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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring Cleaning Part 2 - The Living Room

I am almost finished spring cleaning the Kitchen! For that checklist click here. It's taking a while because I'm doing a little bit at a time rather than spending my entire day off working on it. I'm on vacation this week, though, so I plan on finishing it and some of the other rooms, too. The next room on my list is the Living Room.

Spring Cleaning the Living Room Checklist

1) Declutter - I live in a 950 square foot house with 6 people. A little clutter feels like a lot here. My first step will be to put things where they belong. If something doesn't have a home then now is the time to make one for it.

2) Dust - It is 6 year old Jay's job to dust every week. She uses a Swiffer type duster and does a good job, but I'm going to do a little extra. I will be using a dusting spray and microfiber cloth. I will also dust things on the walls and get all of the hard to reach places that she sometimes misses. The curtains will come down and get fluffed up in the dryer. This usually knocks all the dust off. The ceiling fan will also get a good dusting.

3) Wash Walls - Just like in the Kitchen, my walls could use repainting, but we will start with a good washing. I'm going to use an all-purpose Mr. Clean solution that smells wonderful.

4) Clean Electronics - My desktop computer is in the Living Room. I will vacuum out the keyboard, declutter the desk, and dust everything really well. The other electronics in the room will get dusted as well.

5) Clean Furniture - My couches collect things. I don't really know how this happens, but when I lift a cushion I can usually find pencils or toys. After removing items, I will vacuum under the cushions, the cushions themselves, and the rest of the upholstery. The wood portion of the couches will be cleaned with a wood cleaner.

6) Wash Windows - I worked with a woman once that told me vinegar and newspaper worked the best for washing windows. I might try it. I also might use paper towels and Window Cleaner. Do you have any good tips for washing windows?

7) Clean Floors - We have hardwood laminate with an area rug. I will be moving furniture out so that I can sweep and mop all the places that we don't usually get to.

It feels good to get all the extra cleaning done now. It won't be too much longer before I run out of time to get it all done. Pretty soon, the outside world will need to be taken care of just as much as the inside world. Click on the image below to print out The Living Room Checklist.

Friday, April 17, 2015

How to Make an Erupting Volcano

 After learning about volcanoes for Science, I decided that CJ should make his own erupting volcano. He did the research and this is how he made it.

How to Make Your Own Erupting Volcano

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's Spring Cleaning Time! Part 1 - The Kitchen

I have been inspired! At the Library, I get to do all of our seasonal decorating. I try to do something new every few weeks. This month, it's all about Spring, of course. One area gets the gardening books display, another gets some Chick Lit, and another gets the cleaning and organizing books display. This last one has inspired me the most. I checked out a book called "How Clean Is Your House?" Kim Woodburn and Aggie MacKenzie had a show by the same name on LifeTime that I enjoyed watching. I'm going to share some of their tips (and my own), as well as my free printable checklists for Spring Cleaning one room at a time. 

Today is all about Spring Cleaning the Kitchen.


Spring Cleaning the Kitchen Checklist

Step 1: Remove clutter from surfaces. I don't know how it happens. I always have good intentions to keep my counters clear, but things seem to magically appear. Why is there a toothbrush? Where did those ink pens come from? There are also extra appliances that I can put in a drawer or cabinet. I don't use the George Foreman Grill or my toaster every day. There are some baby items that I can give away, too. We don't need the bottle warmer or bottle rack any more. (sigh) Once the clutter is gone, it will be easy to wipe every thing clean.

Step 2: Clean refrigerator and freezers. I try to empty out my refrigerator weekly when I get groceries, but I don't do the deep cleaning that needs to be done every now and then. My plan is to take everything out, clean the shelves, drawers, and walls and put everything back in an orderly way. Plus I will get rid of anything that is outdated that I've missed in my weekly clean. I will also clean the top and sides of the refrigerator. The top has become a storage area of baby items that I can now give away. (another sigh - my baby turned 1 today.) There are things in my freezer that either need to be thrown out or used right away. I have strawberries and blackberries to make into jam, for example. Another month, and they will be over their use by date. One of my freezers is self-defrosting. The other is still fairly new so it doesn't need to be defrosted yet.

Step 3: Clean oven and hood. I have a self-cleaning oven. I'm very thankful for that, but it sure will stink the house up! I don't really have a hood. It's an over-the-stove microwave. The filter needs cleaning and any built up grease needs to go.

Step 4: Wash walls. I have a confession. My poor walls need more than washing, but it will be the first step. One wall still needs painting for the first time and the other walls need repainting. That is on the list, but it will have to wait a few weeks at the least.

Step 5: Empty, clean, and reorganize the cabinets and pantry. I will not only clean the inside, but also the sides and top. This will be a good time to get rid of outdated food and items that are stale or half empty. I try to do this every so often, but it's time to do it again. I have deep shelves in my pantry. I would love to purchase rolling inserts so that it will be easy to use all the space. I also want to get some new containers to hold food items like sugar, flour, cornmeal, tea bags, etc. that will make organizing easier. If you have any suggestions please comment below.

Step 6: Empty, clean, and reorganize the drawers. I don't know about you, but my drawers collect junk that I really need to get rid of! Lids to jars I don't even have, the medicine cups that come with Children's Tylenol, utensils that I don't (and never will) use, and you get the idea, I'm sure. I will also lay down new liners before I put stuff back in. I'm thinking about getting drawer organizer trays like the one I have for the silverware. I haven't decided yet.

Step 7: Clean dishwasher. I will run it with only a cup of vinegar on the top rack, then wipe down the inside and outside of the dishwasher, and clean out the food trap on the bottom (this has to be done often).

Step 8: Clean small appliances. The toaster, the coffee maker, and the George Foreman Grill get used fairly often. They collect crumbs, smears, grease, etc. This will be when I take the time to do more than a quick clean. I will empty the crumbs out of the toaster and wipe it down. Our coffee maker tells me when it's time to clean it so I will just wipe it down. I clean the griddles of the George Foreman grill after using it every time, but the outside of it will need wiping down.

You will have different needs in your kitchen than I do, but I hope I have inspired you to do the old-fashioned Spring Cleaning like I have been. Next up: The Living Room.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stuffed Chicken Bacon Ranch Shells

My friend made this recipe the other night and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Try it and let us know what you think!

Stuffed Chicken Bacon Ranch Shells

by Kaitlyn Watson

Stuffed Chicken Bacon Ranch Shells

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Strawberry Lemonade Brownies

 My friend made these delicious Strawberry Lemonade Brownies last night. She took pictures and gave me the recipe so that I can share it with you.

Strawberry Lemonade Brownies

 by Kaitlyn Watson

Strawberry Lemonade Brownies

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli

My family loves Chinese Food! We used to eat at Chinese Buffets often, but when we realized the guys had a gluten sensitivity, that had to end. They were so disappointed! To soften the blow, I look for gluten-free Chinese recipes. I found a great recipe at Confessions of a Homeschooler for Mongolian Beef and Broccoli. My family LOVED it!!!! Here is how I prepared it.

Mongolian Beef and Broccoli

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why I Love The Mystery of History

When I was preparing for my oldest daughter Kat to enter High School, it took quite a bit of searching to find the right History curriculum for her.

I found it in The Mystery of History 

Volume 1. 

The Mystery of History Volume 1 covers world history from Creation to the death and Resurrection of Christ in chronological order. My daughter loves how it incorporates biblical history into world history. She was able to use this curriculum for credit in both Ancient History and Bible.

How the Curriculum is Laid Out:

1) "Around the World" Summaries: this is a summary of events from each Quarter's time period. We personally do not use these.
2) Pretests: These are meant to make the students interested in what the week's lessons are about. We started the school year using these, but found them to take up time that they needed to complete other activities. We stopped using them halfway through the year.
3) Lessons: There are 108 lessons in Volume 1. Doing 3 lessons per week will accommodate a 36 week school year. These lessons are well written and easy for my 8th and 9th grader to read, understand and learn from.
4) Activities: every lesson has a corresponding activity. These are broken down into age groups - Younger (K-2), Middle (3-5), and Older (6 and Up). We do one activity a week to help reinforce the lessons.
5) Memory Cards: these are index cards that the students make for each lesson. They write a few sentences about each lesson on the card. These memory cards are meant to be used as a study tool.
6) Reviews: this includes a Timeline Activity and a Map Activity. My kids are older so we used the Timeline Notebook pages found here. For the Map Activities there are outline maps in the back of the book for you to copy. I recommend purchasing The Student Bible Atlas and Rand McNally's Historical Atlas of the World. We didn't purchase them at first and found it very difficult to complete the map activities.

7) Exercise or Quiz: after the 3 lessons for the week there is either an exercise or a quiz. Students are allowed to use the book to answer exercise questions but not quiz questions. The questions are from previous lessons as well as that week's lessons. This is where the memory cards come in handy.
8) Quarter Worksheets: at the end of each 9 weeks students are asked to complete a worksheet using the lessons to answer questions.
9) Semester Tests: at the end of each semester the students are given a long test. This test covers all the lessons in that semester which covers one major time period.
10) Student Notebooks: this is a binder with dividers for each of the seven continents and one for miscellaneous. This notebook is where activities and maps will be filed.

My 9th grade daughter loved this curriculum! There were very few changes we made. My 8th grade son seemed to grow bored during the second semester. Instead of asking him to do the activity in the book, I had him write a paragraph about what he found interesting in the lesson and why. I also found a You Tube video that pertained to one of the lessons each week. That seemed to help interest him again.

I highly recommend this book! It is easily customized to fit the needs of every family. We have already purchased Volume 2 and will be using it next school year.

You can read more about The Mystery of History Volume 1 here.

20 Springtime Activities for Families

It's Spring! The weather has been so beautiful here! The family and I have spent as much time outside as possible. It's mostly been for work, though. Lots to do on the homestead. We had to clean up all the junk that manages to accumulate throughout the winter. I blame my guys (blacksmith projects) and the dogs! (Why do they bring other peoples' trash home?) We've been working on building the new rabbit cages, too. The chicks left the brooder, but were not big enough to add to the big coop. I had to build a cage for them along side the big coop runner so that the hens will have a chance to get used to them. With all that said....I'm ready to be outside for fun!

Here is a list of fun activities that I think my family (and yours) will enjoy.

20 Springtime Activities for Families

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