Saturday, May 21, 2011

Day 5: Priorities {31 days to clean}

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean
"It’s easy to say what our priorities are, but it’s really important that we take an inventory of them so we can honestly evaluate where are weaknesses are, and where we need to find ourselves bent down before the throne of grace."
This really hit home to me and I felt pretty convicted of what my priorities really are, versus what I'd like them to be.
My Priorities:
  1. God: Spend time daily reading His Word and in prayer, growing closer in my relationship to Him.
    1. Work-in-progress goal: Get up before the kids for devotions and prayer (and coffee!).  If I miss a day, don't get frustrated and give up, but try for the next day.
    2. Verse: “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11
  2. Husband: To be encouraging and supportive of him in his work and show how grateful I am that he is such a good provider for our family.  I want to make our home a peaceful and relaxing place to come home to after work.  I also want to remain his best friend and biggest fan :)
    1. Work-in-progress goal: Make an effort to serve him and think of his needs first.  Praise him and only speak positively of him in the company of others.  Don't nag!
    2. “Man finds fulfillment and glory in two main areas-work and love. When he succeeds in his work, his masculinity is confirmed. When a man wins the woman he loves and she responds to him sexually, he is marvelously glorified as a man.” Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman
  3. Children: To instruct them in righteousness and plant God's Word in their hearts.  I also want to protect their innocence and purity and shield them from bad influences and fill their lives with positive, godly influences.  
    1. Work-in-progress goal:  Read the Bible daily with my children and memorize scriptures together.  Sing hymns and work at memorizing some.  Make sure everything we allow in the home and activities we participate in are a good influence.
    2. “Teach them to your children, And talk about them When you sit at home And walk along the road. When you lie down and when you get up. Write them down and tie them on your hands as a sign. Tie them on your forehead to remind you and write them on your doors and gates.” Deuteronomy 6:7-8
  4. Home: A comfortable home that is a blessing to my family, not one that causes stress.  I would like to have an organized home with less clutter, since it is more conducive for homeschooling and for my husband to work on art in a tidy environment.  
    1. Work-in-progress goal: Take pride in my home and show my thankfulness by diligently caring for the home.  Do not be lazy, but cheerfully do what needs to be done as unto the Lord!
    2. “She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27
  5. Personal: Use my free time wisely by spending it on a hobby I enjoy: reading, sewing, baking, etc. instead of wasting it.  
    1. Work-in-progress goal: Read one book at a time and finish it, instead of reading 20 at once! 
Martha Challenge:  Wash your window treatments and windows.  
I was not expecting this challenge to be so difficult, but that is just my style I guess: to make everything more complicated!  Here's what happened:
I took the curtains off of this window, washed them, pressed them, and cleaned the window.
 Here are the curtains back up and looking pretty!  Not too bad so far...
 Next was this window:
 It was going so well until I wasn't careful enough pressing them and got a few burn stains on the curtains!  I was thinking at that point that my curtains would have been better off left alone!
 Here's the marks, which maybe wouldn't have bothered some people, but I knew I wouldn't be able to let it go.  So I tried a few different treatments: first using vinegar on a clean cloth to blot it out.  It helped but didn't completely get it out.  Next I tried soaking a cloth in hydrogen peroxide and putting it over the spots and an iron on the low setting on top.  (By the way, I did not just come up with these ideas but looked them up!)  
 Can you see them now?  They're gone!  This isn't a very good picture, but I swear they are gone..hehe.
Needless to say, I do not want to do that again for a long least not until I get some lessons from my mom on how to properly press curtains (and clothes!).

Monday, May 16, 2011

The 1832 Cup Cake recipe

I was browsing through a book first published in 1832 called "The American Frugal Housewife" by Mrs. Child, which you can download today at Homeschool Freebie of the Day.  I think it is so fascinating to look back in history and see how people went about their daily life, and especially for me, to glimpse into the lives of homemakers.  To see the recipes they used, hear tips on how to perform housework, and remedies for sickness and other maladies is just so interesting!

As I was looking I came across this recipe for "Cup Cake":
"Cup cake is about as good as pound cake, and is cheaper. One cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs, well beat together, and baked in pans or cups. Bake twenty minutes, and no more."

I decided to try this recipe out and here is how they turned out!  They tasted like a less rich pound cake and I think they would be sweet for a tea party with a lemon or pink glaze on top.

I did a little research on the history of cupcakes and found this on Wikipedia:
"The first mention of the cupcake can be traced as far back as 1796, when a recipe notation of “a cake to be baked in small cups” was written in “American Cookery” by Amelia Simms."
There were two uses for the name "cup cake" in the 19th century: to describe the cups or ramekins they were baked in, and the other for describing the cake whose ingredients were measured by volume in cups rather than weight.  
"...these recipes became known as 1234 cakes or quarter cakes, so called because they are made up of four ingredients: one cup of butter, two cups of sugar, three cups of flour, and four eggs.They are plain yellow cakes, somewhat less rich and less expensive than pound cake, due to using about half as much butter and eggs compared to pound cake. The names of these two major classes of cakes were intended to signal the method to the baker; "cup cake" uses a volume measurement, and "pound cake" uses a weight measurement."
And now I understand why this recipe tasted like a less rich pound cake!  It makes perfect sense that it was included in a frugal homemaking book :)  I think it would be fun to try out some more recipes from this book in the future.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Day 4: A Place to Put Your Feet Up {31 days to clean}

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean
"Cleaning isn’t just about scrubbing floors, making beds, and clearing out clutter (although those are good things), it’s also about creating an environment that encourages people to feel welcomed, loved." 
I need to think of how I can bless my guests in my home by having a "put your feet up" atmosphere.  This means that it is okay for it to look "lived-in", because "lived-in" is far more comfortable than pristine.  A few other things suggested in today's reading that I liked: 
  • Always have coffee or tea made (or ready to be made).  
  • Be a listener.  
Mary Challenge:  Invite a friend over.  I hope someone will accept my invitation to come over, otherwise I'll invite the neighbor kids over and treat them to popsicles or something!
Martha Challenge:   Clean the oven and microwave....suppressing my urge to grumble and complain about this right now!  
The microwave obviously needed cleaning; lots of smudges and fingerprints:
 Much better:
 Inside is even worse:
 Okay, this is just disgusting:
Now for the oven, which unfortunately is not self-cleaning!:
That looks better:
Ugh, yuck! I don't want to admit how long it took me to scrub this:
There's still some work to be done, but it looks much better!
There was a lot of grease and grime on the door:
And now there isn't!

Phew, I'm so glad to be done with that!  I probably shouldn't have stayed up until 1a.m. doing it, though!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Day 3: Giving life to my home (and cleaning the cabinets!)

Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean
Day 3: 10 Ways to Give Life to Your Home

Three days in and I'm feeling pretty good about this cleaning challenge.  I hope the enthusiasm can last throughout the whole thing :)

By the way here is the link to buy this ebook on Amazon:
31 Days to Clean - Having a Martha House the Mary Way

I really liked the list of 10 ways to give life to my home today, and here are my 2 favorite ways (You'll have to buy the e-book to see the rest of them; it's totally worth it!):
  • Offer life-giving and grace-filled words to husband and children.
  • Make our homes a place of grace where mistakes and sins are not met with anger but with love and hope.
It is hard not to get angry when a child does something that is willfully disobedient.  I mean, it's nearly impossible to react in love when my toddler draws with marker all over the sunporch wall (which he did recently!)  I do know that my children respond much better to discipline when I am calm and gentle, but firm;  not when I react harshly.  Another thing that helps immensely is finding ways to praise the kids for good behavior and any other thing that you are pleased with.  My mom taught me this and it is so cute to see how proud the kids are when I praise them.  

Mary Challenge: I was supposed to ask my family members what I do that makes them feel loved when it comes to caring for the home.  My husband's responses (after I forced him to!  He never complains about anything, so I really had to pry for these) :  
  • When I wash the dishes (and do other chores) without grumbling and complaining.  I thought it was cute how he used the phrase "without grumbling and complaining", because that's something I remind the kids of a lot.  I hadn't realized that I often grumble and complain about homemaking tasks, which must be unpleasant for him to hear....better change that!
  • Dinner being ready when he comes home from work. Though I've gotten better at this with subscribing to e-mealz and having my meals planned, I still do not have the best time management skills and sometimes start dinner too late.
  • Picking up a little so it's not a complete disaster when he gets home from workI remember doing this when I was little before my dad came home from work, so I know it's a nice way to show love to the head of the home by making it a pleasant place to come home to!
  • Davin said that he feels loved when I make yummy food, but not noodles!  (He does not like any pasta dishes, which I cannot understand!)
Martha Challenge:  Dust the top of refrigerator (I did this yesterday, yay!), cabinets, and shelves.  Wash cabinets and drawers.

Here's the top of the fridge I cleared off and cleaned yesterday:
These little shelves sure had some dust bunnies on them!  I like my kitschy little knick knacks :)
The cabinets didn't show they were very dirty, but the water was sure yucky when I dumped it out at the end!  With 28 cabinets and 14 drawers, there were quite a few to wash down. It brought back memories of when I was little and helped wash the cabinets.  This has been pretty fun so far!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Life-Giver and Fridge Cleaner

    Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

    Day 2: Created to Give Life

    "We as women have been blessed with the very nature of life-giving! At its core, life-giving is all about love – loving others with what God has given us."

    Mary Challenge:  As I think about ways that I can give life to my home, my children, my husband, and my sphere of influence, here are a few things I can do:

    • Use my words wisely, in a positive and life-giving way.  Children have such tender hearts, and they can easily detect annoyance, sarcasm and other negative tones in my voice.  I need to guard my tongue and make sure my words will build them up, not tear them down.  I also need to make sure to affirm and encourage my husband more, and thank him for working so hard to provide for our family!  
    •  Declutter my home and only keep what we need or love.  I tend to hang on to things I don't need and clutter does not take long at all to multiply, it seems!  De-cluttering will give life to our home and make it easier to clean and more peaceful.  
    • Limit the time our family watches tv or uses other electronic media and entertainment.  There's not a whole lot of life-giving going on while wasting time doing these things! 

    “Life-giving is about receiving from God in order to give to others.” Barbara Mouser, Five Aspects of Woman 

    Martha Challenge: Kitchen-Clean out and scrub the refrigerator and freezer.  Oh boy, here we go!  I'm also going to clean off the top and outside of the fridge because it's been driving me nuts!
    Outside: Before
     Outside: After
    Another outside view: Before
    Inside fridge: Before
    Inside fridge: After
    Fridge door: Before
    Fridge door: After
    Freezer: Before
    Freezer: After
    Freezer door: Before
    Freezer door: After
    And here is the amount of trash from this cleaning project! 

    I didn't think my fridge and freezer needed cleaning that badly, but I'm glad I did it!  It wasn't actually too dirty since it's only 1.5 years old, but there was a lot of expired and old food in there.  Now, here's hoping it stays clean for a while ;-)  Have you cleaned your fridge out lately?

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    My Mission Statement for a Clean Home

    Homemakers Challenge - 31 Days to Clean

    Day 1: Why Clean?

    Today marked the beginning of the 31 Days to Clean homemaker's challenge.  I was asked to identify reasons why I want to have and maintain a clean home and then develop a mission statement based on these reasons.  Here are some of the main reasons why I want a clean home:
    • To create an atmosphere of peace and order:  Having a cluttered, messy home really brings out the worst in me.  I feel frazzled, overwhelmed, and unable to function at my full potential when the house is a mess.  This is all magnified by the fact that we are at home a lot.  Therefore, I have to look at the mess and try and keep up with it all day long.  It is difficult to home school in a messy environment, so it is also important to have peace and order for that reason.  Needless to say, this is majorly important to me! 
    • So that I can be more hospitable and not embarrassed to have company over:  I would really like to grow more in the area of hospitality, and not having to worry about a messy house would really free me up to invite more people over.  Also, it is not fun to clean like crazy before company comes and be so worried about the house that I don't enjoy the visit as much as I should.
    • To bless my husband:  My dear husband has been very patient with me as I've stumbled along in my journey of keeping the home.  I am happy to say that I have made a lot of progress in the past 7+ years, but I have a long ways to go!  I would like to make our home a haven so that when my husband gets home from work he can relax instead of entering a home of chaos.  
    • To model a good example of diligence to my children:  As a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, I have a large influence on my children and I want to be a GOOD influence.  I do not want to model laziness, a complaining spirit, or disobedience to them.  Little eyes are watching and learning from me all day long, so I need to make the best of my time with them!  My mom was a great example to me and was always busy taking care of the needs of our family with a never-tiring, happy spirit.  I'm very blessed to have learned from her!
    • To have more time for things I really enjoy, like playing with my kids and pursuing hobbies:  I'm not sure if this will ever change, but cleaning is not enjoyable to me.  It helps to remind myself that I am blessing my family by taking care of the home, but there are many other things I'd rather be doing!  Also, it would be nice to have a little more time for hobbies I enjoy: sewing, baking, reading, and beginning gardening.  I have also recently added birdwatching to my hobby list....haha, oh my I must be getting old! 
    So here is my mission statement:
    I purpose to faithfully and diligently maintain a clean home in order to create an atmosphere of peace and order, to encourage hospitality in our home, to bless my husband, to model a good example of diligence to my children, and to free up more time for things I enjoy doing.

    I decided to make my mission statement pretty and print it out.  I taped it on the wall in my kitchen so that I can be reminded several times a day and stay motivated!  Here it is: