Thursday, April 19, 2012

Working on a few things.....

Sorry for another post's been well, crazy!  I've got a bunch of posts I want to write up and just need to find the time.  And I'm working on re-vamping the blog look as well.  Like adding this signature, for example.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicken Experiement Update

Our spicy chicken experiement?


Our girls seemed super happy to get their little spicy treats and they gobbled them right down and begged for more.  I gave them table scraps and even a treat of spicy cornbread for a week straight and hoped for the best.

And nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Ziltch.

Not a single egg.

So, I guess not all old wives tales are true.....or maybe we just have stubborn chickens!

I guess I'll go back to trying to be patient and let our girls have their egg-laying break.

The days are getting longer.

And slightly wamer.

(even though we've had our first snowstorm of the year here at the end of February and one more predicted tonight.....looks like March is coming in like a LION!)

And I'll keep treating the girls to table scraps and stale bread and sometimes their own special chicken treats I cook up.

And soon.  Soon and very soon, they'll start laying again.

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Homemade Laundry Soap

In the CrazyLife family, we have sensitive skin.  Like really sensitive skin.  Thing #4 breaks out in goose prickles if anything brushes on his skin and even the sensitive soaps and laundry detergents and such don't work.  His poor little belly is always pimpled up.

So last summer I started making my own laundry soap, hoping it would help.  And it did!

It was easy really.  A couple bars of Fels Naptha soap, grated up.  A cup of washing soda.  A cup of borax.  Mix.  Use 1-2 tablespoons in each load.  Sometimes I would add half a cup of baking soda as well.  If I needed fabric softener, I would add vinegar to the rinse.

But we seemed to go through it so quickly.  Even though it lasted longer than commercial laundry soaps, I felt like I was constantly grating soap and making more.  I mean, we probably do about 16 loads of laundry a week, if you include all the towels and sheets.  (not to mention all the clothes that somehow never make it into the dressers and get thrown back into the laundry, completely folded, when the kids are picking up their bedroom floors!)

So now on top of doing laundry ALL THE TIME,  I was making laundry soap, ALL THE TIME.

Something had to be done.

Enter Pinterest (my newest internet obsession!).

I found a "recipe" for laundry soap that was basically the same as what I was doing, but it stretched it further....much, much further.  In fact, the batch that I cooked up during Christmas break is still in use...with two and a half more mason jars to go!

Here it miracle laundry soap: White Purse Laundry Soap

I did switch things up a bit and make it my own, but that is the basic formula/recipe that I used.  Plus, it was kind of fun to do.....even the kids got in on the act.


2 bars Fels Naptha or other soap of choice (I really want to try ZOTE soap as I've heard it has a great smell and is such a pretty pink color!)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda (NOT BAKING soda!)
1 cup baking soda
6 cups water


1. Heat water.  Grate soap bars.
2. Add grated soap gradually to hot water and melt. Do not boil!
3. Turn off heat and add borax, washing soda and baking soda.
4. Pour into 4 quart size mason jars.
5. Add enough warm water to each jar to fill it almost to the top - to the "shoulders" of the jar, if you will.
6. Cover and let sit overnight.

This is a fun step....the water and soap mixture separate out and look really cool.

7.  Take the separated mixture and put it in your blender (not your mixer as I first tried - SUCH a MESS!) And blend until it whips up into a creamy pudding-like mixture.  I had to do this in several steps in order to get through it all.

8. Clean out the mason jars used above and re-pack the pudding-like soap mixture into the jars.  I was able to fill 6 1/2 quart size mason jars with the finished project.
9.  Add a cute label and move to your laundry space.

(seriously, my laundry room is never that matter how much I wish it was!  But doesn't it look so nice in pictures???!!!)

I'm using about one tablespoon in each load of wash and as I mentioned above, we're on two and a half months of the same batch....with two and a half jars left to go.  It cleans just as well, if not better than my powdered mixture and is lasting so long, so it's super economical!

The best part is that our family's skin is happy and goose prickle free!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hens on Stike! And a "spicy" experiement!

Our hens are not laying eggs.
They have not laid one single egg since the beginning of November.
Now, this isn't really unusual.
Our girls have always molted right about then, which means no eggs.
And then winter begins, which means no eggs.

But this year is different.
They are being stubborn.

We like to give our girls a break in the winter.
I mean, really it isn't totally healthy for them to lay year-round.
Letting them "chill" out and not lay during the winter months gives them longer lives and extends their laying periods (at least in our experience).


It's been warmer than usual this winter. I mean, 52 degrees on January 31st in Northern Michigan is a bit mild, you know?
And we put a light in the coop at the beginning of the month.
So we gave them a two-month rest period before expecting hoping they would lay again.

And they haven't.
I think they are on strike.

So we're doing a little experiment.
I checked around the forums on my favorite chicken information site: Backyard Chickens
It seems that some people have had success kick-starting their chickens laying by feeding them red pepper flakes or ground red pepper.
So we're trying it.  
Everything I've researched says it can't hurt.

Today is day three of feeding them a special cornbread treat with a secret ingredient (red pepper flakes).
So far....nothing.
I'll keep you posted.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Breakfast on the Run - Homemade Egg "mc"Muffins

In our house, breakfast is almost always on the run.  I can't remember a time where we got to sit down to eat breakfast at the table....ever!  The kiddos sometimes will get cereal out and eat once they are ready for school (and then eat again at daycare - they are bottomless pits, I swear!) but Mr. CrazyLife and I are always on the go.

This usually sometimes meant a stop at the Golden Arches for a breakfast sandwich.  I have to admit that breakfast is one of the only meals I will eat there - the rest of their food leaves me feeling less than good when I eat it.  However, even those little McMuffins were taking their "muffin" belly was starting to show that I was stopping there one too many mornings.  Not to mention the pennies that were floating down the drain every time we stopped.

So I found a better way.  I still get my protein via egg for the morning, but it's a lot healthier and a lot less costly.  I simply decided to start making my own "mc"Muffins.  Perhaps not an original idea, but it works for us!

These are so easy to make and you can do them ahead....just stick in the freezer and pop in the microwave or toaster oven in the morning.  

I do about a week's worth of sandwiches at once.  I take the english muffins and toast them, either under the broiler or in the toaster oven.  Then I put a little butter on them (everything is better with butter, eh?). 

For cheese, I will usually use a sliced cheese (American or Swiss or Cheddar).  I know it's not the healthiest option, but it is the easiest!  I've also used shredded cheddar.

The eggs are super easy.  Take a muffin pan.  Crack an egg into each well.  Bake in the oven until done (usually about 10 minutes or so.)  In the sandwich above, I actually did the egg on the stovetop, which is how I prefer it - it keeps it really thin, while eggs from the oven tend to "puff" up a bit.

Put all the pieces together and voila, a homemade "mc"muffin!

You could easily add ham or bacon or veggies into this as well, if you wished.

  Do you know how many ingredients are in a McMuffin?  Over 50!  Can you english muffin, an egg, and cheese (theirs also has ham - with 9 ingredients.....)  And at 300 calories with 820 g of sodium.  Yikes!

My english muffin has flour, yeast, water, oil and a bit of sugar.  My egg came from the chickens....nothing else there.  I did use processed cheese in the above picture, but even so......Much less ingredients and much less sodium and calories and fat.

And cheaper.  

My local McD's sells McMuffins for about $3/each.  

My sandwich cost breakdown: 99 cents/5 english muffins (about 20 cents each), egg - free, cheese- $2/16 slices (about 12.5 cents each slice).  Total cost 32.5 cents.  Huge difference!

Plus, they taste much yummier!

Try making your own breakfast sandwiches.  Your wallet, your tummy and your taste buds will thank you!

*Edited to add: Nutritional Info from McDonald's Egg McMuffin

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Mama's Mission Update

Okay, so it really isn't the end of the month until tomorrow....but I know I won't have time to check in then.  
So I'll update now.  

Here were my "missions" for January:
1) Implement new laundry system.
2)Implement new chore chart system for the kids.
3) Walk at least 3-4 times per week.
4) Read Proverbs 31 and meditate on being a Proverbs 31 wife and mother.
5) Eat dinner at the table as a family 90% of the time (instead of on the run or in front of the TV as has become the norm)

And here is where we stand:

1) We implemented the new laundry system and it is totally working!!!  Yay!!!  I'll do a post on it later, since it working so well with our mid-size family.  Basically, I took all the laundry baskets out of the bedrooms and moved them to the laundry room.  I now have four baskets instead of three, but they are all pre-sorted and ready to go.  I've really been working at folding things right out of the dryer (instead of throwing them into a basket where they sit until they get worn again!).  The only part of this we need more work on is that sometimes the clothes don't make it to the laundry room and they dont' always make it back to the bedrooms (I have a couch covered in folded laundry at the moment.)
Baby Steps, right?
But I'm going to say this is accomplished and done (with improvements to come) as it is implemented and working.

2) Our new chore chart is working well long as Momma and Daddy stay on top of things.  The first week the kids were all about the new charts.  Now we do have to remind them, but instead of reminding them to do certain things, we just have to say go check the chart.  It's working!  I'll have to do a post on those as well - they were Pinterest inspired.
Mission 2 - accomplished!

3) Walking....well I haven't made it to 3-4 times per week, but I'm doing at least 2 times a week.  So I will say partially accomplished, but a work in progress.  I sometimes underestimate how busy we are going to be during the week.  Two times a week walking might be all that I can actually squeeze in between kids activities and my dance classes.
Mission 3 - Work in Progress

4) I've spent quite a bit of time with this mission.  I find that the more I meditate on it, the more I have to do.  But I am finding that the little things I do are making a big difference, if only in my own attitude towards myself and my husband and my family.
Mission 4 - accomplished!

5) Again, we are doing awesome on this one!  We are eating at the table at least 4 nights a week now.  And actually, some weeks it has been more.  We have yet to make it to 7 nights a week, but as I mentioned, I sometimes underestimate how busy we are in the evenings.  I'm so glad we've made an effort in this!  The kids are talking more and we get to hear all kinds of things we were missing in the rush before.  We actually spend time together instead of scarfing down food and rushing to the next activity.
Mission 5 - accomplished!

So that is accomplished on all but one mission, and truthfully, I think I'm going to change that one a I'm putting this little pin down to show where we are!

And now I need to think of some February missions!
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Meal Plan Monday - January 30, 2012

Well, after bragging about how well we were staying on our meal plans for the past few weeks, I fell off the wagon last week and didn't do hardly anything that was actually ON the meal plan!  Oops!  Guess that is just rewards for bragging.

On to this week.....

Cereal w/milk
Toast w/PB&J
Homemade Egg McMuffins

Brown Bag school lunches (sandwiches, chips, fruit, juice box, veggie)
School Lunches
Lean Cuisine for Momma

*Hamburgers with baked beans, deviled eggs, cut veggies & dip, peaches
*Soyed Chicken Wings, potato wedges, salad, rolls, applesauce
*Speghetti w/red sauce and sausage, salad, rolls, broccoli
*Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, salad, cut veggies & dip, applesauce
*French Dip Crescents with fruit and veggie pieces and salad

Linking up to:
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Monday, January 23, 2012

Yummy Chocolate Cake!

Yesterday, on a whim, I decided to bake a chocolate cake...from scratch!  Not really sure why.  Perhaps it was the chocolate calling to me.  Perhaps I just wanted to turn the oven on and warm up the house.  Perhaps it was because I've had this cookbook sitting in my library bag for three weeks and not even cracked it open.  Whatever the case, I did it.  With help from two little muchkins of course.  The best kind of help....counting measuring scoops and sticking fingers into the batter to "taste" it.

The FarmChicks Dark Chocolate Butter Cake

1 C milk
1 Tbs white vinegar
1 1/2 C unsalted butter
2 1/2 C sugar
2 1/4 C flour
3/4 C Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
5 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C espresso or very strong coffee brewed
Raspberry Sauce for serving

*Preheat oven to 325.  Butter a 10 in Bundt pan well; then dust with  cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

*Combine milk and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside to slightly thicken.
*Cream butter and sugar.
*In a separate bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt cinnamon and baking powder.  Set aside.
*Add eggs one at a time to butter/sugar mixture, beating on high speed in between each.
*Beat in vanilla.
*Whisk the espresso into the milk mixture by hand.
*In thirds, alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the butter mixture, beating on medium speed and blending well after each addition.
*Scrape batter into pan.  Bake for 60-70 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool, then invert the pan onto a plate.  Serve with Raspberry Sauce (raspberries, 1/2 C sugar, 1 TBS lemon juice cooked slightly).

Now....I didn't quite follow the recipe exactly.  I was out of vanilla extract, so I figured I would add almond instead.  But I was out of that I used Khluha instead.  I also left out the espresso/coffee, as I don't enjoy that flavor at all.  And now...typing out the recipe, I realized that I also left out the baking powder!  Oops!  But it still turned out okay.  And quite tasty.  Mr. CrazyLife says it tastes just like no-bake cookies.  Which from him is a HUGE compliment as that is one of his favorites!
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Meal Plan Monday - January 23, 2012

So much for trying to post more, eh?
Oh well, I've been busy living life and enjoying every minute of it. is my Meal Plan Monday post for this week.  Last week we did awesome sticking to our meal plan and I'm hoping this week is the same.  I've often found that I stray quite a bit from what is planned due to our crazy schedules or well, just plain laziness!  But last week was great, so here's to sticking to it this week!

Homemade Egg McMuffins

School Lunches for kids
Brown Bag Lunches for kids and Mr. CrazyLife
Lean Cuisine Meals for Momma

Sunday: Crockpot lasagna w/crescent rolls, broccoli and corn, salad; chocolate cake w/raspberries
Monday: Turkey Roll-Ups w/oven potatoes, rolls, mixed veggies; leftover chocolate cake
Tuesday: Enchiladas w/Mexican Rice, cut veggies, salad, corn chips; fruit popsicles
Wednesday: Speghetti w/red sauce and sausages, garlic bread, broccoli; ice cream
Thursday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w/Tomato soup, applesauce, chips; fruit popsicles
Friday: Kids at Grandma's House; Momma and Daddy at the Youth Group Lock-In (probably pizza)
Saturday: Chicken Noodle Soup w/fresh bread, cut veggies; cookies

Linking to: 

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook - January 3rd, 2012


Outside my window... The sun is shining and the sky is blue.

I am thinking...  That the sunshine is wonderful, even if it is's really cold out there!

I am thankful... That we all made it to school today on the first day back after break, especially Mr. CrazyLife who is going back after layoff.

In the kitchen... Speghetti Sauce is in the crockpot, ready for eating when we get home.

I am wearing... Khaki's, fuzzy blue sweater and black loafers.  My favorite blue jewelry.

I am creating... A new playlist for my preschool creative movement classes.

I am going... to work on new choreography tonight.

I am wondering... How Thing #2 did on the bus this morning.

I am reading... Nothing at the moment....need to hit the library!

I am hoping... That tomorrow morning goes as smoothly as this morning did.

I am looking forward to... the weekend!

I am learning... about homemade cleaners...again.

Around the house... we are in scrub-down mode from top to bottom.

I am pondering... summer vacation possibilities.

A favorite quote for today... The feet can learn the steps, but only the spirit can dance.

One of my favorite things... Andes Mints.

A few plans for the rest of the week: More housecleaning, dance lessons and hopefully a bit of relaxation in the evening.

A peek into my day...

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Meal Plan Monday - January 2nd 2012

Happy Monday!!!

It's time to get back into meal planning.  I'm doing it a bit differently . . . again.  This time instead of doing a list of meals for the week, I've created a list of meals to last over two-three weeks.  Then I can pick and choose over time.  Makes it a bit less stressful when it comes to the last minute dinner planning and prep that happens at our crazy house!

Daycare breakfasts for the kids
Homemade breakfast sandwiches for adults
Protien Smoothies for Momma

 Daycare lunch for Thing #4
School lunch or sack lunches for Things 1-3
*PBJ/bologna/cheese sandwiches
*cut veggies
*granola bar
*juice box
Leftovers or frozen lunches for Momma and Daddy

Dinners - 2 weeks worth to choose from
Rachel Ray's Not-sagna Pasta Toss with garlic bread and a green veggie
Farm Chick's Chicken Salad Sanwiches with chips and cut veggies
Rachel Ray's Openface Blue Moon Burgers w/shrooms with a salad and chips
Rachel Ray's Brutus Salads with a baked potato
Speghetti with meat sauce, garli bread and a green veggie
Garlic-buttered shrimp with angel hair pasta, fish sticks for kids, salad and rolls
Homemade Pizza and Breadsticks
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with tomato soup and cut veggies
Polish Keilbasa with potatos, colored peppers, onions and rolls and a salad

I checked out a couple cookbooks from the library this week (Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals" and the Farm Chicks in the Kitchen).  Trying lots of recipes from those.  They all looked so yummy!

I'm also planning on doing some baking this week.  Bread is on the list as are more of the Pioneer Woman's yummy cinnamon rolls!

Will be linking up to the Menu Plan Monday at!!!
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mama's Mission of the Month - January

It's been quite a while since I joined in Mama Jenn's Mission of the Month.  In fact, I don't even remember the last one I did!  However, as part of my organizing goal, I'm joining back up.  Here are my goals for January:

1) Implement new laundry system.
2)Implement new chore chart system for the kids.
3) Walk at least 3-4 times per week.
4) Read Proverbs 31 and meditate on being a Proverbs 31 wife and mother.
5) Eat dinner at the table as a family 90% of the time (instead of on the run or in front of the TV as has become the norm)

Aren't mini-goals fun?  A good way to keep us on track with the bigger goals in life.  If you think doing mini-goals might help you, check out Mama Jenn's blog and challenge.  Lots of fun stuff over there and lots of motivation to stay on track!  Thanks, Mama Jenn!

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Happy New Year 2012!!!!

Happy New Year!!
(or Happy Hogmany as my Scottish friends would say)

2011 is over and 2012 is here.

I had a pretty good year last year, despite all kinds of unexpected happenings.  I gained a new sister-in-law, a new brother-in-law and two new nieces.  The kids made huge advances academically.  We figured out a lot of food/behavior/social issues with the children.  We started lots of home projects (unfortunatly, none of them finished!).  We bought a new car.  We bought a new furnace.  We established an emergency fund.  We spent the emergency fund!  Started it over.

It was a good year.

However, like everyone else on the planet, at this start of the year my mind turns to the future.  To what I want to accomplish this coming year.  To what lies ahead.

I've never been a good one at making and then keeping resolutions.  I'd rather make goals...something that I can work toward and keep working toward.  I don't feel so bad then if I don't accomplish it fully.

This year, one of my huge goals is to get more organized.  In the home and at work.  Another goal is to get the family involved in said organization.  Here are a few steps I am taking to help with this goal:
  • Employing a new Household Notebook.  It's still in the works, but I will blog more about it when it is finished and in use so I can report on how well it works.
  • Starting a new laundry system.  The days of the week system I was using is not working out well for us at all.  Trying something new.
  • New Chore Charts for the kids.  Something a bit more visual for them to see.
  • Utilizing my Motivated Moms calendar more for a cleaning system.  When I use it, it works SOO well.  When I don't....well, yeah.
  • Joining in two online challenges to help me stay motivated and organized: Mama Jenn's Missons of the Month and the 52 Weeks to an Organized House challenge.
  • And of course, continuing with meal planning and linking to the Menu Plan Mondays.
Another goal of mine is work on spiritual/family/emotional life.  I sometimes feel like in the craziness of our lives, we become disconnected from each other and from God.  We need to, as a family, re-establish this and nuture it in ourselves and our family members and our community.  Here are some steps we'll be doing to work on this goal:
  • Eat most meals at the table to together.  Learn and say new meal blessings.  Use manners and practice politeness at mealtimes.
  • Have a family day/night each week where we play games or do an activity together.
  • Establish a family motto/rules and post them in the house.
  • Read.  Alone and to each other.
  • Go to church and Sunday School every week (we already do this, but I think it is important to have it as a guideline.)
  • Volunteer as a family at least twice this year.
  • Personally, to meditate/pray every day.  To read books that will enhance my spiritual growth and connections.
  • Celebrate the every day.
And finally my last goal is a fitness goal.  Last year started off strong with my running a half marathon, but quickly slid downhill in to doing the bare minimum of workouts.  Outside of my dance classes, I really don't do much of anything.  I need to get back into gear and work. I would like to lose a few (or more) pounds of myself and to just feel better about the way I look. To help with this I will:
  • Walk at least three-four times a week.  Adding in running as I feel.
  • Do yoga at least three-four times a week.
  • Teach dance twice a week (already in progress)
  • Work on findng "clean" methods of personal care - shampoos/conditioners/face wash/deoderent/etc
  • Eat a bit more heathy's to a bang up 2012!  Working on meeting life goals that will lead to less craziness, more peace and happier families!!!!!
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