Tuesday, March 31

Washing Windows

Spring is in the air, and so is a lot of pollen and dust. The windows at our house have somehow attracted and held onto every floating thing that flies by. Needless to say, they could use a good cleaning. I am very thankful to have double-hung windows that I can open them into the house and clean. It is so much easier than carrying my supplies and a chair all the way around the house and removing screens all while keeping an eye on my children and another one out for bees and wasps (I'll do a post sometime on my tremendous fear of winged insects).

For extra dirty windows, using Windex and newspaper or paper towels is not very practical. Instead I put 1/4 cup of ammonia, a squirt of dish washing liquid and a gallon of warm water in my mop bucket. Using a washcloth, I scrub the windows until my elbows are quite cramped. Next I use a clean dry cloth baby diaper or other lint free cloth to dry the glass. I promise this will leave your windows shining and streak-free. Happy Cleaning!!!

Monday, March 30

About Those Medical Bills

Being a family of five with three small children, we get our fair share of medical bills. Since we depend entirely on one income, I open them with with great dread, anxiety and a hundred other negative feelings. Our youngest child was born with a heart murmur, not a serious one, but it does require monitoring by a pediatric cardiologist until it is closed. Wouldn't you know, we had just met our insurance deductible when the year ended and he had another appointment in February. Thankfully, we were able to pay our new deductible but now are responsible for a percentage of the latest bill.

I am not one to ever question anything, usually. This time, however, I decided to at least try to get it lower. Honestly, I didn't expect it to work, but "it never hurts to ask," right? So ask I did and was pleasantly surprised at the response. The billing department graciously agreed to take 25% off our bill if I paid it in full. Obviously, I didn't hesitate to that arrangement. So instead of a $200 bill, we are paying $150. Hooray!!!!

Hopefully this post will be an encouragement to someone to at least ask. The worst response would be a simple "No," and it really isn't so embarrassing when that happens. Who knows you may even be as fortunate as me and save $50!

Sunday, March 29

My Little Budding Artists

We celebrated my husband's 34th birthday last Friday. I am proud to say that my daughters, ages two and four, completely decorated his cake. Isn't it just too adorable? We thought so at least. Below is the recipe for the homemade icing. It is the best ever. Enjoy!

8 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tsp. vanilla

Whisk flour and milk in saucepan until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Cover and refrigerate. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add chilled milk mixture; beat for 10 minutes or until fluffy. Stir in vanilla.

Friday, March 27

A Cheap Solution for a Cheap Mattress

When our family expanded into a family of five this past year, our two oldest children began sharing a bedroom. We bought two twin beds and mattresses for them. If you have ever priced furniture of any kind, I'm sure you would agree that usually it comes at a great price (by "great" I do not mean wonderful). Being the conservative spender that I am I decided on the cheapest mattresses at the store. When the saleswoman showed them to me they were leaning against a wall and so I just ran my hand over them instead of actually sitting on them. Big Mistake! Of course I knew they weren't pillow-top quality, but honestly, how bad could a new mattress feel?

The delivery men brought our girls' new beds and we were all so excited. When we sat down though it was a different story. They were so springy and I don't mean springy as in airy, I mean springy as in several large metal springs poking in your back. Obviously, I realized my mistake but it was too late to get different ones so we were stuck with these affordable yet incredibly uncomfortable mattresses.

My first idea was to buy two mattress pads. After all, how expensive could a little piece of foam be? It turns out, quite expensive! The ones I priced cost as much as the mattresses did and I just couldn't bring myself to spend that much.

Recently, we had an unexpected cold front and I was changing our girl's sheets and putting their flannel ones back on their beds. When I opened a drawer to put their old sheets away I thought, "I've got to find a better place to store all of these blankets, there just isn't room in here for everything." Then it hit me, why not pad the mattresses with all of our extra blankets? So that is exactly what I did. I layered blanket upon blanket until a desirable softness was obtained, then placed a fitted sheet over it all and finished making the beds. Granted, the mattresses probably aren't Sleep Number quality, but our girls are sleeping much better these days.

Tuesday, March 24

Growing Your Own Garden Greens

  • I love to eat a good fresh salad especially one grown in my own backyard. Let me emphasize the fact that I do not have a particularly green thumb though. I enjoy gardening but usually my plants start out promising enough yet end very tragically. Growing a small planter of leaf lettuce is however a pretty easy thing to do and I highly recommend it. With all of the concern over pesticides and fertilizers used on produce, this is a good way to eat organically without paying organic prices. You will need the following:

  • Small Planter make sure to use one with holes in the bottom to allow for proper drainage.
  • Potting Soil Expert Gardener is a good soil and is about half the price of more expensive brands.
  • Seeds One small packet will be more than enough for a small planter. I used leaf lettuce but there are so many different kinds available. Plants with large root systems including carrots and tomatoes do much better planted in the ground or a larger planter.

Planting instructions will vary depending on what type of seed you purchased. Fill the planter with soil and follow the instructions on the back of your seed packet. Always water your newly planted seeds right away and everyday until they are established. Once the young plants are about an inch tall you should thin them out so that your plants will have room to grow.

Monday, March 23

Dealing with Diaper Rash

I am having my first real experience with diaper rash and it is no fun! My seven month old has been extremely uncomfortable for the past several days. Since diaper rash is a fairly common ailment of babies in diapers, I thought it would make for a good post.

The most likely age of your baby developing it is between seven to nine months. The reason is because of a more varied diet combined with delicate skin. Diaper rash is caused by that delicate skin becoming irritated by chronic moisture. The following are some tips that have been successful in our case.

  • Less Moisture Change your baby's diaper often, as soon as it gets wet or dirty.
  • More Air This can be tricky, especially with a little boy. I suggest placing a towel in the dry bathtub and letting your baby lay bare bottomed.
  • Do not use baby wipes Even unscented ones contain irritants, so for the time being, use cotton balls dipped in warm water to clean baby's bottom.
  • Gentle Soap I recommend Dove or Johnson's no more than once a day.
  • Creams Desitin, Balmex, and A & D are all good ones. Only use the cream at night or nap time. During the rest of the day you should change the diaper frequently enough to not need it (creams can be quite difficult to get off).

Remember that prevention is the key with diaper rash!

Sunday, March 22

Chicken Spinach Quiche

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 unbaked pie crust
1 cup diced cooked chicken
5 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese into pie crust. In a bowl, combine the chicken, spinach, onion and remaining cheese. Spoon into pie crust. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mayonnaise, salt and pepper; pour over the chicken mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

This is so delicious that I normally double the recipe. I hope your family enjoys it as much as my family does!

Friday, March 20

Why I've Jumped on the Blog Bandwagon

For a few months now I have gone back and forth about starting a blog. My husband seemed to think it would be a good idea and something enjoyable. I wasn't so sure. After all I have three children ages four, two, and seven months, so it isn't like I have an abundance of spare time on my hands.

After much debate, I have decided in favor of starting one though, so here goes nothing (or something, hopefully). My youngest is on sort of a napping schedule now so I do have some spare time each day that I plan to devote to blogging. My purpose in creating this blog is to impart some of my invaluable and extensive knowledge in housekeeping, gardening, child rearing, and many other areas. That is a joke! Honestly, I do have experience in those areas and hope to be an encouragement and help to others if possible.

Nearly five years ago, when my doctor told me to go to the hospital in two days to be induced into labor, I burst into tears. To say that I felt overwhelmed is an understatement. I had been pregnant soooo very long but somehow hadn't really came to terms that a real, live, helpless baby was about to be brought into this world and I would be her primary caretaker. I am an only child and never ever babysat not even once. This newborn baby would be the first child under the age of five that I had ever held! Of course my mother and mother-in-law were great encouragements to me saying things like "don't worry, it will all just come so natural to you." Well I wouldn't say it all came natural, but we somehow survived and now five years later I have three children. I am a stay at home mom and love it (most days).