Category Archives: Homemaking

2014 Goals

Everyone likes to make resolutions on December 31st and start them first thing January 1st; however, most end up losing focus come mid-January. I like to take my time and think about what it is I have up my sleeve for the coming year.

2013 was a HUGE year in terms of major life events. We moved and had a baby, within two weeks of each other – meaning, we moved with a two-week old … on Halloween. Enough said. 🙂

My goal for 2014 is to simply settle in. I want our family to settle together in our new home and just enjoy each season as it comes. In addition to settling in, it is Wesley’s year of firsts, and this excites me greatly. We will have first words, first steps, and crawling. Adventures in baby food making will be a blast, and of course, his first birthday. We have Easter, spring, summer, the beach … oh, the potential. I love the first year. 🙂

With the above in mind, I also set some smaller goals and tasks for 2014. There are so many things we want to complete with the house. We need to paint the dining room, and clean the garage. I want to get rid of A LOT of stuff. 2014 is a year of purging stuff we no longer use. The attic needs reorganization (much stuff was put up there during the move) and we are going to have a few yard sales this summer.

I also have educational goals in mind, but really, I just want Jack to have a year of freedom to explore. He is starting to grasp reading and we have plans to work on encouraging that path. I would like to find a table top easel for the classroom and work on art projects. He loves to create, whether he is drawing, or building. We are going to run with that creative streak.

So, the above are our main goals and areas we would like to focus on. Below is our list. 🙂

2014 Goals


  • Settle in.
  • Hike more.
  • Beach more.
  • Garden together
  • A summer family photo session with Jessica Boyd


  • Sell, donate, or re-purpose unused items, clothing, toys, books, furniture, and household items no longer in use.
  • Organize three or four solid yard sales for the spring.
  • Plant vegetable garden and flower gardens.
  • Put up window boxes.
  • Paint outside of house.
  • Fully clean and organize garage.
  • Fully clean and organize the attic.
  • Set up bird feeders and houses.
  • Paint dining room.
  • Paint hallway.
  • Frame and hang photography in the hallway.

I am sure there are more house related things … 🙂


  • Form co-op for SECT.
  • Work on meet-ups.
  • Jack – library classes, DPNC classes, a summer camp.


  • Work to pay off medical bills.
  • Work on building emergency fund.
  • Save enough money to renew our Mystic Aquarium membership, probably in early summer.


  • Work heavily on my blog.
  • Do more yoga.
  • Read more.

Stayed tuned for many blog posts about the above goals. Do you have any goals for 2014? What direction do you want to take this year?

Happy 2014,

The Joyful Homemaker

Easy Homemade Deodorant and Lip Balm


If you’re anything like me, you love beauty products but hate all the nasty additives and chemicals. One product can contain dozens of endocrine disruptors, known carcinogens, and harmful, toxic “things.” You can check your favorite and most used products on the Environmental Working Groups, Skin Deep Database.

If you are going to use beauty products, there are pretty two ways to ensure you avoid the harmful ones; 1. buy healthful beauty products you trust (like Badger, Avalon, etc.) but beware, many brands are not as “natural” as they claim, and they are quite expensive, or 2. make your own.

Homemade beauty products are fun and a very cost effective way to clean up your beauty act. All ingredients can be purchased on Amazon. Alicia purchased the lip balm tubes and deodorant containers on Amazon as well. In this post I will cover two essentials; deodorant and lip balm.




  • Roughly 1 cup coconut oil
  • A quarter cup each beeswax
  • A quarter cup baking soda
  • A quarter cup arrowroot starch
  • 2 drops tea tree oil, 10 drops lavender (both tea tree and lavender kill bacteria. Bacteria, not sweat cause body odor).
  • A few wafers of cocoa butter (if you don’t have wafers – about a heaping tablespoon of solid would work)


Place coconut oil, beeswax, baking soda, coca butter, and arrowroot starch in a double boiler. Melt until liquid. Pull off heat. Add essential oils. Stir together and pour through funnel into deodorant forms. Allow to harden. Put on caps.





Lip Balm


  • Equal parts cocoa butter, coconut oil, and wax, (half beeswax, half candelila wax)
  • A few drops of peppermint essential oils
  • Optional – a few teaspoons of shimmery bare mineral makeup


Place cocoa butter, coconut oil, and waxes into double boiler. Melt until liquid. Pull off heat. Add essential oils. Stir together and pour through small funnel into lip balms tubes.




It very simple to make these products. In under one hour we made three deodorants and eight lip balms. It is as simple as purchasing your bulk, base ingredients and making the products you wish. We typically get together once a month and make scrubs, bath soaks for us and the kiddos, lip balms, and whatever else we need.

Scrubs are very simple. I often throw some sugar, olive oil, and my favorite EO in a dish before my shower. It is very easy to make a quick scrub at home when needed. Here is my favorite quick scrub:

Lavender Almond Sugar Scrub (mix all ingredients in a dish)

  • 1 Handful of coarse sugar (any will do)
  • A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 drop lavender
  • 1 drop almond extract

What are some of you favorite natural products? Do you make any at home?

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Wrapping Up The Week

Today was eventful on the home front. I can cross two more items off my weekly task list. We washed, dried, and packed the summer and outdoor toys. We put away the pool and got rid of old beach chairs and a turtle sandbox from the garage. We cleaned up the front porch and prepped it for autumn.

before porch

after porch

Jack made a background for his new fish tank. He decided on blue circles and white paper; “Only blue,” he said. We fully intended on purchasing a fish tank as Jack’s Christmas gift; however, my mom and sister-in-law won a bunch of goldfish at the Woodstock Fair this past weekend, so we are proud owners of Thomas and Percy, two very happy goldfish. One of Jack’s daily tasks is to feed his fish.


Today we also cleaned the attic a bit and put a bunch of junk boxes and junk items on the curb. We are slowly getting there. It is difficult but we work together and I rest in between tasks.


I hope everyone had a productive week. Did you cross items off your weekly list?

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Freezer Cooking Session – Day 1

freezer cooking day 1

Today was day 1 of my, “before baby arrives freezer cooking plan.” With baby a mere five weeks (at the most) away, it is time to start cranking out some freezer meals. While I typically do a few freezer sessions in the fall, this year I am trying to produce more meals than usual.

My line up this morning included:

Chicken Pot Pie Filling

1 lb of Venison Stuffed Pepper Filling

1 lb of Venison Taco Meat

1 lb. Venison Meatloaf

1 lb. Venison Italian Meatballs

Crock pot Venison Chili

Marinated BBQ Chicken Breasts

Raspberry Chipotle Chicken Breasts

It took me about 3 hours to prep the kitchen and make the meals. I had all meats ready ahead of time. The key to a good freezer cooking session is to prep your kitchen ahead of time. Below is my step-by-step process for preparing a freezer cooking session.

1. Have a list of all meals handy and all needed ingredients on hand . If you are using recipe cards or websites, have those ready to view. *If you need ideas and recipes, there are tons online and on Pinterest,* Though I would start with your favorite meals. Most meals are easily adapted into freezer meals..

2. Make sure your kitchen is clean, the counters are clear, and the dishes are washed and put away. You need all possible room.

3. Bring out all ingredients so you are not running from kitchen to the pantry or the basement to pull ingredients.

4. Begin your session with the longest cooking task first. I always preheat the oven, prep my chicken, and get it in the oven first. It takes about an 1.5 hours to bake a bird. I then break out the crock pot and start my crock pot meal (chili). This serves as dinner and a freezer meal. I then move on to the rest of my cooked recipes (pepper filling, taco meat, chicken pot pie filling). After cooked, cooled, and packaged, I begin my non-cooked recipes (meatloaf, meatballs, marinated chicken breasts) though these meals can be cooked and frozen. I prefer to freeze them uncooked and cook them when thawed.

5. Prep bags in between tasks. I use plastic freezer bags, mostly gallon size. I have index cards with directions that I adhere to the front on the bag.

6. Clean between tasks. I like to clear counters and make room while things are cooking. I also end up washing dishes as I reuse some of the utensils.

*Helpful Tips*

  • Allow all cooked meals to cool before packaging. Hot food against plastic bags causes chemicals to leech into the food.
  • Don’t let food cool in pans and bowls; it takes too long. I line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the food out until it cools. It only takes a few minutes to cool.
  • Have a roll of paper towels on hand for cleaning up meat spills and for use after washing hands. I prefer paper towels when freezer cooking as to avoid any meat contamination.
  • The USDA advises all thawed meats should thaw in the refrigerator before using or re-freezing. I thaw ground venison in the refrigerator for refreezing and cooking at a later date. I have never experienced a loss of taste or texture.

Here are a few recipes from my cooking session. ALL venison in recipes can be substituted with ground beef.

Chicken Pot Pie

I always eye-ball this recipe. I will try my best with measurements.

1 pound cooked chicken – cubed

1 cup cooked, diced carrots

1/2 cup cooked, diced celery

1/3 cup chopped, sautéed onion

1/2 cup cooked potatoes, diced

2 cups liquid base (gravy or drippings and stock thickened with corn starch)

Make gravy. Mix all ingredients together and cool. Put into bags for freezer. When ready to use, simply fill your pie crust with the thawed filling and cover with second crust. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes until crust is slightly browned.

Chicken Pot Pie Filling

Bacon Topped Venison Meatloaf

I use this recipe from Taste of Home. I follow the recipe but use GF bread crumbs and sometimes omit the sausage. Mix all ingredients. Place in bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to cook make loaf and follow directions in recipe link.

Venison Italian Meatballs

1 lb. ground venison

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 cup room temp pasta sauce

Mix all ingredients. Place in bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to use: roll into balls, place in a grease pan, bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and put into sauce, simmer for 1 hour. Makes about 15 meatballs.

Venison Stuffed Pepper Filling

I also make this with ground beef. Great either way!

1 lb. ground venison

1 cup cooked rice

1 cup pasta sauce

Italian seasoning

Parmesan cheese

Cook ground venison. Add pasta sauce and turn down to simmer. Add rice, sprinkle in some Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese, mix. Pull off burner. Allow to cool. Fill bag, flatten, and freeze. When ready to use: stuff peppers and add mozzarella cheese during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Cook about 35 to 40 minutes at 350.

pepper filling

This wraps up today’s freezer cooking session. I will be sure to post my next session as well. What are some of your favorite freezer recipes?

35 weeks

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Dress Your Kids For Less! Six Tips For Saving!

Back to school and the change from summer to fall and eventually to winter can only mean one thing; buying clothing for the kiddo(s)! This happens to be one of my favorite areas of homemaking. I enjoy organizing, grouping, and putting together outfits. I adore those knit sweaters, corduroy pants, and striped polo tops.

While this is the case for me, it may not be for many parents. I am sure many worry about the cost of clothing, shoes, mittens, hats, and coats. Well, here are my top tips on dressing the kiddo(s) on the CHEAP!


As always, this is the first and most critical step to ensuring you curb excessive and unneeded spending. Have a set budget for each child and a detailed list of what they need. If your child needs turtleneck tops and jeans, stick to finding those items. Don’t forget to add important items such as, Halloween costumes, holiday clothing, shoes, mittens, hats, hair accessories, and any special occasion items into your budget.


I will preface this by saying, not everyone has gobs of hand-me-downs flowing their way; however, one need not look very far for hand-me-down clothing. Post a swap notice at church or on a community Facebook site. You could simply ask to swap needed hand-me-downs for an afternoon of yard work or other helpful task. Many sites like Free Cycle and Craigslist are great for finding needed items, like hand-me-downs, for free. Many people want to get rid of unwanted items and will either toss them or donate them. By doing a little groundwork, hand-me-downs are easy to obtain. I am beyond blessed to have mountains of hand-me-downs passed along from my family and friends. I have also put want ads on Craigslist and have found great items through Free Cycle.


There are a few important differences between thrift shops and consignment shops. Thrift shops take donated items and sell them for profit or charity. These stores are often cluttered and will eat up the most time because clothing is often not organized by size. Consignment shops take hand picked items directly from their consignors and sell them at a 50/50 or 60/40 split with the consignor. Consignment items are often slightly higher in cost and may be of better quality in some cases. Both may have a ticket sale system and consignments shops usually have a deep clearance rack. Shopping at thrift and consignment shops will undoubtedly save you major cash as long as you stay focused.

dino sweater



Yard sales are a great way to save on clothing. You will need cash and time to hop from sale to sale and to check each item for quality and size.


Most stores begin their summer to winter seasonal clothing transition at the the end of July and keep pushing the discounts out the door until the end of August. Target and Kohls are my two favorite stores for clearance shopping at the end of the season. It is important to note, the items in the seasonal discount are more than likely for the current season (if you are shopping in July and August, clearance items will be summer items). At the end of last winter, I picked up a few 4T, long-sleeved tops at Target for $2.00 a piece. Jack was wearing 3T at the time and I knew I could stash them for this fall / winter. Sure enough, they fit perfect.

target tops


This one is questionable; however, for a seasoned sale shopper, outlet stores can offer rewarding finds. Outlets often have deep discounts especially during their transitional season. Outlet shops also offer coupons and bulk discounts throughout the year. Outlet shops are a great way to pick up coats and shoes for a huge discount. Just remember to be stay away from tempting stores!


The word “splurge” is enough to send a smart shopper into a panic. Splurge means to spend money on something far out of one’s budget. A savvy splurge is two things; a needed sale item and an item bought with remaining budgeted money. If you have purchased every item of clothing needed for your child and have extra cash left over, you can do two things; save it for the next needed clothing purchase or a savvy splurge. For example; last year after organizing all of our hand-me-downs and purchasing any additional needed items, I had some money left over. I decided to go for the savvy splurge and buy Jack’s Christmas sweater for the following year. I purchased a (brand new with tags) $58, Heartstrings Christmas sweater on EBAY for $14.00. A splurge would have been to purchase a sweater outright for $58.00. It would have broke the bank and been a foolish purchase. No kid needs a $58 sweater! My splurge was a savvy splurge for two reasons; the sweater was a needed item and in my budgeted clothing money. I do not need to buy a Christmas sweater this year and a have extra money in this year’s clothing allotment in the holiday category!

xmas sweater

Hopefully, my 6 savings tips for purchasing kid’s clothing is helpful. How do you save money on kid’s clothes? What are some of your favorite places for bargins? I would love to hear your ideas!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

My Top Weekly Tasks 9/2 – 9/8


September is here and I am days away from hitting the 35th week in my pregnancy. I am starting to nest as well as prepare for autumn. With our “move of an unknown date” looming, I am also continuing to (slowly) pack.

Below are my tasks for the week:


Jack haircut – Tuesday afternoon

Trip to aquarium

Birthday present for Gram

Schedule maternity photo session

Schedule Jack 3-year photos at JCPenny

Play outside


Wash floors

Clean shower and tub

Clean freezer


Wash, dry, and pack all beach and outdoor toys


Organize, wash, and pack Jack’s 4T fall / winter clothing

Prepare Jack’s Halloween costume and candy bag


Make planned freezer meals

Make baby bag list

Make Jack’s big brother surprise bag


Have Jack make background for his fish tank


Sleep, a lot!!

Work on thrift shop blog post


What is on your task list for this week?

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker