Cook Clean Craft

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Sharing tools for the modern domestic engineer - simple recipes, household cleaning and organization tips and fun crafts, including sewing, crochet, cardboard and more.

Narelle is a winner of Top 25 Home Management Moms - 2013

What's your best tip for keeping your home organized during the busy holiday season?

Lists - write out everything that needs to be done, all the presents that need to be bought or made, all the events you have to attend. Prioritise to get as much done as early as possible. If it's all getting too much for you, work out what can be dropped, whether it's lowering your standards fore home cleaning, buying a cake and cookies instead of baking your own. Remember, it's a time for celebration, not totally exhausting yourself!

What's your favorite store bought or homemade cleaning product?

Vinegar and baking soda are my two favourite cleaning products. They are cheap, readily available and so flexible. Using 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with laundry liquid/powder and reduce the amount of liquid/powder you add. Add vinegar as a fabric softener - your towels will be wonderfully soft! Make a paste with baking soda to use as a scrub in the bathroom or kitchen. Even wash your hair with baking soda in water and rinse with a vinegar solution.

What's the most important home management skill a mom can teach her child?

Cleaning as you go. Life is so much more relaxing when the house is basically tidy. Start teaching kids how to "clean as they go" by encouraging them to put one set of toys away before getting the next set out. Taking their plates back to the kitchen when they've finished eating is another simple task. Teach them to wipe up spills straight away. Model quick tidy ups to keep the house mostly in order. Then, when it's time to clean properly, it's a much quicker process.

What are your best tips for easy DIY nursery decor? (If there's an image or post on your blog, please link to it.)

Narelle

A simple and cheap way to make art for a nursery is to paint some artist canvases in the colour scheme of your nursery, cut out some animal shapes out of felt and then stick them on to the canvases. Colouring books (or online colouring printables) are a great way to find simple designs. Googly eyes can add a fun touch too!
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From peach pies and berry cobbler to lemon shortcake and watermelon popsicles, fruity desserts are perfect for summer. Please share your favorite fruit-based dessert, and include a link to the recipe and photo.

Narelle

When entertaining in summer, I love to make a pineapple platter. It makes a great centrepiece and is a refreshing treat to nibble away on. Carefully sliced the spiky top of the pineapple, and place in the middle of the platter. Slice the pineapple into 8 wedges (from top to bottom). Cut off the core, and then slice off the pineapple in a long strip. Cut into pieces. Place a piece of cheese and a half a glace cherry on top (yes, it sounds very 70s but tastes delicious!). Place the pineapple back on the skin and arrange on the platter. Spectacular!
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What's a great school lunch box meal your kids love? Include a link to a photo if you have one!

Narelle

I love to make a big batch of pizza scrolls to throw in the lunch box. Fun and easy to eat, the kids can't get enough (and I even sneak in a few vegies and a bit of wholemeal flour to make them a healthy treat too).
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What's your children's favorite lullaby?

Narelle

I always sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. It's more a nursery rhyme than a lullaby, but at least I know all the words! I don't think it really matters what you sing (or how well), just a calm, melodic tone in your voice really helps relax a baby.
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What's the best homemade costume you've ever created for a child 5 and under? Please provide a link to a photo.

Narelle

I had a lot of fun making a Peaches and Cream Barbie costume for my little girl. It makes a great addition to the dress up box too.
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What's a cute or creative way to decorate the walls of a child's room? Please include a link to an image.

Narelle

A bit of fabric, paint and glue and you can create unique artwork for your kid's room. I painted some artist canvases a colour to match the bedroom color scheme. Then I cut out a glued fabric to the canvas using either a template or coloring pages for a simple design. I made an animal theme for our nursery and a transport theme for my son's "big boy" room. (Now it's time for me to think up something new for my baby's big girl room!).
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What's a light, Springtime meal your kids like to eat? Please share a link to your recipe.

Narelle

My kids love chicken fajitas. Lots of flavour, fun to eat and my kids don't even realise they're healthy (except for that big blob of sour cream...). They are quick to make too.
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What's your go-to potluck recipe? Please share a link to the recipe and photo if you have one.

Narelle

Pasta is the way to go at potluck - young and old all love pasta! My favourite (and a little different) pasta has a sauce of red pepper and salami. Choose the salami to match your potluck crowd - spicy for the adults, or mild (or use ham instead) for kids or less adventurous eaters.
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