Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How To - Save Tomato Seeds for Next Year's Crop

Fermentation of Tomato Seeds.  Photo courtesy of About.com

Hi Friends,
We had some really delicious home grown tomatoes this year.  One plant was an Early Girl, another was Big Boy and last Sweet 100.  I had a few plants where the tomatoes were bland, but I really liked the results from the three I mentioned.

When you have great tasting produce, it is nice to save some seed from it to help get the same wonderful quality in a plant next year.

Some plants such as watermelon, pumpkin or peppers you can just save the seeds, dry them and plant next year.  Saving tomato seeds is a bit more complex as to get the best results it requires a process called fermentation.

About.com has the best site I found for taking you step by step through the fermentation process.  It shows great photos for each step.  We are in the fermentation process at our home right now.  It really isn't a difficult process, but it does take several days.  It will be next spring before I can tell you if our saving of tomato seeds was successful, but I'm thinking it will be as I'm being very diligent at following each step exactly.  I want to lead you to About.com for saving tomato seeds because as I said, the photos and explanation were like someone talking me through the process.

I hope you will give it a try.  Come next spring, you will be glad you saved those seeds so you can once again look forward to some delicious tomatoes.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Monday, August 30, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 9 - Benefits of a Buddy

Hi Friends,
We are on Week 9 of our Healthy Living series.  This week I lost 1/2 pound making my total 8 pounds with 22 pounds to go.  It is coming off at less than a pound a week despite my exercising which I'm doing 3 to 5 times a week.

This week I want to talk about the benefits of having a buddy or an accountability partner as you are working on your goal of living healthy.  The journey towards losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle can be a bumpy road and having someone to travel with you on that journey can make the ride much smoother.

Do you have a support system at home?  My husband and I are both on Weight Watchers together and we keep each other in check when it comes to our food choices and amounts we eat.  I go to the gym myself, but I'm thinking of switching gyms.  There is a new one that has opened up near me for only $10 a month and they have unlimited guest privileges.  Gyms are getting very competitive in their pricing and incentives.  My daughter as said she would like to go to the gym with me.  My husband would like to come from time to time and I think my mother-in-law would come with me as well when they visit.  So having unlimited guest privileges is enticing to me and I'm thinking very seriously of making the change.  Having an exercise buddy will help keep me from getting bored with exercise.  I remember when I worked for Physician's Weight Loss Centers.  Our most successful clients were on the program with a friend.

When looking for someone to support you, seeking a diet buddy who has the same qualities you see in your spouse or best friend may not be the ideal solution.  Experts say that sometimes, qualities you would never tolerate in a partner -- like holding you accountable for every bite you take -- could be the very qualities you need in a weight loss buddy.

Web MD says:
"Diet buddies are just two people who share a common goal and know they can count on each other to help them achieve that goal in whatever way it takes to do that," says Shafran.


For some, that may mean working out together or getting together to cook or swap recipes a couple times a week. For others, it can mean taking turns babysitting so that each of you can get to the gym separately.

Another consideration is mutual availability. Both partners should agree up front on how much time and energy they have to devote to the partnership, and discuss what they need from each other during that time.

Also important: The primary mode of contact and support. If you're constantly monitoring your email and need a buddy who's always there when you send out that Instant Message S.O.S., be sure you pick a buddy who is as computer-accessible as you. If what you really need is face-to-face contact, pick a buddy who has a similar need -- and the time to share.

"For some people, the anonymity of having an Internet buddy is the best solution. For others, it has to be someone who they can get together with for a Wednesday night weigh-in," says Shafran. "It doesn't matter, as long as both buddies want the same thing."
If any of you need encouragement, just send me an e-mail or leave a comment and I'll do my best to encourage you in meeting your goals be it weight loss or other healthy lifestyle goals.

As always, link up your post about healthy living and let us know what you are doing to get healthy.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Prayer Basket

Dear Friends,

You may have noticed I have another blog called Basketmaster's Weavings.  It is my first blog and showcases my love of weaving baskets.  I wove this basket several years ago. It is a peanut basket. You put your peanuts on one side and as you eat them, the shells go on the other. We don't often eat peanuts so I had this basket in my pantry holding some plastic silverware.  BTW...The following is an adapted post from Basketmaster's Weavings that I wrote over a year ago but it applies just as much today as it did the day I wrote it.

Now...I had been thinking about this for quite some time. I am always willing to lift up someone in prayer when needed, but sadly, often times my prayers are short and I go about my day and don't think about other's prayer requests or needs again.

Then...On Sunday, our Priest spoke lovingly about the wonderful healing power of prayer. He spoke about how our prayers help heal physically, mentally and spiritually and that it is our duty as Christians to thoughtfully and whole heartedly pray for others.

I knew when I came home from church on Sunday that I wanted to convert my peanut basket into a prayer basket. I put 3 x 5 cards on one side to write prayer requests on and as I pray for each one, I will move it to the "prayed" side of the basket. The next day, I can move all the cards back to the "pray" side and be reminded to continue and pray for that person's needs again.

I also feel....This will be a wonderful addition to our home for our family and a great example for our children. Anyone in the family can write down any prayer requests. When the family passes by the basket, they will be reminded to pray for those in need, or they may stop for a moment and take a card out of the basket and spend some special time in prayer for that one person. I'm going to keep it on the dining room table so it is highly visible and just another reminder to put God first.
I am always willing and happy to pray for anyone. If you have a special need, I will write it on a card and keep it in my prayer basket. My family and I will pray for you. Just leave a comment or send me an e-mail with your prayer request.

Have a Blessed Sunday and Happy Homemaking,

Nancy
This post links to:
Mom's the Word

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Energizing Bath Recipe

When it's hot and muggy outside and you need a quick pick-me-up, pour this recipe into your bathtub.

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
10 drops lemon extract
1/2 cup baking soda (add baking soda only if you have hard water)

You don't even need to premix these ingredients.  Just measure and pour directly into your running water.  When you get out you will feel fresh and energized.

Happy Homemaking!
Nancy

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Investment In Sewing

Hi Friends,
Today I am posting over at my friend Kayla's blog kdl. blooms.  Kayla has such a pretty blog full of inspiration.  Here is what she has to say:
Hi everyone! My name is Kayla and I am a 21-year-old newlywed, university student. I am from Newfoundland, Canada (don't feel bad if you have no idea where that is, ha!). Being a wife and homemaker is my favorite job in the world! I love trying new recipes, paper crafts, and always have a DIY project in the works. I am pretty new to this whole blogging thing, but I am working hard on improving my own blog. I want to say thanks again to Nancy for helping me with that! I hope you'll drop by and visit soon :)
Over there I am talking about some of the major investments when getting started with sewing and what to look for when purchasing them.  Sewing is fun and is becoming more and more popular these days so if you are a new seamstress or even an experienced one, I think you will get some handy tips.
Please take a moment to pop over to kdl. blooms and see the post and also say hello to Kayla. 
 
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How To - Birthday Tips

Hi Friends,
Today is my birthday so I thought it would be appropriate to give a couple of birthday tips.
First, when you are filling out your new calendar for the year, don't forget to put in all the birthdays and anniversaries you need to remember.  Do this first before adding all the kids activities and work schedule etc.  Write in all the birthdays in a different color ink so your eye is drawn to them.  A week before the birthday or anniversary, put a star or something on the calendar to remind you to send a card.

We often look at resolutions and where we want to be at New Years.  Use your birthday to look at your goals and see what you want to accomplish this year.  Write it down.  This year, I've decided that I'm going to really strive to learn more and deeper about the Bible and understanding God's word.  It is something I've been thinking about for a while now so I've decided to make a real point this year to attend as many Bible teachings that our church as to offer as is possible in my schedule.  I've always gone to church and have read the Bible but have never taken the time to truly study it.

Have a wonderful day everyone and if you have a special birthday tip or birthday activity you like to do with your family, please share it with me in a comment.

Blessings and Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm Hosting a Give Away at Along for the Ride

Hi Friends,
Pop over to Along for the Ride where I am hosting a give away of my reed so you can make your own diffuser.  Remember the post HERE that shows them?  Now you can make your own.

Laura is the voice of Along for the Ride.  She is a Christian and has been doing the summer Kindness Challenge.  Laura is very creative and shares many of her craft ideas with her readers.  It is a beautiful blog full of inspiration.

Hope you will enter for a chance to win!
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Monday, August 23, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 8 - Sometimes You Need Professional Help

Hi Friends,
I'm continuing on my weight loss journey and I'm glad to report that this week I lost 2 pounds making it 7.5 lost with 22.5 to go.  Yea for this week, but oh it is so slow.

The one thing that I know helped me this week is I got started back up with Weight Watchers.  Mike and I are both lifetime members and I try not to let my weight creep up so much.  It was past time to get back on track.

It's frustrating.  I know what to eat.  I know how to eat.  Heck, I even used to be a nurse for Physicians Weight Loss Centers.  Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things.  It makes me very frustrated with myself that I have to pay for a service that I am quite knowledgeable about and could do it if I'd just try.

Sometimes though, we just need to call in the big guns and pay for a little bit of help.  Using a weight loss program has some real benefits even if we feel we can do it on our own.

One of the best benefits is if you do not have knowledge in nutrition, most programs will teach you.  You will gain lots of information about foods regarding healthy eating and healthy dieting.

It makes us more accountable.  Sometimes putting down the almighty dollar helps us stick with a program.

It gets us on track with really looking at what and how much we are eating.

There are many weight loss programs out there and I'm not going to tell you which one is right for you should you decide to take this route.  I will tell you though that when looking into a program, look for one that you can live with.  Does eating only prepackaged food fit your needs so you don't need to weigh and measure?  Is flexibility in a program important to you?  Do you have specific allergies or aversions that would make a program difficult to stick with?  Does the program make sense?  Is it easy to follow?  Do you need medical guidance to help you with your weight loss?  Did a registered dietitian help set up this program so that it is balanced?  Does the hours that the weight loss center is open fit into your schedule?  How about cost?  Perhaps you are on the road and need a program that is in many cities or how about an online program.  There are even programs you can follow by reading books.

These are all questions to consider when looking at using a weight loss program.  Weight loss programs are a multi billion dollar industry.and as I said, there are many of them out there.  On most of them, you will lose weight if you just follow it.  Some though are not a safe form of weight loss.  A good thing to do is take a friend with you when considering a program.  He/She can look at it unbiased and give you some good advice if it doesn't sound like it is on the up and up.  Also, if you are trying to decide between 2 or 3 programs, just ask your doctor which they would recommend as well.  Your doctor certainly has your best interest at heart.

As always, link up your healthy living post below and lets get healthy together!
Nancy

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Seed Manifesto


I first learned about The Seed Manifesto through Kimberly Wilson's 'Tranquility du jour' podcast at http://www.kimberlywilson.com/ I found this list of principles to be beautiful. I added a few of my own principles to the list in addition to the original which can be found at http://www.seednetwork.com/seed_advice/the_seed_manifesto.phtml The original list was exceptional, but as time has gone by I've discovered a few that I want to add and have included on my own list. I keep this list printed out and posted by my computer for me to see every day. I hope you enjoy and benefit from it as much as I do.
Love,
Nancy
The Seed Manifesto
I …………, affirm that I will

Put God first

Constantly plants seeds as well as pick the blooms

Keep the space and time to stay in tune with my higher self   Never let go of the big vision

Be in charge of my choices

Put my values, including integrity, compassion and love, at the centre of my enterprise

Remember the three R’s: respect for self, respect for others, responsibility for all my actions

Believe in myself so others will too


Keep humour and laughter as vital ingredients of my business plan

Get up early in the morning

Make every day matter.

Not neglect my personal relationships, loved ones, and friends in any way

Manifest abundance in all areas of my life

Keep clutter to a minimum

Recognize my gifts and delegate the rest


Look at difficult situations from all perspectives

Welcome in mentors and mentor others in return

Be a team player

Light candles every day and surround myself with fresh flowers

Give people more than they expect

Talk slowly but think quickly

When I lose, don’t lose the lesson
Know my industry

Keep improving my technology skills

Smile when picking up the phone

Remember my body is my most important tool – stretch, exercise, breathe, go for a walk, dance

Every day try and read a poem, listen to an inspiring piece of music, look at a wonderful painting or go into nature

Drink six to eight glasses of pure water every day

Listen as well as talk

Learn the rules then break some

Know there is nothing more sexy than confidence

Remember that no-one, not even I am perfect, but I’m doing the best I can

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How To - Tell If You are Buying Fresh Fish

Fish is one of those items that are very perishable and many of us do not live near the ocean to ensure fresh seafood.  Here are a few tips to insure you are getting the freshest fish.

If you can, buy from an established seafood dealer.

Smell the fish.  Does it have a fishy odor?  Fresh fish has little odor and smells of sea water.  Strong fishy odors indicate the fish is aging.

Press on the fish.  It should feel firm and elastic.  When you lift your finger, there should be no visible indention.  A fish that has a slimy surface has begun deteriorating.

Make your fish purchase the last stop on your list of errands.  If you live a distance from home be sure to bring along a cooler with ice.  Once home, pat the fish dry and place it in a zip lock storage bag and get out as much air as possible before sealing.  Place the fish on a bed of ice in a deep container .  Store the container in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  As the ice melts, drain the water and replace the ice.  The fish will stay fresh for a day or two if it was fresh when purchased.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Friday, August 20, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Dish - Nancy's Sloppy Joe

Hi Friends,
This post was originally on my blog Basketmaster's Weavings.  The recipe is a winner and I hope you will all enjoy it.

I was looking through a Taste of Home cookbook the other day and I ran across a recipe that looked similar to my above finished product. It looked good and I thought I'd like to give it a try. (don't even remember the name of it, it was bacon cheeseburger something or other) Anyway, the recipe had you make the bread from scratch and the meat sauce was made from scratch too. It was just one of those days where I didn't have time for all that fuss. I needed quick and easy and things that were on hand.
I had a loaf of French bread and a can of Sloppy Joe sauce so I thought I'd do the Semi-homemade version of what I remembered seeing. To start with, an easy way to cook the bacon (one package) is to cut it with kitchen sheers first and then cook it in a pan. If you use a pan with high walls it helps keep the splatters to a minimum. Drain the bacon.

In another pan I browned the ground beef (a little over one pound) and added 1 can Sloppy Joe sauce after draining the beef.
I cut a 'V' shape in the French bread and placed 5 slices of American cheese. On top of the cheese place the cooked bacon and on top of that place the ground beef mixture.
This recipe served my family of 5 and I had tossed salad, cooked broccoli and carrots with it. It was different than a standard Sloppy Joe and the kids gave it 2 thumbs up. We also put mustard and pickles on our sandwiches. It was so much easier than the original recipe that inspired me.
I'd love to hear what quick and easy recipes you are feeding your families these days.
Enjoy your weekend,
Nancy

This Post Links To:
Creative 2x Mom

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How To - Schedule All Out of the House Appointments on One Day of the Week

Good Morning Friends,
Seems like some weeks are utter chaos with extra appointments and just unusual events going on.  Here is a tip that I do my very darnedest to follow.  I have one day of the week scheduled as errand day.  It is my day to grocery shop, run to the bank, post office, library and more.  I try hard to schedule appointments for errand day.  It's not always possible because sometimes you have to take whatever day the doctor can fit you in, but if you can, schedule haircuts, 6 month dentist visits, oil changes for the car and as much as possible for errand day while you are already out and about it will save you time.  I also get my oil changed at Walmart so I can do my grocery shopping while my car is being taken care of.

What happens when you don't do this.....At least for me, when I have to leave the house, lets say for a haircut, it throws my routine completely off.  I'm the type of person that if I can stick to my routine, life at our house runs so much smoother.  What happens if I leave the house in the middle of my routine, on a non errand day, when I return, it is much harder for me to get back on track with what needs to be done.  I have certain days scheduled for vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms and so forth.  Running extra errands on those days throws me off and it takes much more time to get myself back on track.

For you moms who work outside the home, you probably have this tip down pat already, but as a stay at home mom, it is easy to say "yes" to others and drop your normal routine on a whim without thinking about it.

One more thing, be sure to let your family know what day your errand day is.  Teach them to ask you for items they need and to expect it on errand day rather than asking for something and expecting you to run to the store that evening.

Give it a try, scheduling your errands and appointments all in one day and see if it doesn't save you time in the long run.  I know it works for me.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What is a Staging Area and Why You Need One

Hi Friends,
My kids started back to school last week so we set up our staging area once again and I got to thinking how this really helps with organiation and how if you don't have one, you can see the benefits to incorporate it into your home.

What a staging area is:
For us, it is a corner in our family room where we set up a folding table that is about 5 feet long.  It is a small space that is easily accessable yet out of the way.  I've heard of people using a guest bathtub that is rarely used as a staging area or even a corner in the garage.

How we use it:
We set up our staging area any time we are preparing for an event that requires an accumulation of 'stuff'.  When getting ready for back to school, our staging area contained backpacks, pencils, paper, items that the school requested such as Kleenex and hand sanitizer along with all items needed for that first day.  As the items were purchased, they were set on the table in our staging area.  The back to school list was kept there as well.  All the items were together in one place and it was a smooth process getting out the door on the first day.

When we go camping or on vacation, the staging area is set up to hold items needed for the trip including maps, tickets, reservation numbers, my lists and so on.

I will use it when getting ready for a party such as a birthday party.  It can hold decorations, party favors and more.

Benefits of a staging area:
Everything is in one place rather than scattered throughout the house. 
It gives us a place to set things as we accumulate them for the event.
It helps keep the rest of the house organized.
It makes the event run smoothly.
By having everything all together, we can easily see if there are any missing items that we need to get.
Everyone in the house knows where to find the needed event items.
It keeps my sanity.

Do you use a staging area?  Where is yours in your home?  Do you use it differently than we do?  I'd love to hear about it.  If you don't use one, consider giving it a try.  I think a key it to find a place in your home that is out of the way yet easy to access.

Happy Homemaking!
Nancy
This Post Links To:
Mom's The Word - Make Your Home Sing

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whew.....

I worked hard on the house.  I have laundry in the wash and will dry it tomorrow when I can take it out as soon as it's dry.  Paid the bills, that is a big weight off my shoulders to have that done.  Got a nice meal on the table.  It was non-stop for a few hours, but I can wake up tomorrow to some sense of order.

If you get a chance, read Erin's comment on how she handles her house when she gets overwhelmed.  She uses a bin system.

Sweet Dreams Everyone,
Nancy

How To Handle Cleaning Overwhelm

Hi Friends,
I'm going to say right here that I try hard to keep up with the housework and keep the house "maintained".  But do you ever feel overwhelmed with all that you see?  You see things out of place, laundry that needs to be done, cleaning or other chores you need to do and you feel like you just don't know which way to turn or how to get started.  Please tell me it's not just me.  I just took one look around, let out a sigh and came to write this blog post.  How's that for avoiding the obvious that needs my attention.

Here is how I'm going to handle my situation.  I've done this before and it has worked so I have every ounce of faith that it will work again.  I'll get a piece of notebook paper and write down the time in 15 minute increments.  For the first 15 minutes I'll clean the kitchen, then the next 15 minutes I'll clean the family room and so on.  After I'm finished listing the rooms that need my attention I'll add another 15 minutes to my kitchen and any other area that needs some extra time.  Make sense?  Mike should be home late this afternoon so I have until about 5:00 to clean and then I need to start supper.  By scheduling rooms, it helps clear my focus and I know just what area I need to concentrate on without thinking about the rest of the house.  It helps me know which way to turn.

I'm off the computer now.  Wish me luck.  I'll check back in before bedtime and let you know how the house looks. 

Happy, fast and furious, Homemaking,
Nancy

Monday, August 16, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 7 - Goals

Seems like over the past two weeks everyone has been talking about goals.  What I'm hearing I will try to compile into a couple of paragraphs.

We should have goals in the important areas of our life; spiritual, marriage, family, business, health, household and any other area that is important to you.  We should have ultimate life goals for each of these areas.  Then we should have yearly goals for each area that support our life goal.  Take it a step further we should have monthly goals in each of these important areas that support our yearly goals.  Finally, we should have daily goals in each area to support our monthly goals.

Writing our goals down helps make us more accountable and we have a better chance of success and reaching our goals when they are on paper.

Finally, we should look at our to-do list and see if the things we are spending time on, that are on our to-do list are supporting our goals.  We should have one to-do item on our list each day in each category, which brings us that baby step closer to achieving our monthly goal.  Goals should be reviewed about every season.

My ultimate goal in the health category is to live a healthy lifestyle so that I feel good.  I want to lose 24 more pounds.  I want to keep my cholesterol and triglycerides down so that I don't need to be on medication.  I want to have energy to do things with my family.  A yearly item is to be sure and have a check up with the doctor every year and have my lab work checked.  I will have a mammogram every year (which I had this last week).  Monthly goals are to do self breast examinations.  Weekly goals are to menu plan.  Daily goals are to stay away from sweets, exercise, drink water, watch my portions, stay away from processed or fast food.

Have you been thinking about your goals?  Have you considered that each and every day you should be taking even the tiniest of steps towards your goals?

I'm sad to say that once again this week I did not lose any weight.  It's frustrating because I've been exercising my booty off so I know I'm eating too much.  I didn't gain any weight either.  Hubby wants to go back to Weight Watchers where we are both lifetime members.  We had hoped to start this past week but life got in the way.  We're planning on going this coming week and I'll be checking back in with you next Monday.

Let me know what you are doing this weak towards living a healthy lifestyle and be sure to link to your healthy living post.
Blessings, and Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Simple Sunday Tip - How To Unclog a Bathtub Drain (Organically and Green)

Hi Friends,
Here is a quick tip for a slow running tub.  Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup HOT vinegar.  You will see it foam and bubble. 

This will not work if your tub drain is clogged and water is standing in the tub.  Use this tip when you first notice that it is draining slowly.  Don't wait until it clogs completely.  Remember, as always, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and using this recipe is way less expensive than chemical drain cleaners or even worse, having to call the plumber.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

This Post Links To:
Bargain Shopping Paradise

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How To - Smart Shopping for Potatoes

Did you know that potatoes are classified as either high starch, medium starch or low starch. 

High starch potatoes are Russets and are best baked, mashed or fried.

Medium starch potatoes are Yukon Golds.  These are the most versatile and can be baked, mashed, roasted or used in soups.

Low starch potatoes are Red potatoes and are best boiled, roasted or used in soups and salads.  These are the potatoes that best hold their shape.

My personal favorite are the Yukon Golds.  This is the laziness in me coming out.  I find that a good scrubbing with a brush eliminates any need to peal them.  Most of the vitamins that a potato has are right underneath the skin.  Peeling potatoes removes those healthy nutrients leaving only the starch.  Starch gives us energy as it turns into sugar in our bodies. 

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Friday, August 13, 2010

How To - Best Way to Store Asparagus and Herbs too!

Here is a simple tip that will add some refrigerator time to your asparagus and herbs that you buy in bunches like parsley and cilantro.  When you get it home, trim off the bottom 1/2" of the stalks or herbs and stand the spears upright in a glass.  I use an empty jelly jar and I also keep on the rubber band or twist tie that comes with when I purchase them.  Add enough water to cover the stalks by about an inch.  Place the glass in the refrigerator and add water as needed.  It keeps these items fresh and firm days longer.  An added benefit, I think it looks pretty when I open my refrigerator and see the green.
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How To - Make Your Own Reed Diffuser




Have you seen the reed diffusers? They are sold many places these days and some are quite costly. They're reed! Good ol' basket weaving reed! You can make your own for pennies in comparison to what they cost in the stores.  If you didn't know, I am a basket weaver and I hope you get a chance to visit my other blog Basketmaster's Weavings.  I know many of you reading this blog are not basket weavers, but you can find basket weaving reed by doing a google search for "basketweaving supplies."  Reed is sold by the pound, and is not costly, so get several of your friends together to buy a pound and split it up to make many diffusers for Christmas gifts this holiday season.

Just use #6 round reed and cut to the desired length. You can use your scraps here. Place in a narrow mouth bottle. My bottle is from a vinegar and oil set that I got at Walmart. You can also get potpourri oil at Walmart as well. Mine is a potpourri gel that I got at a home candle party that I went to. Just fill the bottle with the potpourri fragrance, insert the reed and tie on a pretty ribbon. I also hot glued a small flower embellishment to mine. I made several of these to give as gifts and they are always greatly appreciated.

A bonus craft you can see in my photo of the reed diffuser. This photo is taken in my bathroom. I got some pretty, smooth glass blue rocks and used a clear epoxy to glue them to the wall in my bathroom. The blue rocks and epoxy also came from Walmart's craft department. I like the pretty bling it adds in there.

Baskets of blessings and Happy Homemaking,

Nancy

ps.  For those of you who are interested in learning how to weave baskets, although I've woven hundreds of baskets for many years now, I've dedicated my blog Basketmaster's Weavings for the beginning basket weaver.  I have step by step YouTube videos that hand hold you through the weaving process.  The blog is full of tips and how to's as well as inspiration.

This post links to:
Fingerprints on the Fridge
Fun to Craft
Skip To My Lou
Sumos Sweet Stuff
Simpsonized Crafts
CRAFT
Tip Junkie
New Nostalgia
Lucky Star Lane
Sugar Bee Craft Edition
Me and My Bucket
Trendy Treehouse
It's so Very Cheri

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winner of the Baker's Twine!

True Random Number Generator

Min: 1
Max: 30
Result:
9
Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Commenter #9 is .......

Scroll Down......















Juliana/A Hand Woven Life said...


I'm a loyal follower!

August 4, 2010 4:27 AM
Congratulations!  Please e-mail me your snail mail and you will soon be receiving your beautiful baker's twine!

Nancy

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Simple Organization Tip and a Reminder

First the reminder...
Tonight I will select a random comment for the beautiful bakers twine from The Twinery.  Be sure to go to this post HERE to leave a comment as that is where I'll be picking from.

As for the organization tip.  For those of you who know me, you know I'm not a huge fan of spring cleaning.  I like to do a little on an ongoing basis.  Every month I pick an different room or area in our home.  Then after 365 days I've deep cleaned my entire house and I've never felt overwhelmed about the process. 

The month of August is my scheduled month for deep cleaning our upstairs loft.  This is my craft space as well as where the children watch TV and it is a storage center for our books and office supplies.  Needless to say, this space in our home is FULL of stuff.  The way I tackle it is every day I remove and clean one shelf or drawer or small space.  I remove all the items and look through them determining if the items will either return back to the shelf, go in the trash, or go to Goodwill.  I ran across an article in the August/September issue of Mary Janes Farm about a couple of girls building a library in Rota which is a tiny tropical U.S. Commonwealth Island.  The island has no bookstores, newsstands or libraries and the people are in dire need of reading materials.  My girls have quite a collection of Babysitter's Club books that I'm hoping won't be too costly to send over there to add to their library.

Anyway, I'm getting off track.  My tip is to faithfully do a little every day.  I try hard to do some organizing every day except during the month of December.  It's just to busy that month.  When I do a little every day, I feel like I really get that one space I'm focusing on truly clean.  I also think it is good to physically touch everything I own once a year.  How many times have you heard of people who move and then they find something that was missing for the last 5+ years. 

Happy Homemaking and don't forget to enter in the giveaway.
Nancy

Monday, August 9, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 6 - Benefits of Breakfast

Dear Friends,
No weight loss, yet thankfully no gain this week.  I feel like my weight loss is moving at a turtle's pace.  I went to the gym 4 times this week.  My water has increased and my sweets have decreased.  Neither is perfect yet both are an improvement and that's all I ask for. 

Here is my delema.  We had out of town visitors again this past week for 4 days.  That completely throws me off my game plan.  We actually have visitors for 5 to 7 days every month on average.  I need to come up with a plan on how I will continue my weight loss when guests are in town.  When we have guests it is a time to go out and eat and show them around town.  All my hard work goes down the tubes.  For me, this next week, I'm not going to add a new habit, but conitnue with what I currently working on; increasing water, decreasing sweets and exercising.  The other focus is to WRITE out a plan on how to handle it when we have guests.  I'm putting serious thought into this plan of mine.  Any tips for me in this area?

For the rest of you, I'm going to talk about the importance of eating breakfast every day.  This is something I already do.  I eat a bowl of Fiber One with a half cup of blueberries, a teaspoon of chopped toasted pecans (for a healthy fat) and a cut of skim milk.  I'm a creature of habit and this is my breakfast 90% of the time.  I also have 2 cups of coffee with a tablespoon of sugar free flavored creamer.

The reasarch shows it is vital to have a HEALTHY breakfast every day.  The following benefits come from http://www.webmd.com/.  Some of the benefits of eating breakfast include:
A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals


Improved concentration and performance in the classroom or the boardroom

More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity

Lower cholesterol levels
 
Breakfast can reduce hunger throughout the day, and help people make better food choices at other meals. While it might seem you could save calories by skipping breakfast, this is not an effective strategy. Typically, hunger gets the best of breakfast-skippers, and they eat more at lunch and throughout the day.
 
This just goes to show how important it is to choose the right foods for breakfast. A healthy breakfast meal should contain a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, and lean protein.


Even if you think you don’t have time to eat breakfast, there are grab-and-go options that fill the bill. Some quick and healthy choices include:

A veggie omelet and a piece of whole-wheat toast

A whole-wheat English muffin with low-fat cheese, a scrambled egg, and slice of tomato or lean ham

Smoothie made with fruit and low-fat yogurt

Salmon on 1/2 whole-grain bagel with light cream cheese

Whole-grain cereal with fresh fruit and low-fat milk

Oatmeal made with skim milk, raisins and nuts, with 4 ounces of orange juice

Low-fat yogurt and a piece of fresh fruit

Yogurt smoothie and breakfast bar

Hard-boiled egg and a banana
If you are not eating breakfast, I hope you will consider making this a habit.  Again, if you have any tips for me regarding eating when guests are around, PLEASE SEND THEM MY WAY!!!!!

As always, if you have a post on healthy living, be sure to link up below.  Have a great and healthy week!
Nancy

This Post Links To:
Smart and Trendy Moms
Toddler Awesome
Still On the Verge
Never Growing Old
Frugal Novice
Trendy Treehouse

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Back to School Money Saving Tip

My children start back to school this week.  Right now the stores are running sales on all the necessary items, paper, pencils, dry erase markers, colored pencils and so forth.  It seems like every year the teachers ask for these items to be replaced in the classroom come January.  Keep this in mind and buy a few extra items now while they are on sale.  Then when the teachers have post their "wish lists" later in the year, you will already have these items on hand and you will have bought them when they were deeply discounted.  Other items to stock up on and get when on sale for the classroom are Clorox wipes, Kleenex and hand sanitizer.
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Make Your Own Uncrustables

I was feeling very generous a couple of months ago as the kids and I were shopping at Costco.  They informed me they needed quick meals to take to work and have on hand.  The kids picked Smucker's Uncrustables.  I had never bought them before but decided to give them a try.  I don't know what the fascination of having frozen PB&J is, but the kids went wild over them.  Purchasing them once was enough and I decided that I would be making them from here on out.

Pampered Chef has a Press n' Seal 3 1/2" cutter that is exactly what is needed to make these.  I bought one off Ebay and it will pay for itself in no time.  Actually, it already has paid for itself.  I get a loaf of bread at the Wonder bakery for $1.  I can get whole grain bread there and that is healthier than the plain white bread that the store bought uncrustables are made from.  I also buy the low fat peanut butter to again make them a bit healthier.  I've never tried making my own peanut butter.  Maybe someday.

Anyway, I put the peanut butter and jelly just on the center of the bread spreading to almost 3 1/2" but not quite.  Then I use the Press n' Seal to cut my sandwiches.  I do an entire loaf of sandwiches at one time and freeze them in zippered sandwich bags.  As for the crust that is cut away, I put it in the food processor to make into bread crumbs.  Store the bread crumbs in the freezer to use as a coating for chicken, fish or any recipe that calls for bread crumbs.

What a savings this is to make them myself and the kids think they are just as good as the original uncrustables.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

This Post Links To:
The Thrifty Home
Designs by Gollum

Friday, August 6, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Crockpot Dish - Burgandied Beef

Burgandied Beef

1 package dry onion soup mix
1 small can mushrooms drained
1/2 cup burgandy wine
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 pounds cubed beef

Place all ingredients into a crockpot.  Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low 6 to 8 hours.  The wine gives a taste to the beef that makes it seem like an expensive meal.  The onion soup gives great seasoning.  Serve this over egg noodles, the frozen noodles are my favorite.

This Post Links to:
It's a Hodgepodge Life

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Herbs - Sweet Basil

Sweet basil is a must have in my garden.  I've read that there are over 50 varieties of basil.  I've also tried growing spicy basil and cinnamon basil this year, but it is my sweet basil that I go to consistently. 

Basil needs to be planted in a warm sunny spot that is protected from wind.  We get a lot of wind in New Mexico and I've found the best place for met to plant it is against my west fence.  Our wind comes from the west so the fence gives it the protection it needs.  Many people have success growing it indoors, but I must confess that I have not.  It grows much better for me when I plant it outside.  Basil can be grown from seed, but I find it easier to transplant an established plant from the store.

Pick it when the leaves are young and cut off the tops as the flowers open.

Basil is the perfect herb to go in your tomato sauces and in most all Italian cooking.  I personally add it to many salads.  In the summer we eat a white bean salad with onions and balsamic vinaigrette.  I cut up some basil leaves to add to it for a nice flavor.  Another salad we eat often in the summer is sliced tomatoes alternated with sliced fresh mozzarella and basil leaves.  Again we put balsamic vinaigrette over this.  Yum!

Next year I don't think I'll plant the cinnamon or spicy basil and just stick with the sweet basil.  It is what my family likes and is oh so good.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Don't Miss This Great Post
Summer Savory

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Lunch Link Party Results

Hi Friends,
I want to say a big thank you to Camille's Casa for linking up her recipe for Personal Pita Pizzas.  These are great little pizzas that you and your children can customize to what toppings you like.  I've done something similar on English muffins, but never on pita bread which is a nice change of pace.  My kids and I gave these a try one morning for lunch and they were very good.  Thanks so much Camille.  Please feel free to grab your "I was Featured" button.

Now, I said before I would pick my top three favorites, but Camille was the only one who linked up.  I guess I thought this topic would be more popular.  One never knows and we'll just move on.  Friends, I hope you do have a couple of minutes though to pop over to Camille's Casa and check out her blog and great ideas.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Giveaway from the Twinery

Oh Friends, have you seen this adorable bakers twine from The Twinery?
It is  so pretty.  Not only can you use it for baking, but you can use it for all types of crafting such as crochet, scrapbooking and cardmaking embellishments, jewelry making and having your packages look bea-u-ti-ful!

Guess what?  The Twinery is giving away a sample pack of the beautiful twine to one of my readers!!

This sample pack contains 15 yards of all 8 gorgeous colors and it is going to one of you!  This is made from 100% cotton, it's eco-friendly and it's made in the USA!  It's a $14.95 value.
For more, I also have a coupon code (below) just for my readers that you can use in The Twinery Shop.

To enter the giveaway just leave me a comment and the winner will be picked randomly.

If you follow my blog, leave a second comment to let me know and you will get a second chance.

If my button is on your blog, again let me know in a separate comment.

If you post about the give-a-way and link back here on any other social networking site, your blog, twitter, facebook or other site, again let me know in individual comment for even more chances.

About The Twinery...
You can follow them on Twitter.
Visit their Online Shop.
Like them on Facebook.
Then there is their Blog where you will find sweet printable downloads, recipes, and ideas for using their twine.  It is a great place to visit.

To get more delicious twine use the coupon code HOMEMAKER for 25% off your entire purchase.  This coupon code is good until 8/10.

Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

How to Know the Healthy Fats

Hi Friends,
Today I'm guest posting over at Lisa's Gluten Free blog.  Over there I'm talking about the difference in the fats that we eat.  Some fats are actually GOOD for us and we need them.  Other fats we should turn and run away from just as fast as we can.  Lisa's blog has wonderful posts for those who are gluten free.  Even if you're not gluten free, you will get some great information over there.  Here is a little about Lisa.
I am a stay at home Mom. I have been happily married for 21 years now. We have a four year old. I learned that I am Gluten Intolerant about a year and a half ago. I am also very sensitive to sugars and dairy products. I love to share my experiences with others in the hope that it will help someone else. I also have another blog, called "Mom's Misc. Adventures". It is where (as well as here) I like to have reviews, giveaways and share useful information. And to have fun.
I hope you will take a moment to stop over at Lisa's Gluten Free and say hello and see all she has to offer.
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy

Monday, August 2, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 5 - I'm not buying Soda Pop

Hi Friends,
Welcome to Healthy Living Week 5.
This week I lost a half pound making my total 5.5 pounds lost and 24.5 to go.
I'm still struggling with sugar but I can honestly say I cut back significantly.  I've also increased my water but I need to continue working on getting more water in, especially during these hot days.  I made it to the gym four times this week.

My resolution this week is that I'm no longer buying soda pop at the grocery store.  I will allow myself one when we go out for a meal which is once or twice a week, but that is it.  The only time I'll buy sodas at the store is when we are having a party at the house.  I've always been a believer that most things in moderation are fine, its just when it gets to excess that it's a problem.  My daily diet sodas are/were a problem.

My decision to do this has been on my mind for some time and after a visit to the dentist I left there determined soda was something I needed to cut way back on and my family didn't need them either.  First I'll say, I've only drank diet sodas for years now.  I've been reading though that even diet sodas aren't good for you.  My dentist told me that although I don't have any cavities, yeah, they need to do a deep cleaning under the gums on me.  Something about how the gum attaches to the teeth and that I've had some bone loss in my mouth which could have been caused by soda pop.  This deep cleaning involves numbing up my gums so the procedure, which is scheduled for Oct., is going to be painful.  Something for me to look forward to :-(

Some of harmful effects of sodas that I have learned about include:
It's addictive.
It can lead to dehydration.
Regular sodas are packed with calories.
It is bone weakening.  It can leach the calcium out of your bones which is what is happening to me.  This is due to the phosphoric acid that all sodas contain.
The acids in soda can destroy your tooth enamel.
Artificial sweeteners in diet soda can possibly cause other food cravings.
I ran across a whole slew of other health issues.  It can possibly cause kidney damage, harmful effects on our liver, and in general that it contains toxins that can damage our cells.
One thing that was not ever mentioned in any of the articles I read, but it was one of the first things I thought of is that it gets expensive! 

Like I said, I believe in moderation and cutting back to only one or two a week is huge for me.  It will be interesting to see how this affects my weight loss and general health.

Feel free to join in and link up your healthy living posts below!  Please be sure to link to specific posts rather than your blog's home page.


This post links to:
We are that Family - Works for Me Wednesday

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How To - 30 days Towards Saving Money - Part 1

Hi Friends,

Have you ever heard of 30 day challenges?  For the next 30 days I am recording where every little penny goes in this house.  It is easy to shop at a super store for food but also buy hair care, pet food, school supplies and more.  Then I don't keep track of how much I exactly spent on food for the month.  For 30 days I'm keeping a very detailed record for my own information.  I'm curious as to how much we do spend as a family of 5 (all adults really because we have 3 teenagers) on food.  I'm also curious as to how much we spend on frivolous items.  I've never been very diligent about doing a budget during our married years, but I have certain goals in mind.  One of those goals is getting our house paid off and I'd like to do that in the next 10 years, a goal I think is do-able if I get everyone in the family on board.  I've always had a "good idea" of how much we spend on food, entertainment and so forth but not down to the penny.  I've always had a limit as to how much we spend on gifts and so forth but again, not down to the penny.  I'm curious.  I'm wondering what I'll find out and if I'll discover ways that I'll be able to save money.  I've always considered myself a frugal person, but where can we cut back more?

I ran across some Christian podcasts that had Dave Ramsey speaking.  He really is a motivating man.  Want to know something interesting?  I did the Dave Ramsey envelope system before he even developed it.  Years ago as a high schooler, many MANY years ago, I remember having envelopes where I would divide up my babysitting money.  I remember very specifically putting a percentage of each babysitting payment in various envelopes that would go towards different things I wanted at the time.  One of those was an envelope to go towards purchasing a typewriter!

I'll report back in 30 days after I've had a really good look at our expenses and at that time I'll share with you Part 2 of my plan.
Anyone else want to record their expenses with me this month?
Have a wonderful and creatively frugal day!

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