May Organizational Roundup: Spring Cleaning!

 

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It’s spring cleaning time here at the Morgan Homestead. I am generally a very organized person; however, due to our move in October, and life with a three-year old and a baby, some areas of our home need a bit of attention.

I spent some time this past weekend cleaning out the attic (allergic haze and all) and I got a ton of stuff out of our house! Most went to Goodwill, some went into the yard sale section of our garage, some kids items went into a box for the consignment shop, and a few items I posted on a Facebook resale page. I still have a few hours worth of work up there, but I am happy with the progress I have made thus far.

Last week I completed the following organizational tasks:

  1. Cleaned out the desk. I shredded what was no longer needed, and recycled the rest. (I found $17.00)!!
  2. Rearranged the laundry room. I re-organized our current homeschool and craft materials and put all unwanted materials into the yard sale. (I found a $35 gift card)!!
  3. Cleaned out and re-organized the linen closet. I put all of our unwanted sheets, and towels into donation bags.

Below are some images of our efforts while in progress.

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This week I have the following items on my list:

  1. Pull out winter / early spring clothes from Jack’s dresser and closet. Place in designated storage tote in attic, and bring out the remaining summer items.
  2. Clean out and either use up, or toss, food items in kitchen cupboards (stay tuned for my meal planning blog this week – it is all about using what’s inside your cupboards).

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What areas of your home could use some attention? Do you have a specific spring cleaning routine?

Happy Spring Cleaning,

The Joyful Homemaker

Our Easter Baskets

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I have read many a blog post about frugal Easter baskets and the best way to avoid creating a basket brimming with too much candy. In my experience, I enjoy filling Jack’s basket with enriching items and toys without going overboard. Each winter and spring I go on the hunt for unique items or stock up on sale items. I usually spend months accumulating items for his basket so I don’t spend too much at one time.

This year I have two baskets to fill and I enjoyed finding specials items for their baskets.

Jack is almost four this Easter; therefore, I figured the Easter Bunny should bring a small amount of candy. Yummy Earth lollipops are pretty much the only candy in our home but Jack does enjoy the occasional piece of chocolate. I found some fair trade, peanut butter cups at our local co-op, and we tossed in some Hersey’s Kisses, as well as a small chocolate bunny. We try to avoid Hersey’s chocolate but I had a coupon for a bag of Easter kisses.

So, with my collection of goods, I grabbed two baskets from my parent’s garage (we retired the basket we used for Jack in the past because we are using it for something else), and got to work.

Jack

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  • Three Books $9
  • Fair Trade Bunny $6
  • Monster Inc. Crayons $1
  • Crayola Pipsqueak Markers $1
  • 2 Vermont-Made Wooden Vehicles $6
  • Animalz Tiger $3
  • Box of Sidewalk Chalk $2
  • Jason Toothpaste – $3.50
  • Miscellaneous Candy – $6

Jack’s Basket Total: $37.50

Wesley

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  • Two vintage style nursery rhyme books $2
  • Fair Trade Bunny $6
  • Two Under The Nile Veggie Toys $10
  • One gorgeous, hand-made play silk $12 – Check out Mary’s Etsy shop at (https://www.etsy.com/shop/dibbledabblez?ref=l2-shopheader-name)

Wesley’s Basket Total: $30

Ideas For Easy and Healthier Easter Baskets!

Honey Sticks

Fair-trade Candy or a small amount of favorite candies

Annie’s Fruit Snacks & Crackers

Homemade play dough or Playdoh

Art Supplies

School Supplies

Books

Wooden Egg Puzzle or other fun shaped wooden puzzle

Amber Teething Necklace

Sunglasses

Fun Socks

Cloth diapering supplies

Kid friendly, non-toxic lip balm (such as Badger)

Sunscreen (we like Babyganics and Badger)

Bubbles

Bath and beach toys

Garden tools

A fun hat

Refrigerator magnets

Play silk

Mini kite

The possibilities are endless! I would love to hear some unique ideas or traditions.

Happy Easter,

The Joyful Homemaker

Easter 1leapingfrogdesigns2012

March Homeschool Roundup

We are a few weeks into April and I am finally getting to our March Roundup! Our March homeschool was pretty uneventful and relaxed. We did our normal activities and played outside on nice days. Below are some images of our month. 🙂

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We spent a lot of time at the library and checked out a lot of books and some movies. Jack is  into Hayao Miyazaki, so we borrowed Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind from the library. He loves Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, and, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and The Secret World of Arrietty. He does love H. Miyazaki. 🙂 We also started reading, The Boxcar Children series. Jack throughly enjoys them.

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We haven’t started a”formal” dinosaur unit, but we play quite a bit with dinosaurs, read dinosaur books, and watch the occasional documentary.

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We did a few sensory activities to improve hand-eye coordination and focus. We used tweezers to move objects into containers. One of Jack’s favorite activities is moving pom-poms into an old creamer container. We picked pastels to represent springtime. 🙂

Overall, we played, and read books, worked on some sensory stuff, did some crafts, and simply had fun.

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Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

April Giveaway!

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Oh, BABY! This month The Joyful Homemaker is giving one lucky reader a brand new, one-size, Alva Cloth Pocket Diaper! The diaper comes with one insert and is a gender neutral, spring / summer orange. Retail value is $5.00.

I use Alva (and a myriad of other cloth brands) on my 6-month old. I find Alva diapers are well made, no leaking issues, and the suede lining is super soft. They also run slightly bigger, so they tend to fit most babies very well.

To enter the contest:

  • Like The Joyful Homemaker on Facebook for +1
  • Comment on my Facebook post for +1
  • Leave a blog comment for +1
  • Share the contest to your Facebook page for +5!!
  • Pin to Pinterest for +3

Due to the narrowness of the right hand widget column, the entry box is located on the bottom of my homepage.

Contest runs 4/5/14 – 4/7/14. Winner is picked at random using Rafflecopter’s randomizer. Winner will be notified via email no later than 48 hours after the contest. Product will be shipped at no cost to the winner.

The Joyful Homemaker is no way affiliated with Alva diapers. I simply love their fluff and wish to share them a diaper with one lucky reader.

Good luck!

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 28 of 365 Real Foods Series: Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This morning Jack is scheduled for a sleep deprivation EEG with his neurologist, so we woke at 5:00 am. I have been putting together lunch, took my shower, got the bags packed for the kiddos, and Jack watched Thomas (a few times). I figured I would whip up some Paleo Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies for breakfast. Yup, for breakfast. 🙂

These cookies are full of fiber and made with pure pumpkin. They are egg-less, gluten-free, soy-free, vegetarian, and can be made vegan friendly and dairy-free with subbing butter for coconut oil, or Earth Balance . Typically, I avoid butter in baking and eating, but I really like it in this recipe. Also, I have never tried this recipe with granulated sugar, and find the maple syrup keeps the cookie smooth and sweetened with a nice underlying maple flavor. I only use Enjoy Life chips because they are allergen friendly and small. You can also use broken up dark chocolate.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 Cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 Cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup butter, melted
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 Cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Chia seeds

Directions:

  • Mix wet ingredients into large bowl.
  • Mix all dry ingredients into a separate dish and gradually add to dry ingredients while beating well. I used my stand mixer, but a hand mixer works great too.
  • Scoop onto non-stick baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool on a cookie rack.
  • Enjoy!

These cookies do have a tendency to crumble. Allow to sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to the cooling rack.

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Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 27 of 365 Real Foods Series: Easy Veggie Chicken Bake

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Easy chicken veggie bake is one of my go to recipes when I need something quick and easy. I LOVE one-pot meals because you often use leftovers and fresh ingredients, plus you get everything you need in one dish.

I often make this after we have baked chicken and I need to make stock. This dish is versatile and pretty much anything can be added. I mix it up depending on what we have in the fridge. My mom grabbed me some mark down zucchini at the market in town, so I have a few and I love adding zucchini to this dish. I also had leftover broccoli and I always have plenty of carrots.

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Ingredients:

  • Baked chicken diced
  • 1 cup rice of choice (I prefer white for this recipe – for speed purposes instant is a good choice)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • About 1 cup of cooked broccoli
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, or bread crumb topping (optional – I omit both but reserve cheese on the side for John and Jack)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Cook rice per instructions.
  • Chop carrot and zucchini, steam quickly or sauté on stove until cooked.
  • Dice cooked chicken .
  • When rice and veggies are done, add to baking dish with rice, chicken, and sauce.
  • Mix together.
  • Bake at 350 for roughly 20 minutes.
  • Everything is cooked so it simply needs to heat through.
  • (Optional) top with cheese of choice for last five minutes of baking.

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It’s super quick and easy to make, and to adapt this recipe to dietary needs. We have this once every other week or so.

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Enjoy!

Happy Homemaking,

The Joyful Homemaker

Post 26 of 365 Real Foods Series: Naturally Dyed Cupcakes

I lost the first two weeks of February to illness and the last two weeks to a ridiculous foot injury, but now I consider myself off the bench and back in the game!

Prior to my last food post, Postponement of 365 Real Foods Series (http://thejoyfulhomemaker.com/?p=918), my friend Courtney posted a photo of gorgeously dyed cupcakes on her Facebook page. I nearly went insane when I saw how stunning they were. She kindly sent me the information so I could blog them. 🙂

She began experimenting with natural dyes to test out colors for her daughter’s birthday cake. Like us, she avoids artificially dyed foods, so her goal was to find a way to make a colorful cake using natural ingredients she has at home.  She used real foods to make beautifully colored cupcakes, and they came out amazing.

Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • White and yellow cake mixes (for the purpose of experimenting and budgeting, Courtney used a basic Betty Crocker mix).
  • Organic eggs
  • Paprika
  • Organic basil
  • (7) small canned beets
  • Blueberry jam
  • Organic frozen raspberries

Directions:

  • Prepare mixes per instructions on box with eggs.
  • Divide mix into three separate bowls.

Yellow Cupcakes: 

  • Yellow cake mixed used – no need for adding any additional color. Try a bit of cumin if you wish to add more color.

“The yellow cupcakes were simple yellow mix and tasty.”

Green Cupcakes:

  • Yellow cake mixed used.
  • Put fresh basil leaves and stems into blender.
  • Chop and add cake mix to blender.

“These cupcakes had a very fresh, bright, herb flavor and the color was bright green.”

Orange Cupcakes:

  • Yellow cake mix.
  • Add paprika to cake mix.
  • Blend well.

” …  a little goes a long way (the taste was slightly savory with the normal texture).”

Purple Cupcakes:

  • White cake mix.
  • Place canned beets into blender and blend until nearly smooth.
  • Add cake mix and blend until nicely combined.

“The beet cupcakes have a very mellow sweet taste and texture, barely noticeable earthy tone.”

Blue Cupcakes:

  • White cake mix.
  • Add blueberry jam to cake mix and blend until combined.
  • Do not over mix.

“The blueberry cupcakes have a dense texture, deep blueberry flavor, and almost a moist pound cake feel to them.”

Pink Cupcakes: 

  • White cake mix.
  • Place thawed, frozen raspberries into blender.
  • Blend until smooth and add cake mix.
  • Blend together until smooth.

“The texture is very moist and dense, almost like a fluffy cheesecake, flavor is very fruity.”

Overall, these cupcakes came out amazing. Courtney would tweak a few things here and there, but was happy with the outcome. If making for a party, she would use organic cake mix. “If I’m going to go all the way with this much effort….It’s going to be organically spectacular!”

“I do have some cream cheese frosting that mellows out the stronger flavored cupcakes, it compliments basil, beet, and paprika very nicely. Blueberry and raspberry are already so moist they don’t need the additional creaminess. The final judgement on these has been they are very flavorful, the color is intense, and the texture is off in the mixtures I put into the blender. I would not put the mixture into the blender again, even though it makes it so easy to mix and to pour into the cupcake pan.”

About Courtney: I’m a mother, girl friend (12 years running), sister, daughter, organic gardener for food and landscapes. Creating meals with organic food I have grown or bought is my goal. I am willing to use non-organic products to help my budget. I focus on buying organic dairy, meat, and veggies, locally during the season. I have many organic spices, sugar, and other baked goods. I buy them when they are on sale and I clearance shop at the natural food stores.

A big thank you to Courtney for sharing! These are wonderful, and I can’t wait to try them. <3

Give these cupcakes a try and let me know what you think. I would love to see your pictures as well!

Happy Baking,

The Joyful Homemaker

March Giveaway!

March GIVEAWAY

Who’s up for a little spring cleaning? Time to wash those curtains and couch cushion covers, because this month The Joyful Homemaker is giving away one full size, Honest Co. Oxy Boost Laundry Packets! Retail value is $7.95!

https://www.honest.com/cleaning/honest-oxy-boost

To enter the contest:

  • Like The Joyful Homemaker on Facebook for +1
  • Comment on my Facebook post for +1
  • Leave a blog comment for +1
  • Share the contest to your Facebook page for +5!!

Due to the narrowness of the right hand widget column, the entry box is located on the bottom of my homepage.

Contest runs 3/5/14 – 3/7/14. Winner is picked at random using Rafflecopter’s randomizer. Winner will be notified via email no later than 48 hours after the contest. Product will be shipped at no cost to the winner.

The Joyful Homemaker is no way affiliated with Honest Co. I simply love their products and wish to share them with one lucky reader.

Good luck!

The Joyful Homemaker

February Homeschool Roundup

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February’s doors are closing and boy, has it been a month. Wesley and I battled two solid weeks of illness and I sprained my foot badly the second week. We have healed from illness and my foot feels much better. Between illness, numerous snowstorms, and frigid weather, I felt early in the month, it would be best to postpone my 365 Real Foods Series and blogging altogether. I needed time to heal and be with my kiddos. Needless to say, not much homeschooling happened, but we did do a few things here and there. 🙂

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February Homeschool Roundup

During the month, my mom took Jack for a day and he and my niece, Izzy, completed a fun, Valentine’s Day craft. They had a blast using glue sticks and self-sticking hearts and letters.

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We did a lot of playing this month and the boys played with sea animals in the kitchen! It was Wesley’s first time getting his little feet wet outside of the tub!

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Jack started his library class this month and has read books on flying and counting. He is really enjoying his class. Below are a few pictures of his craft projects from each class.

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Wesley started Kindermusik on the 19th, and each class is a lot of fun. He loves to interact with the other babies and he enjoys chewing on the instruments. It’s nice to get out of the house and get moving!

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Jack is into doing art almost everyday. He loves to draw most of all. He draws out, “landscapes,” “buildings,” and “Angry Birds,” on paper. We are also working on some letters.

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Wes is exploring toys, noises, textures, and is starting to roll. He loves to sit in his high chair and play with toys.

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We managed to get outside during a brief “warm spell.” The weather hit 51 degrees and we hit the playground! Jack needed to run and burn some energy.

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Overall, the month of February was a wash due to illness and weather, but we still had fun and we are VERY much looking forward to March. With the way the weather is going, and a predicted snowstorm for Monday, it looks like March will come in like a lion, and (hopefully) go out like a lamb. Bring on springtime! 🙂

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Happy Homeschooling,

The Joyful Homemaker

Postponement of 365 Real Foods Series :(

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It has come to the point where I have decided to postpone my 365 Real Foods Series until my children and I are healthy. My 4 month old and I are on day six of a bad cold and it is difficult enough to do normal day-to-day functions, let alone blog. I feel as if it will take another week or so until we are back up and running normally, possibly even two.

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I have some great things to share once I am able to get back into the groove of blogging. My friend Courtney provided me with some great recipes and I can’t wait to share them! I also have some stashed away as well as a bunch of things I would like to try.

Thank you to those who continue to read and enjoy The Joyful Homemaker. I love everything mothering, homemaking, and homeschooling, and it means a lot that I have supportive friends and loyal blog readers. <3

Be blessed (and stay healthy),

The Joyful Homemaker

<3

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