Stove-top Simmer, A Quick And Easy Way To Scent Your Home

Need to add a pleasant scent to your home?  Is the winter heat drying out the air inside?  Today’s tiny tip on Thursday might be the answer you need.

Not only is it quick and easy, it can also make frugal use of the fruit which has been hanging around too long.  It only requires a few items which you hopefully have in your kitchen:

  1. A saucepan of some sort
  2. Water
  3. Spices and/or fruits about to expire

    stove-top simmer

    the local grocery store has added an extremely cheap “ugly produce” section

Some of you probably do this all the time already.  Basically, to make a stove-top simmer, just fill a saucepan with some sliced fruits and a generous sprinkle (or two) of your favorite spices, add water, and bring to a boil.

stove-top simmer

Note: cranberries do pop open when boiled so you may not want to fill the pot this full to start if using them

Then, turn down the heat to simmer.  Wait a short time and the scent should fill your home.

stove-top simmer

Don’t forget to check the water level once you turn it down to simmer

Interestingly, I’ve found the scent to be stronger further away from the simmering pot than right next to it.  Also, when finished, I simply pour my mixture down the drain and run the garbage disposal to freshen it up as an added bonus.

My current favorite “recipe” for a stove-top simmer:

enough cranberries to cover the bottom of a pan (note: these have been cheap at the store as in less than $1)

a sliced lemon or orange or both (I always seem to have a few clementines on the table that aren’t quite edible any more)

a generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Fill pot with water and bring to boil, then turn down to simmer.  Don’t forget to check the water level occasionally.

Other Add Ins I sometimes use:

  • vanilla or almond extracts, sometimes peppermint extract
  • apples past their prime for eating
  • pumpkin pie or apple pie spices
  • a few drops of essential oils
  • a Chai tea bag (after I’ve made my tea, cut the bag open and add the tea leaves)
  • grapes (I didn’t care for this selection though)

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While I do love candles, this seems to be working just as well at scenting our home and gives us the added benefit of adding a bit of moisture back into the air which is usually so dry at this time of the year.  I also like the idea that I’m using produce that would otherwise likely have wound up thrown away and it’s a bit cheaper.

What tricks and tips do you have for keeping your home smelling nice?

 

 

 

Healthy Habits: Time To Rediscover My Health

To be fair to you and honest with myself, I have to start this post by confessing how much I despise that I am writing a post about healthy habits and writing it in January.  The rebel side of my personality is screaming at me right about now.

Thankfully, I’ve somewhat mastered the art of occasionally acknowledging and then ignoring my inner rebel.  This is one of those occasions.

Last week I shared my phrase of the year for 2017.  This week I’m going to focus on how to apply my new phrase.  This week specifically, I’m focusing on rediscovering my health.

healthy

After all, I did consider healthy for one of my word of the year finalist before rebelling and going with an entirely different phrase.

My blogging friends, Carrie from Northwoods Scrapbook and Rachel from Living Better One Day At A Time, have also inspired me as they have been talking about being healthier over on their blogs.  I want to be healthy, too.

We all know the basics to feeling better and losing weight:  eat less bad stuff (i.e., most the stuff in my favorite food groups, sugar and bread), more good stuff (protein, fruits, veggies), drink more water, and move more.  Why is it so easy to know something like that and so very hard to apply the knowledge?

Instead of starting with a list of large, lofty goals causing my inner rebel to laugh heartily, I’m going to start small.  Teeny, tiny.  Take “baby steps” to quote the Fly lady.  Of course, my family gets to come along in all of this because it wouldn’t hurt them to be healthier either.

The road to rediscovering my health starts like this:

  • Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day.  Basic thing but I struggle the most with lunch unless I’m working (it’s provided and pretty healthy).  I have a lunch calendar for work so I will go by that and try to eat a similar lunch on days I do not work.
  • Stealing and slightly adjusting an idea from the book I’m currently reading, no sugar for the week.  I’m not going to be maniacal about this but no more constantly having junk stuff around.  I’ll still send a small sweet of some sort in the boys’ lunch and I do think we’ll do a dessert after dinner each Friday.
  • Also, for a bit of added fun (don’t ask my kids if they think this will be fun), I’ve decided we need to branch out on our vegetables a bit.  We’re going to try one new vegetable a week.  This week is leeks.  So if you know of a good way to prepare leeks (other than soup, my teenager will not eat soup), please let me know.
  • Make sure I’m drinking enough water.  Again, not an issue on days that I work but at home I struggle.  I’m not even sure I’ve had more than a few sips of water today and it’s after noon.  I have had 2 cups of coffee and am now having a cup of chocolate mint tea (not too fond of my sugar-free idea already).
  • Spending at least 15 minutes a day outside.  I’ll get to exercise eventually but this is where I’m starting.

I’m hoping these small steps will lead to bigger, bolder ones and eventually a healthier me.  What steps are you taking to work on your health in 2017?

Happy Homemaker Monday, Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King day is a federal holiday and the boys are home from school today.  My husband and I are both also home today as my preschool is also closed and he took the day off.

We’ve been more or less cooped up inside due to rain/ice warnings since Friday afternoon.  I was so ready to get OUT of this house.  We decided to go out and grab lunch and then I was hoping to sneak in a visit to The Compassion Experience.  Unfortunately, J announced he had a horrible headache as soon as we were seated at the restaurant and our outing went downhill from that point.

Back to my Happy Homemaker Monday posting. Be sure to hop over to our host, Sandra’s blog, Diary of A Stay At Home Mom and visit.

The Weather

Well, I’ve taken to calling this past weekend the great ice storm that wasn’t.  We did get ice and plenty of closings and cancellations but nothing as severe as they predicted.  I know that is good but honestly it made being stuck inside all the more miserable.  Still a gray and gloomy one right now but the sun is supposed to be reappearing this week and I saw it making a valiant effort while we were out.

On My Reading Pile

Three books are on my pile.  I spent a large chunk of time switching out between two of them this weekend.  I have Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire loaded onto my phone.  Thursday evening, I made a mad dash to the library and picked up My Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell as well as The Midnight Star by Marie Lu.  I’m currently reading the first two listed.

On My TV

I have one episode left to go and I’ll have completely watched the whole first season of The Crown. My husband lost interest 1 episode in but I am captivated.

Menu This Week

I’m just not enthused about menu planning lately.  I need to figure out a way to bring a bit of fun back to it.  However, here’s the rather dull line up for the week ahead:

MONDAY:  Veggie Rotini, Garlic Bread, maybe salad (carry over from last week)

TUESDAY: Taco Salads (I work until 6 and then have Bunco so plan to make the meat ahead of time and have it warming and ready to go in the crock pot)

WEDNESDAY: Chicken, I’m undecided what kind of chicken but some sort of chicken.  Maybe just rotisserie chicken.

THURSDAY:  Roast in the crock pot (I work until 6 once again so I’m trying to choose crock pot meals for those evenings)

FRIDAY: Homemade pizza night

To-Do List

  1. Laundry
  2. Shred old papers (I bought a new paper shredder last week so this should go faster now)
  3. Work on my “office” area a bit (read finish cleaning up the desk and maybe pick up a small calendar for the wall back here)
  4. Write and mail a letter.  I’ve decided to join in the 52 weeks of fun mail challenge.
  5. Work on specific ways to apply my phrase of the year (A blog post in that? Perhaps)

What I Am Creating

A Valentine’s Day craft of sorts.  We’ll see if it turns out.  It involves cinnamon applesauce ornaments in heart shapes.  J and I did make those yesterday. 

Looking Around The House

We’ve mostly all been home all weekend long.  I don’t really want to look around the house.  Hmm…not as bad as I expected.

From The Camera

The empanadas ready to go to school with G for the Spanish class Fiesta last week.  No leftovers came home:

My bright yellow flowers cheer me up Especially when the sky has looked like this for 3 days in a row:  Something Fun To Share

Everyone in our family (well, not the cat) enjoys playing the Apples to Apples Junior game we gave J for Christmas.  If you like board games (and actually, G despises them and still enjoyed playing this one), it’s worth checking out if you don’t already own it.

What I’m Wearing Today

Long-sleeved black shirt, jeans, and slip on boots (like Uggs but not the name brand ones)

One of My Simple Pleasures

I think I said being outside on sunny days last week but I can narrow that down to simply The SUN this week.  Also, I love cheerful flowers.  They certainly make me smile.  I usually just take them in as I’m entering and leaving the grocery store but this week I bought some and I’m so glad I went ahead as these have certainly been a bright spot during this gloomy weekend.

Quote For The Week

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own example. (John Wooden)

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What plans do you have for the week ahead?  And if you’ve borrowed the sun, would you please return it and soon!

 

Five On Friday: In My Purse

Just a fun post for today’s Five on Friday and a confession about a magazine I sometimes read.

Admittedly, I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I read it.  And I don’t always.  Really, I mostly glance at it to see the pretty dresses (like the awards shows).  Also, I should note I found a free subscription to the magazine on-line (as I do with almost all the magazines that come in the mail).

Ready for my magazine confession?  five on friday Yes, I get Us Weekly. Do I read it religiously upon arrival?  No.  Is it my favorite magazine? No.  Is it fun and easy to glance through?  Yes.

Besides looking at the pretty dresses in the “On The Red Carpet” layout and the outfits in the “Who Wore It Best” feature, my favorite page in the magazine is this one:  five on friday A one page feature titled, “What’s In My Bag?” where celebrities dump out the contents of their bags/purses and share about the things they carry.

So, as I was cleaning out my own purse yesterday even though I am hardly a celebrity (not at all), I thought it would be a fun Five on Friday to share about the things I carry.

In My Purse:

five on friday

Even with a large purse, I prefer to travel “light”

One thing not pictured here is the massive amount of trash I threw away.  The trash mostly consists of Target, grocery store, and gas pump receipts.

Five Things That Are Always In My Purse

  1.  Hand sanitizer.  This spray kind from the Honest company is my favorite.  I keep it in a Ziploc bag in case of leaks.  I’m not sure why I have 2 but I do know I’m not as fond of the citrus scented one.  five on friday
  2. My PTA scissors.  When I was the elementary school PTA president, I won these at a PTA council meeting.  Obviously, they are always banging around down in the depths of my purse as you can tell since they are filthy.  However, they come in handy so often!
  3. Hand lotion especially in the winter! 
  4. Gum or peppermints. 
  5. Some sort of lip balm.  This giant Zum kiss from Indigo Wild is my favorite.  It seems to last forever.

I also always carry my driver’s license, various bank cards/credit cards/store cards/library cards, a small bit of cash (try to do this at least, it’s good policy), a calculator (yes, I know there’s an app on my phone but I also like my calculator), an extra feminine product in yet another Ziploc bag (I chose to leave that discreetly hidden in the photo above),  a pen, and my phone.  Thanks to my cell phone I now have a strange obsession with having to find a purse with a special pocket to keep a phone.

Things I probably need to add to my bag (They were probably in there at some point and just never got replaced):  a small package of tissues and a first aid kit or at the very least some bandages.

What’s in your bag?

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Be sure to check out the Five on Friday link up hosted by Amy from Love Made My Home!

Impending Ice Storm: Get Ready!

We have an impending ice storm on its way here.  If you are local, are you ready?

They are comparing the conditions to those preceding the “big one” of 2002.  In our ice storm of 2002, the power was out for a few days and it took a few days for the streets to improve as well.

I’m sure schools were out although my oldest son was not yet 2 at the time so I didn’t pay attention to that detail.  This time I am busy lamenting the fact it will not hit until Friday instead of tonight.  I wanted a 4 day weekend! However, the timing should allow for more people to be home safe so I will be glad for that.

For Today’s Tiny Tip on A Thursday (I’ve decided to continue with these in 2017), it’s all about getting ice storm ready.  Hopefully, you know all the preparedness basics so I’m sharing the little things.  Things that might get overlooked.  Things I’ve certainly overlooked in the past myself.

In The Car

  • Make sure your ice scraper is accessible.  Our weather has been milder this week so it may have been designated to the trunk.  Get it out before the trunk freezes shut!
  • Check your gas gauge.  If you do have to be out running around, it’s likely you might get stuck in traffic.  Make sure you have at the least 1/2 tank of gas.  How I wish I’d have filled my up my gas tank yesterday when it was in the 60s.  Still better to do it this morning in the cold than later in the cold AND the icy rain.
  • Maybe keep an extra pair of shoes or boots in there depending on what you are required to wear to work.

At Home

  • Do a basics check for things like toilet paper.  I had to restock our supplies this morning because we were running a bit low.  Check the coffee supplies as well!
  • Take out the trash! (And the recycling if it applies) Nobody wants to hang out with overflowing trash cans because it’s too slippery on the path to the outdoor receptacles.
  • Make sure the laundry is somewhat caught up and the house somewhat clean (I’m failing miserably at following my own advice with this one)

For the Kids

  • Remind them to make sure any entertainment devices are fully charged in case of a power outage!
  • Also, be thinking of easy entertainment/energy burners that don’t require electricity.  One of J’s Christmas presents was the game Apples to Apples Junior and I’m hoping we get a chance to all play it again as we had so much fun with it over their break.
  • Are you stocked on quick snacks?  Big storms tend to equal big appetites in my experience.

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I’m sure there are more tiny tips to share but I have to get ready for work now.  Fingers crossed for me that the storm really does hold off until I’m home from work at least.  What little things do you do to get ready for the potential of being stuck inside and possibly without power?

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