Mom of 4kids4Lord Organizes – Part 1

It’s a bit difficult for me, but I’m going to just put myself out there in a series of posts on getting our household organized.  As uncomfortable as it might be, I’m hoping that it will be a bit freeing as well.  So here goes…

We have a lot of people in a small space.  Seriously, 6 people in a small space.  Add to that all of the baseball/softball equipment and supplies for my crafting business and it is just a recipe for impossible organization.

It took me too many years to listen to my mother.  “Less clothes, less stuff will free your mind”.  “Your Lord is a God of order and he made you in the likeness of Himself”.  And she is so right.  At 44, I’m just now figuring out that if I get rid of most of it, I won’t have to wash, clean, store, or worry about it.  Truly, how many pairs of athletic shorts and t shirts do these boys really need?

Fast forward to 3 weeks ago and a visit from my parents.  7 trips to St. Vincents in my dads truck.  Untold bags of clothing, books and STUFF.  And we haven’t missed one single thing.  In fact, I would wager to say that we are enjoying the things that we retained because we can actually find and use these items!

Although I vowed not to bring in any new items, I did rationalize a purchase of a credenza for our eating area.  It’s the hub of all of our activity.  Homework is done, family dinner is consumed (almost every night), laundry is folded and of course, the all important and dreaded, family meetings are held (more often than my children would prefer).

So this is what it looked like pre makeover.Image

See what I mean about putting myself out there?  NOT PRETTY!

I purchased a dresser from a resale shop (hereafter called a “credenza”) and this is what the space now looks like.

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Before we go any further, I must admit that I LOVE mid-century modern.  My dream would be to kick the Brady’s out of their house and move my crew in…

Back to the subject at hand – one drawer for note pads and pens, one for socks that are anxiously awaiting their mate, one for our cloth napkins, one for movies, one for camera equipment and one for the ever needed school supplies.  Which means we have one whole empty drawer!  I’d wager not for long.

I would love to hear about some of your favorite organizing projects!

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Not My Sisters Iced Tea

Twenty pounds and 5 months ago, I drank at least one soda a day.  It created a merry-go-round in my body.  Loved the caffeine, didn’t know what the sugar was doing to me – I know now.

Several weeks ago, my sister posted her version of an iced tea recipe, based on a recipe from our childhood.  And while nostalgia is cute and all, I gotta be honest.  I’m in love with Snapple raspberry and peach teas.  I don’t like this plain stuff, well, because it’s plain.

Being the frugal individual that I am, I scoured the internet for a copycat recipe and found a very good one that required syrups found only at my local coffee shop.  That got old after only one purchase and so I set about to find an even more economical way of getting the delicious fix.  About a week ago, I got it tweaked and here is the final, final recipe for a 3 quart pitcher.

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3 Lipton Tea Bags (I sometimes substitute one green tea bag for one of these)

1 Raspberry Tea Bag

1/4 cup Lemon Juice

1/2 cup Sugar (if you like it sweeter, add another 1/4 cup)

Bring a small sauce pan of water to a boil, remove from the heat, add all four tea bags and let steep for at least an hour – two if you can manage to wait that long (I usually can’t).  After waiting the required amount of time, add the sugar and lemon juice to the pitcher, trash the tea bags and add the tea concentrate to the pitcher and fill the pitcher with cold filtered water.

That’s it.  Pour a glass and enjoy!

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As a side note, I don’t buy soda anymore.  Correction, I have some ginger ale hidden for tummy troubles and some cola hidden for my migraine moments.  We have always strictly limited the soda intake in our home and it is even less now.  My harshest critics (my children) think this is great stuff, even with half the sugar that is found in the typical recipes on line.  I hope you enjoy and would love to hear your feedback!

Welcome back Margaret!

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Mags has been gone this week, visiting my parents.  I never realized how valuable her sleuthing skill were until a car ride home from the store upon her return.

She asked Thomas why he had a bowl of rice on his desk.  He quickly responded that he was going to make rice and then got distracted by a potty break.  At this point, my antenna hadn’t gone up – perhaps since I had been up since 4am.

She then asked him if he was really going to make rice in the orange bowl.  Hmmm.  Mommy radar now engaged.

Wait for it… Wait for it…  “Uncooked rice?” I ask.  “Yep” he glibly answers.  Ahhaa!  “Did you drop you phone in the toilet?”  “Yep” he sheepishly answers.

Granted, this is a first world problem, but lying isn’t and it isn’t ok in this family, EVER.  Guess we don’t need to use our phone for a few days.

Waste Not…

Several months ago, almost a year ago now, I decided we used entirely too many paper products in our home and it was a drain on our weekly food budget as well as a needless drain on our environment.  Lest you be concerned, I still purchase toilet paper and tissues for the snotty noses.  But one major item we could eliminate was paper towels.

I paid a little attention to our habits and realized that we were using them primarily for napkins and milk spills on the counter.  For me, a major WASTE!  Since I already have a handy dandy serger, I cut some extra fabric I had laying around and finished the edges.  The end result was a large variety of cloths and everyone gets to pick their favorite based on their mood that day.

Fast forward to several weeks ago when I was chatting with my sister from ofgoodfamily.com and she mentioned that she would like to have some.  Yea, I got to pick out some new remnants and this is what I ended up with, 16 reusable cloths for less than $9.

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A little pink for Millie, some Sesame Street for my sister, and sports for the boys.

Here is how I did it – so easy and could be done in your home as well.

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One yard of fabric, cut into four even sections.

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Finish the edges.

I used my serger but folding under 1/4 inch and then folding over again and stitching with a regular sewing machine would work just as well.

It isn’t a big contribution to the environment but each little bit adds up to something much larger and it’s a great lesson for my family to learn.

Calm, Calm, Calm

It has to be something along the lines of yoga.  Or meditation.  Or just plain old fashioned brain washing.  Whatever it is, it works and my mom is, once again, a genius.  

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Recognize these kids?  It was a few years ago but Grandma Greta had all three for a week and this is the technique she used to calm them down (or calm herself down!).  She would sit them on the floor, criss cross applesauce, have them close their eyes and repeatedly say out loud “calm” while moving their open palm from the top of their head past their waist.  


Sounds a little new age, right?  And maybe it worked well for her because she is “Grandma!” and viewed as controlling everything from the weather to the food supply – including the availability of ice cream.


But I’m guessing there is a little more to it.  I’m guessing that our soul responds to, even seeks, peace.

Shut The Front Door

Shut The Front Door!  Literally.  Shut the front door.  I’m exhausted from saying it.  My children just don’t get it.  It’s over 100 degrees on the heat index.  Can you see what a lovely evening it is outside?  That shouldn’t be possible!

 

Ignore the patchy strip of lawn.  Yikes!  I’ll write later about the baseball diamond worn into our front yard…

Meanwhile, I am sweltering as I make dinner.


Does this post seem a tad grumpy?  Sorry.  I can’t wrap my arms around why I can’t convey the importance of shutting the door.  So much for minding our environment.


I must confess that I am not a big “yeller”.  But I finally had to cry uncle and raise the voice a few decibels.  Well, yelling is never a viable long term behavior modifier so I took a page from my moms book and decided to “deal in their currency”.  Which, for them, is literally currency.  $$$!  

 

I’m currently up to $1.14.  Wish me luck.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

 

Air Drying The Old Fashioned Way

After 10 1/2 years, my dryer is finally going.  That’s not bad by today’s standards.  And since the budget didn’t prepare for a major appliance replacement this week (and we don’t live on credit), Daughter 1 and her friend set me up with a clothes line in the back yard.

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So two things stand out through this experience.  First, the other three children haven’t ever seen a clothes line up close and personal.  They aren’t so sure about it – I mean, their “undies” hanging out in the neighborhood, among other things.  Second, we have been working hard to simplify our lives and be much more conscious of our environment and our wise use of resources.  So how did I miss this for so long?


I can’t say that this is the fastest way to complete a load of laundry, especially on a beautiful, humid, Northern Indiana evening.  But there is something so wonderfully relaxing and satisfying about it.  I feel like a good mom and a good human.  I can almost feel my dream of a cabin in the woods, with homemade granola emerging from the oven (next weeks adventure!), sitting on my front porch, reading a comfortable novel.


For anyone interested, my total investment was $10 for the rope.  The tree it’s tied to has already cost me a pretty penny in maintenance and limb removal but I’m not counting that. 

Greta’s Meatloaf

And so begins my first blog.  On this, the 45th anniversary of my parents marriage, I am embarking on a blogging and cooking journey back through time and back through my mothers life.  I want to know her for real.  I want to know how she grew to become such a wonderful mother and how that helped shape me into the mother I am today.

Like me, she also has 4 children and was intent on raising them to glorify the Lord.  In 1967, Greta married Charles and off they went on a journey through life.  Like every couple that gets to this point in marriage, the journey was filled with highs and lows, times of prosperity and times of frugality, periods of joy and periods of frustration.  And here they are, 45 years later!

But through it all, my mom could cook!  And bake!  And I am thrilled to share with you one of her most infamous recipes.

 It all starts with the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook my dad gave her shortly before they were married (it’s the only item I have asked for to date).  And the inscription he put in the front of the book.

 

 

I called my parents today to wish them a happy anniversary and, of course, was met with a story.  My mom thought it would be wonderful to surprise my father with a proper dinner on their anniversary so she planned and prepared the meatloaf the day before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to meld the flavors.  As he was returning from an errand, she was removing it from the oven with a damp pot holder.  Yep, we can all see what is coming next.

Mmhmm.  She dropped the meatloaf.  Well, as she put it, fortunatly she keeps a pretty clean house because they decided that they weren’t going to waste a perfectly good meatloaf and mashed potatoes and glazed carrotts.  They rescued that sucker and sat down to dinner, together.  45 years later…

Here is the recipe for this wonderful meatloaf (minus the time spent on the floor) and I sincerely hope you enjoy.  And just perhaps you will get to tell your children a story 45 years later…


Since I am cooking for 6, I double this recipe.  2 lbs of 85% lean ground beef.

 

Spice it up with minced onion, salt and pepper.

 

Add the egg, milk and torn bread, then mix it all together.

 

Form it into a loaf – I love to use my vintage Pyrex (another serious addiction!).  Since I made a double batch, I used a large oval casserole dish.  Bonus – the lid makes storing leftovers easy!

 

Now for the sauce!  Major YUM!

 

So simple, yet so good!

 

Cover the top of the meatloaf with the sauce and then alternate thin slices of onion and lemon.

 

Finished product.  It is really so very good.  Comfort food at it’s best!  Enjoy!

 

 

In Greta’s own words:

 

Mom’s Meat Loaf

 1 lb. lean ground beef

1 beaten egg

1 slice soft bread torn into small pieces

1 Tblsp. minced onion (dry)

1 tsp. iodized salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 cup milk

Thoroughly mix all ingredients (squish it with your hands!). Place in a glass Pyrex pan (spray first with Pam for easier clean up) or an ungreased oven-proof cast iron skillet. I like to use the old blue ceramic-clad iron skillet that Grandma Dode used.

1/2 lemon sliced paper thin

1 small onion (yellow or sweet) sliced paper thin

Alternate slices on top of meat loaf.

 

2/3 cup ketchup

1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix and pour over meat loaf.

Bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

 

“This recipe actually came from Dad’s sister Margie when we were first married and I still have the stained 3×5 card on which she wrote it.”