Thursday, February 21, 2013

Goin' Crunchy~ Disinfectant Towels

Are you familiar with those disposable, disinfectant towelettes (yes that is a real word...) that come in the cylinder shaped containers. The very convenient, snap tight lid, pull the towelette through the perfect shaped space on top to use anywhere, anytime, for almost any cleaning emergency wonder invention? I love those things!

I used to have one in the bathroom, one in each vehicle, one in the kitchen.... I was a disinfectant towelette (yep still a word, feels weird typing it..) kinda gal. By now if you have read anything in my Goin' Crunchy section you know that I love a clean house. I also love fun cleaning supplies. I just enjoy the satisfaction and it was pretty much bred into me so it isn't going away anytime soon.

I have been, for about a year, searching out ways to clean without the chemicals, and without the cost. Enter in my love for instant cleaning towels (oh so much better..) and a want to get back to natural items and what you get is my version of the Disinfectant Towel!

I searched the internet last summer and never really came up with what I wanted that would work for us. I pieced together a few different recipes from here and here and then made it work for us!

Disinfectant Towels

White Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, Water

Bucket of Rags

Water and Oils

Disinfectant Towels
2-3 Cups of distilled water*
2-3 cups of vinegar
20 drops of Tea Tree Essential oil
20 drops of Lavender Essential oil (you could use Lemon, Grapefruit, Peppermint...)
Large Bucket with a seal tight lid. We use an old gallon size ice cream pail.
Assorted rags. We have old mismatched socks, cut up bath towels, several torn up ancient t-shirts and apparently according to that picture someone's old Hanes boxers.

Start by cleaning your utensils and bucket in hot, soapy water. *To make distilled water bring filtered water to a boil and then cool. Mix together the water, vinegar and oils. In the large bucket place your assorted rags. I started this process by folding them all and placing them nice and neat in the bucket. After the third time I decided they would get just as wet all crumpled up and so now they just get thrown in. :) Pour your vinegar/water/oil mixture over it and seal it up.
Use as needed and then throw the soiled rags in the laundry and when your bucket is empty start all over again.

We use these everywhere and go through them quite quickly. If you don't have a potty training child that misses the toilet on occasion or any boys that miss the toilet daily you may need less. Last summer I carried a smaller version to my daughter's softball games to scrub yuck off of dirty fingers and dusty bleachers.

Let me know how it goes!

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Granola Bar *Recipe

These are the most yummy homemade snack. 

I was hesitant to try a granola bar thinking that my kids would probably snub them. They are granola bar connoisseurs. When I quit buying pretty much all processed food snacks, granola bars were the last to go. They seemed so.... healthy. So the kidlets got an unhealthy taste for them.

On a family camping trip, my sister brought along her homemade granola bars. The kids snarfed them down like they were sneaking Easter candy. She was onto something. I thought though that they may be too much work. I don't really put time intensive snack making on my list of to-dos everyday so they just didn't get made.

Last week my Sara came over and showed me how to make them so I could bring them to a homeschool group Valentine party. They are so easy! She took all the pics and then blogged about it. My turn!

The original recipe came from a cookbook entitled Miserly Meals .

This is my version!
Oiling the Pans


Optional Yumminess


Press in pan and Bake

Snacky Goodness

Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour (could substitute if you can't do wheat)
1 cup brown sugar  (check out my substitute)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup molasses
1/2-3/4 cup of honey 
*optional ingredients

Combine the dry ingredients.  Then add molasses, honey, and vanilla.  Use your hands to get it good and mixed up. (Perhaps you have helper for this job?) It should stick together, like you could roll it into a ball. If it is too dry add a bit more honey. If it is too sticky add a bit more flour. Press into a 9x12 pan that has been greased with coconut oil. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely and then cut into bars. 

*OPTIONAL Yumminess can be added with the honey and molasses. Add 1 cup of any of the following: dried fruit (we did golden raisins, raisins, and dried cranberries), chocolate chips, coconut, sunflower seeds, or chopped nuts. Go and get your creative thinking cap on. These are so versatile!

These bars were crunchy and very satisfying. They would did make a lovely breakfast and snacktime treat. Enjoy!

Always Blessed, 
Gretchen  :)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Gifts~ Old Things

The Gift of Old Things. 

Unto to Dust

Old Experiences.

No More Weeping

Old Beliefs.


The Blessing of the Old Testament Laws.  


 51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”~ Matthew 13:51-52

And the Blessing of  New Testament Grace.


Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

All pictures are courtesy of my sister, Sara Rose Nissen.  
Check out her artwork over at  as seen through my eyes. :)

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Any Husband or Wife

On The Veranda~ John Singer Sargent


Any Husband or Wife
by Carol Haynes

Let us be guests in one another's house
With deferential "no" and courteous "yes";
Let us take care to hide our foolish moods
Behind a certain show of cheerfulness.

The Angelus~ Jean-Francois Millet

Let us avoid all sullen silences;
We should find fresh and sprightly things to say;
I must be fearful lest you find me dull,
And you must dread to bore me anyway.

Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife~ John Singer Sargent

Let us knock gently at each other's heart,
Glad of a chance to look within–and yet,
Let us remember that to force one's way
Is the unpardoned breach of etiquette.

Sunday Afternoon ~ Leopold Karl Walter Graf von Kalkreuth

So, shall I be host–you, the hostess,
Until all need for entertainment ends;
We shall be lovers when the last door shuts
But what is better still–we shall be friends.

The Home of the Red, White, and Blue~ Lilly Martin Spencer

Wise Counsel comes in many forms. 

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Hot Cocoa Mix *Recipe

I am sharing the most amazing Hot Cocoa recipe. It is my all time favorite!

I have some very bad memories of hot cocoa mixes my mom made when we were kids. They always seemed kind of.... thin and unchocolately. It tasted like watered down chocolate pudding made with powdered milk. Nasty. Those bad cocoa consumptions left a bad taste in my mouth (bahahaha) when it came to hot cocoa mixes and I became a cocoa snob. Gasp!

As we began to create 'make it yourself' items in our kitchen one of the first things I tackled was a homemade cocoa recipe. I did not want a 'just okay' cocoa. I wanted a childhood toasty toes by the heater while drinking some warm marshmallowed cocoa after playing outside in the snow kind of memory in a cup. I searched everywhere! With milk and without. I added shaved chocolate (what a mess) and chocolate chips (impossible to clean out of tall coffee cup). There were organic versions and carob versions. I tried probably 10 different variations of cocoa mix before settling on this one!

We have some very big cocoa drinkers here and although it isn't the purest and most 'green' recipe it is far better then the preservative laden name brand cocoa mix. It is easy. It is inexpensive and I generally have everything I need right here. It passes the Princess Petunia (not too sugary) and the Princess Peony (very chocolaty) test. The best part of all is that it makes a huge recipe thanks to Kimberly, a mom of many over at Raising Olives.

Princess Petunia loves her Cocoa and I don't feel so bad offering it before bed or as a snack in the afternoon. I have even been known to offer it as milk when we have run out.(Does anyone else run out of milk?) It does have powdered milk in it so that has to count, right?

Amazing Hot Cocoa

Amazing Hot Cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
5 to 6 cups powdered milk 
2 cups of baking cocoa
2 scant teaspoons sea salt
4 teaspoons of corn starch* 
2 pinches of ground cayenne pepper 

Mix all together in a large mixing bowl. I also like to use my hand blender to pulverize the powdered milk. Just cover the bowl with a drying towel and then blend away. Please don't skip this. Use a blender or a food processor if you can. It is important for the smoothness of the cocoa. Place in a glass storage container. I had cocoa mix enough for a 2 quart jar and half of a one quart jar.
To serve: Mix 1/4 to 1/3 cup of mix to hot water. Stir well and enjoy

*arrowroot powder would probably work

 Bit of Cocoa with a dollop of coconut milk.

Always Blessed, 

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Pillow of Selfishness

The Preacher Man and Sir Bean

That is my pillow.  See it? 
All soft and squishy and perfectly broken in. It is huge. An oversized, snuggly, down filled beauty of a sleep aid. I don't sleep well, ever, and this is my one favorite thing to help me count down to the Land of Sleep.

Problem is, it is everyone's favorite pillow. 
It is borrowed, misplaced, hidden and used by the kidlets and by the Preacher Man.
I am apt to let this happen. I am not unreasonable...
until bedtime. 
Then I need my pillow. 
Without it my neck will hurt. My head will ache. My shoulders will be all out of whack.
Seriously, I will physically pay for it if I use the old, flat, hard pillow.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Get over it girl! It is a pillow!
Some of you though, some of you will understand. I can not sleep without my pillow!

You know it wasn't always this way. As a child I could sleep about anywhere. Floors, couches, the car, and everywhere in between. Then came adulthood and children and I just stopped sleeping well. Who sleeps well with babies and toddlers in the house anyway? 
As I got older and had more neck and shoulder issues I started sleeping badly for the portion of the night I did sleep. I had to find the right pillow style. I promise you, it isn't in my head, the pillow works. :)

So last night the Hubs borrowed my pillow to sit up in bed. I'm a giving kind of gal (most of the time) so in the spirit of Love and Respect I said nothing. I figured I could sneak it out from under him before I laid my head down for the night.
He crashed having come off a night shift with his daytime and nighttime hours all goofy. 
No worries. He has four pillows now... I'll just sneak my pillow out from under his sleepy head and I will be in the business of resting.

It did not happen. I couldn't budge him. I couldn't wake him. (He literally could sleep through a tornado.) And if truth be told he hugged that pillow tighter in his sleep.

From somewhere inside me rose up this pure frustration-laced anger. It literally bubbled up inside like an erupting volcano. I wanted to wake him up from his effortless sleep and scream:

Give Me My Pillow!

It is mine. I have almost nothing that is mine. 
Everything is shared. Nothing is truly mine. My time, my creativity, my love. It is all shared. My kitchen is my homeschool room. My bedroom is the hangout. My pencils are used. My scissors get lost. I share gum, and kleenex, and my lunch. I share the Wii remote, and the chair I am sitting on. I even share the bathroom, almost every time I use it, with my potty training toddler. I can't shower without a little someone needing to brush their teeth. I can not go anywhere without a tribe coming along. My clothes are shared. My shoes are shared. My Bible time is even shared. 

Don't I deserve one little thing that is mine? 

What a Pillow of Selfishness.

This wonderful man I married did not know that he set off in me a feeling of such utter selfishness that I was brought to tears by my shame. He slept calmly on. He did not overstep or offend intentionally. He would never have willingly took my pillow for the entire night. It was an accident.

It sure brought to the surface very raw emotions in myself though, didn't it? 
So where is that all really coming from? Why can something so silly cause me such a rush of anger and ungodly like thoughts? Why in the world would this bring up such toddleresque type temper tantruming behavior?

Short answer: Because I am human. 

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ~ Romans 3:23

Because people are inherently selfish.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 
~ 2 Timothy 3:2 

We so easily fall into that place. Even with the gift of Grace we choose to cling to what we can hold on to. What we can foolishly place our hands on.We are selfish with our things, our money, our time, and our love. We think we are good. That we are deserving of more than what we have.

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” ~ Matthew 19: 17

We are not good. We fail. We fall easily back into sin.

This is why the Lord has to command us to love. To give. To be unselfish. To respect. To be submissive.

If it was natural He wouldn't have to command us to do it. These are not suggestions. These are orders. These are things He tells us to do.

Not out of a need to push us down or keep us under His rule. No! These are rules of LOVE. The greatest LOVE that there is. He LOVES us enough to tell to us in His Word how to avoid the pain that comes with jealousy. The hurt that comes with pride. The sting of a hateful word. The guilt of an unreasonable and pride filled heart.

Love Others.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. ~Romans 12:10

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. ~Romans 15:1-2

No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.  
~1 Corinthians 10:24

Love Unselfishly.

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children  and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~ Ephesians 5:1-2

Love Because He loves us.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.~ Ephesians 5:21

“In that day,” declares the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’;
    you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
    no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them
    with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
    and the creatures that move along the ground.
Bow and sword and battle
    I will abolish from the land,
    so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever;
    I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
    in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the Lord. 
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.
I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
~ Hosea 2:16-20, 23

Wives, Love By RESPECT

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. ~ Ephesians 5 :22-24

Husbands, Love By CARING for her and LOVING her as you love yourself.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her  to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church ~Ephesians 5:25-29

Let us strive to love like the LORD commands. Let us fail miserably and then apologize and get back up on that old worn out horse and keep keeping on. Let us recognize those moments of sin weakness for what they are. A reminder to keep trusting the LORD and to keep holding onto HIM. 

So I will keep trusting the LORD and I'll go get myself another pillow. 

Always Blessed,
Gretchen :)
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