An Uncomplicated Life Blog


Monday, March 30, 2020

DIY Outdoor Furniture Cleaner

Spring is here and it's time to be outside! Clean off your deck or patio furniture with this easy cleaner.

Spring in the South means one thing and one thing only: POLLEN. So. Much. Pollen. Everything gets covered in a thick layer of greenish yellowish residue that starts in mid-March and lasts for about a month. It's so thick that you have to clean off your outdoor furniture everyday. For this post's photos, we had literally just cleaned off our table the day before to eat dinner outside. By 1pm the next day, when I took these shots, it was already disgusting! The good news is, not only is this an easy cleaner to make, it's multipurpose. It's also an excellent glass/window cleaner too. Odds are good you might even have these things in your pantry, so let's go make our outdoor furniture cleaner.

The table had just been cleaned not but 12 hours earlier, and was already that dirty. Oh, pollen season.

Quick note, as of the publishing date of this post, the world is under a pandemic and some of these supplies are hard to come by. I linked some that are currently available, but that may change. I never thought I'd see a run on white vinegar, but here we are. I recommend keeping white vinegar and rubbing alcohol on hand at all times, because pandemic or not, they always come in handy! That said, these items should be cheap. If they're not, you're being price gouged.

DIY Outdoor Furniture Cleaner
- Spray bottle (for this recipe, a 16oz bottle)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol (replace this with Borax if your outdoor furniture is wood! Never use rubbing alcohol on wood as it will ruin the finish)
- 15-20 drops lemon essential oil
- hot water

Fill the bottle with the vinegar, alcohol and essential oil. Top off with hot water. Rubbing alcohol kills fungus or mildew that may be growing. The vinegar cleans the surface of your furniture, along with the lemon essential oil (plus it adds a lovely scent!)

12 hours of pollen on my glass table

Simple spray and wipe with this cleaner

If your furniture has grooves like my Adirondack chairs, get a scrub brush. Spray down with the mixture and lightly brush away the dirt and grime. It comes off SO easily! For flat surfaces, like my glass table, all you need is some paper towels. Spray down and wipe off - again, all the pollen and dirt will come off easily! This cleaner (with the rubbing alcohol) is also an EXCELLENT window cleaner. We have floor to ceiling windows, which are great for light but constantly covered in little hand prints, mouth marks, and general kid goobers. Takes everything off easily, doesn't leave streak marks and you can feel good about letting your kid lick the window again without icky residue from conventional cleaners like Windex. Also, why does Windex smell like that?! I can't stand that smell.

Before cleaning

Close up of the grooves and dirt pre-cleaning

After spraying with cleaner and lightly scrubbing with a brush. I did all 4 chairs in less than 10 minutes.

Pro tip:
Want to clean outdoor pillows or cushions? If they're light colored, sub out the rubbing alcohol for hydrogen peroxide. That will clean, lighten and brighten your fabric! If your cushions are darker, sub out the rubbing alcohol with Borax and use a plastic scrub brush to clean it, then hose it down. If your cushion covers are machine washable, wash per directions but make sure to put them back on your cushions while damp, so the covers don't shrink.

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It's crazy how easy it was to clean off all my patio furniture with this cleaner! And nope - it doesn't leave anything smelling like vinegar. In fact, I cleaned the inside of my windows with it too and all that was left behind was the lemon scent of the essential oil. I kid you not, this stuff cleans better than Windex! It takes pollen, dirt, hand prints and whatever else gunk my kids leave when they touch things, and you don't have to wipe it a hundred times to get the streaks out. This DIY outdoor furniture cleaner is great for glass, plastic and windows but be sure to adjust the recipe if your patio set is wood. Happy cleaning!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Currently, March Edition

Here's what I'm thinking, feeling, seeing, enjoying and hating... Currently

I always seem to post these posts when "life gets in the way" and I don't have time to take photos for more "blogger type" of content. Here we are, in quarantine, with four kids home and out of school indefinitely. It's been raining nearly the whole time, because why not be super miserable when you're miserable, right?! Ughhhh. So here we are, in the strangest time in my adult life - maybe even whole life (9/11 was pretty weird too) locked up in our house. With everyone home, it's really hard to get good photos, it's hard for my husband to make phone calls and conduct webinars, it's hard for the twins to nap, it's just all hard right now. In reality, it's not that hard, it's all a first world problem because we have shelter and food and even entertainment. But as an extrovert, I'm telling you THIS IS HARD. Lots of quick change. Here's what's been going on around here, currently:

Reading at night, because I'm sick of screen time/the news/social media. I've got book lists here and here if you want to add them to your next Amazon order. Cooking dinner at home every night has also been fun. I really do love to cook. Plus, we're actually saving money not eating out as much! My kid's newfound love for bug hunting. We got them head lights and magnify glasses and they've had a blast looking for bugs inside and outside. They found a small spider in my kitchen as I was cooking dinner, so I stepped on it and they said, "No! He was just looking for his mommy!" Oops.

My kids' homeschool science education is at least on point.

The news. Just like everyone else. For the first couple of days, I was attached to social media and realized that was a massive mistake. I've since knocked that off for my own mental health (pandemic or not, social media is NOT a good place to spend the majority of your time!) and now just read the news once a day and watch the evening news. I hope to even cut that down! I'm at the point of information over load. 

At home workouts. I've never been a fan of them - I LOVE group fitness classes, feeding off the energy of others and listening to loud music. But since that can't happen right now, I'm watching online fitness videos from my bedroom. Lots of my friends are fitness or yoga teachers and have taken to doing online stuff, so it's fun to support them and still get my workouts in. In fact, I've worked out every day this week when I normally only workout 4x a week.

If you're looking for amazing FREE at home workout vids, my personal friend and Pilates studio owner is putting 5, 10 and 20 minute versions of her studio work outs, which are some of my fave workouts! Click here to check it out.

Running my second Instagram account, Uncomplicatedlifeblogoils! It's taking off so fast, and the community there is full of amazing people. I've never much enjoyed IG - it always felt so fake to me. People following to get followed, commenting to drive up their own engagement... But this account is full of people who are interested in learning, building community and supporting each other as we grow our healthiest lives together. It's really been a joy. If you're interested in learning about more natural practices in your life, go follow! You're welcome there with us, even if you're a newbie.

I do a series on MLM oil comparisons, do themed posts like "skincare" and "ways to de-stress" and all sorts of other stuff - even non-oily stuff. Come follow along!

Pinterest. Overnight, they marked my website as spam and I went from my normal page views per day to a few hundred to it's lowest point - 78. A whole 78 page views a day! I died. I knew immediately it was Pinterest traffic but I thought they had changed the algorithm on me and I hadn't adapted fast enough. Then a whole week later (embarrassingly enough, yes it took me a whole week to realize this) I found out my whole site was blocked as spam on Pinterest. This can happen by accident when Pinterest cleans out spam accounts - regularly, "good" accounts get cleared with them. Like mine did. And it completely ruined my page views AND my affiliate sales AND my ad sales for the month. Fun times, the life of a blogger.

To their credit, as soon as I realized the issue and got a hold of the right people, they had it repaired in a matter of hours. While it was stressful, the fix was relatively easy and they were quite fast to respond to my demands. So, it's a love/hate relationship, and I'm happy to report it's back on the love side.

When this will all end. I need a manicure and a pedicure BADLY. First world problems for sure, but good God can I just be let out of my house for a nail appointment?! Please?

Hope you all hang in there during this INSANE time! I hope to be able to continue to produce content and be a source of normalcy. This week, I just couldn't muster it with all the abrupt change. Next week, I'm hoping to do and be better. Time will tell.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Old Fashioned Salisbury Steaks

When you're in the mood for a good old fashioned meal that's hearty and filling, make these old fashioned Salisbury steaks that are quick, affordable and tasty!

I was cruising Pinterest, looking for some recipes to make for the week because I was sick of all the things I normally make. I have about 15 that are on regular rotation, with a few that I add in every once in a while - some that are excellent and some that are total fails. My mom and stepdad were coming into town, and they're the classic "meat and potatoes" Baby Boomers. Now, they'll eat quinoa for lunch but supper (yes, it's supper, not dinner, a word they've passed on to me and just about every other Midwesterner. In fact, it was recently that I learned that not *everyone* calls it supper) it needs to be a rich, hearty meal. I happened to have a ton of organic, grass fed beef in my freezer, so I searched ground beef recipes, and came across one for Salisbury steaks. Now, I hand't had these since I was in grade school, eating school lunch back in the day when it was prepared fresh by old lunch ladies (not the prepared crap they serve kids now)! I remember liking it. So I decided to take the base of that recipe and make my own. They turned out splendidly! My parents raved about them, in fact, and my husband and stepdad ate more than one. Here's my take on the classic; a good old fashioned Salisbury steak.

There are two things that make this recipe, and I mean MAKE this recipe: high quality, organic and grass fed beef and the mushroom gravy. It's really easy to get amazing beef in Texas, but if you don't have local beef, be sure to invest in a high quality brand. Grass fed tastes best no matter where you live. And after that, get fresh mushrooms and a good quality, organic (hopefully grass fed) beef broth to make your mushroom gravy. Do those two things and this recipe will win over even the snobbiest foodie, and is fit to serve your next dinner party, even though it's easy enough for a weeknight meal.

Old Fashioned Salisbury Steaks
- 2 lbs high quality ground beef 
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced into very small pieces
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup plain bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mushroom gravy
- 1 small package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small package white button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 32oz container beef stock
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley for garnish

You'll brown the steaks first in a large, high rimmed skillet, then make the gravy and then add the steaks back in to finish cooking.

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the Salisbury steaks and combine with your hands. If the mixture is super wet and sticky, add more breadcrumbs until the mixture is formable but not wet enough to stick to your hands. Form into oblong, 1 inch thick patties - about 6-8oz each. Heat enough oil to cover the pan over medium high heat, and add the steaks. Brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes and remove from pan.

In the same pan you cooked the steaks (do not clean or wipe out!) add the butter and oil. Brown the mushrooms over high heat. Reduce the heat after they're browned and add the and flour. Stir constantly, cooking over medium high heat for about 3 minutes to fully cook the flour and get the "raw flour" taste out. Slowly add the beef stock, whisking constantly. Return the heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and add the onion powder and Worcestershire sauce. Return the steaks to the pan with the gravy and cook on low for another 20 minutes, making sure the center of the steaks are fully cooked (it is, after all, ground meat - you don't want it raw!)

Once the pan has been bubbling and hot for 20 minutes or so, you're ready to eat! I like to serve these with fresh steamed green beans (if I was really going old school, I'd get canned but fresh is so so so much better than canned!) and a loaf of warm, crunch bread to soak up some of that delicious gravy. A flavorful roasted or simple mashed potato would also work. Enjoy the meal that brings you back to your childhood!

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