Simplify the Season : A Round-Up

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama (a round-up)

I hope you’ve been able to relax and actually enjoy the holiday season this year and take some time to really appreciate the true meaning of the season.  Today I’m rounding-up the Simplify the Season series with a visual of all the ways you can simplify the season – the links are below the pics – enjoy!

  1. Clean Your Oven
  2. Simplified Filing Station – free printable
  3. Make a Sick Kit
  4. Quick Clean Checklist – free printables
  5. Holiday Menu Planner – free printables
  6. Put Together a Baking Kit
  7. Speed Clean Your Bathrooms
  8. How to Clean Baking Pans
  9. It’s Okay to Change a Tradition
  10. Simple Christmas Mantel
  11. Glass Ornament Tutorials
  12. Easy Ice Decor
  13. 5 Minute Fudge
  14. All-Natural Hot Cocoa
  15. Natural Air Freshener

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

 

 

 

Simplify the Season : All-Natural Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

All-Natural Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix via Clean Mama

This recipe for homemade hot chocolate is great for gifting or just for keeping in your cupboard for cold days.  It will store for a few months in a cool dark place and in a covered container.

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa – I used double dutch process cocoa, but regular cocoa will work just as well
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine with a wire whisk.  Transfer to a 4 cup canning jar or other smaller containers for gifting.

To mix up as hot chocolate, simply add 2 tablespoons of the mix to one cup of hot milk (any type will work, but whole milk will give you the richest and smoothest hot chocolate)  If you are a non-cow’s milk family you could experiment with soy and almond milk as well.

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

Simplify the Season : Outdoor Ice Decor

Outdoor Ice Decorations via Clean Mama

Outdoor ice decor is pretty simple to pull off when you’re busy.  Use containers that you have on hand for your ice decor molds and bits of nature from your yard or refrigerator and you’ll have a festive outside decoration in no time (or as long as the ice takes to freeze).   This is a fun little project for kids to get involved in too!  What can you make?  A wreath to hang from a tree or bird feeder, candle holders or luminaries to line a porch, driveway or walkway (use candles at your own risk or use battery operated candles), outdoor tree ornaments, lawn decorations…..  Unfortunately, this will only work for those of you whose weather is below freezing – a perk of living in the midwest, I guess!

Gather a container or containers to make your ice mold(s).  Grab a few sprigs of pine boughs, cranberries, or any other winter-y natural decor and get started.  Place the natural items in your container – we used a vintage gelatin mold, pine branches and cranberries.  Add water to fill and carefully place in your freezer and freeze for a few hours or overnight.  Run the back of the container under warm water to un-mold and bring outside.

Outdoor Ice Decorations

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

Simplify the Season : Make a Simmer

Natural Air Freshener - Make a Simmer via Clean Mama

Not feeling festive yet?  Try a little simmer – it will get your home smelling festive in a hurry.  Gather any combination of the following ingredients – you only NEED one or two things, but you can combine to your heart’s content.  (This isn’t just for holidays either – it’s a great way to scent your kitchen anytime!)

  • lemons
  • oranges
  • cinnamon sticks
  • whole cloves
  • cranberries
  • fresh herbs
  • essential oils (just a drop or two is all you need)
  • 4 cups water

Ingredients for a Natural Air Freshener - Make a Simmer via Clean Mama

Combine ingredients with water in a saucepan and put on your stove.  Set heat to low and let the ingredients simmer away as long as you’d like.  (Keep an eye on the water so it doesn’t boil over or scorch.)

Stovetop Simmer via Clean Mama

 

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

Simplify the Season : 5 Minute Fudge

5 Minute Fudge via Clean Mama

This week I’m sharing some simple ways to add a little last minute holiday cheer in your busy schedule.  Today I’m sharing my favorite recipe for fudge.  I’ve slightly adapted the recipe from here.  This recipe is delicious and it’s so easy that my 2 older kids can mix it up all by themselves from start to finish.

  •  12  ounce package  semisweet chocolate pieces (2 cups) – this can be milk chocolate chips 60% cacao chips, or a combination of 2 or 3 types of chocolate
  • 2/3  cup  sweetened condensed milk – about a half a container
  • 1/2 tablespoon – 1  tablespoon  water – add a little bit at a time until the fudge becomes smooth
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla
  • optional add-ins or add-ons  – nuts, candy, peppermint pieces

Line a small container or cookie sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper (the optimal size is 6 inches x 9 inches).  Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe container and heat on 1 minute intervals stirring every minute or so until the mixture is starting to melt.  (Don’t have a microwave? Use a double boiler on your stove for the same results.)  Add water, vanilla, and any other add-ins.  Stir until smooth.  Spread fudge in container and cool in refrigerator.  Remove when hardened, cut into 1 inch squares, store in the refrigerator, and serve to friends and family.  Makes about 24 – 1 .5 inch fudge cubes.

5 Minute Fudge 2 via Clean Mama

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

Simplify the Season : 12 Simple Tutorials That Use Glass Ornaments

12 Simple Tutorials that Use Glass Ornaments via Clean Mama

I love making and crafting and glittering and gluing, but most of the time there just isn’t time for all the pretty things I’d love to create.  And, if I’m going to make and craft I like to include my little ones in on the fun too.  If you need a quick and cute craft that involves the whole family AND can be gifted as well, look no further than the glass ornament.  Grab an idea or two and a box of clear glass (or plastic) ornaments and craft away.  I like to choose one new one to make each year with my kids to remember the year – they also make great gifts!  I’ve created a little round-up of my favorite ideas from around the web.  Have no fear, these are do-able and simple – no need to complicate things 2 weeks from Christmas!

The LINKS to the original posts are below the pictures – please go to the sites and pin from the originals!

 

 

 

  1. DIY Ombre Glass Ornaments via Ambrosia Creative
  2. Holly Christmas Ornaments via BHG
  3. Character ornaments via Crazy Little Projects
  4. This is our must make ornament for this year –  Melted Crayon Ornaments via Meet the Dubiens
  5. Glitter Galaxy Ornaments via The Swell Life
  6. So sweet via Craftberry Bush
  7. I love the look of this – wouldn’t this be a fun family activity?  via You Are My Fave
  8. Did you know you can print a photo on vellum and insert it into an ornament?  The how-to from Not So Idle Hands
  9. I have made these with my babies – adorable and easy!  via A Sorta Fairytale blog
  10. DIY your own ornaments and add your own little trinkets – a feather, pebbles, etc. via Country Living
  11. Terrarium ornaments via DesignSponge
  12. Add drawings into the ornament with little bits of nature via @etst on webstagram  see Kelle’s amazing blog here.

Have you made any of these?  Inspired to try one?

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

 

Simplify the Season : 3 Steps to a Simple Christmas Mantel

3 Steps to a Simple Christmas Mantel

Need to put together a Christmas-y mantel in a hurry or just want to keep things simple this season?  Here are 3 steps to a simple Christmas mantel:

USE REMOVABLE HOOKS.  Holiday decorations are temporary – take advantage of the great options on the market and use them.  I love these Command Strips from 3M.  The clear ones with the wire hooks are my favorites because they are almost invisible and you can flip the hooks.

Use hooks - Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

Use hooks2 - Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  Incorporate other items that you have on your mantel into your seasonal mantel decorating.  It keeps things easy for setting up and taking down and just makes it easier.

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama2

CHOOSE A SIMPLE COLOR SCHEME – I chose red, aqua, and green.   Choose your color scheme according to decorations that you already have and put them into place.  If you look at my fall mantel you’ll notice that I have a couple pieces that get filled with seasonal decor but are mainstays.  I love how easy this makes it to switch out decor.

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama4

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama3

Simple Christmas Mantel via Clean Mama

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

Simplify the Season : Baking Planner + FREE Printable

Holiday Baking Planner - 2 free versions via clean mama

I’ve mentioned before that I love to bake and baking at Christmastime is pretty much my favorite December activity.  My kids and I sit down with a stack of cookbooks and Christmas cookie magazines and decide on a few favorites that have to be repeated and a couple new recipes to try.  We make a ridiculously large list and start baking.  Some recipes are frozen ahead as dough, some batches get eaten within a couple days, but most cookie baking starts the week before Christmas.

Once we start, we just bake until we’re sick of it.  So if the list of 12 cookie types dwindles to 8 batches, oh well.  I don’t worry too much about completing the list, we just having fun with the baking process.  I will say that we start baking the must-haves first so if we get sick of baking we have the cookies we can’t do Christmas without.  I’ll be back next week with a super simple 5 minute fudge recipe that you’ll love!

2 Free Printable Baking Planners via Clean Mama

Go here to grab the FREE baking planners:

red/aqua/green

aqua/navy

I have free holiday menu planners that match these baking printables – go here to grab them.

If you like these free printables, you’ll love my shop, Clean Mama Printables!

new etsy banner

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

Simplify the Season : Change a Tradition

The easiest way simplify the season is to change a tradition.  If there’s something that ‘you’ve always done’ that can be revamped, changed, or let go of all together to make things simpler, change it.  Chances are no one will lose sleep over it and maybe it can become a new tradition.

Simplify the Season - It's Okay to Change a Tradition via Clean Mama

In an effort to simplify this year, I made a ‘bold’ change and instead of wrapping all the Christmas books for unwrapping every day in December, I put them in a big tub and placed it under the tree.  Understand that I love the idea of this, but it takes quite a bit of time to wrap the 25 books and then we aren’t able to access our Christmas books whenever we’d like to.  So…I changed it.  Now my little readers can read their favorite books any day under the tree.  I won’t have to keep my littlest one out of the books that he would be trying to unwrap and everyone wins.  And guess what?  No one seems to care that I let go of this tradition.

What are you letting go of or changing this year?

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

Simplify the Season : How to Clean Baking Sheets + Pans in 5 Minutes

How to Clean Baking Pans in 5 Minutes via Clean Mama

I’m gearing up for some major baking this month, if you are too, this post is for you.  I took inventory of my baking sheets and pans and realized that my baking pans looked pretty pitiful.  Lots of baked on stains – they’re clean, but the stainless steel was nothing close to appetizing.  I tried a couple solutions I found online and nothing worked, so I came up with my own simple ‘remedy’ to clean them.  Two ingredients and a little elbow grease cleaned them up in a couple minutes.  Easy peasy.  (Please note: this is NOT for coated or non-stick baking sheets and pans.)

Here’s what you need to clean your baking sheets and pans:

  • Bon Ami powder (you can try baking soda too, but the Bon Ami worked a little more quickly and effectively for my icky pans)
  • Aluminum Foil – crumpled up (I use aluminum foil to clean glass baking dishes with caked on food, so I thought it might be a workable fix and it is!)
  • Paper towels
  • Water to make a paste

Gather your ingredients and follow these super simple steps:

Simple Steps to Clean Baking Pans via Clean Mama

Wash thoroughly with soap and water and repeat if necessary and start baking!

Wash with Soap + Water via Clean Mama

And because everyone loves a good before and after….

Baking Pans Before + After via Clean Mama

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

HOMEKEEPING SOCIETY BUTTON

Speed Clean Your Bathrooms

Speed Clean All Your Bathrooms in 15 Minutes via Clean Mama

If you follow along with my cleaning routine, on Mondays you clean bathrooms right along with me in your home.  Today I’m sharing a visual of how I clean ALL of my bathrooms in 15 minutes.  I have 4 bathrooms and can attest to this being the absolute easiest and quickest way to get them all clean and disinfected in a hurry.

You’ll notice that I am not sweeping, vacuuming, or washing the floors.  This is part of the time-saving magic of this approach.  I vacuum all the floors on Wednesdays and wash all the floors on Thursday, so no need to wash them on Mondays.  Also, I do a quick counter check daily to make sure the counters are not too bad.  This also keeps them cleaner in between as well.

Since we’re simplifying the season, this is a a great way to simplify a little corner of your home.  Please note:  This is not pretend or fake cleaning or making your bathroom look clean when it isn’t, this is a simple way to thoroughly clean your bathrooms quickly.   Try this today and you’ll have more time for other things that really matter.  Ready?

Supplies for Speed Cleaning Your Bathrooms in 15 Minutes via Clean Mama

Gather your supplies – this is what you’ll need:

  • microfiber cloths (alternatively you can use paper towels, I prefer microfiber) – 1 for mirrors, one for each toilet, one for each sink, and a couple extras for tubs and showers
  • glass and mirror cleaner
  • disinfecting/bathroom cleaner
  • toilet cleaner
  • empty container for dirty cloths or paper towels
  • caddy or container to carry supplies from room to room

Clear off your counters and sinks and get started.

Step One Spray Mirror and Wipe Clean via Clean Mama

Start with any mirrors – spray and wipe clean.  I use a glass and mirror microfiber for lint and streak-free mirrors.  Keep this cloth handy and reuse in each bathroom.

Step Two Spray Sink and Tubs and Toilet with Disinfecting Cleaner

Next, move on to your sink, toilet, and tub or shower (if you don’t use a tub or shower regularly, you don’t need to clean it weekly) and quickly spray with your disinfecting cleaner.  (I prefer non-toxic disinfecting cleaners – they work just as well and aren’t harmful to you or your family.)

Step 3 Swish Toilet via Clean MamaUse your preferred toilet cleaner and brush and do a quick clean of your toilet.

Then REPEAT these steps in each bathroom.  Once you’ve done that, go back to the first bathroom:

Step 5 Wipe via Clean Mama

Wipe the sink, wipe the toilet, and wipe the tub or shower – take care to use a separate cloth or paper towel for the each toilet and sink to avoid cross-contamination.

Step 6 Discard Dirty Cloths and Move On to Wipe Down Next Bathroom via Clean MamaPlace dirty cloths in container and move on to wiping down the next bathroom and the next until you have wiped down each bathroom.  And that’s it!

The simple step-by-step:

Step by Step Clean All Your Bathrooms in 15 Minutes via Clean Mama

 What do you think?  Are you up for a little bathroom speed cleaning?

 

Simplify the Season : Put Together a Baking Kit

Plan Ahead....Put Together a Baking Kit via Clean Mama

Holiday baking is one of my FAVORITE things to do – I look forward to it all year!  I make batches and batches of cookies and confections to share and to bring to Christmas events.  I truly enjoy it.  That said, it takes a little preparation and pre-planning.  And it can be expensive, especially at this time of the year.  I like to stock up on baking goods in November during Thanksgiving sales.  My rationale is that we can bake on a whim – boring afternoon?  Let’s make some cookies.  Good thing we have all the ingredients!  Or how about this theory?  The cost won’t hurt as much in November as it would in December.  So today, I’m sharing with you some baking essentials (in my kitchen) and hopefully it’ll spur you on to get a head start on your baking or at least make a little plan.

Get Your Baking Cabinet Ready via Clean Mama

  • nuts – pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds (Target or Trader Joe’s)
  • sweetened condensed milk (organic, from Trader Joe’s)
  • lots of chocolate – mini chips, white, milk, semi-sweet)  (Ghirardelli, from Target)
  • sugars – powdered (from Trader Joe’s) – non-processed/organic ‘white’ (from Costco)
  • all-purpose flour (King Arthur brand from Target)
  • baking soda
  • baking powder (no aluminum formula from Trader Joe’s)
  • coconut oil spray – have you seen this?  it works great!  (from Trader Joe’s)
  • coconut
  • decorating sugar (from King Arthur Flour)
  • molasses
  • parchment paper
  • muffin liners (Wilton brand from Jo-Ann’s)
  • shelf stable whipping cream (from Trader Joe’s)
  • spices – cinnamon, nutmeg, baking spice, cloves, pumpkin pie spice (from Penzeys)
  • extracts – vanilla (from King Arthur Flour) almond (from Penzeys)
  • in the refrigerator – milk, eggs, butter

What would you add?  Share in the comments!  And next week?  A little baking help in the form of a printable!

Follow along below on social media or subscribe in the box on the sidebar to get posts in your inbox. (I just added instagram to the mix be sure to click below and follow along!)

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

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Simplify the Season : Holiday Menu Planner – 3 Free Printables

Holiday Menu Planners via Clean Mama

If you’re hosting an event or dinner this holiday season the first thing you should do to simplify the season is get your menu together.  That way you can plan ahead, ask guests to bring dishes, and it will also prevent you from over buying and overstocking your refrigerator and pantry with just in case items.  Just like a to do list, getting the menu plan on paper is mentally freeing as well.

 

Holiday Menu Planners via Clean Mama2

Regardless of how you plan your menu (I prefer to use a recipe binder) – recipe box, recipe binder, pinterest, favorite websites, or google search, this Holiday Menu Planner printable is pretty and perfect for getting your plan on paper.

Holiday Menu Planners - 3 Free Versions via Clean Mama

Choose your favorite color combination (or all three!) and click the links below to grab your freebie!  Happy Holiday Menu Planning!

Red/Aqua/Green

Brown/Orange/Gold

Navy/Aqua

If you like these free printables, you’ll love my shop, Clean Mama Printables!

new etsy banner

 

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

Simplify the Season : 30 Minute Company Quick Clean Checklist

30 Minute Company Quick Clean + 3 Free Printables via Clean Mama

It’s that time of year – people dropping by, friends and family coming in to town to visit, and holiday get-togethers.  ‘Tis the season for dropping by unexpectedly and for inviting people in on a whim.  Instead of throwing yourself into a panic, you need a plan. I printed off a few checklists and put them on a clipboard.  I paired the checklist with a few microfiber cloths, all-purpose cleaner, and a duster.  A simple kit to quick clean, anytime.

30 Minute Company Quick Clean via Clean Mama

Print off a couple of these quick clean checklists and the minute you get that phone call grab the checklist and start tidying up and cleaning.  Thirty minutes later you’ll have a quickly cleaned home and you’ll be able to welcome your guests without worry or embarrassment.

30 Minute Company Quick Clean - 3 FREE Versions via Clean Mama

Click on the colors below for the download link ….

green

red

aqua

If you like these free printables, you’ll love my shop, Clean Mama Printables!

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

Simplify the Season : Put Together a Sick Kit

Get Ready...Put Together a Sick Kit via Clean Mama

If you have little ones, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point in the next few months someone’s going to get sick.  And for whatever reason it seems to always comes at the busiest most inopportune time.  Am I right?  I always put together a little sick kit in the fall just in case.  (For the record, I am ALL about prevention: vitamins, eating lots of fruits and veggies, hand washing, frequent cleaning….but we still get sick.)

Some things you might include (these are all items that are readily available at most stores – I didn’t include other natural items (like probiotics and essential oils) that we have in our medicine cabinet):

  • soup
  • ginger ale/ gatorade/
  • crackers
  • tylenol/motrin
  • cough syrup/cough drops/cold tablets
  • jell-0
  • applesauce
  • charcoal tablets
  • activity books

Put Together a Sick Kit via Clean Mama

What would you add to the kit?  Do you plan ahead for illness to strike or just wait and see?

 

 

This post is part of a series designed to help you Simplify the Season. You can see all the posts here.

Simplify the Season via Clean Mama

 

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