cooking, etc.

Give the Gift of Heritage

Everyone wants to know who they are and who they belong to.  Grandparents are children's bridges to the past:

  1. Write letters (or prepare a taped message if they live in a distant city).  Tell them what you did as a child when you were their age.
  2. Write your life story.  Give copies to your married children with instructions to share your story with their children.
  3. Share your old photo album with a grandchild--tell about the people in the pictures and encourage him/her to start keeping a picture album.
  4. Help your young teen-aged grandchildren to prepare their Books of Remembrance.  Be sure you are also preparing yours so that you can be an example to them.
  5. Take them with you to do research--help them to find themselves and their parents on church personal history website (or
  6. Write the histories of your own mother and father (their great-grandparents); then hold a Family Home Evening with your married children, at which time you can read the history you have compiled.
  7. Take your grandchildren with you to decorate the graves of their relatives and ancestors.  A short meeting at the gravesite can be used to explain the relationship of each person buried there.

Give the Gift of Teaching

Most grandparents have a little more discretionary time than the parents of their grandchildren, so:

  1. Teach a child to tell time.
  2. Teach a child to tie his shoe.
  3. Teach a child to count his money and figure up the tithing owed the Lord.
  4. Teach a child to spell new words.
  5. Teach a child to pound nails into a block of wood.
  6. Teach a child to plant a garden.
  7. Teach a child how to cook his favorite food.
  8. Teach a child a new art or craft.
  9. Teach a teenage grandchild how to shop wisely in the supermarket.  Compare brands, prices, quality, and sizes.
  10. Teach a child a new song.
  11. Teach a child to recite a poem, a nursery rhyme, or to repeat a special story.
  12. Teach a child that Heavenly Father loves him.

Give the Gift of Creativity

Creativity begins with the stimulation of the brain at a very early age in children.  Giving even a small baby a variety of interesting things to look at, listen to, touch, feel, and manipulate helps him to store many different images and ideas in his mind which he can draw on in later life.  It's worth the time, mess and expense to have creative memories with grandchildren.

  1. Many creative experiences cost little or nothing.  Many art museums are free to the public.  Look for activity books in the local library and choose activities that use many of the items found in a kitchen.
  2. Discuss how things look, feel, sound, and smell by stressing details and differences in color, shape, texture, and size, and by giving simple explanations of how things work.  Encourage discovery and curiosity.  Children need lots of different experiences to expand creative potential.

More Good Grandparenting Tips

Here are few more not found in this article from Creative Homemaking for Happy Living:

  • Let children's ideas be expressed in a non-threatening atmosphere.
  • Help children to accept change and be flexible.
  • Help children learn that some problems have no easy answers.  Be willing to say, "I don't know."
  • Teach children how to solve problems and look for more than one solution--to brain storm ideas.
  • Reward children for being creative, however, they must learn that good work is sometimes its own reward.
  • Help children find joy through their creative efforts and problem solving--It is fun!
  • Allow children to be "an original."  This makes them authentic.  It's okay to have your own style, ideas, opinions.  We are more interesting when we are allowed to be unique.
  • Appreciate children who stick with a project when everyone else has moved on.  Find ways to encourage this behavior and identify it in the student's work.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vancouver's Best Salad and Jiffy Pizza Sticks

I was so excited when I tried this recipe because it reminded me so much of the wonderful salad and bread sticks my young children and I would get at a little restaurant in Vancouver, Washington.  We lived walking distance to the downtown area and would window-shop and stop in at our favorite restaurant.  One reason it was our favorite was that for five dollars, I could get a whole tray of bread sticks for the children and a small salad for myself.  Back then we only had $50 per week to spend on groceries so this was a real treat once in a while.

Vancouver's Best Salad Print Recipe
12 cups mixed salad greens (I like the spring or herb mix)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. Thousand Island salad dressing (any will do)
2 T. milk
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped, optional (dressing pictured above is without eggs but it's really good with eggs!)
In a large bowl, toss salad greens, tomatoes and cucumber; set aside.  In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, Thousand Island dressing and milk; mix well.  If desired, gently stir in chopped eggs.  Serve over salad.  Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.  Yield:  8 servings or 2 cups dressing.

These are just like the bread sticks we got in Vancouver--only better because there's chopped pepperoni baked inside.
Jiffy Pizza Sticks Print Recipe
1 pkg. JIFFY Pizza Crust Mix
1/4 tsp. garlic and herb seasoning (I use pizza seasoning)
1/2 cup hot tap water (not scalding)
1-1/2 pkg. pepperoni slices, chopped (or less if desired)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
14 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Butter Topping:
2 T. margarine or butter, melted
1/4 tsp. garlic and herb seasoning
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease one baking sheet.  Mix Pizza Crust, seasoning, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.  Add hot water (1 tablespoon at a time) and mix well with a fork.  Spread Parmesan cheese onto flat surface; drop dough onto Parmesan cheese and knead cheese into dough (I like to do this on a wooden cutting board cause it won't stick).  Roll to 1/2 inch thick, cut into 1 inch bread sticks.  Place about 1 inch apart on baking sheet.  Bake 18-20 minutes.  Mix together butter topping ingredients.  After removing sticks from the oven, brush tops of sticks with butter topping.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

"...Almonzo loved light, fluffy, buckwheat pancakes with plenty of molasses...The three pancakes on the griddle were holding their bubbles in tiny holes near their crisping edges.  He flipped them over neatly and watched their brown-patterned sides rise in the middle.  The good smell of them mixed with the good smells of fried salt pork and boiling coffee..."  (The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder, ISBN # 0590488198)

Just like Almonzo Wilder, homemade pancakes are one of my favorite comfort foods.  I grew up thinking you had to buy store-brand mixes to make pancakes.  For years I tried to make good pancakes without success.  Then I grew brave enough to try pancake recipes in my cookbooks.  Making pancakes from scratch was sooo much better than store bought mixes, even if it took just a little more trouble.

The key to making pancakes is to have a consistency of a cake batter when you're ready to pour out the mixture.  They can't be too thin or too thick--it should pour easily but not too fast.  As the tops get plenty of bubbles and the edges firm up a bit, you can turn the pancakes over.

My husband is a better fry cook than I am and flips pancakes perfectly.  I have forced myself to practice until my pancakes turned out just as good.  So practice does make perfect.

Also, it really helps to invest in a nice, long electric griddle because the pancakes turn out better (cooks more evenly) and you can make a bunch at once and get done faster.  (I would even consider bringing one to camp outs!)

This recipe comes from my Southern Living Cookbook (ISBN # 084871816X).  It mentions you can keep the batter in the fridge for up to a week.  It also includes a homemade syrup recipe.  The recipe calls for buttermilk but I mix up powdered buttermilk instead because it's easier for me to keep on hand than buttermilk.  You can add 1cup of blueberries (like the pancakes shown above) or chopped pecans to the batter.

Buttermilk Pancakes with Homemade Maple Syrup 
Print Recipe
2 cups all purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk (2 cups is always too much for my batter; start with 1-1/2 cups and add more 1 T. at a time if needed)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Homemade Maple Syrup
Combine first 5 ingredients; stir well (be careful not to stir too much or the pancakes will not be fluffy).  Combine eggs, buttermilk, and oil in a bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  For each pancake, pour about 1/4 cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle.  Cook pancakes until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked; turn and cook other side.  (Store unused batter in a tightly covered container in refrigerator up to 1 week.  If refrigerated batter is too thick, add milk or water to reach desired consistency.)  Serve pancakes warm with Homemade Maple Syrup.  Yield:  18 (4-inch pancakes).

Homemade Maple Syrup Print Recipe
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan; add sugar and flavoring.  Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly; remove from heat.  Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature.  (Store leftover syrup in a tightly covered container in refrigerator.)  Yield:  about 2 cups.  (Per 3 pancakes and 1/3 cup syrup:  Calories 566; Fat 11.9g; Cholesterol 77mg; Sodium 612mg)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Freezing Blueberries

I love fresh-picked blueberries (as long as someone else picks them--ha, ha!)  Picking berries is something you should do with your children or grandchildren or friends at least once.  The great thing about blueberries is how well they freeze and how good they taste whenever you pull some out of the freezer to bake (or pop in your mouth!)

Blueberries should not be washed prior to freezing.  

They have a natural waxy coating that protects them when freezing, then rinse the berries before using in a recipe.  I rinse my blueberries after defrosting them in the fridge so I don't wash before freezing.

Spread them out evenly on wax paper on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  It doesn't take but about 15 minutes for them to be firm enough to put in quart-sized freezer containers.  Containers rather than bags will prevent the berries from getting squashed.  Whenever you need a handful, the berries are nice and loose and ready to use, or pre-measure blueberries for your favorite recipes before freezing.  In airtight containers, blueberries will keep up to a year in the freezer.

I place the amount I'll need in the refrigerator to defrost.  Then I rinse them gently in a strainer or colander under cold water.  This prevents your batter from becoming stained blue.  I use my frozen blueberries in pancakes, smoothies, and muffins.  Gently toss blueberries with a little flour before stirring them into batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan.  The blueberries taste so fresh and delicious all winter long.

Here's some helpful tips:

To make a hands-free berry bucket, punch holes in a plastic ice cream container and thread a long piece of string through each hole.  Then tie the string ends and slip the whole thing over the head.  The container hangs down in front, allowing both hands to pick berries.

Blueberries should be picked when they are dry.  If there is dew or rain on them, they will get soft and not last as long after picking.

Be sure to pick deep-blue blueberries for the best flavor.

When purchasing already picked berries 

Look for fresh berries that are firm, dry, plump and smooth-skinned and relatively free from leaves and stems.

Berries should be deep purple-blue to blue-black; reddish berries aren't ripe, but may be used in cooking.

Stay away from containers with juice stains, which may be a sign the berries are crushed and possibly moldy; soft, watery fruit means berries are overripe.

Fresh berries should be stored covered in your refrigerator and washed just before using.  Use them within 10 days of purchase.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Luau Party

If you wear a flower on the left side of your head you are single.  If you wear it on the right, you are taken or married.

Games to Play:  
hula hoop contest

paper sack lights (weighed down with sand and can use tea light candles with battery operated tea lights)
Hawaiian CDs for background music (found several at the Dollar Tree for a buck each)

Fun Activities (depending on the crowd):
  • Sew simple bathing suit sarongs (find a good pattern and try it out)
  • Make a candy lei:  Materials - small candies of any kind, plastic wrap (colored preferred) and curly ribbon.  Spread the wrap out on a table about 3 ft. long and lay the candies down the middle of the wrap.  Carefully close the wrap around the candy and in between the candy, tie a curly ribbon to close and to create the candy lei.  Knot and tie at the ends with more ribbon.
  • Watch "Johnny Lingo" or "The Other Side of Heaven"
The Spread:
Make Hawaiian Haystacks or Pearly Shell Chicken Salad served with Hawaiian rolls and Hawaiian Punch, (or pork and teriyaki chicken on rice).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jello Popsicles and Kool-aid Playdo

For yummy popsicles you can't buy from the store:
Jello Popsicles Print Recipe
1 pkg. Kool-Aid
1 pkg. Jello (same flavor as Kool-Aid)
1 c. sugar
2 c. boiling water
2 c. cold water
Pour into popsicle forms and place in freezer.  (Or pour into ice trays and when partially frozen, put plastic wrap over tray and insert wooden tooth picks into each cube-plastic keeps toothpicks straight).

For play-dough with a vibrant color and wonderful smell:
Koolaid Playdo Print Recipe
2-1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. salt
2 pkg. dry unsweetened Kool-Aid
2 c. boiling water
3 T. oil
Mix dry ingredients together in bowl.  Mix liquids together and pour into dry ingredients.  Stir until it forms a ball.  This may take a while.  As mixture cools and becomes less sticky, take out of bowl and knead until smooth.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pinterest Show and Tell :0)

I've been looking for inspiration to refurbish this old shelf that my daughter uses on the back of her dormitory student desk.  It's great for books, knick-knacks, etc.  As usual, I don't have a before-shot :p  Trust me it was so red that "for another nickel" we could have had a red shelf.  I got this fabulous "Tiffany Blue" idea from Pinterest.  It's original source is from

Tiffany Blue

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Lady's Chicken Nuggets

Originally a Paula Dean recipe, this has become a family favorite!  These nuggets make a great appetizer, family meal or a filling snack.  This would also work well in a sack lunch.  They are best served warm.  If you make Paula's dip, do it first so it can be chilling and thickening up while you fix the nuggets.

Paula D's Chicken Nuggets (print recipe)
6 chicken breast fillets
2 c. crushed sour cream & onion chips (I use more than I probably should)
1-2 eggs
2-4 T. milk
1/2 c. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spread the crushed potato chips in a shallow dish.  Beat together the egg and milk in a shallow bowl.  Dip the chicken, (cut into 1-1/2 in. cubes), into the egg mixture and then dredge them in the chips.  Place the chicken nuggets on a greased baking sheet and DRIZZLE WITH MELTED BUTTER, (sometimes I forget).  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown.  The chicken nuggets can be frozen after baking.  Serve with your favorite sauce, such as ranch dressing or honey mustard. 
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce (print recipe)
3/4 c. mayonnaise
3 T. honey
2 T. yellow mustard
1 T. lemon juice
creamy style horseradish to taste
1 T. orange juice, more or less
Combine mayonnaise, honey, mustard, lemon juice, and horseradish; stir well.  This with enough orange juice to make a pouring consistency for dressing, or dipping consistency for dip.

Monday, May 28, 2012

How To Make A Compost Heap

Illus. by Marc Brown
Super Soil, from Marc Brown's Your First Garden Book (ISBN 9780316112178) (the author of Arthur series which is also PBS kids' show), is how I plan to do my compost heap from now on:
"Compost is rich organic matter.  When you add it to the soil it helps plants grow.  Use it for your gardens indoors and out as an extra boost.
1. To recycle waste and make compost, or super soil.
2. Dig a hole about 3 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet deep.
3. In the hole make layers of plant matter (vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and leaves) and soil.  It will become rich compost as the plant matter decays.
4. Check the hole now and then.  When the leaves and grass clippings have completely disappeared, dig in with your shovel and mix up the layers.  Your compost is now ready to use!

photo from Southern Living
You can get fancy with compost heaps, but it shouldn't keep you from composting.  I've had no problems just heaping my compost in a pile out of the way but not too far from the kitchen.  Living in the country, I take advantage of being able to burn trash such as boxes food comes in, I take plastics and metals to a recycling center, and I compost all my kitchen scraps.  This leaves very little for the trash man to carry away.  My daughter recently informed me that her carbon imprint at home was practically nothing, but is pretty bad at the dorms.  I'm not into "carbon footprints" but I like the way they recycled everything during World War II, had victory gardens and composted to enrich their gardens.  In fact, you can actually just place your scraps in empty garden beds over the winter and till over with a hoe.  It's pretty well decomposed by spring.

from Southern Living
Compost heaps should be placed somewhere out of the way and shady.  Mark a 6 x6 foot area.  I pile kitchen scraps, especially egg shells (not meat or grease), raked-up leaves (even better if you chomp them up first with a mower), grass clippings, wood ashes from the fireplace, and garden refuge.  Cover with an inch of soil and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of lime to keep odors down if necessary, but I don't have a problem with odors.  Add 2 cups of garden fertilizer and keep layering up to several feet.  Water often in dry weather conditions.  It helps to leave an impression on top to catch rain water or snow.  Turn pile with a pitch fork occasionally.  Add more soil to keep the heap from looking unsightly.  I read in article in Southern Living magazine where a man grew cucumbers in his compost heap, (it was surrounded by a circle of chicken wire that the cumbers trellised up).  Now that's something I've got to try!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Deep Cleaning Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchen should be completely cleaned every six months because cooking spreads greasy dirt on everything.
Lemon juice will clean laminate counter top stains: soak stain with lemon juice for 1/2 hour, then sprinkle with baking soda and scrub with a piece of terry cloth and wipe dry.
Club soda in a spray bottle will make dingy chrome or stainless steel surfaces sparkling clean.
Clean sink with baking soda to scrub it clean.  This is a good use for boxes of soda you're discarding from the fridge.
Clean under the refrigerator using a yardstick with an old stocking secured on it with a rubber band and swish underneath.  Now's the time to dust off the top of the fridge too using the following formula.
For appliance exteriors keep a sprayer filled with this mixture to clean smudges on walls and appliances:  2 tablespoons non-sudsy ammonia, 1 teaspoon. liquid dish washing soap, 1 pint rubbing alcohol, and 1 gallon of water.   Just spray and wipe clean.
Vacuum the condenser coils on the back or the bottom of the refrigerator often.  This will add years to its life and help it run efficiently.
Check expiration dates on condiments and toss the ones that are past their prime.  Also, get rid of any outdated food in the freezer.  Clean the interior with 1 tablespoon baking soda in water.  To remove unpleasant odors, add 1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract to the water.  This is a good way to clean the inside of microwaves as well.
I use Murphy's Oil Soap to deep clean the outside of my wood cabinets (kitchen and bath).  Working on one cabinet or drawer at a time, I remove everything, vacuum out corners, wipe out all inside cabinet surfaces with Murphy's in warm water.  Let it air dry (use a fan to dry faster).  Then replace everything in an organized manner.  This is a good time to decide if you have too much stuff and to give away the extra--especially pantry nonperishable items that haven't been used within a year.
Disinfect the trash can.

Ovens and Stoves
Most ovens can be cleaned with baking soda on a damp cloth and scrub the interior.  If there is a spill, pour salt on it immediately.  When the oven cools, brush off the burned food.
If the oven is seriously dirty, put lemon ammonia in a spray bottle and spray the cool oven (avoid the heating elements, or if gas--the holes).  Close the door and let the fumes work for two or three hours (make sure the room is well-ventilated).  Using terrycloth, wipe the interior of the oven, including the door.  Scrub the oven with a scouring pad or stainless steel pad or Mr. Clean sponge.  Then rinse and wipe dry.
Clean the racks in a bath tub.  Put down a towel, then fill with tub with enough hot water to cover racks and add 1/4 cup ammonia (open a window).  Let them soak for 2-3 hours and scrub with a scouring pad or stainless steel pad or Mr. Clean sponge.
I like to put extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil under the heating element at the bottom of my electric oven to catch spills and drips, and replace when necessary.
I've found using a Mr. Clean sponge doused with a little lemon ammonia will clean the reflector pans and under the stove.  For stubborn stains I use baking soda.  Sometimes it has to sit a while.  Wipe clean with a dry cloth.
Aluminum foil can be placed under many stovetops to protect it from boil overs.  Wet this area and place the aluminum foil over it so it stays in place.  Throw-away pie pans can also be placed under the eyes to catch spills.  They can be washed and used again.
Don't forget to clean the hood (ammonia diluted in water) or use baking soda to scrub off tough spots.  Rinse well and dry with a clean cloth.  Be sure to clean the floor under the oven, the sides and back, and the drawer underneath.

These need to be completely deep-cleaned every six months if there is a problem with mold and mildew.
Mildewed sheet rock- to prevent mildew, remove source of dampness and thoroughly air out the affected area.  Open all windows and doors to provide ventilation and to remove musty odors.  Wash areas with a household detergent and rinse with clear water.  Rinse all surfaces with chlorine solution.  If odors persist, sprinkle bleaching powder over the floor, then sweep.  Place several lumps of dry charcoal in tin cans in room away from sources of heat or fire, (this is great for clearing the smell of paint from a room that's just been painted).
Use rubbing alcohol to clean bathroom fixtures: pour on with a cloth, scrub, and wipe dry.
 Never spray the mirror itself with cleaner; instead, spray a clean, lintless cloth, wipe down the mirror.  To avoid streaks, dry immediately with another clean, lintless cloth--an old T-shirt will do.
Remove shower curtains and launder according to instructions.  Wash or replace plastic liner with a new one.
Clean walls and using a solution of Murphy's Oil Soap, wipe down crown molding and baseboards.
Clean out medicine cabinets.  Do not keep leftover prescription medicine or give it to someone else--throw it safely away.  Do not keep medicines that are past their expiration dates.
Wash bath mats each time the bathroom is cleaned.
Clean the bath exhaust fan at least once a month.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Scrapbook Layout: The Balance Game

I really struggled so much when I began creating layout pages for my Creative Memory albums.  This was before Idea Books, before the internet, before scrapbooking really caught on.  I can't tell you how many pages have been disassembled and put back together again--sometimes over and over!  That is when I learned you really have to have a plan (or copy someone else's idea!).  I'm sharing information from a handout I received when I first started scrapbooking with Creative Memories in the early 1990's.  It has helped me so much in planning my layout pages so that I get it right the first time.

"When you are laying out your photo's for your page, remember that it is your balancing game and you balance according to your visual likes.  Some people like a symmetrical look--same sizes, same spacing.  Other people like a more abstract design with flowing patterns and color."

Put your visually heavy picture down first, then start balancing.'s just like hanging pictures on the wall.

You can balance with stickers or colors...You can balance with words.

Work with your page in 1/2's or 1/3's.

(Layouts by Homemaker's Journal.  "The Balance Game" source unknown--circa early 1990's)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mom Mix

I had the children hand these out to their mommies one year when I worked in Primary.  I think they're pretty cute!  The mix can be put in a simple baggie with the following attached:

Mom Mix
Marshmallows because you're a big "softy,"
Cheese crackers because you're "squarely" behind us,
Gummy bears because you're a teddy bear,
Peanuts because I'm "nuts" about you,
The Fruit Loops because you're so sweet!

P.S.  I recommend using Teddy Grahams instead of Gummy Bears, just change the wording to "Teddy Grahams because...".

HERE is an 8x10 printable of the Mom Mix poem.
Download This Printable

See also:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Nifty Recycling Bins

I picked up a copy of BH&G Big Style for Small Rooms 2012, and got a GREAT idea right off the bat--laundry baskets lined with plastic bags to make handsome recycling bins.

The baskets are actually laundry baskets.  I don't normally buy tall kitchen garbage bags, but I bought the odor control kind because I'm keeping this conveniently on the porch.  We live an hour away from any recycling places, so we don't make trips often.  The taller receptacles not only store more recycling, but we can use the tall bags to simply lift them out and throw in the back of the truck and carry to the recycling plant.

I rinse out all of my recycling before placing in the bins.  This can be done by filling the sink with water and rinsing small batches of recycling as they pile up on my counter by the sink.  I use a baby bottle scrubber to clean cans with sharp edges.  (Can openers can be purchased that don't leave sharp edges).  Rinsing cuts down on odors and pests.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kitty Cross-Stitch Sampler

Well I finally did it!  Took me from March 2008 to March 2012, but I finished this Kitty cross-stitch.  Hobby Lobby had these cute frames (also in blue, white, etc.)  There's lots of places where I had to fix mistakes so it's not perfect, but it got to the point where I just wanted to finish the darn thing!  Every time I started another project (not cross-stitch :P), I would feel guilty cause this albatross was still not completed.  Now I know why I usually pick mini-samplers...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Cleaning That Prevents Allergies

I have suffered from allergies all my life.  If there's one thing I've gotten pretty good at, it's removing allergens from my living space.  Even with a indoor/outdoor cat (short-haired), I've managed to eliminate most of the dust and dirt that aggravates my allergies.  I don't think it's fair that I have to dust since I am an allergy sufferer, but I manage to pull it off on a consistent basis.

You don't want the dust to have a chance to really build up.  Cleaning is so much faster if done regularly.  So here are the ways I clean and some homemade products to try as well.  One thing I can't stand when I'm asked to go in and clean someone's home is to find five-million, half-filled bottles of cleaning products under every bathroom and kitchen sink!  With some basic products like rubbing alcohol and ammonia and a few spray bottles you don't have to resort to store-bought products that end up in landfills and polluting the ground.  And you save money :)


Move all furniture to one side of the room and work on the empty side.  I like to use the round disks that go under heavy furniture and make moving large pieces of furniture a piece of cake.  I would suggest having someone else help to move heavy pieces--just in case.
Vacuum or sweep and mop before dusting.
No-wax linoleum floors (most modern flooring) can simply be cleaned with 1 tablespoon white vinegar to one gallon of warm water.
Clean in one direction (with grain if wood floors, mop should be damp not wet).  Start farthest from the entry ways and work toward them so that you don't track dirt over clean areas.  I like to wear clean white cotton socks in case I do have to walk back over--it doesn't leave tracks.
I use the ceiling fans, open windows and run floor fans to dry the floors quickly (wood-look linoleum) before a kid can walk on it.
Do the other side of the room when the floors are dry.
This is a good time to wash small rugs according to manufacturers directions.


When dusting wood furniture, pull out the drawers and vacuum the casings with a crevice tool.
Always apply dusting spray on the cloth--not on the furniture, etc.
Use lemon oil for light-colored furniture, a dark oil for dark furniture, and a red oil for cherry, mahogany, and other red-colored woods.  As someone who likes to reclaim old furniture, I am a huge fan of these oils and they really last a long time.  I have thought some pieces of furniture beyond repair.  I used the correct-colored oil on a buffet and china cabinet and now they look as good as an exact duplicate set I found in a magazine article.  I was going to paint them but now I wouldn't dare!
If wood needs a good cleaning (for instance spray polishes have been used on good wood), mix 2 tablespoons of linseed oil, 2 tablespoons turpentine, and 1 quart of boiling water.  (Be sure there is proper ventilation).  Mix the linseed oil and turpentine together in a small container, then add the boiling water.  Make sure the container is disposable.  Wear protective rubber gloves and dip a cloth in the cleaner and wring out well.  Wash one surface and wipe dry.  Do not try to do the whole piece of furniture at one time.  When the solution cools off, the oil and turpentine will separate from the water.  Throw it out and make a new batch; do not try to reheat it.
Lampshades can be dusted with a vacuum using the upholstery attachment or a masking tape lint roller.
Place a pillow case over each blade of the ceiling fan to wipe dust clean.  If you do this regularly, it won't be gross at all.  Shake pillow case outside and throw in the washer.
Use a Swiffer to clean blinds, (it's really worth the money).  Close blinds down and wipe them in a downward motion (not side to side).  Do this before you clean the floors, and move furniture away from the blinds before dusting.
Book cases can be dusted weekly with a Swiffer.  A couple of times a year, clean shelf by shelf (top to bottom) by removing books and wiping each with a clean cloth (refold several times to reuse same cloth).  Clean the wood with the proper cleaner (follow the directions).  Wipe with the grain of the wood.  Clean any glass with glass cleaner that has been sprayed on a clean t-shirt cloth (or micro-fiber).  Never spray books or shelving directly with cleaners.  (Don't forget to clean the tops of large standing bookshelves first).
Walls can be dusted using a clean dust mop and wiping side to side from top to bottom of the wall.  Use a Swiffer duster with extension to clean corners and crown molding and the baseboards.
Use the crevice tool on the vacuum to clean edges of floors and in the corners.
Keep a sprayer filled with this mixture to clean smudges on walls and appliances:  2 T. non-sudsy ammonia, 1 tsp. liquid dish washing soap, 1 pint rubbing alcohol, and 1 gallon of water.   Just spray and wipe clean.  For flat paint use:  1 gal. hot water mixed with 1 c. ammonia, 1/2 c. white vinegar, and 1/4 c. baking soda.  Scrub, then wipe wall dry with a piece of terrycloth rag., (this is so strong it will dull glossy walls.)

Cleaning Upholstery

Remove cushions from couches and chairs and vacuum thoroughly.  Flip cushions regularly.
Vacuum all sides as well.
When cleaning with upholstery cleaner, be sure to check the label on the furniture and test a small area that is in an inconspicuous location.  A great site for home remedy cleaning upholstery and carpets is
Wipes can be purchased to clean and protect leather furniture.  
In the spring, remove and properly store wool throws, etc.


A good basic window cleaner is 2 tablespoon rubbing alcohol to 2 quarts of water.
In cold weather, use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 1 quart of warm water.
Wiping materials are as important as the window cleaner.  Newspaper is best, but it makes your hand black.  The next best is old percale or cotton cloths.  NEVER USE SOFTENERS WHEN YOU WASH  AND DRY YOUR CLEANING CLOTHS (INCLUDING MICROFIBER).  Never use permanent press fabric for any kind of cleaning since the finish is not absorbent and it smears and streaks.
Wash the window from left to right on the inside and from the top to bottom on the outside, then if they are streaked, you know which side the streak is on.  Early morning is the best time to wash windows, because the streaks can be seen then.  Never wash windows in the hot sun because they dry to fast and leave streaks.
Drapes and sheers:  air-fluff in the dryer.
Vacuum each month starting with the inside, top to bottom.
Take down every 6 months and run through the no heat cycle of the dryer for 15 minutes with a damp clean towel.  The dust will cling to the towel.  Remove and hang immediately (or at least smooth them out on the bed or carpet).
Sheers can generally be cleaned at home following manufacturer's directions.

What lengths do you go to to keep allergies at a minimum?


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