Tuesday, February 27, 2018

rise and shine

Now that it's almost spring, we are closer to more sunshine and longer daylight hours. Can I get a hallelujah on that one? I find I naturally wake earlier in the sunnier, warmer months, how about you?

As a member of the Wayfair Homemaker program, I have been compensated for this post. All ideas and opinions are completely my own.

The first thing I do when I wake up is start brewing my coffee and getting the cats fed. I'm not one to eat a big breakfast right away, but I do have a Lara bar with my coffee. In the late morning, I'll then usually have a fruit and veggie smoothie or gluten-free toast with almond butter and sliced banana on top.
However, on a weekend when Brian's off work, I sometimes make a breakfast casserole. These are easy to assemble the night before and then just pop in the oven in the morning. This recipe would also be perfect for overnight company. What's great about breakfast casseroles is not only are they easy to make and assemble, but the recipe is simple to adjust to anyone's taste. Don't like peppers? Leave them out. Prefer mushrooms? Add them in. Vegetarian? Leave out the meat. You get the idea.

I chose this beautiful Le Creuset stoneware baking dish from Wayfair to bake my breakfast casserole. Wayfair has a wonderful variety of baking and casserole dishes to choose from, which you can find here

It's the perfect size and depth for any kind of casseroles or even a small roast.

4 cups peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, diced
7 slices bacon, cooked (or substitute cooked breakfast sausage or ham)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 medium sized onion, diced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
8 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sprinkle of paprika
2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used 1 cup Colby Jack & 1 cup Gruyere)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Boil diced potatoes for 5 minutes, then drain & let cool slightly.  

While potatoes are boiling, saute the peppers and onion in 1 T oil until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Place cooked potatoes and vegetables into a greased 13x9" baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, then gently mix. 

In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper, and paprika until eggs are thoroughly mixed. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese into the egg mixture and gently stir.

Pour egg mixture over the potatoes and vegetables in the baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese.

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take casserole out of oven, remove the foil, and continue baking for another 15-30 minutes, depending on the depth of your pan. The casserole should be set - not watery - in the middle. I found with this deeper Le Creuset dish, I needed the longer baking time.

Bring the beautiful casserole dish to the table...

Uncover and get ready to dig in!

Cut casserole into squares and serve with fruit for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Maybe this breakfast casserole will inspire you to get out of bed earlier!
Have a wonderful week.

Friday, February 23, 2018

purifying houseplants

Several people have asked me to write about houseplants and which ones purify the air in your house. Since I'm a plant lover, I was more than happy to do a little research and oblige.

Unfortunately, many of the things in our home ~ particle board, paneling, printing ink, paint, paint varnish and remover, paper napkins and facial tissue, furniture wax, floor waxes, synthetic fibers and plastics ~ are filled with toxins such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia. Some of the side effects of these toxins on humans can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, irritation of the nose, mouth and throat, drowsiness, increased heart rate, confusion, and liver and kidney damage. Of course, this all depends on factors such as the amount you are exposed to, and the amount of time you're exposed.

Some of the more common and easy-to-care-for plants that help purify the air are:

Spider plant


(Source: Home Depot)


(Source: Gardening Know How)

Peace Lily

(Source: Walmart)

Snake Plant

The tall plant in the large white pot in front of the fireplace is Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue.

This is also a Snake Plant, but a much smaller version. I found this one at IKEA.

Bamboo Palm

(Source: Gardening Know How)


As with any houseplants, if you have pets that might eat these, please check before you buy to make sure the plant isn't poisonous to pets.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

no more slippery rugs

We have a ranch style house and so our entire first floor encompasses most of our living space. All the rooms except the two bathrooms have hardwood floors. So it goes without saying that we have rugs in every room. Some of our rugs have a backing that prevents them from slipping. Others don't. Or else, the backing is cheap and has become worn, so the rug now slips.

Such is the case with the hallway rug. I got this at Target years ago (not available anymore). Since the original backing wasn't strong enough to grip the hardwood floors, I initially bought one of those off-the-shelf cheap plastic pads that go underneath rugs. That worked fine for maybe a year, but I always worried about the damage it might cause to the finish on my hardwood floor. I also didn't like the fact that these cheap rug pads are made overseas and are filled with toxins. However, I didn't know I had a choice!

Enter RugPadUSA. When they reached out to me to do a blog post on one of their rug pads with my honest opinion, I took a look at their web site and was impressed by the facts that their pads are made in the USA; are made from rubber instead of plastic; the materials used won't mar any floor finish; the pads don't include any phthalates; and because they use fewer and high quality ingredients in their pads, they last longer. 

I was also impressed that there was a variety of pads to choose from, depending on floor type (hardwood, laminate, stone or tile and even carpet), material (there's even felt pads!) and function. And, these pads are not a "one size fits all". They're custom cut depending on the measurement of your rug. No more buying standard size and then having to trim a pad yourself to fit.

Since my hallway rug was constantly slipping ~ especially when the cats tore down the hallway in a crazy game of chase ~ I chose the anchor grip, as this was one of the choices for "exceptional traction". It even has a 20-year warranty!

We've had this pad in place for about two weeks now and the rug has not budged one iota. Not with all the foot traffic or crazy cats chasing each other down the hallway.

We are so impressed by the quality and function of this rug pad (not to mention the attributes mentioned at the beginning of this post), that I will be ordering a pad to go underneath the slippery, non-padded rug in the spare room...

and another for the slippery, vintage rug by my back kitchen door.

RugPadUSA is kindly offering my readers another 5% off the already marked-down 15-20% off pads until March 14, 2018 using the coupon code COMFYHOUSE at checkout. I hope you will take advantage of this offer and try out a rug pad for your own home!

Disclaimer: I received a rug pad from RugPadUSA in exchange for my honest, personal opinion.

Monday, February 19, 2018

natural ways to keep your home healthy

At first I was going to talk about how to keep your home healthy this winter, but then realized not only is winter almost over (whew!), but it doesn't matter what season it is ~ a healthy home is important year-round. 

One way to keep your home healthy is to diffuse essential oils. Just make sure you're buying pure, quality oils - not fragrance oils. Some recommended brands are NOW, doTERRA, Young Living, Edens Garden, Rocky Mountain Oils, and Mountain Rose Herbs. (Disclaimer: Consult with your veterinarian before diffusing essential oils in any household with pets.)

To purify the air with antiseptic and antibacterial properties, make your own combination of Thieves Oil using clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary oils. You can find a variation of recipes here, as well as the history of Thieves Oil. You can also use these recipes as a disinfectant spray or a massage oil.

This is my box of essential oils, so far. I'm building my collection! I love this wooden box ~ it holds my 1 oz bottles perfectly and is very sturdy. It also comes with labels for the tops of the bottles, which is very helpful. This isn't a sponsored post; it's just something I love and thought I'd share. You can find this box and labels here

 I have a diffuser in the spare room where I'm often on my laptop or doing yoga. I know this diffuser isn't particularly pretty, but I got it for free (in exchange for a honest online review) a couple of years ago, so I can't complain. ;-) 

Wiping down all the surfaces in your house that get dirty and where germs collect ~ countertops, sinks, faucet handles, refrigerator handle and doorknobs ~ is an important task to do every day to keep your home (and yourself) healthy. Please do not use disinfectant wipes such as Clorox or Lysol. They are simply loaded with chemicals which are not only bad for your own health, but the environment. See the list of ingredients from The Environmental Working Group and more information on the ingredients and dangers of these wipes at Women's Voices

It's best (and easy!) to make your own natural disinfecting spray using essential oils, or to buy a brand with the most natural ingredients, such as Dr. Bronner's, Aussan Natural, Eco-Me, or Better Life. One of my go-to homemade disinfecting sprays takes less than two minutes to make. You can use this cleaner on kitchen counters, stove, appliances, floors, mirrors, and in the bathroom. At first, I was skeptical about using this cleaner on mirrors, but I can attest to the fact that it cleans better than Windex ~ which is another cleaner that's full of chemicals. Just make sure you don't use this cleaner on granite or marble as these surfaces are porous and can be damaged with vinegar:

1 cup purified or distilled water
1 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup witch hazel
20 drops essential lemon oil

Instructions: Using a funnel, pour all ingredients into a spray bottle. Shake before using.

More easy disinfecting spray recipes:

Of course, one of the most important things you can do in order to keep your home healthy in the first place, is to wash your hands with plain soap and water frequently, especially after being out in public or around sick people. Skip the antibacterial soap as they contain harmful ingredients and help create drug-resistant mutant germs. Click here - ABC News for just one of the many news or medical articles out there on this subject.

If you have other ways you help keep your home naturally healthy, please share with us!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

mid-february ~ snow and valentine's day dinner fail

 We got a whopping of snow this past weekend. It didn't seem to stop. Every day, there was a fresh layer. It looked pretty at first, but I'm sure glad I didn't have to shovel, as both Brian and Tim were around when the porch, sidewalk and driveway need shoveling.

 As pretty as the freshly fallen snow is, there's also the reality side (besides the shoveling). For all of you in warm climates that don't get snow, here's what the garage looks like after a snow-covered car has been parked there. Why they didn't build this garage with a drain in the floor is beyond me.

And then there's the snow mountains on the sides of the driveway that seem like they'll never melt.

However, today dawned beautiful and sunny and it's now 40 degrees. I can't tell you how good that temp feels after being used to temps in the single digits. The birds were actually out in droves at the feeder this morning and they were chirping and singing. A sound I hadn't heard in months. You don't realize how delightful that sound is until it's new to you again. I opened the living room window so the kitties could see and hear the birds, too. Bonus: The house got a nice airing-out.

So, it's Valentine's Day. No big deal around my house, really. We just exchange cards and I like to make a nice dinner.

I had that nice dinner all planned. I was going to make the pork tenderloin recipe found here along with combo-mashed potatoes (sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes) and steamed broccoli. I even remembered to take the pork tenderloin out of the freezer last night to thaw. I'm so organized, right? Yay, me.

Ha! I went online this afternoon to check the cooking instructions for the pork tenderloin. I wanted to see how long it was going to take to put together and cook in the oven, as I wanted to time it with the mashed potatoes. That's when I found out it was a Crockpot recipe! I was supposed to put the pork in the Crockpot this morning. Oops.

Looks like pizza or Chinese take-out for our Valentine's Day dinner!

Monday, February 5, 2018

for today

For Today

Looking out my window ~
I see hazy morning light and snow on the ground. So does Monkey.
After getting 5" of snow yesterday, it's frigidly cold here again. It was -3F when I woke up this morning. We're due for more snow this afternoon into tonight.

I am thinking ~
About the day ahead of me. I have homemade chicken stock going in the Crockpot; I need to do my yoga practice, clean cat boxes, do laundry, and work on an ongoing project in the basement. This afternoon, I need to start dinner, which will be a vegetarian jambalya. 

I am thankful ~
That I don't need to run any errands today.

One of my favorite things ~

Fresh flowers in the house, even in winter. Especially in winter!

I am creating ~
{whether you are a knitter, mixed-media artist, enjoy scrap-booking, etc., share}
A cozy corner in the spare room. This is a naked IKEA chair. The slipcover was dirty and dusty from this chair being stored in the basement, so I washed it yesterday and now it's hanging to dry. The slipcover is the original that came with the chair - it's black - so next time I go to IKEA, I'm picking up a white slipcover.

I am wearing ~
Yoga pants, a long-sleeved cotton shirt with a tank top underneath, thick socks.

I am reading (read) /watching (watched) / listening to ~
{share favorite titles, give a book review or pass along a current movie, podcast, music video, or television series you are enjoying}
Just started The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg last night. 

The only TV show I watch is This is Us. Did you see last night's episode after the Super Bowl?!

Music...I've been listening to "coffee table jazz" on Spotify, playing it through the Bose speaker in the living room. The music is very relaxing.

I am hoping ~
that the groundhog was wrong and that there won't be six more weeks of winter.

I am learning ~
that chopping vegetables can be very cathartic.

In my kitchen ~
{share your kitchen adventures, weekly menu, as well as recipes}
Chicken carcass and vegetable scraps for broth...

Paleo blueberry muffins (made with almond flour and pure maple syrup)...

Chopping vegetables for homemade soup yesterday...

Getting ready to make the veggie jambalya...

The jambalaya recipe is from this cookbook...

Post Script ~
{add a favorite link that you would like to pass along. It can be someone else's website, etsy shop, instagram feed, facebook link OR it can be your own}
I love this house! It's a cottage in Little Rock, Arkansas designed by Kathryn J. LeMaster. The colors, design and collections are so charming.

Shared Quote ~
{share a favorite quote}

"I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude." ~ Henry David Thoreau

A moment from my day ~
{share a picture with us of your daily-ness}
Monkey on top of the clean laundry I'm supposed to be folding.

If you're interested in participating in doing a post for The Simple Woman's Daybook, see the guidelines here