Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Crockpot Chili

Monday - Crockpot Applesauce Chicken with rice

Tuesday - Baked Penne & Smoked Sausage *Family Favorite*
and Baked Apples

Wednesday - Chicken Soft Tacos, Refried Beans

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Calzones or Homemade Pizza

Saturday - We are going to a Wedding! (I feel like I say this a lot! LOL!!)

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Change is Coming

I feel like I'm part of a presential campaign . . . I've been absent from the blogging world for a few weeks, but with good reason. I am in transition to a new job . . . yea! It's a very exciting time for our family and we are excited for the new opportunities that lie ahead.

I am hoping to get back into the swing of things as I have many articles, tips and deals to share in regards to green living.

For those of you in the Columbus area, I have discovered a new Green cleaning service and I want to share! They are called A Green Sweep.

Tuesday's Green Thought . . . .

Being a little more green can be something as simple as choosing to walk or ride a bike in lieu of driving a automobile. While we live in a suburban neighborhood, we have one very distinct advantage in our neighborhood vs. other similar neighborhoods. Our local public schools are located within walking distance of our home. I am reminded of this great advantage as I see parents walking their children to school every morning.

We live in what is commonly referred to as a first ring suburb of Columbus, Ohio. The idea of schools being located within walking distance to single family dwellings is not new. When our City was founded it was based upon the New England Village Grid. There were specific lots designated for churches, government and schools. These lots were surrounded by single family homes. Our neighborhood was built in the 1960s. Fortunately the City had foresight to see how important it would be to locate the schools mixed amongst single family homes.

Somewhere with suburban sprawl we have gotten away from this idea.

I sure am glad we bought this house, in this neighborhood within walking distance to our childerns' schools.

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Pork chops marinaded in Italian dressing, homemade applesauce and Butternut Squash Fries

Monday - Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts with whole wheat pasta

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Wednesday - Mexican Casserole

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday - Calzones

Saturday - Pork Chops in Spiced Apple Pan Sauce with Roasted Broccoli Spears, Baked Apples

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - Being Frugal at the Farmers' Market

With the current state of the economy who doesn't want to save a few dollars here and there . . . being frugal by shopping for local foods at a Farmer's Market is an easy way to save some Green . . . . while also helping to be a little more Green.

This time of year you can find many varieties of apples, pumpkins, squash, green beans, broccoli and tomatoes. Not only can you plan meals for now, but you can also think about freezing or canning these fruits and vegetables to enjoy during the fall and winter months. The last few weeks I have been preparing foods for my freezer chopping and bagging vegetables and making large quantities of applesauce.

Frugal Green Living: Find Your Dinner at the Farmers' Market

Frugal Green Living: Preserving the Harvest

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Sweet & Sour Chicken with vegetables and rice
Tuesday - Chili
Wednesday - Chicken Enchiladas, fruit
Thursday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup/ leftover chili
Friday - Homemade pizza
Saturday - We are going to a wedding!

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - The Leaf Blower vs. The Rake

What is more efficient in dealing with a massive amount of leaves? Is the pollution created by the leaf blower acceptable if it saves time?

What I have learned is that when you any amount of leaves to rake, using a rake and a plastic tarp to move the leaves will be far more efficient and effective than trying to use a leaf blower - gas or electric.

All of our leaves in our backyard go directly to our compost pile.

This year we will rake our leaves, spend time with our children (the older one actually likes to rake, go figure) and spend a lot of time jumping in our leaf piles. We are looking forward to the memories we will make without putting any pollutants into the air. We are Getting to Green, are you?

Tuesday's Green Tip - Eco-Me

Want to make your own cleaning products, but need a little boost to get going?

Check out Eco-Me - a company who provides you with the tools to make your own cleaning products. They also have kits for body and baby.

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Cookout with friends - burgers, hot dogs, italian sausage, baked beans, broccoli salad, brownies, cookies and lemonade pie

Monday - Barbeque pulled chicken, corn and green beans

Tuesday - Leftover hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, peas, pears

Wednesday - Chicken Soft Tacos, pears

Thursday - Eggplant Parmesan with whole wheat pasta

Friday - Date night!

Saturday - Farmer's Market - TBD

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - Biodegradable Plastic Bags

So earlier this week I discussed how easy it really is to start a compost. Now we can't compost everything that is waste . . . so what is the best earth-friendly way to deal with trash that must go to the landfill?

When making your decision regarding how to dispose of your trash, consider this: conventional plastic bags are made with petroleum which may eventually break down, but it will never truly go away. When exposed to heat and light the plastic breaks apart into tiny particles which infiltrate our soils, bodies of water and are ingested by the fish we eat.

Here is the info you need to know when it comes to biodegradable plastic trash bags . . .

Find out exactly where your trash goes: does your city compost garbage or does it truly go to a landfill?

If your city does compost garbage your best bet is a bio-based trash bag. Bio-based means its made from corn, sugarcane or potatoes.

If your trash goes to a landfill consider using bags made from recycled plastic or synthetic biodegradable plastics. Synthetic plastics mixed with additives allow the plastic to break down when exposed to light, heat and oxygen. If they are buried underground they may not break down as nothing biodegrades 100 percent in an air tight landfill. Bags made from recycled plastic would be the preferred option.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Method at Big Lots

Big Lots has Method (Rt. 23 and Lazelle in Columbus) this week and there are many great deals to be had. I purchased the Method, 32 load, Free & Clear Triple Concentrated Laundry detergent for $3.00!! I also purchased Pink Grapfruit All Purpose Wipes for $2.50. There were also air freshners, dryer sheets, hand soap, dish soap, all purpose cleaners and a variety of their holiday scents as well.

Now I have said previously that I was phasing out purchasing cleaning products in lieu of making my own . . . and I am still doing that. However, there are some products which I will continue to purchase like laundry detergent, hand soap and dish soap from companies like Method and Seventh Generation.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Composting UPDATED

Composting is probably one of the easiest Green tasks that we do at our house. When I first began composting our food scraps almost two years ago, I thought it was going to be a daunting task. Many times I joked about how I had added yet another task around the house by attempting to compost.

Turns out composting actually reduces our weekly waste by quite a lot. We put all of our fruit and vegetable waste, coffee grounds and filter and egg shells in our compost. We have built a outside compost bin using wood from recycled pallets. We have used this compost to fertilize our garden in the past and will use it to fertilize our lawn this fall.

UPDATE: Check out today's post on The Green Parent for more detailed information on composting as well as a compost tumbler giveaway!

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Baked Penne & Smoked Sausage *Family Favorite*
Monday - Breaded chicken tenders, sweet potato fries and green beans
Tuesday - Judlah (lentils & rice) served with plain yogurt and pita bread
Wednesday - Mexican Casserole *Family Favorite*

1 lb. Cooked ground beef or turkey
Spanish Rice packet
Peppers (green, red or yellow)
Mexican Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Cook ground beef/ turkey. Place meat in 13x9 casserole dish with corn and peppers (sometimes I also add tomatoes or really whatever I have on hand that sounds good) and mix together. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Place chips on top and cover with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

Thursday - Leftover Buffet
Friday - Italian Fettuccine Pie
Saturday - Farmer's Market Shopping - TBD

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Sustainable Saturday - Saving some Green

Want to go Green, but don't want to go broke doing it?

Replace the toxic household cleaning products in your home with environmentally cleaners that you can make with common household items!

Ingredients to get started:

White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Lemon Juice
Essential Oils
Olive Oil
Spray bottles made with recycled plastic

How they work:

Vinegar and lemon juice cut grease
Baking soda cleans and deodorizes
Borax cleans, deodorizes and disinfects

Sink and Tub Cleaner

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Baking Soda
3 tsp Lemon Juice

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Flush toilet once to wet
Sprinkle 1 cup Borax
Drizzle 1/2 cup Vinegar
Let set for an hour, then scrub with a toilet brush

Window & Glass Cleaner

1/4 cup white Vinegar
1 quart warm water
Lemon Juice
Tip: Use newspapers to clean windows.

Furniture Polish

2 parts Olive Oil
1 part Lemon Juice
Apply with a soft cloth

Fabric Softener

Add 1 cup Vinegar or 1/4 cup baking soda to final rinse

Oven Cleaner

1 part Vinegar
4 parts water
Spray on cool oven
For tough spots use baking soda as a scrub

Happy Cleaning!

There was a whole lot of green outside our son's bedroom . . .

After several long days with two kids and no power, I am happy to report that power has been restored!! Unfortunately most of our neighborhood has not been so lucky and many are still without. As good neighbors, those with power are running extension cords across the street to those without.

Here's how the damage at our house stacked up: two tree branches fell on our house, forunately we got away with one shingle that needs replaced and some scratched up siding. Could have been a lot worse . . .

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Chinese take out b/c we didn’t have power
Monday - Burgers, tater tots and green beans – all cooked on our gas grille outside due to not having power.
Tuesday - Pork chops w/ homemade applesauce and french fries
Wednesday - Mexican casserole

Cooked ground beef or turkey
Spanish Rice packet
Peppers (green, red or yellow)
Mexican Cheese
Tortilla Chips

Cook ground beef/ turkey. Place meat in 13x9 casserole dish with corn and peppers (sometimes I also add tomatoes or really whatever I have on hand that sounds good) and mix together. Place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Place chips on top and cover with cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole.

Thursday - Leftover buffet
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Going out to eat

Our Menu Plan for this week will likely change as we do not have power due to high winds from Hurricane Ike . . . . we have been told power may not be restored until this end of this week!

Sustainable Saturday - The diaper challenge

Well it was a busy day on Saturday as we attended yet another wedding and I never got around to posting Sustainable Saturday. Then on Sunday we experienced the wind leftover from Hurricane Ike and lost power. As I write this we still do not have power and they are saying it will potentially be the end of the week before it is restored!! We actually watched a tree in our neighbor’s yard come down, literally 2 feet in front of us as my husband and I were walking down the sidewalk to check with one of our other neighbors. Then a short while later we saw our neighbor’s tree across the street be completely uprooted and fall over. I will have to post pictures. It was pretty unbelievable.

Anyways, without further ado, Sustainable Saturday – The diaper challenge.

Now we use reusable shopping bags, recycle faithfully and even have our own compost pile which is 35 some years old thanks to the previous owner of our house. But, I am ashamed to say I have never put either of my children in a cloth diaper. That’s right, green as we may try to be, we use disposable diapers. Three years ago when my daughter was born, I searched everywhere for a cloth diaper service and found none. They had all apparently gone out of business in our area at one time or another. At that time I wasn’t really interested in purchasing my own cloth diapers and washing them myself as I was planning on returning to work full time. The child care center we had chosen had a pretty strict policy about not allowing cloth diapers. I explored the other viable options, Seventh Generation diapers and g-diapers both of which are more environmentally friendly, but both still disposable. I tried the Seventh Generation diapers, but quite honestly found them not to be very absorbent, etc. I priced out the g-diapers , but just couldn't bring myself to spend that much money on diapers.

Fast forward to today. Now almost three years into our parenting journey, we are still using disposable diapers. I have recently been researching our options once again. I received a list of products from a friend who is choosing to pursue a more environmentally friendly diaper. I have also spoken with the child care center that our children attend and they are now open to the idea.

I am now myself on a new challenge to find a better alternative to the ever popular disposable diaper. I am hoping to find success without busting my diaper budget, that will be the real challenge.

Brand reviews and a wealth of other cloth diapering info.

Brief description of the different types of cloth diapers.

The Diaper Hyena is a good resource too.

Buying and Eating Local

As you are planning your grocery shopping for the coming week challenge yourself to think about how you can Buy Local or maybe even plan for next year to plant a small garden!!

Why does eating local matter?

Purchasing from local farms/ companies isn’t just good for your taste buds, it’s good for your community, our economy and the environment at large.

The shorter the distance food has to travel from farm to table reduces fossil fuel consumption and carbon emissions involved in transporting food around the country.

Supporting local farmers keeps dollars in your community and economy. It helps ensure that your State's agricultural traditions remain strong and keeps people working the lands that have been in their families for generations.

Eating local gives you access to fresher produce that does not need to be sustained by chemical or other enhancements to ensure a longer shelf-life.

Tuesday’s Green Tip – Bottled Water Waste

Looking to save a few dollars and be more environmentally conscience? Here’s an easy way to achieve that, don't purchase bottled water and use a refillable water bottle.

You can purchase BPA free bottles in addition to other great products from Greenfeet. We love our Teenie Weenie Greenie (and our Born Free bottles for that matter)!

Bottled Water Quiz

True or False?

1. Bottled water is healthier than tap water.
False. There is often no difference. Little is known about the health risks of water stored in disposable plastic (PET) bottles or the effect of additives over long periods at high temperatures.

2. Bottled water is safer than tap water.
False. The EPA sets more stringent standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled beverages. Roughly 40% of bottled water is actually tap water.

3. Bottled water is convenient and portable.
True. But using a refillable bottle is just as convenient and less expensive.

4. Most plastic water bottles are recycled.
False. According to the Container Recycling Institute, only 14% of PET bottles are recycled. The rest end up in landfills or as litter. Millions of barrels of oil are required each year to produce and transport them.

5. The market for bottled water is growing.
True. The Beverage Marketing Corporation states that Americans spent more than $9 billion on bottled water in 2004 and that the product’s rate of growth was almost 10% per year for the previous 10 years.

6. The UN is addressing water issues in the developing world.
True. The UN adopted a resolution in 2003 calling this the “Decade for Water.” The Millennium Development Goals also have an objective to halve the number of people who lack reliable and safe drinking water by 2015.

7. Some bottled water is more expensive than gasoline.
True. Often selling for up to $2.50 a liter (which translates to $10 a gallon), bottled water is more expensive than gasoline.

8. My purchase of bottled water is unrelated to safer drinking water for the whole world.
False. The UN estimates that if the world took half of what it now spends on bottled water ($100 billion per year) and invested it in water infrastructure and treatment, everyone in the world could have access to clean drinking water.

Check out this article: Bottled Water Demand May Be Declining

Remodeling in a green way

In the About Me section I talk about renovating our 1960s ranch in a very green way. Here is a little peak of what our green renovations have entailed.

Paint - Sherwin Williams - Duration Home, color selections by Symhome mom

Flooring - Interface FLOR color sections and design by Symhome mom

This carpet square flooring system is super easy to install, literally a 2 1/2 year old can do it!

Shelving and Metal Panel Wall - designed and built by Symhome dad

Check out our website which is all about our house and will give you background into why and how. Symhome

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Eggplant Parmesan with whole wheat pasta, pears
Monday - Sweet & Sour Chicken with vegetables and rice
Tuesday - Barbecue Pulled Pork, corn on the cob and green beans
Wednesday - Chicken Quesadillas, fruit
Thursday - Leftover Buffet, fruit
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - We are going to a wedding!

I’m an Organizing Junkie is home to Menu Plan Monday.

Environmentally Friendly Cleaning Products

During my adult life I have used many cleaning products. Should I even dare say that I have sprayed a certain Kitchen antibacterial cleaner on my countertops . . . that was years ago at a place of residence in which I no longer reside. I have tried many products mostly from Method (huge fan!) and Seventh Generation. Most recently I have been exploring making my own, but I will discuss that at length at a later date.

Symhome mom's favorites:

General cleaning - Method All Purpose Spray in Pink Grapefruit

Dish washing soap - Method Pink Grapefruit

Dishwasher detergent - Seventh Generation, although I will say I don't think it cleans all that well unless you pre-rinse. I have tried Palmolive's new eco + which is phosphate free although I will admit I have not done research on this product.

Hand soap - Method - variety of scents

Window Cleaner - Method with Method microfiber cloth

Furniture Cleaner - Method Wood for Good with Method microfiber cloth

Wood Floor Cleaner - Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner with Bona microfiber cloth - Bed, Bath & Beyond or Stanley Steemer

Bathroom Cleaner - Method

Toilet Bowl Cleaner - On going battle

Laundry Detergent - Method Baby, Method Free & Clear and Seventh Generation

Dryer Sheets - On going battle, Method Dryer Sheets and Bounce Free.

Method is always, always cheaper at Target even cheaper than buying directly from Method. Check out Big Lots for discontinued Method. Method is very design conscience and they are constantly changing bottle designs and changing fragrances. My favorite time of year to buy Method is after Christmas when they clearance it out at Target. I have noticed this past year though the clearance items go really fast! People are catching on to this great company!

I did notice in the store this week that GreenWorks has expanded their line of products. Please, please don't pay $3.49 for a GreenWorks dish soap when you can get a Method dish soap for $2.99. Method is a great company and we should be supporting them by purchasing their products! Along this line, I have also noticed that Windex now has a product made with vinegar. You too can make a product that will work for the bathroom, kitchen, windows and mirrors and save yourself a few bucks in the process.

All Purpose Household Cleaner:

1/4 cup white vinegar
1 quart warm water
Fresh lemon juice
A spray bottle (look for bottles made from recycled milk bottles - Delta Industries)

Seventh Generation Coupons click here

As for Method I have only ever seen one coupon offering and it was in the Rochester, NY market years ago.

Sustainable Saturday - Getting to Green

This week's Sustainable Saturday is being dubbed Getting to Green.

It seems like these days green is becoming a common term especially now that recycling has become more readily available and S.C. Johnson has launched GreenWorks cleaning products. Truly what does it mean to be green?

Being green can simply be trying your best to be as environmentally responsible as you can be. At our house we constantly struggle with what is the most environmentally responsible choice vs. cost.

Getting to Green is a way to see what you are already doing and what you could be doing better to be an environmentally responsible member of society. This list is by no means complete, but it is a start. As I continue to develop Getting to Green we will discuss many of the items in more detail. Like how do you get started with composting and what are the benefits? How do you make your own cleaning products? How do you find a buying club and what type of products do they sell?

Many of the items listed I have been doing for years (not my entire life . . . I am not Sara Snow!) I am learning and I hope you will join me along this journey as we are Getting (closer) to Green.

Today's Farmer's Market Trip

Like most Saturdays during the Summer we visited our local Farmer's Market. We purchased the usual fruits, vegetables and meat from our favorite vendors.

While picking out our cantelope I overheard one woman saying to another "I bought one of these last week and I am telling you it was the best cantelope I've ever had!" I thought to myself that I was very happy that this woman discovered how wonderful and fresh food is when you buy it locally . . . so far different from a lot of the foods available at the local grocery store which are trucked across the country if not across the world. I feel lucky to have such wonderful local food, readily available, at reasonable prices within our community.

Here are our purchases for the day:

A bunch of flowers
4 large chicken breasts
1 package pre-cooked barbeque pulled pork (heat & eat)
1 package ground chuck
1 package pork chops
1 package trail bologna
1 bag apples
2 large cantelopes
6 ears corn
1 eggplant
1 bag green beans
1 oatmeal dried cranberry cookie

Total spent: $45

We spent a little more on meat than usual, but we will most likely be unable to attend the market next week as we have a wedding on Saturday.


The Columbus Chamber of Commerce has launched GREENSPOT in an effort to encourage sustainability.

There are 3 key commitments in order for a household to be a GREENSPOT:

Commitment 1: Conserve Energy

Commitment 2: Conserve & Protect Water

Commitment 3: Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

Apply to be a GREENSPOT

We received our letter and window sticker informing us of our household having achieved GREENSPOT status.

It may seem silly for some, but it's nice to recognized for all the things we do at our house on a regular basis!

Does your City have a similar initiative?

As part of this week's Sustainable Saturday I will discuss simple ways in which you too can become a little more green.

Tuesday's Green Tip - Freezing Bananas

As I was preparing dinner this evening, I saw that I had a rather ripe banana laying on the kitchen countertop that was completely black on the outside. I immediately took the banana and placed it in the freezer and it made me think of a quick green tip to share:

For years I have been taking these overly ripe bananas and placing them in my freezer. Sometimes they go in as a whole banana, sometimes just the banana itself in a freezer bag. What do I do with these bananas . . . use them for breakfast! A common weekend breakfast is banana pancakes or waffles sometimes with chocolate chips or even blueberries. Those who have tried them, love them! A really great batch of banana pancakes or waffles are judged by whether or not they have enough banana flavor to not require maple syrup!

Banana Pancakes

2 cups baking mix (any brand, I follow directions on box)
1 egg
3 whole bananas (defrosted and mushed, they will be like liquid if they were super ripe)
Chocolate Chips or Blueberries

Banana Waffles

2 cups baking mix
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 whole bananas
Chocolate Chips

Sustainable Saturday

Sustainable Saturday is dedicated to all things green - from quick tips for around the home to answers to questions that I am commonly asked.

This week's Sustainable Saturday post is being dedicated to Children's Furniture, mattresses and bedding:

The percentage of furniture made in China is staggering. We determined while looking for a new "big girl bed" for our daughter, that we wanted to find furniture and a mattress that met the following criteria:

1. Furniture made of solid wood.
2. Furniture made in the United States.
3. A mattress that was not treated with flame retardant chemicals.

This was quite a difficult task. As with all major purchases, we establish a budget number that we want to spend. We visited a local mattress store and while the mattress was made locally using organic cotton, the mattress alone was more than we wanted to spend total on furniture for our daughter's room. After searching for several month's, we walked into our local Unfinished Wood Furniture store and made an interesting discovery. They carried a line of furniture made in our region, in the great state of Michigan! With a little research we quickly discovered that not only was this furniture made nearby, but it was also made of fsc-certified wood.

Another requirement was to find a more eco-friendly mattress option without breaking the bank. We decided to purchase from keetsa in San Francisco. Now, this mattress and box springs (or foundation as they call it) had to be shipped across the United States, we did purchase a more eco-friendly mattress at a reasonable price.

For her bedding I have purchased Organic Cotton sheets on clearance from Target. The rest of her bedding is from Pottery Barn Kids. The wall composition was designed by myself and painted by my husband using Duration Home by Sherwin Williams, a low VOC paint.

We are very happy with the end result . . . from many standpoints . . . and so is our daughter!

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning

Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning:

Each day of the week has a specifically assigned type of food that will be served for supper:

Monday: Chicken or Vegetarian
Tuesday: Pork or Beef
Wednesday: Mexican
Thursday: Leftovers or misc recipes
Friday: Italian
Saturday & Sunday: Anything goes - These meals generally require either more time in the kitchen or involve grilling.

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning

At our local Farmer's Market we can purchase eggs, meat, vegetables and fruits. We do still have to rely on the local grocery store to purchase those other filler items. Every week we need bread and milk along with other grocery store staples.

Symhome mom's take on Menu Planning -

I begin by shopping on Saturday morning at my local Farmer's Market. I purchase in season fruits, vegetables and meat to last thru at least one week. Then when I get home, I think of all the meals I can make with these foods and determine what items may be needed either from my freezer, pantry and from the grocery store.

At the grocery store I do try to buy thing on sale, clip coupons and in general watch how much I spend. I can guarantee you that a lot of my food savings comes from buying local. I can purchase a green pepper, a medium sized eggplant and a zucchini for example for $1 at my local Farmer's Market. My new goal for this year is to purchase vegetables and fruits at the local Farmer's Market when they are in season and freeze some to enjoy later in the year.

For example last week I purchase a large bag of apples. I made two large pots of applesauce and froze portions large enough for my family for one meal.

Amy's Applesauce:
Apples (your choice of type)

Wash and peel apples (if desired)
Core and slice apples
Place apples in a pan
Fill with water to almost cover apples
Cook apples and water on medium heat until apples breakdown
Add sugar and cinnamon (if desired) to taste

I freeze meal size portions in freezer bags, laying them flat in my freezer. I can just take one out when ready and let it thaw in the fridge. For an extra treat, you can warm the sauce in a pan before serving.

I have also made sauce leaving the skins on. This will give a pinkish tint to your sauce.


Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Where to buy

Buying local is not just about supporting local farmers and supporting the local economy, but about knowing where your food comes from. To find local CSA's, farmers markets, restaurants among other information on purchasing locally produced food:

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association also has info on locally produced food:

Buying Local - A series on purchasing and preparing local foods for your family - Where food comes from

We are surrounded by the idea of buying Organic . . . but it's not often that we hear about Buying Local . . . at a time when gas prices are soaring, we should be supporting our local farmers and ecomony. I know where my meat comes from do you?

Green remodeling . . .granite countertops oh my . . . .

So as I have indicated in the About Me section of my blog, my husband and I are in the midst of renovating our 1960s ranch in a very "Green" way. One of the very first things we did when bought our home was have a radon test. Radon is a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. I was pregnant at the time we purchased our home and we were especially concerned because children and developing fetuses are vulnerable to radiation, which can cause other forms of cancer. The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in your home exceed 4 picocuries. Now I would have to go back and look at our actual test, but our radon levels were quite high . . . I want to say well over 100 picocuries. So as a result we had a radon mitigation system placed in our home. This system consists of two pvc pipes which are located in our concrete slab . . . there is pvc pipe which runs across our basement ceiling along the floor joists . . . to a fan which is located on the outside of the house. This system keeps our radon levels at our below the recommended maximum of 4 picocuries. It is also recommended that once a system is in place it be inspected every 2 years.

One of the spaces in our home that we would like to someday renovate is our kitchen. I have always loved granite countertops and have always thought that one day I would like to replace our countertops with granite. Now I am thinking twice because of an article I read recently in the New York Times recently entitled What's Lurking in Your Countertop?

The article gives an example of a homeowner who after a routine inspection learned that her newly purchased home had elevated levels of radon. The source, her granite countertops! Radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels. This particular granite had high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays.

Now that we've worked so hard to improve our indoor air quality and install a radon mitigation I will definitely be rethinking my countertop choices when the day finally comes to remodel the kitchen. PaperStone is a product that we will definitely be looking into at our house in lieu of the ever so popular granite. As with a lot of things we've done . . . . it's not always popular to be green . . . but we are certainly enjoying the benefits so far! Check out

Information on radon and certified technicians as well as DIY test kits are available at as well as at hardware stores and online if you want to see what the radon levels may be like in your home or place of employment before you call in the professionals.

Organized house . . . organized mind . . . like a breath of fresh air

As I mentioned in my previous post, I do better when things are organized. So, I have attached my cleaning schedule to share how I have organized our household cleaning tasks. Now this may seem ridiculous, but with two parents who work it is essential. I have thought about hiring a cleaning service, but the cost seems to always deter me from looking for someone.
I have broken down all the cleaning tasks into manageable pieces to be accomplished mostly in the evenings during the work week after the children are in bed. While there are occassional nights where the task listed may take 2 hours, that usually only occurs once per month and that makes it manageable. My ultimate goal with this schedule is to keep my cleaning mostly to during the week so that the weekends can be spent spending time with my family.
I am not totally rigid with this schedule. If I miss a few days here or there, no big deal. I find that having a schedule with all the cleaning tasks broken down into manageable pieces makes keeping the house clean and organized from being a completely overwhelming task!

Blogging Schedule

Okay so this may sound a little crazy, but just like everything else in my life, I think I will do better with a schedule. Moneysavingmom has been posting about blogging and how to get started. She suggests blogging 3 times a week. So, that is going to be my new goal. I have a slew of articles that I've either read or have set aside to read so that should provide some good blogging content over the coming weeks. Since I do work and have two kids, my blogging is limited to the evenings . . . if I get to it at all. Establishing a schedule with hopefully regulate my blogging time.

symhome mom's blog

So the purpose of this blog is to one, give me an outlet for all my creative ideas and two, keeps me out of trouble. Well, maybe.

So in my inaugural blog I would just like to say that I didn't even know what blogging or how to do it until a few months ago. I have been pretty regularly reading moneysavingmom's blog. Not sure where I even heard about it, but it has inspired me to enter the blogging world.

My initial thought was to blog about my family, our house and living green. Our website for our home is now up and running We will be working to upload and update in the coming weeks. We currently don't have a television in our living room, so what better time to work on all the things we just haven't had time to do!

Welcome to my blog!