Archives For House

A New Shopping Experience

August 4, 2012

Today was the first day I have ever shopped at Aldi’s. To be blatantly honest, the ones I knew of were always in really sketchy areas so I steered clear. Well, pride had to be pushed to the side cause I needed to start pinching pennies and I had heard so much about the new Aldi’s that had opened not to far from us. With lots of good advice from friends I packed up the kids, tossed my canvas bags in the car and grabbed a quarter.

What’s the quarter for? The grocery cart! It’s pretty ingenious if you ask me. Having been a bagger at Kroger when I was younger I absolutely hated bringing the carts back in from the lot. But Aldi has you ‘rent’ your cart. When you return your cart you get your quarter back. You don’t return your cart? Somebody else will and will get your quarter. Pretty good incentive.

{sorry man I don’t know, but I had five kids and couldn’t wait for you to walk to your car}

I was pleasantly surprised to find the store fairly empty. Now it didn’t stay that way, but the first half of our trip was fairly easy. Around lunch time people started flowing in. But nothing, I repeat nothing, like Walmart on a Saturday! This was still very do-able.

The only problem I had the entire time was that the cart that I received had a broken belt for the kids seat. And technically I could have returned it and gotten another one but I didn’t want to. I just wanted to get the trip over with. However, the lack of a belt really peeved my young son. He kept holding up the broken belt and yelling at me.

The layout was perfect cause the snacks were the first thing we walked into. That’s usually the part I forget! So A+ for layout.

Most everything was off brand and I’m ok with that. I only checked the ingredients on one item and wasn’t happy to find out that high fructose corn syrup was the very first item listed. But it’s ok, cause I know that Trader Joe’s sells the same type of item for the same price. And was however thrilled to find this…

I didn’t buy any but being from Ohio I was thrilled to see these! Go ahead and scoff at me but we all have our guilty pleasures.

So my favorite part of the entire trip was the checkout! The cashier was crazy fast! I started yelling at my kids {in a joking manner} because there are five of them and he was going at super speed! We couldn’t keep up! Of course, he wasn’t bagging any of our groceries. He was scanning and throwing them into another cart. And that is why we brought our own grocery bags. They have a long shelf area where you can load up all your groceries into your own bags.

I used ALL of my grocery bags including that huge Ikea one! You can’t see the one behind my son on the right but there’s a big insulated Trader Joe’s bag. That’s a whole lotta groceries!

So I know you’re curious to know the total. I’m still thrilled. The only item I forgot to get was eggs. And maybe bananas but those aren’t so much a necessity as eggs are. Ready??


For an entire week of groceries! Sans eggs. Now granted, we have some stuff in our freezer and pantry we’ll be using, but really, who doesn’t? One of my favorite finds was turkey ham. I totally did not expect to find any there. So when I saw that and the dried navy beans I knew navy bean soup would be on our menu this week.

I am very pleased and can’t wait to return next week! We used to spend three times this at Trader Joe’s. Not that I don’t love TJ’s, it just that it’s penny pinching time for us. So if you haven’t gone, make a trip to Aldi’s! It’s like Ikea in the fact that it’s ‘an experience’.


In an effort to save money we began making our own laundry detergent over three years ago. People have joked with us recently asking if we still making our own laundry soap {assuming we’d have given up by now} but honestly it’s so extremely cheap and you only have to make it about twice a year. I don’t plan on going back to the commercial brands at all!

Fels-Naptha is the bar soap you’ll use in the detergent recipe. We keep a spare bar on the wash sink because it has proven to take out the most difficult stains. One of my daughters spilled red juice all over a pure white dress. Assuming the dress was a goner I still tried to get the stain out. I wet the stain with water and then rubbed the bar on top. We were shocked to see the red completely removed from the dress. We’ve also used it on carpet and upholstered furniture. If you don’t make your own detergent at least keep a couple of these bars on hand.

The laundry detergent recipe below was taken from the Duggar’s website.


Liquid Laundry Detergent

4  Cups – hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.

-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

*Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – in some stores or may be purchased online here (at Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!


I’ve never added the essential oil because I always forget. That and I’m usually in a hurry to use the new soap. But I imagine it would make the laundry chore more enjoyable.

It can be difficult to find a place to store your 5 gallon paint bucket of soap. We keep ours in our bathtub.

I would hesitate to keep it in a garage due to the temperature changes. Maybe under a sink if you have the space? If using a paint bucket the lid should be strong enough to keep little ones out of. Still, be careful if you have curious and strong children.

I hope this helps you save money and time as you serve your family in the laundry and finance department!


Favorite Kitchen Items

June 5, 2012

This post has been dancing in my head for the past year. Something I definitely want to pass on to my children. When we were first married we started out with very little. I remember my favorite item in the kitchen at the time was a Hamilton Beach mixer we had gotten as a wedding gift. We’ve been married for 12 years and I recently passed it on to a friend because it was still working great but as our family grew we needed a larger mixer. But we’ve slowly attained kitchen items that, yes, cost more money than we were handing over to Walmart every time something broke. We finally decided that if we’re going to buy it then it has to do two things.

1. Handle a large family’s needs.

2. Last a long time.

So here is a list of our favorite kitchen items that, had we had the money to begin with, we would have gotten when we were first married. All are strong, sturdy and incredibly durable. {click on photos for links to products}

1. Food Processor

We finally bought a food processor. We had been married 11 1/2 years when we finally caved to the high cost and got one. And we don’t regret it one bit. When we were first married we had one that held like…a cup and a half? It was tiny. And thankfully that little thing broke, forcing us to upgrade to accommodate our family. This thing is a beast! Whether it’s slicing or pureeing, it’s just amazing and an enormous time saver.

2. Blender

We had blenders in the past but they were so cheap and cracked or stuff would spray out or it wouldn’t actually ‘blend’. Like the food processor, this thing is also a beast! I know people drop incredible amounts of money on vitamix blenders but there really is no need to pay that much. This particular blender has been used daily in our house. For sauces, smoothies, etc.

3. Microplane Zester

We had a zester but it was more like a kinda tiny holed grater. It took far too much effort to zest a lemon. When we bought this zestor we were shocked at how fast and easy we could add lemon zest to a recipe. And we zest a lot! I think Ina Garten has taught us that. It just adds so much taste to a dish.

4. Nut Milk Bag

This may seem like an odd item to have. I got it with the intention of making almond milk for my kids who are highly sensitive to dairy. Which, I still use to make almond milk because it tastes oh-so-good, but not nearly as often as I use it to squeeze citrus. It holds back the seeds and is incredibly easy to wash by hand.

5. Kitchen Aid Mixer

As I said in the beginning, we had a Hamilton Beach stand mixer that was amazing! It really was and I highly recommend it. We were just ready for something larger. So, like most, we set out and got a Kitchen Aid. We don’t have any fancy attachments. We use it quite often for making dough, making batters, etc. It’s one of the most used items in our kitchen.

6. Hand Blender

This may seem redundant. We have a food processor, we have a blender, why would we need a hand blender? For so many things! Mainly for pureeing things within their own bowls. For example, when I make butternut squash soup I can easily puree the chunks of soup in the pot while it’s still bloody hot. When we didn’t have one of these I would pour the hot soup into our cheap blender and inevitably burn myself in the process. Not anymore! There is something about the ease of use that is worth the extra money.

7. Fire Fighter Gloves

My husbands uncle is a retired fire fighter and gifted us these gloves. We use them to pull things out of the oven, to grill, but even better is when my husband uses them in our outdoor fire pit. I don’t have to worry about him burning himself. These are heavy duty gloves and we’ve had them for a long time and they don’t look anywhere near needing to be replaced.

8. OXO Knife

I’m not big on spending lots on knives. Especially after the time we dropped a good amount of money on professional knives only for them to be some of the worst that we had ever used. However, this little knife {we have two} is used multiple times each day. It’s small yet tough enough to be used on anything from cutting grapes for toddlers to cutting chicken or steak.

9. Keurig

It seems everybody has one nowadays. I’m not a big coffee drinker but the husband is. Thankfully there are also k-cups for hot cocoa and tea! This is a no brainer. You like coffee but no one in your household does? This saves you from having to make an entire pot for one person. And really, one person should not be able to drink an entire pot on their own.

10. Flour Duster

This is, hands down, my most favorite item. We’ve had this for many years. My husbands grandmother gave it to me as a Christmas gift. At first I had no idea what it was. When we realized you can use it to dust surfaces with flour or powdered sugar…oh it has been used many, many, many countless times. A gift I certainly plan on passing on to each of my children. It’s a shame most stores don’t carry them. If you ever do find one, pick it up!

11. Milk Frother

This product is not necessarily a must-have but my husband absolutely loves it. It has saved us tons from not going to coffee shops. And the best part? It’s at Ikea and only $2.99! We keep a bunch in our pantry to give away as gifts. And did I mention my husband makes a mean white mocha? Drool worthy.

12. Juicer

Again, not a must-have but ours is used every week. Sometimes daily. The nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables is unbeatable. There’s no corn syrup, no sugar, no additives, just fresh wonderful juice. Fresh juice can help with different ailments but that’s a whole other post.

13. Salad Chopper

I call these kitchen scissors, but to each his own. Unlike the last two items I consider this a must-have. Especially if you have toddlers and need to chop food up quickly and easily. Just today I cut up two cold pieces of grilled chicken quite easily for the kids. However, these can be dangerous so keep them up high and away for little ones. They do lock together but you know how clever tiny people are.

So that’s it. These are products that I want to remember to tell my children about when they begin their own families. I realize many of these cost a lot and there will be new/better models in 10-15 years but for now these have served our family very well. Especially a large family. We definitely get our money worth on each.

I didn’t write out the name of each product as I know some of them aren’t available anymore but I still linked to them so you will be able to find them on Amazon or wherever was appropriate {you know, in case you’re interested in checking them out}.

Of all these things I strongly encourage you to get the flour duster! Especially if you’re heavy into baking or pizza crust making.


Donating Socks

January 2, 2012

As we begin a new year I always have a desire to purge all the excess. This year we attacked the socks. Years and years of lonely socks. Holy socks. Dirty socks. And would you believe I actually came to tears as I threw them into a trash bag? There is something about children’s socks and shoes that pulls at my heart strings. But alas, we pushed through and filled the bag to overflowing.

And we bought new socks for everyone. Each age got their own style. Matching and folding will be so much easier. I remember growing up with a bag that would hang in the closet and would hold all the ‘lost’ socks. I refuse to do that. I know we’ll find stragglers throughout the next month but instead of searching for its mate it’ll go straight to the trash.

But not all the socks were thrown away. I was talking to my wonderful mother in law this day and she asked if we had any baby and children socks. They don’t normally get so worn and dirty. She makes a trip to Ecuador every autumn and always has a need for little socks for the children there. So I set my girls to work separating all the socks. Ones that could be donated and ones that needed tossed.

Believe it or not, they actually enjoyed themselves. They weren’t attached to the socks and happily got rid of many. But it definitely made this mama’s heart happier knowing other sweet little toes would fill these socks and keep them warm and clean.

One bag filled and ready for Ecuador. A lesson in learning that there are always ways to give to others.


Fragrant Offerings

September 15, 2011

Hubba Bubba. Today I was sitting outside watching my little ones run through the sprinkler while reading Romans. And from no where memories came flooding back all because of the phantom nostalgic scent of Hubba Bubba bubblegum in my backyard. To be honest, it nearly brought me to tears. How can it feel like just yesterday I was at my childhood pool playing with my friends and retrieving those wonderful 80’s snacks from the vending machine?

I look across the yard and see my children.

How soon will it be til they are having these same thoughts? What scents will figuratively rush them back through time? Oh how my heart breaks to think of how fleeting these moments are.

As saddened as I am about the passing of seasons I am overjoyed, too. We are anxiously anticipating a cold front in a couple days. Dropping thirty beautiful degrees. And with that I want to offer some memories to my family. A fragrant offering. The scent of cinnamon and citrus to fill the house on these chilly autumn days.

As a child I remember my grandmother doing this exact same thing every autumn/winter. She would place a pot of water on the stove and fill it with all sorts of wonderful autumny goodies. Usually oranges, cinnamon and cloves. Then she’d let it simmer all day long. Clearly it made a big impression on me. I’m hoping my children, too, will be touched by this small act.

I absolutely love that our Lord allows us to enjoy these scents. What a beautiful way to remember. And we should be reminded daily, so thankful, of the most pleasing fragrant offering there ever was. So thankful. So thankful.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
{Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV}