Interesting Pages You should look at

Saturday, December 28, 2013

'Homemade' Toilet cleaner

I like to keep natural stuff in my house.  No crazy deadly chemicals.  It's difficult to keep a clean, 'germ-free' house with 3 kids.  Sometimes buying the cleaners at the store is just easier.

I've been following the Fly Lady for several years now, but never really keeping up with her daily tasks.  I (try) to read the testimonies and (really!) try to do at least 2 routines a week.

One thing that she says, that keeps popping in my head once in a while is "Soap is soap"

I got a new washer machine a few months back.  Love it!  The only problem is that I had bought 3 large boxes of laundry soap.  The soap was not for a HE machine.  Hubby bought me a HE machine.  What do I do with several hundred loads of soap now? Hmmm

The soap sat in the laundry room for about 2 months.  I was going to put it on freecycle and bless someone else with it.

While cleaning toilets I noticed that I needed more toilet cleaner.  I keep a vase (cheap $ store vase) with a toilet scrubber in each bathroom.  In the vase is toilet cleaner.  Sometimes store bought, typically vinegar and baking soda.  While looking in the laundry room for the baking soda I noticed the laundry soap.

Enter the Fly Lady voice.

Why not try it.  Worst case scenario, it doesn't work and I go buy baking soda (apparently I am out).

So, I put about a tablespoon full of granulated laundry soap in my vase, add water (to the top of the bristles of the scrubber) and get back to the bathroom.  I scrub the potty.

It smells good.  Better than the store bought stuff.  Definitely better than vinegar.

I don't let the toilets get 'dirty' before scrubbing them.  So I cannot tell you if this will work on a really gross toilet, but it seems to do the job 1) clean the toilet  2) use up the old soap

I think I will keep using this.  When I run out of this soap (in 20 years!) I will probably buy some really cheap laundry soap and continue using the same concoction.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Smores pancakes and Homemade marshmallow fluff

I have been craving a lot of junk food lately.  Mostly smores and pizza.  Not sure if it is because of 'winter' and my body wants to add extra insulation, or what.  Needless to say we had smores pancakes again today.  I already posted a great recipe, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I improvised.
Using my waffles in a jar, I made waffles.  While the waffle iron was heating I made homemade marshmallow fluff.  It was so yummy!  After the waffles were done, we just slathered on fluff, and Hersheys chocolate syrup.  

As if this wasn't sugary enough..... my youngest decided to use sugar babies to make a happy face.

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir until the ingredients are combined.  Bring to a boil and leave untouched until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer.
Meanwhile, put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Start whipping the egg whites to soft peaks. (You want to have the egg whites whipped and ready when the syrup is ready to be drizzled in. If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready.)
When the syrup reaches 240°, slowly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them. Let it combine for several seconds.  (If you add too much syrup at once, the whites will scramble.)Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the marshmallow is stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add in the vanilla and whip for 2 more minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate stored in an airtight container.
Do not use your biggest bowl.  I should have used the smaller one.  This very large bowl was definitely too large.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Punch

Christmas Punch RecipeIngredients:

2 cups orange juice
4oz jar maraschino cherries, with juice
1 orange, sliced into rounds
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
8oz can of pineapple chunks
1 liter sprite


Mix orange juice, cherries, oranges, lemon and pineapple.  Stir and refrigerate for at least 2 hours

Just before serving add sprite and ice

Monday, December 23, 2013

Creepy Santa

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Clause is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

That, to me, sounds like the theme song to a horror story. Something only Steven King could come up with.

 No, instead, we sing it in our schools. Teach our children that some old, fat man is watching them.  Then sing about it!  This is what is wrong with our culture.

This year my children have gotten a lot more observant. Either that or there are just dozens more santas at every corner.

I feel stalked by santa. Seriously!  At every street corner there is a santa holding a giant sign selling something. At one intersection, we saw 3!

Now I am not saying we have to drop the whole santa thing, but lets atleast be realistic!  If some guy is going to stalk me, why is it that he, and all his buddies, are dressed alike?

There were 2 on the same median!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Making IEW fun

COMMAS SAVE LIVES2 years ago, when we joined co-op, I had no idea what I was going to be asked to teach.  I didn't know what I was 'qualified' to teach other students.  It's one thing to mess up my own kids, but other peoples kids..... well, that's scary!

There were openings for several subjects.  I never liked history until I started homeschooling, I'm still not very good at math, and I enjoy science.  I really really enjoy reading and writing.

Now, what grade?  No little kids.  I love little kids, just in very small doses.  I went with fifth and sixth grade since it was my older daughters class.  The curriculum the co-op uses is called IEW.  I had never heard of it before.  I wish I had!

I taught all last year and saw a great improvement in the students.  My class was never the fun one that everyone looked forward to, though.  Who cares about where to put commas and making your writing exciting with better adjectives.  This year, with mostly new students, I wanted to get the students (still fifth and sixth grade) excited and enjoy my class.  You learn better when you enjoy what you are being taught and actually pay attention to what is being said.

Idea 1)  Mad libs.  Who doesn't love silly stories?  I found a mad libs book while walking through Kroger this past summer.  Picked it up, and thought it would be fun - I'm so glad I did!  I never tell the kids the title, I give them a note card with a word (adjective, noun, plural noun, body part, color....) and they have to quickly think of a word.  After all the blanks are filled in, of course I read the hilarious story.

Idea 2)  Make a point.  I was that student in school.  I was the one who would ask, why is this important? Why do I need to know this?  When will I ever use this?  I come armed and ready.  I printed "Let's eat Grandma.  Let's eat, Grandma."  On the board.  Instantly, one of my quick witted girls announces "Commas save lives!"

Shades of feelingsIdea 3)  Banned words.  If you are not familiar with IEW, I am not talking about curse words.  IEW has a list of banned, or boring, words that are not allowed in writing.  Big/small, pretty/ugly, good/bad, nice/mean, big/small, a lot.

I found this idea on Pinterest.  Went to Walmart and got a bunch of paint samples, a few packs of the metal rings, and started making it.  My samples are longer and have 7 colors.  I left 2 blank, so the students could fill it in on their own.  The backside has the 'banned' word.

After handing these out to the students, I decided to do the same thing with emotions.  We are currently adding emotions to our writing.  I do not allow them to simply say "He was happy."

The students really enjoyed these.  The parents did too.

Idea 4) Make homework fun.  I saw this idea, again, on Pinterest.  After typing it up to look like my normal homework, I edited it a bit for my class and passed it out.  I'm not sure who laughed more, the moms or students!

Idea 5)  Bingo.  I found this website that lets me make bingo cards.  I entered in all of the first semester vocabulary words (we test over all the previous words each time we test.  so our tests get longer and longer as the semester goes on)  I will read out the definition and if the student has the word, they place their token over the word.  I figure this will be a great way to test them without making it a test.

Idea 6)  Don't just sit there.  A cheap pack of index cards can do a lot.  I put our vocabulary words on a card, then on a totally separate card, I put the definition (so for 10 words I have 20 cards).  I semi-equally divvy up the cards to the students, trying not to give them a word and the matching definition, and tell them that they have 2 minutes or so to find the match to their word.

This not only promotes learning vocabulary, but also teamwork.  If student A has the word waiver, and student B has the definition, they have to trade.  Also, both students should know weather or not the definition and word go together.

The students also like this because they are up, and not just sitting in their seats.

After the 2 minutes,  I go around the room and each student reads their word and definition.  The entire class confirms or tells me if the match is correct or incorrect.  Playing this game really reinforces the definitions multiple times and with all the learning styles.

BEST. TEACHER. EVER.Idea 7)  Keep it light.  2 more pinterest finds.    I have not tried either yet, but already have the test made.  I am wondering who is going to get it and who will think I am just completely nuts.  Either way - we will all have a good laugh.

If you are a literature/English teacher, or home school mom, I hope some of these ideas help you out.  They can even be done in several other subjects.  I already printed a set of bingo cards for my daughters history/geo teacher with the states listed (they are learning all the capitals).

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Homemade German Syrup

German Pancake with Buttermilk Sauce RecipeWho doesn't like ooey gooey syrup on pancakes, waffles and French toast?  I love it!  It's hard to find a good syrup that we all like that I actually want to pay for.

Here is the best recipe ever.  I found it on

Use a very large pan because you are using baking soda and buttermilk (or milk with a tbsp. of vinegar - think back to elementary school and what happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda :)


1 1/2 cups white sugar3/4 cup buttermilk1/2 cup butter2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon baking soda2 teaspoons vanilla extract


In a very large pan combine sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, baking soda; boil for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spoon over slices of pancake.

Yup - that easy.  Keep it in the fridge and just microwave when you want to use it.

I store this in several smaller jars, so that I am not reheating the entire thing too many times.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pancakes in a jar

Found this at allrecipes - just made a few changes

In a mason jar combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon white sugar.

On the outside of the jar, write - Simply add  1 egg and 1 1/4 cups milk.

When you are ready to make pancakes all you need is your jar of mix and the egg and milk and you are ready to go.  These pancakes are so yummy and definitely beat bisquick!

I often put this together in a pretty jar and add a jar of homemade syrup for a yummy gift.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Queso Dip

This is such a quick and easy dip.  I make it all the time.  I think one of the reasons I like it so much is because it is so versatile.  2 ingredients is all you need,

Take a large box of Velveeta (I usually use the store brand) and a can of Rotel (undrained) and put them in a crock pot.  The cheese will melt better if you cut it up into cubes first.  Stir often.

I stir with a pretzel, bread stick, or tortilla chip - but I guess a spoon would work too.

To make this a little more creamier I add in a whole block of cream cheese (again the store brand works just fine).

Add ins - pick one, not all of them.
  •  Can of chili
  • Can of chili beans
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground sausage (like a roll of Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 lb taco meat and sautéed onion (I have also heard of people adding a can of corn)
  • chopped onion, 2 chopped jalapeños,  1 roll sausage
  • bag of frozen spinach, cream cheese, 8-12 slices cooked bacon

There really is no way to go wrong.  If it is good cheesy, it will probably go well in this dip.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fruit Crisp

This is the yummiest and easiest fruit crisp ever.  You can use any flavor of pie filling that sounds yummy (or that is on clearance)

Cherry Crumble Recipe

1 (21 oz) can pie filling
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Pour pie filling into 2 qt baking dish
  3. In a medium sized bowl mix the flour, oats, sugar cinnamon and nutmeg
  4. Add melted better
  5. Mix until butter has all ingredients gooey
  6. spread over pie filling
  7. Sprinkle pecans on top (optional)
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until topping is a golden brown
  9. Cool 15 minutes
We have also made minis in cupcake tins (use the paper liners!) to take to parties.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yummy Lasagna

Yummy Lasagna

3 cups ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs                                                    
1 pound ground beef                                                    
1 (48 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce                                                   
12 cooked lasagna noodles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Boil the noodles according to the box.
  2. Mix ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and eggs.
  3. Cook beef in saucepan until browned. Pour off fat. Stir in pasta sauce.
  4. Spread 1 cup beef mixture in each of 2 2-quart shallow baking dishes. Top each with 2 lasagna noodles and 1 cup ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Top each with 2 lasagna noodles, remaining beef mixture and Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes or until hot. Let stand 10 minutes.

This freezes great!  I quadrupled the recipe to have a few on hand for busy nights or to bless a friend.

If cooking from frozen, it will take an hour or more to cook

UPDATE - try using no bake noodles!  Makes the entire process easier and faster!  

UPDATE 2 - I used regular noodles, but didn't boil them - that worked too!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Expired Coupons

I love watching the shows on TLC (and many other talk shows) that show the crazy ladies paying only a few dollars for an entire grocery cart (or 2!) full of food and household items.  I will never be that person.  I am thrilled when I can save $30. 

Alas, many of my coupons expire before I actually get a chance to use them.  I had heard many times that military families could use them, but had a hard time finding a place that I could send them to.  Not all military bases, or military families here in the USA can use expired coupons.  Then, I found an article on the Krazy coupon ladies website that told me:

Please join us in sending in your coupons to one of our many adopted bases.
Eligible Coupons:
  • Send only Manufacturer Coupons; Do NOT send store or restaurant coupons.
  • Coupons must be Clipped and Sorted into Food and Non-food (explained below).
  • Do NOT send coupons that are over 30 days expired.
How do I sort the coupons?
Separate your clipped coupons into two categories: Food and Non-Food
Most military bases have 2 stores. One is called the “Commissary” which is a grocery store and the other is the PX or BX which is a department store. We therefore ask you to sort the coupons into “food” and “non-food” bundles so that they can more easily be placed in the correct venue once they arrive at the base.
Label the Bundles
Try to use a baggie to separate your coupons instead of paper clips or rubber bands.
What’s Food & Non-Food?
Here’s the rule of thumb: It’s food if it can be eaten by humans, is usually eaten by humans, and is normally eaten to provide calories. For example, dog & cat food would be “Non-Food,” but Ensure or Slim-Fast would be “Food.” Vitamins would be non-food. Chewing Gum and Mints are food.
Is there a minimum donation?
No! Please send any coupons you may have. We only ask that you mail them only once a month. It will just be easier business this way!
May my family or community organization adopt our own base?
Yes! If you prefer to send your coupons directly to the overseas military base of your choice, you can read all the details on how to do this at
If you would like to donate your coupons to one our adopted bases, please send your coupons to our volunteer, Amanda Brumbaugh, currently heading up our donations! Amanda packages many boxes each month for shipment overseas and takes care of the customs forms so you don’t have to!
If you live West of the Mississippi:
KCL Overseas Coupon Program
Amanda Brumbaugh
10960 W Bridgetower Dr
Boise, ID 83709
If you live East of the Mississippi:
KCL Overseas Coupon Program
Brandy McDowell
2930 Aubrey Dr
Paducah, KY 42003
Unfortunately, due to the mass number of packages received each month, those sent with insufficient postage must be returned to sender.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Mr. Yuck

Mr. Yuk

I remember seeing the bright green and black stickers with a yucky face telling you to stay away from something dangerous.  14 years ago when my son was little, I had some of those stickers.  Now that my children are older I have run out, but still feel that it is important to label cleaners and such for the sake of my friend's children.

Here is some information from the UPMC website.

To promote poison prevention and the poison center, the iconic symbol Mr. Yuk™  was created by the Pittsburgh Poison Center and was the first recognized poison prevention/poison center awareness symbol in the U.S. Since then, Mr. Yuk has been used to educate children and adults in the U.S. and internationally about poison prevention and to promote poison center awareness.
Mr. Yuk has raised the awareness that poison centers are available 24 hours-a-day, every day of the year to assist in the management of poisoning emergencies and to provide poison information. Every Mr. Yuk sticker contains the name of the nearest poison center and the national toll-free “Poison Help” telephone number: 1-800-222-1222.  Regardless of your location in the U.S. or its territories, dialing that number will direct your call to the nearest regional poison center.

Vist the Mr. Yuk online store. 
Visit UPMC

To request a free sheet of Mr. Yuk stickers, please send a self-addressed stamped business size envelope to:
Mr. Yuk
Pittsburgh Poison Center
200 Lothrop Street
BIR 010701
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pinterest Project - Pizza Appe-teezers

Yes, that says appe-teezer.  That's because if you truly make this an appetizer, it is a tease!  I made these for a small get together at my house, then I had to make more - for dinner.  The kids loved them.   So simple, but..... there are a few things to make it easier.

This is what I will start calling my Pinterest project.  I spend time looking at crafts and recipes and all kinds of fun stuff - it's time to actually start trying it!  Here we go!

4 Simple ingredients: 
crescent rolls (I usually buy store brand, but these were on sale and I had coupons....)
Pizza sauce - left over from making pizza 2 weeks ago
string mozzarella cheese

Roll out the crescents into triangles.  Spread on sauce.  After actually making these and eating them, and making them again, I left out the sauce and put it on the side for dipping.  Much better - leave the sauce out - too messy.

Cut the string cheese in half

Put the string cheese at the largest part of the triangle

Add pepperoni - we like a lot of pepperoni, but add a little at a time

I started rolling.....

And added more pepperoni

Forgot to take more photos - hard to roll messy pizza rolls and take photos.

Hint 1:  Leave off the sauce.  Use it for dipping
Hint 2:  PULL and roll.  If you dont pull, the crescent fluffs and you end up with a lot of roll and not much pepperoni.

Bake 325 degrees about 10 minutes.

Hint 3: Serve hot.  I made these for an event and they were cold by the time I got around to eating (with company).  They were ok, but much better fresh from the oven.

Hint 4:  Do not over bake.  Crescents are sensitive anyhow, if you over bake, you loose cheese - not cool when you are making pizza.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mint Floor Cleaner

Mint Automatic Floor CleanerKeeping a clean floor is not always easy or fun.  When I moved into this house I loved the white tile.  After sweeping/mopping multiple times a day to keep it pretty, I have decided that dirt brown tile would be MUCH better!

Years ago my grandmother had a "Roomba".  Loud, obnoxious, and expensive is what those are.  So, I started looking around.  I tried multiple swiffers, swiffer sweeper, battery powered stick vacuums, etc.  Nothing worked well for a long period of time.  They all work for a short amount of time, but with 3 dogs, 3 kids, a husband and an active life, I need something that will work well for a long time.

Enter Mint

After months of looking at reviews on Amazon and looking at videos on YouTube,  I decided that I liked the Mint floor cleaner.  After lots of hints, my mom got me one for Christmas 2011.  Now it is mid May 2012.   5 months later I still love this thing.

It comes with 3 floor pads, and I found 2 that work at the Dollar Tree.  I use it 2-3 times a day and people always comment on how clean the floor is with all the stuff that always goes on in my house.

This thing is so quiet you can forget that it is even on.

With all the activity in my house I never run it and the pad comes of nearly clean like some people say in their reviews, but I see a pad full of dirt and dog hair and shine on my floor, so I am happy.

I have found though, that I do not like the swiffer pads on it.  They don't seem to keep the floor as clean.  I believe that this is due to the deep grout lines that I have, but I will not know any different until the floors are changed to hard wood.  Also, I haven't had much luck with the mopping part of the mint - again probably because of the grout.

I am ok with my little dislikes (all due to the floor, not the equipment) because when I normal "sweep" with the mint I am so thrilled with the results.

Check the links I provided and let me know if you try it and like it as much - or more!  When the floors are redone I will post an update :)