Thursday, April 12, 2012

Teaching our children to find joy in every day work

My little girl is three, and she loves doing housework, and I let her. I think it is a perfect age to instill joy in keeping a home, and to try to perfect my attitude toward cleaning, cooking, and laundry. Too often, we as parents make so many mistakes that show up later in life in our children in their feelings toward work.

Our attitudes toward our daily tasks help mould how our children will feel about their lives later. If we dread mopping the floor, find laundry too trying, or grumble about going to work, you bet our children will as well. Instead, lets choose an attitude on joy, for we are not only serving our families, but the Lord as well. He put us here to nurture and strengthen our households, and these so-called mundane tasks are a part of a glorious calling from on high.

While they are young, and still enthusiastic, encourage them to do housework. Letting them help may take a little longer, but the benefits will show when they get older. My daughter loves housework, so I let her have joy in it and help me. It isn't always done perfectly. But, she finds happiness in it, is proud of her accomplishment, and she will gain independence and be more responsible.

Every child is different, but here is a list of things I let her do. This doesn't mean your child couldn't do more or less, it is just an idea. Note: I use only non toxic cleaners. I wouldn't let your child do some of these things if you use conventional cleaning products.

1. Wash dishes
2. Vacuum
3. Make the bed
4. Fold and put away small laundry (underwear, washcloths, etc)
5. Wash vegetables and put them into the cooking pot
6. Add ingredients from measuring cup to bowl or cooking pan
7. Wipe down the counters or table
8. Bring dishes to sink
9. Dust
10. Wipe down the bathroom
11. Load dryer or washer (I hand her items to put in)
12. Water plants
13. Pull weeds
14. Sweep
15. Put items in trash
16. Tidy room by throwing out garbage, putting toys away, etc.
17. Help stir food in the bowl (such as potato salad, cake, etc.)

What do you let your little ones do? Do they have any favorite jobs around the house?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chorizo Skillet

I have been planning this post for a while, and then saw someone make the same exact thing and post it on their blog! The early bird catches the worm, I guess, but I decided to post this anyway. This chorizo skillet is quick and inexpensive. We eat it for any meal, since it is so hearty. For breakfast, it is good with a fried egg on the side. If you need to make this recipe go further, just add more cabbage or potatoes. We eat it plain, but some people may want ketchup, salt, or pepper (especially if you decide not to use spicy chorizo and go for regular instead).

1 pkg. spicy chorizo sausage
1 head cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces
5 medium potatoes, diced

Break apart sausage and place in large pan. Add potatoes and cabbage. Saute over medium heat until sausage and potatoes are cooked through (the vegetables will stick at first, so stir often, but then the chorizo will help grease the pan). Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blueberry-Grapefruit Ice

This recipe is adapted from one I found on  I changed it slightly to include only wholesome, real foods.

3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 cups grapefruit juice (I used RealGrapefruit, but fresh squeezed would be best)
1 cup local, raw honey

Blend until liquid and combined. Freeze in a baking dish for three hours. Stir to break up the chunks, and freeze again for another three hours. Drag fork across, creating a fluffy ice and serve. Garnish with whipped cream or mint, if desired.

I think this would be delicious blended with yogurt or kefir to make a frozen yogurt pop. If you are avoiding plastics, I recommend Stainless Steel Popsicle Mold

For more real food recipes, visit the Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania
This post is also apart of Real Food Wednesdays over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Go check them out, these ladies are incredible!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

Inspired by some pinterest pins, I made this dessert, but substituted wholesome food for some of the junk in the other recipes. It is delicious, with no fake ingredients, and no cooking required. This would also be great frozen  into popsicles.

4-5 peeled, frozen bananas
1/4 cup non-alkaline cocoa powder (I recommend Rapunzel Pure Organic Cocoa Powder, 7.1-Ounce Packages (Pack of 3) )
1/4 cup milk or coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut, if desired ( I recommend unsweetened and organic like Let's Do Organic Shredded, Unsweetened Coconut, 8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 12) )
2 tbsp coconut oil, if desired
Blend and eat as is, or freeze for a delicious pudding pop!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My version of Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati style chili is a bit different than other chili, and around here, we eat out chili in many different ways.

Cheese coneys: hotdog on a bun, topped with chili, onions, mustard, and cheese
3 way: chili on top of spaghetti, topped with cheese. Best served with oyster crackers and hot sauce.
4 way: same as three way, but with the addition of beans or onions
5 way: like a 3 way, but with both onions and beans
6 way: like a 5 way, but with minced garlic on top as well
Nachos: tortilla chips, chili, sour cream, lettuce, onions, cheese, jalapenos, and black olives
Low Carb Coney: chopped hotdogs in a bowl, topped with chili, onions, mustard, and cheese
Chili Cheese Dip: cube 8oz of cream cheese, place in pie plate, cover with chili, and top with shredded cheddar. Bake on 375 until cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips
Burritos: tortilla, chili, rice, lettuce, onion, cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and black olives
Walking taco: open an individual sized bag of fritos, ladle some chili in, and top with cheese, sour cream, and any other toppings you like.
Alligator: pickle spear on a bun, made like a cheese coney

I have my own chili recipe I make, that combines traditional chili and Cincinnati style. We like to make it a 5 way (my chili contains beans, though normal Cincinnati style does not).

1lb. ground beef*
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp basil (or italian seasoning)
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp onion or garlic powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
4 15 oz. cans tomato sauce or 2 small cans tomato paste
1 15oz can kidney beans

Add all ingredients to crock pot and cook on low until beef is done. You may also cook on high for a few hours, if you need it done faster. Remove bay leaf, then serve in any of the ways (no pun intended) listed above. With all of the ways, I like to salt it and add hot sauce and oyster crackers.

*I add the ground beef raw, but some people brown it and drain it first to help control fat and help it cook faster. If is a matter of preference.

If you are out of cocoa powder, but have chocolate chips: omit cocoa powder AND sugar, and just add 1/4 cup chocolate chips. It sounds weird, but it is amazing!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My favorite green cleaning supplies

I always try to choose greener options for our household. Aside from using peroxide, baking soda, salt, essential oils, and vinegar, I do like to use some commercial products to clean. Here are a few of my favorites. What are some of your favorite ways to get your house nice and clean?

The pink grapefruit smell of this is wonderful. I do wonder where the fragrance comes from though. I use this for bathroom deep cleans.

This really gets the toilet clean. The smell is fine, but not my favorite.

Love the dishwashing liquid! My favorite is the lavender mint, though this Lemongrass & Clementine Zest is really refreshing.

Charlie's soap is wonderful. In my mother in laws HE washer, we only use 1 tsp., making it last for 240 loads. At $12 a container, that is only 5 cents a load!

These are the best! Kills all sorts of germs without any worry of creating super bugs, as it is botanical. I love the smell, and use them for quick bathroom wipe downs.

Dr. Bronner's can do anything. Wash dishes, floors, babies, clothes, use as a toothsoap, shave cream, scented bath. I love it!

I love Bon Ami. It is gentle, cheap, and works great on my tub! Its the scrub that "hasn't scratched yet."
(Photo used with permission from

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Organization tips from Pinterest and the internet

I have found some really wonderful organization and home keeping tips on Pinterest and websites I love.  Rather than steal the ideas and post them, I am going to put the addresses here so you go go explore the websites and ideas for yourself. Feel free to follow my Keeping Home and Organization boards on Pinterest so you can pin these pages, if you like.  Follow Me

1. How to fold a fitted sheet 
2. Cleaning stains from stored baby clothes
3. How to Fix Dents in Wooden Floors
4. Removing the black gunk from your drains
5. Making a cookie sheet look like new
6. How to clean your blinds
7. Making your own orange cleaner and cleaning the showerhead
8. Homemade Lavender Laundry Detergent
9. Outdoor Toy Organization
10. Dishwasher cleaner and other useful tips
11. Magic carpet cleaner
12. Grab and Go Fridge Snack Station
13. Measuring Cup Station and Other Kitchen Organization
14. Scarf Organization
15. Media console from old dresser
16. Wall storage from mason jars
17. Ribbon Organization  originally from this website
18. Freezer organization
19. Menu Boards
20. Super easy freezer cooking
21. Desk drawer organization
22. Electronics charging holder
 23. Small craft storage
24. Underbed storage for children's rooms and how to build the bed!
25. Managing Car Garbage
26. Household Command Center
27. How to make cute storage bins
28. Laundry Organization
29. Sheet organization
30. Can organization
31. Art supply storage
32. Pantry organization
33. Marker, Color Pencil, or Crayon Storage
34. How to build a food storage rotation shelf
35. Perpetual Memory Calendar
36. Drying Kitchen Sponges
37. Building a pantry for a teeny space
38. Free homemade chip clips
39. Documents You Should Have
40. Traveling with Shoes
41. Remove Grease on Clothes
42. Dehumidify Closet without Electricity
43. Preventing Sweat Stains
44. Mattress Spring Cleaning
45. Do It Yourself Drying Rack
46. Out the Door Organization
47. Stretch Your Fabric Softener
48. Frost free windshields and other great ideas
49. Natural cleaners for windows and mirrors
50. Cleaning the showerhead
51. Homemade Cleaners

I will create more posts in the future as I find more good ideas. Hope you enjoy them. Do you have any links to a great organization or home keeping post?

Dowload a printable version of this from Three Little Monkeys Studio

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cabbage Enchilada Casserole

We had this for dinner tonight, and I think it is delicious. My friend used to make this for my family all of the time. It is perfect for a meatless meal, and is inexpensive. It isn't very pretty to look at, but the taste makes up for it!

1 head of cabbage, shredded*
14-15 ounces enchilada sauce
1 1/2 - 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz. queso fresco (mexican white cheese), crumbled
8 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 375.
In a large baking dish, spoon in enchilada sauce until it is covered.

Dip corn tortillas in enchilada sauce, so each side is coated. Place 4 into the baking dish. If you need to, break some in half to cover parts of the dish.

Mix shredded cabbage with queso fresco and enough enchilada sauce to moisten. Dump on top of the four corn tortillas, and top with remaining tortillas. Cover with shredded cheese and bake 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream and hot sauce, if desired.

*If you do not like crisp-tender cabbage, I would recommend you saute it before adding to the dish.

Makes 6 servings.

Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring is here! With that brings spring cleaning season. For some of you, that brings a freeing, light feeling. For others, you may dread the cleaning, and for others, you may just not do it altogether. I often feel the same way. I find if I make a list, I don't get that overwhelmed, do not know where do start feeling. Perhaps on my list, you will find something you forgot. Or you could leave a comment and add to mine. If yours isn't as long, that is ok. Every family is different and should use what works for you.

Living Room
1. Remove books and knick knacks. Dust knick knacks, wash books, and clean furniture.
2. Deep clean floors. For wood, this means more than a swiffer. For carpets, this means a shampoo.
3. Clean lampshades and lamps. Wipe down cool lightbulbs. Removing the dust helps them work more efficiently.
4. Wipe down walls
5. Wash windows
6. Clean curtains
7. Dust ceiling fixtures and wall hangings
8. Clean the fireplace
9. Vacuum or deep clean furniture

1. Pull everything out of cabinets and drawers. Wash the inside, lay down contact paper or other shelf linings. Throughly wash all contents, and put back, decluttering and organizing as I go
2. Clean fridge. Throw away old foods, wipe down jars, pull shelves out and clean with baking soda and water. Throughly dry and replace. Pull out fridge, clean coils in back, sides, and top, and sweep and mop underneath.
3. Clean ice maker and replace filter, if necessary
4. Scrub stove (I love using salt to remove hard to clean spots). Clean out oven with baking soda and water.
Go to Annie Bond article Non-Toxic Oven Cleaner for an easy way to get your oven clean. Then, pull it out, clean the sides and back, and sweep and mop underneath.
5.  Clean your dishwasher. Get in there and scrub it was baking soda and a toothbrush. Then run a rinse cycle with just hot water. You can also use plain vinegar in your rinse aid cup.
6. Freshen the microwave by placing a bowl of water with a lemon slice or lemon juice in it, and microwaving for 4 or 5 minutes. Once the timer goes off, leave the door closed for 10 minutes or so. The steam will loosen food, and it will wipe right out. If it still smells, give a wipe down with baking soda and water, making sure you rinse well, For particularly strong odors, you can leave a cup with vinegar in it over night.
7. Scrub the floor! Scrubbing with a mild soap or just vinegar and water works well.
8. Clean your table and chairs. Wax the wood or use olive oil, if you prefer.
9. Wash the windows and curtains
10. Wipe down walls
11. Clean range hoods. Soak the filter in hot, soapy water. For really greasy filters, you can try this trick I found on Pinterest.  Cleaning the Stove Hood Filter
12. Dust light fixtures and wall hangings.
13. Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drains, then follow with hot water a few minutes later to keep them clear and smelling fresh.
14. If you have a garbage disposal, run it for a few moments with some pieces of ice and lemon juice. This helps keep it clean and smelling good.
15. Polish your silver, if you have any

1. Scrub the tub with your favorite scrub. Mine is Bon Ami, as it is gentle, cheap, and good for  the enviroment.
2. Wash down shower walls. If you have a lot of soap residue, you can make a soft scrub with bon ami and water.
3. Clean toilet
4. Take everything out of the medicine chest and cabinets. Throw away (or give away) old products, and wipe down shelves.
5. Throughly clean and sanitize plungers and toilet brushes.
6. Clean shower head by soaking in hot, soapy water and scrubbing with a toothbrush.
7. Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drains, then follow with hot water a few minutes later
 to help keep them clear and smelling fresh.
8. Wipe down mirror, toilet paper holder, light fixtures, walls, and towel racks.
9. Clean any decorations.
10. Refill soap and toilet paper.

1. Take down those curtains to wash them, and open the windows!
2. Wash windows
3. Deep clean floor
4. Dust everything, removing items and cleaning them as well
5. Remove bedding to wash. Take mattress outside, if possible to air, along with pillows. If not, keep if close to window to get some fresh air and sunshine! When you put the mattress back, flip and rotate it to help even the wear and tear.
6. Clean wall hangings and light fixtures
7. Wipe down walls.
8. Clear out closets. Clean inside.Return clothes with the hangers backward. As you wear them, turn the hanger facing the correct way. When you "fall clean" anything still turned backward gets donated. For a picture of what I am talking about, you can read The Ol Switcheroo
9. Switch bedding to your lighter linens
10. Hang hard to wash blankets and comforters outside to help freshen

Basement & Attic
1. Dust and get rid of cobwebs.
2. Clean the floors
3. Reorganize
4. Clean washer by running an empty load with just vinegar or just baking soda and hot water, then another load with just hot water. If really dirty, follow the directions on this post, How to Clean your Washing Machine   Wipe out your dryer and clean your lint trap. If you can, clean the dryer vent as well. Sweep underneath and behind washer and dryer, and wipe down the outsides.

1. Dust and sweep
2. Wipe down what needs to be wiped down
3. Do regular maintenance on mowers, trimmers, and other tools
4. Organize
5. Detail your car. Direction can be found in the article Interior Car Cleaning and Cleaning Your Car Headlights

1. Weed your garden beds
2. Till, if you are planning on gardening
3. Dump vinegar or boiling water on plants growing in side walk cracks
4. Mow
5. Plant some flowers
6. Prune plants and trees as needed
7. Pressure wash your house
8. Sweep the porch and sidewalks
9. Tidy up the yard by removing old leaves, branches, etc.
10. Clean outdoor furniture
11. Wash the outside of the windows
12. Clean your grill and firepit

1. Clean office equipment such as computers and printers according to manufacter's instructions.
2. Remove books and decorations from shelves. Wipe down shelves and knick knacks, wash books, and put back on shelf.
3. Declutter your filing cabinet, file anything you need to, and evaluate if your filing system is working for you.
4. Dust desk, chair, and other furniture, as well as decor and lamps.

All of the house
1. Scrub garbage cans and sprinkle a little baking soda and essential oils in the bottom
2. Take inventory (including pictures of big stuff) for insurance purposes. This also helps you see what is broken and needs repaired or replacing, things you may need that you do not have, or are low on.
3. Declutter and organize! I have found lots of cute organizing ideas I will share in a later post. To get rid of things, go to Goodwill or   I love giving things away on Freecycle! Make piles-throw away, give way, keep. Clothes and toys are the big two for us that we need to purge often.
4. Wash windows and curtains, as well as walls, decorations, doors, and light fixtures. Make sure to wipe down the window sills as well.
5. Take your plants to the tub, and run the shower for a few seconds. This helps wash the plant leaves, and water them as well. Pinch off brown pieces, and repot as needed.
6. Empty cat litter boxes (we don't have these, but if we did), scrub them out, and fill with new litter.
7. Wipe down base boards.
8. Check fire extinguishers, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, flashlights (do the batteries work), emergency kits (is food fresh, clothing still fit, etc), etc.

There are things I'm sure I missed, but the list above is an extensive start. What do you put on your list for spring cleaning?

Stay tuned this week for more spring cleaning fun. On Wednesday, we will talk about my favorite cleaners, and Thursday we will have a huge list of links for great homemaking and organizational hints!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spicy Italian Alfredo

18 ounces hot italian sausage (you can use bulk or links, but remove casings from links), chopped  
       into small bite size pieces
1 1/2 bell peppers (I used 1/2 each of a green, orange, and red), chopped into small pieces
1/2 large mild onion, diced
3 cups frozen cut leaf spinach, or 4 cups fresh spinach, washed and torn into small pieces
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced (we did not use, but agree it would have been amazing)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 quart (approx 4 cups) heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shaved or shredded Parmesan
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. chipotle seasoning blend, you can adjust to suit your family's heat preference
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound pasta, cooked (we used rigatoni, but you can use what you prefer, and we like whole wheat)

Over medium high heat, warm olive for one minute, then add sausage, peppers, garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sausage is cooked and vegetables are softened to your liking (we let them cook until onion begins to caramelize).  Add spinach and cook for 5-10 minutes more, until desired tenderness is reached.

You can prepare the alfredo sauce at same time as sausage and vegetables, or wait until they are done. For the alfredo sauce, pour cream, butter, Parmesan, and chipotle seasoning blend into sauce pan over med low to medium heat. Stir often to prevent scorching for 15 minutes. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

Serve hot pasta in bowls. Top with alfredo sauce and sausage-vegetable mixture. Enjoy!!! Makes 5 hearty servings.

You may have pasta and alfredo sauce left over! For the pasta, you could have a baked pasta the next day.

Baked Pasta:
Put pasta in bowl, mix in italian sausage (cooked), diced ham, or pepperoni. Add green bell peppers, black olives, sauteed onions, mushrooms, or other veggies. Mix with pasta sauce, place in baking dish, top with mozzarella and bake on 375 until cheese is melted and bubbly.

What to do with leftover alfredo sauce:
1. Have alfredo again
2. Dip bread sticks in it
3. Cook some plain macaroni, add alfredo sauce and a handful of whatever cheese you have on hand for a creamy mac and cheese
4. Use it to replace pizza sauce on homemade pizzas. Alfredo pizzas are good
5. Cook my version of Olive Garden's Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo! I will try to post pictures and recipe within the next few weeks
6. Add some diced chilies and melt with some mexican cheese for a rich queso dip to serve with tortilla chips

Hope you enjoy!