Domestic Incentives

Sometimes I require motivation to get things done. Deadlines and report cards and incentives all work wonders for me.

My mom used to make rules for herself like “No reading a novel until you’ve read your Bible today.” I think this rubbed off on me. I even tried to “earn my shower” by working out or mowing the lawn first. Ha!

While plenty of daily chores are intrinsically rewarding (cleared counters, clean smelling laundry, etc) I like rewarding myself for a job well done.

For instance…

The cup of tea I brew while emptying the dishwasher in the afternoon. I start my kettle and begin unloading. By the time I get to the top rack, it’s time to pour. It takes me 3-4 minutes to load and hand wash the few remaining items that cannot be in the dishwasher which is also my ideal steeping time for tea. I wipe the counters and wash my hands. I doctor with cream and sugar and head off to read and sip my well earned tea, often to the productive soundtrack of the dishwasher running the next load.

How about you? Do you have a reward system for a job well done?

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Loving the Home I Have

A few years ago I resolved to be more content. I even made that my New Years Resolution. A book I read recently by Melissa Michaels aimed that contentment at my house itself.

I checked out her book The Inspired Room a few years ago and started decorating my entry table and side table by her rules: a platter or plate or tray, a book, a picture, and something natural (a plant, sea shells, leaves, or pine cones).

I felt like she taught me how to make something feel like home with personal touches. This book is full of pictures from Michaels’ real home.

I checked out Love the Home You Have and I found it almost devotional about making space for life to happen and embracing the beauty in the imperfection because there is no perfect house.

My book was due, so I returned it, but not before taking pictures of her “Love Your Home” 31-day challenge.

I’m working through these now. It’s simple things you either write down or do to tidy or appreciate or enjoy a little every day you spend in your home.

How about you? What have you been reading lately that helps you invest in your everyday?

Light Caramel Coconut Ice Cream

When we lived in Wisconsin we frequented a Thai restaurant that served delicious fortunes after your meal that were wafer thin and had a good punch of coconut flavor. I was cooking a Chinese feast for friends and wanted my ice cream to have that same coconut flavor, but all of the coconut recipes I had tried to that point left me wanting. I’d had great luck making a salted caramel ice cream from David Leibovitz’ blog, and I thought it might work for coconut or it could completely fail.

Success!!! Tastes exactly how I wanted it. Like toasted coconut and really creamy. I call it light caramel because it’s that color and method. Don’t see the word “light” and think healthy. Why does every food need to be healthy anyway?

I learned to make ice cream from David Leibovitz’ The Perfect Scoop. You must buy this book if you churn at home, but his salted butter ice cream is available on his blog here.

Get ready and gather all of your ingredients. If your coconut oil is solid, melt it a little so you can measure 4 Tablespoons. Place 1 c heavy cream in a plastic container. Measure 1 c of cream and 1 c whole milk together and warm for a minute in the microwave.

Now let’s start cooking.

First place 3/4 c sugar in a dry sauce pan at medium heat. Let it begin to liquify and color. Start stirring when the bottom layer melts. Keep stirring until your sugar is all melted, but try to keep it light. It will turn the color of a penny if you keep it going, but that’s too dark for our purpose. Think auburn.

We’re doing coconut twice over, so use coconut oil instead of butter for your caramel.

It doesn’t mix in perfectly, it likes to separate, but keep stirring then add your warmed milk and cream. It may bubble. Keep stirring and scraping the caramel on the bottom of your pan. Be patient and all your solid caramel will melt into the cream.

As it is combining, add your next coconut flavor boost: 1/4 c sweetened dried coconut.

Unsweetened tastes like straw so I always use sweetened.

While it’s warming, separate 5 eggs. (I crack all of them in a bowl or container and pull out the yolks with my fingers.) Save the whites for another use. They last in the fridge a while, or you can freeze them. I save on dishes and use my large measuring cup I warmed the milk in for my egg yolks.

Slowly pour your warmed coconut ice cream over the egg yolks while stirring constantly to temper your eggs. Then add it back to your pan and over your heat.

Stir and let your custard thicken until you can scrape a line on the back of your spatula. Pour the mixture into the container with the reserved cream through a fine mesh strainer. Press the mixture a little to get that good flavor out of the coconut that you’re straining out.

Let it cool on your counter for 30 minutes with the lid off. Then seal it and chill overnight.

Once it is thoroughly chilled, churn according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.

The first time I made this I layered toasted coconut like a mix-in after churning, but we prefer the toasted coconut as a topping so it stays crisp. All you do is add 1/4 or 1/2 c coconut flakes to a small dry skillet and stir over medium heat constantly until it’s toasted to your liking. Store in an airtight container or plastic bag.

Light Caramel Coconut Ice Cream

Makes– Approximately 1 qt

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream (divided)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 c sweetened dried coconut
  • 5 egg yolks
  • Optional – 1/2 c toasted coconut for serving

Directions

    Place 1 c heavy cream in plastic container and set a fine mesh strainer on top. Warm remaining cup of cream and milk in a liquid measuring cup in the microwave for 1 minute.
    Place sugar in the bottom of a dry saucepan over medium heat. Allow sugar to caramelize to a light caramel color, stirring only as the bottom layer dissolves. Once all the sugar is liquid, add coconut oil and stir then add warm cream mixture slowly. Add 1/4 shredded coconut. Continue to cook until any hardened caramel dissolves again and mixture is warmed through.
    Separate yolks and place them in the now empty measuring cup. Slowly pour warm caramel cream over your yolks while stirring constantly to temper your eggs.
    Mix eggs back into the pan. Stir constantly until custard thickens and you can swipe a streak on the back of your spoon or spatula.
    Strain through mesh strainer and into reserved cream. Press on the coconut in the strainer to get every good flavor through them discard solids. Stir custard to blend then cool on counter until no longer steaming (about half an hour).
    Chill overnight in you refrigerator then churn according to you ice cream machine’s instructions.

Printing a Summer Schedule for Kids

The children’s curriculum we use at church has this App I sometimes check out called Parent Cue.  It’s really great and I should use it more regularly.  My favorite feature is called Phase that gives me tips for things to do or watch for with the child development stage my kids are currently in.  Mine are only 2 years apart, so some things I get for the younger one that I remember getting for the older one a couple of years ago.

Like this one…

 

Because kids in elementary are so used to a schedule at school that keeps them moving I made a Summer Schedule that I keep in the kitchen. 

I have one for the school year too, and I’ll share that come fall, who wants to think about school yet?! It is a guide and no more really, but it varies what my kids do so there isn’t a zombie-like watching of television day ending before they’re tired and want to fight bedtime.

Last year I first made this and went over it with the kids that most days we’ll spend time doing these sorts of things, but plenty of days will be special and we won’t do anything like this.  Like this week when we had a 4-day on-campus kids camp at church.  Their days did not follow a schedule, and that’s just fine.

Mom Secret: Room Time is so great!  It’s only an hour and yes, the kids fuss about it a little.  The rules are they must stay in their rooms.  They can come out to go to the bathroom, but they have to go back to their room right after.  They can play or read or draw or anything.  Sometimes they rest on their beds.  By the end of the hour, they are usually so busy with something creative they aren’t ready to come out.

Here’s  a PDF or a  printable/editable word document if you want to make your own.  I used fun fonts you may not have: Speedball No 3, Segoe Script, and Yummy Cupcakes, so you may either download new fonts (they’re free online) or substitute for your own.  

I hope this helps you enjoy all the time you get with your kids this summer.

Making my Trash Lighter and Smell less

Do you recycle? I’m a huge fan. We’ve been privileged to always have curbside services for the past 12 years, but that still just covers paper, and the other stuff.

I take my extra plastic bags to the recycling bin at the grocery store or I use them as garbage liners… or to clean the litter box. As long as they don’t have stuck on food, I also recycle produce bags, ziplock, and bread bags.

I compost too. Not in a fancy way. I put egg shells, coffee grounds, and produce waste in a big bowl I keep under my sink then I dump it in my garden plot. I cover it with leaves sometimes, but that’s about the extent of my compost skills. The cool thing is all the free plants I’m getting this year. I’m not sure what they all are yet. Ha! Garden roulette!

Stuff I can’t compost I try to put down the garbage disposal. Just keeping rot out of my trash if possible.

I also learned you can recycle clothes and shoes. Not the good quality ones you can drop off at Salvation Army or Goodwill, I mean the ones you can’t. If you’re about to throw away a pair of shoes because the sole came off or a pair of jeans that isn’t repairable, old underwear and stained socks, or even your fabric scraps from a craft project, WAIT! You can put them in a bag (reused plastic bags please) and drop them at these places…

Check out the website for your metal drop off bin and if they say they reuse the good stuff, but the other they sort out and sell for all kinds of uses, like stuffing upholstery, feel free to drop off your scraps. How cool is that?! You can’t count it as charitable donation on your taxes because they are for profit, so I usually just drop off the stuff I would have thrown away and take the good stuff to Once Upon a Child or Goodwill. They pay their drop off locations too, and this one is at my kids’ school so I’m getting to support them a little too.

How about you? What’s your favorite way to reuse or recycle?

Homemade Pizza Lunchable

My kids have limited likes when it comes to food. We did our spring break on the cheap and packed sandwich fixings for all our meals for several days of traveling. My daughter swore off PB and Nutella sandwiches by the third one and nearly starved. That was her “usual” packed lunch so I asked her what I should put in her lunch if she was sick of the same ol’.

She wanted pizza lunchables.

But she doesn’t like pepperoni or other things in a pizza lunchable.

So I made them myself. I’m guessing it’s cost effective. I’m not sure what the price on the store ones are, but these are easier than I suspected and almost everything edible is cheaper homemade.

I make my favorite homemade pizza dough. I use America’s Test Kitchen’s New York style. You make the whole thing in the food processor and put it in the fridge overnight.

I divide it into 16 or so semi-equal pieces and roll them out to 5 inch rounds and cook them on a pizza stone at 500 degrees like pita. It takes just 3 minutes or so for each crust and I can do them as I roll so it’s pretty quick.

I set them on a plate and let them cool. Then most get tossed in a freezer bag. I’ll keep the ones in the fridge for a week’s worth of lunches. Each one is like a large slice of pizza, so just one a lunch is enough for my second grader.

Then all I need is pizza sauce (I add sugar and tomato paste to homemade marinara but you could just buy pizza sauce) and mozzarella.

I sometimes give her sliced black olives too, but I’m out.

Now if only my son ate pizza. 🙂

Renewing This Spirit

I’m kinda having the best day ever. I could have subbed today. I could have worked on some things at home, but instead I spent the day reading a great book on Jonah by Timothy Keller and catching up in my Reader’s Bible.

Ahhh… spiritual renewal.

Not a Sabbath or a time of silence and solitude really, though there was some of both, but really just enjoying what The Word was teaching me.

I started here, but after getting up once this happened…

So now I’m here.

When was the last time I did this. I can’t remember, but it’s been sooo good I must do it again.

How about you? What does spiritual renewal look like for you?