Soaked Homemade Oatmeal

Soaked Homemade Oatmeal

Mornings are about smiles, hugs, coffee and my daily greeting to my kids “How did you sleep, my love?” as each of them wakes up and emerges from their rooms. As the aroma of coffee fills the kitchen, it becomes the place in our home that we busily pack lunches, get breakfast, chat about the days activities and to-do items … before my hubby rushes out the door and I chauffeur the kids to school. The chauffeuring is my FAVORITE part of the day! We chat about what happened the day before and they share what is on their ‘agenda’ for the day. Yes, even 2nd graders have things on their ‘agenda’ … it’s fun to listen to them grow, share achievements and worries. I don’t want to think about how different it might be … if I didn’t take them to school. While working in the corporate world just a few years ago, my mom lovingly took care of our kids, so we could work. Each day, before they were school age, my mom made them breakfast! My mom being raised in the North, turned to a breakfast that would “stick to your bones” as she always said. For me and my brother, as kids, and even my kids today … that means, hot cereal! We LOVE … Oatmeal, Cream-of-Wheat, CocoWheats and don’t forget Malt-o-Meal! My kids would remind me if they were reading over my shoulder … “Don’t forget the Dunkie-Toast!”. More about that in a minute! Along this journey of getting more healthy one Baby Step at a time, I came across an article ten years...
Boxed-to-Basics: Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

Boxed-to-Basics: Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

Dirt … Mud … Dead Bugs … Toilet seats … Oh, I can’t take it anymore, yuck! Double yuck! I can remember before my kids, walking into some well known ‘bath stores’ to buy those bottles of hand soap that were brilliantly designed and smelled amazing! They always seemed to color coordinate with the season or holiday. Do you suppose that is WHY I had half used containers under my counter a year later?! I know for the most part, I paid over $5 a bottle but probably more like $8-ish for one hand soap container … I think I had lost my mind! Wait, maybe it was the piped in music and smells of the store that lulled me into opening my wallet and buying a soap container every season. Fast forward a few years later … When shopping the big box stores, having two kids in tow, I’d throw in a hand soap container into my cart every time I went. At that time, I was a little (really a LOT!) OCD about kids and germs. I can’t tell you how many times my kids would put their mouth on the cart handles while shopping … did I mention yuck, yet? Below is the picture of a very familiar scene in the hand soap isle … a bottle for $1.00 … seems cheap, right?! Why did we decide to stop buying boxed (or bottled in this case!) hand soap? Have you read the ingredients? The obvious bad stuff is the fragrance and food coloring … really?! Why in the world does hand soap need food coloring? Notice...
Boxed-to-Basics: Soaked Homemade Rice-a-Roni

Boxed-to-Basics: Soaked Homemade Rice-a-Roni

Some things about growing up and eating dinner are just etched into my memory. The smells of Rice-a-Roni is one of those dishes. You would think we ate it once a week, which I know we did not, but the smell is something so grounding … so gives me the feeling of Fall and eating around the table. I can remember on Fall nights, that we would be playing outside while my mom was busy getting dinner ready! We would hear “Come wash your hands for dinner” and as we ran through the door … Bam! That smell … For me, I loved Chicken and Beef the best, but I know Rice Pilaf came next. The texture was a big thing and when it was served with chicken and steamed green beans … dinner was PERFECT! Perfect … was the feeling! … not so perfect was the list of ingredients … Yikes! Even though I LOVED it as a kid, I knew I could make it better and use much better ingredients! What is the Basic Homemade Rice-a-Roni Recipe? Basic Homemade Rice-a-Roni Recipe: Chicken Flavor I keep a fairly well stocked pantry, so I knew that I should have everything I needed … at least for Chicken or Beef flavor … but I decided to start with Chicken! What kid wouldn’t like that … right?! Every recipe needs to start with the basics, right? You know onions and garlic … yes? I cooked them until clear and fragrant … my kitchen smells so good! Then I added the previously soaked organic white rice. I cooked it until the outside...
Boxed-to-Basics: our Homemade Laundry Detergent journey …

Boxed-to-Basics: our Homemade Laundry Detergent journey …

Dust Bunnies and Laundry are two things that continue to GROW at our house … regardless of whether it’s a good week, bad week, we feel great or we feel yuck! The dust bunnies are allowed to ‘sometimes’ get bigger for a week (or two!) but the laundry … well, it kind of can’t be put off! If you have kids, one of them will ALWAYS ask, “where are my favorite (insert piece of clothing name here)”. So … How do we keep up with the laundry, I mean what is our laundry rhythm? I grew up as a kid, where my mom did laundry every Monday and every Friday. In college I used to do all my laundry on Saturday, but since having kids I need a rhythm that works for our family and busy schedule … because laundry is so much more than clothes, right?!? I really like all laundry baskets empty before the weekend, but let’s get real … I like it! That does NOT mean it always happens … but life continues and we go back to the rhythm as quickly as we can … if we go through a period of crazy! Here is how we do laundry each week: Monday: Clothes, Kitchen Towels Tuesday: Sheets Wednesday: Towels Thursday: Rugs, Dog stuff, Shower Curtains Friday: Clothes, Kitchen Towels What kind of laundry detergent do we use? Here is where our journey started … when I was a kid, my parents being from the North used Powdered Tide, ya’ know the HUGE boxes that you can buy from the big box stores or warehouse clubs?...
Preparedness: 12-Months of Traditional Food Prepping (October 2016)

Preparedness: 12-Months of Traditional Food Prepping (October 2016)

I don’t know about you, but we aren’t looking out the windows for Zombies or Aliens! When we talk about preparedness, we’re talking about preparing for both good times and bad. We all have times in our life when things are going really well with: our job, our finances, the economy and our local weather, etc. What about times when those same things are not going like we expected? I’m not sure about everyone else, but we’ve had more than one year when our income was less than we expected and still other times when our finances were restricted due to unforeseen expenses. Outside of jobs and finances, come bigger issues: our economy, food availability and weather. We try to plan and prepare as much as possible for our family. Our economy, food availability and weather, are some of the things beyond our control. So what can we do today, to feel more in control? We believe that having food in our pantry (aka larder) puts our mind at ease for those times, when we might not have the resources to purchase items or in more extreme cases when food is not available for one reason or another. Our ultimate goal is to have a years supply of food in storage, but for now … we’ll add to it, in Baby Steps! It sure makes me feel better each month to know we are ‘making progress’, Yes? Where do you start when stocking the pantry (aka larder)? That is a great question. I guess for us, we just started right where we were. I pulled out all the food...
Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock

Homemade Chicken Stock… this should be called “liquid of the GODS”! For years and years, every time I needed some “stock” that a recipe called for, I reached into my pantry and pulled out a box. I can remember buying 4 boxes at a time, so I would never run out. (I know, it’s my stock the pantry mentality!) I can remember the day I stood in front of the “boxes” of chicken stock in my local grocery store and a NEW low-sodium box appeared … I stood there thinking? If they reduced the sodium, then what is in this stuff. Just flipping over the box to read the list of ingredients, most of which I didn’t know what they were … I thought, well that’s not good! Baby Step # 1,845 … Change out (really upgrade) the kind of chicken stock i bought in the box! So, I went from store brand chicken stock to Organic Chicken Stock in the box. Folks, this is winning in my eyes, right? I mean it’s winning because I read the ingredients and I changed which kind I bought! Win! Win! Winning! A few months later I was reading somewhere online about making your own chicken stock and putting the feet in. What!?! … Weirdo food people, what is wrong with them! I mean who puts “feet” in anything … little did I know then, that I would turn into one of those weirdo food people … yeah, yeah .. I should have known! Now the search started. I pulled down every book, cookbook, article I could to learn. Let me just...
Meal Rhythm vs. Meal Planning (I hate the word Planning!)

Meal Rhythm vs. Meal Planning (I hate the word Planning!)

“What’s for dinner?” Why does everyone ask this daily during the bewitching hour? You know at 4:30pm … when you realize you totally forgot about dinner, or did you? Lots of you ask about my ‘Meal Planning’ and even though I’m VERY Type-A, OCD … I prefer to call it our ‘Meal Rhythm’. Why? Well, we all know how the week goes and somehow no matter how well we plan, sometimes 4:30 rolls around and we need dinner on the table, FAST! Right? Using a Meal Rhythm takes the ‘crazy’ out of meal prep and mealtime. I hope it helps some of you that get stuck on “what’s for dinner?” … use what works for your family, but keep it simple and know that you are a success as long as you prep with love and joy because that gets transferred into food … I started using the Veggie: Old/New Sheet a little over a year ago, to track what we have and to make sure the oldest gets eaten first! Since we stock our kitchen, like a mini-Grocery Store, we have Frozen, Pantry, Refrigerator, Counter and Food Storage! For times, when I can’t think straight, I can look at the Meal Rhythm and Veggie sheet and pull together a dinner in less than 30 minutes when I need to Here is what the Evening Meal looks like for our family … Sunday = Whole Chicken, Roast (Note: We start Stock after dinner.) Monday = “Meatless Monday”/Grains/Beans/Pasta Tuesday = Beef (aka Taco Tuesday!) Wednesday = Casserole/Soup/Instant Pot Thursday = Pork/Seafood Friday = “Family Fun Friday” Pizza & Salad &...
Gluten-Free Morning Muffins, Basic & Delicious!

Gluten-Free Morning Muffins, Basic & Delicious!

Going from Boxed to Basics, isn’t really that hard! Just LOTS of little changes … helped us go from a “bagged” blueberry muffin recipe to Homemade! When I was a little girl, my family used to take a yearly car-trip to where my parents were from and that meant, 2 days in the car! I’m not talking about a few hours; I’m talking about two days, 16 hours of driving each day! My mom used to make the muffins on the left. I knew I could make something Basic and yummy … my Morning Muffins are on the right! So many GREAT stories and games were played in our pumpkin colored station wagon. We still laugh today about my mom crawling from the front seat (of our station wagon) to the back seat. I crawled to the front seat, since it was my job to hand my Dad food, drinks and of course to be the substitute navigator … since Mom was getting breakfast together. Paper plates, Tupperware Salt & Pepper shakes and those cup holders that fit between the glass and rubber seal on the door … remember those? I was one little girl with GREAT map reading skills, or so my Dad made me think! For us driving along, smelling coffee and my parents talking … those were memories that even today are crystal clear. Breakfast was another one of those! During those long road trips, Breakfast was simple. My mom would make hard-boiled eggs (HBEs) before our trip, strawberry and blueberry muffins, fruit (usually grapes!) and pre-made bacon! My brother and I had juice in recycled...