Hogwarts Summer Correspondence Courses have begun!

The Hogwarts Owl Post service has finally delivered the registration letters to Master Kendrick and Miss Rosalie!

Their first assignment is to gather supplies.

We've already got the feathers (for making quill pens) from a trip to the park last summer when the geese left behind lots of feathers. I knew I was saving those for a reason!

Then we're off to find just the right sticks somewhere in our yard or in the neighborhood to use as apprentice wands. We've found lots of inspiration at Alivans where they handcraft many beautiful things from wood to stimulate children's imagination.

Kendrick likes this wand and Rosalie likes this curvish one with a crystal (only in pink).

See more phenomenally creative ideas for wand construction at dadcando.com here and here.

Baked Oatmeal by Shayne Cripe

Baked Oatmeal by Shayne Cripe

1 c. Vegetable Oil (canola)
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs
6c quick cooking oats
1T + 1t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 c milk

Mix oil, sugar and eggs 'til yellow and "glossy". Add milk. In separate bowl, mix oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Mix well. Add "dry" ingredients to liquid and beat on medium speed 'til blended. Add stir-ins*. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 30-40 min at 400.

*Stir-ins: dates, raisins, blueberries, raisins, apples

Serve warm with brown sugar, milk or whatever desired. (I added approx 3 cups blueberries. I've also added apples )

Easy Asian Salads

Here's a couple of super quick ways to satisfy that craving for that wonderful Japanese salad you get with the miso soup before sushi!

(1) Kraft Asian Toasted Sesame Dressing + Marzetti Asian Sesame Salad Accents + Lettuce

(2) Asian Cole Slaw (Same as above, just substitute a package of broccoli cole slaw for the lettuce.)

Chair as closet storage?

Notice the similarity between the stadium/camping chair and the stack 'n stax closet organizer?

This might be a really good use for our stadium chairs since (a) they are no longer allowed in our stadium and (b) we don't go anywhere anymore since having kids!

Organization in high gear!!!

We're on a roll now!!!!!!!! Here are some of the main projects we're working on. No wonder my poor garden is suffering. But I'm committed to getting our inside organized before we're stuck in the house again next winter.


We finally settled on the shelves for the mudroom!!!

I ordered 2 of these rubbermaid configuration closet kits to use as a full mudroom on our 8 foot wall near our entry way door.

It's was nice that it took a while to decide to go with this because when I finally went to order it, it was on sale!!!!

And even better I got free 1 day shipping!! So it will be here in time to have it set up for my birthday. It feels so good to know we're getting organized!!
And on top of that, there will be enough spare pieces left over to start organizing the shelving above our "new" (free from MSU surplus and newly painted) desks.

We also got a carpet cleaner. It feels so good to have cleaned our carpets and even some furniture.

We got the top rated residential model according to reviews of purchasers, the Hoover Steam Vac with Clean Surge model F5914-900.

(Consumer reports unfortunately does not have any ratings on carpet cleaners at this time. Their old reports indicated that residential models were definitely inferior to professional models, but something is better than nothing!)

And this too was on super sale!!

Even though these are "steam" vacs, no residential carpet cleaners actually use steam. And unfortunately, none of the "real" steam cleaners have extractors so you have to mop up the wetness if you use them on carpet.

I hope that when I get the top rated home steam cleaner, I can use it on the carpet, and then suck up the steam and dirt with the carpet cleaner.


DRY GOODS DONE. We've got almost all of our dry goods into the Anchor Hocking Montana glass jars now! We've reorganized and added some shelves in the kitchen. It's not perfect, but I it's so much better.

REFRIGERATOR PARTIALLY DONE. I've got a couple of these Rubbermaid "slide 'n stack" baskets in the fridge now and I need a few more. I *love* them!! It's created so much more space!!
One basket holds the snack sized yogurts. Another basket holds the sandwich condiments and sandwich cheeses. I want another one for jellys, jams, cream cheese; another for dairy; and another for snacks.

CANNED GOOD HOLDERS -- Finalizing research and then need to order.

I'm still comparing Neuhome's 3 tier back-loading drop-down can rack and FIFO's front loading rotating can rack.

PRODUCE KEEPERS -- Assessing needs and conducting research.

I'm still comparing Rubbermaid's produce savers, Tupperware's Fridgesmart containers, and Progressive's produce keeper.

PULL OUT DRAWERS -- Assessing needs and conducting research.

I still need to measure kitchen cabinet items and determine a good configuration. Then I can compare storage volume and prices for the wood pull out drawers, wire sliding racks, and slide 'n stack baskets. All are available at the local big box hardware stores.

Summer DIY projects for your outdoor living space

I got so inspired by these projects from Canadian Home Workshop!

Sailboat Sandbox

Tree Bench

Weather-resistant "stone-look" concrete bench

Sports organizer

Outdoor laterns made from dishwasher-steamed veneer and string lights

Free Summer Activities

Here are some great activities for family fun, especially if you need things to do over the upcoming summer break!

  1. Free admission to art institutes, museums, etc. on specific days courtesy of Target all year
  2. Free bowling for kids all summer long at various locations
  3. Free Hogwarts summer correspondence school and activities to do from home

Please comment with your suggestions as well!!!

Ikea hack shoe rack

This idea came via the "Ikea hacker" blogs and the the "Ikea hacker" section of the "Instructables" blog. These "hackers" repurpose products from Ikea.

In this hack, Ansleybleu turned this Ikea Akurum kitchen wall cabinet into a shoe storage cabinet with a few modifications.

Here's the breakdown:

TOTALS for 7.5 linear feet of storage, plus 2.5 linear feet on top

  • Option 1: Shelves with doors, handles, and legs: $57.99
  • Option 2: No doors: $37.00

Still more shoe storage ideas

The never ending search for the perfect shoe storage continues...

Revisiting our Priorities:
(1) Visually appealing (we have to stare at these from the dining room table)
(2) Maximizes space (allows 3 pairs of men's shoes per row)
(3) Sturdy (Waterproof, rustproof, easy to clean, not wobbly)
(4) Cost effective (less than $2/linear foot)
(5) Allows for storage above for coats, keys, etc.

3 Tier Mesh Shoe rack ($39.99 for three 25" shelves)

4 Tier Wire Rack ($19.99 for four 25" shelves)

Stackable storage closet shelf ($9.99 for one 18" shelf)

Stackable Chrome Rack ($29.99 for two 30" shelves)
Stackable Wire Shelf ($8.99 for one 24" shelf)

Shoe drawer ($6.99 for one 12 7/8" L x 8 7/8" W x 6" H container) by Sterilite
6 quart storage tote ($19.99 for twelve 13 1/2”L x 8 1/4”W x 4 3/4”H that tapers approx. 1" down from top to bottom) by Sterilite

Cool tool for designing shelving spaces

For quite a while now we've been trying to configure a "mud room" that is in our dining room. Gotta love those 70's ranches with no entry rooms!

I've used several online tools to configure closet spaces. Most have been clunky, limited, and not flexible enough to deal with open wall spaces.

But I've really liked using the "Interactive Closet Designer" for Rubbermaid's "Configuration Series." (It does have a couple of quirks with the vertical spacing though.)

And I've liked this product the best for our particular application. Based on reviews, the "Configuration Series" seems more sturdy, more adjustable, and is easier to install than their "Selectives" series.

This is an example of one of the configurations we were considering for our "mud room" (basically a wall in the dining room next to the entry door). It allows for ample shoe storage, a place for in season coats, and a few backpacks, sports bags, and briefcases.

"Post-Harvest" Storage Guidlines

I didn't even know that there was an academic field devoting to storing my fruits and vegetables!

How cool is that for a blend of science and practical life?!!

And it's good news since many folks are trying to grow more produce at home for taste, health, and money savings.

Refrigerator vs. Countertop? Here's the answer from UC Davis' Post-harvest Technology and Research Center and the Home Orchard project.

Storing nuts, flowers, fruits, vegetables? Here's an *insanely detailed* database of how to store them all from the Sydney Postharvest Laboratory. Look up produce by specific type and level of ripeness and you'll get several pages of information about how to store it. Very cool!!

Which produce can be (or not be) stored together, and what should I eat first after bringing groceries home? Here's a set of guidelines from vegetarian times.

Based on these separate sources I'm going to have to do a cluster analysis based on storage type (fridge vs. counter) X ethylene producing (yes vs. no) X ethylene sensitivity (yes vs. no) X ripeness level. I'll get post details of this!

*UPDATE* Here is the link to compatible fruit and vegetable storage groups!!

In the meantime, here are a couple of nifty ways to store produce in and out of the refrigerator:

Out of the refrigerator....

Slide out vegetable bin

In the refrigerator.....

**Disclaimer -- These are plastic. I've been trying to rid our kitchen of plastic. But I figure the health benefits of eating more produce and vegetables will offset potential risks of the plastic at this point in time.

Produce Keepers from Tupperware

(BPA-free!) Produce Keepers from Progressive

Produce Keepers from Rubbermaid


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...