Monday, July 30, 2012

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

I use mason jars for everything and matter of fact, I have tons of them around the house.

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Some are in use, others are just sitting on shelves waiting. But they don't wait around for long because I'm always finding different uses for them.

For a while I've loved the look of the mason jars with the pump lid for dispensing soap in your kitchen or bathroom, but I didn't want to have to buy them when they're so easy to make.

I figured that it needed a hole in the lid for the pump to fit through. So let me show you how I made this one.

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Liquid Soap of your choosing, mine is Lavender (of course). A mason jar, a big nail, hammer, and a pair of pliers.

The first thing I did was find the middle of the lid, then using the hammer and nail I poke a hole through it. Of course it's not big enough for the pump to fit through, so I then took the pliers and going in from inside of the lid, I pulled back the sides of the hole.

Kept doing that and trying the pump to see if it would fit. Once it got big enough for the pump to fit through snuggly I removed the pump........then with my hammer I pounded the sharp edges down around the hole, replaced the pump and used my hot glue gun to glue it in place.

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

Fill the jar with the soap and pop the lid on tightly. That's it!

Now usually the most common look is using the rusted lids, but I didn't have any of those around and again, I didn't want to spend extra money, just wanted to use what I already had on hand :)

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

This one is for my kitchen.........

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser

and it sits on my sink. I love it :)

I already made another two for the bathrooms, just have to get more liquid soap to fill them up.

Happy Homemaker Monday #29

Oh I'm so tired this morning.   Hubby has to be up at 4:30am this week and that means I get up at the same time to fix him coffee and lunch.  I don't mind doing it for him, but when you don't get to bed until after 10pm, that morning rolls around really fast doesn't it???

Our older pug Bella also spent a restless night climbing off and back onto the bed, which kept me awake.  So I'm tired, like super mega tired and I'm hoping coffee and prayer gets me through today's housework.

Onto our Happy Homemaker Monday! 

If you want to save and use the new button, just click here.

The Weather:::
80 degrees and cloudy skies this morning.  We had another dust storm blow through around dinner time last night, and then a few sprinkles but not much at all.  I'm hoping the weather stays cloudy and this cool for the rest of the day and I wouldn't mind some good rain showers.

On my reading pile:::
From the Kindle Fire -  Love Finds you in Amana, Iowa.  I really really really love this series :)
From the bookshelf   -  The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick  

On my tv:::
I have three episodes of Starlings to catch up on.
Won't even mention Hollow Crown, I'm so far behind, matter of fact haven't watched a single one. 
My Portuguese soaps - currently watching 3 of them.
Warehouse 13

On the menu for this week:::

Monday -  Spaghetti with Garlic Cheese Bread
Tuesday - Ranch Chicken Thighs
Wednesday -  *Grocery shopping...have to make the new menu today*
Thursday -
Friday -
Saturday -
Sunday  - 

On my to do list:::
Iron and put away laundry
Make the new Menu Plan and Grocery List
Get the first school lessons ready and make folders for this years material

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::
Sail away crochet wall decoration.   Finishing the newest crochet pillow, probably today.


Homemaking Tips:::
Dusting.  Something that I have to fight with constantly in this house, it still gets to me how much more dusting I need to do as compared to when we lived in Idaho.  Then again, it's a desert here, there's nothing but dirt around so it's to be expected.

I've stopped dusting with dusting spray.  Stopped quick a while ago, because I would get the sneezes everytime I did and frankly, it didn't do the job.  I find it much easier to use a damp rag.  Just squeeze it really well to get all the water out, you want it just slightly damp, then dust in the usual faction.

It works SO much better and it's much healthier than having all those chemicals sprayed all over your home.

Looking around the house:::
It's very very quiet in here, and dark too.  We have some cloudy skies and the sun is just starting to rise, peeking through the clouds.  It looks pretty!
I hear the fish tank in the background and my dishwasher in the kitchen.  I have two snoring pugs next to me on the couch and aside from their breathing, just the tapping of my keys on the laptop.
Kids are still in bed.  The living room needs to be straightened out as always when Monday rolls around and everyone is home for the weekend. 

From the camera:::
I love candlelight and to me, one of the most beautiful moments of the day are in the evening right after dinner and before bedtime.  When the kitchen is clean and quiet and sleepy.   


On my prayer list:::
No one in particular and everyone I know, if that makes sense? 

Bible verse, Devotional:::
We often think if life were smooth
We would a better witness be;
But God knows best—that faith midst trials
Can honor Him more powerfully. —Cetas

Sunday, July 29, 2012

As the day comes to an end.........


I reflect on how I spent my weekend.

Relaxing!  To put it simply.

Yesterday afternoon we spent the afternoon watching the Olympics and when nothing of interest was on, we watched The Lord of the Rings, and I crocheted.


Sail Away!

The minute I saw this pattern at Bunny Mummy, I just knew it was the perfect little wall decoration for our Homeschooling Area.

Isn't it adorable?

And this morning, I started on another pillow for my collection.


We were out earlier this afternoon and made a quick stop at a new Goodwill near us. I had to grab these baskets, I couldn't leave them behind, and I knew exactly what I wanted them for.



All my knitted dishcloths are in one, fabric paper towels in the other, and my lotions in the third. The fourth one I'm actually using on my table next to my couch, it holds my crochet needle and my current crochet project.


Found two cookbooks which caught my eye. Hay Day Country Market Cookbook and Incredible Edibles.


And also picked up this adorable garden pot which now uses my basil.


I think it looks wonderful on my kitchen sill :)


Just a little peek above my stove


Dinner time came around pretty quick, so for the hungry family, I made some delicious Chicken Stroganoff which includes bacon, and you know that is a winner right?


You can find the recipe on the food blog.


Now dishes are done, kitchen is clean and I'm going to sit down with my crochet and relax in the quiet of my living room.


One of my favorite ways to spend the evening, is to sit quietly on my favorite chair, listening to my children talk amongst themselves or having a funny animated conversation with my husband.

It's a simple joy!

Sunday thoughts - Pursuit of the Simple Life

This journey that I find myself on, is not an easy one.

On the one hand, I do my best to return to simpler times, but on the other hand it's like being up a creek without a paddle.

In this day and age where everything is so dependent on technology, I often think that things have come NOT to simplify our lives, but to make them harder.  To distance people from each other, to create disharmony and heartache.

More often than not, I find that I want to completely remove myself from these things, from this way of life, and to dive even deeper into the simple.  The home, the family concept, the sometimes harder way of doing things but with so many more rewards.

So many times I am asked why.  Why do you want to go back to simple times?

Why would you want to wash dishes by hand instead of having the dishwasher do it? 
Why struggle with hanging clothes on the line when you can just throw them in the dryer?
Why would you want to make your own homemade products when they're in the store available to buy?
Why do you want to cook from scratch when you can just purchase everything ready to make?
Why do you want a homemade dishcloth?
Why make your own candles, or sew a quilt, or crochet a doily?

Why, Why, Why, Why!  Over and over I am asked this question.

In the beginning I felt like I was being attacked, questioned and that I felt I needed to defend myself and my thoughts and actions.  Like I had to explain or try to make people understand why I would rather do these things myself than fall into line with everyone else and go with the flow or the perfect world at your fingertips.

I have been thinking and mentally defining, for many years,  what a simple life means to me.   My goal is voluntary simplicity.

Some stuff has never made me happy.  Ok, I won't lie and say that I don't use modern things, of course I do, but it's never satisfied me completely.  In the moment you think "great, that is so helpful", but then I always found myself feeling unsatisfied, unhappy, low on the happiness meter. 

Day 28

Less is more.  I know, I know, for some it means getting rid of all those things that we fill our lives with.  Unnecessary things, I believe.

You know what captivates me?  Pictures of simple cottages with a house that is not cluttered with electronics and the latest gadgets.  THAT makes me happy.

I want to be able to look around my home and smile, and I want to be able to look at what surrounds me and know exactly where it came from and how it got here.  The handmade things by me or others, knowing that time and effort and much love went into them.

Living a simple life doesn't mean you have to pack up and move to the middle of nowhere.  Though I would be remiss if I said that is not my dream, to live in the country, to have a garden, to have chickens and a cow for fresh milk and fields to run through.

But for now, it means being happy where I am.  Being content with what I have.

More specifically, feeling like I'm living for God, and for me, and for my family.  That I'm not just looking for the easy way out and for the things that are supposed to make my life easier.

I would rather take more time, do things slowly and really be able to appreciate the time I put into them.

So onwards and forwards.  I'll get there some day, but I'm having a blast right now, learning the skills that pioneer women excelled at.

Bread baking, pie making, candle making, quilt making, braiding a rug, canning and preserving.......making do.

Do you live a simple life?  What does it mean for you?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stay organized while the kids are home

I think this has to be the most common question I get through emails and facebook and comments.

I will start by saying that I am no expert on this subject, I'm just a normal stay at home mom like so many others out there, learning as I go, experimenting, trying, sometimes failing etc.

But over the years I have found things that work for me, granted my children are now 13 and 9 years old which makes things so much easier, but to an extent my way of doing things still applies.

Just this morning I had another one of these questions on the facebook page, and instead of writing a huge entry on there, I thought it would be easier to put in a post, who knows, it may help someone else out there with some ideas.  Again keep in mind that just because it works for me, doesn't mean that it's failproof or that it will work for everyone else, but it might give you a starting point to develop a plan for your family :)


Many don't follow a specific routine, and I will tell you that while I had an actual written out routine when my children were little, now I don't.  I just have chores that I know need to get done daily, like washing dishes, tidying up, sweeping, cleaning the countertops, making the beds etc.   It's just a part of my day and something I'm used to doing so I almost do it as if on auto pilot.

But if you need to stick to a list, then draw one up of the things you think need to be done every single day and allow yourself at least an hour to get them done.  The key here is not to overwhelm yourself and do everything in one day, I've learned over the years that if I stay on top of the housework then I don't end up with tons of work on the weekend when I should be relaxing and enjoying time with the family.

In that routine, include an hour of mommy time.  It doesn't matter what you'll be doing, even something as simple as just sitting on the couch with a book, crocheting or knitting, or watching a favorite show.  Have that coincide with the kids naps, of course now that my children are older it's much easier because they'll read a book or watch a tv show quietly or play on their laptops etc.

 Menu Planning

I can't tell you enough how much menu planning helps, especially during the younger years with toddlers.

There's nothing worse than having a hungry child and  standing there still trying to figure out what you're going to make for dinner.  Plan right down to the breakfast and lunch, trust me, it makes all the difference in the world.

Before you go to bed the night before, pull out any meat that needs to be thawed and set in the refrigerator, in the morning you can just put it in the sink.  If you can, on the days that you know you're going to be extra busy, use your crockpot.

Include your kids 

If you turn cleaning and tidying up into a game, then you will get what you need done AND at the same time keep your children entertained AND teach them some valuable lessons.

I always made cleaning up the toys into a game.  Each kid got a little basket and they would run around filling them up.

Doing dishes?  I would pull up a chair and let them help me rinse them or even just play with soap bubbles, they got to splash the water around the sink, thought it was the coolest thing on earth, and I got my dishes done.

Cooking?  Let them stir, let them add things to the bowl.  As they get older you can teach them how to cut up veggies or stir a pot on the stove.  But always with you standing right there.

Teach them how to make their own beds.  Fight the urge to go in after them and fix it LOL  Trust me, I wanted so many times to make it right, but it's THEIR bed and they're learning and therefore it should be left alone.

Doing laundry?  Let them sort into colors, again, you're getting help but they're also learning :)

I think overall the best advice I can give you, is to not overdo it.  You don't HAVE to do everything today, break your chores up into rooms, done one each day.  Or do a load of laundry each day, wash, fold, and put away immediately.

Most importantly though, make some time for the things you enjoy, you have to nourish your own soul during the day or homemaking will turn into just unpleasant chores that make you feel unhappy. 

Don't be hard on yourself.  I remember in my earlier marriage years, if I didn't absolutely do everything each day I felt horrible, like I was failing, not doing my part in the home.  Problem was that I was trying to do way too much and trying to create the perfect home according to society as opposed to creating the perfect home for your family.

A home is to be lived in, it's not a museum.

It doesn't need to be untidy and dirty, but there should be signs that human beings live, love and laugh daily.

Simple things make your home cozy, for me:

Handmade items
Crochet blankies draped over chairs
Beautiful books on the coffee table

What says cozy to YOU?

All images in this post were found through Google.

Cooking Thursday - Homemade Mocha Frappe

Good morning.  Hope your week is going well so far, can you believe it's Thursday already?????

Goodness time really does fly.  Well I'm up bright and early this morning, so this is going up earlier than usual, YAY!

Here's a delicious beverage for these hot summer days.   I always enjoy one with my hubby, sitting outside on the patio under the umbrella.

Homemade Mocha Frappe

3/4 cup double-strength coffee
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups ice
3 Tbsp. Hershey’s Chocolate

Make double-strength coffee by brewing with twice the coffee required by your coffee maker (that should be 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per each cup of coffee).


Then combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until ice is crushed and drink is smooth. Top with whipped cream.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quiet moments

Not every day is go go go go for me.  See, I've learned that if I keep on top of things, I will usually end up with a day during the week that I can devote to my own things.

You know those things I'm talking about, like downloading new books to my Kindle, or cleaning up my photo folders on the computer, embroidering or crocheting or even just sitting on the couch and watching some favorite shows on the tv or the laptop.

I usually consider those my quiet moments because I don't feel rushed to get something done, I can just take my time :)

So that's what I did today, a little of everything.

::::  morning munchies, I still think that some simple toast with butter hits the spot just right


:::: favorite comfy skirt, favorite apron, favorite nail polish....I think I'm ready for the day


:::: straightening out the bedroom, and remaking the bed


:::: my embroidered vintage pillowcase


:::: and the prettiness continues through to the bed skirt (needs to be ironed again I'm noticing)


:::: started on my kitchen towels


:::: noticed that I'm running low on eggs


:::: afternoon snack


:::: dinner time....slow cooked beef stew served in homemade bread bowls


In between all this, I updated my Kindle with some books I downloaded a week or so ago, just had to transfer them over, here's what I got:

Terry Pratchett - The Long Earth (for my husband who is a HUGE Terry Pratchett fan) - download
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa (free for now, grab it quick) - download
Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves - download
Days of Splendor Days of Sorrow by Juliet Grey
Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor
Plain Fear Forsaken by Leanna Ellis
Colter's Promise by Maya Banks - Download
Falling Fast by Sophie McKenzie - Download
Queen Hereafter:  A Novel of  Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King

I still have quite a few more to transfer over, but I'll leave that for another day.  I just love opening up my Kindle and having such a wide variety of books to pick from.  :)

I think I'll go do just that, find a good one and settle in for a little reading, besides I also have Haunted Collector and School Spirits on the TV tonight.

Hope you're all having a great week so far and don't forget to come back tomorrow for Cooking Thursday :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Busy homemaking day

I often wonder what some people think when they say things like "but you're just a homemaker, must be nice to stay at home and relax". HA!

While we do have the benefit of being in our home and surrounded by our things all day long, and if we're feeling unwell, we can lay down for a few minutes etc......homemaking is NOT exactly an easy job.  Ask any housewife or stay at home mom, matter of fact the term Stay at Home Mom kind of irks me in a way, it makes what we do seem so miniscule.  But that is a whole other post and a whole other can of worms.

I start my days at 5:30am and don't end them until 10pm.

I'm not sitting around doing nothing, matter of fact I always have something going on, something to do, something to clean, something to tidy up.  There are days that I end up not doing everything that needs to be done because there just aren't enough hours in the day.  And these are the summer days, when school time comes around add in school work on top of every other task.

But though my words above may give the impression that I'm complaining, I am really not.  See, I grew up surrounded by wonderful women who always taught me about housework, who instilled in me a joy for being a homemaker, for wanting to take care of my family, for making cute things for the home, cooking and even appreciating cleaning because it's not just a's about providing for your family and since I don't have a job outside the home, this is MY job and by golly I will do it right and take pleasure in it.

I strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  It's not easy, oh boy is it not easy, but I think it's definitely something to strive for.

So I had a busy homemaking day, just how I like it :)

Starting with breakfast which for me was just a yogurt this time


and while I ate breakfast and drank my coffee, I painted my nails a bright neon orange, just because :)


piles and piles of laundry were washed and hung out to dry, and removed and ironed and folded etc.


bread for dinner was set on the counter to rise

Homemade Hamburger Buns

and boy was it good. There is nothing like homemade and if you're having burgers, take the time to make yourself some homemade buns, you won't regret it

Homemade Hamburger Buns

while the laundry dried and the dishes washed in the dishwasher, I sat down for a few minutes to post some recipes on the food blog, like this one for Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

and this one for Country Club Chicken, which you HAVE to try

Country Club Chicken

after vacuuming and sweeping and while the kids ate lunch, I quickly traced some embroidery patterns onto some kitchen towels I am making


aren't they adorable? You can download the pattern from Alicia at Posie gets Cozy, right here.


while stepping outside to gather the laundry from the line, this cloud caught my attention, it looks like a kitty to me


dinner time rolled out pretty fast and before I knew it, I was back in the kitchen fixing burgers

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

these are fantastic, check out the Herb and Cheese Stuffed Burgers recipe on Full Bellies, Happy Kids :) And they go perfectly with those homemade buns :)

Herb & Cheese Stuffed Burgers

dinner dishes done, kitchen cleaned up and swept, showers taken and the day is coming to an end


another full day of homemaking, another day of smiles on my family's faces and another quick prayer thrown up thanking God for his blessings


but my day wasn't over, because there was still laundry to fold and put away, and that I did, sitting in my pj's, on my comfy bed, watching my show on TV.

I guess what I'm trying to convey is that homemaking chores don't need to be boring.  You don't HAVE to sit there folding laundry staring at nothing.  If you have a laptop, do what I do, find a cute movie or a show on Netflix or Hulu or whatever, and watch it while you iron, fold, put away laundry.

Turn on the radio to some music while you vacuum or sweep or, sing, who cares if someone sees you.

Go outside to hang laundry, but take a moment to breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds, look up at the sky and see the stunning clouds or the cars driving by.

Do the dishes, pray, think, ponder.

Everything you do, do it with pleasure, do it with a smile on your face and you'll notice that you will start enjoying it more.

Cleaning toilets?  Be thankful you HAVE a toilet to clean.
Washing floors?  Be thankful you HAVE a wooden floor and not dirt to step on.
Dusting all the knick knacks?  Be thankful you HAVE so many cute things in your home.
Tripping over kid's toys?  Be thankful you HAVE kids, be thankful you HAVE toys to trip over for far too soon there will be none.

Just be thankful...I think that's the key.  :)

I leave you with a question.  What kind of a homemaker are you?  A Happy Homemaker?  Or a rebellious frustrated homemaker who is still struggling with enjoying the daily chores?

God Bless,