Homemade croutons...

Yummy, crunchy croutons.  Who doesn't love 'em?  That's usually everyone's favorite part of a salad, right?  Well, why buy premade croutons when you can make your own?

 First, choose the bread you want to use.  Here I used whole wheat bread, but I have also used day-old rolls,  French bread, or white bread.  Cut them up into the size croutons you and your family like.

Here's where you get creative- spices.  Salt and pepper are needed for whatever other spices you choose.  Today I used Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.  Use whatever favorite flavors your family prefers and sprinkle about a teaspoon of each over all your cut up bread.

We LOVE garlic in our family and always make sure we use TONS of it.

After you've added the spices you like, drizzle olive oil over the bread cubes.  Start off with 3-4 T and, using your hands, toss the bread cubes around, making sure that all the bread is covered in oil.  The spices that you added earlier will be tossed around, too, to make sure they are more evenly distributed.  If the bread still looks too dry, then add a little more oil and toss. 

Here they are!  All ready for the oven!

Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, taking them out to toss them around in the pan every 10 minutes.  Watch closely to make sure that they do not burn.  You want your croutons nicely browned all over, but not burned. 

Mmmmmm!!!!  The finished product!!  Yummy, crunchy, flavorful, homemade croutons!! 

Bar Keepers Friend...

This product, ladies and gentlemen, is my new best friend!!!  For YEARS I have heard how awesome Bar Keepers Friend is. For some odd reason, I only thought this product was at specialty stores so I never bothered to look for it.  Lo and behold, there it was last week at Walmart of all places!  Sitting on the bottom shelf, just waiting for me to bring it home and give it a try.

Mr. U suggested that I clean the worst pot first.  I got my stainless steel pots and pans almost 2 years ago and this pot is the one that I always use to steep tea bags in to make sweet tea.  The pot is THIS STAINED in less than 2 years of making tea!!

But just LOOK at how shiny the same pot is after I used Bar Keepers Friend!!! 

I am SOLD!  I will most definitely keep some on hand now- at all times!!  So far I've scrubbed TONS of things.  What is it about a new cleaning product that makes you want to clean and clean?  LOL!!!

Do any of y'all love Bar Keepers Friend?  If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it!!

Who knew? Cleaning your washing machine!!!!

Will someone PLEASE tell me that I am not the last one to learn that we are supposed to clean our washing machines????  Seriously, I had no idea!  Yes, I wash the outside of the machine, but I never gave any thought to the inside of it!!  So what's a girl to do?  Yes, GOOGLE THE ANSWER!!  And here's I found...

Throw in dirty clothes, add some detergent, turn a dial and come back later to clean clothes. Ever wonder where all that dirt goes? Most of it rushes away with the drain water; but some lurks in your machine and can cause laundry to appear dull and gray...

Keep reading....and then be sure and tell me if you've ever cleaned your washing machine!!

Mothering on our Knees...

I love this post from Lorie.  While I do not (yet) have the resource she recommends, I can gain a lot from the 10 prayer topics she shares.

As she says, "Good mothering must always begins on our knees." 

Homemade Butterfingers????

Oh y'all!!  I am on Pinterest (who isn't, right?) and recently found a recipe for homemade Butterfingers!  And the secret is..... are you ready??...... CANDY CORN!!!  
The texture is not exactly like the store bought Butterfingers, but the taste is very, very close to it.  Mr. U is a major Butterfinger fan and REALLY likes these.  

So since they are sooo easy, why don't you give Homemade Butterfingers a shot?  They are DELICIOUS, for sure!!

Housework, Again?

“I’ve swept the floor three times already and it’s dirty again!”
Does this reality discourage you, make you want to walk away some days?

Keep reading what Kelly shares at Generation Cedar....

Do you know the bones of your Bible?

Thank you to Do Not Depart for a GREAT article reminding us why we need to memorize the books of the Bible!!!  Read here...

Homeschool Classroom Tour...

My friend Gretchen has a wonderful homeschool classroom!!  She is GREAT with organization and she offers some great tips.  Thank you, Gretchen!

A Fun Giveaway!

 A new website called Your Home. Well Done. has some GREAT ideas to encourage the homemaker AND the homeschooling mom!  Gretchen, the owner of Your Home. Well Done. says,
"Do you find yourself getting overwhelmed by the how’sHow will I find the time to get all my tasks accomplished? How do I manage my family’s schedule? How do I home educate my children when I don’t even remember grammar rules, the presidents, who did what when, etc? How do I sneak some “me time” in when I can’t even catch my breath?!

Do you find yourself wanting help but don’t even know where to start? Are you ready to roll up your sleeves, take action, and see lasting results? You are not alone. Let’s do this!"
And guess what?  Gretchen is having a giveaway to celebrate!!!  Here's how to enter!!
Your Home. Well Done. is celebrating "Back to School" week. This week on my website I will be posting activities, projects, tour of our school room, and will be having a prize giveaway! It is for a year subscription to FamilyFun Magazine. The deadline is Tuesday, August 16th EST 12:00 and the winner will be announced on Wed. August 17th. In order to participate in the drawing become a fan on my Facebook page- Your Home. Well Done. If they don't have a Facebook account then they can email me their name at yourhomewelldone@gmail.com

Be sure and visit Your Home. Well Done. on Facebook and enter to win!!!

Cleaning tips from all of you...

 On this post, I asked for cleaning tips and WOW did I get some great ones!!  Listed below are all the tips that y'all shared.  Thank you so much, ladies, for sharing all of these!!  I know many of us will benefit greatly from them!!

-Oh boy, cleaning tips...keep it natural (store bought or homemade cleaners) and I love baking soda and vinegar! They have so many uses. Oh, and I like to put half lemons in the garbage disposer to freshen up about once a week :-)

-My tip is to make a cleaning check list for my non-readers. I took pictures of the things that needed cleaning and then used the pictures to make a check list for the room they were responsible for.

-I really love Barkeeper's Friend for stubborn countertop stains and for cleaning the sink and stove.

-Cleaning tips? Get rid of what isn't used and declutter every nook and cranny every 6 months. and those wet / dry covered swiffer heads work great to pick up dog hair that sweeping leaves behind.

-As far as a cleaning tip, one thing I found is that while you are waiting for something, talking on the phone, watching the kids in the tub, do cleaning the in room you are in. If you are on the phone, cleaning goes by fast and it is amazing how nice it looks and you got a visit with a friend. While the kids are in the tub, shine the sink, wash the toilet (crack the window if you are worried about fumes) and sweep the floor, wiping around the toilet too. Give the kids a wash rag and some baking soda and have them clean the tub. The baking soda won't hurt them and it will get the tub cleaner!

-I think one of my best cleaning tips is getting the children involved! When they help so much more can be done! And with things like Norwex microfiber cloths being available they can do so much more to help!

-Tip: Train your young ones to help, and when they get older, they can take over most of the cleaning/laundry/yardwork

-Hmm, a cleaning tip from me is one I've often gone back to that I learned from Fly Lady: Do something everyday. Start with the kitchen sink. Even when it seems overwhelming, just keeping ONE thing sparkly (the kitchen sink) and it will spur you on.

-My one cleaning tip: wipe something up or off EVERY time you are in the bathroom. If you are drinking enough water you will be in there lots. This really does KEEP the bathroom clean!!

-Tip: I clean the bathroom while my girls are in the tub. I can be right there and keep an eye on them, but get some cleaning done. I use Trader Joe's multi-purpose cleaner so no worries about fumes.

  I also have my 3 & 4 year olds help with the laundry. They fold the towels and their clothes and are getting really good at it. They also sort the laundry for me. We make a game of it and they LOVE laundry time. You would think I was giving them a huge reward.

  OxiClean is wonderful for getting stains out of the carpet and I put a half of scoop in with each load of laundry (placed in the tub with the clothes) and it keeps the whites so white and pretty and they come out so fresh and clean smelling.

-Cleaning tip: Using a couple of drops of liquid dishwasher soap and a scotchbrite pad makes stainless steel sinks sparkle and removes stains. Just be sure to rinse it well.

-I'm not sure this is the best cleaning tip...but we like clean kitchen floors. When we have company coming, of course we scrub and clean. After everyone leaves (usually it's a large family) I feel the floor is dirtier than it was before they came! So my option is to just spot clean any major dirt quickly before the company visit and do a good scrub after they leave! Like I said...maybe not the best cleaning tip, but it works for us. :)

-White Vinegar and Baking Soda make a wonderful cleaning paste!
We even washed our clear vinyl shower curtain in this - came out looking like new!

-My cleaning tip is: to make a chart and list things to do daily in blue and then have one or two weekly chores added as well in red.

-My cleaning tip would be to establish a schedule to maintain cleanliness and prevent you from having to pull out the super harsh chemical products.

-One of my favourite cleaning tips is to spread the cleaning tasks and laundry over the week instead of doing a whole house clean or all the laundry once a week. I prefer this to the giant clean-a-thons.

-Cleaning tip: we are in the process of selling and relocating and so in order to put our house on the market and keep it clean, I had to declutter, declutter and declutter some more. :-) Now that I've gone through things to prepare for my move, I realized how much stuff I didn't really need. I think setting aside time to declutter (even if your not moving) can really motivate you and encourage you to do the next thing on your list.

And the winner is....

Congratulations, Deb!!  You are the winner!!  I will contact you and get your email information.

And by the way, if y'all have never been to Deb's blog before, please stop by!!  She is talented, loves the Lord and seems so warm and friendly!

Do YOU like to have a clean home? A GIVEAWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did you read 31 Days to Clean by Sarah Mae? Were you wanting more challenges?? If so, you are in luck!!
Jennifer Ross of Renewing Housewives
has written a follow up entitled Encouraging Challenges- The Month After 31 Days to Clean. Jennifer said she enjoyed Sarah Mae's ebook so much that she wanted MORE!! So Sarah Mae encouraged Jennifer to write the follow up. And she did just that!!

Even if you did not read 31 Days to Clean, Jennifer's ebook, Encouraging Challenges, is STILL a must have!  SO many inspiring words and helpful hints! 

Encouraging Challenges
is chock full of more encouragement and more cleaning challenges for you!! And the great thing is, I get to host a giveaway!!!

Here's how to enter....

1)Be sure and leave a comment below and I'll enter you in the drawing for this FABULOUS ebook!!

2)Share a cleaning tip that's been helpful for you and I'll enter your name twice!!!

3) Go visit Jennifer's blog to see all the wonderful ideas she has to spur us homemakers on in our roles!!  Be sure and let me know that you have visited her!!

BUT WAIT!!! IT GETS EVEN BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Jennifer's husband, Jason Ross, also has a new ebook out. It's entitled Nurturing a Godly Wife. Jason has included tips and analogies to help our husbands understand us wives a little better. Always a WONDERFUL thing!!  And you can win THIS, too!!

Don't forget to enter! And be sure and tell your friends!! Both of these ebooks are certain to encourage and grow you and your family!  And even if your name isn't drawn, you can still purchase both of these ebooks through the links I've provided- Encouraging Challenges and Nurturing a Godly Wife.

The deadline to enter will be 12:00 midnight EST this Thursday, August  4th, EST.  I will announce the winner on Fruiday, August 5th.

Worth reading...

Here are two articles I found very encouraging lately.  I hope you enjoy them, too!

Motherhood is a Calling (And Where Your Children Rank)

Home: A Woman's Domain

Saying I Love You with Food...

From Living On a Dime...

In this day and age of fast food restaurants and convenience food, we tend to think that most people, when going through a hard time, don't need a meal or a jar of soup brought to them.
Many years ago, before there were stores or fast food restaurants on every corner or microwaves in every kitchen, a neighbor bringing in a meal was sometimes a matter of physical survival. That isn't usually the case these days.
Even so, I hate to see bringing a meal to someone who is sick, has just had a baby or has lost a love one fall by the wayside. We often think the person or family can just pick something up or cook something easy in the microwave. They probably can but there are a couple of reasons why it is still nice to bring someone a meal.
Usually at these stressful times people are exhausted, both physically and emotionally. When this happens it is so hard to think and make decisions. Just ask anyone who has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Trying to decide what to cook or buy for a meal can be very overwhelming. It's often the straw that breaks the camel's back.
Having someone call and say, "I'm bringing a meal for you tonight," can help so much to ease a persons mind, which is probably overloaded with other things. It is just one less decision to make.
Bringing food is a way of saying, "I love you," or, "I care." Food is comforting to most people. (I'm not talking about people overeating to comfort themselves so please don't comment on that). Being a grandma, the minute I know the grandkids are coming, I get out the cookies and candy and, when friends arrive, the first thing I do is bring out a plate of cookies or put on the kettle.
Taking a plate of cookies to a new neighbor says, "Welcome! We are glad to have you!" Taking a meal to someone who is sick says, "I care." Let's not let another way of saying, "I care," fall by the wayside.
I will try to share more ideas on this subject in a future post but, for now, here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Make things as easy as possible for the person you are helping. Send napkins, plastic forks and spoons.
  • Start looking now for inexpensive bowls, platters and dishes at garage sales. You can leave these dishes when you take food to people so they don't have to worry about returning the dishes. When you can, try to use disposable pans and dishes so the people who are already overwhelmed don't have to wash dishes.
    There is a time and place to save the environment and this is not it. I save and wash most of the containers that I get when I buy things at the bakery or the grocery store and reuse them at these times. You would be surprised how many containers you get every day that would work great if you remove the labels and wash them.

Some good blogs I've visited lately...

Here's a few of the great blogs I've recently discovered...

- The Practical Housewife- Many of y'all will remember Mrs. Catherine from her former blog, Making It Home,  a few years ago.  She's SO encouraging to me to get my home clean for my family.  She's starting a week by week cleaning challenge next week.  YAY!!

-Mommy Evangelism- How in the WORLD are you still able to share your faith AND mother little ones at the same time??   Help (and encouragement) is here!

-Inspired to Action- I LOVE how Kat has a plan to keep herself focused on daily seeking the Lord FIRST and she also makes sure that she fits in exercise to keep herself physically healthy to serve her family.

-Renewing Housewives- Written to encourage us homemakers in our calling.  GREAT blog!!

Why memorize Scripture?

As Christians, we should be memorizing Scripture-hiding God's Word in our hearts.   We are to have the mind of Christ and how better to do that than to truly know them by heart?

How to get started?   Here are a few helpful ways from...

1) A Holy Experience

2) Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore)

3) Revive Our Hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

And here's what John Piper has to say about memorizing God's Word....

So... what are YOU memorizing right now? 

What came in the mail today....

YAY!!  Today I received the newest Duggar book in the mail!!  I'm in chapter 4 already and LOVE  A Love That Multiplies.  The book gives many details that were covered on the show, but tells more about each situation.  Very interesting and, as always, very encouraging in the Lord.

Spaghetti Bolognese...

I'm a big fan of Mad Hungry (the cookbook AND the cooking show).  Lucinda Scala Quinn's recipes have all been super delicious and easy to follow.  This Spaghetti Bolognese of hers is DELICIOUS! Our whole family heartily recommends this!

Chocolate Bird Nests for Springtime...

Our family has a tradition of celebrating the change of each season with a special tea.  Elizabeth really gets excited about these and even counts down the days!  She was so happy when I told her she could pick out our special dessert for our Springtime tea and she chose these Chocolate Bird Nests.   They were very simple to make and she LOVED being so involved with all the ingredients.  Her favorite part?  Licking the bowl, of course!!!!

Homemade Peanut Butter...

Elizabeth received a new cookbook for Christmas, Sesame Street C is for Cooking, and she LOVES it. The first recipe she wanted to make was peanut butter.

The recipe is very simple and, with the help of my blender, we whipped it up in no time!! When it was first finished, it was warm and runny. But after it spent the night in the refrigerator, it was PERFECT!! It was even more perfect on a piece of toast. Yum!!

Cookie Monster's Homemade Peanut Butter

1 pound (3 cups) dry roasted peanuts, unsalted or lightly salted
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

In large bowl, combine peanuts with oil. With a spoon, stir to mix well.

Pour the oiled peanuts into a food processor (I used a blender). Process until very smooth, about 3-4 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the peanut butter to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

I'm linking up with....

Today at Raising Homemakers...

Today at Raising Homemakers...
Over the years, the “picture” of what a homemaker is, or should be, has faded into one of drudgery, where a dull-minded, incapable woman fulfills her endless, boring duties of cleaning toilets, washing dishes, and vacuuming, reaping no rewards or satisfaction. She has a few children, which makes her job even harder, and the best she can hope for is the day they start school. This picture is being constantly promoted, devastating the sanctity of home and any desire to guard and keep it....(keep reading)...

Happy National Pie Day!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, well, yes, I will admit that I am a day late, but still, y'all, let's CELEBRATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I do have a good excuse for missing yesterday. A sweet lady from church and her granddaughter and grandson-in-law invited us to go out to eat with them after church. I had planned on celebrating National Pie Day yesterday, but I think celebrating dear friends visiting is way more important!!!

On with the pie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In honor of the day, I chose to celebrate with a simple quiche this year!!! Nope, no dessert pie here this year, but in it's stead a yummy and super easy bacon and cheese quiche. Yum!!

Bacon and Cheese Quiche
1/2 lb cooked bacon, diced
1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice (I used mozzarella and parmesan)
1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust (uncooked)
4 eggs
1 cup half and half OR whipping cream
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
dash of garlic powder

Place bacon and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into pie shell. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes until center is puffed. Allow quiche to stand 5 minutes before cutting.

(Note: I usually use PioneerWoman's pie crust recipe, but this time I used the Cream Cheese Pastry Dough from Mad Hungry.)

To do today....

To do today.....
1) 4 loads of laundry
2) dust ceiling fans
3) vacuum
4) clean master bathroom
5) steam and freeze Caroline's food
6) read and play with the girls

What's on YOUR to do list today?

Good Morning Girls...

Are any of y'all involved with Good Morning Girls?  The next session is starting up on January 15th and I'd love to be part of a group!!  Let me know if anyone is interested!

Mrs. U

Let's celebrate National Pie Day 2011!!!!...

Yes, it's that time of year again. Time to start deciding what pie you will be baking for your family to celebrate National Pie Day this year!! It'll be celebrated on Sunday, January 23, so you've still got a bit of time to pick the pie you want to bake and serve that day!!

So, anyone else want to celebrate National Pie Day with me this year?