Cleaning Essentials

Monday, March 30, 2015's the story of my life. At least in this stage of my life, with 5 children 9 and under. I used to get excited about spring cleaning but now that most of my days involve cleaning in some shape or form; cleaning and I are not on the best terms but by God's grace and strength we are working our relationship out!

Even though I might not like cleaning up spill after spill or one mess after the other I want to be faithful as a homemaker and do my job well. I find if I have a well stocked arsenal, I am better able to fight the battle against dirt, crumbs and sticky messes that are waged daily in my home. I like using natural ingredients already in my kitchen that are only harmful to the germs and grime in their way.

Here are the natural tools weapons that I always try to keep on hand that bring light to the darkness and hope in the midst of dust, smudges, grime and soap scum.

The Weapons:
*All purpose spray- I put hot water, Dr. Bronners soap( or you could use a natural dish soap), white distilled vinegar and an essential oil in a spray bottle. I clean my counter tops, windows, spills and just about anything with this spray.
*All purpose floor cleaner- I use the same ingredients as the all purpose spray for my tile and laminate hardwood floors.
*Wood cleaner- I pour a little bit of olive oil and Dr. Bronners soap on a damp rag to clean fans and wood surfaces. I also like Murphy's oil for my wood surfaces and floors.
*Bathroom Scrub- I mix up baking soda, Dr. Bronners soap, vinegar and an essential oil. It works wonders on that dirty ring around the bathtub and the scum in the sink.
*Stainless Steel Scrub- simply mix baking soda and lemon juice together and watch your sink and appliances sparkle.
*Rags- I use a lot of my husbands old shirts for cleaning up various messes and for dusting. He doesn't even miss them.
*Paper towels- are great for messes and spills that need to be disposed of quickly and conveniently.
*Towels- I usually keep a big towel on hand in the kitchen for quick clean up of big spills. Having this handy literally keeps me from crying over spilt milk.
*Sponges- great for cleaning and scrubbing stubborn grime and gook on counter tops, walls, chairs,  and bathrooms and anywhere my children are.

The Ammunition: 
*Dr. Bronners soap- is a vegetable based soap that is gentle on the body and tough on dirt. It's uses are limitless!
*White Distilled Vinegar- eliminates odors and kills germs so it's a no brainer in my cleaning list.
*Baking Soda- cleans and deodorizes and has a powerhouse of skills when mixed with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice
*Essential oils- I love using essential oils for cleaning. They not only smell good but have great cleaning properties. I use tea tree oil in the kitchen and bathroom for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Peppermint oil also is great for its antibacterial power. I love using white grapefruit oil, orange, lemon and lavender also. I basically keep an arsenal of essential oils on hand.
*Lemons-  are basically the smell of clean to me. They also have so many versatile benefits. They are great disinfectants and combined with baking soda, clean just about anything.

Hope this list of cleaning essentials helps you conquer the war against dirt in your home and brings some shine and freshness to your daily grind of cleaning.

What is your biggest cleaning challenge?
Mine is that it never ends!!

What is your least favorite thing to clean?
Mine is the fridge!

What is your go to cleaning product or tool?
Mine is the lowly but versatile towel!

Linking up with Mama Moments Monday

When life gets overwhelming...he overcomes

Saturday, March 21, 2015

These past two weeks have been hard. Life hit me with a double whammy and didn't leave me much room to catch my breath, but even on the days when I wasn't able to get into the word, when I didn't understand what was going on, when I was fearful of the decisions that I had to make; God's grace still shined through.

He spoke scripture to my mind to comfort and give me strength, he brought people into my life who were able to emphasize and bear my burdens with me and he gave me his joy and peace in the midst of confusion and fear.

This world we live in throws us some hard curve balls. I can't imagine living here without the hope that I have in Jesus...the hope that he is coming to make all things new...the hope that he has overcome this world.

He doesn't promise us that if we believe in him, he will make everything easy for us and fix all our problems but he does promise that he will never leave or forsake us and that he will give us his peace, that surpasses all understanding.

I have experienced this first hand this week and throughout my life. It's through the storms and the trials that we come to know him in a deeper and more intimate ways and we find that he is producing in us character, endurance and hope.(Romans 5:3-5)

I never like experiencing the difficult situations in life but I am so thankful that I don't have to face them alone.

Life can get complicated, overwhelming, busy and just plain hard. You might not have time to read your Bible, get alone with God, exercise, eat right, get enough sleep or have time to clean your house...ahem... when the craziness of life takes over. You might not have the right attitude or understand what is going on. You might feel like your world is being shaken from underneath your feet. But if your feet are planted firmly in Jesus you don't have to fear and you don't have to worry because he holds your life in his hands.

 All of us have circumstances in life that cause everything else to be put on the back burner, that consume our thoughts, emotions and time; draining us of our strength and joy. This is when we need to cry out to God and ask him to help us in our time of need.

"I have said these things to you, that you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

If you are having one of those days, weeks or months remember with me that God is on the throne, he is in control and take heart...because he has overcome!

Linking up with some of these great link parties

The Best Pancake Recipe

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A couple of years ago I shared my family's love and obsession of pancakes with you. Since then we have done a lot of mixing, pouring and eating; perfecting our pancake craft and developing our own recipe that I believe really makes the best pancakes! All the recipes we have tried in the past always ended up tasting like baking soda so we dispensed with the baking soda and I think you will find that you won't even miss it.

When I think of the best pancake, I think of crispy and buttery on the outside and fluffy and soaked with syrupy goodness on the inside. These are those pancakes. They are crispy but not hard; fluffy but not heavy.

If you love pancakes but have struggled to find the perfect recipe, look no further! Happy pancake making!


The Best pancake Recipe
 *makes about 15 pancakes
 *Can also be used to make waffles
 *triple the dry ingredients to make a ready  made mix( use the same amount of wet ingredients for every 2 cups of mix, but if you want to decrease the amount, use 1 cup of mix and half the wet ingredients)

Wet ingredients
*4 Tbs. of melted butter
*2 eggs
*1cup of milk
*1 cup of buttermilk
*2 tsp. vanilla

Dry Ingredients
*2 Cups of Whole Wheat Flour(I use grain that I buy from a co-op ( )and I mill at home, called soft white wheat. It makes a huge difference and is very nutritious ) But you can buy soft white wheat at the store if you don't have a mill.
*3 tsp. baking powder( this is the key to fluffy pancakes without the baking soda taste)
*1 tsp. salt
*2 Tbs. honey or sugar

Mix all the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture. Pour on buttered griddle. Flip when bubbles form on top. Serve and enjoy with maple syrup, fruit and whip cream!

 Fruit Syrup
1 cup of your choice of fruit( strawberries and mixed berries are our favorite)
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 Tbs. brown sugar
Heat over  medium heat for 10 min.
Pour over pancakes while hot.

If you are all out of maple syrup here is a great buttermilk caramel syrup that you can make at home. We love it!

What do you like on your pancakes?
Are you in the waffle camp or the pancake camp?

Linking up with these great link ups: Raising Homemakers, Friday Favorites, The Creative Collection

A Trip to the Saturday Morning Market

Friday, March 6, 2015

Living in Florida I am spoiled with fresh produce all year long. We have some great local organic farms right in our area, not to mention our back yard!

A couple of weeks ago I visited our downtown farmer's market, The Saturday Morning Market which was brimming with fresh, local ingredients and new and foreign foods. It is one of the top 20 farmer's markets in the country and the largest in the southeast!It was so much fun perusing the vendors and tasting of their delicious delicacies; many of which I will never make myself and listening to the music.

Hot organic, fair trade coffee was the first thing on my list to try and it did not disappoint! I ordered the caramel hazelnut mocha...mmmm, and savored every drop. Next to fill our bellies my mom, daughter and I found some flaky pastries oozing with sugary fruit. We then wandered through the stands and filled up on local produce. Lastly we we made our way to the balloon man and after patiently waiting, Ellie took home a little puppy dog that thankfully will not require any care! She was pooped out by then, thus the grumpy face.

My boys would have loved the fish pictures but probably not walking around so I snapped some pictures for them to be inspired by.

The beautiful colors and fragrant smells were a rich feast for our eyes and noses! If spring has not shown it's face where you live and you need a little color and sunshine here is some eye candy for you! You're welcome!

All those fresh veggies and fruits are getting me excited about harvesting our spring garden and  strawberry picking soon!

Do you have a local farmer's market that you enjoy going to?

Our Spring Garden

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I think it's safe to say it is spring in Florida! It is currently 81 degrees, the sun is shining, the windows are open and the birds are singing!  The air just feels different. I have even been having a little bit of baby fever...just a little.

My apologies to all of you who are bundled up and covered in snow; straining for a glimpse of the sun. I don't envy you, but I would like to visit you in the summer;) I need the sun. It affects my whole psyche when the sun isn't out. There are those rainy days that I love to be inside, snuggling with my babies, baking cookies while drinking hot chocolate and watching old movies, but if it was like that all the time you would have to lift me out of the house with a crane.

Thankfully that is not the case and my family and I have been preparing and dreaming of beautiful green, leafy vegetables to come. While I have been busy keeping the family alive by cooking and our house from looking like a bunch of pigs ran through it by cleaning; my husband and children have been hard at work in the yard unloading dirt, making garden beds, growing seedlings and planting them. It looks like a nursery in our backyard.

I am so thankful that my husband has a green thumb because even though I love gardening this season of my life has been so busy that I don't think I would have the strength to do all he has done. So yeah, I can't take any credit for the little sprouts of greenery you see before you just the human ones.

The little green seedlings are poking their heads up, filling us with excitement and anticipation. I can almost taste the juicy sweet tomatoes, bitter peppery arugula and crunchy green peppers!

Here's a little peek at our little piece of  country... in the middle of the city:

Right now we have growing:

                         *a few varieties of lettuce 
                                                    *cherry and beefsteak heirloom tomatoes    
         *sweet potatoes
        *red cabbage   
           *brussel sprouts
        *green beans  
   *snap peas  
And of course little reproductions of Josh and I;)

Are you getting ready for a spring garden or have you already started one?

What are you able to grow in your neck of the woods?

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