Uncategorized

Birthdays On A Budget

birthday 4

April-June marks birthday season in the Robinson household. But while birthdays are supposed to be a time of celebration, many parents (myself included) find themselves overwhelmed with planning, preparations and the attention to details. And in a society where 8-year olds are getting iPhones for their birthdays, resisting the urge to overspend on birthdays can be a bit of a challenge. When you are a one-income family, the challenge is magnified times a gazillion. Thankfully, over the years, I found the joy in simplifying birthday parties…plus, extravagant just wasn’t in the budget!

But since when did creating memories require the assistance of maxing out the credit card anyhow? There is a common misconception that in order for a party to be fun, it must be extravagant. But you can achieve an extraordinary birthday party without it being extravagant. One is determined by imagination and one is determined by budget. I’m just going to leave that little tidbit there and let you decipher which one is which. Imagine throwing a kid-approved party with no buyer’s remorse. No nail biting while balancing the checkbook. Just a little planning and creativity, and the only one that will notice your birthday party was on a budget is your wallet.

Plan Ahead

Just like making out a grocery list to avoid impulse purchases, planning ahead is key to party planning when you are on a budget. Make a detailed list and give yourself plenty of time to shop around. Shopping at the last minute increases your likelihood to go financially overboard.  Be sure to search for coupons before your embark on your mission to take advantage of sales. Remember, you will often pay a premium for convenience, so try avoiding making all your purchases in one place.

Minimize Theme Incorporation

I realize kids love themes for their birthdays. I love themes for my kids birthdays. It gives me a focus. But you don’t need to elaborate this theme in every. little. detail. Themed items tend to be more costly, so when you are shopping, stick to solid-colored balloons, plates, cups and utensils.  Incorporate themes in other areas, like creatively naming the food. Like most little boys, my son went through a car phase. For his third birthday, I threw him a Hot Wheels party, so I served the guests motor oil (sweet tea), antifreeze (Kool-Aid), spare tires (mini chocolate donuts), Hot Wheels pasta salad (pasta salad with pinwheel pasta), “Pit Stop” sliders (mini deli sandwiches) and “Nascar” cupcakes.

Digital Invitations

While I enjoy good ole’ fashioned snail mail, I discovered that I could utilize modern conveniences to my advantage by sending out digital invites. Mailbox invites add a nice touch, but they add an unnecessary expense as well.  This saves money on the invitation, envelopes and stamps.  It also creates an easier method of reply since most people would rather click a “yes” or “no” button than formally RSVP.

Keep the Menu Simple

It’s easy to overthink food when feeding a crowd. But keep your audience in mind- kids are pretty basic in their culinary preferences. Hot dogs, for instance, are a universally accepted kid food. Your goal here is to avoid fancy and aim for simple. Make some of your child’s favorite side dishes-  with the use of some of your own discerning here as children may offer very random selections. When it comes to beverages, don’t worry about stocking up on bottles of water and cans of pop. Serve refreshments in pitchers instead. You might be surprised at how much beverages can add up.

Borrow Instead of Renting

When hosting a crowd, you may discover that your dining table, suitable for your family is not quite enough. But before you place orders on renting out tables and chairs, ask around to family, friends and neighbors first to see if they are willing to lend you some extras. Don’t worry if the chairs don’t match (even I had to set aside my OCD for the sake of saving money here). Mismatched tables can be easily covered with colorful tablecloths and the chairs, well… it’s eclectic. More importantly, it’s a place for your guests to sit, so it works.

Forget the Venue

Venues create a large portion of party cost for many parents. Inflatable arenas and trampoline parks cost an arm and a leg and often offers a very limited time frame to party. If you are really trying to stick to a humble budget, there is no better place to host your party than in the comfort of your home, backyard or even your garage.

Stock Up at the Dollar Store

Party stores may have a large selection of party-specific items, but the Dollar Store has a great selection for savings. In fact, this stop is the best place to load up on party décor items such as balloons and streamers, plus all you need for party favor goody bags. Even rummaging through your local thrift store can uncover hidden party treasures.  I had a friend who threw a girl’s tea party for her daughter and discovered a 20 piece tea set from the thrift store for $19.

Affordable Entertainment

This has always been the most challenging aspect of party planning for me. I have no trouble creating the menu, decorating, and even spending hours baking the day before the party. But activities tend to leave me stumped.  Then I realized that instead of being a one-woman circus or purchasing several items I will likely never use again, I could inject a little 80’s entertainment into my kids’ parties.

Organizing a simple game of dodgeball or freeze tag is one way to keep kids active and engaged in fun. Scavenger hunts are another great way to get the kiddos excited. If you have a child who loves crafting, incorporate this concept into the party. Even something simple like allowing the kids to decorate tiara-shaped sugar cookies for your daughter’s princess party will keep them pleasantly occupied- and sugar induced.

Go Homemade

Sure, a catered three-tiered fondant masterpiece is eye-catching, but also a tad bit expensive and let’s be honest, over the top. Baking a homemade cake is not only better on the budget, but it adds a touch of nostalgia (something kids in this generation don’t get enough of). And rather than stressing over a Pinterest- worthy cake, make cupcakes or cake pops using simple decorations of icing and sprinkles. Fondant tastes like sugary plato anyway.

The imminent temptation to skimp on prep time will not allow you to skimp on savings. I can save about half the cost in prepping my own veggies than purchase a store-bought vegetable and dip tray. Put together cold-cut sandwiches rather than splurging on the “Ultimate Deli Party Platter.”  Whatever shortcut the store offers, you can make it for less.

Don’t allow the details of the celebration overshadow the real reason for the celebration. And remember- you don’t need an extravagant budget to have an extraordinary birthday party!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Uncategorized

I Will Rise

i will rise 2

As tears welled up in my eyes, I could feel the anger well up within my soul.  I stood still, feeling powerless, defenseless, and defeated. It’s like watching a raging storm unfolding before you and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You only hope the damage is repairable and eventually, the sun’s rays will shine a favorable light into the devastating ruins, offering some form of clarity in the aftermath of dust and debris.

When your character becomes the spectacle for others to attack, our natural instinct is to rise up to defend our honor. When someone persecutes your beliefs, when your integrity is on trial, and when you are knocked down by malicious accusations, we are heavily tempted to strap on our fighting boots and go to battle in self-defense. And yet,  Matthew 5:39 commands, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

Does this mean we are passively permitting our accusers to continue in their scoffing? We seek justice and we feel entitled to our vindication. Every fiber of my being was ready to pounce- to retaliate. I wanted to take control over the situation and prove to the doubters of who I truly am,  and not what they say I am.

God met me where I was in that broken moment. And He led me back to the cross- where Jesus bore our sin and shame- where He was falsely accused and mocked. As I considered the upcoming celebration of Resurrection Sunday, He reminded me of not only the excruciating pain He endured on the cross, but the humiliation He received.  The very personification of God was placed on display and publicly ridiculed, questioned and insulted. They didn’t believe Jesus to be who He really is- the Son of God- and instead, called Him a blasphemer. But Jesus never wavered. He never retaliated.

As Jesus willingly hung in atonement for our sins, the soldiers jeered, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:40). Even though Jesus was the way, the truth and the life, who had all the power and authority in heaven and earth, He did not retaliate. He did not save himself. The words of the mockers could not alter the unchanging character of the One true God.

But He did respond, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34).  When our redeeming Christ was slain on the cross, the enemy thought he had won! He pulled out all the punches, every low jab. While His body was broken, while He was made a spectacle, He chose forgiveness. And in three days, the Truth was brought to the light.

“Those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:29).

The grave could not hold Him. The father of lies was defeated. The false accusers were put to shame when He conquered death and He rose.  Jesus’ character on the cross is the perfect demonstration of our attitude when we are wrongfully accused and attacked.  We are not commanded to retaliate, but to respond. And our response is to be like Christ– we turn the other cheek, we forgive, and we trust in the Righteous Judge- the One who justifies us.

The Lord has already told us, “For we do not fight with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We will face many battles in this world, but I praise God that He has overcome the world! And while we must remain constantly on-guard and steadfast, we do not need to be defensive. We can stand back, without standing down. For in time, the truth always finds its way to the light. Because no matter what anyone can conjure up about me, it doesn’t alter the truth.

I am a child of God. He has called me by name, to work according to His purposes-to be His instrument. He has vindicated me. He searches and knows my heart.  From the ashes, I will rise- I will rise above with the divine strength the Lord gives me. Because He won, I am heir of His victories.  And even when slanderous words try to knock me down, because of who I serve and who am in Christ- praise His name- for I have been called blessed.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” (Matthew 5:11).

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

Uncategorized

German Chicken Pot Pie

chicken pot pie 2

The alarm clock (also known as the worst sound in the world) went off. The moment I dread each morning was upon me once more- where I am forced to decide whether to hit the snooze button or  unveil the quilt that had so perfectly encapsulated my warmth and face the chill that awaits me when my feet hit the floor. The terrible- awful season, also known as winter, was in full effect.

Other than the simple fact that I am solely responsible to get my children to school on time, I pondered other reasons to motivate myself to get out of my warm cocoon.  Thus, it was in that defining moment I determined that only a good meal-one with carbs- would combat the flurried fury of North East Ohio and move me into a vertical position. Rather than “rise and shine,” I have found rolling out and caffeinating to be more effective.

Despite the fact that it was the wee hours of the morning, I was diligently in search of something hearty for later on. A casserole, beef stew or soup just wasn’t going to cut it today.  I craved authentic comfort to warm me up- a quilt for my belly, so to speak.  There was only one recipe that came to mind. And it fit the bill perfectly.

German Chicken Pot Pie. This dish takes me back to my childhood- sitting in my Grandmother’s kitchen. There was nothing like Grandma’s chicken pot pie (or Grandma’s kitchen). The dictionary has yet to create an adjective worthy to describe this dish, but I will do my best.  Traditionally, chicken pot pie is made with a chicken and vegetable filling inside a flaky pie crust. But not in my Grandma’s kitchen.

My German Grandmother’s chicken pot pie was simply made with chicken and thin, dumpling-like squares in a heavenly broth. Really- the broth is heavenly as it is made with the holy trinity of vegetables (also known as the Mira qua)- carrots, onion and celery. Ever wondered what liquid gold looks like? Well, here you go! I realize this recipe highly resembles chicken and dumplings, but my Grandma calls it pot pie- and you don’t disagree with Grandma!

I promise this recipe will completely change your definition and your standards of chicken pot pie. Even though I have her recipe, I have yet to exactly duplicate hers. It must be the extra pinch of love-a key ingredient that belongs exclusively to Grandma’s.  But that won’t discourage me from making it to soothe my cravings for comfort and nostalgia.

My Grandmother told me the secret to any flavorful broth is to use the whole chicken. We’re an equal opportunity kitchen and we’re not leaving anything out- it’s the combination of the white meat, dark meat, bones and skin- working in harmony that produces a richly satisfying stock. And this recipe is no exception to the rule of flavor! It almost makes me look at boneless, skinless chicken and ask, “what’s the point?”

German Chicken Pot Pie

For the Chicken…

1 Whole Chicken

1 Whole Large Onion, Peeled

3 Stalks of Celery

3 Large Carrots, Peeled

2 Cartons of Good Chicken Stock

1 Tablespoon Chicken Bouillon Granules

1 Teaspoon Pepper

Combine all ingredients into a large kettle. Cook until chicken juices run clear, about 1-1/2 hours.  Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Debone and cut into chunks. Strain out the vegetables, reserving the heavenly chicken stock, also known as liquid gold.

For the Pot Pie…

2 Cups Flour

3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/4 Teaspoon Salt

4 Tablespoons Butter, Softened

2 Eggs + Milk to Measure 3/4 Cup

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or fork. Make a well in the flour and add the egg and milk mixture inside the well.  Combine to form soft dough. Roll dough out to a 1/4 inch thick rectangle on a well-floured surface. Let the dough rest for one hour. In the meantime, bring the reserved stock back to a boil. Cut the dough into 1- 1 1/2 Inch squares. Drop the dough squares into boiling stock, stirring constantly. Add the shredded chicken into the pot and heat through. Serve on a table covered with a floral 70’s plastic table cloth.

It’s a one of a kind recipe from a one of a kind kitchen.

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Projects

Bathroom Re-Vamp: Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is

After blogging about my favorite budget-friendly bathroom re-vamp ideas, I was inspired to test some out and hopefully encourage other homemakers that it is very possible to create a beautiful home on an affordable budget.With my house being a mid 70’s split level, I knew I had my work cut out to transform this unique layout into the rustic farmhouse-style home I always wanted.And being married to a football coach, I knew that while he was busy tackling game plans, I would have to tackle a great deal of the home improvements.

Rewind 6 Months Ago…

I just finished my triathlon- spackling, sanding and painting- the walls of my house and I was ready for the next challenge.  I was a woman on a mission- this inspired, HGTV- esque homeowner- ready to take on any project the house threw at me. Shower in need of tiling? No big deal. I’ve got this. After all, I have seen every episode of Property Brothers, which makes me an expert, right?

One day,  I stood- hands on my hips, eyes focused (for dramatic effect)- in front of my half bathroom, in all its 90’s wallpaper glory, and whispered to myself, “let’s do this!” Growing up with a handyman dad, I felt completely competent in my abilities. Handy is in my DNA. In retrospect, I had no idea what I was doing.

About 30 minutes into the project and overwhelmingly in awe at how incredibly well wallpaper adheres to drywall, I came to some simple conclusions. First off, how in the world does  HGTV  make their renovations appear so easy? Seriously- a bathroom floor is tiled in the course of a commercial break. The deception! I also concluded that wallpaper was evil and one should have to repent for putting it up. I felt as though someone owed me some sort of an apology for the remodeling abuse (I’m pretty sure remodeling abuse is a real thing).

Eventually, the wallpaper was off! (Insert sigh of relief) I felt as though I conquered something- like when David defeated Goliath or something comparable to that magnitude. As I’m  admiring my wallpaper- free walls, I stood back in amazement of the blank canvas (and myself), until a thought-provoking question came to mind: what do I do now?

I was able to determine that I didn’t want to paint the wall top to bottom. Considering the wall was already divided with trim and a shelf, I knew instantly beadboard was the perfect solution for the lower half of the wall. I always wanted a reason to incorporate beadboard, so I seized the opportunity.

But I was a little reluctant to work with beadboard. The material is intimidating for a beginner (as in someone who just recently self-taught themselves to paint) to handle and relatively expensive in the inevitable chance I would measure incorrectly. Not to mention having to actually use a table saw to cut the beadboard. I felt a little project dismay.

I was not, however, reluctant on a paint choice. I selected a bluish-gray for the upper half of the wall and set about the work I had been accustomed to the past several months of my life. I absolutely LOVE blue tones, so this was a no-brainer for me. Considering the small space a bathroom offers, I wanted a color that was airy, clean and simple.

Fast Forward to Last Saturday…

I am ashamed to admit that I let the bottom half of the bathroom sit unfinished…for months. I fought with myself about just painting the lower half and be done with it, while the other part of me wanted to wait until I could muster up the courage to attempt beadboard. While conducting some research on beadboard, I stumbled upon my bathroom salvation (and re-vamp tip) when I discovered Martha Stewart’s paintable beadbaord wallpaper.  It’s a tale of two wallpapers!

For a moment, horrific memories of wallpaper flooded my mind. I wasn’t sure I was prepared to revisit that dark time in my life, but I knew it was more user friendly than traditional beadboard and cost effective. The task was completed in two days, which makes it perfect for a weekend project! I am thrilled with the results and I managed to maintain my goals in home improvement: 1) Make It Beautiful and 2) Make It On A Humble Budget.

This bathroom had good bones, so I felt I was able to keep my re-vamp to a minimum. While the floor tile, vanity and sink would not exactly be my first choice, they were not entirely  outdated enough to need stained, painted or replaced. So I made due with what I had and kept things simplistically humble. I used a little elbow grease and baking soda to clean up the grout and freshened up the trim with some paint. I added some little touches of décor and the project was complete!

Before

Capture.PNG

After

 

 

Project Cost:

Paint: $30

Beadboard Wallpaper: $30

Wallpaper Glue: $15

Paint Supplies: $10

Small Can of Trim Paint: $15

Total: $100

In two days for $100, I completely re-vamped my bathroom. I’m not sure which is more impressive: the results or the receipts! Proof once more, that homemaking doesn’t have to be complicated and expensive. Humble skills. Humble budget. That’s home improvement done the humble way!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Uncategorized

When It Rains, It Pours

standing in the rain

On the day of our wedding, I was anticipating becoming Mrs. Robinson and celebrating the beginning of a new journey with my husband, Jesse. About 30 minutes prior to the ceremony, there was a downpour of rain- just long enough to leave our fairytale outside wedding completely drenched. There was no time to dry  the damage, so we reluctantly had to implement plan B and move everything inside the building where our reception was to take place.

My dreams of a beautiful sun-kissed June wedding by the lake suddenly shattered into pieces. I felt utterly devastated as I began to cry, testing my water-proof mascara before its original performing debut.  Attempting to catch my composure, I just remember thinking, “my wedding is ruined!” That is, until someone, whom I can’t even recall, put their hand on my shoulder and reassured me that the rain on my wedding day was a sign of God’s blessing. It didn’t feel like a blessing at that moment- it felt more like a bummer than a blessing- a total damper in our plans (pun intended). But afterwards, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of our guests specifically described our ceremony as not only beautiful, but intimate.

I can remember our wedding day fondly, as it has rained many times on our anniversary over the years. And each year, as we learn to trust in God more and more, I am also reminded how the rain truly is a sign of God’s blessing. We often use the expression, “when it rains, it pours” as a metaphor of our encounter with negative circumstances- ones that seem to arrive in this extraordinary wave, creating a full domino effect of devastation. Suddenly, we find ourselves overwhelmed, flooded by life, and struggling to keep our head above water.

I guess you could say it rained very hard on our family last October, when Jesse was told by his district that due to financial strains, many teachers would be losing their jobs. You can safely guess who was one of the teachers. He was facing a lay-off after Christmas break, leaving us without full income and medical benefits. Completely devastating news when you are a one-income family. Yet, in a time when I should have been trembling, I was not shaken. Faith stirred inside me and I had peace that God was going to make a way, even when I- in my finite mind- could not fathom how.

Thanks to divine favor with his district, Jesse was recommended to another district, who oddly enough happened to have an opening for a health/physical education teacher in an unlikely time of the school year. In November, Jesse began working for his new district, restoring his job security and benefits.  But devastating rain hit once more in January, which left his job uncertain once more. I am sparing details at this moment, but in due time, I will perhaps tell of this extraordinary trial with a testimony. However, I will say this: God’s plans are for good and not evil. I have complete assurance of this.

After receiving a vision from God the other day, I was prompted to read in the book of Joel.   As I was reading, God drew me to a specific verse: “Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both the autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil” (Joel 2: 23,24). The revelation God gave me transformed my entire perspective of the rain. Rain was not designed to be devastating. In fact, the only historical time rain was considered a devastation was the flood. Since then, God promised not to destroy the earth by flood. And thereafter, God’s people greatly rejoiced when God provided the rain.

I wasn’t certain what the verse meant exactly, but I knew I had to find out. In Biblical times, the people were incredibly dependent upon the rain for the well-being of their crops and their livelihood. There were two seasons of anticipated, abundant rain: autumn and spring. The autumn rains fell between the months of what we consider October-November. The spring rains fell between March-April.  The rains were both significant of God’s faithful provision.

It was then I understood why the Holy Spirit led me to this word. When God provided Jesse with his new job in November, He provided the autumn rain. And even though we are knee deep in the trenches of a trial, I stand steadfast and believe in God’s promises. In times of drought, there is nothing more refreshing than a shower of God’s faithfulness. It is because of His faithfulness, I can be fully dependent upon Him.

Life has a tendency to knock us off our feet from time to time. In seasons such as this, we are tempted to question God. Where is He? When will He bring forth the rain? Looking back over the years of my life and marriage, I can testify that He brings “both the autumn and spring rains, just as before.” He remains the same. Yesterday. Today. Forever. And it is in the midst of such seasons that I experience intimacy with God that I would otherwise not understand. His rain floods my heart with joy. Hope springs up within me and it is well with my soul.

Even now- as I sit writing this- hearing the sounds of the rain against my window pane, I rejoice in God’s unfailing provision. If you are facing extraordinary trials, remember that God never leaves us or forsakes us and He always provides. He makes a way, where there seems to be no way.  He brings forth restoration to the desolate areas of our lives.  He pours out His faithfulness, just as He promises to be faithful. And just as He promised new wine and oil,  His mercies are new every morning.  I have assurance of the harvest and I peacefully anticipate the spring rain.

God’s Blessings (in the spring and autumn rains),

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and Recipes

Saturday Morning French Toast

french-toast

Jesse and I lived in this cozy townhouse after we just got married. Being newly weds and experiencing the exciting freedom of our first home together, I can recall so many sweet memories. My first try at French toast was not one of them.   In spite of stemming from a line of wonderful cooks, I had yet to get my feet wet in the kitchen and discover my passion for cooking.

In fact, had it not been for Panera and Chipotle, I’m certain we may have not lived to see our second anniversary.  One Saturday morning, I felt  homesick for some homemade breakfast. Even though my mom always prepared dinner growing up, my dad often made breakfast for us on the weekends. Other than making eggs sunny side up, also affectionately known as “dippy eggs,” my hands down favorite has always been French toast.

Along with paying my first rent payment, this was one of those profound adult moments where I realized that I was moved out and married. The spatula had been passed to me. The fate of breakfast dippy eggs and French toast was now in my hands. Although I had never previously tried to make French toast, I was familiar with the basics.  My first attempt at French toast was…let’s just say… almost editable. If you’ve ever wondered by any stretch of the imagination that French toast could resemble bricks, I’m here to tell you it’s possible.

Thankfully (for the sake of my family) despite this beginner culinary failure, a new found interest sparked within me. And my journey to becoming the home cook I aspired to be began…with burnt French toast, but nonetheless.  This recipe has been experimented and perfected over the course of almost 10 years. No offense, Dad, but I am confident to say this is THE BEST French toast recipe. It blows restaurant’s French toast out of the water.

The number one secret to my famous Saturday morning French toast is the bread. You could find a simple Texas toast or choose a traditional challah bread, but do yourself a favor and pick up a loaf of bread from Menches Brothers. Trust me, this is a good decision. You want a bread that is thick and sturdy to absorb the liquid gold it will inevitably be submersed in.

You could use the rookie approach by simply using milk and eggs for your French toast batter.  But with a few more decadent ingredients, French toast practically transforms into dessert. I have to remind myself that I’m actually eating breakfast. I feel as though I’m getting away with something. With vanilla, honey and cinnamon, you just might find yourself in a French toast coma all day. Pair with a light berry fruit salad (eases the sugary guilt some).

Saturday Morning French Toast

1 Loaf of Menches Brother’s Bread

6 eggs

2 Cups Half & Half

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

3 Tablespoons Honey

8 Tablespoons Butter

How to Make:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and honey. Whisk together thoroughly.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge a piece of bread in the cream mixture and allow to sit for 15 seconds per side. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet and place one slice of bread down, cooking one at a time. Cook the first side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip French toast and cook other side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.  Place browned French toast pieces onto a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes to allow the inside to cook through. Serve with warm maple syrup and a generous sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.

French toast so good, you just might make it a week day staple too! Enjoy your Saturday y’all!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Home

10 House Hacks- Organization Made Simple

organize

In the spirit of Spring, I not only thrive in channeling my inner Danny Tanner (turbo cleaning machine), but I also love organizing. There is nothing like having a place for everything at home- and having it done in style! Organizing can make life so much easier and allow your home to operate much more efficiently. In all honesty, how many of us often spend extra time searching for something we’ve misplaced? Or find ourselves flustered by clutter?

But before you spend your money on pricey, commercialized organization systems, there are stylish, economical organizing hacks that can be accomplished using simple household items. Don’t have these items at hand? No biggie- just pop into your nearest Dollar Store the next time you’re out. Savings and style? That’s what I’m all about!

1. Repurpose Magazine Holders. This is such a clever and versatile hack! The storing possibilities are endless! The flip flop bin?  C’mon! Admit it- you’re impressed! I know I am!

 

 2.  Put A Lid On It.  Your thinking- why haven’t I thought of this before? Sorting through pot and pan lids gets old fast!  This creates an easy system to locate the one you need and saves on space so your cabinet isn’t bursting at the seams.

 

 3. Get A Handle On Plastic Bags. Plastic bags. We all have them and they come in handy for a lot of other needs once they have fulfilled their shopping destinies. But rather than organize plastic bags in another plastic bag, repurpose on-hand items, like empty tissue boxes and wipes containers to provide practicality and style.

 

 4. Round-Up Your Junk Drawer/Cupboard. There is always that one pesky catch-all drawer in the kitchen. It’s the land of the unknown. Who knows what lies within. But you can create purpose and function to this drawer with a simple solution by using some labels and utensil bins. Add character by spray painting or wrapping in a fun printed paper.

 

5. Sort it Out. Laundry sorting is something we don’t typically enjoy, but has to get done none-the-less. Create an easy sorting system using laundry’s most obvious companion- the laundry basket. Add labels to make this system even more user-friendly! Hey, maybe the kids and even the hubby would catch on. One can only hope.

 

6Quit Your Wining. We received a wine rack as a wedding gift, but contrary to my Irish ancestry, we actually don’t drink alcohol, including  wine.  As you may know, I’m more of a chai tea lover. But I am in love with this idea of converting your unused wine rack to store bathroom necessities. I especially love the towel rack hack! I just like my towels rolled up- I do not know why.

 

7. It’s the Small Things in Life. Tackling tiny organization presents a challenge. Staples, rubber bands, paper clips…one can go mad sorting through these things when they have no designated space. This eliminates that problem! One less headache to worry about! Use a muffin tin or ice tray to keep small things in their place!

 

8. Marvelous Mason Jars. I simply adore mason jars! I will try to fit as much as I possibly can into a Mason Jar. Seriously- with so many ideas, it was hard to narrow the examples down to only 3! I could have dedicated an entire blog post about them! Maybe I should!Truly the MVP of organizing hacks!

 

9. Be Crateful. Crates are another creative way to keep away the clutter. Organization doesn’t have to mean cookie-cutter plastic totes. Bring a rustic charm to your organization- something that looks as good as it is functional. As someone who has quite the impressive collection of wrapping paper, this hack is perfection!

 

10. Life’s A Beach. One summer staple dollar store gem are those multi-colored beach baskets. These are commonly used to tote around towels, sand shovels, and sun screen. But here, they also serve the purpose of toy bins. Label or color coordinate for simplicity. If you live in a house with stairs, this will help your kiddos tremendously! We all know how toys migrate from the bedrooms to the living room. That’s why I’m particularly fond of the idea to label a basket for each kid and place them on the steps. Then at the end of the day, they can collect their toys and carry them upstairs.

 

So many of these hacks are affordable, decorative and functional. Don’t overthink and become intimidated by organization.  The keys to optimal organizing is to be creative, simplify and streamline.  Conquer the clutter and enjoy the clean!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Home

No Muss-No Fuss Spring Cleaning

spring-cleaning

Ah, Springtime! A time of year when the trees begin to bud, floral patterns are back in season, and we can (hopefully) store away the winter coats, gloves, and scarves.  With all the new beginnings Spring offers, there is one that delights me the most…Spring Cleaning! I realize that my love for cleaning is not normal, and I can live with that. But today, my obsession is your gain because I am bringing you the ultimate cleaning guide that will make Spring cleaning a breeze!

This time of year is often daunting for most people. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While I understand that not everyone can share in my affection for cleaning, it doesn’t have to be chore. In order to avoid sounding like Mary Poppins here, instead of making a game out of my chores, I have found throughout my cleaning chronicles that having a detailed outline for what needs accomplished is the best strategy to tackle these projects, without causing my head to spin.

One of the reasons we tend to get overwhelmed with the idea of Spring cleaning is because we forget the purpose of this cultural traditional.  The goal is not to clean the entire house from top to bottom- although that sounds fun. The goal is to clean the aspects of the home that commonly get neglected during the course of the winter. This excludes the normal day-to-day routine tasks that should be completed. We’re strictly focusing our efforts here on the details.

The most efficient plan of attack on your Spring cleaning is to go room by room, then handle the general chores, otherwise it’s easy to get lost in a trail of tasks and become easily sidetracked and discouraged. I like to start with tackling the kitchen first. It’s the heart of the home- a lot of love is created and shared in this space, but also a lot of mess. It’s one of the heftier jobs to clean, which is why it’s also best to get it out of the way first while motivation is still in its prime.

This list provides all the chores that need done in a 2 week timeline. So grab your sponges and roll up those sleeves. And welcome Spring with pristine! Happy Spring Cleaning!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

the-ultimate-spring-cleaning-checklist

 

 

 

 

Home

5 Affordable Ways to Completely Re-Vamp Your Bathroom

bathroom

If the kitchen is affectionately coined the heart of the home, what does that make the bathroom? As a mom, the obvious titles that come to mind would be: the battle at the sink, the mirror of smudges, and the land of misfires. Add a 60’s inspired peach tile and drab décor, and you’ve surrendered this territory as a lost cause.

It’s hard to imagine a space surrounded with such offenses  as potentially being something peaceful- your own in-house oasis. You dread the one inevitable question of guests, “Where’s your bathroom?”  And you often attempt to conceal it by closing the door- all in hopes to discourage the opportune view of onlookers passing by, including yourself.

While no home improvement project can promise your 5- year old son will always aim directly into the target or that your sink will have the power to repel the unexplained large amounts of toothpaste from adorning  the sink bowl, there are ways to make your bathroom a space you can enjoy  on a humble budget.

  • Add a Printed Wallpaper. Wallpaper is an inexpensive and simple solution to make a statement in your bathroom. It adds a boldness, but elegance to the space. Choose a safe and simple color scheme and pattern or make a statement with a large print design and color. Check out wallpaper you’ll love by Wayfair! Bring a touch of sophistication without compromising your budget! $50.

 

  • Substitute Beadboard for Paintable Bead Board Wallpaper. Get the nostalgic, farm-house look of beadboard, but at a fraction of the cost. I love the textural and detailed charm that beadboard offers. It tactfully blends the combination of modern and whimsical. I suggest using Martha Stewart Paintable Beadboard Wallpaper. This product has been highly rated and user friendly! Keep the classic white beadboard look or paint to compliment your bathroom. $30.

 

  • Paint Out-dated Tile. A tile gut job is not exactly my idea of a simple bathroom re-vamp. But a bathroom covered in powder blue tile is not an ideal situation either. If the tile is still in good shape, you don’t have to replace- you can paint it! It’s very easy and, of course, affordable! I stand as a witness that you would never know the tile had been painted. And the blue will be a thing of the past! Check out The Home Depot’s options of  Tile Paint to select the color that suits your suite’s needs! $45.

 

  • Stain or Paint the Vanity. You probably could have guessed by now that I’m a huge advocate of painting. The transformation from paint never ceases to amaze me. Most older vanities are solid pieces of wood- structurally sound and in perfect working order, but lack modern appeal. Old vanity, meet paint…(cue the music) instant friends for life! Choose something ultra modern, like Black. Bring warmth with a mossy green. Freshen and brighten the vanity with a classic white or soft gray. Or add a punch of personality with a charming blue. Stop in at your local hardware store or choose from the HGTV’s Fixer Upper- approved collection by Magnolia Homes. It’s Joanna Gaines…you can’t go wrong! $35.

 

  • Transform Your Countertop. Another undesirable element of an out-dated bathroom is a distasteful countertop. But buying a new countertop can cost several hundreds of dollars. Thanks to modern advances in remodeling, you can change your countertop without replacing it.  Countertop Transformation Systems can save as much as $400 or more. Groundbreaking, right? $150.

 

 

With inspirational remodels like this, you can proudly leave the door open when guests come to visit or indulge in a private home retreat with the door closed and relax in a tranquil, Spa-like bathroom ( children compliantly sleeping sound not included).

Who says you can’t have the bathroom of your dreams on a humble budget? These ideas prove to be just that- attractive and affordable!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Food and Recipes

Head Over Heels Chicken Over Biscuits

chicken-over-biscuits

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This theory was proven true with this all-time comfort classic! It’s the recipe that won the affection of my husband (aside from my whit and charm, of course). It was love at first bite! He was head over heels…for me and this dish! It was the first meal I ever made for him and it is still a cherished family fav. Think of an open-faced chicken pot pie. Chicken.  Simple veggies. A rich, creamy sauce. And flaky buttermilk biscuits. It’s food for the soul.

This was a staple for me growing up. It’s one of those beloved recipes that never gets old and will always have a coveted spot in the family cookbook. Since I believe good things ought to be shared, I’m letting you in on the family secret! It’s just too wonderful to keep to myself! Helpful hint: sweat pants recommended, but not required.

The ingredients are probably right in your kitchen already…

For the Biscuits

4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/3 Cup Cold Butter, Cubed

1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk

2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/3 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Stir together. Add the shortening and cold butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork until combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn dough out of the bowl and roll 1/2 in. thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

For the Chicken, Veggies & Sauce

5 Tablespoons Butter

1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into 1-Inch Pieces

1 Red Pepper, Diced

1 Yellow Onion, Diced

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 Cup Frozen Peas

5 Tablespoons Flour

1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper, to Taste

Heat butter in a large skillet. Place chicken in the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the skillet. Shred chicken, leaving some pieces thick. Add red pepper and onion (seasoning with every step) and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken back into the pan. Add frozen peas.  Sprinkle flour, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir until combined. Allow sauce to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir. Season with more salt and pepper.  You may add some chicken bouillon for more chicken flavor and color. Slice the biscuits in half. Pour a generous amount of chicken and veggies over the biscuits.

Get the family excited about dinner tonight with this delicious one-of-a -kind comfort classic!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker