The garden centers in May see a frenzy of activity. The Spring season has brought enough warmth and heat to keep those blooms beautiful. Do you find yourself buying the same annuals or planting the same flower seeds each year??? At the hardware store, our flower seeds are selling quickly as well as potting soil.
I began to think about this the other day, my personal connections to flowers and what I plant is deeply rooted… linked to my personal life experiences and memories of those who I love and those who are no longer with us.
I have a few favorites that I love to plant each year. The striking colors, the scents, the aesthetics, and durability(long lasting nature) of the plant definitely impacts my purchasing decisions. But, many of the reasons why I pick the same type of flowers each year is due to my associated memories with these flowers.. past celebrations, or memories of strolling through family gardens.
If you and I did a walk through in my garden areas at my home, it would be a definite literal story of sharing plants.. who gave them to me to transplant, or maybe the why I chose the blooming beauty for my garden and the personal connection to each flower. My question to you today, do you relate and link flowers that you plant to your cherished loved ones too?
My final thought to share with you today, flowers hold power… not only the outward beauty for your home, hope, resilience to bloom even in difficult circumstances.., and cherished memories of those you love. Let’s get planting!
Did that opening title have you think about the classic song 🎵 from MC Hammer??? This blog post isn’t intended to discuss music today BUT to get y’all thinking about those surfaces in your home that you DON’T need to touch before you disinfect.
Can you easily identify the “high-touch surfaces” in your home? Do a quick visual survey of your surroundings inside your home.
Whoever does the cleaning in your home is likely to catch several of these “high-touchsurfaces” on a day to day basis. I hope that these tips for finding “high-touch” areas will be useful.
Spring is less than 30 days away now and it may have you thinking about a good healthy dose of cleaning. So let’s begin with a few basics below.
What are “high-touch surfaces”??? These are the surfaces in your home that receive the most direct daily contact with your family. High-touch surfaces are the areas where dirt, dust, and germs if left unchecked, will thrive. High-touch surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected daily.
When I use the term disinfect, here’s the gist of what happens when you do that…to disinfect is using a chemical cleaner to remove viruses and bacteria.
Now the quick breakdown of TEN high-touch surfaces, to disinfect inside your home. These TEN areas are based upon my own personal experience as a mom AND also as one who actively works in and participates in the hardware life. I’ll be curious to know if you found several of your “high-touch” surfaces in your quick surroundings survey of your own home, are you a novice or a pro??? Or maybe somewhere in between???
Top Ten Hardware Life High-Touch Surfaces
1. Think about Small and large appliances (ex. coffee pot, microwave, refrigerator) that are frequently used by each member of the family each day. Don’t forget about things like a can opener, or even the knife block!
2. Door knobs and light switches, & even your house keys!
3. The Kitchen Sink. Yes, it is definite.. a highly used kitchen item and don’t forget to clean the faucet handles.
4. The Countertop. This is where food gets cooked & consumed… often my counter gets scattered with keys, phones, and mail. Our kitchen counter is a drop zone of sorts. Yikes! Keys and cellphones are also high-touch! 😳
5. The Bathroom. Clean and disinfect fixtures, sinks, toilet seat, and toilet handle.
6. Remote control for tv, cell phones, iPads, game controllers.
7. Kitchen chairs and table. If you use it daily, then clean it often. Think about where your family meals occur everyday and clean and disinfect often.
8. Toys and play areas for your children. Kids play hard all day, and make sure to clean toys that are often used by your child everyday and disinfect often.
9. The Pantry. Think about the door knob, and other touchable areas outside/ inside (if you and have kids, or grandkids, they use it frequently throughout the day)
10. The Laundry Room. Wipe down your appliances AND clean your laundry basket! A laundry basket holds all of your dirty clothes AND clean clothes. Wipe them down often. I have separate baskets for clean and dirty clothes but, I regularly clean all of my laundry baskets.
Now that you have my top ten list, what should you use to disinfect effectively?
Here are a few tips that you can use for cleaning “high-touch” areas. A more detailed guide can be found with CDC recommendations on cleaning those frequently used areas in your home and workplace. The internet is a plethora of information on the subject.
The Hardware Life Daily Cleaning Tips
1. Begin with a clean surface. Clean area first by removing any visible dirt or dust. I keep a good multi-surface spray handy for quick cleanups.
2. Use gloves … a pair of disposable gloves might work best especially when disinfecting surfaces. Throw away once you finish cleaning.
3. Pick Easy disinfectant choices… Clorox or Lysol wipes. These will do the job quickly and easily.
5. Read the label on your disinfectant carefully. Do you need to rinse after application? Allow for drying time.
4. The Multi surface Cleaner… Keep a good multi-surface spray handy for quick cleanups. I keep one upstairs and have at least one multi surface spray available for cleaning in the downstairs areas my home.
Lastly, let’s evaluate some “germy“ cleaning utensils and those you might not think to clean.
1. The Sponge.. if you use a sponge to clean, let your nose to guide in your decision to keep or throw out. Your nose knows! If the sponge smells, then it is time to stop by our hardware store and pick up a new one.
2. The kitchen brush- if you have one of these brushes to scrub surfaces in your kitchen, sanitizing it is a must! Put it in the dishwasher after each use.
3. The toilet brush. It should be disinfected weekly or after each use. Rinse well after cleaning toilet, apply a disinfectant spray and allow to dry before replacing into toilet brush cover. Some experts say to replace your toilet brush every 6 months.
4. The plunger. Clean and disinfect after each use and allow to dry.
5. The bucket. If you carry your cleaning essentials inside your bucket as you clean at home, don’t forget to regularly disinfect your bucket.
6. The Mop. Let your nose be the guide again! If it smells, it is time for a new one. Regardless of the type of mop you use, the mop should be clean and disinfected. Your floors will be as clean as your mop. Some recommendations are to replace your mop every 3 months depending on the style of your mop.
I found this quote as I was working on this blog post, “our house is clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy”. This reigns true in our house. Things are never perfect … shoes are often in the floor, keys are on the kitchen counter, blankets are thrown about on the couch, and two sweet pups roam absolutely everywhere. But it is HOME! I clean intentionally now that I’m more aware of surfaces that require an bit of extra “love and work”. Deep cleaning occurs when I can get to it. Whether you are a novice or a pro at finding all the frequently used areas of your home, home should always be a place a of comfort and joy. Happy Spring Cleaning Y’all!
Today marks the first day of the winter season. Soup and stew season has already begun at our house and is a regular feature in our weekly menu.
There is simply nothing better than a hot bowl of soup and a melted, gooey grilled cheese to take the winter chill off after a long day at the hardware store.
During the Christmas season, I love to curl up on the couch and enjoy my favorite Christmas classic movies. This past weekend I stumbled upon a recipe from one of my favorite vintage movies, It Happened on 5th Avenue(1947).
Richard & I have watched this movie countless number of times, but as our conversation took a turn about the stew featured in the movie, I decided to do a quick internet search to find out more about the intriguing dish. Slumgullion Stew, an Irish stew, mentioned in the 5th Avenue movie, was easy enough to find a few different variations of the recipe. I settled on my favorite and then decided to give it a try and see if it will make the cut on our menu board for our family favorites.
One of the central characters in the movie, Mike, enters the room and instantly smells the fragrance of Slumgullion Stew cooking in the kitchen, which transports him to a memory of a better time in his life. This stew scene will ultimately mark the beginning of change for him.
Upon further reflection, many of those old, classic black and white movies have the theme of transformation for the main character in the movie. An iconic example is, It’s a Wonderful Life(1946). The central actor, George Bailey is transformed into a more appreciative person by the end of the movie.
Regardless if you love those old movies or not, I’ve decided to share my version of Slumgullion Stew with y’all today. I believe the original intention with the recipe/movie version is to use what you have. I did conclude that one unique feature of the stew is black eyed peas and pasta from my research.
There are different versions of Slumgullion are out there when you check the internet, but I’m sharing my take on the original movie stew pictured on the big screen.
Recipe for Slumgullion Stew
⁃ 1 to 2 lbs. of stew beef (cooked)
I used my leftovers from earlier in week
⁃ 2 cans of black eyed peas
⁃ Cubed carrots (add as many as you like)
⁃ Potato chunks (I added approximately 3-4 red potatoes)
⁃ 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
⁃ 1 32 oz. Beef broth
⁃ 1 beef bullion cube with 1 cup water
⁃ Salt and pepper to taste
⁃ 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
⁃ 1 bay leaf
⁃ Pasta (macaroni noodles would be the traditional favorite)
⁃ Add all ingredients into a large crock pot for simmer on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add pasta hour before serving.
Special note: The recipe I found online added cabbage, and chopped red peppers. I opted to leave them out. The consistency of my final stew was soup like, which is what I intended since I added the pasta into the recipe. For a thicker stew like consistency add a flour roux.
Lastly, sharing my Classic Christmas Movies Favorites… in no particular order
1. White Christmas (1954)
2. It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947)
3. Going My Way (1944)
4. Shop Around the Corner (1940)
5. Bishop’s Wife (1948)
6. Holiday Inn (1942)
7. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
8. Remember the Night (1940)
9. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
10. Holiday Affair (1949)
11. The Thin Man (1934)
Wishing everyone a fantastic holiday season and hoping that you will enjoy the most wonderful time of the year whether it is spent trying new recipes, establishing new Christmas traditions, gathering with friends and family, or even watching a few new classic Christmas movies .
I really hadn’t thought much about Sonker since my teenage years but an early morning walk few weeks ago brought the word back into my vocabulary once again.
Our walking group had converged on the North Wilkesboro Greenway trail and we had begun talking about miscellaneous things, ie… who was doing what over the next few days… Summer fruits seemed to be on the agenda for discussion and the term Sonker came up… chiefly the origin of the term. One of my friends never had heard of the term and begun to ask questions about it and how it was similar or different from a fruit Cobbler.
My input into the conversation…Sonker was a common summer dessert in my home growing up and I also remembered my Granny used the term often. Cobbler wasn’t the commonly used term to describe the fruit-filled pan of goodness at our house nor in my extended family households.
As we continued our walk and daily topics of discussion changed, I made a mental note to ask my mom about the Sonker recipe later and if she knew anything about the origin of the name.
A week or so elapsed in time before I recalled the Sonker conversation on the Greenway when I was talking on the phone with my mom one afternoon. She immediately answered my questions. She recalled an article that she had read in Our State Magazine about Sonker. She relayed key details from the article, and encouraged me to go read more about it. Mom discussed the differences between her version of Sonker and Granny’s. Granny usually had leftover fresh biscuit dough which she topped with fruit. Mom’s recipe, y’all will be able to find at the end of the blog post today.
FYI, Mom is fantastic with last minute supper guests…she can whip up an easy dessert effortlessly. My sister & I often challenged her to this task, with extra guests at the table. Sonker was one of those perfect, easy desserts… baking and bubbling in the oven while supper was being served. The aroma filled the kitchen with goodness waiting patiently for the final feature, dessert fruit-filled Sonker.
For those of y’all who are still wondering what on earth is Sonker??? Sonker is a deep-dish fruit “pie”, usually served in a square/rectangular baking pan. Sonker is supposed to be “juicier” than a typical cobbler. Sonker can be a dessert large enough to feed a family or accommodate guests in your home. Sonker is NOT a “fussy” dessert. The ease of recipe is part of the charm of Sonker. On the other hand, cobblers, tend to have more of a thick biscuit texture to the breading and the texture on top appears to be “cobbled”. The dough is dropped or spooned onto the top of the fruit typically in a cobbler. The end result of a well baked Sonker, in my opinion, showcases your fruit, cobblers often showcase the beautiful breading.
Upon my Mom’s urging to further read & research, I also learned that Surry County hosts a Sonker Trail and a festival each October. Surry County even has a classic Sweet Potato Sonker with a creamy/milky type “dip” which is a finishing feature of the Sweet Potato Sonker.
Y’all still might be thinking …really, IS a Cobbler the same thing as Sonker??? In my opinion, these two are very “close first cousins.” Honestly, I simply prefer to use Sonker to describe my fruit-filled deep dish pies.
According to the research articles I have read, the term “Sonker”, was derived from a Scottish word meaning straw saddle. The Sonker experts tell us that they suspect that cooks used the analogy of the crust likeness of the fruit-filled pie to compare it to the Scottish word.
Also, the Sonker experts believe that the term Sonker originated in Surry and Wilkes Counties. I suspect that if you aren’t a “native” to these two geographic areas NOR your parents, you may not know the term Sonker.
My husband had no clue what Sonker was all about, even though he has lived in Wilkes his entire life BUT his parents were not “natives” of Wilkes. Cobbler is the term he definitely prefers to use for the fruit-filled dessert.
My sister, on the other hand, a Wilkes County native, who now lives out of state, is teaching her young daughter to make Sonker… thereby keeping the legacy of our mom’s recipe going strong.
I would suspect the term Sonker is locale specific. My grandparents lived in both Surry & Wilkes Counties during their lifetime. So I believe they were well connected to the locale and it was reflective within their vocabulary and local food choices. Sonker was definitely a sweet part of summer during my younger years. I hope to continue my Sonker Summers by experimenting with my mom’s classic recipe and just simply enjoying the “fruits of my labor”.
Your personal preference of the term Sonker or Cobbler could be ingrained into your vocabulary mindset. But cobbler makers & lovers, I hope that you will add Sonker into your vocabulary AND into your food palate. Let’s keep our local food history alive and growing! Go experience Sonker this Summer.
Mom’s basic recipe for Sonker :
Ingredients & Utensils
-Square baking pan (this recipe is easily doubled or even cut in half in order to accommodate the number of people you wish to feed, for my 8-9 inch square baker I use 3/4 cup instead of full recipe)
-1 stick melted butter
-1 cup self rising flour
-1 cup milk – (I added a dash of vanilla to mine but it is not necessary)
-1 cup sugar
-Fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned… use what you have on hand)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Melt butter in baking pan.
3. Mix together milk, sugar, flour and dash of vanilla (if desired) into bowl as butter melts.
4. Once butter is melted, pour milk /flour/sugar mixture over the butter into pan. Do not stir!
5. Add fruit on top of milk/flour/sugar mixture. The breading will disperse throughout the Sonker as it bakes. Sprinkle extra sugar on top of fruit for extra sweetness if desired.
6. Bake until crust is golden brown.
7. Note: You may want to let your Sonker cool down for 10 minutes before eating. No one wants to get burned eating a hot Sonker.
8. Sonker is goes well with vanilla ice cream, enjoy y’all.
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