Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cleaner Laundry

Adding baking soda along with the detergent to a load of laundry helps to soften the water allowing the detergent to do a better job. If you live in an area with hard water and your clothes are looking a little dingy or not as soft as they should be, adding 2 tablespoons to 1/2 a cup of baking soda to your wash could make a difference. Start out with a little baking soda and work your way to more each time until you find the right amount for you.
You might be using too much laundry detergent. Usually you can cut back on your detergent and still have clean clothes. If you are using too much detergent your laundry may not be rinsing clean and that could be why it looks gray or dingy; or not be as soft as it use to be. I use about half of the recommended detergent now and my laundry turns out very nice.  I also like to put ½ cup of white vinegar instead of fabric softener in the rinse. The vinegar helps to remove lasting detergents in the rinse cycle making for softer clothing. However, since cutting back on the detergent and adding baking soda, I find I don’t need the vinegar in the rinse cycle now. I never use a fabric softener.

You can buy baking soda in bulk and save money on detergents, and have nicer looking clothes that feel good too. Not having detergent residue or fabric softeners in your clothing is also a healthier choice.
The really great thing about cutting back on using so much detergent is that since our clothing no longer has residue left behind, I only need to use the baking soda in loads that are really soiled.  The regular loads will be clean with out the addition of baking soda. So, now I’m saving money on baking soda too.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cabbage, Ham and Rice

My husband and I love ham and I stock up on whole hams when they are on sale. Ham is inexpensive compared to other meats and I often still find it for under a $1 a pound.  I don’t buy the spiral cut hams because they seem to dry out too much when they are baked and are usually a little more expensive. I love to cut big chunks off a freshly baked ham and serve it with scalloped potatoes and green beans.
I love the leftovers too and we can get several days of meals from one ham; we don’t mind having the same kind of meat over and over through out the week. The chopped leftovers are frozen to be later added to scrambled eggs, soup and bean dishes.
One of my favorite ways to use left over ham is with cabbage and rice; it's a nice combination of flavors. Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable, low calorie and super healthy. I didn’t do a step by step pictorial for you on this recipe but it is so simple that you don’t really need one. I apologize right up front here that the photo of the end product isn’t so tasty looking; I wasn’t thinking about blogging this dish when I was preparing it and only remembered to take a picture just before it hit our plates.

Amounts of all ingredients can be varied as well as seasoning amounts; just experiment a little and see what you like best. Of course you don’t have to make the recipe in whole but can cut it in half if you like, but we like leftovers for lunch the next day so I make the whole recipe. This recipe also works well with bacon or a sausage such as kielbasa. I’ve tried it with chicken and beef too but you will need to adjust your seasonings some and perhaps add soy or teriyaki sauce.

To make this dish I use a large 14 inch stainless steel skillet with a lid; I heat oil or butter (butter is yummy with this) on medium heat.
To that I add chopped cabbage and onion keeping the lid on the skillet, stirring occasionally. You can do this with out a lid if you want but keep an eye on the cabbage as not to burn it. Using a lid brings out the water in the veggies and steams the cabbage and onion while it is sauteing.
Then I add ham, cooked rice (I usually use brown rice but any kind will work, basmati is delicious with this), to the cabbage and onion. Sprinkle over the top powdered ginger, granulated garlic, red pepper flakes (or cayenne but use less!), and salt. Stir well, replace lid for another few minutes until heated through, and serve.
·         1 small head of cabbage, chopped
·         1 small onion, chopped
·         2 cups of cooked ham, chopped
·         2 cups of cooked rice
·         1-2 TB of powdered ginger
·         ½ -1 tsp of granulated garlic
·         1 tsp of red pepper flakes
·         ½-1 tsp of salt
In a large skillet sauté cabbage and onion until soft and lightly browned.  Add ham and rice, stir in seasonings to taste. Heat through and serve.
Pretty simple and taste really good, a very inexpensive meal, and healthy too.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When You Give a Girl a Needle…..

My daughter in law and I worked on a sewing project together a while back, and either she was holding back on me or she has some major talent. Let me show you what I mean.

First she made this blanket, stitched it herself all by hand. Then she learned to make hair bows for Rose.

Of course a bow holder would be nice to show off all those bows. I understand someone will be receiving a personalized one of these for their birthday this weekend. :)

But, she also wanted a holder for the headbands too! And it doesn't stop there!

Now look what she has made with left over fabric from the blanket! She has friends who want these too. Let me tell you how she made this embellished baby wipes holder. It’s much easier than it looks, and makes a great gift.

First she cut a piece of fabric about an inch larger (all the way around) than the wipes holder cover for the top. Then she cut another one for the bottom. With a hot glue gun in one hand she covered the top of the holder a section at a time pressing the fabric into the glue, keeping it tight and smooth, making sure to leave that extra fabric around the edges.

When she had it all covered, the excess fabric was cut away leaving a little bit to just go over the edge of the holder top.  The fabric was hot glued down around the edges. She repeated the process on the bottom. Next the trim was added over the top, and then around the edges using the hot glue, pressing firmly and smoothing as she went. Embellish as much as you like with these; she chose a twisted fabric flower to decorate the top of this one.
When you give a girl a needle, she gains confidence, and makes the world a more beautiful place. Great job! What’s next?

Update: The zebra fabric that she used on this cover was thick and the line of the glue bead didn't show through. When a thin fabric was used, the glue made bumps that showed through the fabric. Try using a piece of batting under the fabric or another thick piece of solid color fabric under your decorative top fabric. Test it to see if the color or pattern of the bottom fabric shows through before you commit to it with the glue gun. I'm sure there is another type of glue out there that could be used that wouldn't leave a ridge, but I don't know what kind it would be.  Any ideas? Please let us know if you do. Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day!
I hope you all will excuse me if I write a short note to my sons and sons in law? Three of them became fathers this past year, one for the first time, and the other for the second time; and the third for the second and third time, (twins) and I am so proud of them! They are men of integrity, men that make Father’s Day a truly special day in the lives of their wives and children. Thank you my sons, for making your mother so proud! For honoring me and blessing me by the way you love and take care of your families. I love you so much!
To the man of the house (my house that is) you have proved once again this year what a great dad and grandfather you truly are. You are ‘Papa, the man, the legend’ for sure! (I saw that on a t-shirt!) But you are my legend, and I love you. Thank you for putting up with me J
And I want to honor my father who is in Heaven now.  I still miss him, his guidance and the security I felt when he was still with us. He was a larger than life kind of person. Back when I was still a single mother, I was missing him so much and wished I could just talk to him for a little while.  I wrote him a letter instead; it’s below and I hope you enjoy it.
I love you daddy!

Dear Dad,
Last week Joseph got that job he had wanted. He’s really working hard and I feel so proud of him. It’s great to see your kids be successful. Somehow you feel all your worth as a person, your personal contribution to this life depends on how your children turn out. But then I guess you would know.
Lynn has moved out. She’s on her own now. Strange how that empty room makes me feel, like I lost my arm or something. But then I guess you would know about that.
Like, how it feels when you work so hard to see a task completed, involved in every detail, only to step back and wait to see how it turns out all on its own. You can’t do anymore. Just wait. But there is so much left to do.
Tony is doing fine too.  Great grades at school, almost as tall as me!! I want him to be small again so we can cuddle on the couch and watch cartoons. Guess those days are over. No more playing Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. Gee, makes me feel old, of not much use anymore. But then I guess you know.
They have so many things out there to help you be a parent when your child is small; we celebrate their arrival and all through the many things of growing up. I’ve spent so much time learning, achieving, acquiring for my family, and now when I finally have arranged life and home to fit my kids, they are ready to leave! What do I do with all this wisdom I’ve obtained now; this patience I so painfully learned to possess? What do I fill the rooms of this almost large enough house with? I don’t know how to adjust. But then I guess you know.
Scary this having your kids grow up and leave you stuff. I wonder if they will still need me? I wonder if they will remember to include me in their new lives. What if their spouses don’t want me around; will they ever come home for Christmas? I didn’t know being a parent was like this. No one writes books about this part. Dad, it’s kinda scary. But then I guess you know.
Remember when I thought you were old fashioned and out of touch? I knew so much more than you then. I was wondering Dad, how do I get through all this, could you give me some advice? Tell me what to do, how it felt? Because Dad, I guess you should know.
 *Update: Rereading this I realize that all I learned back then I am using now as a grandmother. Sold the big house and moved into a little one with no yard and for that I have been sorry for since I would have enjoyed seeing my grand kids play where their moms and dads did. I was so stuck in my empty nest syndrome that I couldn't see the big picture. But once again life is full with the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Totth Fairy, and snuggling on the couch to watch cartoons!
© Copyright Family Home and Life -2011    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Arts and Crafts with My Kiddos

All of my grandkids are age 5 and under so there is not really an organized routine or craft plan that we have. I do attempt oraganized crafts at times though; this week will be Father's Day cards. Right now the kids just like to play and explore with the materials I offer them. Mostly they like to paint or use markers; and glue!  A few times I have let them use glitter but aside from the mess they make with it they seem to like shaking it out more than any thing else.  If I didn’t stop them we would soon have all the glitter out on the table and the shaker jar would be empty!
When we use glitter I attach their papers to a thin plastic cutting sheet with an office clip. I purchased these cutting sheets at Wal-Mart 3 to a pack for around $4 I think.  They work great because when you are through with your project you can remove the clipped paper and pour the glitter back in the container, they are very bendable. And watch out for getting glitter in the eyes!
One of my favorite tips when we are crafting or painting is to have a spray bottle of water on hand. I regularly spray the paint trays keeping them wet for the kids. Sometimes they have a hard time with the “dip your brush into the water then onto the paint color then your paper” routine. With the spray bottle keeping the paint ready for them they are free to just paint.

I also spray water onto cloths to use for cleaning hands and the table when we are all done. The spray bottle can stay on the table (we have a dedicated crafting space) and unlike cups of water, the spry bottle won’t spill or evaporate if you leave it out. But at times using a cup of water is necessary.
See my Mason jars holding the craft supplies? In a handy tote of course in case we go outside to create. These are my everyday supplies; my 'special crafts supplies' for special crafts (such as Father's Day cards) are stored out of sight.
Some days I stick to just painting with the kids. We use water colors and tempera paints. I pour the liquid tempera paint in a plastic ice cube tray or on a plate. When I have several artists working on a project who all need paint I use a large glass disk (recycled from a small patio table) that I center on our work table and pour paint on it. Everyone can reach some paint then. You can see the glass disc with paint in use at our Spring Family Day.
Tempera is a step up from regular water colors, it’s thicker and more opaque, and the kids love it.  I don’t let the smallest kids use it, say under age 2 or 3, unless they are good at listening and keep it out of their mouths without being told no.  It says non toxic on the container but still…. I like that tempera paint also works like regular water colors after it is dry; you just need to re-wet it. Then it is not wasted, just used next time. In the ice cube tray or plate, I continue to add the same color paint to the same spot each time we use it.
They like to take their projects home of course but there are always lots of art works left behind.  I use these when I let the oldest ones practice cutting, then the cut pieces are recycled into shapes that can be glued onto a fresh paper at another time. This is a great way to use up those small bits of scrapbooking paper you have left over too.
It makes an interesting looking project with the painted or crayoned designs on the cut shapes. Of course there is always the gluing on of pasta shells, rice and dried beans. We use stickers too and all kids love them but they are one of those things that I usually forego, preferring natural or recycled materials for the kids to experiment with. Kids can empty a sheet of stickers in no time flat and then you have to buy more. At times we go outside and collect things for them to glue on to paper, even dirt, or to things to apply paint to like leaves and press the image onto paper.
The kids like to stamp too.  Sometimes I use a placemat that has a little sponge or give to it with a washable surface like the one in the picture above. Using the office clips again I clip the kid’s papers to these mats. They are great for stamping because of the spongy quality making it easier for the kids to get a good stamp image, and the mats keep their papers from moving around as they work. Sorry, he didn't want to stamp for the picture.
When the youngest of them starts to get bored and the older ones are not through yet, I try to keep the little ones at the table longer by giving them pieces of tape to play with.
It helps prolong the activities at the table and helps me have them all in the same place where I can keep an eye on them all at once.
I always put my smallest kids in the chairs with arms, it keeps them from falling off because they do forget and try to stand or kneel. And aprons are required artist garments for gluing and tempera paint projects. See my thrifty Tote Bag Aprons making technicque here.
One last hard core artist left alone at the table working on “A Rainbow with Rain Drops.” A gift to Gramma :)

It will be fun staying a step ahead of them as they grow. As I look for new ways to expand their creative minds I’ll be expanding my creativeness too.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Little Bits of Savings in a Lot of Ways

   *Join me June 6 for my new Wow Us Wednesdays*

There are many ways to save money, just as there are many ways to save time.  How about saving space in your refrigerator or pantry; saving gas by not making as many trips to the grocery store? What about recycling, and being ‘green’?  And always….. How do we best save our good health?

I like to save money when I can on all my purchases. I try to buy items only when they are on sale stocking up on things I use frequently. Even though I like to stock up on sale items I also like to save space in my home. I also like to save time; I’m a busy person and like to have my time be as productive as possible.
I like to think I’m being green, and I don’t see how you can be green if you purchase things in all that plastic and packaging. Yes I know that the packaging can sometimes be recycled but think of the wasted energy and pollution to create that packaging in the first place, and then all the energy used and pollution created to recycle it.  I would just rather not have it in the first place.  I avoid packaging when I can; of course that’s not always easy and I don’t make a religion out of it. I do try to reduce it though with my purchases.

I want to explain to you how I try to accomplish savings in several of the above areas using apple juice as an example. Most people these days it seems to me, buy apple juice in those large plastic containers.  A lot of individual serving size packages (juice boxes) are also purchased; they work nicely in lunch boxes and for a quick cold drink for the kids. I do not buy apple juice this way. First, it’s in plastic! It takes up a lot of space in the pantry too because it’s big.  I don’t buy individual servings because unless you are a coupon guru you are paying premium prices for that convenience and making a mess of the earth with all that packaging!

Frozen apple juice is concentrated; the packaging is small and mostly biodegradable. The cost of frozen juice is almost half the cost per ounce of what juice in the big plastic jug is. Since the packaging of concentrated frozen apple juice is small, I can buy several on sale stocking up and don’t use up much storage space. Less trips to the store because I have extra in my freezer means gas savings and time savings too. Yes you have to mix the frozen kind up with water but it only takes a minute. If the juice is needed in individual servings then use reusable containers. It only takes a small effort for a big change that adds up after a while. Anything disposable is a money waster in general. Save money, save storage space, save time, and help save the environment.
On one trip to the grocery I checked prices to see how they compared. A top brand apple juice in the plastic gallon size container cost .077 per ounce; or about 62 cents for a small 8 oz juice glass.  The same brand of frozen apple juice cost .041 per ounce; 33 cents for a small 8 oz juice glass.  

But here is how I add it all up. I love to have a glass of cold apple juice and when I do buy juice, I buy frozen for sure. I don’t buy it very often though because we don’t really drink it. Why? I like to save calories too, so instead of drinking calories in juice, I just eat an apple and drink water. At $1.49 per pound, with 3 apples weighing 1.2 pounds, I can buy apples for about 60 cents each. Juice has 120 calories for an 8 oz serving; one apple has about 65 calories. No packaging, all natural, and lots of fiber. Yes the monetary cost is more, but I feel the benefits to my health by eating an apple that has less calories and more fiber is worth it instead of drinking the juice. See how that all works out for little areas of savings in a lot of good ways?
Update: I decided to include applesauce in this post. I purchased a popular brand 48 oz. jar of unsweetened applesauce for $2.79. A 4 oz. serving cost 23 cents with 50 calories, 8 oz. cost 46 cents with 100 calories. The cost is still less per serving than juice, less calories, with the added benefit of the fiber and a more satisfied tummy. It came in a glass jar, easier to recycle, and a more natural product of the earth.

I linked this post at Cornerstone Confessions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You’ve Got Mail!

Isn’t it fun to get a letter in the mail? I mean a real handwritten letter? Kids love to get mail too.  And they love to pretend the mail carrier has delivered something just for them. Today the grandkids where playing house and using plastic ‘letters’ in plastic ‘envelopes’ in the plastic ‘mail box’. Well yuk! I’m not a fan of plastic though I do appreciate all the good things plastic does for us.

So we headed to the craft table room and they addressed real envelopes and wrote letters. They had a good time and they had sooo much more fun playing postman with real envelopes with real letters inside. Just about anything can be a mail box or mail basket.

I often find cards and envelopes for next to nothing at thrift stores and now I have a good use for them.

I know a grandmother or two who would love to get this letter!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tom Haas, Arizona Based Artist

Arroyo Runoff - Salt River Canyon  24" x 36" oil painting by Tom Haas

Tom Haas is a local award winning artist with National appeal that has also taught classes at Scottsdale Artists School. Tom’s work has appeared in many shows and museums throughout the U.S. and he was a guest at the White
House, Washington, D.C., for the 2004 celebration of the Art in Embassies program. Please visit his web site (that I have listed below) for the many attributes, awards and honors Tom has received.
Bulldog Canyon 36" x 48" oil painting by Tom Haas

Tom, who works with oils, is a very versatile artist though most of the paintings I have included today are southwest inspired.

Canyon Hideout 42" x 60" oil by Tom Haas

His ability to paint and control light is wonderful! His brush work is easy and refined. I think I've been in that canyon.

Across the Valley 30" x 24" oil painting by Tom Haas

I love the composition on this one; how the lavender of the flowers pulls you up to the dwellings then to the mountains beyond.

Summer Pond 34" x 34" oil painting by Haas

It seems as if I could reach out and touch those lily pads and draw back wet fingertips. Amazing talent.

Courtyard Entry 24" x 24" oil by Tom Haas

I can hear the birds in the trees and feel a gentle breeze. Bee's are buzzing in the flowers, so peaceful and relaxing.

Tuscan Courtyard 36"x 48" oil by Tom Hass
And here is where I want to live! So romantic! This is one of Tom's latest works.
Thank you Tom and Vicki for allowing me to post images of these beautiful paintings.

For more information about Tom Haas and his work visit his web site, or use the other contact info below.

4002 East Kimberly Way Map
Phoenix, AZ 85050

*Disclosure: I have not been compensated in any way for this post. I appreciate  the beauty of Tom's Work and wanted to share it with you.