Eliminating The Unnecessary……..2000 Things In 38 Weeks

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Decluttering my life is something important to me.  Over the last few months I’ve been working on myself a lot and other things like decluttering my house for example have been pushed aside.  Yes, I’m admitting I’m not super woman & cant do a hundred things at once.  But this weekend while I was cleaning, I began really looking at my house and  realized that I really need to do a deep cleaning of our home.  That there are numerous things throughout my home (inside & out) that we don’t use, add no value, & just simply take up space.   It’s time I get back on the decluttering wagon.
Of course, this isn’t going to happen overnight but from now till the end of 2016 I’m making it my mission to get rid of 2000 things in our home.  If you think about it, it’s kinda of interesting that I would have 2000 things clogging up our lives, taking up space & adding no value,  which in the end will take up my time that could have been spent doing something enjoyable, doing something that added value to my life, & or spending it with the important people in my life.  It’s kinda of embarrassing.   But I’m not even close to being a hoarder.  I can’t imagine so people’s home & how many things that are taking over their lives.  It’s crazy when you think about it.  Now think about your home & your situation?  How many things (big or small) could you live without?

Now 2000 may sound like a lot but if you break it down, it really isn’t.  2000 things @ 38 weeks equals 52.63 items per each week.  If you divide that by 7 it’s only 7.51 things a day I need to get rid of.  Piece of cake, right?!
And because I’m all about sharing, I’m going to share my progress with all of you.  I’ll even break it down to let you know what I’m doing with the things for example: where  I’m getting rid of my things like selling it, donating, or simply throwing it away.  That way I can honestly share what I do with my things, which I hope inspires others to join in with me. And I want to show people how easy or hard it is to make money from what we have in our house.  Any money I make from decluttering, I’ve decided to put towards my credit card, hoping to have it paid off by the end of the year with only using the money I make from this endeavor.

Week #1-
1. bag of stuffed animals the girlies no longer loveput in yard sale pile (April 30th we are doing a school wide yard sale that we can rent spaces from.  I’m doing it with my daughter so it’ll only be $7.50 for a space)
2. two shirts that no longer fit my boys- put in yard sale pile 
3. 5 brand new texture paints I’ve been holding on to for a yr now- put in yard sale pile
4. 3 pairs of skinny jeans that I’ve been saving for when I lose all my weight- put in yard sale pile ( if I ever get to my goal, I’ll just buy myself some new jeans.  Holding on to my skinny clothes hurts my weight loss journey more than it motivates me)
5. 5 pairs of shoes- donated to goodwill
6. 2 cake pans I haven’t used in 2 yrs-put in yard sale pile
7. 2 Furby booms- Sold super quick on Craigslist….made $10
8. rug remnants- trying to sell on Craigslist

This week’s breakdown is:
*3 items on Craigslist (2 sold & 1 waiting to be sold) making me $10 so far
*5 items donated to Goodwill
*12 items + bag of stuffed animals (about 20 in bag) for our yard sale on April 30th
totaling: 20 items & $10 in cash for 30 mins of work

FYI-If you look at my list, each item has numerous items in it.  I didn’t see the need to count things individually like doing 8 stuffed animals as my week’s goal.  If I did that to begin with, I’d take even longer than I am to declutter my house, & I’d lose steam.  But you can do whatever suits you.  It’s all about our own unique goal, perspective, & how fast or slow you want the process to go.  For me, by the end of the year I’m hoping to have more than 2000 items gone.

How about you?  What have you gotten rid of lately?  How’s the decluttering going?  Have you pushed it aside like I did?  If so why don’t you join me & share your progress each week with me.  I would love to hear your thoughts, see your progress, &/or ways you can make money from it.  


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Saving Money With Soap Nuts & 10 Recipes To Get You Started

I have been wanting to try soap nuts for a long long time.  The other day I finally was able to do so and I’m so glad I did.  It not only worked much better than I thought, but after doing some research, I realized how versatile these little berries are.  After sharing with I found with some friends, very few of them knew what they were.  Have you heard about them before?  If not, read below.  If so skip to the recipe part.
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For those of you who haven’t soap nuts are actually berries found that when combined with water, produces a natural soap called saponin that helps clean, deodorizes, & lift stains.
I’ve always been allergic to all the laundry & body soaps out there.  They make me itch insanely, which makes me very uncomfortable.  When I stumbled upon soap nuts, I knew it was something I had to try.  And boy am I glad I did.
So far my laundry has been super clean & actually smells clean.  It’s great.  Since they don’t leave a scent, I did a few drops of grapefruit & lavender essential oils.  If you have sensitive skin like me, soap nuts are the way to go.  But don’t just stop at laundry soap, they can be used for so much more.  Plus, using them can save your family a lot of money.  Here’ s how:

*you put 5-6 nuts into a small bag for your laundry
*these nuts can be used up to 5 times (if using cold water) or 3 times (if using hot water)
*once you used them up, you can boil them in water to create a liquid soap nuts
*This liquid then can be used to make household cleaner, facial cleansers, shampoo, soap etc.

By using soap nuts for all these different things around the house, you can save a lot of money by simply using soap nuts as much as possible.  You won’t have to buy any of products that contain harmful chemicals, instead you can clean the house, yourself, & your clothes naturally.
There are 4 different forms of soap nuts that you can use:

  • The whole nut/shell, which is good for laundry.
  • Liquid, which you can learn how to make in this post. It’s this form that’s handiest for most soap nut uses.
  • Paste, which is basically running the boiled soap nuts through a food processor. This is good for shaving cream and heavy-duty cleaning jobs.
  • Powder, which you can buy in powder form, or make yourself by grinding the shells VERY finely (in a coffee or spice grinder – the good news is, it cleans out really easily). This is good for laundry or adding to a homemade dishwasher detergent, which I’ll talk more about right now (taken from Crunchy Betty)

To get you started, I searched the web & come across 10 great recipes for you to try.  All recipes taken from Crunchy Betty.

Soap Nut Power Dishwasher Detergent

  • 1 c. Borax
  • 1 c. Washing Soda
  • 1/8 c. Finely Grated Castille Soap
  • 1/8 c. Finely Ground Soap Nut Shells

Stir everything together well, and use as you would a dry dishwasher detergent. (Don’t forget to put white vinegar in the rinse well, too!)

Soap Nut Glass Cleaner

  • 1 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
  • 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1/2 c. Water
  • 2 Tbsp c. Isopropyl Alcohol (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Use as you would any glass cleaner. This doesn’t streak, and it’s also really great for windows/glass that are particularly messy (like toothpaste splatters or mud on the outside of windows).

General Household Soap Nut Cleaner

  • Straight Soap Nut Liquid

or

  • 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 2 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1/8 c. Water

Combine everything in a small bowl or spray bottle, and use as you would a kitchen or bathroom cleaner.

Soap Nut Bathroom Cleaner

  • 1/8 c. Baking soda
  • 1/8 c. Borax
  • 1/2 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 10 drops Eucalyptus Oil or Peppermint Oil (optional)

Stir everything together well, breaking up any clumps. You should have a thickish paste, which you can add more liquid to, if you’d like it thinner. Scoop out a bit of the paste with your sponge and clean your bathroom counters/tub/toilet with it. If you have any remaining, drop it in the toilet and use the toilet brush to clean the bowl well.

Soap Nut Hand Wash

  • 1/2 c. Liquid Castille Soap
  • 1/8 c. Soap Nut Liquid
  • 5 drops Essential Oil (Lavender, Tea Tree, or Rosemary would add extra antibacterial power)

Mix everything together in a small pump bottle and use as you would any hand soap. Alternatively, you could just wash your hands with a little bit of soap nut liquid, but adding this all together will give more cleansing power, and mixing the essential oils and castille soap in with the soap nut liquid will prolong the life of the liquid.

Soap Nut Jewelry Cleaner

  • 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid
  • 1/4 c. Distilled Water

Mix the two ingredients together and place jewelry into the liquid. Allow the jewelry to sit for 15-20 minutes. With a small toothbrush, gently scrub your jewelry clean. Sparkly!

Soap Nut Dandruff Treatment

  • Pre-Wash: Mix together 1 Tbsp soap nuts liquid with 3 Tbsp coconut oil. Massage into scalp for a few minutes. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.

Then wash with:

  • 3 Tbsp soap nuts liquid
  • 3 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 Tbsp Liquid Castille Soap

Mix the above ingredients together, and use as you would shampoo. If you do the coconut oil scalp treatment beforehand, there should be no reason to use conditioner after shampooing. Repeat three times a week until dandruff is gone.

Soap Nut Facial Cleanser

  • Soap Nut Liquid

Rinse your face with warm water. On a clean, damp washcloth, pour a tablespoon or so of soap nuts liquid. Gently scrub your face with the washcloth and rinse well.

Alternatively: And this is the way I’m really enjoying the soap nuts liquid at the moment.

Mix the two things together in a small bowl. Rinse your face well with warm water, and then gently scrub the mixture onto your face for 2-3 minutes. Rinse well with warm water and finish up with moisturizer.

Soap Nuts for Athlete’s Foot

  • 3 Tbsp Soap Nut Liquid or 1 tsp Soap Nut Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 3 drops Tea Tree Oil

Stir everything together well and massage into freshly washed feet, concentrating on the effective area. Apply socks. Do not rinse off.

Soap Nut Shaving Cream

  • Flesh from 15 Soap Nuts, leftover after boiling them for liquid
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tsp Soap Nuts Liquid

After pitting and removing the hulls around the pits (as well as any “harder” chunks of the boiled soap nuts flesh), put the flesh into your food processor and turn it on. After the flesh has become a paste, dribble in the olive oil and liquid. Watch out! The paste starts to foam A LOT. Shave immediately after making.

Some other ways to use soap nuts are:

  • Kitchen counter tops
  • Powdered laundry soap
  • Floor cleaner
  • Fresh fruit and vegetable wash
  • Carpet cleaner
  • Non-toxic spray to deter pest from garden plants
  • Car wash
  • Body wash & bar soap
  • Pet shampoo

As you can read, there is so much you can do with these little berries, which is how you can save lots of money.  You can do so much with so little, it’s definitely worth your money & time.
Have you tried them before or is this a new product for you?
Would you try them, now knowing about an alternative to what’s out there?


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Swiss Chard, Bacon, & Butternut Squash Soup (DF)

Soup, is something that I’ve been really into since I’ve decided to change my way of eating.  Eating healthier is much easier if you add soup to your meal list.  Soups are a great way of adding veggies & nutrients, and a great way to have leftovers, which is something that my house usually doesn’t have.
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So, I searched Pinterest for awhile and didn’t find anything.  There are thousands of soup recipes on there, but nothing was sticking out to me.  Then I came across the recipe below & thought about how delicious it sounds.  Plus it’s dairy free so my little ones could eat this without worrying about their bellies hurting.
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This recipe was easy to make, it just takes a bit since you have to cook your squash.  But even with cooking the squash, you can enjoy a delicious dinner with minimal effort.  And if you are looking for a great site, with delicious healthy food, check hers out.  I’m a new fan of it & love all her recipes.

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**adapted from Anya Eats **

Ingredients:
*1 small-medium butternut squash
*1 small onion, diced
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*5 pieces of turkey bacon, chopped
*1-2 TBSP olive oil
*3 C chicken broth
*1 bunch swiss chard, chopped
*salt & pepper
*crushed red pepper

Directions:
*Preheat oven to 350-375 depending on your oven
*Cut butternut squash in half & place on baking sheet
*Bake 30-40 mins until soft
*In a skillet pan, add bacon & cook till it starts browning
*Add onions & cut together till the onion pieces are translucent
*Add garlic.
*Once all are cooked together, add in the coconut milk, chicken broth,  & swiss chard pieces
*Mix well.  Cook on low & let simmer
*Add cooked pieces of the butternut squash
*Add salt, pepper, & red pepper flakes to taste
*Simmer for about 15 mins
~And Enjoy~


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10 Simple Ideas That You Can Do To Reduce Waste Around Your House

“If you want to get serious about sustainability we have
to start with our waste.”

 

Waste is a serious problem that impacts all of us. Here’s 2 charts that shows how much the US wasted in the past years.  Could you imagine how much that has increased over the last few years.  How sad is this, when so many people in our world is starving to death?!?!

@http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/06/26-trillion-pounds-of-garbage-where-does-the-worlds-trash-go/258234/

@http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-glickman/the-true-cost-of-food-was_b_6769352.html

Here’s 2 charts showing how much the world wastes

@http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-glickman/the-true-cost-of-food-was_b_6769352.html

The best place to start, is within our own home.  There is so many different things we can do, to reduce our own waste from recycling & repurposing items & materials, buying less things which means less clutter, & learning new ways to use up everything we have.  You can be as creative as you want, but if you need ideas there is so much out there.  It also doesn’t have to be some elaborate plan, oftentimes simple is better.  Aren’t sure where to begin, here’s
10 simple ideas that you can do to reduce waste around your house:
1. Use a gallon milk jug to water the roots of garden plants without standing there with a hose: Poke small holes in the bottom of the jug and bury it; fill with water for slow and steady irrigation.

2. Place old silica gel packets with personal papers and important documents to protect them from moisture and mildew.

3. Make a bird feeder out of a 2-liter plastic bottle.

4. Pour used bacon grease into a tuna or cat food can, chill until firm, and wire the can to a tree to give your feathered visitors some food. Bacon grease may be gross to some of us, but it attracts bluebirds, crows, jays, ravens, starlings, woodpeckers and Carolina wrens.

5. Missing game pieces instead of throwing away, use game board as a wall decor or coasters, & use the game pieces for jewelry, magnets, decor items

6. Compost everything that you don’t use ****put in a compost chart****

7. Coffee grounds- use in homemade soaps, exfoliate, use in garden to keep ants & slugs at bay, dried grounds used as a scouring agent, in fridge neutralizes odors,

8. Newspaper- lay down while painting, lie our snack cages with, wash windows with, use a layer in garden to help keep weeds at bay, compost,

9. Tea bags- for eyes, insect bites,

10. toilet paper tubes- for crafting, packaging & packing material, nesting materials etc

Additional readings:
Top 10 Ways To Reduce Waste
Waste Less Live More
The True Cost of Food Waste
2.6 Trillion Pounds of Garbage: Where Does The World’s Trash Go?
What are some ways you reduce wastes in 
your home? 


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Moro de Habichuela (Dominican Rice n Beans)

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When I was younger, I stayed in an all Spanish community, where I was the only non-Spanish person around.  The lessons I learned from this experience was life changing.  The pieces of their culture that I fell in love with I took and incorporated it into my family’s daily life like their music, dancing, & food.  Plus it helps my two older ones (who are half Dominican) to connect with a part of their heritage.
True Dominican food is absolutely amazing.  If you haven’t tried it, you are really missing out.  The food is not only delicious but very frugal to make.  The 1st dish I’m sharing with you is a staple food that you can make many different ways depending on which beans you use.  It’s a simple delicious filling meal that feeds a crowd.

Moro de Habichuela 
adapted & taken from: Aunt Clara’s recipe
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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups white rice
  • 1 can 15.5 oz kidney beans (or any cooked beans of your choice)
  • 6 cups water
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1/4c chopped peppers ( i used sweet mini ones)
  • 1 pinch of Oregano
  • 1-2 tsp garlic minced
  • 3 fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tsp chopped Cilantro
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Heat half the oil (2.5 Tbsp) in an iron pot over low heat and add cilantro, garlic, thyme, celery, olives, oregano, cubanela, capers. Cook and stir for a minute, or until the ingredients release their aroma. Stir in the tomato paste.
  2. Add beans, also while stirring, add season with salt. Once heated through, add water and bring to the boil (try the mixture and add salt to taste before proceeding, bear in mind that the rice will absorb some of the salt, so don’t low-ball it).
  3. Stir in the rice and simmer stirring frequently to avoid excessive sticking. Make sure to remove the rice that sticks to the bottom.
  4. When the water has evaporated cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer over very low heat for 15 minutes. Wait 15 minutes, uncover, add the remaining oil and stir.
  5. Cover again another 5 minutes. After this the rice should be firm but tender inside. If necessary, cover and leave another 5 minutes over very low heat (if at this point it looks too dry add ¼ cup of boiling water before stirring and covering.

~Enjoy~

Are you a fan of Dominican food?  What’s your favorite dish?


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7 Spice Pork Roast

Yesterday,  I was preparing for a huge snowstorm.  Some people said a Nor’ Easter was coming.  But sadly, it looks like we’ll only get a few inches of snow.
Because of the storm, I had to go grocery shopping a day earlier, which I’m glad I did.  At our local Shaw’s (which I try to only shop their sales cause it super expensive) I found pork roasts for $.88/lb & split chicken breast for $.99/lb.  At those prices, I had to stock up on my meats, since we were running low.
I don’t about you but I haven’t cooked many pork roasts since they are usually expensive.  So I treated it just like a chicken roast this time around, using lemon juice, pepperoncini,  and spices.  And it came out super delicious.
The aroma filled my kitchen all afternoon.  IT cooked so well, it was falling apart, making it easy to shred it.  This was a comfort meal, perfect for a day like today.  If you make this, I promise you, you won’t be sorry.  It’s definitely worth a try.  Simple & delicious.

7 Spice Pork Roast
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Ingredients
:
3 TBSP lemon juice
handful of sliced pepperoncini (optional)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 salt

Directions:
1. Place roast in crock pot.
2. Dump the lemon juice on & then add the garlic.
3.  Add the rest of the spices to the top of the roast.
4. Turn roast over so that way some seasoning comes off and will season the bottom of the roast.
5. Cook on high for 6 hrs or so, depending on size of roast.
6. Slice or shred the pork & serve over mashed potatoes or rice.
~Enjoy~

How do you cook a pork roast?


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Vanilla Chia Granola

I’m not sure how many of you know that I used to sell baked goods at the local farmer’s markets.  I used to come up with interesting recipes and share them with my customers.  They loved how original I was and the things that I came up with.  I took staples and put my twist on them.  One of my biggest sellers was my Vanilla Chia Granola.
People would come from all around to for it.  Our market was held on the grounds of our local hospitals and I can remember a nurse coming out just for it.  She loved it and looked forwards to it every week.   It always made me smile when people told me how much they love my treats.
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When I stopped doing markets, I stopped making new recipes,  & I stopped baking.  But it’s been a few years and now my kids are asking for some of my delicious treats.  My youngest son has been asking me to make it for 8 months or so.  I would always plan to then something would get in the way.  Well yesterday, I made sure nothing and I mean nothing got in the way of making the granola for my son.
As soon as he walked through the door, he could smell the vanilla/honey combo and knew I finally made it.  He was a happy guy.  I’m sure you’ll please any granola lover in your life.  The best part of this recipe is that you can change the ingredients depending on your tastes and still get the same great granola.

Vanilla Chia Granola
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Ingredients:
8 cups oats
2 c sliced almonds
1 c brown sugar
1 c dried cranberries
2 TBSP chia seeds (reg or white)
1 tsp salt
1-1.5 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c oil (of your choice) 
1 c honey (I used local honey but any will do)
4 TBSP vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Combine the 1st 7 ingredients in a bowl.
3. In a saucepan combine the oil, honey, & vanilla over medium heat.  Bring to boil and let boil for 1 min.  It will get fluffy looking which is what it’s supposed to do.
4. Remove from heat and pour over the mixture in the bowl.
5. Stir well, making sure all of the ingredients are mixed together and everything is covered in the honey oil mixture.
6.  Once fully combined, spread granola on cookie sheet spread it out.  You want a layer of granola covering the whole pan.  Usually I do my granola on two pans.
7. Place in oven and cook for 15 mintues.
8. Take out and stir the granola.  Put back in oven for 10 minutes.
9. Take out of oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes.
10. Once cooled, the granola will be hard till you start moving it around.  Then it’ll be fine.  ~And enjoy~  
Simple….Easy….Delicious….


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