Home Maid Simple: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: The 58th Keeper

Title: The 58th Keeper
Author: R.G Bullet
Middle Grade Readers

Synopsis from Goodreads "The 58th Keeper is the story of a boy called Archy Bass, who stumbles upon a mysterious and powerful relic. The moment he touches it, two warring forces race to find his whereabouts. One side thinks he’s simply too young and too inexperienced to keep it, and the other just want him dead. Hold on to your seats! The 58th Keeper is a roaring trip that takes the reader on the most wonderful and hair-raising scenes imaginable. R. G. Bullet pulls out all stops in his debut novel to deliver an incredible journey with unforgettable characters. This book will resonate with you for ages past the last line."

Following Archy through his adventure of becoming the 58th Keeper of the rug and his TimeQuest to prove himself to the sentinels was a nice vacation for me from my day to day obligations. The characters were easily believable, with their down to earth actions and thoughts.  My favorite type of book is one that I don't want to put down, that keep pulling me back for more. The 58th Keeper did just that!  I hope Mr Bullet has plans for a series, because I feel Archy's story has just begun.

You can order this debut novel by R.G. Bullet from Amazon in both paperback and hardcover. Or purchase it for your kindle at only .99 

* I was provided with a copy of this book at no cost for review purposes. I give honest reviews, and all thoughts and opinions written here are my own. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

POM POMS Fresh Arils review

If you were to ask me my favorite fruit it would be pomegranates. I love when winter comes around because it means fresh pomegranates at the grocery store. I have to have at least one pomegranate each year. The biggest problem with pomegranates though are peeling them. It's not like your normal fruit. The part of a pomegranate you want to eat are the seeds, or Arils. Once you open up the pomegranate you have to dig the Arils out from the skin that has formed around them. The work is worth it for the most delicious fruit out there, but it's also very messy.

POM Wonderful has developed many products using pomegranates, like their POM beverages, supplements, bars and juice concentrate. Their newest product is the POM POMS Fresh Arils. POM Wonderful has done all the hard messy work for us, and packaged the Arils, fresh and ready to eat. I was in a personal heaven when I opened my POM POMS, and spooned some out. Frankly I was amazed at how fresh these tasted. Most precut fruit I find was picked too early, or doesn't have a fresh taste. Not so with the POM POMS Fresh Arils. I really felt that I had just opened a pomegranate on my own. Eating the Arils all by themselves has always been how I ate them. I had never considered adding them to anything else, until the hard work was taken out of it. After eating about 1/4 of my packaged Arils I had the brilliant idea to add them to ice cream. I kept it simple, vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, topped with fresh Arils. They completely took the place of a cherry on top!
You can visit Pom Wonderful's recipe page for all kinds of new ways to eat your Arils.
Two of the three kids really enjoyed the Arils as well! I had to separate myself and feed the animals over the fence. I could've stayed in the cage with them, but I'm a tad selfish when it comes to Pomegranate's as well.  I had to keep some for a midnight snack!

Don't miss your chance to get some POM POMS Fresh Arils. They're available now through February. Accordin to the POM Wonderful website you can freeze them for a couple of months. I may need to go grab a couple more packages to freeze and have throughout the year. 
Visit this link to receive a $1 off coupon POM POMS

*I received a free POM POMS Fresh Arils for my review. All opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Kitchen Remodeling Update

Mark has been working hard on our kitchen remodel, and has gotten quite a bit done. Saturday my dad and brother came up and leant a hand.  Sunday, Mark took a break for Christmas, but he has hardly left the kitchen since. Here's some pictures to update you on our progress!
Mark putting the new support beam in

Dad and Uncle C ripping the old support beams out.  They were attached pretty darn good.

When Mark dropped a piece of the Shop Vac under the kitchen floor, Princess V made a very brave attempt to recover it. She made it just under the floor, before fear won over. We were very proud of her attempt. Mark had to cut more of the floor out, and shimmy himself and a broom under there.

Starting to lay the new flooring so the pantry could be framed.

Pantry framed, and putting up sheetrock

Tearing up the rest of the top layer of flooring, so we can lay down the new stuff!

I'm headed off now to offer assistance in laying the new stuff down.  We opted out of bamboo flooring for a number of reasons. It required additional layers underneath, and there was none in stock at the stores.  I let Mark make the decision, and he chose a vinyl flooring styled to look like bamboo. It's not the normal big sheets of vinyl, but rather interlocking panels.  I'm quite excited to help with this part of the remodel! I'll have new pictures tomorrow! 

Tuesday Tip - Battery Storage.

With the recent holidays, many of us will find our counters spilling over with batteries.  The problem we always seem to run into is finding the right size battery, and then wondering whether it has enough juice or not. I know we have a bad habit of taking out old batteries but never disposing of them. 
In my recent attempts to get a variety of holiday pictures, I went through many batteries. Some worked for a few minutes, others wouldn't even turn my camera on. It was extremely frustrating, so I just bought more batteries. This time I decided to store them better.


Source: bhg.com via Adelina on Pinterest

I love bhg's idea of a tackle box. Having the separate compartments for each size makes that look so nice! I took a cheaper route though, and used a pencil box I already had on hand. It doesn't have the separate compartments, but it closes, and keeps the batteries contained.   Now whenever I need a battery I know just where to look.  And if it's not in there, I know I need to buy more.

While I'm on the topic of batteries, with a New Year drawing close, may I suggest you check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Starting the new year with fresh batteries will help keep your home and family safe. Once I've hit post here, I'm off to add some brand new 9volts to our smoke detectors. 

I'm linking up with Confessions of a Frugal Mind

Monday, December 26, 2011

Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows Review

This year instead of trying to have our own Christmas, and spend time with extended family all in one day, we decided to change our plans up a bit. We invited my parents and siblings to our home for Christmas Eve. We had planned games, and socializing, but the boys ended up working on our kitchen remodel most of the morning and afternoon.
One thing that was on the list to do, and we made sure to do, was have a Hot Chocolate Bar. We set a pan of water on the stove to warm.  As people wanted they could grab a cup, and make some warm cocoa!  The part that really made our Hot Chocolate Bar perfect were the Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows.
I had never heard of gourmet marshmallows until Plush Puffs.  Plush Puffs makes many different varieties, and we were lucky enough to try some of my favorite flavors!
Peppi-mint, Simply Smores, Toasty Coconut, and one of the limited edition flavors Gingerbread Spice.

Peppi-mint was by far my favorite for our hot chocolate. One marshmallow added just a touch of peppermint flavor to my cocoa. I'd imagine these would be pretty good in rice crispies as well!

Simple Smores was wonderful just on it's own! With a mixture of chocolate and graham crackers inside the marshmallow, it was like eating a smore without needing a fire. In the very near future though I plan on tossing one of these on a graham cracker. I can only imagine the taste enhancing every bite of those delicious camping treats we all love.

Toasty Coconut was not one I particular liked. I've never been a big fan of coconuts though. My mom on the other hand, enjoys coconut. So at the end of our Christmas Eve festivities, I sent the leftover Toasty Coconuts with her. Definitely a treat for her!

Gingerbread Spice also tasted very good in the hot cocoa.  The scent it gave off though, really made it more like the holidays. Instead of smelling sawdust from our remodeling, it smelled like I had been baking all day like most people were. I could've held my cup of hot cocoa with the Gingerbread Spice the rest of the evening just sniffing it.

One other thing I noticed about the majority of Plush Puffs is that they are Gluten Free. They're labeled well for anyone that needs this information quickly.  With some of my cousins recently being diagnosed with Celiac's I was thrilled to see these labels easily visable.  These marshmallows will be accompanying me to any more parties we may go to this year. I know for sure I'll be adding them to my New Years Eve cup of cocoa!  You can purchase Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows on their website PlushPuffs.com  or see their list by state of where you can buy these locally. 

*I was provided with a sampling of Plush Puffs for my honest review. All opinions here are my own, and were not influenced by any compensation.

Meal Plan Monday 12/26


Well, with our recent dining room remodeling project I have a very simple menu this week. We've got to move the dining table to the living room, so meals also must be as mess free as possible with 3 little ones.

Monday - Leftover Ham and Potatoes
Tuesday - grilled sandwiches and tomato soup
Wednesday - Baked Potato Bar
Thursday - Chicken Nuggets
Friday - DATE NIGHT! (Mark's sister gave us a certificate to a bed and breakfast! It's going to be such a nice break!)
Saturday - Chicken Cordon Bleu (family New Years Eve Tradition)
Sunday - Sandwiches

Since I don't know how long it's going to take to get our kitchen put back together, I'd love any ideas for simple cooking you may have!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas
From my Home to Yours
I hope you all enjoy this wonderful day of peace and love with your families
As we celebrate the birth of our Saviour.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Dining Room Remodel day 2

I took the Princesses to the mall to search for a last minute gift and to get some play time in, while Mark stayed home and got some work done undistracted.  After yesterday, today was much more calm, as we had more of a plan of what needed to be done. 
First on the list - Check under the kitchen flooring for termite damage.

As far as we can tell, none! The support beam however goes all the way to the ground so the buggers must have climbed straight up it.

Second on the list - Remove ceiling and add temporary support beams so we can safely remove current support beam.

Check and Check!

Third on the list, await help from other men to safely remove beams and put up new ones. Sadly, plans fell through, and no help came. Thankfully there will be 3 extra men over tomorrow (yes on Christmas eve) to lend some hands and get this part done! 
Then it's on to the flooring. We're looking at bamboo.  Any advice, experience, or preference, I would love to hear it!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pantry Remodel and Termites?!

Yeah you read that right! We're redoing the "pantry" and turning it into a real pantry with lots of shelves and doors! 
Oh the second part? Yeah you read that right too! We found termites, and turns out we'll be getting a whole new dining room, not just a pantry!!  I'm pooped, and exhausted so enjoy the pics. 
Original "pantry", before demolition.

Beginning demolition, with Daddy's little helper.

Old pantry removed, ready to start on the wall.

Termites found, construction came to a quick halt.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Way Back Wednesday - Sisters

way back wednesday 300x250

I don't always post a Wordless Wednesday, so looking around I came across another fun Wednesday meme
Way Back Wednesday hosted by Tim and Angi's blog.
Each week they feature a classic book and movie.  I love the classics, and thought this would be a fun way to share more of me with you my readers!
Today I'm dreaming of a White Christmas in a cozy hotel with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.

Of course having 2 younger sisters, my personal favorite song from this movie is
"Sisters"

I hope you're all enjoying your week before Christmas. Stay warm, and remember to slow down and spend time with your loved ones!

Wordless Wednesday - When kids get the scissors


Thankfully this outcome turned out much better than our last scissor/hair escapade.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Recipe Organization

I love to cook! I love to bake!  Most especially, I love finding and trying out new recipes.  It's really rare for us to ever eat the same meal, even if it was pretty amazing!  Mark has told me before, and I think he gave up, to please make something we've had before!  One of my goals for 2012 is to organize and minimize my recipe collection so that we have at least few tried and true recipes to eat again and again. 
The left side of my recipe cupboard (above the stove) is full of cookbooks. From classics like Betty Crockers Baking to exotic from Vienna, and from Breakfast to Desserts, I have plenty of cookbooks.

So why wouldn't I add on to them, by piling up recipes from magazines, like Taste of Home and Better Homes and Gardens? 

Here's my problem! I have so many recipes, and places to look, that some never get touched!  This past year I added a new system to my cooking. As I chose a recipe out of a cookbook I kept a pencil nearby.  After eating, I tried to get a consensus of how well it was liked. If everyone enjoyed it, a penciled in a smiley face next to the recipe.
If it was ok, or not even touched by the kids, a frowny face was penciled in.

Eventually I will be able to go through each cookbook, and tally up the smiley's and frowny's.  If there are more frowny's then that cookbook will not be kept. If there is a specific recipe in it that was truly amazing, I can write it down on a recipe card, and add it to my handy recipe box. 
By the end of next year, I'm hoping my recipe cupboard has a few less books.  Of course new ones wouldn't hurt, but I think I need to get rid of some first.

Another way to organize your recipes, is to go paperless!  My new favorite website, and where I spend a fair amount of time, Pinterest!  If you haven't heard of pinterest yet, I warn you, it is amazing, and thoroughly enjoyable!  Here is a sampling of some of the recipes I've pinned to my food board


I'm linking up with Confessions of a Frugal Mind

Monday, December 19, 2011

Menu Plan Monday 12/19

Source: etsy.com via Adelina on Pinterest

This completely states how I was feeling this morning! I allowed myself to sleep in and skip my morning routine, which meant a not good start for anyone. I got up to the Princesses hands in the cookie jar. When I told them no cookies, and we were having cereal for breakfast fits were thrown. It didn't help that Princess R figured it all out and threw her bowl across the room, and when I returned it with cereal she promptly turned it over and continued to scream at me. So I gave up. I got me breakfast and sent the kids back to their room to play. About an hour later, they all told me they would like some cereal. 
So when I hopped on pinterest this morning to clear my head, I couldn't help but laugh at this awesome menu sign from etsy!  Here's what our week of food looks like

Monday - PB&J.  We're headed to Temple Square to see the Lights tonight, so I wanted something easy, that the kids also enjoy.
Tuesday - Personal Pan Pizza's. Another pinterest find, these are made using cake pans!

Wednesday - Ravioli
Thursday - Going out to eat. Mark got a gift card as his work bonus, so we're headed up to Ogden's Christmas Village.
Friday - 5 Ingredient Bubble Up Enchiladas

Saturday - Ham and Potatoes, plus lots of yummy yummy stuff with my family here!
Sunday - Leftovers. I may make some poffarages or aebleskivers for breakfast though.


I'm linking up to Organizing Junkie's Weekly Menu Plan
Photobucket

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scrapbooking Photo Craft

Another pinterest inspired craft! 
This pin

Led me to create this!
It's been awhile since I've pulled out my scrapbooking supplies. I've got boxes of paper, stickers and embelishments, I just rarely find the time or the right inspiration to use them.  I'm really pleased with the outcome of this display, and will enjoy putting it out each year. 

Today I'm linking up to this great blog!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Kids and Dish Soap

What happens at your house when you think your kids are being good?  At my house it usually consists of doing something they really shouldn't.  The opposite is true too. If I think they're getting in to things, they're usually just playing with their toys. 
Here's a good example.  Earlier this week I had been cleaning up randomly throughout the house, so I was never in one room for very long. I had put a load of dishes in the sink to soak, and then continued picking up every where else. At one point the Princesses, all 3 of them, pulled their chairs over to the sink to play in the water. I didn't mind, as long as they weren't making a huge mess. There were no knives in the sink so I knew they couldn't hurt themselves. After awhile they went back downstairs. I eventually headed that way to take care of some items and finish going through the closet of handed down girls clothes as well. Here's how it went:

Me "Why is the floor wet?"
Princess V "Because our feet our wet. We're telling the truth!"
Me "Ok, I'm glad you're telling the truth, but why are your feet wet?"
Princess V "It's the blue soap"
Me "What blue soap"
Princess V "You know the blue soap"
Me "where is the blue soap now?"
Princess C "I'll get it!"  She then runs across the toy room to bring me the empty bottle of Liquid Dish Soap.  The bottle that I had recently just opened and started using, that had been pracitically full earlier that morning.
It was then I noticed the blue streaks down the walls and doors, and the sticky footprints all over the basement vinyl flooring. I was at a loss. I knew right away if I used a wet towel it would just suds and get nothing accomplished. So I grabbed a roll of paper towels and got up as much as I could. It looked pretty clean, so I went over it with a slightly damp towel - bad idea. There was still quite a bit and it got all sudsy. 
My next idea was to reach out to my mom friends.  One said she would use cat litter to soak it up and then just sweep it up.  Now that I realized was brilliant! Problem is we don't have cats, and I really didn't want to pack 3 kids up to go buy some. Instead I used some red craft sand. I should've let it soak longer, but it still worked pretty well. Once I got that swept up I went over the whole floor with my steam mop
It still feels funny to me down there, so later today I will go over it again with the steam mop. 
So after learning from my mistakes, here's a quick outline for you incase you ever run into the same sticky, gooey, sudsy mess.

Cleaning liquid dish soap off vinyl flooring:

-Pick up as much as you can with DRY paper towels.
-Use something like cat litter, or craft sand to soak up the rest. Let it sit for 20-30minutes to really soak it up.
- Go over the floor with a mop

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Get to Know Me Better 12/15

Weekly meme hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer
This week is a Holiday Edition!

1. Red or Green?  I like red better. Possibly because I grew up with a ton of green. My maiden name is Greene, and my parents really took it far. We never had to wear green on St Patricks day because it was our last name (warped I know). My parents considered naming all their kids things like Fern and Sea. I am so thankful they didn't!  Their most recent green idea is their house. There is green trim, a green front door, and green carpeting. It doesn't look bad, but I think I got overloaded with green growing up.  To me red is just a nicer color.

2. Favorite Christmas Carol?  Here we go a Wassailing.  Probably stems from the fact that Wassail is a really good drink, and my favorite during the holidays as well.  Check out this awesome recipe I concocted.

3. What do you want for Christmas?  A floor to ceiling pantry. And it looks like I'll be getting it too! I can't wait to share the before and after pics with you all!

4. Favorite Holiday treat?  Oh gosh, I love treats. I have no favorite. I really love baking Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies. I also just made this Apple Cheesecake Streusel the other day and it is divine!!
 
5. Favorite Holiday Tradition?  We haven't established any yet. But growing up my favorite was our Penny Auction. My dad dressed as Santa, one of the kids got to be his elf helper. Then we had a huge bag of things that we had bought at yard sales throughout the year.  They were all wrapped up. Everyone got 10 pennies and the bidding was on!  Oh it was so much fun! 
 
I'd love to know more about you my readers!! Go ahead and answer the questions in the comments, or on your blog!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

doTERRA essential oils

I was sent some doTERRA essential oils from Independent Product Consultant Angela Villa.
I've never really used essential oils before, and I was excited to try these out. I hear my friends talking about them, and all the different ways they use them, and kept thinking to myself I should try these out.  So when Angela contacted me to see if she could send me some samples, I was thrilled!  I left what she sent me up to her, because I didn't know what I would end up using or not.
I received lemon, peppermint, and lavender singles. Also balance and slim and sassy blends.

Lemon. I really love lemon water, but I don't really like cutting them up, or squeezing the juice into my water.  I quickly learned that just one drop of lemon essential oils in a cup of water is plenty.  Did you know that a cup of warm water with lemon juice helps keep swelling in your feet during pregnancy away?  I did, and I know it works too. Whenever my feet have started to swell I drink a cup of lemon water.
Lavender is one of my favorite smells. I've been adding a drop to my humidifier, and just love the scent it sends through the house.  It really helped the other day when our fireplace decided to smoke us out of the home. Lavendar is also a natural calmer. Princess R has been having some night terrors recently, so I'm going to stick the humidifier in her room tonight with the lavendar. We'll see if that helps any.
Peppermint works as a digestive aid. I have not yet tried this one, but Princess R has also been having some constipation again. I think I'll dry rubbing some on her tummy, to see if it will help get things moving again.
Balance.  I am in love with this one!!!  This is a blend of spruce, rosewood, frankincense and blue tansy. It is to promote tranquility and a sense of balance. Plus the smell is just wonderful.  I put a little of this in the humidifier this morning to help me be at peace while I took on the closet of handed down girls clothes. It also helped me attempt calmness when I discovered the liquid dish soap dumped all over the basement floor (tips to come on how to clean THAT up!).
Slim and Sassy.  This one I have purposely not used yet. I'm saving it for after baby comes!  Slim and Sassy is a metabolic blend to help curb appetite between meals.

*product was provided to me at no cost. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday Tips - Paper Organization

organizing your home

Paper piles up. It seems to be it's favorite thing to do. Everything from mail, kids schoolwork, receipts and then the general papers that you wonder where they came from. 
Organizing papers was probably the first thing I started doing when I decided to declutter our home. The rest of the house could be clean, but with the piles of paper everywhere, it never looked it. Here are just some of my tips on where to start and what you can do with those stacks of papers floating around your house.

Mail: The best place to start is what time you get the mail. Only pick up your mail if you have time to go through it right then! This will save you from a mail filled table or desk.  As you go through your mail, sort it. Junk mail rip up, and toss in the garbage. The rest sort as needed. There are many tools out there to help with mail sorting. I use 2.  The first thing I use is a 2 drawer filing cabinet.
I have folders inside for bank statements, taxes, student loans, car insurance, and photos to name a few. These are papers that I need to hold on to usually for a couple years by recommended standards.  The photos are ones we get from friends and family for weddings, birthdays, and Christmas. I don't want to throw them out, but I also can't display every picture I ever get. Having a folder for them keeps them safe, and accessable.
The second item I use is specifically for mail sorting.  I picked it up at a yard sale over the summer, and it has been wonderful to use!
The top is labeled letters, then bills, then misc. I personally use the top for coupons, stamps, and outgoing mail. I put all our bills in the middle pocket, and go through them each month. The bottom is my misc. mail that I need to still sort and file into the filing cabinet (things end up here usually when I get the mail at a time that I don't have time to go through it).

Bills: The next big thing. The papers no one wants to talk about, or see. The problem is we all have them, and they aren't going to go away no matter how many times we click our heels.  One great way to minimize the bill papers is to go paperless. The majority of companies have a paperless option, where you do all your bill pay online. You get your statements through emails, and never have to see another paper. I do most of my bills this way, but there are some that I still like to have in hand to go through. With this being our first home, I really like to get our mortgage statement in the mail. I pay it online, but having it hand to see, and remind me that I'm a grown up is kind of cool (yeah go ahead, call me weird).  As I get all my bills, I place them in the mail holder. At the beginning of each month I go through them. I throw out the bills from the previous month, and then pay all the bills for the new month. I still hold onto those bills to the end of the month though. That way in case anything happens to a check in the mail, or an online payment isn't processed, I can look at the actual paper to make sure things are lining up. 

Coupons: I personally don't use a whole lot of coupons. I've tried but the cost to get them, hasn't made up the difference for me, of what they save. There are a few staples that I do pull out and try to use. Like I mentioned before, I put most of my coupons in the top of my mail sorter. There are a few that I keep in a basket by the door though, so I can grab them on my way to the store. More coupon savvy people will use binders. Here's some great sites if you're into couponing or looking to start couponing. They can help you organize your coupons much better than I can.
Klippin Krazy is the first that comes to my mind. She has a Newbie Know How, and a daily coupon contact.
Coupon Frenzy Mom also has a coupons 101 guide, a page devoted to freebies, and drug store, grocery, and retail coupons!

School Papers: You pick up your kid from school, get home, and they  proceed to empty their backpack showing you everything they did that day.  There's artwork, stories, and report cards. Each day there is a new paper to add to their pile. You love it all, and are so proud of their hardwork, but you start to feel buried. The fridge is filled to the brim, and even if you wanted to buy more magnets, there's no place left for another picture.

What do you do? You need a box. A shoe box could work, but eventually you may need a larger bin. As your child goes through their papers, help them decide what you should keep and what you should toss. All things keep, but in the box. Then, at the end of the school year, go through the whole box. They may not remember a lot of the papers in there, and if that's the case, toss them. There will be a few more special pieces though, that you and they will want to hold on to. I call this a Special box. I had one growing up, and it still contains some very precious things to me. Throughout the years as my life has continued to change, I still go through it, and toss some things, and add others that have more meaning to who I've become. 

Christmas Cards: We all get them, though they are starting to get more sparse. I like to recycle mine. After displaying the ones I get each year, I put them in a box. The next year, I pull them out and reuse. Some I make into gift tags, others I just cut off the front of the card and use it as it's own card.  Here's a fun way I found to display the cards each year.
I hope these tips will help you as you try to live paper clutter free!  I'm linking up to

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