Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Cleaning-Paper Clutter Update

Happy Sunday!  We are back for another round of Spring Cleaning talk!  We have a gorgeous Spring day here in the midwest, so it seemed like a great day for another cleaning post!  (But a quick one since I'm itching to get out into the warm sunshine with my kiddos!)

A while back I shared with you my method for keeping up with paper clutter.  You can see that post here.  In that post I mentioned that I had high hopes for a wall filing system to install for my kids' school papers.  Unfortunately, when I took the filers out of the box, I realized that because my Command Center is behind the door to the garage that every time the door opened it would smash into it...being plastic I knew they wouldn't last long that way.  So very sad :( 

But this week I cleaned out my desk drawers and came across this wire mesh filing system that we used in our old house.  We had a great spot for it there, but not so much in our new house.  I stuck it in the filing drawer in my desk but it never fit well.  So I reconfigured that drawer without the filer.  Then I had a great idea to try it on my kitchen shelves that were continuing to have organizational 'issues' (aka:  too. much. paper. in. our. house.)

Here's what my shelves are looking like these days:
The top shelf has my new organizer.  The middle holds a charging station for cell phones, iPods, & iPads, and the bottom are our 'his & hers' baskets for dropping sun glasses, my husband's wallet, etc.

So here's a closer look at the organizer:
The back section holds my notebook with all my ongoing lists of house and organization projects and my cleaning schedule (you can see that post here.)  I usually pull my cleaning list out and set it on the shelf to look at but I can also tuck it away now when I'm done for the day or people are coming over.  The middle section is "needs attention."  This is my holding area for school papers or other forms that need filling out (book orders, field trip forms, etc).  The front is for mail that comes while my husband is at work for him to look through when he gets home.  And finally, the bottom is a drawer that we can throw receipts in.  My husband was asking for some place that we can put receipts for things that we are trying, checking sizes, or waiting to make sure work properly (we are in the middle of several house projects so this happens frequently around here) so this will be perfect!

YAY!  SO MUCH BETTER!  I can already tell that this system is going to work better and am so excited to put it to use!

I hope your Spring Cleaning is off to a great start! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Smoked Mac n Cheese

I love food from the smoker, and I love mac and cheese, but I have never combined the two!  I have heard that it is great so I decided to give it a try.  After much searching online and in cook books for a recipe to use, I wasn't finding a combination that sounded good to me so I decided to experiment a little and made up my own. 

-16oz. large shell pasta
-2 cans (10 3/4oz) Cheddar Cheese soup
-8oz Velveeta cut into 1/2 inch cubes
-2 cups whipping cream
-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs; divided. 

I started by ALMOST cooking the noodles all the way through.  I wanted to leave them a bit firm so they would continue to cook in the smoker. 

I drained the water and quickly rinsed the noodles with hot water then returned them to the pot.  I added 2 cans of Cheddar Cheese soup.

Then I added the 2 cups of whipping cream and stirred it all up. 

Stir in the cubed Velveeta.

Add 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs and mixed it into the macaroni.

Convert to a 9x13 dish (I used a tin baking pan for easy clean up since it was going in the smoker).

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs on top.

We cooked it in the smoker at 225°F for about 1 1/2 hours. 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

House Number Post

Confession time:  Our house did not have house numbers on the front of our house.  Now to a normal person this may not seem like a big deal; just causes a problem for the poor pizza delivery guy trying to figure out which house is yous :) But in the EMS/Fire world, this is a big no-no.  It makes it a lot harder for emergency workers to find you when you need them most-which I was not happy about.  

We have a corner lot so our driveway is on the side of our house and our garage doors face the side as well.  So we have numbers above the garage, but for people coming down the main part of our street, it is really hard to figure out which house is ours!  For the almost 2 years that we have lived in this house we have talked about different ways to get numbers in the front.  I was not a fan of putting them permanently on the actual house for various reasons (one being we have a covered front porch and are up on a hill so you wouldn't be able to easily see the numbers anyway).  So we had this idea to go with a post; and I love how it turned out!  

We  My husband started by digging a hole where we wanted the post to go. 

We used a 4x4 post and fit it in the hole.

We wanted to match up to the white square columns on the front of our house so we used a post jacket to cover it.  My husband used a couple screws at the bottom to hold it together while we worked on it.

Once we got the post to the correct height and level, we filled the hole with paver gravel. 

 We decided to go with a solar light cap so in the evening it will light up and illuminate our numbers.

Added the numbers and we were done!  I do plan to add a plant hanger on the side so I can have a hanging basket of flowers to dress it up a bit, but for now, here's how it turned out!  (and as I said earlier, our house is on a hill so we purposefully placed the numbers towards the top so they would be more visible from the road.  I also have some flowers that grow up in front of this that will cover part of the bottom)

Thanks for stopping by today!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Cleaning-The Microwave

Hi!  Welcome to the second post in our Spring Cleaning series!  Yesterday I talked about giving the inside of your oven a good cleaning and gave you my recipe for a homemade oven cleaner (only 3 ingredients that I'm sure you already have in your house!)  You can view that post here.

Today we will tackle the microwave-possibly the EASIEST kitchen appliance to clean ever!! Now, this is definitely a space that needs cleaning more than just once a year, but it is simple enough that you can incorporate it into your regular cleaning routine.  So even though it is not Spring specific, I did want to include it in this series (mainly because mine was in dire need of being cleaned anyways!)

-To start, mix equal parts water and white vinegar into a microwavable bowl or cup.  I used 1/2 Cup of each.  
-Microwave until the mixture is boiling-this was around 2 minutes for 1 total cup of liquid for me.  
-Leave the mixture in the microwave with the door closed for another couple of minutes.  
-Remove the mixture and simply wipe off all the nastiness that has splattered all around your microwave! 

I do take the turn table out and wash it with dish soap in the sink, but if you are short on time, just wipe it off with everything else. 

Here are my before pictures:

Add your 'magic' solution:

And Ta-Da!

Thanks for joining me today!  I hope you will stick around as we conquer some other areas of our homes this Spring!  

Spring Cleaning-The Oven

Happy Spring!  I always love the new life and sense of renewal that comes with Spring!  Grass starts greening back up, leaves come back to the trees, and flowers start to pop up all over the place!  I also love to spend this time of year doing the typical 'spring cleaning' around our house.  We generally stay very on top of cleaning through out the year, but something about Spring really makes me want to scrub the places that don't always see as much attention through out the rest of the year.

So this is going to be the first post in a series on Spring Cleaning!  I hope you will stick around and get some tips or ideas on getting things cleaned up for Spring around your house!

So to kick things off, we will tackle the oven!

The outside of my ovens gets cleaned weekly, but the insides don't get any love on a regular basis. 

At first glance the insides of our ovens weren't in too bad of shape (that was until we removed the doors and the covers that go over the lower heating elements...which obviously have NEVER been cleaned since the ovens were installed by a previous owner.  You will unfortunately get a look at that later!)

I started off with making my own cleaner:

-2 C HOT Water
-1T Dawn dish soap
-1tsp Baking Soda

I sprayed the interior of the ovens and doors. 

I removed the racks and sprayed them down too.

(and of course say Hi to my firefighting minion that hangs out in my kitchen window) 

I let the spray sit for about 15 minutes, then took a cloth and wiped it up.  

Then we had the idea to go ahead and remove the doors so we could remove the bottom heating element covers and clean the ledge between the 2 ovens which I can never reach because the gap is so small.  Be warned-it was gross!

So we got the covers removed and cleaned under and the doors got an even deeper cleaning done.

It feels so good to get them cleaned out!  Can your oven use a good cleaning?  For an appliance that is used so frequently, I figured it deserved some TLC, and I think we are both happier now that it is done :)

Stay tuned, next up will be cleaning the microwave!