Sunday, February 3, 2013

Off to a Good Start in 2013

Well, January has come and gone. Thankfully, I didn't make many New Year's resolutions, therefore, I haven't broken any. *wink*

Pretty much the only resolutions I made this year were to continue doing what I can to live healthier, to be more frugal and resourceful with what I have, and to live a more simple life.

In my quest to live more simply, I've been going through my house, room by room, cleaning out closets, clearing up our living space, getting rid of excess and clutter. (I've been reading a book on de-cluttering your home, actually a couple of different books). I mean, when you start running out of places to store your stuff, then it might be time to ask yourself if you have too much stuff. Obviously I did, because I hauled out boxes and boxes of stuff to the mission store! We all have more clothes in our closets than we'll ever wear, so there was no reason not to clean them out and give those extra clothes to someone who could use them. And in my kitchen, it is ridiculous that I have so many dishes! And duplicate items, too, like 3 ice cream scoops, 2 pizza cutters, etc. And things that I'm never going to use... a small appliance or item that I thought I just had to have and I might have used it once or twice, but now it's just sitting in a cabinet. Maybe someone else could use some of these things? So I packed it all up and hauled it out. It's amazing how much better I feel when I open closets and cabinets and things no longer fall out on my head. And another bonus... the absence of clutter results in the presence of peace!

So, for the frugality portion of my resolution, I've continued to make my washing powder and cleaning supplies. It's amazing what you can do with four basic ingredients - vinegar, baking soda, washing soda and borax. I used to think that I needed many different cleaning products. For instance, in the bathroom alone, I thought I needed one product for cleaning the toilet, one for the shower, one for the sinks, one for the floor, one for the mirror, one for freshening the air, and the list goes on. This just is not so. Using the ingredients I mentioned above I can clean everything in my bathroom, and the rest of the house, too. Not only is it more frugal (you can make natural, homemade cleaning products for just pennies on the dollar), it gives me control over what I use in my home. If I no longer want to expose my family to the toxic chemicals in commercial cleaning products, now I know that I have other options. Just this month (well, actually in January) I made orange-infused vinegar to use for cleaning purposes. Vinegar has anti-bacterial properties, and so do oranges. Each one does a great job as a multi-purpose cleaner and disinfectant. And since my kids strongly dislike the smell of vinegar (yes, they are the ones who clean the bathrooms around here) the oranges help to mask the odor of the vinegar.

The only cleaning product that I went back to purchasing from the store is dishwasher detergent. I can't seem to find a homemade formula that doesn't leave my dishes with a film of residue on them. That's even with using vinegar in the rinse compartment.

I am also continuing to experiment with replacing some common pantry staples with homemade options. I've already been making cream soups to replace the canned variety. I've also made a couple different batches of ranch dressing mix and taco seasoning to replace those little store bought packets. I'm still tweaking those recipes, especially the taco seasoning. I can't seem to come up with the right mixture of ingredients to make it not so spicy and hot!

My project for February is going to be freezer cooking. I plan to start small, starting with making double batches of whatever I'm cooking. Let's say if I'm browning ground beef for tacos or spaghetti, I'll just go ahead and cook an extra package and freeze it. Then that will cut out one step in future dinner preparations. If I'm making a casserole, then I'll just double the recipe and put the extra one in the freezer. You get the idea. I mean, since I'm already cooking anyway, I might as well go ahead and make extras to freeze. Makes sense to me!

And, as for healthy living, I'm still walking (and jogging some, too!) at least 4 days per week, and some weeks, 5 or 6 days. I'm still trying to incorporate more whole foods into our meals, gradually culling processed foods from our diets (this one is a slow-going process, as I really don't want a mutiny on my hands), trying to replace cookies and sweet treats for healthier snack options such as fruits (again, a slow-going process... for the same reason!). Just small changes, here and there, for a step in the right direction for my family.

So that's what January looked like for me! I am looking forward to what February, as well as the rest of 2013, holds for me.

God bless! (He is so good.)

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