Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Koru Naturals Emu Oil Products

Western New York winters can be brutal on skin and hair, and this past few months have certainly been no exception. This has been one of the coldest, harshest winters that Western New York has experienced not only during my lifetime, but also during the past century!

I am always looking for the most effective moisturizers for hair and skin, especially during winter. With a house full of girls, we have quite the eclectic collection of lotions, hair products, and creams. When I was blessed with the opportunity to review Emu Oil and Koolpurrie Restoring Balm from Koru Naturals, I was excited to see if these products could stand up to a Buffalo winter and be more effective than our current favorites.

About Koru Naturals: This company uses natural substances from New Zealand to make available  an entire line of personal care products such as shampoo, skin care, lip balms, honeys, teas, and specific products for men, women, and even infants. All of their products originate in Australia and New Zealand, and are developed carefully using natural substances, not chemicals. None of their products are tested on animals. Based in North Carolina, the company has been in business since 2002.

About the products

Pure Emu Oil: We received a single bottle of pure premium grade Emu Oil from Koru Naturals. The bottle contains 100% pure oil with no additives. It is almost clear and nearly scentless. It claims to be hypo-allergenic, easily absorbed, and non-clogging to pores. According to the directions, we were to only use 2-3 drops at a time, as it is so highly effective that anything more than that would leave a greasy feeling. It is for topical use only. 

How we used the Emu Oil: I used this small bottle every way I could think of, on a daily basis, and I still have nearly a full bottle because so little is needed with every application. I have been applying it to my hair after washing to help combat the frizz and dryness of the harsh, cold temperatures we have been experiencing. Just a few drops rubbed into damp hair left my hair amazingly soft and virtually frizz-free. I was able to use it multiple times a week as well, with no ill effects.  I also used the emu oil on my face. I have oily skin already, so I was concerned that rubbing more oil onto my face would be uncomfortable at best. It definitely left my skin feeling soft, and it did not feel greasy at all. The key is to follow the directions and just use a few drops. 

The other way I have used the emu oil is rubbing onto dry areas of my skin, specifically my hands and feet. I found this worked most effectively directly following a shower. Usually by this point of winter, my feet are dry and my heels are cracked. The emu oil treatments have left them as soft as can be though. 

One thing that I appreciate about the emu oil is that I can apply it multiple times throughout the day, and it absorbs so quickly into my skin that I don't have oily residue to deal with. Although the emu oil makes no claims to minimize scars, I was curious if it would help a deep scar that I have, and tried applying it daily. Though I didn't notice a big difference in the scar's appearance, it certainly made the skin of that area much softer! 

Koolpurrie Restoring Balm: This small, round container combines the pure emu oil with pure lanolin in an all natural balm that can be rubbed onto dry skin, especially body parts such as hands and feet that are exposed to extreme conditions. Like the emu oil, it can be used multiple times throughout the day and only the tiniest amount is needed to be effective.  It contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, but does not contain any preservatives, additives, chemicals, dyes, or perfumes. The balm claims to be safe for people with eczema and other skin ailments, and I was excited to test that out, because my daughter always has problems with lotions and gets terrible eczema on her hands during the winter. Nearly every cream we have tried makes her hands turn fiery red, bleed, and itch, actually making the problem worse. 

How we used the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm: The very first thing I did was rub a small amount onto my daughter's hands, hoping that it would not cause any serious reactions for her, and that it could ease some of the pain she was experiencing from the dry skin on her hands. I was so pleased that she had no immediate reactions, and her hands did not hurt or itch afterwards. The balm has no scent, so she didn't mind rubbing it on to the back of her hands. She has done it twice a day since we received the balm. Her hands are nearly perfect! No eczema. This is truly a miracle for her - the first winter she has been able to have pain-free, soft hands. When we first received the balm, her hands were red and chapped. Within two days of regular use, they were completely healed. I have included "before and after" pictures here to show what a difference it made for her. 

Next we tried the balm on dad. He doesn't like any scented creams, so finding something effective for him can be challenging. He has terrible cracked fingertips from working out in the cold. We applied the balm to his fingertips before he went to bed at night, and by morning they were greatly improved. We knew the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm was a winner when he came home and asked for it himself, and didn't have to prompted to use it. In his words, "That emu balm stuff you got really works!" 

Final Thoughts: My favorite use for the Emu Oil definitely was applying it to my hair after washing. I am enjoying my soft hair that is absent of the typical winter frizz. I enjoyed using the Koolpurrie Restoring Balm on hands and feet. It has a smooth consistency and is easily absorbed into dry skin. We have been so impressed with its effectiveness, and I am so happy to have a way to care for my daughter's hands without causing her more problems. 

Visit Koru Naturals through social media:

The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew tested out several different products from the Koru Naturals Company, including Lanolin lip balms, lanolin creams, and manuka oil and honey shampoo and conditioners. To read their reviews about the other products, click the banner below:

Koru Naturals Review
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Taking Back My Home: Weeks 7 & 8

I found myself having to combine weeks again, but it was for a worthy cause. Last week, week seven, my days were cut short because of chaperoning our youth group to a youth conference out of town. It was a great blessing, and I am so glad I was able to go. It was totally worth skipping some cleaning days!

That being said, I am now a week behind on Michelle's weekly challenge, but will hopefully get caught up on my living room this week! I encourage you to click the link and check out Michelle's list of living room chores - it is very thorough! She thought of every detail to give the living room a complete makeover!

I did catch a little break because one of the weeks I missed was "dining room" and we don't have one. We eat our meals in our kitchen. Our table is pretty much the center of the universe - used for cooking, chopping veggies, schoolwork, family game night, meals, and pretty much anything else that requires a large, flat surface that our entire family can gather around. Because of this, it is constantly undergoing clearing off and cleaning up. 
I did continue with the Declutter 365 Missions from Home Storage Solutions 101, and am proud to post a picture of my completed February calendar here.  I have gotten rid of several boxes of clutter - most of it from my kitchen. It is much more pleasant to work in a clean, uncluttered space and I am thrilled with the progress I am making. Participating in these challenges has been a real help to me.

This week's challenge at 34 Weeks of Clean is BOOKS! Oh my. Do I have books! We have several bookshelves that are literally overflowing with books. I have been working on books a little at a time since the beginning of the year, but I am definitely going to have to step it up this week to meet the challenge. My goals are to sift through and get rid of books that the girls have outgrown, to organize the overflow into our attic library space, to dust off all the bookshelves and make them functional so we can find what we are looking for, and to sell off or donate some more unused books. The upside to this is that most of our books are hanging out in our living room, so I will be able to combine the living room makeover with the book challenge, giving me some great expectations for  a successful cleaning week!

Stop back next week to keep me accountable! :-)

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Virtual Refrigerator: Thoughts of Spring

While this has been our reality......

Looking out our back window into our backyard

....We are thinking ahead to days when it will be warm and sunny!

Kelly painted  a butterfly bush, and then glued on silk butterflies. It is hanging on our wall, waiting for Spring!

This post is linked at The Virtual Refrigerator where the theme for this month is "Hope during the dark phases".  

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Review: Heirloom Audio Productions - In Freedom's Cause

We were introduced to the wonderful audio theater CD's produced by Heirloom Audio Productions last year when we reviewed Under Drake's Flag. When we learned that Heirloom Audio Productions was working on a new CD called In Freedom's Cause, we eagerly anticipated it and were thrilled to be asked to review it. For this review, we received the In Freedom's Cause Single Package,  which includes the CD set, a digitally downloadable study guide, a sound track mp3 file, and a printable copy of the prayer of William Wallace.

What is the story of "In Freedom's Cause?" This audio theater CD is based on the popular book of the same title, written by the notable G.A. Henty. The story begins around the end of the thirteenth century, when Scotland was struggling for independence from English rule, and brings to life the inspiring leadership and courage of William Wallace, a "guardian of Scotland". In this story, several highlights of Wallace's life, battles, and triumphs are examined in a historical setting, through the tales of an aged storyteller to two young boys. Through Wallace's passion and training, young men in Scotland were inspired to courageously stand for freedom and Scotland's honor. While many thought Wallace's strongest weapon was his Claymore, we find in this story that it is actually the time spent with his Psalter that constitutes his source of strength. Though Wallace died before seeing the end result of his efforts for Scotland's freedom, his life was not in vain. His work laid the foundation for Robert the Bruce to step in and finish what Wallace began.

More than just an audio book: Audio theater brings the story to life. There is a diverse cast with authentic Scottish actors. The voices are charming and very real to life. Vibrant sound effects in the background grip listeners and draw them into the story in a remarkable way. We enjoyed watching the Behind the Scenes Video of the making of the story.

A picture of Edinburgh Castle taken on our trip to Scotland
On a more personal note: Several years ago, two of us had the privilege to visit the lovely land of Scotland on a missions trip. We fell in love with the people, culture, and the history of this nation. Listening to "In Freedom's Cause" brought back so many memories of the friends we made and the sights we saw.  As Americans, hearing the longing for freedom in this story made us think of our own early American history, and the struggles the Patriots had several centuries later in their fight against English tyranny. We definitely could relate to the zeal and emotions of the Scots.

More about the CD: The entire story takes about 2 1/2 hours to hear from beginning to end. It comes in a 2 CD set. It is recommended for ages 6 to adult.

Additional Study Helps: The study guide that accompanies this CD package is very effective at helping students listen carefully to the story and dig deeper into the details of the history, culture, and characters' lives. For each track, there are three assignments: a list of new vocabulary words to define, listening comprehension questions, and "further thinking" questions which challenge the listener's reasoning skills by asking abstract questions related to the story. At the end of the study guide, there are three Bible studies outlining common themes found in this story: fearing no evil, vengeance and forgiveness, and true freedom.

How we are using this: This CD has been played countless times since we received it. It is a timeless classic that is both entertaining and educational. While the characters and story line are genuine and exciting, the realistic sound effects draw the listener in as if they are present at the hearth or battlefield, drawing a vivid picture of the story in the mind. At first, we listened for the sake of the entertaining story. After several times of listening, the children began asking questions about various points that were made regarding Scotland's history, and the Middle Ages in general. Investigating the answers to these questions developed several excellent study opportunities for our family. After listening several times to the CD, we discussed the questions found in the study guide. Answering the comprehension questions was pretty easy, as the CD makes the history so vivid that the girls remembered the most minute details. The abstract questions, delving in to areas of how we interpreted that history and what the characters might be thinking about, were a little more challenging, but also made for some very productive and enlightening conversations.

Our Two Favorite Quotes: While there were so many heart-inspiring statements declared in this story, we definitely identified two that we found truly stirring - in fact, we posted them on the front of the fridge for everyone to see on a daily basis!
"The true battle is not in the field, but in your heart" - William Wallace
"We can train for skill, but fire comes from the heart" - William Wallace
Our final opinion: We absolutely loved this CD! It appealed to all family members, regardless of age or personal interests. While it discussed some violent topics, we feel it presented them in a cautious and tasteful way as to not bring fear to the younger children in our family. We are planning on purchasing several CD's for gifts, as we know several people that would just LOVE listening to them as much as we have.

We are already looking forward to the next CD production coming from Heirloom Audio. It is an audio theater production of Henty's book With Lee In Virginia and is scheduled to be released in May, 2015.

Social Media: Check out more about "In Freedom's Cause" online:

If you would like to read what other members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew thought, please click the banner below:

In Freedom's Cause Review

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: IndoctriNation the Movie

Our family is very interested in current events and how culture is affecting our nation. Because of homeschooling, we have the opportunity to explore many different educational interests. There has been a lot of public discussion about Common Core and our American system of education. There is also quite a bit of debate in Christian circles as to what Christianity's place should be in the public schools, because obviously God is not welcome in America's public schools in 2015.                                          
The movie IndoctriNation produced by Great Commission Films seeks to answer the question, "Should Christian families leave their children in public schools to be a light and witness of Jesus Christ, or should they withdraw from public schools in order to protect their children?"

What is IndoctriNation the Movie? This movie is a 102 minute documentary that follows a home school family around the country as they go on a road trip in an old school bus, interviewing students, teachers, principals, and educators all across America. Producer Colin Gunn keeps the movie moving along with his friendly mix of fact presentation and family fun.

Some very thought-provoking questions - IndoctriNation asks, "Do you want your children to belong to you or to the state?"

Remarkable research: The information in this movie is presented logically, systematically, and objectively. It is not opinions. Colin Gunn has thoroughly researched the origins of public education in America, and actually visits prominent sites of early American education. Included are actual photos and video footage as important research is presented.

A few highlights: IndoctriNation shows case after case to demonstrate how public education is training children to be a 'servant' of the state. Actual classroom footage shows a re-defining of values, where the outcome is already pre-determined by the curriculum. While teachers and school boards claim to promote tolerance, it is clear that no opposing voice is allowed during these value definition lessons, and disagreement is discouraged or even outright forbidden. IndoctriNation explains how humanism and relativism (where the student is encouraged to determine his own values by what he and his peers think is right) form the basis of many values-based lessons in our public schools.

Why is this so important? The political climate of our country is hurtling towards socialism. One needs only to study history to see that we are doomed to repeat failures of the past unless something changes drastically and soon.  You cannot make socialists out of individualists, because they think for themselves and will refuse to become 'interdependent' with everyone else in society. A socialist government cannot control independent, rational thinkers. After watching this movie and reviewing the research it held, one could draw the conclusion that state run public schools are actually discouraging independent thinking, and programming students to all think the same exact way - the way the curriculum directs them to. While there are good, moral teachers in public schools, often they are hampered by the constraints placed on them by their curriculum, the testing process, the school boards, their supervisors, and their unions.

What did we think? I was compelled by much of the research. I admittedly was shocked by some of the values curriculum that was taught in the classroom, particularly to the younger grades. Though I have experience as a former public school student, and as a youth worker that interacts with public school students, I found a greater understanding of why some things happen the way they do, and why some students respond the way they do. My husband, a youth pastor, stated that this movie gave him a greater and deeper understanding  of what he already believed. What I really liked about this movie is that it presented facts and allowed you to draw your own conclusion. While I admittedly came to the movie biased in favor of home schooling, knowing factual evidence is very helpful to reinforce that commitment and to bolster the conviction that the educational path we have chosen is indeed the best choice for our family.

How to purchase: The IndoctriNation DVD can be purchased in Spanish or English and is currently selling for $19.95. There is also a 372 page paperback book that chronicles the details of the journey and research that was done for the movie. Another option is to view IndoctriNation online through purchase or renting.

For more information, follow these social media sites:

Read what other members of the Crew thought by clicking this banner below:

IndoctriNation DVD Review

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Studying Chemistry a Fun Way

While working through Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics from Apologia, we completed these two very fun projects this week.

First, a complete table of the elements made entirely from sugar cookies!

We had a lot of fun reviewing all the different elements as they were written on the cookies, as well as spelling out names and words with the cookies afterwards. We ate the 'poisonous', most deadly elements and didn't even get sick!

We also built a water molecule out of candies and paper plates. The larger plate represents oxygen and the two smaller plates represent hydrogen atoms, of course. Protons, neutrons, and electrons are present inside the atoms.

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Fun Historical Fiction for Kids


Today's post is brought to you by Kelly, a 4th grader, who would like to make a historical fiction book recommendation. This review of "Kate and the Spies" is completely written in her own words, and she hopes that young people who might be looking for a good book for their book reports would consider choosing this one!

                                                                                                                                                                          Kate and the Spies was written by JoAnn A. Grote. This Christian fiction book has 141 pages.      

      Kate and the Spies is about eleven-year-old Kate and her adventures in Boston during and after the Boston Tea Party. She is trying to figure out if she is a Patriot or Loyalist. Her family is Loyalist and her cousins are Patriots. Kate’s father and her Uncle Jack argue a lot because they both think that their own opinion is right. Colin, Kate and Susanna, Colin’s sister, were delivering medicine to the Redcoats and they met Lieutenant John Andrews, who was a very nice man. Uncle Jack was a printer. One day Lieutenant Rand, a mean officer, was yelling about what Uncle Jack had printed. LT. Rand almost drew his sword. A little while later the soldiers made the Boston men build a wall across the ‘Neck’ where Boston was getting its food and supplies. Later Kate and Colin become spies for the Patriots. They helped a Redcoat, who decided to be a deserter, sneak out of Boston before the start of the American Revolution.       

         My favorite part of this book is when Kate realizes that even though she is a little girl, she can still make herself useful. Also, when Colin and she overheard the British troops’ plans and are able to tell Mr. Paul Revere, who was then able to warn the city. I would recommend this book if you are a girl and like ‘on the edge of your seat’ stories about war.       

                                                   Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Taking Back My Home Week Six

Continuing on the de-cluttering mission, I finished several projects this week, as Michele challenged us to "tie up loose ends" in the kitchen. I had several of those so I got busy. 

My missions this week included finishing up some of my cabinets to make room for storing some stuff that just always seems to be out on the counters. After reading that the solution to counter clutter was to make a storage space for those items, I set about doing just that. Several items were parted with, ending up in the donation box. I chose a few items that I have not used in years, and probably won't use anytime soon, and listed them on ebay. 

One of my big accomplishments was a total organization of my spice cabinet. I also found a great recipe from the recipe challenge last week, and made it. 

Michele encouraged us to tackle the dreaded oven and microwave cleaning and I checked both those off the list. 

Here's a picture of my recipe binder from last week: (forgot to post it!)

I have actually stretched beyond the kitchen this week, and have been trying to dedicate a small amount of time everyday to skimming over other areas of the house and choosing several items to de-clutter or clean up. 

So far this week, I have listed at least a dozen books on and actually sold three already! These were books that have just been taking up space on the shelf. I also found several books that were borrowed and returned them to their happy, rightful owners. We even gifted a few books as well. 

My whole family comments on the progress I am making with taking back the home. They are all enjoying the new look, and that makes it all worth it to me! One of the children even took it upon herself to start de-cluttering her own things, and has made some giant steps at thinning out her 'stuff' through donating and gifting to bless others. 

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Organizing the Spice Drawer

Anyone who regularly spends time cooking knows how helpful it can be to have all your spices close at hand and readily accessible while you are preparing food, and how frustrating it can be to not find exactly what you need at a moment's notice!

For a while, I kept all my spices in a small basket in a cupboard near the stove. Over time, the basket was filled to overflowing, and it became increasingly difficult to find what I needed. Money was wasted as I purchased doubles of spices, not knowing I already had them in the basket!

I decided to tame the spices and make them easily accessible and fun to use while cooking.

The first step came when we purchased a narrow cabinet that fit perfectly next to the stove. Because we found an unfinished one at a "seconds" store, we were able to get it very inexpensive, and paint it to match the rest of the kitchen cabinets.

The top drawer was the perfect depth for small baby food jars. Baby food jars also happen to be just the right size to hold the contents of a small, store-bought spice jar. I found a friend who goes through many baby food jars a week, and asked for all her extras. After washing them and removing the labels, I spray painted all the lids with black chalkboard spray paint and let them dry.

One idea I have previously seen was to write the names of the spices on the lids with chalk, so that they could be erased and re-purposed as necessary. This was my original project, but found that the chalk rubbed off too easily after only a short amount of time, so I decided to use a silver sharpie instead.

I chose all my most commonly used spices and arranged them in their new jars in alphabetical order right next to my stove. Often while I am cooking, I pull the drawer open and leave it that way. Everything I need to season my food is right at my fingertips!

Of course, there are some spices in my basket that I use only on an occasional basis, for canning or fall baking. So my basket is still necessary, but I was able to consolidate quite a bit, and make it much more user friendly! I also wrote the names of each spice on the lid, so that I could easily see what I had on hand.

In the cabinet space below my pull-out spice drawer, I was able to set up all my candy making supplies, as well as make space for my newly organized spice basket. Now all my little cooking helps are neatly organized in one spot in the kitchen!

Having small jars to hold the spices has allowed me to buy more spices in bulk containers and just refill my small containers as needed. This has already saved much money! Thanks to all this organization, there is also space to store the larger bulk spice containers as well.

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

GF/DF Old Fashioned Roast Beef Dinner

This week while sorting through and organizing old recipes for my 34 Weeks of Clean Challenge, I came across a recipe for a roast that I set aside to try 'someday'. That someday came! I just happened to have a lovely chuck roast ready to meet this recipe and engage in some wonderful camaraderie.

Since I was looking to make only one dish for dinner this day (instead of the usual 2 or 3 to accommodate our various allergies ) I modified the recipe to make it safe for all.

First, let me recommend our favorite butter that was used in both the mashed potatoes and the glazed carrots - it is a tasty dairy-free alternative. We use the soy-based one because it is safe for us, but there is a soy-free/dairy free option available as well, that is made of pea protein.

Now...the recipes:

Old Fashioned Beef Roast
A 3-4 lb beef chuck roast with fat trimmed
2 TBS Canola oil
1/2 c. safe barbecue sauce
1/2 c. peach chutney
1 TBS white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. water
2 TBS cornstarch

Rub meat with oil, then sprinkle with salt & pepper. Pour any remaining oil in the bottom of a dutch oven, and begin to warm it on the stove top over medium heat. Place the roast in the dutch oven, and brown the meat evenly on all sides.

In a separate bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, chutney, water, and vinegar, then pour over the meat in the dutch oven. Cover the dutch oven and leave on stove top, simmering about 2 hours or until meat is tender and has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Remove meat to a serving platter and loosely cover with a foil tent to keep it warm. Pour the meat juices into a pan and allow the fat to separate, skimming it off the top of juices. Return the leftover juices to the dutch oven. Mix corn starch with 1/4 c cold water until completely smooth with no lumps. Stir this corn starch paste into the meat juices and heat over medium temperature until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.

Slice the roast into 1/2" thick slices, and pour sauce over each piece before serving.

*If you do not have peach chutney, my recipe lists several suggestions that can be tried as substitutes. These are orange marmalade, grape jelly, or apple jelly. I do not know the outcome of those flavors, since I happened to have peach chutney in my fridge and was able to make the recipe in its original form.

*I had a 3.75 lb roast, and it made enough for 3 meals for my family!

Glazed Carrots
8 medium carrots
2 TBS safe butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 TBS fresh chopped parsley

Scrub carrots and peel if you wish. Slice them into 2" quarters.  Steam or simmer them in boiling salt water until they are crisp-tender. Drain completely.

In a skillet, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar until it is completely dissolved and starts to thicken. When the sauce starts to get bubbly, add the carrots and turn the temperature down to a low simmer. Gently stir the carrots into the glaze until they are completely coated and slightly softened. Sprinkle the parsley on just before serving.

Dairy Free Mashed Potatoes

A trick I learned a long time ago to make rich, creamy mashed potatoes without using any dairy was to mash the potatoes in the water that they were cooked in. After washing, peeling, and chopping my potatoes, I boil them in a pot full of water until they are very soft. Instead of draining the water out of the potatoes before mashing, I use a large cooking spoon and scoop potatoes and potato water out of the pot into a separate bowl. It is usually a bit of trial and error to get the right balance of potatoes and water, so I tend to add less water at first, and slowly add it in spoonful by spoonful as I am mashing, until the right consistency is reached.

I also stir in several tablespoonfuls of the Earth Balance 'butter' (pictured above) as well as salt and pepper to taste. The end product is a creamy bowl of mashed potatoes that is completely dairy free and safe for all my family!

Thanks Michelle at 34 Weeks of Clean for challenging us to find new meal ideas out of our current stash of recipes! 

I am also linking up with "Try A New Recipe Tuesday"

Copyright 2012-2015 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Taking Back My Home Weeks Four & Five

Due to an incredibly busy week, I am combining two challenges into one this case you noticed that I missed posting my progress last week! I have been sticking with the challenges though, and seeing lots of progress in my kitchen! In fact, it is nearing the completion of being completely decluttered and reorganized.

This week's big project is chronicled in pictures:

When I tackled clearing the clutter under my kitchen sink, I discovered that one of my pipes was leaking! Such a good thing that this project was on my declutter calendar! After removing all the 'stuff' under there, I found that the leak had pooled water underneath and that I had some mold to eradicate from the bottom of the cabinet. There had been a piece of vinyl flooring covering the bottom of the cabinet, but it needed to go.

I removed the vinyl, treated the entire cabinet with vinegar to get rid of the mold, and then located some leftover self-sticking vinyl tiles that were stored in my basement. Thankfully I had not decluttered them yet! My hubby cut some new plywood to fit on the bottom of the cabinet so we were working from a fresh new base. I cut the vinyl tiles to fit, then installed them. It gave the cabinet a whole fresh new appearance!

I then set about combining half bottles of cleaner, getting rid of anything that was unnecessary, and figuring out some new storage spots for things that really didn't belong under the sink in the first place.

When that was complete, I was able to fit what was left into two storage baskets, which slid nicely into my newly redecorated space under the sink!

Everyone in my family is loving the new look.

Other projects accomplished this week:

  • Complete de-clutter of the utensil drawer, silverware drawer, and gadget drawer. I found a bunch of stuff that, though it's a great idea, it's just not something I use. Those items went into the donation box. Other things were old and worn out, rendering them useless. There are a few things that I need to hold onto, because they are needed a few times a year. Those went into a nice see-through storage box and into the basement with other seldom used kitchen items. Overall...a huge success.
  • I also kept up with the refrigerator/freezer de-clutter and cleaning. Thankfully, I had done this not too long ago and try to keep up with it, so there wasn't a whole lot to throw out. I searched and found two packages of food in the freezer that were outdated and not wrapped well enough to try using anyways, so I ditched them. Thanks to my freezer cooking system, foods rotate through my freezer on a pretty regular basis, and I have different items assigned to different shelves, so there is not a whole lot of lost things in there.
  • The fridge got a nice deep cleaning. I found one stray hot pepper that had somehow slid out of the veggie drawer and made it's way to the back of the fridge. Yuck. Other than that it was pretty routine stuff, and I was very happy with the results. My fridge has glass shelves so when they are sparkly, it looks great! 
  • I picked through several cabinets and picked out some items that are not needed. Off they went to the donation box. I found several others that could be kept in a better location. I am loving all the new found space in my little kitchen.
  • We made another trip to the donation center, and gifted them with some great re-usable items.
  • My kids laughed and enjoyed looking at all their 'baby spoons' that I found in the back of the silverware drawer. We all decided that they could leave the house now, as they are no longer needed and have served us well.

Michelle's Challenge this week is to organize recipes. I have several binders that I keep printed recipes in, and a family recipe book that I write all our special recipes in that we have created. Other than that, I have taken to storing most of my recipes online, either on my Pinterest Board, or in a folder I have created on my desktop. I really like digitally organizing my recipes, and then pulling them up on the iPad when I am cooking. Since I have already organized about 90% of my recipes in this way, I am going to take this week to finish my kitchen cabinets and sort through my old cookbooks, deciding which ones I really want to keep, and either selling the rest on ebay or or donating them.

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