Thursday, January 17, 2008

Organized Thursdays

This week for Organized Thursdays at Between the Worlds, the topic is laundry. What is the system that you use? Or what have you found to work the best to get "mount laundry" conquered?

When my family consisted of just dh and I, it was sooo easy to just do one laundry day a week! One day was devoted to the whole chore of getting the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away. It wasn't an unsurmountable task because it was just four loads(1 dark, 1 white/lights, 1 towels, and 1 sheets). As we have had children, I have noticed that the mountain was turning into mountains!! Having just one laundry day has come to a screeching halt! It was just getting too overwhelming to go into the laundry room and think that I will get it all done in one day! If I tried to do that I usually would get sidetracked doing something else and never find my way back into that room to even begin the laundry process.

So now what I have done with Mount Laundry is divided and conquered! We live in a 3 bedroom house so each room has its own laundry "basket"(I use plastic milk crates) for dirty laundry. Each day it is the responsibility of my 4yo to collect the dirty laundry from each of the rooms into the big hamper. Then I bring it down to the laundry room and sort it into two baskets. If it is a laundry day then I use the washer as another "basket" so that a load can be started.

My laundry schedule is something like this....
  • Monday--do two loads of laundry
  • Wednesday--do two loads of laundry
  • Friday--do two loads of laundry
  • Saturday--do all remaining laundry(usually ends up being 4-5 loads!)

On laundry days, I start a load at the beginning of the day, by lunch time one load is ready to be folded. Around lunch time, I start the second load of the day, so that by 4pm I am totally done with laundry for the day. I try not to do any laundry after 4pm on laundry days so that I can concentrate on getting dinner ready and the house picked up before dh comes home from work.

Saturday is my day to wash towels, sheets, cleaning rags and any other laundry that didn't make it thru during the week. This is basically my "catch up" day!! During the winter months, the bed sheets only get changed every other week so that helps in not having mountains to do every Saturday, and it also helps with the wear and tear on the sheets.

Now that the laundry is all washed and dried, it needs to be folded and put away! I have a laundry folding table that has 5 small plastic baskets from the dollar store for each of my kids. I fold the laundry on there. The kids' clothes get put into their respective basket and they are responsible for taking care of it! Whenever they come to me and say "I don't have any socks!". My response is, "Have you taken care of your basket?". More times than not, they will find a full basket and socks are in there for them.

Usually the rest of the folded laundry is up to me to take care of it. However, I am working at training them to help take care of the rest of the items that end up folded on the table so that the table is stacked with clothes ALL week long! I am also training my older boys to work the wash machine and dryer!

So this is my way of doing laundry. It is what has worked best for me with having 5 kids. Sometimes I wonder if I could do it a better way! Hummm...wonder what I could change?!

So what is your system? Is there something you would change about how you do laundry? Do you find yourself buried in mountains of laundry?

If you want to read about how others tackle their Mount Laundry, head over to Karen's blog--Between the Worlds!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Easy Chocolate Chip Cake

1 package (18-1/4 ounces) yellow cake mix

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup milk

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

5 tablespoons grated German sweet chocolate, divided*

2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar*

In a mixing bowl, combine cake and pudding mixes, milk, oil and eggs. Beat on low speed until moistened. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons grated chocolate. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Combine confectioners' sugar and remaining grated chocolate; sprinkle over cake

*I didn't have any German sweet chocolate so I subbed a Hershey's milk chocolate candy bar. I also skipped the step of confectioners' sugar and grated chocolate sprinkled on the cake.

My Review(7 out of 10):
I liked the cake. It was an easy throw together need in a hurry type dessert. It was sweet and not overly chocolatey tasting. The overall feel/texture of the cake was greasy although it didn't hinder the taste. So the next time I go to make it, I am going to cut the amount of oil in half.

M&M Cookies

***basically the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie recipe doubled and M&M's added in place of another bag of chocolate chips. I have also done 1 cup white chips and 1 cup M&Ms along with the bag of chocolate chips and call the cookies "Monster Cookies".***

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
2 cup (4 sticks) butter/margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips
2 cups M&Ms
1 cup chopped nuts(optional)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I usually use my Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to make the cookies more uniform.)

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays

For this week's Kitchen Tips, I am going to answer a question by one of my readers from last week's tip who left me with a question. I answered the question in the comments but I decided to bring it up to the top with more information....

Amanda said...
I've never done this before, but reading this is kinda getting me excited - I'm ready to go in my kitchen and start cooking up things to freeze. How long can you freeze a meal for?

I wrote...
Freezer meals should last in the freezer for 6-8 weeks and still have the "fresh" taste to them. As for baked goods, those can last longer in the freezer, like 3-4 months, and still have a good "fresh" taste to them.

After I wrote that I decided to go research things more to find out some specifics. Here is what I found at the USDA's site:

Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F)
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Bacon and Sausage 1 to 2 months
Casseroles 2 to 3 months
Egg whites or egg substitutes 12 months
Frozen Dinners and Entrees 3 to 4 months
Gravy, meat or poultry 2 to 3 months
Ham, Hotdogs and Lunchmeats 1 to 2 months
Meat, uncooked roasts 4 to 12 months
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops 4 to 12 months
Meat, uncooked ground 3 to 4 months
Meat, cooked 2 to 3 months
Poultry, uncooked whole 12 months
Poultry, uncooked parts 9 months
Poultry, uncooked giblets 3 to 4 months
Poultry, cooked 4 months
Soups and Stews 2 to 3 months
Wild game, uncooked 8 to 12 months

I also found Robbyn's Friendly Freezer, where she has a freezing & thawing guide that talks about how to freeze and thaw items appropriately. She gives a guide on what freezes well and what doesn't. You can go to her main site and find links to guides on Once A Month Cooking and some tasty looking recipes for the freezer!

So Amanda, I hope that this helps you work at getting your kitchen and freezer ready for some yummy goodies for your family!

For other Kitchen Tips, head over to Tammy's Recipes!!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

**This is just a plan and plans have the ability to change at the cook's discretion! Last week's plans seem to go well til the end of the week. Friday's meal of goulash didn't get made cause I wasn't feeling well and really didn't want to cook. So dh decided we would go out to Russ' and use our free kids' meals coupons. Saturday's meal we had the meat that was planned but everything else was leftovers from earlier in the week, which helped to empty the fridge some so no complaining here! I have inventoried my deep freeze totally! I am going to work today at doing a pantry inventory. Menus this week are totally out of the freezer and pantry! Dh doesn't like them getting to full! I keep telling him that having the freezer full is actually saving us energy costs. And having the pantry filled is helping us to be prepared should we be unable to get to the store, in the event of an ice or snow storm. You just never know what a Michigan winter is going to hold from one day to the next! LOL Also having the pantry filled helps have a variety of things to choose from to make menus!

Lunches listed are for the kids and I as dh usually takes dinner leftovers each day.

A special thanks to Laura-Organizing Junkie for hosting Menu Plan Monday! Need help with your menus, go check others out at Organizing Junkie's site!**

Breakfast: eggs, hashbrowns, mini chocolate donuts, sausage links or ham
Lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches and chips
Dinner: fish sticks, breaded chicken tenders, pan fries, and baby carrots
Snack: Chex Mix or goldfish or yogurt

Breakfast: cereal and toast
Lunch: leftovers
Dinner: Salisbury-Steak(no mushrooms & using stovetop), rice, corn, and rolls
Snack: mystery snack! (baking day so kids can have a sample for snack!)

Breakfast: waffles, sausage links
Lunch: sandwiches and chips
Dinner: goulash(recipe below) and corn muffins
Snack: "snack basket"

Breakfast: bagels and yogurt
Lunch: leftovers and macaroni and cheese
Dinner: Roasted Chicken(in crockpot), mashed taters & gravy, green beans, and biscuits
Snack: Chex Mix

Breakfast: french toast
Lunch: Totino's pizza rolls
Dinner: BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches(using leftover pork loin), fries, and baby carrots
Snack: "snack basket" or yogurt

Breakfast: cereal and toast
Lunch: sandwiches and chips
Dinner: oven fried chicken, rice, peas and rolls
Snack: homemade chocolate shakes

Breakfast: "Cook's Choice"
Lunch: ????? it's the weekend anything goes!
Dinner: spaghetti and Garlic Toast(I use Texas toast and garlic powder)
Snack: popcorn

1# ground beef
1-28oz can of tomato sauce plus 1/2 can of water
1-2 tsp. chili powder
1/8-1/4tsp. yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
elbow macaroni or rotini, dry
brown the ground beef and drain the fat off. Add the tomato sauce, water, spices, and macaroni. Cook on med to low temp til the noodles are al dente/tender. Serve.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Singing Sunday

How Great Thou Art
words & music by Carl G. Boberg and R.J. Hughes

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!