Sunday, April 4, 2021

Zone Cleaning Revisited

I've been familiar with the Flylady System for many years, and I even really appreciate it, however for some reason it has never worked for me. I might stick with it for a while, but I find it difficult to personalize and maintain. 

A year or two ago I discovered The Secret Slob on YT. She used the Flylady System to get control of her house, but recently I learned she went a step further and personalized it in a way that seems to work a lot better. So what's the difference? 

The Flylady divides a house in to 5 Zones as follows:
Zone 1: Entrance / Front Porch / Dining Room ... this falls on the first few days of the month, through the first Saturday / the last day of the partial week that is usually at the beginning of each month. For example: The month of April in 2021 just started; April 1st was Thursday, and today is Saturday, so today would be the last day in "Zone 1".
Zone 2: Kitchen ... this is the first full week of each month. Tomorrow is Sunday, the first day of the first full week in April 2021; Zone 2 is from Sunday, April 4th, thru Saturday, April 10th.
Zone 3: Main Bedroom / Extra Bathroom ... this is the second full week of each month.
Zone 4: Master Bedroom / Master Bath / Master Closet ... this is the third full week of each month.
Zone 5: Living Room / Den / TV Room ... this is the last few days of each month, from Sunday until the last day of the month. In this case, Sunday, April 25, to Friday, April 30th. 

In our example, the month of May 2021 begins on a Saturday, leaving no room for Zone 1 ... so in the Flylady system, deep cleaning in Zone 1 is skipped, and the first full week of May 2021 begins Sunday, May 2nd. You can either ignore Zone 1 altogether, which means no deep cleaning in that Zone for a full two months, or you can try to cram it in elsewhere.

Now for the Secret Slob's alterations. First, personalize your zones. I can think of 5 "zones" for my house, and they go something like this: 1. Kitchen 2. Closets 3. Bathroom & Pantry 4. Bedroom / Living Room / Dining Room 5. Outside [front and back porches, and any animal or barn or shop or shed area] ... you might have more zones, or less zones, and you will definitely have different zones than I have listed!! Make it fit your needs, your house, your family, your lifestyle.

Once you have your zones established, think of what deep cleaning needs done in each zone. Make a list of all the deep cleaning (by zone, of course!), and print out the list ... or hand write ... whatever. [after you've been through it a few times you will probably add things, or need to rearrange ... tweak it to suite what works for you, and then make a pretty copy if you want] Now you are ready to ZONE LOOP. 

Regardless of what week of the month you are in, you start with Zone 1 and do that zone for the whole week. You will NOT get around to doing everything on the deep cleaning list for that zone, so just choose what is most pressing. Set aside a set amount of time each week to spend in that particular zone. She suggests only one hour of deep cleaning in each zone, each week, so you do not get overwhelmed ... if that's what you want to do, just pick a day each week that you will do your hour of deep cleaning. I personally would schedule 2 days, about an hour each time, but not doing the whole hour or even both days if it's not needed. CROSS OFF the deep cleaning you accomplished in that zone that week, and then move on to the next zone next week. 

Eventually you will LOOP BACK AROUND to Zone 1. Grab your list and see what did not get done the last time you were in that zone, and start with the most pressing things. And so on.

This seems so much more functional and practical to me!! Why? Let's say you have a rough week, or you go on vacation, or you have an unexpected event that comes up and you need to focus on it instead of your zone. Simply push that Zone to the next week, and keep going. Nothing is skipped like in the Flylady system ... it just gets pushed back one week. 

What do you think? 

Here's the video if you want to watch it: The Ultimate Guide to Zone Cleaning from The Secret Slob

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Easy Sourdough Pizza Crust using only Sourdough Starter


It's that time of year again ... time to dump out the old leaven in preparation for the new!! According to the calendar I follow, this Friday [Thursday at sundown] marks Passover day / Preparation day, and this Saturday [Friday at sundown] marks the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread [which makes this Sunday the day of First Fruits / Resurrection Day and the "first day of the week" a.k.a. the first day of the Feast of Weeks a.k.a. the start of the countdown to Pentecost]. This morning I used up most of my leaven / starter making my favorite sourdough pizza crust dough, and I took what was left (what I normally would feed and store for future use) and made pizza for lunch. This is NOT a fancy, perfect pizza crust, but it works just fine and it's a nice way to use up any leaven that needs used ... in this case, the remaining of the leaven I got started after the last Feast of Unleavened Bread last year. 

I added a splash of avocado oil and a teaspoon of Italian seasonings for flavor in the crust ... since it's straight leaven, there is no flavor, so it's nice to have a little something in it! I got the pizza stone heating in a 450* oven [if you do not have a stone to pre-heat, that's ok ... just use your favorite baking sheet], and assembled the personal-size pizza on parchment paper that was set on a wood cutting board [I actually have a pizza peel ... not sure why I didn't just use that ;) ] for easy moving. 

Spread the leaven / sourdough starter out evenly in whatever shape you desire. Spread sauce over that, toppings, and then your cheese of choice. Bake in a preheated 450* oven until done. In this case, my personal-size pizza took about 10 - 12 minutes ... I was not timing it.

That's it. Sooooo easy. 

Why not do it like this every time? You can if you want!!! But, I REALLY prefer my normal sourdough pizza crust recipe. I use this guy's recipe: Patrick Ryan's No Fuss Sourdough Pizza ... but my changes are: NO added modern yeast, sub avocado oil instead of olive oil, and instead of "strong flour" I use unbleached spelt flour. I divide the weight total amount of dough into 5 or 4, depending on how big I want the crusts, and make 5 or 4 balls. He says 200g balls, but I found that left a little dough over, so that's why I just divide evenly. 


Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Good and The Beautiful Pre-K Language Arts Course Set: flip through and thoughts

 A few years ago I discovered The Good and The Beautiful homeschool Curriculum and really appreciate it. I actually purchased History 1 and High School Language Arts 1 for myself and am enjoying it :) 

During their recent Early Bird sale for next school year, I purchased a few more reader books for me (and grandchildren when they are older) as well as their Pre-K Language Arts Course set for my grandchildren. I pray this post is helpful for those who are looking in to purchasing this for your preschoolers!

My initial thought: I love it! Some of the pictures are animated BUT they are not silly or stupid. I'd call them "cute", "peaceful", "friendly", and other similar, happy adjectives.  Some of the pictures in the main Course Book are actual paintings, and usually there are instructions for some kind of simple picture study (think: Charlotte Mason). Sooooooo nice! So beautiful. 

Here is a photo of the Course Book, Activity Packet, Doodles & Pre-Writing, the Letters flip books, as well as two additional / optional flip books I decided to purchase: Butterflies and Beetles.

The next four photos are of the INSIDE of the Course Book ... I just chose them at random:

A peak inside the Letters A-F flip book ... first is the cover, and then I show what it looks like when you open it up. That's followed by the proper "flipped" flaps (?! not sure how to word that). Then the final 2 photos are of letter D with the proper "flipped" flaps. :)
NOTE: To keep costs lower, there is some work involved getting things set up initially ... in this case, parents are instructed to cut along the dotted lines so the pages turn in to flaps that can flip. 

Doodles & Pre-Writing - this book is packed with lots of practice for preschoolers!! I really like it a lot! I especially appreciate how most of the pages actually teach more than just tracing dots / dashes. 

Now for the Activity Packet ... this is definitely the most time-consuming item to set up in the Pre-K Languages Arts Course!! Thankfully it's a one-time deal ... meaning, cut it out and that's it. The pages are thick card stock with a slick coating, however for extra durability I chose to laminate everything. So, first I cut everything out, then I laminated it, and then had to cut it all out from the laminated pouches. Yes, it took a few hours, but I believe it's worth it for longevity. 
Note: I'm included photos of every activity in the packet.
Note: The Course Book has other activities within the book itself, but it also will point you to one of these activities when appropriate. 

A photo of the laminating process ...

Once everything was laminated and cut out, I separated each game and instructions into their own bags.

Beetle Flip Book ... the first page shows all of the beetles with their names. 

Here's what it looks like right after you flip the first page over: 

And then the matching flap: 

Butterfly Flip Book ... same as the Beetle Flip Book.

So there you have it! I plan to purchase a special bin for all of this and label it. We have not actually used it yet since I wanted to get it totally set up first. Now that it's set up, minus the bin, hopefully we'll put it to use soon. While my oldest grandchild, David, fits within the recommended age range of 3 to 5 years old, he might not quite be ready for all of it. We'll see!!

Monday, March 15, 2021

An experiment

 This is an experiment to see if I can post video clips to my blog ... let me know if you can view it!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Batch Cooking ... or something like that

A shortcut that I use often: I like to make several bags of the dry ingredients to my most-used cookie recipe so it's more motivating to make cookies on a whim; the individual bags are stored together in a bigger ziploc bag. Whenever I see that I'm about to use up the last bag, I make more. Also, I keep the recipe card INSIDE of the bag of bags. This saves time since I do not have to pull out, put away, and clean up after all of the dry ingredients each time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Leftover Makeover: Grilled Steak turned Vegetable Beef Soup

Quite by accident last year I discovered that leftover grilled steak tastes really good in vegetable beef soup ... so now I have one more idea for using up leftover grilled steak. Other ideas: quesadillas, steak fried rice, steak gravy over mashed potatoes, steak tacos, steak lo mein, steak stir-fry. 

I really do not have a set recipe for veg beef soup, so I'll just tell you what I did this time. I used 1qt of flavorful beef bone broth, a few teaspoons of thyme, a good squirt of Bragg's, 4 ribs of celery (minced), and a 10oz pack of frozen mixed veg (the organic option from Aldi), buckwheat groats, and of course: leftover steak. I think the steaks started off at about 12oz before being grilled. I had marinated them in an experimental homemade "streak taco" marinade before grilling ... made for super yummy tacos AND veg beef soup!

Easy. Delicious. Satisfying. 

Monday, March 8, 2021

Freezer Meal: Beef, Cabbage, and Rice


Beef, Cabbage, and Rice has been a meal at the top of my family's "Favorite Meal List" for a few decades. Back when we were really broke, I would have to use lentils instead of beef, or do half and half. I'm just sharing that to say: lentils will work in place of beef if that's your thing or that's your need.

You may use purple / red, or green cabbage. For the beef: a little tip ... Aldi's grass fed, grass finished, organic ground beef is SO DELICOUS and definitely worth the extra dollar or two if you can afford it. My rice of choice in general is: Aged [white] Basmati Rice. I choose the stuff that's grown in India and an Indian brand because in my mind surely they must know how to do it properly?! I could be totally wrong though. Whatever the case, aged basmati rice is gentle on your digestion and not as hard on your blood sugar as your typical white rice.

Ingredients for freezing:
*3lbs Lean Ground Beef, cooked (I do not drain my ground beef since it's so high quality)
*Small-diced cabbage color of choice - enough to fill up a glass 8c measuring bowl to heaping (so, I'm guessing here: ~10 full cups of small-diced cabbage). I cannot say "2 heads of cabbage" because every head of cabbage is different ... some are really tight and heavy while others are really loose and light. So, I'll say: 2 tight [medium] heads of cabbage or 3 loose [medium] ones. 
*1 stick of butter (I prefer grass fed, organic, etc)

Melt the stick of butter in a small, heavy-bottom stock pot. I use my 4qt stock pot which actually holds about 5qts. Add the small-diced cabbage and about 1T salt. Mix well. Once it really gets to cooking, turn the heat down to low or medium low (just be careful not to burn it) and allow to simmer for about 20-30 minutes. You might need to add 1/4c-1/2c of water just to make sure it does not burn. I prefer my cabbage WELL COOKED ... but you are welcome to cook yours to your liking.

Once it's cooked, remove from the heat and mix in the cooked ground beef. Allow to sit until completely cooled down (you do not want to put hot food into ziploc bags). 

Since I usually only feed myself and one other person at this season in my life, I put 2 servings in each bag. For me, that's 12oz total of beef & cabbage mixture, or about 2 cups. I used to label each bag, but now I label a gallon-size bag and put the smaller bags into the gallon-size bag. In the photo above: there IS one bag that is labeled, but that's to give to someone else.

Beef & Cabbage
Make 3/4c dry rice 

To serve: I like to make rice in homemade bone broth for extra nutrition. For those who do not know how to make rice, here's my  method:
White rice -1:1.5 rice to liquid
Brown rice -1:2 rice to liquid
RINSE the rice well ... I rinse it about 3 times. Melt ghee or other heat-stable fat in a heavy-bottom pan (for my 3/4c amount I use my 1qt sauce pot). If you are making rice for something else and want to add some spices, first sauté the spices in the ghee. Add the strained rice and sauté until the rice begins to "toast" (you will notice a difference and it will smell yummy). Then add the liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down as low as you need to in order to achieve a gentle simmer. Do not remove the lid. Start the time once you know it's simmering properly. White rice: 20 minutes. Brown rice: 40 minutes. When the time is up, remove the sauce pan from the heat but allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Heat the beef and cabbage mixture in a pot that will fit the beef and cabbage AND the rice. To do this: I just add a little bit of water or stock to the bottom of a pan, then the beef and cabbage (thawed is much easier), a lid, and let it sit there on low while the rice is cooking.

Mix it all together. Serve with Bragg's, Tamari, or another soy sauce of choice.