We are 7 sisters (well, 6 sisters and one in-law who we think of as a sister). We have always been close to each other and so now in order for us to stay close, even though we are far away, we have a blog, which we like to share fun finds, recipes, date ideas, crafts, and anything else we think the others will like. :)
We are all getting so excited for SPRING and the warm weather it brings! We realize it is already warm (Like 90's already in Arizona--Stacy and Michelle), warming up in other places like the South, and still cold enough to be snowing (Like the sisters in Idaho and Utah last week!), but most of us have been itching to do some spring cleaning. We have been sharing ideas with each other for what we are doing, what we have done in the past, or what we would like to try this year.
* This is one I am going to do for my grout! Using 7 cups of water, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 1/4 cup vinegar you will spray this combination onto a small area your grout at a time. Let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub. Have a bucket of warm water and a cloth with you so you can rinse your scrub brush out and wipe up the dirt you scrub up. It will also leave a residue, be ready to do a light mop after. (It really does work and will amaze you how much stuff comes up from it).
After * Vacuum window blinds and curtains. Some curtains you can even wash in your washing machine once in a while to avoid getting a large dust build up on top of and down them. (Especially important for those with allergies in the home!) * Wash windows inside and out. -For the inside, after washing go over again with a newspaper to diminish streaks. ~Another idea is to dry horizontally inside and vertically outside (or vice-versa) so you can see if you had streaks on either side or if one side needs more cleaning. -For outside, we recommend using a bucket of soapy water and a squeegee. Use either a cloth to wash the window or a squeegee like you would use to wash the car window. To dry, however, use a straight squeegee like this:
Something like this can be purchased at Home Depot or similar for around $10.00 but will last a
really long time. This will keep the streaks from forming and your window gleaming!
*Dust top to bottom. I have one of the "feather duster" type dusters that can extend it's arm out and I go from top to bottom in every room, getting all corners (with spiderwebs) clear down to the floor. After I do this through out the whole house I vacuum thoroughly and then clean the carpets and couches.
*Check and change batteries in smoke detectors.
*Wipe down walls. Again, I take a bucket of warm water and vinegar and a rag and go from room to room wiping down all the walls.
*Light switches. I am sure that you all have the same problem I do with the light switches, maybe not, but mine get all gross and grimy. I give my kids Clorox Wipe and assign them a section of the house. They then clean the light switch and all around it. There is always so much dirt and grim around them when they are cleaned it looks like a totally different light switch! Gross!! (Do the same thing with door handles. Kids also like this job.)
*Clean baseboards. This is a great job for the kiddos. I fill an ice cream bucket with warm water and vinegar an old sock and a section of the house. They think it is pretty fun (now).
*** a little tip*** When socks get a hole in them, keep them. They are great cleaning rags. I slip one over my hand and go to town dusting. I also use them for almost all of my cleaning projects ... cleaning the bathroom sinks, baseboards, walls, chicken eggs. I have an ice cream bucket that I keep full of them and replace when they start looking yucky.
*Take rugs outside and beat with a broom handle. You won't believe the dust and dirt that comes out of them!!
* Wash your couches. If you have a cloth couch that has removable covers for the cushions and you feel comfortable, you can try running them through your washing machine. I would suggest only trying one on the delicate cycle. (Stacy tried this with her extra cushion first to make sure it would not ruin it before trying the rest of the couch). If you are uncomfortable trying this, you can us a steam cleaner with the hose adapter. Do not try this if the couches are made of micro-fiber or leather!
-You can also wash the throw pillows for the couches with cloth material.
-This always makes the couches look and feel fresh and they smell GREAT!
If you have leather couches, this is a good time to apply the leather conditioner. I also go and apply it in my vehicles at the same time.
* Steam clean your floors. It is always good to do this in the spring and fall. If you don't have a steam cleaner, you can always rent one for very cheap at most stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
-Try spraying Oxiclean pre-wash on the big stains prior to cleaning
-Also, either use one of the cleaning products with Oxiclean added or add about 1/4 scoop to
each load of water/cleaner.
*Deep clean Fridge and Freezer. This is a great time to defrost your freezer too before you start stocking you on the great fresh fruits and vegetables that will be ripe soon!
*Deep clean your stove top and oven. I usually pick the first nice day outside to do this. That way I can open my windows throughout the house and the smell from the cleaning will blow out. Plus, my oven tends to set off the smoke detectors if the windows are not open. (I guess I would know if my smoke detectors were working or not)
*Clean the fronts of the kitchen cupboards and the hood for the stove.
*Clean and organize pantry.
*Clean out and organize medicine cabinets. Throw out all medications that are expired (or empty that you just kept the bottle for sentimental reasons, right? Why else would I have 5 empty childrens' tylenol bottles in there???)
*Organize bathroom drawers. No matter how hard I try to keep them neat and organized, they always get messy. Throw out anything you don't use.
*Wash shower curtains. I like to buy the shower curtains that are fabric and washable. If I have a liner I usually replace it in the spring (after I have deep cleaned the shower).
*Organize kids closets. I do this 2 times a year, once in the spring and once before school starts. I have a donation box and a tote for all nice clothes to pass on to siblings or cousins. We pack away anything that does not fit and make a list of things we may need to get for the upcoming season.
*Organize my closet. That is not as much of a task as the kids, but I do try to get clothes out of my closet that I don't wear or like anymore. I also go through mine and my husbands t-shirts and such and refold/make them look nice. (mostly my hubby's, he is not so neat when it comes to his clothes)
Now we know that this is not going to get your whole house, because everyone has different homes, but this will at least get you started. Make yourself a list of things you would like to accomplish and get to work. Do one Spring cleaning job a day (or more if you catch the spring cleaning bug) and you will have a sparking home in no time!!
After you have your home all clean here are some tips to keep it that way.
Some more great tips can be found at this website.
Hey Everyone!!! We are having a sale in our store now through the end of the month! We are trying to add some new fun items we have been working on and want to have a sale on some of the favorites. So visit our shop and enter this code in at check out: SHOP10 and you will receive 10% of your purchase of $12.00 or more. We hope you enjoy it, but hurry because there are only 2 weeks left in the month! Here is a preview of a couple of our newest items.
Handmade Silk Flowers (with or without the feather accent)
Boys and Girls Ribbon Pacifier Clips
Boys and Girls Beaded Pacifier Clips
Family Birthday Boards. With Mother's Day coming around, it is a good time to start thinking of her. These are awesome ideas for Mom's and Mother-in-laws!
The Missionary Board has been a really Neat quote for families to have in their homes while their loved one is serving!
These CTR Towels have been awesome gifts for all kids turning 8!
We all got to celebrate a really fun thing over the Spring Break week (for Stacy) and that was our Dad's 60th Birthday!!! We started planning this back in February and wanted to keep it a secret from him. When you come from a big family, you understand that can be a hard task so to pull it off, it was going to take a lot. Our family has also always been very neat in the fact that we have done everything with extended family included, so of course, we knew we would invite all of his siblings too and their children if they wants, so the secret part was really being tested here. Michelle and Stacy were also coming from AZ and wanted to keep that part secret as well. We let our mom in on it so she could help in the planning and making sure he and they would all be home. We kind of divided up jobs amongst all of us kids so the burden wasn't left on just one person. Well, the party went off AWESOME!! and we wanted to share some of the things we did in case you may be planning a surprise party of some sort. . . anniversary, birthday, etc.
Our dad is a HUGE Yankees and Sports fan so of course we had to go with that as our theme. Mary was in charge of the decorations and did an awesome job. She had little noise makers for the kids for when Dad got home so they felt like they were really helping.
Melanie was in charge of the food. She had Rachel and Heather make a Shrimp Pasta, and Spaghetti, rolls, Meagan made a fruit salad that everyone loved. Melanie made German Chocolate and Caramel Cupcakes plus a Blackberry Swirl Cupcake. Stacy made lemon bars. (Recipes will be at the bottom!)
Then Melanie made this fantastic cake and fondant icing! Just look at the details on the hat and the buttons. It is pretty incredible.
Dad had some meetings before the party so the surprise part worked out great. Once he got home and we got the reaction we were all hoping for... Definitely Surprised!! All of his siblings were able to come and all of us kids were there too. Awesome!! We moved on to the rest of the party. We had all written down favorite memories of Dad. Mary and John (our brother) put on a sports cast session including these "facts" about Dad. It was funny and awesome.
We opened presents, one of which included the movie Michelle and Stacy put together. It was also pulled off by everyone adding photos of Dad (onto www.Dropbox.com). It was so much fun seeing all of the fun things we have done as a family over the years. We have had some amazing times together.
After the movie we just ate dinner and visited with everyone until people had to start heading home. It was so much fun and Dad had such a great time. He was so surprised that we had kept it a secret from him all week. He was so grateful that all of his kids and siblings made the effort to put this on for him too. Definitely worth it!
Spaghetti Sauce 1 pound ground beef cooked and drained 2 quarts tomatoes (Drain some water, squish them – I use a potato masher) 2-3 cans tomato paste 4-5 tablespoons sugar 1 ½ teaspoons salt 2 cloves garlic minced 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 1 ½ tablespoons dried onion 4 tablespoons parsley flakes 1 teaspoon oregano
Mix all together and simmer in a pot 3-4 hours or 6-8 hours in a crockpot. It seems like the longer it cooks thebetter it tastes and it also thickens it up more the longer it cooks.
Creamy Tomato Shrimp Over Pasta
12 lg. tomatoes
3/4 c. butter
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
5 green onions
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 green peppers
2 lbs. large shrimp, cooked and deveined shrimp
16 oz. pkg. angel hair pasta
Clean and dice tomatoes.
In a large pot melt butter and gently stir in diced tomatoes. Add sugar, salt, pepper and crushed red
pepper. Let tomatoes simmer for 30
minutes, stirring occasionally. Fold in
heavy cream and sliced green onions.
Rinse green peppers and remove seeds; cut into small pieces. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and sauté
green peppers. Fold in cooked shrimp and
fry until the tips are golden. Add to
tomato sauce. Cook pasta al dente
according to directions on package.
Serve creamy tomato shrimp over pasta.
This is another recipe that I tried from "The Biggest Loser" cookbook after Heather had told me how good they were. I would have never thought to try cooking a grapefruit, or adding cinnamon to it for that matter, but it is really delicious. It is also very simple.
1. All you have to do is cut your grapefruit in half, use a serrated knife to cut the piece loose, and then sprinkle with cinnamon.
2. Place it in the oven at 400° for about 20 minutes for until it is browning and the juices are coming out.
3. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes before you dig in.
***If you have never heard of a grapefruit spoon, they are fantastic and just something fun to have when eating grapefruit. You can purchase these at somewhere like Bed, Bath, and Beyond for $4.99 (for 4). These just help you cut out the fruit without having to peel it or use the serrated knife, not a necessity but nice to have!
The best part is half of the grapefruit is only 52 calories!!! That is all I usually eat at a time but even if you eat the whole thing, that is a large snack for barely over 100 calories!!
1 3-5 lb.
boneless pork loin roast 1 cup
Place pork on the bottom of greased slow cooker
(if you have crock pot liners, this would be a good time to use them) and pour
the brown sugar and salsa over. Cover
and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.
Shred pork with a fork before serving.
uncokked white rice ¼
chopped onion 1 tsp.
freshly squeezed lime juice 2
cloves garlic, minced
granulated sugar 1
tsp. grated lime zest
fresh chopped cilantro 1
(15 oz.) can chicken broth
In a saucepan, combine rice, onion butter, garlic,
lime zest, chicken broth, and water.
Bring to a boil, then turn to low heat.
Cover and cook 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat and fluff with fork. In a small bowl, combine lime juice, sugar,
and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice.
Tomatillos Salad Dressing
sour cream 1/3
envelope Ranch Salad Dressing ¼
cup fresh chopped cilantro
envelope Fiesta Ranch Salad Dressing 1
clove garlic, minced
from 2 limes, freshly squeezed
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend
until smooth. Store in refrigerator. The Fiesta Ranch is hard to find, so I sometimes only use regular Ranch, and it works just fine.
(Stacy just uses Ranch Dressing for this part and it is delicious. She doesn't think it is worth the trouble of making this dressing and it makes a LOT and doesn't store well!)
garlic, minced 1/3 cup salsa
ground cumin ½
olive oil 2
T. fresh chopped cilantro
oz.) can black beans, rinsed
Cook garlic and cumin in olive oil over medium
heat until you can smell it. Add beans,
salsa, and salt. Continually stir until
heated through. Just before serving,
stir in cilantro.
Now pile the rice, pork, and beans on a large
tortilla, smother with Creamy Tomatillos Salad Dressing, wrap it up, and enjoy!
As an added bonus, I heard about the Café Rio Salad
and found this on the internet:
3 parts to the salad: the rice, the
pork, and the dressing, all on a bed of salad greens. Add tomatoes and avocados if desired. My family loves the beans so much we also load those on top too!
I am so excited that I have a lemon tree in my back yard now. It produces GIANT lemons and I couldn't wait to try lemon bars from it. They were delicious!!! No, they are not the healthiest of snacks but if you need a cheat day or something to bring to a friend or neighbor, this is a good choice. This is my Grandma's recipe and she is one of the best cooks/bakers I have ever tasted. Thankfully, she did pass her skill on to our mom too!
For the crust you will need:
1 Cup Margarine
2 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/8 tsp Salt
Combine ingredients and pour into a 9X13" baking dish. Bake at 300 for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
For the filling you will need:
4 Eggs, beaten
2 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
1/8 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Flour
Combine all ingredients and pour into baked crust. Return to oven for another 30 to 40 minutes. I sprinkled about 2 tsp of powdered sugar on the top after it came out of the oven instead of the topping suggested since it already had a lot of sugar. I will add the topping part too if you do want to do that instead of just the powdered sugar.
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp Margarine
4 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Mix all ingredients and spread over warm filling after removing from the oven.
So last year when I was visiting home for my youngest sisters wedding, all of the other sisters had just purchased "The Biggest Loser" cookbooks and were just raving about all of the recipes they had tried and how good they all were. This interested me since they were healthy, low-calorie recipes, plus, the books were at a steal of a price right then, so I too purchased one. This past month I have been looking for lemon recipes because of my gigantic lemons on my tree and I want to take advantage of them as much as I can, and I ran into this recipe. It looked good and I love lemon-poppy seed muffins, so why not. They were really good. I doubled the batch and ground up a whole container of the oats so I could make more of them soon.
Here is the recipe:
1 Cup Whole Grain Oat Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Fat-free, Artificially sweetened Vanilla Yogurt
3 Large Egg Whites
1/3 Cup Honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Lemon Extract (or approximately 3 Tbsp of real lemon juice)
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel
2 tsp Poppy Seeds
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat 20 cups of mini muffins (or 10-12 of regular size) with nonstick spray. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour for about 1 minute, or until it is the consistency of all-purpose flour and no coarse grains remain. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift the mixture twice.
In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt, egg whites, honey, vanilla extract, and lemon extract until well mixed. Stir in the reserved flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the lemon peel and poppy seeds. Spoon into the the muffin tins.
Bake for 9-11 minutes (for the mini muffins 11-13 for regular), or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out dry. Cool on rack 5 minutes and enjoy!!
The mini muffins are about 41 calories!! My regular muffins are about double the size of my mini muffins so they are only about 80 calories!! You can't say that about many muffins that taste good!
The cooks for The Biggest Loser suggest if you are going to use lemon juice, to use the real stuff so I tried with these. I only doubled the amount from the lemon extract (1 tsp) and they weren't too lemony, so I googled and found a few answers you can try (I am going to do the same). The first was 1/2 tsp lemon extract= approximately 3 tbsp of lemon juice. The others said to use lemon zest instead because that is where the flavor of lemon extract comes from and double what the extract calls for. So. . .if you want to try either of these instead of the extract, I think either will be wonderful. I thought they were great and so did my youngest son. He ate about 5 of the mini muffins as soon as they came out of the oven and loved them!
To find this original recipe and more from The Biggest Loser, go to: www.biggestloserclub.com/. (You do have to register as a member if you want to get more recipes. I will try to post more delicious ones I have tried. They offer 1 month free, but then you do have to pay a fee. I am not sure what because I have not joined!)