Category: Home

Friday Finds: A Fancy New Bread Machine



I’ve always been nuts for small kitchen appliances. I don’t know what it is, but if it’s a kitchen appliance, I absolutely love it, and want it. The fancier the better! When we were registering for wedding gifts, my poor husband-to-be just kept rolling his eyes over my excitement at Bed Bath & Beyond. But he knows me well. Throughout our almost 10 years of marriage, he’s kept me happy with appliances (among other things, of course). A Cuisinart Griddler made an appearance last Christmas, and I was thrilled! We use that a lot.

This past Christmas, he upped the ante, and gave me something I’ve been wanting for a while. A Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme! If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a fancy bread machine. And when I say fancy, I mean, this sucker will make meatloaf. What other bread machine can do that? The instruction booklet has a ton of recipes, including many different breads, of course, but also jams, cakes, meatloaf, and even sourdough starter. So far, I’ve only made the cinnamon raisin bread, and it was a huge hit with the family. I also like to make pizza dough in the bread machine, and the recipe for that was quite tasty as well.

The main reason I wanted this particular bread machine is that it makes a horizontal loaf, instead of a vertical loaf which many other bread machines make. I borrowed a bread machine from my mother-in-law for a while to make sure I would use it before investing in one, and it did a great job, but the loaf was just funny-looking. Here’s a brief rundown of what else I love about this machine:

  • normal-looking loaf
  • easy to use
  • programmable/delay start (fresh bread in the morning!)
  • gluten-free setting, if we ever need gluten-free bread
  • 2-lb loaf, perfect family size
  • versatile – it will make just about anything
  • 10 minute power failure backup
  • crust choices: light, medium, or dark

Anyway, I’ll stop gushing about my fancy new bread machine, and wrap it up. But seriously, this machine came with an instructional DVD. Now THAT’S fancy.

21 Uses for Melaleuca or Tea Tree Oil


Melaleuca, or Tea Tree essential oil has been around for centuries. It’s a great all-purpose oil and is a must have in your natural first aid kit. There are so many uses for this oil, I can’t even list them all here, or it would take forever! It’s antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, antifungal, an insecticide, and a stimulant. It helps the body fight off disease, bacteria, infection, virus, and illness. The list below is a great way to get started, though.

  • Acne/Pimples: put a drop on a cotton swab or your finger and apply to individual spots before bed and in the morning
  • Athlete’s Foot: mix 2 dops of Melaleuca with 1 drop of lavender, dip a cotton ball in the mixture and apply between toes and around nails
  • Bee Stings: remove stinger, if necessary, then apply 1 drop of Melaleuca oil every four hours, as needed
  • Blackheads: apply oil directly to spots at night and in the morning
  • Bronchitis/Congestion: add 5 drops of Melaleuca oil to a bowl of steaming water and inhale for 5-10 minutes; or, add a few drops to a tissue and inhale throughout the day
  • Calluses: apply oil directly to area, then cover with an adhesive bandage; repeat daily until you see results
  • Chapped Lips: add 1-3 drops of oil to 1 tablespoon of petroleum jelly, or an oil such as jojoba, grapeseed or sweet almond oil and mix with a toothpick. Store in a small container. Apply to chapped lips every 20-30 minutes, as needed
  • Diaper Rash: Mix 2-4 drops of Melaleuca oil with 2 tablespoons of witch hazel; shake vigorously, then apply to area as needed
  • Ear Infections/Earache: Soak a cotton ball in 3 drops of Melaleuca and 2 drops of lavender oil; plug ear
  • Flu: Use steam inhalation as for congestion, as well as the tissue inhalation method. Also try the Cold/Flu Bomb
  • Foot Odor: Each morning, massage a few drops of Melaleuca into your feet; also put a drop or two into your shoes
  • Hives: Massage a few drops of Melaleuca on to the affected area
  • Insect Bites: Apply a drop of Melaleuca oil to bite to relieve itch
  • Prickly Heat: Massage a few drops onto affected area
  • Sore Throat: Add 7-8 drops to a cup of warm water and gargle. 2-3 times daily
  • Stiff Neck: Mix 2-4 drops of Melaleuca with jojoba or fractionated coconut oil and massage into the affected area as needed
  • Sunburn and Burns: apply directly to affected are to relieve burn
  • Sweaty Feet: see Foot Odor, above
  • Ticks: Apply oil to the tick and surrounding area; after 20-30 minutes, carefully remove tick if it has not already fallen off. Keep applying oil to prevent infection and sooth wound
  • Tonsilitis: See sore throat, above
  • Warts: Apply oil directly to wart 3-4 times a day. Be persistent; it can take a few weeks to be effective

There are also many uses for Melaleuca oil in the home, but that’s a post for another day! As always, don’t forget to use the coupon code SMOORE to receive 10% off your order at Spark Naturals!


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor; these are only suggestions for uses of this powerful essential oil. Please see your health care practitioner for medical issues.


  • The Tea Tree Oil Bible: Your Essential Guide to Health and Home Uses
  • The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

Menu Plan Monday: January 13 – 19, 2014


Menu planning is something I started a little over 2 years ago in order to help with the crazy weeknight routine. At that time, both my husband and I were working full-time jobs, both kids were in daycare all day, and we were spending way too much money on take-out and pizza. Something had to give! It was so nice to come home from work and not have to worry about what we were going to eat, where we were going to get it, or how much money it would take.

Now that I’m no longer working outside of the home, I have more time for cooking, but the budget is more of a concern. Planning out each week’s menu is a huge help when you’re working with a budget. I typically do all of the shopping for the week on one trip, whereas I used to pop into the store after work up to 4 times a week to get what we needed, spending more money each trip. If you plan your menu around what’s on sale at the stores, you can save even more money, but I’m still working up to that.

Now, on to this week’s menu!

January  13 – 19

What are you cooking up this week?

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Getting Organized: My New Blog Planner


When I decided to start blogging again with a new blog and everything, I decided I was going to do it right and be organized from the get-go. I’m working on setting goals and planning things better in order to be more successful. So, I decided I needed a nifty blog planner. The search began.

If you’ve ever looked on Pinterest for a Blog Planner, you’ll know what I mean when I saw “Holy Cow!”. There are lots of free printables out there, all beautifully designed and useful…and did I mention FREE? Lots of bloggers have a hard time finding a planner that works for them, so they design their own, then offer it for free to other bloggers. I love this.

After clicking through and checking out quite a few different planners, I finally found on that spoke to me: The 2014 Monthly Blog Planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler.


Isn’t it pretty? I’m so tickled with how it turned out. I pretty much stuck with how it was laid out; there’s the month-at-a-glance calendar, and a page for each month to keep track of stats, jot down notes and ideas, and inspiring websites.


There are also entire sections devoted to Giveaways & Reviews, Advertising, and Brainstorming & Notes. I printed lots of the Notes pages so I wouldn’t have to use a separate notebook to jot ideas down (I have about 5 different notebooks I use regularly, because I can never seem to find the one I’m looking for!).


I did add a few other pages from A Well Crafted Party: tracking sheets for blog finances, sponsors, affiliates, and collaborations.That’s what I love about putting together my own planner: I can add other pages I need, and leave out the pages I don’t.

So, once I determined which pages I wanted, and figured out the placement, I printed them all out on my printer. Next time I do something like this, I’ll use a heavier stock of paper, but other than that, I think it turned out great. I also added some divider pages that I printed on cardstock. Then I put everything together, and stuffed it all in a manila folder.

In her original post, Erica of Confessions of a Homeschooler mentioned that she took her printed planner to Staples to have it bound. AWESOME idea. I took my folder to the Staples Copy and Print Center and had my planner bound with a navy blue spiral coil, and also added a clear front cover and a nice rigid back cover, also in navy blue. Love.It. It looks so professional, and I’m almost giddy with excitement. Can you tell I like office products? Best part? The binding and covers only cost a little over $4.

While I was at Staples, I picked up Post-It Tabs to label the sections. Super easy, and it’ll make everything easier to find.


I’m so excited to use this planner throughout the year! Hopefully it’ll keep me on track, and help me to stay motivated to keep blogging.

Erica also has a complete 2014 Daily Planner that I purchased, and will be putting that together soon! I’m excited about that one, too.

Buying in Bulk: Saving Money with #10 Cans



I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money, especially now that we’re a single-income family. I use coupons, I shop at warehouse clubs, I shop the sales, and I buy store brand products when I can (at least the good ones). Grocery prices just seem to keep going up; just yesterday I noticed that our favorite brand of bread is now over $3 per loaf. The store brand of the same variety of bread is $1.99. That’s a no-brainer. And that particular store brand bread is very good. I love Publix.

Something I’ve been contemplating for a while is buying more things in bulk. I love shopping at Sam’s, and do so regularly, but I generally buy the same things every time. I have been buying the large pack of single-serving applesauce cups for a while now, and the kids love them. On my most recent shopping trip, I noticed that the price had gone up to $10.68 for 36-4 ounce cups. That’s $.30 a cup, or $.07 an ounce. Not too bad, I guess, since it’s healthy-ish, and they never last long in our house.


A while ago I noticed a #10 can of applesauce for only $4.48. If you don’t know what a #10 can is, it’s A LOT of food stuffed into a large can. In this case, it’s the White House brand of applesauce, and the can is 108 ounces. Doing a little math here, you can get 27-4 ounce cups of applesauce out of this can. For only $4.48 for the huge can, it works out to $.17 a cup, or $.04 an ounce. Ummm, I think I’ll skip the convenience and go for the giant can. I tossed one in the cart today.


The next question, and the reason I hadn’t bought one of these cans before now, was how in the world are we going to eat all of this applesauce before it goes bad? Answer: small containers! I made my own single-serving cups of applesauce in my small, 4 ounce Rubbermaid containers. Four ounces is the size of the other brand’s individual cups, so the kids are used to this amount. Plus, it’s a regular serving size anyway.

I spooned applesauce into 6 small cups, and tossed those in the fridge. Since I only had 6 of the small cups, I spooned applesauce into a larger 3 cup container to keep in the fridge in order to refill the the small ones as they empty (after washing, of course). This amount should keep us happy for a while.

And of course, I didn’t want to waste what was left in the can, so I filled up a freezer bag with the remaining applesauce and tossed that in the freezer. Phew! That was a lot of applesauce.

So what does a #10 can of applesauce look like all divided up? Here’s a visual:


I know the savings is only $.03 an ounce, but you’re also saving on packaging. The containers that you use are ones that you’ll use over and over, instead of just tossing them in the recycling bin. And, in the long run, it’ll all add up. Don’t be afraid of the giant cans! I think my next adventure with #10 cans will be with ketchup. My kids eat that stuff like candy.

Essential Oil of the Month: Peppermint


Essential oils can be used for so many different things, so I thought I might start sharing some great uses of a different oil each month. This month, it’s Peppermint!

Peppermint has long been used as a digestive aid; why do you think so many restaurants offer peppermint candies as you leave? It helps settle the stomach after a meal, and can improve digestion. Here’s a list of other uses:

  • Motion sickness: rub onto your abdomen (you may want to use a carrier oil and do a bit of massage), and on the inside of your wrists
  • Add to your diffuser or place 1-2 drops onto a tissue and inhale to help avoid snacking
  • Massage a few drops onto your temples and on the back of your neck to help relieve headaches
  • Use the tissue method to help improve concentration and to increase mental accuracy and memory
  • Add a few drops to a cotton ball and rub along window frames and doorjams to repel bugs and pests, including mice. You can also just leave the cotton ball in corners of cabinets and pantries. I have two under my sink! You can also mix with water in a spray bottle and spray in nooks and crannies to keep away those annoying pests; make sure you shake the bottle before spraying
  • Inhale to help with nausea and after vomiting to help sooth the stomach
  • Mix a drop of peppermint oil with a bit of lavender to soothe the itch of sunburn; cool and refreshing!
  • Tired feet? Add peppermint to a carrier oil and massage your cares away
  • If you need a pick-me-up, inhale from a tissue and get a non-stimulant boost of energy
  • Add a few drops to a carrier oil and massage onto chest to help clear sinus and lung congestion

These are just a few of the many uses for Peppermint Oil. I may just have to add a drop to my ice water for an afternoon boost.

If you’re interested in receiving a new essential oil each month, Spark Naturals has an Oil of the Month Club! Each month they’ll send you a new oil for only $15.99, shipping and tax included. This is a great way to build your collection.


Getting Started with Essential Oils


Getting started with Essential Oils is easier than you might think. There are so many great resources out there; all it takes is a little reading! The first step I took, aside from reading blogs and other information on the internet, was ordering The Complete Book or Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. This book is an awesome resource, and I refer to it almost daily. There are recipes for beauty, health, and even things for your home like all-natural cleaners.

But which oils should I start with, and what can I do with them? I recommend starting with the most popular oils: Melaleuca (or Tea Tree), Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint. So many basic recipes call for one or more of these oils, so you can’t go wrong. All four of these oils are versatile, user-friendly, affordable, and good for all members of the family.

Here are some quick uses for these oils:


  • Apply to feet to combat athlete’s foot or any fungal infection
  • Diffuse or use steam inhalation to help with congestion or other respiratory ailments
  • Apply directly to cuts and scrapes to disinfect the wound and promote healing


  • Apply directly to burns to take the sting away – keep some in the kitchen!
  • Got an itchy bug bite? Apply a drop of lavender
  • Add to bath to aid in relaxation, and lessen anxiety


  • Diffuse to cleanse the air and enhance moods
  • Great for cleaning and disinfecting around the house
  • Gargle with warm water to help clean your mouth


  • Rub a few drops on your temples to ease tension
  • Dilute with a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil, and rub on abdomen to aid with stomach discomfort
  • Diffuse to help with congestion

These are just a few suggestions on how to use these oils. There are so many more ways to use them! If you’re new to oils, and would like to try these out but don’t want to spend a fortune, Spark Naturals has a kit to get you started! The Essential 4-Pack includes all four oils at a great price. And, don’t forget to enter the coupon code SMOORE to save 10%. And, right now you can even get free shipping on any order! Don’t pass up this opportunity.



My Essential Oil Journey – The Beginning


For many years I relied on doctors and what they prescribed without a second thought when a healthcare issue arose. I didn’t think about there being another way to heal common problems such as colds, allergies, the flu, as well as minor injuries like bug bites and scrapes.. It wasn’t until about a year ago when I was reading a book in which the main character, a nurse, was transported back in time and was forced to find her own methods of healing, as modern medicine was no longer available to her. I started thinking more on the subject of home remedies, and how I might incorporate some new remedies into our home. Through this research, I discovered Essential Oils and now I’m hooked!

There are so many different oils, and so many ways to use them all, I’m just amazed. I’m still learning, and always looking for more great resources. There are tons of blogs out there, and I’ve found one in particular, Camp Wander, that’s provided me with so much information and help. Rebecca has a remedy for practically everything, and reading through these remedies has really piqued my interest. I’ve been trying out some things here and there, and have many more recipes and ideas to try.

If you’re looking to get started using essential oils, Spark Naturals is a great place to get your oils. Spark offers reasonably priced, therapeutic-grade oils, and you don’t have to join an MLM to get them.

The first oil I purchased was Melaleuca, or Tea Tree Oil. This oil has so many uses, it’s a must-have in your medicine cabinet! It’s anti-fungal, antimicrobial, and antiviral. My husband has used it on his feet for athlete’s foot flare-ups, without complaint (and that says a lot!). I’ve also been using it lately to help prevent and treat colds and flu.

I’ll be posting more about oils and their uses, so be sure to check back!