Monday, November 30, 2020

Shop local, virtually

Mikelly Farms wants to help you #shopsmall this holiday season. We are collaborating with our favorite local Bloomington, MN coffee shop West Side Perk and a group of other great vendors in a Virtual Pop-Up Shop December 1-18th, 2020!  

Vendors include:  
Kaleidoscope Kitty Jewelry  Give them a like on Facebook  or follow them on Instagram @kaleidoscopekitty_designs.  Go there for unique jewelry and spun creations including kitty tree ornaments!

Blue Heron Soaps brings you cold processed, hand poured soaps made with natural plant ingredients. Like them on Facebook and follow them at Instagram @blueheronsoaps. 

Denise Thoen's Handmade Cards are featured on  West Side Perk's website.  She has a beautiful card 6-pack special!  

Be sure to like & follow West Side Perk's Facebook page and on Instagram @westsideperk. Drive through for great beverages and treats, or take your beans to go.

If you haven't followed Mikelly Farms, we're on instagram @mikellyfarms and Facebook. Give our pages a like! Check out our website for great mason jar and vintage glass soy candles, essential oils and other gifts. Visit our Etsy shop for naturally made and other fun farm favorites.

Enter to win a gift basket of handmade items.  Lucky winner will be announced on December 18th!

To Enter:
1. Like and follow our vendors on social media.  Ok, it's not a pre-requisite, but it's sure a great thing to do for small businesses!  Use the links above.
2. Place an order with any of the listed vendors. (You get one entry in the gift basket drawing each time you buy from a different vendor).  When you place an order with Mikelly Farms and indicate customer pickup at West Side Perk, you will be entered.  Pick up dates are on Saturdays & Sundays the week after you order.  Dec 5-6, 12-13 and 19-20th from 11-3pm. Address: 7700 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington MN. (Watch for a confirmation email with your pick up date). 
3. Pick up your order at West Side Perk  (avoid shipping costs, safe pick up, you can even grab your order in the drive-thru!) 
4. Purchase a Gift Card at West Side Perk when you pick up your order (20% off all gift card sales) and get another entry in the drawing.
5. Check back here or on West Side Perk's Facebook page for the winner announcement on Saturday December 19th!

Find some unique, handmade gifts and support your local small businesses!  

For 10% off your cart at Mikelly Farms, enter coupon code POPUP10 at checkout. Be sure to choose West Side Perk for pick up and add a note to let us know you'll be picking up at the Perk! You can also choose paid shipping and send our candles anywhere you'd like (in the US).

Friday, November 6, 2020

Freezing Peanut Pumpkin

Peanut pumpkin
We had so many fun pumpkins at the farm this year! A newbie to the bunch is the heirloom peanut pumpkin. They look so cool and taste just as great.
The pumpkin peanut is actually a squash. (What? Yes, I am going to trick my squash haters into eating squash!) The peanuts are excess sugar in the flesh, which makes for a sweet treat. 

We whipped up peanut pumpkin puree to use in our pumpkin recipes this winter. Peanut pumpkin bakes much like a butter nut squash, but it's a little less sweet and not quite as dry - eat it any way you like! 

Here's how we did it: 
1 - Cut your peanut pumpkin in half
2 - Scoop out the seeds and such
3 - Cut the halves in half (so you're working with quarters) 
4 - Place the peanut pumpkin quarters on a cookie sheet (jelly roll style with edges) 
5 - Bake on 350F for 40-60 minutes until the flesh is soft 
6 - Scoop the baked, soft flesh out and puree
7 - Allow the puree to drain through a metal (wire) strainer (20-30 minutes) 
8 - Freeze (we like to use a vacuum sealer to reduce freezer burn and the space needed to store) 

When you're ready to use your puree, thaw and use similar to canned pumpkin. This may be a little runnier, depending on how much liquid strained out - feel free to strain again before using after you thaw the peanut pumpkin.




Sunday, October 25, 2020

Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa

Winter came early this year in the midwest. With over 6" of snow last week, we had to do the sad work of pulling the late bloomers out of the garden. We leave our tomatillos, carrots and beets until the very end. Despite a peculiar growing season, the tomatillos did not disappoint! 

Tomatillos need a long grow season, 75 to 100 days, and they need friends. Unlike tomatoes, tomatillos are not self-pollinating, so plan to plant them in multiples. Hardy in zones 8-10, this means starting your seeds inside if you want your plants to produce before the snow flies. The tomatillo is ready to pick and eat when it's filled out its husk - the husk begins to turn yellow and dry out. 

We plant tomatillos for one reason - green hell salsa (a.k.a. chipotle tomatillo salsa!) Green hell is the type of salsa that allows you to turn up the heat or keep it cooler. We were first introduced to this salsa on a trip to California ten years ago -- it took a few days to get used to the peppers. We modify it slightly depending on who will be eating it! 

This salsa keeps great in the fridge or canned. Tomatillos are a little sweeter than tomatoes and can be used in a number of dishes to provide an acidic balance. We also freeze it to use in white chicken chili throughout the winter (YUM!) 

The key ingredients - fresh veggies and great cumin. We love Penzey's ground cumin. Good spices make a huge difference in recipes! Feel free to hold back a chipotle pepper or add just a little habanero pepper at a time, to perfect your fire level! The adobe sauce balances the salsa with a hint of bbq, but don't let it fool you - those chipotle peppers pack a punch. If cumin isn't your thing, substitute it for your favorite salsa spices. 

1 pound tomatillos, cut into quarters
1 habanero pepper, sliced into two (use the seeds and all!) 
1 onion (white or yellow), chopped
3 garlic cloves 
1 or 2 chipotle chili peppers in adobo sauce 
the juice of one lime (or a little more if you like the kick!)
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup cilantro (if you do not like cilantro, replace with basil or use only parsley)
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 T cumin (use cumin to taste, you may like a little more or a little less) 

Add ingredients to food processor. Chop, then blend. Your salsa should not be chunky, but will have seeds. 

Enjoy with corn chips, on tacos, or anything else that needs a kick!


Thursday, October 15, 2020

Gingersnap Cookies - Gluten Free Style

There may not be a better food season! Those delicious, spicy fall baked goods capture my heart. 

I have a couple of recipes that have been converted to gluten free versions that get gobbled up as quickly as their gluten filled counter parts. But, we all need a new adventure now and again! 

-2 large eggs
-3/4 cup softened (not melted) butter
-1 cup granulated sugar (divided into two 1/2 cups) 
-1/2 cup light brown sugar
-1/3 cup molasses
-2 1/4 cups gluten free flour (see flour notes below) 
-2 teaspoons ground ginger
-2 teaspoons cinnamon 
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-parchment baking paper 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and brown sugar using a mixer. Add eggs and molasses until well combined. 

In a small bowl, mix together the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, sea salt, and baking soda. Add this to the sugar, eggs, and molasses mixture and mix well.

Add the gluten free flour and mix well until all of the ingredients are combined. The dough will be slightly wet. Cover the dough in the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, until the dough is just a bit stiffer.

Roll the cookie dough into 1" balls. Roll each cookie dough ball in the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Place the cookie dough ball on baking sheet lined with parchment baking paper. (No stick and easy clean up!) 

Bake for 15 minutes or until the cookies crackle and begin to flatten out. Allow your cookies to cool on the baking sheet, then enjoy! (We can hardly wait this long!!) 

Gluten free flour notes: Flour matters! Your flour mixture should also have xanthan gum. If it doesn't, add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to your flour mixture. If your flour mixture tends to create recipes that run a bit on the dry side, use 2 Tablespoons less flour mixture in the recipe or add 1/4 cup sour cream. Sour cream is a great binder that will bring many of your gluten free baked goods together! 

We love this gluten free flour and didn't change a thing in this recipe.


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

It's fall and we're ready for pumpkins!

We've tried quiet a few gluten free pumpkin spice bar recipes, but couldn't find one that was as good as our old trusty recipe. That's the struggle with reimagining life without gluten -- it's similar, but not quite the same. Isn't that the theme of 2020? 

We finally have a gluten free pumpkin bar recipe that everyone in the house loves!

To get started: set the cream cheese, butter and eggs out ahead of time to bring them to room temperature. 

-4 large eggs
-1 cup brown sugar, packed
-1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
-1 cup vegetable oil
-1 15oz can pumpkin puree
-2 cups gluten free flour blend (see notes below)
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/4 teaspoon ground clove 

-1 8oz package softened cream cheese 
-1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (salted butter also works if that's what you have!) 
-2 to 3 tablespoons milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together: 

In a small mixing bowl, stir the dry ingredients together: 
-Gluten free flour blend
-Baking powder
-Baking soda

Stir the dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredient mixture. Pour the batter into your prepared
9" x 13" pan & spread the batter out evenly.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle of the pumpkin bars comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely before frosting. 

Cream cheese frosting is our favorite part!  

Place the room temperature butter and cream cheese into a medium mixing bowl and beat the mixture with a mixer until combined.  

Add milk and vanilla to the butter and cream cheese mixture. Beat until combined. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time and beat until combined. The cream cheese frosting will be creamy and delish! Use a spatula to spread the frosting over the cooled pumpkin bars. 

Pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting
A couple of notes: this recipe does not turn out as well with a straight almond flour. Almond flour is heavy and the center sinks. Flour matters! Your flour mixture should also have xanthan gum. If it doesn't, add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to your flour mixture. If your flour mixture tends to create recipes that run a bit on the dry side, use 2 Tablespoons less flour mixture in the recipe or add 1/8 cup sour cream. Sour cream is a great binder that will bring many of your gluten free baked goods together! 

We love this gluten free flour and suggest using 2 Tablespoons less flour in the bars recipe for this flour.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

You're Enough

These last couple of months have really forced me to think about enough. When is enough, enough? What is enough? I am enough? Are we doing enough?  Do we have enough?

One word. It's SO big.

There's so much brilliance and trauma wrapped up in that word. A cup overflowing as a child tries to pour himself milk for the first time. A full heart, enjoying the love of a favorite person. A humble being, happy with what is. A parent who has done all that can be done and is at her wits end. A human who is perfect in their imperfection, just as they are. The one who gives everything, but has nothing, so others can find joy. Enough.

Enough has two camps. We don't always get to live in one. I really wish I could take up permanent residence in the enough = minimalist in regard to stuff camp, so I could show up big and great in other ways. Minimalist mindset, damn that's hard to do. I keep reminding myself, live simple. Yep - this is a work in progress.

The other camp, well that one is harder to adjust because it's heart work. These last few months at home, being the everything to everyone has been draining. You may have hit this trench recently too. It's hard to get out when you are tired and everyone needs something. Is a shiny new project going to be too much or just enough? How does my enough stack up to yours? When do I just have to let go and let others support. If I do let go, will I still be enough? Yes, you will. Even if it's the same old enough. You are enough. You are exactly as you were meant to be.

Here's an example: you have a drawer of great socks. They do their job. They show up for you. Some are fancy, some are work horses, some are terrible and you only wear them at Christmas time for aunt Bess, others are just there because well, you can't part with them because they haven't really done anything wrong. You have your most favorite pair and you love those socks, they are the BEST socks. You have enough. You have a favorite, go to, ugly pair of socks...until later that day when you see something shiny. Even though there was nothing wrong with the best socks, they are no longer enough. You don't need new socks, but you get some, and then the new socks become the best socks with a hole in your pocket where the money once was.

Although it's my heart that's struggling with being enough as a person, I swear I'm like a sock. I actually don't really like socks, but I like what they stand for. Dependable (usually, until I am not). Part of a pair, but don't mind going solo for a while. Adaptable - can be paired with other unlike socks and still be functional. Flexible - can be sewn back together if needed or turned in to something entirely different, fabulous, and unique. Cozy, yet full of expression and grounding. If it's not enough, add another layer to support. The sock is what it is. It's enough.

That last piece - that support, being enough. Oh that's tough. The socks that don't seem like enough anymore, they get tossed to the back of the drawer.

We do this to ourselves, too.

When we try to get it all done. When we deny support. When we compare ourselves to other people. When we let other people define our brilliance. When we forget that just as we are, that's enough.

Today, start just where you are standing. Close your eyes. Take in a deep breathe. Do it again. Listen to the world around you. Allow those sounds, the ones that right now may be pushing you over the edge, to bring you joy. Let your heart smile. Absorb the greatness in the sunshine, the peace in the breeze blowing, or the rhythm of the rain fall. Just as you are, reading this right now, know that you are enough. Especially if you have mismatched holey socks on.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Managing the Distance - Learning, Work, Family

What's worse than every media and social media moment being spent on COVID-19? The reality of working from home, supporting education from home, and finding your new norm as a family.

It is not easy redefining roles, space, and schedules. We are having to let go of just a little bit of what we knew, to create space for what we now know. And you know what? Letting go is a process. A grieving process. So, if you're struggling, that's normal and absolutely okay. 

I'm held hostage, I'm struggling, now what? 
Good question.

Take a step back. You might be two weeks in to distance learning, or a month into working from home. It's never too late to take a step back and assess. Ask your tribe - what's working and what isn't working? Sans tribe, reflect on what is stressful in your life right now, what you have control over, and what little changes you could make to increase the tolerability of our situations.

Do what Elsa does - let it go, let it go! 
If you're like us, your schedule runs pretty tight. It's been difficult to leave that routine behind. Letting go is our place to start.

Let go of what used to be, at least for a little while. The path, pace, time and place for learning, work and family time has changed. Trying to hang on to the way you used to do things will make you crazy. Allow a different schedule unfold, one that is do-able. 

Schedules are not permanent. If something isn't working, change it. There is no harm in taking care of yourself mentally, spiritually and physically. Trying to do it all and be as great as the next person takes its toll. Grieve, reflect, renew a little every day, until you find yourself in a place that works.

Set up your space
One of the hardest parts of staying at home during this time is finding space. Space for new routines. Space for school at home. Space to work. Space to breathe

Work together to carve out a work space for each person based on what they need to do. A blanket fort is a great way to have a reading nook that each child gets some time in. A standing work station will help to keep your busy child engaged. A brain break station will provide for some non-academic time...a list of high impact exercises (jumping jacks, push ups) or a yoga YouTube video will help your wiggly one refocus. Keep it simple. Keep it scheduled. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. 

Put your people to work 
You are not the only person who knows how to do the things. You might like to do the things a certain way at a certain time, but to survive the new norm, engage your tribe. If nothing else, they will come away with some incredible new life skills! I promise you, if our teenager can do the laundry, refill prescriptions, and make dinner, your teenager can add some value to your routine as well. It's not about comparison, do what works for your family. 

Create a jobs list. Each person chooses one that they want to do. You assign one that you need them to do. Continue the process until the jobs are divided. Then conquer! This might even include homework. 

If your tribe isn't in your house, collaborate with friends, family, co-workers, to support each other with the tasks we have. It's amazing the talents we possess collectively and how much we can get done when we bring those talents to the table to share. (P.S. This includes distance learning - find a pal who can support your people in a particular subject and support theirs back in another...relief for everyone!) 

The "master" schedule
Start over. Scaffold the schedule to support only when needed. Assign meals. Keep it simple. 

Divvy out jobs that children can do independently. Assign buddies for jobs that are more difficult so they can support each other to get it done.  Embrace the lack of perfection that's going to happen as they start to blaze their own trails - it's coming. You know it is! 

Assign activities in chunks of time. Empowering the littles to be independent gives you time for your own thing. It's hard to let some of what we have always done go, but I promise you, you'll thank yourself. When the struggle is real, know that you are not alone. Lean on a friend or family member to support your people virtually - help with homework, read a bedtime story, just connect for belly laughs. 

Include tech free down time. One of the most incredible opportunities we have right now is to revisit our creativity. You know, that thing you had when you were young that kept you busy outside, in the neighborhood until dark. It's okay not to be the entertainment for your people all day long. Let them struggle a bit to find their creative space. Encourage discovery and exploration in a book, with crayons, dressing up, building legos, putting together a puzzle, writing a play, singing a song, doing the things that make our hearts happy. 

Some of us need a to do list. This is a great way to support our children with a self guided list of expectations for the day. It removes the struggle and creates space for independence. Include times only for those things that are time bound, such as a school attendance check in. Remember that you may need to operate outside the norm in order for each person to contribute and get their jobs done for the day. Use pictures for those who are emerging readers. Above all - do what works for your family. 

Celebrate the Wins
In all of this chaos, celebrate the wins. If you're struggling to see these, set small goals that you know are attainable. Acknowledge when you're there - you survived the day! Talk about the highs and lows for the day over dinner or at bed time. Share what was fabulous and what you're going to work on the next day. EAT THE CHOCOLATE if you need to! This is hard, we all deserve a little extra love. 

Acknowledge this new adventure, one you've never taken before, and give imperfection permission to exist. We aren't going to get this right the first time...maybe not even the second time. Stop the train when it's not working and change the path. (Are you feeling like this is a crazy train? I'm feeling like this is a crazy train!) If you don't get it all in today, let it go and move on to tomorrow anew. Be gracious to yourself. To others. You will get there. We will get there. Together. 


Sunday, March 22, 2020

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Spending a little more time at home and having to cook EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL. has stretched my imagination and quite honestly, my behavior skills, too.

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin on a small jadeite plateI've been making the same banana chocolate chip muffins for quite a few years, because the peeps love them. Since the middle age body gluten free revolt began, I haven't been able to enjoy them. I have a thing for breakfast. What I really want are recipes that everyone will eat. It's definitely too much work to duplicate everything gluten into a gluten free option as well (not to mention the cost).

I have tried quite a few recipes and they still come out grainy and gross. Until yesterday!

Last summer, my mom found PremiumGoldFlax products at a market in ND. You know how we love to share simple products that work! I have tried quiet a few of their products and have had great success. Free delivery when you order online and stock up, too!

One of my discoveries during my baking experiments has been that these gluten free flours are heavy. Many of them tend to be a little more gritty. And, they need some help to be all that they can be.

For this recipe, I replaced my regular (wheat) flour with the Baking & Pizza Flour. I also added a little Zanthan gum and sour cream. Why? Binding. Wheat flour tends to have a smoother consistency. Gluten is also a binder. It traps the beautiful gases that make our baked goods rise. It gives our goodies their togetherness, but with a soft, fluffy, chewy texture. Let me tell you how much I miss gluten!

I've also found that if your recipe calls for baking soda or baking powder, you need a little bit more. Not a LOT more (poof!), but just enough to get that heavier dough rising.

I've also found that adding sour cream or room temperature cream cheese can help to bind the ingredients together if your dough is grainy (you'll know - your baked goods will be grainy, too). It's all about the proteins friends, that bind us together.

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons regular cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (not needed if your flour mix already has this in it)
2 cups gluten free flour mix (Baking & Pizza Flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 to 1 cup mini chocolate chips (regular also work) - add last

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Add the chocolate chips. Fill muffin tins almost to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

(Depending on the flour you use, you may need to bake a little longer - watch for brown tops that are fluffed up with no soft spots).

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of cinnamon
1/2 to 1 cup mini chocolate chips (regular also work) - add last

Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix. Add the chocolate chips. Fill muffin tins almost to the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Make mouths happy and serve them warm.

Enjoy! XO

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Self Care in Chaos

Staying healthy is on all of our minds lately. Self care is one of those things we forget to do when life gets chaotic. Yet, it's one of the best ways you can keep your mind, body and spirit healthy every day.

If you've got your toilet paper and sanitizer situation under control, then you're ready for self care!
Seriously, you need the self care even if you don't have three years of supplies in storage. The goal is to bring your stress down a few notches and take some time for you.

Why now? We just don't do enough self care. It's hard to make healthy changes and stick with them. Life is stressful. We are busy. And, many of us are caregivers...we just forget about ourselves.

Start simple: 
1. Take a nature walk.
2. Do something crafty.
3. Watch a funny movie or video - laughter is fabulous for the soul! Get those endorphins movin'.
4. Read something that's been on your read pile for a while.
5. Do yoga. (Sub yoga for any exercise that lifts your mood and brings you calm).
6. Spend 5 minutes stretching at the beginning and end of your day.
7. Make a big pot of soup and freeze some, to take a load off of yourself for dinner later.
8. Take a snooze.
9. Use a salve infused with calming essential oils to give a massage and get a massage.
10. Color. Yes, color.
11. Take an virtual tour of an art museum.
12. Burn your fave candle or diffuse your favorite essential oil - aromatherapy has so many benefits!
13. Take a hot, relaxing bath.
14. Add some bright and beautiful flowers to your kitchen table.
15. Fix something broken that you've had stashed in a closet that needs your TLC.
16. Declutter and donate the things that would bless someone else's life to your favorite charity (such as Epilepsy Foundation - they pick up donations in most places).
17.  Have a dance party!
18. Connect with someone you haven't talked to in a while.
19. Pay it forward.
20. Crank the tunes - music you love will bring joy to your soul, a smile to your face, and a it gets your body moving.

heart clip art

So what's happening at our house today? Chicken soup, elderberry syrup, salves, loud music, an extra cup of coffee while the rest of the house sleeps in, and a good book. Self care really isn't about the list. It's about making time to allow yourself to restore and renew.

 Slow it down and keep it simple. You're worth it!


Monday, February 24, 2020

Naturally Clean

One of the challenges of simple living is how to keep the house clean and the space under the sink organized. It seems like something new that we must have to keep our homes clean pops up on the market every day claiming to be organic or natural - it's hard to know what to keep and what to avoid.

When we started this journey, (the chemicals) under the sinks were the first places I organized. I couldn't toss some of the chemicals in the beginning, for the most part because I just didn't know how to get rid of them safely. I had a side goal of reducing my footprint on our earth. I did some research and found that our community has a recycling center which also accepts household cleaners. Yay! Off we went, chemicals and old paint in hand.

With the junk that makes our skin go crazy out of the house, our next step was to figure out what worked just as well and what we could access easily. More research. Did I mention that you can't believe everything you read on the internet? There is so much bull-honky out there. My advice? Do what works for you and your family and start where it makes sense for you. Let go of the stuff you (almost) never use, first.

We started replacing harsh chemical cleaners with more natural-ish products that were premixed and easy to find (the local Tar-jay store.) Little by little we tried out our own mixtures and found that we get just as much clean, for pennies. Sorry, not sorry, Target.

A family fave is our Clean It spray. It's easy to make, I have all of the ingredients in my kitchen, and it truly costs less than a dollar. I much prefer the smell of vinegar over bleach, though bleach does have its place in our home. Clean It spray uses vinegar and essential oils to blast through just about everything.

Do be careful using this cleaner on wood surfaces. Because Clean It spray has lemon essential oil in it, it could damage wood surfaces (and some porous plastic ones too). We use this all over everything else - counter tops, the fridge, the laundry room, the bathroom, any place that needs a good clean.

Clean It Spray
1 - Start with a 16 oz. glass bottle. (Keep vinegar and essential oil mixtures in glass containers. We love the glass bottles from Grove Collaborative. They are inexpensive and have a silicone sleeve, so they stay put where you set them.)
2 - Add 1 3/4 cups distilled water. (You can use tap water. Our tap water is very hard, so it leaves spots. Distilled water does the trick!)
3 - Add 1/4 cup white vinegar.
4 - Add 20 drops On Guard essential oil and 10 drops Lemon essential oil. (We love these ones that you can order over here).

If you are a Thieves essential oil fan, use 20 drops of Thieves and 10 drops of Orange essential oil instead - Thieves has lemon in the oil blend already. 

Give it a good shake until you can see the essential oils sparkling through the bottle. You'll want to shake this spray up each time you use it as the oils will separate a bit from the water.

Clean away!


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Resetting the Crazy

About this time of year, I start missing the extra daylight, feeling a little restless, and I have the need to recenter. We make it through the holidays and there's no recovery time to organize the house, my thoughts, and the new year. This weekend, instead of traveling about the country side in a snow storm (which we like to do), we're staying home.

We have wanderlust spirits. It's hard to keep us in a place for too long. But, to be able to just pick up and go requires that the things are in order back home. Right now, amidst the actual snowstorm, life in general feels a little stormy because "there's just too much to do" is looming around the corner. Thankfully it's a four day weekend! 

I call this time, when I feel like I need to break free from the mountain on top of me, a time when I can feel the wind blowing. I know that I need to get in to gear, so I can reset the things that are overwhelming, but I haven't hit the clutch just yet.

It's time to recenter, to reset the crazy - in my mind, in my heart, in my house. Flip that order.

Declutter. We collect SO many things during the holidays by way of wonderful gifts. Now that the littles aren't little, it's hard to find a perfect gift for them. What we're learning is that the perfect gift is an adventure, an experience, rather than a thing. Life's a work in progress, right?

Donations help us clean out the closets, both our actual closet disasters and our the proverbial skeleton type ones. There's no time for new year's resolutions until you can clear the clutter and muck. Not only are we adventurers, we tend to be collectors of things. Maybe someday that'll make the resolution list, but not this year. Because of this, we have to be intentional about what we're going to keep and what just isn't working for us. (This is quite a challenge when the better half is a farmer at heart and he likes to keep all of the things, because we may need it someday for a project...sometimes he's right). In short - we have to make ourselves reset when things feel too crazy and cluttered.

Rule of thumb? If you haven't used it in a year and it is not packed with memories that you will reminisce over with your grandchildren, you don't need it. (Whoa mama, the stare downs involved in this process - you may need a helper, like I do, to do this). There are great things with so much more life in them, that others will find fabulous uses for. Where you bring new life to your things is up to you - garage sale, donate, gift to someone. The key is to get those things out - don't let them sit waiting to leave for very long.

Next up - paper. Put a hold on the paper insanity. Keep what you can't find digitally, get rid of the rest. Our refrigerator is a paper hoarder! Declutter. Reset. Throw things in to your calendar that are sitting around on post-it notes and handouts, so you don't forget the kids' deadlines, that kind of thing. I did not make time to do this with the school calendar this year. I cannot tell you how many surprise (to me) no school days we've had. It's January. I have now figured this out! We're about keeping it simple and baby steps over here, friends!

Organize. Here in the midwest, it's been about four months since we could keep the windows open and let the breeze in. It gets a bit frosty in here when we open things up in January, so I do a little deep clean to get the dust out instead. Deep clean the places that you don't usually go. This is also a great time to toss expired and out of use things in the bathroom. Oh the products we buy and ditch, that take up residence under the bathroom sink! Buh-bye dirt that gets there somehow and its clutter, too.

Now, let's be real. I do not deep clean my entire house in one day. I choose one place that's been bothering me and get it done. Most often, this seems to be the hallway closet and under the sink - anywhere that's going to give you a sense of accomplishment and increased space will do it!

Once you get down to simple, those things you absolutely need, the hardest part is not filling the space with more. This is also a work in progress, so I haven't any brilliant nuggets to share, except that I must ask myself daily - do I absolutely need this? The answer is usually no, even when I really want to go to Target and just fill my cart in peace!

Take a day. There's something to be said about feng shui. When the things are in order and the energy is flowing in your space, it gives you a sense of peace and motivation to allow that work for yourself. When our space is cluttered and busy, chaos tends to set in. If there's less around to make a mess, there are less messes. (Our teenager's bedroom is a prime example of this!)

In our house this means go through all the little trinkets, things we thought we'd use, ideas we thought would be good but meh, extra emails we don't need to receive, activities that stress us out, saying no to things that there just aren't time for - all the things. Reduce the things until it feels manageable to you personally. You'll know you've hit this point, because your spirit will start to wiggle into this little space of freedom and spread its wings. You'll actually start to feel lighter and I can promise you, you're going to want more of this!

Take a day to just be. It may not be a whole day, but you need a good amount of time to allow your body and brain to relax. I find that I need at least four hours. Two to goof around and kid myself, the other two to actually get down to it. A whole day by yourself is best, but is often like finding a four leaf clover.

You cannot do the day to just be until you've kicked some of the stuff, things, over-commitments, junk you don't need, things that do not serve you, people who bring you angst, out the door. Why? Your mind will continue to go back to those things and you will feel like you just can't find the time. Still, don't wait. There is no perfection in resetting. The goal is to make yourself a little space, so you can allow yourself the time to take a day.

Reflect on the work you want to do for you. These are also the things that bring you joy that you want more of. Celebrate your wonderful. It's so easy to get caught up in trying to be as good as or better than the next person. You yourself, you are enough. You are brilliant and accomplished just by being you! I promise. It's our own wacky that makes us an incredible piece of the life puzzle.

A little thought about the next person: We don't usually see each other's imperfections and tribulations. We work really hard as a society to be perfect and to keep those imperfections stored away neatly (closet cleaning needed on 5th Street!) Not one of us is perfect. Trying to be perfect alone will make you crazy. So many of struggle with this. If you're fighting this battle right now, start small. Choose one thing to let go. Just one. Be graceful with yourself, you won't let it go perfectly. It's a continuum - some days you will rock it and other days, let's face it, you're just going to have to hit reset and start letting it go anew. Let it go a little at a time until it's gone. Then select another. Slowly the freedom, joy, peace factor will fill the spaces where the thing you let go used to be.

Here's one that's hard for me, but oh so important. When I forget to do this, I get in a rut. To restart myself, I go through the process. Donate. Organize. Find a little peace. Then...schedule one thing in a week for you. You are as important as the other things on your calendar!

Some weeks, the one little thing is a cup of coffee in the morning while the rest of the house is sleeping. It's tromping about in the yard barefoot. It's spending fifteen minutes to just feel the sunshine on my face and warm my bones (they are getting older, they need more warmth!) It's taking all the post-it notes and putting the many things we do into my calendar. It's making candles. It's taking a nap. It's whatever slows life down a bit, connects me to the earth, and allows me to come back to - I got this.

What works over here may not work for you. Take any small step that feels good to you today. You got this!