Monday, August 31, 2009

Changes, Taking a New Path

Over the past few weeks, I've shared that MAHM will be going through various changes. This is mainly due to the fact that quite a bit in my personal life is changing, which will be reflected here.
  1. New food/cooking path: from a health-conscious path to a just-plain conscious path-- join me as I rediscover truly healthy, natural cooking and stray from the processed and conventional "food" that I've turned to in an attempt to save money. I will give tips for eating real, really frugally
  2. More sharing of housekeeping tips and tricks- I've been so busy getting back to my own path of organization and cleaning that actually giving advice has seemed hypocritical- I have a house that is probably worse off than anyone reading. I will be sharing the tips I've learned in my DOC series, but will also add before and after pictures of the *hotspots* in my own house to show how these tips can improve your own home.
  3. A new carnival at MAHM: DIY Friday, starting next week on September 11th. Details coming later this week, along with a listing of the carnivals I will be participating in on other sites.
  4. Lastly, I hope to keep up with my posting, but ask for all my readers to be patient with me. I promised a pancake recipe, but when Saturday came, I ended up busy all day between shopping, cooking, and a bridal shower. Sunday is my off-line day, which I try hard to keep aside for family time. (I will post this recipe by tomorrow.) I just started taking classes again, now that the baby is older, and this is another line on the to-do list. I will do my best to keep posting here, but there might be less posts each week for awhile, especially as I continue to renovate the site.

I look forward to the new direction that MAHM will be taking. This will still be a place where you can learn (a little) and share (a lot) about making a home. I hope that everyone can travel with me as I share a bit of what I've found, and inspire you to make your own home a haven, a heart where your family and friends feel comfortable and loved.

Please subscribe, or follow MAHM to stay on top of the new path we'll be taking. Also, coming up, our first ever giveaway! Leave a comment if there is anything you want to see on the site, or for more details on DIY Friday.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Menu Weekly Plan

Sat: B: cereal, oatmeal with fruit
L: going to a bridal shower- DH and toddler will probably have sandwiches
D: pasta with marinara and meatballs (from freezer)
Sun: (cooking day) B: Pancakes, bake bread for this week and make granola
L: fruit salad with yogurt and granola, start turkey trimmings for stock: turkey cordon bleu, broccoli (cook off extra turkey for tomorrow)
Mon: (crockpot day) Turkey Mole with homemade tortillas
Tues: frittata with potatoes, broccoli, and peppers
Wed: Mexican turkey-tortilla soup, broccoli slaw
Thurs: (fridge day) clean out refrigerator day
Fri: (veggie day- no meat) Vegetable Casserole

This week’s feature- natural turkey breast (with wings/neck)- perfect for breaking down and then making stock with. Just got my mom to give me her huge stock pot- can’t wait to test it out! Join me Sunday for my pancake recipe- I’ll tell you how to multiply it to make your own dry mix. Wednesday and Friday are more recipes- come back to check them out. We’ll also be talking about some changes you’ll be noticing here at MAHM on the food topics.

100 visits

Now, to many of you really hot bloggers, this seems pretty paltry. However, I never really thought anyone would be interested in my blog (besides my mom, who ironically is the least interested!) Sometime last night, I received my 100th visitor to the site. I'm so excited, and grateful that you are all bothering to stop in and sit for awhile. In honor of this milestone (small though it may be) there's some fun things coming up over this next week:

  1. a giveaway- my very first

  2. some new carnival participation

  3. an idea of where MAHM will be heading over the next few months

I hope you will all keep coming by to see what's going on here, and thanks for stopping by! Please leave me some comments if there's anything you want to see here, or to tell me how you like/dislike the site remodel so far.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Summer Fun and a Birthday!

Yesterday we all went to a local fair that's really popular around here- huge crowds. It's a good 45 minute drive, but well worth it. We enjoyed just walking around, eating some "fair food" a real treat since I usually try to make healthier meals. The big boy got to pet some cows- he just loved it. (I could only think about washing his hands off- sometimes I still get picky about dirt and germs, though with two boys I imagine I'll get over it soon enough.)

On an even more exciting note, today is the baby's 6 month birthday! I just can't believe how fast he's growing up, and also how it seems like not so long ago the big one was only this age. So tonight will be his first "real meal"- if rice cereal is real! Here's to hoping he takes to it like the first boy did- and he still loves food (most of the time.)

How do you like to spend your last days of summer with your family- any fun plans? Please share... (and check in tomorrow for some good Family Friday, and menu planning.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Easy Tortilla Recipe

Another UPDATE- an alternative with half corn flour for an different flavor and texture!
UPDATE to include my long overdue soaking method!

These are made in the Sonoran style, the very thin tortillas with no leavening used. They are simple, and more delicious than you can imagine! Based from: The Border Cookbook : Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico*

Easy Tortillas (makes 12-14)

2 cups white wheat flour (spelt may be substituted); or use half wheat flour and half corn flour (not cornmeal)- make sure it's organic to avoid GMO products!
3/4 teas. salt
3 Tablespoons lard, or butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup cool water
2 teaspoons of acid medium- I use cider vinegar, but lemon juice or even whey would work fine.

Mix flour and salt together. Slowly blend in the water, until the dough comes together in a shaggy ball. Let soak at room temperature for 6-8 hours.

Add in the butter in small chunks (or other fat) and then cut into the batter with a fork or pastry cutter.
Roll dough into 12-14 equal sized balls. The smaller they are, they smaller your tortillas will be when rolled, and easier to work with.

Let these rest for about 10-15 minutes. To avoid sticking, you will want to oil them slightly.

After the dough is done resting, you will need to roll out the balls into circles, approximately 1/16 inch think, or as thin as you can get them. I find this is easiest if the surface, dough, and your rolling pin are all well-floured. Roll out the dough about halfway, then flip it to further reduce sticking. I roll all the dough out at once, then cook them. If you do this make sure not to put the tortillas on top of each other because they will stick. I lay mine out on a baking sheet with towels in between the layers.

To cook, simply turn a dry pan (I use a cast iron skillet to ensure they do not stick) to medium low, and place the dough in. After 1-2 minutes, flip and cook for another minute. These can be used in any dish where you would normally use purchased tortillas.

The update of half wheat flour and half corn flour is very tasty. It makes them more like corn tortillas in taste, but they are still very soft and light since the flour is ground so fine. If you are using your own homemade or puchased corn meal, the recipe should still work. However, you will almost surely need a tortilla press to make them!

I hope you try these out- be sure to leave a note if you do and let me know how it goes!

This is posted at Homemaker Mondays on 11th Heaven's Homemaking Haven - visit to see lots of great posts!

*(link to Amazon will take you to an affiliate link, but this book is a wonderful resource and I do recommend it for true Mexican cooking)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Beef "Pot Roast" Stew Crockpot- Easy as 1,2,3

It's time for another Easy as 1,2,3 recipe! Only three ingredients, plus my basics- see my last one for more information. Today's is a usage for leftover beef...

Easy as 1,2,3 - Crockpot Beef "Pot Roast" Stew

2 1/2 cups cooked beef, cubed
1 cup raw carrots, chopped
1 cup raw potatoes, chopped

1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the crockpot to high, and mix together the broth, thyme, and salt and pepper in your crockpot's bowl. Add in the carrots and potatoes, and let cook until tender, approx. 2-3 hours. Add in the beef, and reduce heat until low. Let on about 30-45, or until the beef is fully reheated through. Remove the meat, and vegetables, saving about 1/4 of each. Mashing these 1/4 of potatoes and carrots into the reserved broth will serve to thicken as for gravy. Serve with the meat and vegetables.
This may be adapted to run on the low setting, and the vegetables will take approx. twice as long to cook until tender. Times may vary depending on the size that you have cut them. Generally, potatoes cook slightly faster, so you will want them to be in somewhat larger chunks.

How do you like to use leftover meat? I love hearing your comments, so please share. Come back tomorrow for our recipe for homemade tortillas- yum!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grilled Vegetable Panzanella (bread salad) recipe

In summer, I love having grilled vegetables. The charred flavor always just tastes like summer to me. Even though I fully enjoy grilled vegetables, sometimes you just need a change. My fix is easy- vegetable panzanella. This is a generally Italian way of using up stale bread. The recipe is quite simple:

2 cups grilled vegetables, chopped or sliced (I like red peppers, onions, and tomatoes as a base, add in others that you have such as summer squash and zucchini)

1 cup cubed stale good-quality bread (I let mine sit out for a day or two in the bakery bag)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar (red wine or cider)
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs, chopped (optional- try basil or oregano)

Just mix together the vegetables and bread, then toss with the vinaigrette. That's it! Enjoy your summer's bounty, just about any veggies will work. Feel free to add your own touches, maybe some roasted garlic in the vinaigrette? Please share if you like this...

Meal Planning- Week Menu

highlights: all-natural beef loin on sale 4.99 lb, a little splurge this week, features in 4 days meals

Sat B: omelets
L: BLT's
D: strip steaks, * cut from loin* roasted brussel sprouts and potatoes (my fam actually likes the sprouts)
(Sat. is a reward day for DH- hard week for him- we don't usually eat like this!)
Sun B: french toast w/ peaches (grilled last night & leftover from dessert)
L: grilled veggie panzanella (recipe coming tomorrow!)
D:stir-fry with veggies and chicken
Mon: crockpot "pot roast" stew (easy as 1,2,3 recipe- visit on Monday) *loin again*
Tues: leftover steaks *from loin* in quesadillas w/ homemade tortillas and salsa
Wed: citrus tomato steamed white fish with peppers and squash
Thurs: (switch from Friday's usual no meat day) hummus w/ veg and pita chips, broccoli quinoa
Fri: friends over for steak shish-kabobs *last of the loin*

Some repeat offenders for this week in addition to the beef: green squash (Sun lunch, Wed) and red bell peppers (Sun lunch & dinner, Tues, Wed, Fri- whew!). Do you use one ingredient in multiple meals for the week? Do you think it saves money and time? Leave me a note and let me know- and don't forget to come by to see the recipes on Saturday and Monday!

Kids and Snacks - Fun Food Friday

Snacks are a great opportunity to sneak some nutrition into your kids' diets. Toddlers, especially, tend to eat better when snacking (probably since they can't sit still for a real meal!) How can you make snacks that are both enjoyable and healthy? Here are some pointers:

  1. Sometimes, easy is best: try cubes of cheese, cherry tomatoes, celery and carrot sticks, and bananas. These require little or no preparation, and travel well.
  2. Another to-go treat is the ever-faithful smoothie. Start with milk, and yogurt, and add any fruit you have on hand. You can sneak in other foods for even more goodness- try silken tofu for a protein boost.
  3. For picky eaters, try serving slices of fruit with a yogurt dip, or peanut butter (for older kids.) The combination of sweet fruit and dipping fun can please, especially for toddlers.
  4. Whole grains are nutritious and filling- try finger food cereal, such as cheerios or kix (younger children) and a frosted shredded wheat (older children.) Also, there are many whole grain crackers now on the market, and granola bars are always a good standby.
  5. For homemade treats the kids can help make (involving children in cooking can encourage them to try the finished product) try cookies. Made with whole grain flour, oatmeal, nuts, and dried fruit, these treats are always popular- and your kids will never know they're getting something healthy.

Do you use snacktimes to get healthy foods into your family's diet? Please comment and share any tips you have for family-friendly foods. Or take a look at my other Fun Food Friday posts:

Fun Food- sneaking in nutrition- lasagna

Fun Food- green vegetables

Please visit Homemaker Barbi for more great Family Friday ideas!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning- Oh my!

Does the thought of housekeeping give you goosebumps? When people say they’ll stop in for a quick visit do you go into a panic? Well, I’ve been there- I spent pretty much my whole life as a non-domestic person (though others in my life used the term slob!) I wasn’t lazy (not much, anyway) it’s just that I really didn’t want to spend my whole day cleaning up. Sure, I wanted a clean house; a simpler, more organized life free of clutter. I just didn’t know how to get to that place from where I was. Everytime I tried, I sabotaged myself (I am a huge packrat- everything has sentimental value to me.) Finally one day, I broke.

I was pregnant with my second child, and just couldn’t take the mess anymore. Mr. Shelley and I were fighting about it, and our first boy, about 1 1/2 years at the time, couldn’t go anywhere in the house- it was a disaster. In last week’s DOC article I talked about finding your motivation- this was mine. I wanted a decluttered, clean house for my family. This is the first step, but a goal, no matter how strong, won’t empty the junk drawer out. So now it’s time to take action.

Decluttering is the best place to start because with less stuff, there won’t be as much to organize. The first step is to get an idea of what you have, and where you have it. I used the method of starting with one small area, but preferably in a widely used room- seeing it all decluttered will give you motivation to keep going. There are many systems for the process. Some of my favorites are on FlyLady. I incorporated many of her methods into one combined system that worked best for me. Here are some highlights of the method I put together:

1. Pick a number (Flylady uses 27; I prefer 10 to start, or 20 if you have lots of stuff!) and go through the house. Pick up that many things to throw away, and then go through a second time for things to give away. This is a brilliant, quick-paced fix.

2. Go through and clear out one place at a time- one drawer, one shelf, one cabinet. Limit yourself to only this one place, that way it won’t be overwhelming to start. Take a short break before resuming with another area.

3. Set up baskets, or containers in each main room (or area) of your house, including any outer room (mudroom, porch, etc.) While going through your house on a daily basis, pick up items that do not belong, and bring them to the container for the room they do belong in. Done regularly, this will return everything to its place. If things do not have a set place in your house, bring them to the room they seem most well-placed in. Used in combination with rule #2, there will be a place to put everything with time.

4. Don’t get stuck up on details- the most important thing is to find methods that work for you and take action!

These tips will set you on the way to a clutter-free home. Next in the series will be organizing: a multi-article section. The first post will be on systems management- stay sane with systems.

If this helped you, please share it and subscribe to MAHM for more tips and tricks on homemaking. See the newest article in the DOC series at 3 best organizing tips.

Leave me a note with any comments or questions, thanks for stopping in! I'm happy to post this at Works For Me Wednesday- visit for lots of great organizing tips!

finding time to read for parents

All of you who know me well know how much I love to read. Since having my kids, finding time to enjoy a good book has become increasingly difficult. Between meals, playtimes, and basic kid-watching, not to mention household duties, cooking, cleaning... whew! Who has time to read?
You do. Here's 3 tips for picking back up that forgotten reading habit:
  1. Find lost time. Naptimes are perfect, but we're so busy doing other things. Streamline to take advantage of sleeping children- make a crockpot meal so you're not cooking, throw laundry or dishes in the machine- read your book while waiting for them to finish.
  2. Share the love: parents who enjoy reading and show this to their children are more likely to raise readers. Article Associated Content- raising kids who love to read. When children are older, they can sit with you and read or look at their books while you read your own.
  3. Pick up a good book that you're really excited about- you'll find yourself making time to read it. I can't wait for Dan Brown's new book,The Lost Symbol. I loved his other books; and had already read his older ones when DaVinci Code came out and became so popular. I'm preordering it- Amazon has a great deal for over 40% off (and you know I can't resist a deal!)

How do you find time for reading? What books are you excited about? Leave a note or share this post.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

upcoming changes, PR friendly, and homemaking

Starting today, and for the next week or so, I'll be revamping the makeahomemom site. I hope this will provide the best experience for everyone stopping by, because I really appreciate you all so much. Be sure to tell me if you like/dislike any of the changes here- your comments are always welcome.
On another note, I have reworked the site to be PR friendly. I will be adding a PR page with the information needed for advertisers, and my readers, to let everyone know exactly what my guidelines will be. Be assured that any product reviews will be done as my honest opinions, and that I will not accept any payments for endorsing products I have not tried, and truly liked.
An amazing opportunity for anyone interested in PR : , new site of HomemakerBarbi's Danielle Ice- read about the chance to be considered for Purex Insider!
Lastly, I promised more in my new series, decluttering, organizing and cleaning- oh my! Check back tomorrow for the next post. I'll be decluttering some of my own home, and writing about how I got started on the path from messy to manageable. Homemaking is easier when you can actually find the floors to clean them, and getting to that point isn't so bad when you have a plan.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Recipe: Easy Béchamel (White Sauce)

This is basically a classic béchamel, or white sauce. Once you have the basic formula down, this can be adapted into other sauces, including a cheese sauce (alfredo) and a cream gravy. The only real difference in my sauce is the consistency of the roux. The foundation of many a sauce, roux is the term for a fat (usually butter) and flour mixture. I use oil to lower the fat content, and use more in ratio to the flour. This helps prevent lumping, and is easier than the regular method of heating the milk before putting it in.

White Sauce- makes approx. 1 cup

3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, about 1/4 teaspoon each

Heat the oil over medium heat, and add in the flour. Whisk together until smooth, and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes, but do not allow to brown in color. Add in the milk slowly, while whisking continuously. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 2 minutes, sauce will thicken. Add in the salt and pepper to taste, and stir together.

This recipe can be adapted to use as a gravy, by simply incorporating pan drippings and the browned bits into the sauce. In the start, pour off any extra fat from the drippings, and add in some additional oil as needed. Then, just continue with the recipe.
For a cheese sauce, add in 1/4- 1/2 cup of cheese (I like cheddar) at the end.

Over these next few weeks I'll be adding in more basic recipes, so come back and visit often. Or, subscribe to MAHM so you won't miss any posts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

got time - for blogging?

It seems every time I tune into one of my favorite blogs these days, there's an article on how to manage time with family vs. time with blogging. Everyone's talking about time management for blogging, especially other mommy bloggers. It's an important topic- how can we find a balance with spending our time? We want to be with our families, and yet can feel sucked in by the computer.
This isn't just a blogging issue- even before I started this site I often felt I was coming up short in different areas. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing more on this issue, and giving you some of my ideas- hopefully they'll help you feel a little less overwhelmed.
My first trick is deceptively simple- pick an offline day. For me, Sundays are off-limits for online time. I don't always stick to this completely (I cheated yesterday, and excused it by saying that I didn't go online until my kids were sleeping, and DH wasn't there, and almost all of Friday and Saturday I was with my family enjoying the late summer.) The making excuses wasn't my finest moment, and the slipping up wasn't a high note either. Usually, though, I stick to it- completely turning my computer off and hiding it upstairs. It's not easy, but it's a good way to remember that the computer really isn't the center of our lives.
How do you keep your family priorities first? Share your tips, and don't forget to check back for more later this week.

Friday, August 14, 2009

fun food Friday

This is a second edition of fun food Fridays (for last weeks see FFF.) I want to elaborate on some ideas to help you get some actual nutrition into your kids’ mouths! Last week one of the tips I shared was sneaking veggies into lasagna. Now, we’ll talk about how far this one dish can go.

  1. A favorite in our house is squash lasagna- I substitute the noodles for strips of yellow summer squash. Just cut the top and bottom of, and slice down lengthwise into thin strips, then cook. Layer these with a ricotta-mozzarella mixture, and your favorite marinara sauce. Bake as usual.
  2. Looking for more? Add in some diced or puréed cauliflower, or silken tofu, to the ricotta cheese mixture- both will add creaminess and nutrition.
  3. Still not enough? How about some extras for the marinara? Try diced or puréed carrots or sweet potatoes. Both of these add in some sweetness to counteract the acidity of tomatoes in marinara, especially if you make your own.

I hope this inspires you to try a new way of getting your family to enjoy your favorite foods in a new, more nutritious way. These tips also work well in other dishes, including ravioli and other pastas, so use your imagination.

For more great family-friendly tips, tricks and posts, see Family Friday at Homemaker Barbi. http://http//

I love your comments, please leave me your feedback and any tips you’d like to share. Remember to follow make-a-home, or add me on friend connect- don’t miss any of these tips.

Friday menu planning

Sat: B: pancakes with blueberries (make extra pancakes and freeze)
L: a BBQ at SIL’s house- I’ll be making some salads, including potato and pasta
D: tilapia, crusted with pistachios over mango salsa, rice pilaf (make extra rice for Mon.)
Sun: (cooking day) B: shirred eggs Florentine, bacon.
L: sandwiches, fruit salad. Bake bread for this week, extra dough in freezer for Thurs. pizzas
D: pork chops with apples and gravy, mashed potatoes
Mon: (crockpot day) sweet and sour pork (from Sun. leftovers) serve over rice (Sat.)
Tues: chicken “fried” steak (I bake it instead) with cream gravy, salad, biscuits
Wed: homemade chicken nuggets (also baked), broccoli slaw
Thurs: (fridge day) clean out refrigerator day- grilled pizzas
Fri: (veggie day- no meat) pasta primavera
On Tuesday and Friday, I’ll be making use of my easy “béchamel” sauce- a simple white sauce. I make mine without cream to reduce fat- check in on Tuesday for the recipe.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Easy as 1,2,3 crockpot meals

Easy as 1,2,3 is inspired by one of my favorite cooking shows, 5 Ingredient Fix. Claire Robinson uses only 5 ingredients (not including salt, pepper, and water) to make each dish. What I love about this show is that she really cooks, and doesn’t use prepared items.
My take- easy as 1,2,3- will feature 3 ingredients per dish (not including salt, herbs, spices, oil and water/broth.) I hope you will enjoy these upcoming recipes, and be inspired yourself. Real cooking can be real easy.
Today it’s a rainy day- and I love to bake when it’s raining out. It warms the kitchen, and my oldest son likes to “help-” keeping him occupied. On baking days, though, I don’t really ever feel like making dinner, it’s just too much kitchen time. Added to the idea of having a comforting hot meal on a rainy day, and the crockpot is the perfect answer. Here is a favorite of mine, and it’s as easy as 1,2,3
Chicken “Mole”
3 cups cooked chicken, shredded
Mole Sauce
1 ½ cups beef broth
½ cup tomato paste
¼ cup cocoa powder
2-3 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
This is an untraditional mole sauce, but the results are quite flavorful. Simply mix the broth and tomato paste directly in your crockpot. Blend the cocoa and chili powders, cinnamon and salt in a bowl, then add into the crockpot. Turn temperature to low, and add in the chicken. Cook for 3-4 hours. If you wish to use uncooked chicken, it will need 6-8 hours to cook through. Serve with heated tortillas.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

easy chicken and dumplings

ahh, chicken and dumplings- the perfect comfort food. In the past, I had so many issues with dumplings, until a few years ago. I (in desperation) turned to the ever-faithful Fannie Farmer cookbook-and my dumplings have never caused me stress since. I always make this with leftover chicken- it's easy and only takes as long as the dumplings need to cook.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons chopped parsley (optional)

Mix flour, breadcrumbs, baking powder and salt together. Add in the milk, egg, butter, and parsley, mixing well. Drop by spoonfuls into a pot of simmering chicken broth and chopped cooked chicken. Only drop as many dumplings as will fit in one layer- you might need to do two batches depending on the size of your pot. Cover and steam for about 10-15 minutes.
When I make this, I'll double or triple the dry ingredients, then store the extra in the pantry so I don't have to mix it all up the next time.
This is such a quick way to make this favorite- I hope you'll try it and enjoy! Leave a comment or share some of your favorite easy mealtime recipes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Monday deal alert

Monday is my set day to go through circulars, pick out weekly deals and match 'em up with coupons. I also go online to some of my favorite deal sites to see what's coming up in the next week. Today, the deal alert is- Kmart doubles! Next week, starting the 16th, Kmart will be having super doubles at selected stores. You can contact Customer Service, or call your local store to find out if your store is participating. (CS is a better bet- most of the time the store managers don't really know what's coming.) Super doubles are double manufacturer's coupons up to $2- making your savings up to $4!! Restrictions apply, CS email will advise you of them. Will you be having a doubles at your store? If so, anything special you'll be getting? Leave us a line.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

decluttering, organizing and cleaning and - oh my!

DOC- Decluttering, Organizing and Cleaning- Tales from an (almost) reformed clutterbug and general slob

Homemaking is a topic that includes so many different things- cooking, housekeeping- that everyone will have natural strengths and weaknesses. Cooking has always been easy for me- my whole family cooked, and my mom is great at everything food related. Unfortunately, I didn't inherit her talent for housekeeping.
I'm a packrat by nature- saving everything I can stuff into every crevice things can be stuffed into. What's more, I always hated the basic housekeeping tasks of cleaning, like vacuuming, laudry, and dishes. Even after moving in with Mr. Shelley and having the baby, I could not muster up a desire to take care of the houe. Not until after I became pregnant the second time did I realize that I could keep house without being a neat freak, and that I could actually learn to enjoy having a clean house for me.
Deciding to teach myself how to keep up our home was for the best thing I could have done for my whole family. Over the next few weeks, I'll share how I got started, and how to make your own systems. A system is just a set way of doing things- and it's all about whatever works best for you and your family. Systems are there to make your life easier.
One of my first steps, and a good place to start, is to identify one or two main goals, and then figure out how housekeeping will work towards those goals. It can be that you just want a cleaned house, a simplified life, or (like for me) that you're family would be better off with a housekeeping system in place. (Especially if you're significant other is frustrated by your lack of cleaning!) Write down the goals and how they factor into housekeeping- this will keep you going in the days and weeks ahead when you feel like giving in.

Keep checking in next week for more in the DOC series. First up, decluttering...not as scary or hard as it sounds, I promise.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Friday menu planning

a little more info on my meal planning (see last week's for the basics) - I try to make one ingredient work for at least two meals, saving money and avoiding waste. For instance, on Wednesday I'll use ricotta (on sale!) to make the pierogi dough, but it won't use the whole container. So on Friday I use the rest up for lasagna. Also repeating this week is the summer squash. Does your meal plan feature in extra ingredients from previous days? Please share...

Sat: B: muffins
L: sandwiches, fruit salad and yogurt
D: grilled chicken (extra for Mon.) grilled zucchini and squash “panzanella”-bread salad
Sun: (cooking day) B: breakfast burritos (make extra tortillas), make mixes for the week (pancake mix, dumpling mix)
L: catfish nuggets breaded and baked as fish sticks, green salad (use some leftover chicken to make chicken salad for lunches) D: Spaghetti and meatballs (make extra meatballs and sauce to keep in freezer)
Mon: (crockpot day) ham, green beans and potatoes cooked in broth with savory
Tues: (leftovers) chicken and dumplings
Wed: pierogies, salad
Thurs: (fridge day) weekly clean out refrigerator day
Fri: (veggie day- no meat) squash “lasagna” use cooked summer squash as noodles, spread with ricotta and mozzarella, marinara sauce

fun food friday (for Family Friday on HB)

One of my favorite places to find tips on all kinds of subjects is in Woman's Day. I've actually been reading this magazine since I was a kid, I loved the household ideas-my shortcoming has always been housekeeping and (before I had my own family) learning to stay on a budget.
A section I've learned to appreciate since having my kids is the eat well- family meals. In the back of each issue, a mom shares her secrets for getting your kids to eat a little better (or at all if you have toddlers!) In this spirit, every Friday I will do a fun food Friday, when I share some of my tips and tricks for family-friendly cooking. Visit the title link for more family Friday goodies on
One of the hardest mealtime struggles for moms, especially with younger kids, is green vegetables. Full of vitamins B and C, as well as minerals, veggies like broccoli, peas, and leafy greens are no doubt good for you. How can you convince kids they're just plain good?
  1. Try serving raw, especially for leafys. My son loves to eat salad, especially with a yogurt dressing. I let him dip the leaves for added dinner fun.
  2. If you're cooking things like broccoli, try just steaming lightly, as a bonus more of the nutrition is retained this way.
  3. Try adding them to favorite dishes, like peas in a chicken soup, or a white pizza with spinach or broccoli.
  4. Give it time, it can take 3,4, (or 10!) times before a child will learn to love something new.
  5. If all else fails, try hide-and-don't seek: tiny dices of broccoli or spinach can go in lasagna, meatloaf or hamburgers. Or blender up cooked peas (think homeade baby food) and add it pretty much anywhere.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration for making kid-approved meals with the least kid-friendly of ingredients. Leave a comment, or tell me how you get your kids to eat their veggies.

Look back later for Friday meal planning.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

beverage alternatives

Two of my favorite blogs have recently written about saving money by substituting water for soda. I gave up soda (again) after become addicted (again) while I was pregnant. It's an on-again off-again relationship for me.
However, I can't seem to drink more than 1-2 glasses of plain water. I know, I know, I should train myself to love the flavor. On the other hand, it is summer still, so I've been making my own easy twist on the classic summer sipper lemonade. Limeade- yummy!

Shelley's Limeade (makes 4 servings- 32 oz.)

1/4 cup simple syrup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from approx 4-6 limes)
4 cups water

To make simple syrup, boil 1 part water, add in 1 part sugar and stir until sugar dissolves, and cool. Make a large batch, it keeps well refrigerated.

Combine the syrup, lime juice, and water in a large glass over ice.

This recipe may be changed up to suit your own tastes with other citrus juices, or by adding some mint leaves, etc. Add more or less syrup to your own preference, as necessary.

This is so much cheaper than soda and juices, and has less added sugar too. Leave a comment and tell me how you fit in alternatives to sodas, or send me some recipes of your own.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

a real Housewife

Want more info on mahm? It's like Bree (on Housewives) but more real...
I admit I can be (often) a bit more crass than class, but enough people have called me Martha Stewart that I figured I would embrace my own inner (and imperfect) domestic goddess.
So many of live on the advice of "experts" but how many of these people really do what they talk about? My own experience has been that the best advice comes from people like you and me- real people who really do the things they tell us about. That being said,
I will often collect tips and information from my own favorite sources. Please feel free to send me ideas you feel fit in with make a home- I love to hear what you're loving and what's been helping you out lately. Coming tomorrow- a few of my favorite things- tricks and tips from real-life experts.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

buying seafood

For today I am excerpting a piece I recently wrote for Helium. To see more, follow the title to link, or visit

Experts say we should eat seafood twice a week for its nutritional value, but how can you tell if the fish is as fresh as possible? It may seem like a daunting task, but a few clues can help to guide you through the process.
First of all, make sure that the store you purchase your fish from has a high traffic of consumers. As long as there are a lot of customers coming through, the seafood will be rotated out at a constant rate, and it will remain fresh. On the other hand, if there are very few people buying from the store, then the fish will just be sitting around. It will certainly not be in its prime. Also, the quality of the stock will be affected by the cleanliness of the vendor. Therefore, it is important to take the time to examine the seafood area thoroughly.
When you first approach the counter, you should notice a scent that reminds you of the ocean. There should absolutely not be an overly “fishy” odor, which indicates that the fish has been sitting around for a long time. In addition, give a cursory glance to the back area where the workers fillet and package the fish. Make sure it is cleared of anything that should not be there, such as any remaining bones or heads that were removed after filleting. Finally, check to see that the seafood selections are always kept very cold, preferably on crushed ice. As for the fish itself, there are a few easy tips to remember which will help you to ensure maximum freshness.
1. The fish should have firm flesh and shiny skin, not be “watery” looking or slimy.
2. For whole fish, check the eyes: they should be clear and bright instead of cloudy.
3. Finally, look at the signs which indicate origin- more local fish will usually be fresher.

When you have purchased your fish, make sure that you store it properly- refrigerated immediately, and kept for no more than a day or two before cooking and serving. As long as you purchase your fish from a reputable source, and use the tips above to help you gauge the freshness, you can feel confident that your seafood will be quite enjoyable and fit for wonderful meals.

Please comment below, and visit my page on Helium. How do you buy seafood, and where from? Share any favorite recipes with me,or check back next week for some of mine.

Monday, August 3, 2009

next food network star

I am so excited... Melissa wins the next food network star! She was my favorite from the very beginning. So knowledgable and easy-to-connect to- I can't wait to see her shows. For more on the show, see
She is such an inspiration for all us at-home moms. Remember, be youself, and do what you do best. Make a home is all about helping you find your own way.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yard Sale!

I love yard sales- though I'll admit a preference to shopping over selling. Scoring a great deal is one of my favorite things. However, DH (wisely) prohibited me from bringing anything in until I take some things out - like the old standby organizing trick: one in, one out. So I'm having a sale today, hoping to make some space (and some money.) If you're in the need of help organizing, check back next week for some of my tips, or in the meantime check out a great site- Flylady at - she has some great information. What's your favorite organizing quick trick?


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