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April 24, 2014

Salt Potatoes Recipe

Salt potatoes have a smooth texture and rich flavor.  The unique dish comes from upstate New York.  The amount of salt in the recipe makes this dish a bit uncommon in its preparations.  Don't be alarmed.  The salt increases the boiling point of the water and forms a slight crust on the outside of the potatoes and cooks the insides creamy smooth.  The skin of the potato is left intact, so the salt is not absorbed into the potato.  
Salt Potatoes
3 pounds "baby" red potatoes (AKA size B)
1 1/2 cups salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
parsley, if desired

  1. Scrub potatoes but do not cut.  
  2. Bring about two quarts of water to a boil.  Add salt to the water.  Stir.  (The salt will not all dissolve, but some will.)
  3. Add potatoes to the pot.  Return to boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Boil for 25 minutes.
  5. Drain potatoes.  Let sit for a few minutes.  
  6. Return potatoes to pot.  Toss with butter (and parsley).  
  7. Serve warm.
Please Note
  • If you cut the skin of the potatoes before cooking, these will be too salty to eat.  Size B potatoes are typically in great shape and there is no need to cut them.
  • Adjust the recipe as needed.  Use 1/2 cup salt for every pound of potatoes. 
  • This is one recipe where you cannot substitute larger potatoes for the baby potatoes.  Sorry.
If you are looking for additional upstate New York food, you must try chicken spiedies.  My husband and I both grew up enjoying chicken spiedies and heartily recommend them.  (When we married, he took out the groomsmen to a spiedie restaurant since only his brother knew of them.)  Maybe they had salt potatoes, too.  

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom} Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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April 23, 2014

Nightstand Reading April 2014

Typically I keep a running list of what I've read.  This month I forgot to do so, so I may have missed a book or two which disappoints me.

Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose, by Candace Cameron Bure.  Candace speaks about her growing-up days as a child actress and the challenges as a wife and mom while acting.  (Remember DJ from Full House?  That's her!)  Personally, I liked this book and Candace's writing voice.  She writes in a way that makes it seem like you know her.  If she lived next door, I think we'd be friends.  I suspect some might be disappointed that so much of the book is about Candace, but I think the subtitle makes it clear that this is her story.  She provides suggestions throughout the book about balancing priorities of family, work, and faith, but it's all based on her experience.  I also appreciated her honesty regarding her Christian faith.  I borrowed this through my local public library.

Audio Books
Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie.  I was curious about the classic story.  It was okay, though I understand the fun of it.  Honestly, Peter annoyed me.  I suspected he would based on what I have seen in the movie.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum .  The family listened to this in the car.  I was surprised at how closely the movie matched it.  It was enjoyable, but I don't plan to read the other Oz books.

Still Reading...
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel, by Alan Bradley.  Oh, how I enjoy Flavia.  If you haven't read any of the Flavia de Luce books, I definitely recommend them.  (I actually listen to them on CD.)  I have not finished, but I will say I was surprised in the first chapter.

Guiltless Living: Confessions of a Serial Sinner Captured by the Grace of God, by Ginger Hubbard.  This is a quick 100 page book.  I'm about half-way through it and HIGHLY recommend it.  Who wants to be the first to borrow it when I finish?  :)

Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs.  This book is full of great information about the marriage relationship.  I'm taking it slowly, but so far really like it.

Did you know my daughter and I had a bookish date night after I was the mystery reader in her classroom?

Writing keeps me busy these days.  I try to set aside several hours each week to write, my blogging and reading time decreases.  Need a freelance writer?  I know one who is available.

What books are you recommending this month?  What's on Your Nightstand

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

Our family had a great weekend away.  We spent Easter weekend with our families in northeastern Pennsylvania.

It was a time of fun and family.  The children had three different Easter egg hunts.  We arrived home about 8 o'clock last night.

I'll get back to blogging after the family returns to our routine and fully unpacked.  Until then, maybe you can check out our favorite recipes to see what you'd like to make.

Enjoy your week!
Big Sister during our first egg hunt.
~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 18, 2014

Weekend Wind-Down April 18

It's been a good and busy week for us.  Saturday our town had the Little League parade.  My daughter had her first softball game later that afternoon.  Our son won't have his first game for a few more weeks, but that is a good thing since most of his practices have been rained out.

Did any of you have a tease of warm temperatures followed by snow and sleet this week?  It's not unusual in April.

Big Sister had a couple days off from school for spring break. Brother's preschool vacation days didn't match, but it's still nice to have her home.  We had a girls' morning out...to the library and gas station.

This week on the blog I posted a shoe giveaway (worth $120) and 7 myths about homemade laundry detergent.

It's Good Friday.  Good because this is the day we celebrate the fact that Jesus died for our sins, and fulfilled prophesy when God raised him from the dead three days later.   How do you spend Easter?  We'll celebrate that He is Risen at church and see our family.  We've already made the resurrection rolls and read some of our favorite Easter books.  The children have also explored our homemade resurrection eggs.  These are great for hands-on Easter lessons.
Please join us for our Weekend Wind-Down Party.

April 15, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent Myths

I knew about homemade laundry detergent for several years before I considered making it myself.  I had a few concerns that I did not properly investigate for years.  Have you bought into any of these homemade
laundry detergent myths?
  1. Homemade laundry detergent won't clean as well as my favorite brand.  Actually, in my opinion, this removes smells better than the brands I use the most.  Sometimes the scent lingers in certain exercise clothing after washing using store-bought detergent.  A fresh scent remains when we use homemade detergent. Stains seem to come as clean as they would with store-bought detergent.  I have continued to use my regular stain treatment, so I don't have a good grasp of stains.
  2. Homemade laundry detergent is complicated to make.  My powdered laundry detergent recipe is made in less than five minutes, even when I make an extra large batch.  Boiling is not required.
  3. Homemade laundry detergent smells strongly.  A major ingredient in many DIY detergents is Fels Naptha soap.  Even I will admit that when you first open a bar of this soap it smells strongly.  However, once the Fels Naptha mixes with the borax and washing soda, the scent is mild.  More importantly, laundered clothing has a very light scent.
  4. Homemade laundry detergent requires hard-to-find and expensive ingredients.  Borax, super washing soda, and Fels Naptha are all found in my Walmart's laundry aisle.  (FYI, Amazon's prices are much higher than what I pay locally.)  Boxes of borax and washing soda weigh three and four pounds and you only need a half cup at a time.  These will last a long time and cost less than $4 per box.  A bar of Fels Naptha costs less than a dollar.
  5. Homemade laundry detergent is not safe for septic tanks or HE washing machines.  With no fillers or phosphates, homemade laundry detergent is safe for septic tanks.  HE washing machines require low suds.  Homemade produces significantly less bubbles than standard detergents.  See here and here.
  6. Homemade laundry detergent requires a large container for storage.  You can make as little as two cups of detergent at a time.  A plastic peanut container (as pictured) provides ideal storage for our family.  It holds about a quadruple batch and easily stores on our dryer.
  7. Homemade laundry detergent contains toxic ingredients.  Just as you should not consume baking soda, soap, or salt, you should not eat borax, super washing soda, or the soap required for homemade detergents.  Don't confuse borax with boric acid which is used in insecticides and pesticides.  As with all laundry detergents, keep it away from your eyes and children.
Have I convinced you to check out my simple homemade laundry detergent recipe?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 14, 2014

Shoe Giveaway {$120 Value}

Spring temperatures are finally here, and it's time to celebrate.  Would you like a new pair of shoes for free?  Enter the shoe giveaway below.  You may remember all the great things I shared about my comfortable ballet flats (linked to my review).   I am quite pleased to tell you Sole Provisions has offered a pair of shoes for one of you, dear readers!
Sole Provisions provides comfortable and quality shoes with free shipping and easy returns.  I have the shoes pictured above, the Vionic Orthoheel ballet flats in Olivia.  You can see my complete review, but in summary I honestly like them because they

  • Fit well on the first try.  
  • Support with a fabulous arch.
  • Provide real comfort and cuteness.
GIVEAWAY
Please enter to win your own pair of shoes from Sole Provisions. You get to choose a style valued up to $120!  Please enter to win using the Rafflecopter tool below.  (If you are reading through RSS or email you will need to visit ThisSimpleHome.com.) If you have any problems entering, just let me know.  If you have never subscribed by email, now is a great time to do it!  It's truly the best way to ensure you don't miss a post.  

Please note I will check all entries before choosing a winner.  Enter honestly, or refrain from entering a giveaway on this blog. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
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April 11, 2014

Weekend Wind-Down

Spring temperatures arrived this week.  It was a fine week for the Race for Education at my daughter's school.  She ran 15 laps which is more than two miles.  Yesterday Little Sister and I spent a few minutes outside with the camera.  I think we both had fun.

I finally managed to bring up our Easter books and resurrection eggs from the basement.  The children were delighted.

This week on the blog I shared how we added a touch of color to make a personalized softball glove.  I also wrote about our mommy and me date night and making butter as a Little House activity with my daughter's class.

Will you link to the Weekend Wind-Down Party this week?  Were you featured?  Read on.

April 10, 2014

Homemade Butter and Little House

Friday afternoon I was the mystery reader in Big Sister's first grade class.  As the mystery reader, I chose a book to read (and optional activity) to the class. During the week, the teacher provides the class clues about the reader, and the students try to guess who it may be.  The teacher told me Big Sister guessed it was me after the second clue.  

The Clues
1. I love to read books.
2. I have three children.
3. Pizza is my favorite food.
4. I am not a good swimmer.  
5. I had my first pair of glasses when I was in first grade. 
(If you are interested, I shared 37 facts about me on my last birthday.)

Introduction
I showed the children Big Sister's pioneer apron.  They had a difficult time guessing what it was.  The pioneer bonnet was much easier for them to guess.  

Next, we discussed how people long ago had to make a lot of things right at home.  We looked at an image of a butter churn, and several of the children recognized it.  

I explained that since I didn't have a butter churn, we would use a jar and marble as a substitute.  Since I didn't have a cow at home to provide milk and cream, I purchased heavy whipping cream at the grocery store.

I instructed the children to make butter by shaking the jar for a bit and then pass it along while I read the story.  I encouraged them to shake even after they couldn't hear the marble moving.
The Book
I decided to read Summertime in the Big Woods, a picture book based on the Little House chapter books.  Maybe you remember how much Big Sister appreciates Little House.  She had a Little House birthday party a couple years ago!  (Linked to lots of activities and ideas!)
As first graders, I know some of the children are beginning to read chapter books and others enjoy them as a read aloud with their parents.  With this in mind, I took Big Sister's Little House boxed set along with some of the simpler Little House abridged chapter books that read at a second grade level.  I took a moment to emphasize Farmer Boy for the boys in the class.

The Activity
Though Summertime in the Big Woods does not have the Ingalls family making butter, they did make cheese.  Wintertime in the Big Woods does discuss butter making.  However, it's April, and we all want this long winter to be over.  Since the children made the butter while we read the story (plus some extra shaking as the children returned to their seats), it was time to enjoy the treat.

Big Sister and a friend passed out napkins.  The teacher and I passed out two Saltine crackers for each student.  Then we went around and buttered the crackers.  The children thought it tasted great.  Best of all, my daughter loved every minute of it.  She thought all the children loved it.

Homemade Butter Recipe
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt, optional

Place a clean marble in a jar.  Add whipping cream and salt.  Seal jar tightly.  Shake until butter is thick and creamy.

(You may serve immediately if crunched for time in a classroom environment.)

Pour off the buttermilk liquid.  Rinse the butter with cold water.  Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.

Please Note:
If you make butter with a group of children, choose your jar carefully.  Too many children have allergies to use a peanut butter jar!  A canning or mayonnaise jar will be better options.

Be sure to check out our old-fashioned Little House party activities.

Do you have any memories of making butter as a child?  Isn't it delicious?

When we finished making butter it was time for dismissal.  Big Sister and I went on our special date.  At the end of the night I asked what her favorite part of the day was.  Despite all of our fun, me as mystery reader was her favorite!  It just shows how important it is to our children to volunteer at school.

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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April 8, 2014

Mommy and Me Date Night

Friday I spent some time in Big Sister's classroom as the mystery reader.  Upon dismissal, we went on a little date, which is a big deal for us.

We drove into the local college town to visit a nice, used bookstore.  After nearly an hour, we made our way to the register with three of the American Girl: Addy books, along with a memory book.  (She really wanted a lock and key diary, but the store didn't have one.  The memory book was an acceptable, temporary substitute.)

We went to the mall and searched for a belt for Big Sister.  We didn't find one, but we had fun on the escalator at JC Penney.  She requested a photo on the escalator for our date night photo.   (I do not have a smart phone.  I actually carried my camera in my purse through the mall.)
From there we used the bathroom and then had dinner at the food court.
She loved having the choice of anything at the food court. Big Sister enjoyed two tacos from Taco Bell.  I had a chicken cheese steak at Charley's.  After dinner we used the bathroom. Again.  We left the mall and went to Dick's Sporting Goods in hopes of finding softball pants for Big Sister that fit.  We struck out since she's still so small, but we did buy baseball socks for her and Brother.

We ended our night eating ice cream with peanut butter topping with the family.

When asked about her favorite part of the night, I was amazed when she said making butter in her class.  The whole afternoon and evening were special for us!  She needed the extra attention and appreciated guiding the evening's events.

The next morning I took my younger two children to a different used book store.  They weren't nearly as eager for it which just goes to show when we take our kids on dates, we need to make sure it is special for the child!

What do you do on dates with your children?

~ Annette W. {This Simple Mom}
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing an item through a link, I will earn a small percentage. Thank you!
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