Archive for July, 2010

Treat Your Feet – Fuzzy Wuzzy Wednesday

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Welcome back to another in my summer re-run series. I’m glad I can take the opportunity to bring forth a few of the posts I’ve enjoyed in the past. I know many of you are way too busy to scroll around and find posts for topics you may have missed but would very much like to enjoy.

This is a great topic for the summer – foot soaks.  We’re busy running around having fun this summer and our poor feet are suffering.  Mostly, they’re hot!  A little pampering goes a long way with our feet.  They work so hard for us, don’t they deserve a special treat?

Here’s a post I think you’ll enjoy, especially after a long, hot day.  Relax and enjoy:

spa candle websizeMost people fall into two categories when it comes to their style of energy-level-maintenance. Some folks run around all day at top speed, then need something to help them slow down and relax, sort of shut the engine off before bedtime. Then there are the folks who run around like crazy, then in late afternoon, their battery runs down and they need something to re-energize them to get them through until bedtime. Whichever model of busy homemaker you are, have we got a treat for you!

Foot soaks are one of the most inexpensive, but most rewarding, luxuries you can do to pamper yourself. There are many store-bought varieties of foot soaks which are excellent in their way. However, oftentimes we’re way too busy to think about taking the time for a foot soak let alone actually going out and buying one. Rather than deny yourself the pleasure of taking ten minutes out of your day for a foot soak, let’s check the kitchen and bathroom cupboards for ingredients to see what you can do today to create a few moments of luxury at home.

Relaxing Foot Soak

Let’s start with a foot soak for the “run around like crazy, need to relax” homemaker. Here are some simple ingredients when put together in a tub of nice, hot water will cause you to say “awwww… that’s just what I needed.”

  • A generous squirt of honey.
  • A drizzle of vanilla extract.
  • A drizzle of almond extract.
  • A squirt of shampoo.

Grab a big supply of towels and a washcloth. Take a dishpan or tub that just fits your feet and place it on the floor, fill with ingredients, then pour nice, hot water in, just enough to cover your feet, and swoosh around. Grab a hot cup of chamomile tea for the ultimate relaxation drink and soak your feet for about ten minutes, then gently wash and pat dry.

Recharging Foot Soak

Now, how about if you are the “run around like crazy, need to recharge” homemaker. There are many invigorating ingredients that will work for you. Here is a simple recipe for a foot soak that will have you up and running around again in no time.

  • A handful of Epsom salts (keep the box nearby).
  • A handful of baking soda.
  • A drizzle of olive oil.
  • A generous squirt of lemon juice.
  • A few crushed mint leaves if you have them, or substitute some peppermint oil.

You’ll need a big supply of towels and a scrubber brush, loofah, and washcloth. You want to be re-energized, so your feet need some soothing mixed with a bit of gentle scrubbing and stimulating massage. Use a dishpan or tub that fits your feet, fill it with the ingredients and nice, hot water and mix gently. You’ll want a cup of tea to invigorate, like green tea with mint. Soak your feet for about five minutes. Then, sprinkle another handful of Epsom salts into the water, gently rubbing the salts on the bottoms of your feet, then on top, and up your ankles, until the salts dissolve.

Massaging Marbles Trick

One other “ingredient” that works for both relaxing and invigorating your feet and body, is marbles. If your child happens to have a collection of marbles, see if you can borrow enough to cover the bottom of the dishpan. While you are soaking, gently glide your feet over the marbles, giving your feet a little “marble massage.” As I said, this little trick will magically both relax and invigorate your feet, depending on what you need most.

These are just a few combinations of ingredients you can find around your house to build a nice foot soak for yourself today. Don’t be surprised if you start looking at your pantry with luxury in mind instead of baking!

Clean Up Road Weary Car Interior – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Welcome back to another installment of my summer re-run series. I know how hard it is to find the time to look around a website to find the topics that interest you. That’s why I’m bringing some of the more timely topics to the forefront again.

This post is pretty timely in my house right now! Summer road trips have left the inside of our car, well, ridiculous. I’m sure many of us are in the same situation. Snacks, toys, maps, beach towels… all those things we need for a summer drive, never seem to make it out of the car. Then there’s the sand and dirt from the beach and the lake. Yes, it’s time to give the car a bit of attention.

Here’s a simple quick tune-up for the interior of your car:

Car interiorThis week’s Tidy Tuesday is dedicated to the car interior. I don’t know about you, but our car is in dire need of some attention. Since it’s supposed to be fairly warm and sunny today, I’m about to tackle that task.

Here’s my plan of action:

  1. Take a trash bag to the car and remove any papers, wrappers and other trash.
  2. Take out anything else that doesn’t belong in the car (think lost toys, books, bags etc) and return them to their proper home.
  3. Vacuum the entire car thoroughly.
  4. Wipe down all hard surfaces with a damp cloth.
  5. Clean inside of all windows. Go over the outside as well.
  6. Spot clean any stains on the carpet or seat covers with carpet cleaner or dawn dish washing detergent.

That’s it. I better get going on this :)

Ready for more spring cleaning tips? Take a look at the following Hillbilly Housewife Ebook

Spring Cleaning Guide

No More Restaurant Food – Frugal Challenge

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Welcome again to another edition of my summer re-run series. I am bringing topics from the past back up to the forefront this summer so you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedule to sit at the computer and scroll around looking for topics you missed – or can’t recall where to find one you are looking for.

I hope you’ll enjoy this Frugal Challenge today.  I thought it was a timely subject since we’re all running around like crazy this summer.  It’s hard to resist pulling into the fast food place when you’re headed back home from the lake or beach.  But, if you do that even a few times a week the cost really adds up.  Take a moment if you will to read this post.  This is a classic money saving step for so many of us.  Enjoy:

Hot Soup websizeAnother Monday, another frugal challenge. Are you ready? This week the challenge is to not eat any “restaurant food”. That means no eating out, no take out, no pizza delivery and not fast food. Are you game?

We hardly ever eat out these days, but that wasn’t always so. When I was working, I was notoriously bad about ordering a pizza or heading through the drive through on my way home from the office. Just the thought of having to cook and then clean up was just more than I could handle after a hard work day. I’m sure some of you are in the same boat.

Here are some thing that helped us make the switch to a homecooked meal existence:

Plan Ahead – If you have what you need at home to cook a fast and simple meal, you’re much more likely to do it and of course you’ll have dinner on the table without too much work or fuss. I make a menu plan for the week and then get what I need in one shopping trip.

Have Some Emergency Meals Ready – This really works well on those days when you’re super busy. Just cook up a few things that will store well in your freezer. Casseroles and baked dishes like lasagna work really well for this. I also like to keep one or two frozen pizzas from Aldi in the freezer for the same reason. I can pull them out, cook them and have dinner ready in about 30 minutes.

Simplyfy – You don’t have to cook a fancy meal every night. My family is perfectly fine with pasta and tomato sauce, a quick stir fry or even eggs and toast or pancakes for dinner. Find a couple of meals that you can put together fast and come back to them on nights when you’re tempted to order out.

Of course dinner isn’t the only meal we tend to eat out. How about lunch, breakfast or a quick snack? Not this week. Pack your lunch and take it with you to work and pack your breakfast or eat it at home before you leave.

Like all of our frugal challenges, this one is designed to develop a new habit that will save you money (in this case by cooking all of your meals and get out of the eating out habit), but this one also has an added side benefit. You’re most likely going to eat a good bit healthier by sticking to homecooked meals.

A Good Excuse To Take A Nap Today – Fuzzy Wuzzy Wednesday

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Welcome once again to my summer re-run series. Many of you have expressed your appreciation for my bringing these topics back up to the forefront so you don’t have to spend time scrolling around searching for the things you need to read. I appreciate your not wanting to spend time at the computer browsing.  So, today I bring you a fun little item that I posted a while back.

This topic is near and dear to my heart. Since I enjoy a nap, a rarity in my house, and I need to make decisions that are often difficult about running a household and taking care of my family, this particular topic remains one of my favorite.

Please take a moment to enjoy this post from the past:

Bedroom cozyI don’t usually get a nap in during the day, but I think I’ve found a reason to schedule the time.  Like most people, I’ve got one or two or a dozen decisions that I need to make; decisions on issues that are important to me and my family.  No matter how many times I list and re-list the potential solutions to these problems, I just end up right back where I started… nowhere.  So, another week goes by and I still haven’t decided what I should do.

Searching around the internet the other day, I stumbled upon a Harvard Medical School dream study authored by Deirdre Barrett, Ph.D.  I’ve always been interested in dreams, so I gave it a glance.  What I found was very encouraging to me and I quickly developed a plan around it to reward myself with a nap.

The study indicates that people who focus on a specific decision-making problem as they fall asleep, dream about a solution to that problem within a matter of a week or so.  Because our brains are less likely to be distracted as we’re in the deep-dreaming sleep stage, we will dream about the solution to our problem.  The idea is, we already know the answer, somewhere, but just can’t reach the conclusion we need until our brain relaxes enough to “dream up” the solution.

Now, if that isn’t an excuse to take a nice, long nap today, I don’t know what is.  Hire a babysitter, lay down when your baby takes a nap, call in Grandma… do whatever you need to do to get a nap in.  Get out a pad of paper and write down one decision you need to make or problem you need to solve.  Concentrate on one problem at a time.  After you’ve written out your problem, curl up under a big pile of covers, close your eyes, and relax.  Lights out, no television, no music… just pure quiet.  And sleep… perchance to dream.

Dreams and decision making.  This may be the craziest excuse I’ve ever heard to lay down and take a nap, but, as they say, it just might be crazy enough to work.  If not, you’ve gotten some well-deserved rest.  Treat yourself to a nap today.  Your world, and your family’s world, will be a little brighter.

Don’t Forget Your Air Conditioner – Tidy Tuesday

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

This is another in our summer re-run series.  I’m bringing up a few topics from past posts that not everyone got a chance to see the first time around.  Many of you have told me that they appreciate not having to scroll around searching for topics they’ve missed.  So, this seemed like a good time to find a few timely posts and bring them to the forefront.

One of the things that happens in our house during the summer is we get so busy we forget to take care of routine maintenance things – like changing the filter on the furnace, which is our air conditioner.  Since we live in a hot climate, our air conditioner runs quite a bit.  Making sure we change the filter routinely and clean around the outside area keeps the mechanics running smoothly, which saves money, and possibly a repair bill.

I thought, like me,  some of you may also be forgetting to do these simple maintenance items on your air conditioner.  Here is a post I did on that very topic some time ago.  I hope it serves as a reminder to you to take care of your air conditioner, just like it reminded me!  Here you go:

Filter airWe all like a nice and tidy home, so we pick little chores to do weekly to keep up with the dust and dirt tracked in as we go about our daily routines. When we have a little extra time, sometimes we pick a chore that requires a bit more effort. No matter what our tidying-up schedule accomplishes, we always feel better knowing that the floors, cupboards, showers, or windows have been given a little attention.

But, we might be missing something. When is the last time you cleaned around your furnace and air conditioner? And, when did you last have a professional take a look at it to make sure everything is running right?

Let’s say you have a combination heating and cooling system in your home. No matter where your system is located, whether it’s in a small utility closet, in a mud room, or in the basement, the area in and around the system is constantly collecting dust and dirt.

If you have a forced air system, it relies on the unobstructed movement of air to function. If you have a gas or electric hydronic system, you need to be sure that the burner elements are free of “dust bunnies” and other flammable objects. With pets in the house, you have yet another concern. Cat and dog hair is constantly being drawn into the room by the simple movement of air needed for the system’s operation. Get a bright light, grab a broom and the vacuum, and make sure that the floor and surfaces are dust and dirt free.

Now that you’ve swept up and made sure that nothing is obstructing your indoor heating and cooling system, take a look at your filter. How long has it been since you’ve changed it? You can find expensive “allergen free” styles, but the cheaper old fashioned ones are still available. Whatever kind of filter you choose, just be sure to change them often. I use a mid-priced filter and change it once a month. With pets in the house, that’s a necessity.

If your air conditioner is outdoors, it’s important to routinely sweep or rake leaves and other debris away from the unit. Clean up around your system after every storm and certainly before you turn on your air conditioner for the first time each year. Wiping the outside of the air conditioner with a clean, damp cloth helps remove any accumulated dust and dirt, especially after a long winter’s nap.

Routine maintenance for your heating and cooling systems will save you money in the long run. Most manufacturers recommend at least a yearly check up. Of course, if something doesn’t seem right all of a sudden, like the temperature doesn’t get up or down to where you have the thermostat set, call in a professional right away to avoid any costly, and possibly dangerous, problems.

Tidying up around your heating and cooling system may seem like it’s not a very rewarding chore to do, but when you realize the potential risks you are eliminating, you’ll be confident in saying “job well done.”

Ready for more tips for getting and keeping your home neat and tidy? Check out all the ideas at the Spring Cleaning Guide.

Fewer Trips To The Grocery Store – Frugal Challenge

Monday, July 5th, 2010

I started a little “summer re-run” series for our daily posts and have gotten some very positive response.  It seems not everyone has time to scroll around into the archives to find interesting challenges or topics.

Yes, there are several items from the archives that should be brought forward again so you busy folks can have a chance to take a look.  Here is one that is a very simple idea that can save A LOT of money at the grocery store.  I hope you’ll find today’s challenge timely and useful.  Here it is:
Supermarket
Creative Commons License photocredit: kozumel

Let me quickly explain the logic behind this week’s challenge. No matter how disciplined we are, each time we head to the store we are bound to buy some extra “stuff” that we don’t really need.

This week, we’re not going to let that happen. The challenge is to only shop once this week. (Or if you’re already doing this..go for 2 weeks or even the whole month). This will do two things.

1) It will force you to plan ahead for the week to make sure you have everything you need and enough food to make 7 breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

2) It will keep you from any extra purchases you may have made that 2nd and 3rd trip to the store.

Let’s talk about how to plan for this once a week shopping trip. I usually start by making a list of all the meals we will have that week. It’s called Menu Planning and once you get the hang of it, it won’t take you more than a few minutes and will make your life so much easier the rest of the week.

Make sure you include items that perish quickly (fresh produce, herbs etc.) early in your meal plan. When you get back from the store, put meat you will need during the first 2 days in the fridge and freeze everything else.

That’s about it… give it a try and enjoy all the extra time you’ll have by not having to go to the store every few days.

Happy 4th Of July

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

We are about to head out for a 4th of July celebration with our extended family, but first I wanted to wish you and yours a Happy 4th of July. Keep everyone safe with these simple Fourth of July safety holiday tips.

I came across this video this morning and thought you’d enjoy it as much as I have:

The Declaration of Independence

What Happened To The Signers?
Do you every wonder what happened to the brave men that signed the Declaration of Independence? I came across the following story by an unknown author.

Oh, and of course there is still time to whip up one of these yummy 4th of July dessert recipes.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed, and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners, men of means, well-educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told us a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. Our forefathers didn’t just fight the British. They were British subjects at that time, and they fought their own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted…and we shouldn’t.

So, let’s take a few moments while enjoying our 4th of July holiday and silently appreciate these patriots and thank the God who moved them. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.
Happy Independence Day!