Friday, March 25, 2011


I frequently have friends who tell me that they feel like they can never get on top of the cleaning in their house and that they are constantly overwhelmed by all of the cleaning that needs to be done. They are constantly asking me how I manage to keep the house clean. I have two secrets.

1) Help! I am a housewife, but I am not the only person who lives in this house, the girls each have chores, yes, the three year old does chores. If they make the mess they will help clean it up. Also I am blessed to have a husband who likes to clean, in fact he deals with stress by cleaning. I don't think that it is right for any family to expect one person to clean up after the entire group. I do the majority of the cleaning because it is a part of my job as a housewife and Mom but help isn't too much to ask for. We all have days when work and life just get to be too much.

2) Lists! Until I discovered the beauty of lists I was lost with my cleaning. I have a horrible memory, so knowing how long it has been since I did something and when I need to do it again is a huge blessing. That way I know no matter how bad my memory is at the moment when I last cleaned something and when I need to do it again. My lists are in a three ring binder slipped into plastic sheet covers, that way I can check things off with a dry erase marker and then re-start at the end of the day, week or month.

Here are the lists that I work from, feel free to steal them, share them, and change them all that you want to.


Make Beds
Empty Dishwasher
Clean kitchen
Quick clean bathrooms
Gather and Sort Laundry
One load laundry washed, dried, folded and put away
Check phone and e-mail messages. Return when needed.
Prep Dinner
School time with P-nut
Clean Kitchen
Quick de-clutter house
Spot Mop
Water Garden, and Grass
Make Dinner
Clean Kitchen
Refill Water Purifiers
Bath time, Story, Bed for kids
Last pick up of cups and dishes
Start dishwasher


Wash Windows
Dust Furniture
Scrub Floors
Wash Towels
Wash Sheets
Clean out Fridge
Re-Organize/sort girls toys, they clean daily I just check for lost or broken things once a week.
Check Home business to make sure it's on track.
Meal Plans (usually bi-weekly)
Grocery List (also bi-weekly)
Clean out a closed area (closet, drawer, pantry)
Clean Appliances (wipe front of fridge, washer and dryer, etc)
Mow, weed.
File mail and paperwork


Scrub Bathrooms (since I do a quick clean daily I only need to break out the strong stuff once a month)
Sweep Front and Back Porches
Re-evaluate Lists
Prep cards for birthdays/holidays
Re-do Family Wall calender
Find 3 new meals to try
Make a special dessert.
Lamp shades and light fixtures dusted
High shelves and surfaces dusted
Filing Cabinet/fire safe clean if needed
Clean inside Fridge (wash)
Replace house and water filters as needed.
I hope that this helps you just a little. I'll go into the rest of the things that I keep in my three ring binder later. Let me tell you it's a life saver.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WIOW & ThATh - The slacker edition

Is it sad that I am already slacking and it is only my second week? Yes? That's what I thought. Well I am appropriately shame faced. I promise.

I am blaming my lack of letter on the fact that I never bought the pretty stationary that I was talking about last week. It's not a good excuse, but it's an excuse. But I guess it sort of counts, AJ and P-nut got a gift from their Aunt and Uncle and they wrote Thank You notes yesterday. That counts right?

As for today, thinking ahead is frustrating me. I am thinking about where DH and I want to go and what we want to do in the military. He just signed up so that he is required to me in the military for at least another 5 years, which will put him so close to retirement that there is no reason to leave. But we do not want to stay where we are now, we do not want our girls in growing up in this town or going to these schools. So we are looking at our options to leave and they are looking pretty grim. It looks like it will end up being a choice between where we live and choosing to live without him for a year. So I don't want to look ahead. I am keeping the slim but great options that we have in mind and praying that it is one of them that works out.

Hodgepodge Wednesday - Yes, I realize it's Thursday.

A friend of mine does this every week and I thought it looked like a lot of fun, I so decided to play along, if you want to go to the original here.

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem. What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?
My favorite outdoor spring activity is just being outside. I love the feeling of the warm sun and the cool wind all combined make me really happy. I also love being outside during the light warm spring rains. Well not here, because it never rains here, but when we lived somewhere that it rained I loved it.

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?
Wow, so many options and only one person. Thinking about it there are tons of people who I would love to have come and cook for me, but I'm going to take this opportunity to think big. So my choice is Alton Brown. Wouldn't that be awesome?

3. When did you last fly a kite?
Last Thursday when we were outside practicing for Kite Day at AJ's school. I am going to say that I was a dismal failure because the kite was cheap but it's probably because I haven't tried to fly a kite in years.

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything?
Hmmm, that's actually a hard one, I love learning so very little puts me to sleep. Actually the think most likely to put me to sleep is cars. I love cars, especially older muscle cars but I know nothing about them. I am happy to buy one that is working and let someone who knows what they are doing work on it when things need to be done.

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?
The smell of magnolia, honeysuckle, lilac and violets makes me think of warm Georgia springs.
When I smell any of those flowers, especially in combination, I am instantly relaxed and warm, even if it is freezing cold outside.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days?
The most significant event is the Persian Gulf War in the early 90's. I barely remember that, the event that made the biggest impact on me was a space shuttle launch that we watched live from the library.

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?)
Honestly, yes. I struggle with this a lot, it is my most visual and public area that I struggle with needing to improve myself in. I also swear in British and use "bloody...." frequently.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
OUCH! I got cleared by my Dr to start working out again and all I have to say is ouch. I haven't been this sore since I did my first week of P90X and I didn't even do that much. I think that it is going to take me a lot longer than I thought to get back into shape.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is another of my go-to meals that I usually have all the ingredients for on hand. Something I love for a substantial lunch or for a light dinner. Now DH and the girlies are not huge fans of this as a meal, mostly because it very obviously contains vegetables, which they all try to avoid as much as possible.

If you haven't tried Quinoa yet you really need to. It is an amazing little grain that tastes and feels somewhat like a nutty whole grain cous cous. It is a wonder grain that contains high amounts of protein and is gluten free, this makes it an excellent addition to both vegetarian and low-carb style diets.

4 Bell Peppers, I prefer green, mostly because they are the cheapest, use whatever you like.
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c chopped tomatoes. I use grape tomatoes, I think that they have the best flavor.
1 T Olive Oil
1 c. Quinoa (dry)
2 c vegetable stock (or any other stock or broth, just don't use plain water)
1 t oregano
1 t cumin
1-2 T tomato paste

1/2 t chili flakes
Fresh lime wedges
Fresh Cilantro

Ok, Start by cutting off the top 1/3 of the bell peppers. Clean out the insides from both the top and the bottom. Place all of the larger bottoms in a microwave safe dish. Then chop the top part of the peppers (leaving the stems out) the onion and the tomatoes.

Place the bottoms of the Peppers into the microwave for 5-7 min until just soft and starting to cook.

Put the olive oil, garlic, peppers, and onions into a sauce pan and saute until the onions start to turn clear. Add the tomatoes. Saute for another 2-3 min.

Add the dry quinoa, stock, spices, and tomato paste to the pan and stir well. Let boil for 15 minutes. If there isn't enough liquid to fully cook the quinoa you can add more stock or some water as you go. You can tell when the quinoa is done by looking at it. It should turn mostly clear looking with a little white germ visible around the side. There shouldn't be any white polka dots of opaqueness in the middle.

When it is done you can stuff the peppers and serve immediately. As you can see I only has 2 peppers so I had some leftover stuffing. Adding cheese or meat on top makes it a more filling meal, adding the lime and cilantro really brightens up the heaviness of the tomato. These freeze well, I usually eat 1 and then have the others for lunch later.

TPT - Tea

Today's pictures is of something that I really love and that makes me smile every time I see it. Tea! I love specialty loose leaf teas. I have a pretty good selection right now, but I am still wanting more. I love that it has so many more flavor options than coffee, I love that it has such amazing health benefits, and I think it's really fun to watch the dried teas, flowers, and fruits revive in the water.

This love started when I was young I come from a family of tea drinkers, but the love for loose teas started in High School. There was a little restaurant in town called Tea & Sympathy that was located in a historic house, each room was decorated in Southern/Victorian Era couches, and low tables, some more formal and some more casual. They served your choice of one of 100 or so teas and small meals, soup, salad, cheese, dessert and always scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and homemade strawberry preserves, it was amazing. My friends and I used to take long lunches and have some quiet time with each other.

I still think of these friends often when I brew a perfect cup of loose tea. So on top of everything else I get a little smile while I remember those times. So my picture today is of tea.

Monday, March 21, 2011

MM ~ Laundry is NOT my Best Friend

It seems like everyone has that one household chore that they hate just a little more than the others. One that every time they start to do it they want any excuse to stop. For me, that chore is laundry. I just don't like it.

I hate the gathering of the baskets, I hate the sorting, I hate the moving it from machine to machine, I hate when I forget to move it so I have to start all over. Most of all though, I HATE folding it and putting it away. The piles of clothes all over everything as I work on it bothers me, the piles of neatly folded clothes out for everyone to see bothers me, and the fact that I never have enough time to do it all at once and get it put away REALLY bothers me.

Of course this means that laundry is the task that I most often have to catch up on. So today's make up Monday is dedicated to that necessary evil, and the chore I love to hate, laundry.

Moderation, Schmoderation

I have totally fallen off the healthy habits train in the last 2 months. For some reason in my brain being banned from exercise gave me permission to eat horrible food in excess. That makes absolutely no sense at all. In reality I should have been eating healthier to keep myself as healthy as possible instead of just taking a hop skip and a jump off to the other side. Oh well. There isn't a whole lot that I can do now to fix it, I just need to get back into the good habits I had before.

So today, no biscuits and gravy for breakfast, no welsh rabbit, and no pastry. I'll be drinking my tea and having my whole grain english muffin with scrambled eggs. Also amazingly tasty and way healthier. I will also be starting my exercise routine up again, well most of it, I still have to wait until I see the Dr later this week to start doing abs and high impact aerobic stuff.

Wish me luck, it is so much easier to break a good habit than a bad habit. I have a feeling getting back on the healthy eating train will take a lot more work than jumping off was.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spinach Mushroom Pasta

Aaaahhhhh. I feel like this lunch needs a cue of angelic music playing in the background when you look at it. This is my go-to lunch, something that I can eat every single day and not get tired of it. There are a million different variations to this meal, I'll show you the basic recipe and mention a few of the variations but let your imagination run wild.

1/2 - 1 c Dry Pasta, whatever you have, I prefer short shaped pasta, elbows, farfalle, shells and the like. I often use a mixed colored pasta.
2 T Butter or Olive Oil.
1-2 Cloves Garlic Minced (I use the jarred stuff about 1.5 t)
1 c chopped crimini mushrooms (large chop about 1/2 in square)
2 c spinach in a large chiffonade (strips about 1/4 in)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1/2 c White Wine
Parmesan Cheese

Cook the pasta, make sure that there is plenty of salt in the water to give the pasta flavor.

Melt the butter over med heat (or start the olive oil warming). While it is melting chop the mushrooms.

Add the garlic to the hot oil, make sure it isn't too hot so that it doesn't burn the garlic. Let cook for about 1 min to make sure that all the butter tastes like garlic.

Add the mushrooms and start to saute them. While they are cooking chop the spinach. If you are adding wine add it during this step.

Add the spinach when the mushrooms look almost all the way sauteed. They should have shrunk and look wet and succulent. Cook just until the spinach looks wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off the heat. By now the pasta should be done, drain it and put it into a bowl, top with the mushroom mixture.

If you are using the Parmesan top your pasta now and enjoy!

Thoughtful Weekend

This weekend was a very busy one, and it made me think, a lot. It made me realize how very blessed I was to grow up in the family that I did and how good I had it to be surrounded by women who taught me how to be a good woman and who built me up and gave me the tools to have a wonderful sense of self-worth.

My female neighbors and I had one goal this weekend. To show a beautiful young woman how very special she is and how much she is loved. This girl has a Mom who doesn't appreciate her for all of the amazing things that she is and who spends her time tearing her daughter down by insulting her. It breaks my heart. This girl (I'll call Ann) is beautiful, incredibly smart, amazing at any sport you put in front of her. She is thoughtful and kind to everyone she meets and has a heart as big and the sky. I can't imagine not loving her or telling her this. Her Mom only doesn't tell her this she tells her the exact opposite. I wonder how any mother can treat her daughter the way that she does.

So Saturday was all about Ann, we took her to lunch, got our nails done and went to the mall. We talked about what was important to her, we told her how much we loved her, we laughed with her and hugged her. It was a perfect day. The most amazing thing about doing things for Ann is that I always feel so fulfilled after I do. I feel happier every time she smiles and I carry that feeling around for days. I hope that the love that we show her starts to make its way into the inner parts of her heart that has been so injured by her Mom and that slowly she will start to see herself the same way that we all see her.