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Monday, December 19, 2011

50's with a twist...

So everyone knows my desire to be the quintessential 50's housewife.  (sans martini to the hubs as he comes in the door) but I'm also doing it with a twist.  The 50's were all about convenience foods.  I'm not into that much processed foods.  (MSG gives me massive headaches) and I frankly like raw foods.  Now, I'm not going to go all nutty on you- that's on my other blog:  here.  I AM, however, going to let you in on a secret- when Charlie and I get stationed at our new place, I plan on gardening.  Not just pretty flowers, but serious veggie gardening.

I may or may not devote an entire blog to that, or I'll just keep labeling it so you can follow along if you'd like.  As I have NO CLUE how much space I'll have or what grows best in the climate we'll be in, I'll have to make decisions a little later; when we move.  Hopefully, I'll be able to figure out what, when and where.  I DO know I'll have raised beds though for higher yield gardening.

Man I'm excited!

Oh, I'm also going to make myself a collection of awesome retro dresses and tons of circle skirts to pair with my button down shirts.  Basically, I'm going to retro myself up.  I like it, though I don't want to do it all "costumey".  I'm not looking for poodle skirts, but basic retro inspired looks, and since I'm handy with a needle, bring them on! :)

one of my favorite day-time dresses is this.  Is this NOT the best for basic around-the-house/ going-to-market type wear?  I LOVE it, and I'm going to make at least 7 of them.  It's just too stinking cute, and oh- SUPER easy to sew.

BUT I'm not going to make any until after I've had the baby, and I"ll have to figure out how to adapt it for nursing... hmmm.  We shall see, huh?

oatmeal bath.

My sweet son (11 months old) is getting over a diaper rash.  Regardless of how often we changed him, he just got a monumental diaper rash.  Now I cloth diaper (mainly for economical reasons) and it's not typical for him to get a rash, but this one was a doosy!  (how's that for a 50's word?!)

Daddy to the rescue.  He bought Aveeno oatmeal bath.  I remember this from when I was a kid and had chicken pox.  I don't remember it doing much for that ridiculous itch, but I do remember that it had softening and drying properties.  So, twice a day he got a bath... until it got expensive.  What's a SSHDiva to do?  OH wait!  (insert theme song and internet here...)  MAKE some colloidal oatmeal!  (or as my daughter used to call it- oat-ma-neal)

Wait, what makes it so special?!  Colloidal oatmeal is basically oatmeal ground so fine that it is suspended in liquid, instead of globbing to the bottom like regular oatmeal in a bowl.  It's just the consistency.

So, I broke out my baby bullet (yes, I bought one, and used it for my son like 6 times; he decided he didn't want to eat baby food, he's decided solids are more his style.  From boob to solids.  Awesome, huh?)  anyway, put on the grinder (not the blender blade) and blended several cups of oatmeal into a powder similar to oat flour.

Tada!  store in a mason jar in the bathroom on the shelf above the toilet and voila!  His diaper rash cleared up  (also used desitin, but I really think that the oatmeal helped immensely!)

Oh, for a fabulous mask for oily skin, I use this.  1T-2T oatmeal and honey until a thick paste.  Spread on cleaned face and let sit.  Rinse off, using as a scrub also.  Super soft skin= yay!!

I am in L-O-V-E with this site!

I get no royalties, but these lovely ladies think very much the way I do.  They have a TON of cleaning info, and that is smart and savvy for all of us homemaker divas!  So, without further ado, please let them know how awesome you think they are too!  They have their stuff together (or at least act like it!!) and it looks great!  :)

I love all of their homemade cleaners and tips, some of them are super similar to mine.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm going all 50's housewife!

So, for those of you who know me, (ha!  both of my subscribers... :/  not even my husband is subscribed.  awesome, huh?)  know I have a penchant for most things retro.  Well, I've been doing research on how to be a "better" wife, and most people seem to think that the 50's quintessential wife is the out-dated suppressed, exploding to scrub a toilet kind of woman.

I've been reading Jen but not Jenn's blog on being an experimental 50's housewife and She seemed to have the idea before I did, but I also wanted to do an experiment.  HOWEVER I will not be serving 50's style food... for the most part.  Casseroles were a HUGE part of the 50's, so yeah, I"ll be doing that, but the gelatin not so much.

I am already a sewer and a crafter and someone who likes to cook, so I will be blogging about my experiences there.  What will be interesting is while I'm of a general 50's mentality (serve your man) I was brought up in a very feminist liberal household.  This is a COMPLETE 180 from where I was brought up.  I just love it though.  The simplicity of the time, with all the modern conveniences of today.  (I'm NOT giving up my mixer, and my dishwasher leaves grit over everything I'll have to hand wash them.  ugh.)

So, included in this experiment will be my nightly ritual of removing my makeup, and pin curling my hair.  I may even take some pictures for you.  Being pregnant, I don't have very many retro clothes, but I do have some that I can perk up.  But, since I DO sew, I will be making myself some more skirts, and finding some button down shirts that will fit, tailoring them to my body (or hopefully finding them big enough to fit my ever expanding belly of twins at places like motherhood maternity or some other place rather cheaply).  I'm also going to be making myself several aprons.  Both tea aprons (just from the waist down) and some more klutz-friendly aprons that will help protect my clothes better.  (I'm trying for something a little better than full-body tarp here, though that would help me!)

Ok, well I'm going to head off for now.  BUT, I will let  you know that I'm going to be giving up internet except for this blog and my emails which I will be calling people back unless I absolutely can't.  (I have international friends and family, but no international calling plan.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Crock pot cooking!

I have been compiling some crock pot recipes.  A few of my favorites are pot roast, stuffed cabbage, chicken burritos, soup, pork butt, meatballs in sauce.. the list goes on and on.  If you're not familiar with your crock pot, or you don't have one, may I suggest you get one and learn to love this little convenient appliance?

When I first got one for my first marriage 11 years ago, I had NO CLUE how to use it.  It's become my favorite little gadget in the kitchen, particularly when I'm pregnant, and KNOW I'll be tired that day.  Not to mention, for all of you working Divas out there, you know that you'd LOVE to come home to a home cooked meal that you prepared that you didn't really have to do anything for.  I mean, throw the ingredients in that morning (or even the night before, and keep them in the fridge and just start it when you get up in the morning!) and you're good to go.

My biggest brainfart on this is not plugging in the pot and not realizing that.  Yeah, I've done that.  it's not the highlight of my day, but you remember to make sure it's plugged in next time, trust me! LOL!

Here's my recipe for potroast: (for reference, T= tablespoon, t= teaspoon)
1 beef roast- FROZEN!
1 bag of stew vegetables (bag of carrots and potatoes)
2T onion powder,
2T garlic powder
2 t of kosher salt
1 T italian seasoning

Put frozen roast in crockpot, and arrange frozen veggies around it.  fill with water until about 2/3 full.  Add the seasonings and put on lid.  (make sure pot is plugged in) and turn on High.  Cook for several hours until done.

more crock pot cooking to come!

Yeah, we get it...

It's 3:20 in the morning when I started writing this, so please bear with me.  (or is it bare with me?  Either way, humor me will you?)

Every one of us knows how to be a home keeper. Now if anyone has any issues with that, let me start off by saying that is SO MUCH MORE than chores.  Any monkey can be trained to do dishes or run a vacuum.  I'm talking about truly keeping our home.

First and foremost, (and I've said it before) I'm a Christian. While I have yet to shove my beliefs down someone's throat, I am not ashamed of it, nor am I going to cowtow while someone comes to me trying to shake my beliefs.  Now, with that said, I believe that the proper way to run a home is with God at the forefront.  After all, if God is for us, who can be against us?

There are days when it feels like not only the world is crashing in around us, but that we've been abandoned by God in our daily tasks.  Take for example my situation:  I realized lately that I'm sort of a hoarder.  I didn't know it had an official name.  I always thought that it was just "how I am".  I've heard words like pig, sloth, lazy, trash heap, and other cruel, hurtful, belittling, and demeaning names all of my life mainly by my parents.  Funny, my mom was the same way.  I have to ask- when did someone ever change by making them feel like crap?  Anyway, I veered off the path here, let me regroup....

I've found that there are a few ways to bring me back to Godliness in my home.  Fun sidefact:  no where in the Bible does it say "cleanliness is next to Godliness".  Kind of makes those of us who feel so unworthy (my hand is raised here!) relieved to know that my salvation isn't tied up into the sanitary level of my home.  The ways I've found are NOT the be-all end-all list, they're just what helps me get through the day and start the day right.

What is my attitude like?  Have I spent time with God this morning?  Have I TRULY spent time with God this morning, not a quick prayer as I'm taking care of my morning bladder drain, but really sat down before the kids get up (Proverbs 31:15), before life "starts" and set my soul right with God?  I notice a monumental difference in the fact of when I do this to when I don't.  When I do, the kids are more compliant, the daily grind of chores seem to get done quicker, there is peace in the home.  What happened?  The only thing I did differently than I normally do is I spent time with the ultimate attitude adjuster. I realized that decision was made by me and I alone hold the key to the family's attitude for the day.

I'm not talking cheerleader peppy here (though if you are, that's great sunshine!)  I'm speaking more along the lines of doing what all mothers have done through history.  Shutting up and putting a smile on their face.  NOT a plastic smile that is not only demeaning but cold but truly smiling.  The kind that gives you lines and you don't care smile.  The smile that makes other people wonder what is it that you have that they don't.

Oh now Ruby, I just don't FEEL like smiling today.  I don't FEEL like being cheerful, why can't the family just do what I tell them to?  Suck it up, buttercup!  It's not about you!  (woah!  Hold on, I'm about to lose some of you here... this is the bear with me)  Remember what I said about your attitude?  attitudes are catching, and if you don't believe me, for you wonderful women who work outside of the home, does your boss's attitude not set your mood?  You're the boss of your home sweetie!  How do you think that hierarchy works; everyone else's attitude should be great and they are there to put you in a cheerful mood?  Sorry peanut, doesn't work that way.  You're not the king to be served, you are in fact a servant of your family, but there's great news about this!  Jesus said (paraphrasing here!) that if you put yourself first, you will be the least.  If you serve you will be greater.  (Mark 9:35)  So see, people aren't there for your martyrdom.  You're here to help your family, so would you rather trudge and have everyone "see" your sacrifice, or would you rather do it cheerfully, train your children that it's not something to be "burdened" with and instead it's something to be rejoiced over!

Frankly, bring on the cheerfulness for me.  I'd rather do it with a kind heart than be obnoxious about it.

This goes hand-in-hand with cheerfulness.  2Corinthians 9:7 says (at the end) that...God loveth a cheerful giver.

Filling your home with junk from stuffmart will NOT make you happy.  Donating or giving away that extra waffle iron, or the cookware you NEVER use, or the kids clothes that they've grown out of WILL.  How do I know this?  Because the harder I cling to something the more I get convicted of letting some things go.

I have a cricut.  For my non-crafty friends, it's a die cutting machine that allows me to cut various shapes and fonts out of paper or vinyl or even fabric so I can etch glass, scrapbook, make cards, decorate my home, etc.  This is my baby.  My kids aren't even allowed to touch it, BUT I have done so much for others with it.  I've made everything from wedding invitations to baby announcements and favors, but most recently for my BFF's son, I made 17 hot cocoa holders with reindeer and snowmen on them for him to give to his class before Christmas break.  (we homeschool, she doesn't.)  Now, my point to that was I CLING to my cricut.  That's something that unless convicted by the Lord, I'm not giving up, HOWEVER in that, I use my talents to create for others, and I have made things to share with people.  And it's been cheerful!

So, give what you can, BUT the key to this is DO NOT OVER-GIVE.  Now I'm not talking about "you can't out-give God" I'm talking about:  Yes, you have a PTA meeting on Wednesday, you have a church bake-sale on Saturday, and there's the canned good drive, and don't forget the costume your child needs by thursday night, and oh by the way, you promised Goodwill that you'd have all of those clothes boxed up by 9AM tomorrow morning, and Friday is your husband's boss's dinner party that you're expected to look perfect for, and what do you mean you're coming down with a cold.. stop. Stop. STOP!

Life gets busy and overwhelming, and hectic, WE GET THAT.  Ha!  We're moms, boy howdy do we get that.  My point is that scheduling yourself into oblivion will ruin your family.  Doing for others is wonderful.  Why are you doing for others what someone else can be handling?  For those of you wonderful women who think the world would collapse and would completely fall apart if you just ignored what everyone else was relying on you for do me a favor:  Put your fist into a bucket of water.  (just do it.)  and yank it out really fast. Do you see the hole your hand left?  no?  are you sure?  Oh wait, the water rushed back in, didn't it?  THAT is how fast someone can fill your place, superchick!  God made you one woman, not every woman to everyone.  He designed you for a purpose and that purpose wasn't to serve others while your family is left to the wolves.  He also didn't design you to overschedule yourself so you have nothing to give to the ones you love.

This was a lesson I learned the very hard way.  PLEASE don't make the same mistake.

Love is.... ?  I always thought love was doing for others and not expecting things back.  Well it is- to an extent.  Do you love yourself?  I'm not talking about selfishness, I'm talking about loving yourself enough to lock yourself in the bathroom, light a few candles, put on some soft music and de-stress once or twice a week with a warm bubble bath, or going to exercise to get the tension out.  True, honest, love of the one that our Creator made to care for your family.  Taking care of yourself, regardless of Armageddon happening just outside your bathroom door.  Between the toddler screaming for your attention, the older kids arguing, and the husband needing one thing or another, surprisingly it will all be ok for the next hour.  You will be missed, but you will be so much better a mom/wife if you take care of yourself.  If this is something your family will have to get used to, schedule it on the calendar.  Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons if need be.  (or whatever days work for you, this is just a suggestion)

Delegate.  please note, this is NOT dictating.  You are not the Hitler of your home, you are a delegate.  You assign things like chores, NOT demand.  You teach not tyrade.  You show how your home is to be run.  You train your children how to do things, and teach them the skills they'll eventually need to run their own homes.  THIS is what makes you a great mom, not how many cookies you've baked, or how spotless you've kept their clothes, or even how the bed corners get folded.

Teaching your children (and yes, in my case even my husband) that dirty laundry goes in the hampers (we have 4- whites, colors, darks, and towels) is delegating.  I'm not a bad wife for not being a slave to my husband!  I keep my home, and as such I fail to see how picking up his uniform/socks/undies/etc off of the floor makes me a better wife when I could spend that time loving him.  It's just as easy for me to train him that if his clothes don't make it into the hamper, they don't get washed as it does for me to do it for him.  Not to mention, I'm pregnant with twins right now and it's frankly easier on my body if I don't have to constantly bend over.  This is one of those love things.  I love myself enough to not put extra strain on me.

Making my family solely dependent on me is NOT love.  That's selfish.  Training them to do things for themselves if ever I am out of commission, THAT is love.

We have a binder in our home.  It's our (last name) home maintenance binder.  It has all of my routines in it for morning, afternoon, evening and before bed.  I also have it broken down into zones for the home, as well as days of the week.  (it's a modified version of the one flylady has.)  it's CONSTANTLY under tweak.  Why?  because the needs of my family varies per season.   For example, right now it's Christmas time.  WE have much more things scheduled this month than we do in say... May.  Well, not this coming may, I'm expecting the twins, but you get my point.  My HMB will be cleaned out the first of the year, and will be made to update for the next three months.

This binder lets anyone know that in my absence, not only where I'll be (check the calendar) but if I'm out of commission for a while, what needs to be done.  My 7 year old daughter is so well trained in the running of my home (proud mama moment here...) that I can basically check out for a few days and she would continue to do it, INCLUDING change and bathe the baby.  This is a LOT of responsibility for this girl, however she is also in training to be a Godly woman who will run her home.

Well, I've taken a left turn at Albuquerque but my basic point is this:  homekeeping is so much more than chores.  It's the attitude you have to go along with it, it's the spending time with God and making sure that you are right with Him, so you can be right with your family, and it's the running of the home and those in it that make things worth it.

Lastly:  I'm comparing you wonderful ladies to a lighthouse.  You are the beacon that draws your family in.  You let them know when there's danger, you show them how to go, you even guide them through times when they can't see for themselves.  You are a light.  Enjoy it Diva!

Matthew 5:16

King James Version (KJV)

 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Are you a hoarder?

 Are you a hoarder?   Wow that question hit home for me.  I was watching hoarding: buried alive on netflix and I looked at some of those people and asked out loud "why can't you just throw your crap out?"  And I looked around and discovered- I don't always through out my stuff.

The reason we cling to things is complex.  We find emotional value in it.  Some of us were even raised/partially raised by people who have survived the great depression.  Heck, my grandmother was born in the middle of it, (mom's mom) and my other grandmother was born in 1915 so she DEFINITELY survived the depression.  My grandfather was born in 1914 and when he died, you could see the hoard he had.  his entire detached garage was stuffed full of things that he placed emotional value into but meant nothing to the rest of us.  It took weeks to clear out the junk from his stash.

I wasn't raised in the cleanest house either.  I mean it wasn't a landfill, but there was usually quite a bit of clutter.  After seeing my grandfather's stash and how my house was, I figured everyone lived like that.  Boy howdy was I wrong.  You can't breathe in clutter.  And after a while, I'm convinced it breeds on it's own (much like dust bunnies!).

The magic pill:
Sorry, there is none.  There is an old-fashioned remedy though.  I want you to completely ignore the saying  "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" for a minute.  There will be a time and place for it in a minute.  The old-fashioned remedy is sweat.  Much like sweat rids toxins from your body, you need to sweat out the stuff you don't need.  We LOVE getting organizing things and thinking "finally, this is waht I need to organize the stuff I have, etc."  Listen to me very carefully- there is NO WAY on God's green earth that the things you have will all be organized.  Why?  Because clutter and junk has no place.  That combination flashlight, swiss army knife, perm rod, curtain hanger and pocket iron has zero room in your home even though it "multi-tasks" because there's no where to put it!  Get rid of it.

I'm all for yardsales... when it's yard sale season.  At the time I'm writing this, it's December 9th, 2011.  Needless to say, it's not the season for yardsales.  Who in their right mind is going to get up at 6 in the morning to hop into a car to schlep themselves to your home to look through your used junk... in the cold?!  In spring, early summer and early fall is the time for yardsale.  Here's the catch though:  DO NOT SAVE YOUR CRAP FOR THE NEXT SEASON!

Yes, you can potentially make money on yard sales.  Do you always?  Nope.  I had a yardsale when I was moving from Illinois to Virginia.  I made $65.  I had it open for two days, heaved all of my crap out onto the lawn several times.  It was the worst weekend I'd ever experienced, particularly for two days worth of work (6-4 both days!), I brought in 3.25 an hour.  I bawled like a baby when I realized that.  Not to mention some of the things I sold were so under-priced it was ridiculous.  Surprisingly it wasn't like the shows that put all of your stuff on sale and make thousands of dollars.  shocker, I know.   Now I'm all for shopping at yardsales- WHEN you need the items you're purchasing.  For example, I'm due with twins in May.  I will be yard sale shopping for baby clothes (and jeans for my son who is super hard on clothes!) in the spring.  I will not be shopping for that end table that is absolutely fabulous and while there's no particular need for it right this second, I'm sure I"ll find a place for it somewhere... no.  NO!  NO! NO!!!  Ma'am, step away from the bargain bin.

If you have a hard time letting go of things ask yourself, "is this item still in usable condition, AND if it is, would someone actually purchase it?"  be honest with yourself.  If you don't want to throw it away and it meets the criteria of actually being loved by someone else, why not donate it to your local church, thrift store, goodwill, etc?  I'll add a list of ideas for places you can deliver to at the end (if my preggo brain remembers!).

But Ruby, what do I do if I just CAN'T let the item go?  Well this is where you have a cross-roads type of decision.  Is the baby blanket you've held onto for the past 40 years because your child whom you brought home from the hospital in it has not only moved out, but had a family of their own and didn't want the blanket so you got stuck with it really that sentimental?  Yes, you have memories, but is the person not more important to build memories with?  If you don't think you'll have memories, may I suggest scrapbooking?  Take a picture and put it on a page with a note "I brought Skippy home in this blanket from the hospital".

Sentimental value is worthless to everyone else.  Will it be worth it to your children and grandchildren to have to clean out years of things you felt were important?  If they don't value your things as you do, how can you be sure they will after your death and they have to clear out your "valuables"?  

True collections are something else.  My ex husband collected comic books.  Surprisingly, they're not as collectible as people make them out to be.  He HOARDED this for years, wouldn't read them but refused to get rid of them.  It drove me nuts.  If you truly have a collection you think is worth something, why not get it appraised by an auction house?  If you don't like what they have to say, you can always go to another auction house or meet with another appraiser.  If anything, try to find the Antique Roadshow... you never know when they'll be in your area.

With that said, I just cleaned my living room for 2 hours with my two oldest children.  There are tons of things that I'm willing to get rid of that kids find some sort of value in.  I don't recommend throwing things out behind their backs most of the time, but I DO recommend you get them involved.  If they feel part of the process they will be more apt to throw things out.  Here's the rub though:  if you're not willing to chuck anything, why should they be?  Don't get mad at their clutter when yours is there.  In Biblical terms, don't point out the speck in someone else's eye when you've got a plank in yours, honey!  Now, that 2 hour marathon cleaning- unfortunately my living room still isn't clean.  I am pregnant and constantly tired, so I wasn't moving as fast as I could have and I definitely wasn't on my "A" game.  I am not finished, but I am closer to my goal.   It's my hope that I can put my christmas tree up this evening.  If I get it, great, if not, I'll finish cleaning the living room tomorrow and the family and I will get it up then.  Will my day be ruined if I don't get my tree up tonight?  Nope; if anything I'll be able to breathe a little easier in a more clutter-free environment.

It's my goal to throw out/ give away/donate most of the things I haven't used in over a year.  Why keep it?  my extra waffle iron isn't going to give me the warm fuzzies, but it does take up space and make me feel bad because I don't provide my family with warm homemade breakfasts regularly.  I am still a good mom even if htey eat a granola bar!  Out it goes because of this.

So, are you a hoarder?  I think that I have the tendencies for it and I want better for my children so I'm working toward getting rid of junk.  I have decided that people are more important than things.  Things can be replaced so in the hopes to live a more simple life, I'm downsizing my possessions.

I'll be posting a 4 part post on the statement "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" in a little while.  Watch for it. :)

Places you can donate:
thrift stores,
nursing homes (blankets, scarves, etc)
homeless shelters
women's shelters (GREAT for unused, unopened beauty products)
church donations,
red cross (usually willing to take clothes, blankets, extra backpacks, etc)

The best part:  when you bless others, blessings will come back to you!  I'm a SUPER firm believer in the fact that you CAN NOT out-give God.  The more I bless others, the more He blesses me- I'm going to be giving away and throwing out what can't be given.  It's time I gave to others more.

Am I a hoarder?  If I ever was, the answer is no longer.