Category Archives: At Home Tips
Guess what I’ll be doing (in spurts, of course) this week and probably over the next few weeks too? Yes ma’am, that time of year has rolled around again. It’s time to start clearing out the winter yuck and freshening up my castle for the warm weather months. The At Home Spring CleanFest has begun!
You Know You Love It….NOT!
Honest show of hands. Who likes to clean, especially spring cleaning? Ahh! I didn’t think so. No, I’m not raising my hand either. Honestly, there are many other things I would rather do. But I know me well enough to know that I need it clean around here for my own sanity, for my family to stay healthy and for us to be able to really relax and enjoy our space and our work within that space. I know from experience that the seriously deep floor to ceiling, nook and cranny cleaning throughout the house at least once a year makes it easier to keep the home clean in shorter amounts of time every other day of the year.
Save Time & Money
With a busy schedule, little spare time available and the rising cost of everything, including traditional harsh and sometimes toxic chemical cleaning products, it can be difficult and expensive to keep a home clean. Like most of you, I have (and want) to save time and money. Over the years, I’ve found ways of cleaning and disinfecting easier, quicker, greener and much cheaper on my wallet.
At Home Tips Feature
As part of the new At Home Tips feature , I’ll be sharing several of my clean on the cheap tips and recipes with you. Hopefully, you’ll love ’em and find them helpful. I invite you to pass this article on to others who may love it too.
Clean On The Cheap Shopping List
You only need to keep some inexpensive (and BTW, non-toxic) items on hand to clean and disinfect your entire home. They are very effective, green and will save you a bundle of money.
- White Vinegar (acts as a degreaser, deodorizer and anti-bacterial)
- Baking Soda (mild abrasive & deodorizer)
- Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol (disinfects & sanitizes, speeds drying time)
- Distilled Water (doesn’t contain minerals that leave water marks like tap water)
- Olive Oil (wood moisturizer & conditioner)
- Effervescent Denture Cleansing Tablets (stain fighter/remover, fizzing cleanser)
- Fels Naphtha Laundry Soap Bars – finely grated, stored in airtight container (removes dirt, grime, grease, fights stains & smells great)
- Orange, Grapefruit and/or Lemon Essential Oil (optional – can choose another favorite essential oil but I recommend these because they have grease and dirt cutting abilities)
- Lemons (acidic, dirt lifter & degreaser, odor remover)
- Cotton or flannel cloth diapers – standard, old fashioned style (soft & non-linty cloths that are durable, washable/reuseable)
- Micro-Fiber Cloths
- Heavy Duty Sprayer Bottles (quart sized recommended)
- Nylon Bath Puffs (gentle, washable scrubby that will not harbor bacteria or fungus)
- Denture Toothbrush (for grout lines, nooks, crannies & detailed scrubbing)
- Tub of inexpensive baby wipes (for swish & swipe quick clean convenience
- Newspapers (black & white print is better than color print)
NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF – A FEW CLEANING ON THE CHEAP RECIPES
Yeah…fun! I say that with tongue in cheek. Anyways…..Here’s a few of my favorite cheap DIY cleaning recipes for the kitchen and bathroom to start y’all off on your own Spring CleanFest.
General Purpose Disinfecting Spray Cleanser
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup isopropyl alcohol
5-15 drops of essential oil (optional)
Pour vinegar, alcohol, and essential oil into sprayer bottle. Fill with distilled water. Shake to mix well. Use this spray for general, regular cleaning of countertops, tub, shower and toilet exteriors, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, shower doors, appliance exteriors, inside your microwave, oven, refrigerator, light switches, telephones, door knobs and practically every hard, non-wood surface in the house. Use the cloth diapers or a microfiber cloth for this and a dry cloth for buffing if desired.
Sudsy Scouring Paste
1 cup baking soda
1 TBSP grated Fels Naphtha soap
6-8 TBSP isopropyl alcohol
Enough distilled water to create a paste the thickness of pancake batter
5-15 drops of essential oil (optional)
Mix ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup using an old spoon or wooden craft stick to stir until smooth. Pour into a bottle with a cap if desired. Use this sudsy scouring paste to clean tubs, showers, bathroom tile and sinks throughout the house, glass stove tops, etc., pouring small amounts directly onto cloth diaper, micro-fiber cloth or onto a nylon bath puff for extra scrubbiness. Rinse well and buff with clean, dry cloth if desired.
Foaming Toilet Bowl Cleaner
2-5 denture cleansing tablets
1 TBSP grated Fels Naphtha soap
1/2 Cup boiling hot water
1/4 Cup isopropyl rubbing alcohol
Mix grated soap into boiling hot water to melt soap flakes and make a liquid soap. Let soap dissolve completely, stirring gently to mix. Pour into toilet bowl water. Add your denture cleansing tablets to the bowl of soapy water. This will fizz and foam up. Pour 1/4 cup of isopropyl alcohol into bowl for disinfecting. Scrub inside bowl with a toilet brush, swirling the foamy solution on all the surfaces, even under the rim. Allow to sit for 15-25 minutes. Flush to rinse.
1 cup baking soda
20-30 drops Essential oil (optional)
2 cups vinegar
Mix essential oil into baking soda. Pour dry mixture down drains. Pour vinegar down drain. After foaming reaction stops, rinse with water.
TIP: Use this same cleaner to clean and freshen the inside of your dishwasher. Pour double amount of baking soda with essential oil into powder reservoirs and on the dishwasher floor. Pour double the vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher over the soda. After fizzing stops, run the washer through a full cycle on the hottest water setting.
BONUS TIP: Use this same cleaner recipe, at 2x-3x the amounts, to clean the inside of your washing machine. Just fill the washer with hot water, add baking soda, vinegar and essential oil (optional). Allow it to soak for 30 minutes, wipe down surfaces that the water doesn’t reach with a cloth or scrubby pad saturated with the water solution in the washer tub, then run washer through a heavy duty setting cycle.
This is a good start to your adventure in cleaning on the cheap. I’ll be sharing more tips.
Are you excited to try these and save some serious money? I’d love to hear from you about how you clean on the cheap. Share your DIY cleaning recipes, tips and tricks and they may get featured on the blog with all credit going to you. 🙂 You’re name in lights forever on the internet with hundreds, maybe even thousands seeing it and thanking your for such a great tip. You want that, right?
I look forward to hearing from you, at home woman!
Join me in the At Home Woman Facebook community or follow on Twitter for fun, faith, conversation and quick tips while we get real in our at home worlds.
Last week, we talked about how to re-invent the meal using left-over beef roast or ground beef. If you didn’t read it, please do. It will help you get better acquainted with what re-invented meals are as well as how to plan and shop for them.
This week, I thought we would toss around re-invented meal ideas using leftover chicken or turkey (or any poultry protein). It’s in plenty of time for you to plan for Thanksgiving leftovers, too. I’m going to hit these quickly since most everyone has favorite recipes they like for most of the meal idea dishes. If you need a boost to pull a meal all together, I recommend Food.com for a resource to find good recipes with lots of user interaction and reviews. You can search for any of the dishes I list here and get lots of recipes. Or just email me and I’ll try to help you out.
Original Meal – Roasted, Baked, Grilled, Rotisserie, Boiled or Fried Chicken or Turkey (Remember – cook at least twice as much as what you need to feed a family of 2-4 for this meal). What’s not eaten in this sitting will bcome a re-invented meal or two. You can sub turkey or other poultry protein in any dish that calls for chicken and vise versa.
Re-Created Meal Ideas – Stand alone re-invented meals from your chicken or turkey
Cold Chicken/Turkey Sandwiches
BBQ Chicken/Turkey Sandwiches
Chicken/Turkey Alfredo Pasta
Chicken/Turkey with Pasta (use favorite herbs, spices, garlic, butter, tomatoes/tomato paste to create a sauce)
Chicken/Turkey Spring Rolls
Chicken/Turkey Egg Rolls
Chicken/Turkey Stir Fry
Chicken/Turkey & Vegetables in gravy
Chicken/Turkey & Dumplings
Chicken/Turkey Stuffed Peppers
Chicken/Turkey with Rice (use herbs, spices, butter, etc. for flavor and to create a sauce)
Hobo Dinner – (chicken/turkey, onions, carrots, potatoes, veggies of choice and seasonings, wrapped in aluminum foil then baked in the oven until veggies are tender)
Re-invented Dishes – to serve with your favorite sides. *Remember, Colorful Meals = Nourishing Meals.
Sweet & Sour Chicken/Turkey
OK, my thinker is thunk out of ideas. I know, I know! That’s bad grammer. Hey, don’t scold me. I’m not sitting in my home educator seat right now. I’m in my homemaker chair. *wink*
As you can see, the possibilites are practically endless. You never have to prepare a boring or the same ole’ meal again. With this re-invented meal using pre-cooked meat method, you’ll save time and headaches to get it on the table. You’ll save money if you purchase your meat or poultry in quantity when on sale or in bulk. It’s WIN-WIN-YUM!
Quick Tip #1 – You can freeze your leftover protein in the freezer for later use or make up many of the meal ideas I’ve shared today and last week, ahead of time and freeze for in a rush meal nights.
Quick Tip #2 – If your original meal of chicken or poultry had the bone in, and you plan to store your protein in the refridgerator for several days before using, remove the meat from the bone before storing. This will save you time when preparing your re-invented meals and dishes and reduce the risk of spoilage and bacterial invasion.
Quick Tip #3 – Remove any stuffing from the bird before storing in the refridgerator or freezing. The moist, starchy stuffing is a hospitable breeding ground for bacteria and fungus.
I hope you found some useful re-invented meal ideas this week. If you have any ideas to add….please share with us at the At Home Woman community.
Happy re-inventing the meal, y’all!
Get real and enjoy your at home world.
Earlier this week, I asked the At Home Woman Facebook community “What are some of the at home tasks or needs you struggle with?”
The most common response was the need for quick, easy and budget friendly meal ideas. In this economy and with our days getting busier and busier, it’s getting harder and harder to eat well and have the time to prepare nutritious meals. I decided to do what I can to help you with by sharing some of the things I do here at home.
I re-invent meals. I start out with double the usual sized protein dish for a family meal, then take the left-overs and re-invent them into completely different meals in the following days, getting at least 2-3 family meals out of one main protein source. Or I’ll cook up several lbs. of meat just to make several different dishes.
Plan & Save. If you plan it out ahead of time and work your grocery shopping well, you can buy your protein source such as beef, chicken, pork or turkey when it’s on sale or in bulk to save money. Family packs are a cheaper per lb. option as well. Sometimes the savings can be up to 40% or so. You’ll also save energy costs by cooking a larger amount all at once. After the initial cooking time involved, it only takes about 30 minutes to get a great meal on the table.
What about nutrition? The key to nutrition is color. A colorful meal offers lots of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. I always shoot for a green, a yellow or orange and/or a red veggie with meals. Put 2 or 3 “colorful” dishes with a 3-6 oz serving of protein plus a starch and you got it going on with major food group nutrition. I advice that you save the fruit for snacks combined with a small amount of protein (ex. apple & cheese, orange & almonds, banana & peanut butter). This will satisfy your taste for sweet, help keep blood sugar leveled off and provide fiber.
These meal ideas are geared toward a family of 2-4 but you can adjust to meet your needs. Because there are so many ideas, I think I’ll break them into series posts by category. Today, we’ll cover beef.
Each re-invented meal idea I give here is geared toward about 1 lb. of pre-cooked beef roast or ground beef. Adjust that if you want to feed fewer people. Many can be prepped ahead of time and can be frozen if desired. An awesome user friendly recipe site where you can find thousands of recipes with detailed instructions, user ratings and suggestions is Food.com . It’s my go to site when I need a new recipe. Plus, it’s FREE to use! That equals more cha-ching in your pocket.
4-6 lb. Beef Roast – cooked to your favorite recipe. This is one meal itself (if you want it to be). Since a family of 4 will only eat about 1-1/2 to 2 lbs of the roast at that first meal, that will leave 1-1/2 to 4-1/2 lbs for future re-inventing.
4-6 lbs. ground beef, cooked and crumbled.
RE-INVENTED MEAL IDEAS
Meat absorbs liquid and swells making it go farther. It takes just a little meat to make a lot of BBQ, or other saucy meat mixture for your re-invented dishes.
Slow cooked BBQ –. Warm 1 lb. beef (this one is more for the beef roast) with your favorite BBQ sauce in a crock pot on low for a few hours. Serve as sandwiches with cole slaw and corn on the cob, as a plate meal with roasted potatoes, cole slaw and a green veggie or use to stuff baked potatoes, with cheese and sour cream on top and serve with a side salad of with colorful greens and veggies.
Stroganoff – Sauté’ one diced onion and about 8 oz. sliced mushrooms in equal parts of butter and olive oil until tender. Add 1 or 1-1/2 lbs beef to onion mushroom mixture. When beef is warm, add 2 cups beef broth, 1 lg. can tomato sauce and 1 tbsp. worshcheshire. Heat throughout, letting mixture simmer for about 20 minutes. Salt & pepper to taste. Stir in one 8 oz. container of sour cream. Serve over hot buttered egg noodles or rice, with your favorite veggie or side salad.
Open Faced Beef Sandwiches – Warm beef slowly in the oven or in a crock pot with 2- 3 cups prepared brown gravy. Caramelize onions, peppers & jullienne carrots for toppers to jazz up your entree even further. Serve on thick sliced bread, topped with caramelized veggies with mashed potatoes & gravy and broccoli or other green veggie on the side.
Beef Pot Pie – In skillet with 1 tbsp. cooking oil, cook chopped potatoes, carrots and finely chopped onions until tender. Adding a little water or beef broth will keep them from frying or getting crispy. Add 1 lb beef to vegetables. Pour about 2 – 3 cups prepared brown gravy over meat and veggies. Add 1 cup frozen or canned green peas (drained) and 1 cup frozen or canned corn (drained). Pour into 9”x13” greased baking dish. Top with flattened canned biscuits or a batter of 1-1/2 cup self rising flour, 1 cup milk and 2 tbsp. melted butter. Bake in 375* oven until crust topping is golden brown and done completely. *Alternative – use frozen mixed veggies in place of veggies listed.
Skillet Hash – Sauté diced onion, green pepper, carrots and potatoes in 2 tbsp. cooking oil until tender. Add minced or dried garlic to taste. Turn up heat to medium high. Add 1 lb. beef. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook throughout allowing hash to get a little crispy if desired. Serve with seasoned green beans, broccoli or other green veggie.
Mexican Beef Wraps/Soft Tacos – Sauté sliced onions and bell peppers until tender. Remove from skillet. Heat 1 lb.beef in same skillet. Add taco seasoning mix according to directions. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Heat 1 can refried beans until warm throughout. Take flour or corn tortillas, slightly warmed. Smear a hefty spoonful of refried beans all over one side of tortillas. Spoon seasoned beef mixture onto center of coated tortilla. Add cooked onions & peppers. Top with shredded Mexican cheese and any or all of the following: diced tomato, black olives, jalapeños, shredded lettuce, guacamole, avocado, salsa, sour cream. Wrap it up and enjoy.
Chipped Beef On Toast – Make a country gravy or light colored beef/brown gravy, adding onion powder, salt, pepper and paprika to season. Add 1 lb. beef. Simmer for 15 – 30 minutes. Serve on thick toast with favorite veggie side dish.
Italian Beef Supper – Simmer 1 lb. beef with a jar of spaghetti sauce on the stove or in crock pot. Add extra herbs and garlic to taste, if desired. In baking dish, pour meat sauce over cooked penne pasta, make lasagna rolls or use to stuff manicotti. Top with extra sauce and Italian blend shredded cheese. Heat in oven until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with salad and garlic bread.
Loose Meat Sliders – Heat meat until hot. Use a little broth to keep meat moist. Serve on dinner rolls, sliced down the middle with sliced cheese and the following of choice: pickle, tomato, lettuce, onions, and condiments with a side of homemade fries or chips.
Beef & Broccoli – Use beef in your own favorite recipe for beef & broccoli served with rice and another vegetable.
Other ideas are casseroles, soups, stews, po’boys, shepard’s pie, turnovers, sandwiches, or just reheating and serving with vegetables. Really, just about anything goes with re-inventing the meal.
Do you have a family favorite re-invented meal using beef? Care to share with the At Home Woman community?
If you would have a re-invented meal idea that you want me to include in future blog postings, email them to me here or firstname.lastname@example.org . I’ll make sure you get credit in the article if I use it.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.
Enjoy your at home world!
- Cast Iron Skillet “Shepherd’s Pie” (thoughtsalonglifeshighway.com)
- Barbecue Beef Quesadillas (Using Leftovers) (cookingwithcorinna.wordpress.com)
- Roasted Fall Vegetable Sandwiches (dutchlakefarm.wordpress.com)
- Bulk Meal Prep (simplysjb.wordpress.com)
- Shepherd’s Pie Made Easy (answers.com)
- Homemade lasagne (theitalianfork.com)
- Butternut Squash Stew / Khoresh’e Kadu Halvai (faestwistandtango.wordpress.com)
The Fall season means colorful landscapes, cooler weather, warmer clothing and more time indoors. With the extra time indoors, you begin to think of getting ready for the holidays and making your at home world comfy and cozy for a long winter’s stay.
#1) Are you noticing gnats coming in, looking for a nice place to eat, drink and be a merry annoyance? They tend to do that as the weather turns cooler or gets wetter. And they always seem to congregate in the kitchen and relax in the bathroom. Don’t we all?
TIP: Put out a shallow glass dishes of vinegar, such as a dessert dish or pie plate, in the kitchen and bathroom. Gnats are drawn to vinegar like it’s the divine nectar of choice. They will get in it, trying to drink it and will drown.
#2) Do you rush around the week or two before Thanksgiving, cleaning every nook and crannie so your home is ready for guests, holiday fun and decorating? And you just feel overwhelmed with it all, right? Been there, done that!
TIP: Start now with your deep clean to-do’s and turn them into ta-da’s. If you take one or two rooms a week from now until the week before Thanksgiving, you will have your home ship shape and will not been worn out, biting the family’s heads off and kicking the dog. Then you will only need to do normal weekly cleaning through the holidays, leaving you time to enjoy yourself instead of being cranky because the nooks are cluttered and the crannies are sprouting an alien life form.
#3) Do your non-washable drapes or comforters need freshening and lightly cleaned but you just can’t afford to take them to the dry cleaner? Or possibly, you’re like me and have had a very, VERY bad experience with taking your beautiful and expensive drapes or bedding in to be cleaned? As long as they are not stained or extremely dirty, you don’t have to.
TIP: If you haven’t been doing this monthly already, vacuum your drapes or comforter with an upholstery brush to remove loose dust from the surface. Remove them from the rods or bed, toss into your dryer on the air dry, fluff or the very lowest heat setting. Do not use a medium or high heat. Toss in a few dryer sheets or make your own freshener with a cloth very lightly dampened with white vinegar and a just few drops of essential oil of choice if desired. (I’m partial to lavender or orange). Let them toss around in the dryer for 15-30 minutes. Remove and rehang or remake the bed. Whallah! Fresh and dust free.
#4) Carpet and large rugs looking a bit icky and smelling more like summer gone bad than fall in paradise? Freshen them up quickly and on a budget.
TIP: Mix 2 cups each of baking soda and corn starch together. Add 20 – 30 drops of essential oil of choice to the mix, stirring it very well throughout the powdered mixture. Sift mixture to loosen up any clumps. Sprinkle fairly evenly on carpet/rug. Let it sit overnight if possible or for a few hours minimum. Vacuum well to remove soda mixture. Sniff! Smells good doesn’t it? And just look at your carpet!
#5) Do you struggle with inspiration for easy, inexpensive fall or holiday decorating? We all love the colors and warmness of it all but getting it to look nice on a budget can be hard. These not only look nice, they smell even nicer.
TIPS: This has several tip options in one.
(A) Pick up some fresh fruit (oranges, apples, cranberries, mini pumpkins, large in the shell nuts), cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. Arrange the fruit (ex. several oranges with cranberries, apples with nuts) and a few cinnamon sticks in a pretty glass bowl or wide glass vase for a centerpiece or to just sit on a side table. I like to cut the cinnamon stick into smaller pieces. You can do this with a saw or even break them into pieces with a hammer. Just put the sticks in a baggie and smash them a couple of time to break them up.
(B) Take a 3″ – 5# pillar candle or a small scarecrow (about 6″ tall), put in the center of a large plate, charger plate or small serving platter. Arrange fruit and cinnamon sticks around the base to add texture, visual appeal and scent to the room.
(C) Lay out a blend of these elements (fruit and cinnamon) in clusters down the center of you dining table, with tapered candles in holders here and there. Arrange clusters anywhere you want to add some fall to your home.
(D) Small finger bowls or wine glassed of whole cloves will be pretty and fragrant. Toss in some cranberries and you also have instant color.
(E) For a “didn’t cost me a dime” variation on these, use a few pine cones, acorns, hickory nuts, or other natural elements, that you can collect yourself, to your arrangement. Add to the fruits, nuts & spices or use alone for a more rustic decoration.
Don’t fret over making the arrangements perfect. Just the colors and aroma will ooze with Autumn delight.
Bonus Tip: RELAX! Don’t sweat the small stuff. Really, it is not worth the bother. Regardless of what you do or don’t do, every day should be enjoyed. That’s not going to happen if you are fretting over the details that no one will ever really notice but you. None of us can be Martha Stewart. Even Martha isn’t Martha. She doesn’t do it alone. She has an entire crew and assistants to help her make it look effortless and as if there’s no time involved. Remember that the next time you’re trying to be like Martha….or any other celebrity who gives you home functioning advice.
Happy Fall, Y’all!