Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Decor: The Bathroom

Oh the sad, sad bathroom.  So in need of love.  But paralyzed by decisions.... black or silver fixtures?  Rearrange it or just replace things?  What to put on the walls.  Oh my.  So it only has a tiny bit of decor... the snowmen... the snowmen have broken noses.... I keep meaning to fix those but it involves finding a good tree twig, whittling it, tinting it orange, drilling a tiny hole in it, and gluing it on those tiny wire prosthetic implants the snowmen currently have....
 Oh... the copper canister?  That's for the toilet paper.  The cats love toilet paper as much as paper towels.

Christmas Decor: The Kitchen

My lovely kitchen window.  Yes, it needs painting.  Yes, it needs cleaning.  Yes, it needs replacing.  But cute, right?
 Oh look.... the dead built-in microwave.  On the other side is the gaping hole (covered by a baby gate) that was the dishwasher.  The power is unhooked to it which also took out several outlets in the kitchen... in case you were wondering if we are rednecks.... just in case.

Does anyone else use their teapot as Christmas decor?  It is under the cabinet the rest of the year.  Also funny... paper towel holder... empty... because the cats shred the towels when we are away.

My dream is to re-do these cabinets.... maybe strip and stain a shade darker and add knobs of some sort.  Re-do the counter tops and re-configure the layout.  Get rid of the built-in stuff and get a free-standing oven/stove. 
 My lovely fridge.  I know.... stainless is in... but I like mine.
 Oops... there's the side of it that I cleaned the counter onto.... that's cleaned up now... I swear.

Christmas Decor: The Dining Room

My husband shared a thought with me recently.... you don't have to put out every single decoration you own every single year.

It was a revelation to me.

So this year we went for simpler.

Our dining room.... the tiny dining room. I'm so pleased with the wall paint. Yes, I do wish the ceiling was done but patience....
In case you were worried things were getting too organized.... the chaos that is the "launch pad" at our house.... yes, all of those clothes and boots have been worn in the last 24 hours....
Oops... flash failure?  Ok, yes, the shelves are a bit cluttered.  But cute, right?
 The table.  Notice the simple centerpiece that allows us to still eat together as a family.... gone are the giant bowls of ornaments and beads.... maybe next year. 

 Forgive me the boot dryer and giant bag of flour... realities when you live in a snowy place and are the daughter of a wheat farmer, right?  And, yes, that is a countertop microwave.  The built-in one died some time ago.... taking with it the ability to auto-clean the oven.  Sigh. 

All together now.... SMILE!!!

The Nerd Herd 2010

Love that camera with the spotting scope tripod..... also love my husband for insisting we do this.

Santa 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Commission a Study....

Please commission a study... I want to know how many accidents happen on the Monday after the time change due to people trying to adjust the digital clock in their car while they are driving.....

Monday, November 08, 2010

The process of reflection and reinvention.

The process of reflection and reinvention.

I realized reinvention does not occur without reflection.

And so we will take a moment to reflect.


And now to proceed.

I need to talk about Costco.  It isn't that I WANT to talk about it, no, I need.

This is about our budget.  For October's reinvention I made a simple plan.

Costco.  Every two weeks.  $200 or less.  One hour or less. 

That's it.  That's the budget for money and time.  With an additional $25/week for "non Costco" grocery items... in our house that's mostly dressing mix packets, vanilla yogurt (Mountain High Low-Fat), wonton wrappers, canned soup in cartoon characters & sour cream. 

So.... 4 weeks in... let's reflect on how it is working out. 

1.  The actual budget:  Weeks 1-2 I was at $206 for Costco and $23 for the grocery store.  Weeks 3-4 saw $218 at Costco and $5 at the grocery store.  There was also an outlay at Target for post-holiday candy that I plan to absorb into future weeks.

2.  I'm amazed at how many non-grocery things I sneak into that $200 or less list..... expensive prilosec, batteries, coffee cups (travel ones... with coupon), dog treats, dish soap, antibacterial wipes.  I don't know what my initial plan really was going to include... I just had to start somewhere and see how it played out.

3.  I confess that Weeks 3-4 included a bottle of wine for $9.  Mmmm.  But Hot has a separate "wicked" fund that includes his alcohol and, ahem tabacco products.  I just sneak my booze into the grocery budget.  I'm ok with eating Kirkland brand mac-n-cheese a few nights so Mama can have a bottle of creme de menthe (sp?) for the holidays.  Also.... there were several splurge items in weeks 1-2.  Oops.

4.  I thought about taking whatever was leftover from the $450/month and using that for eating out the next month.... but what I'm finding is it is more fun to see what things I can sneak in that I am not spending elsewhere....  like Hot's daily prilosec. 

5.  I'm keeping us well stocked.... possibly over-stocked on some items.  Hot is back to packing a field-style lunch most days.  This means more sandwiches and less leftovers.  So I have LOTS of bread in the freezer.... way more than we can eat in the next two weeks.  But I figure as long as I rotate the stock that is ok.  I also keep an extra bag of chicken nuggets, butter, chocolate chips, flour and a bag of coffee in the garage freezer at all times.  Essentials. 

6.  We don't drink as much milk as I thought.  Only about a gallon a week.

7.  We will see how I maintain as baking season gears up.  And gift buying.  Can I sneak some gifts into my grocery budget?  Hmmmm. 

Next up will will discuss how I hope to convert this time savings in the grocery shopping category into physical activity.

Friday, November 05, 2010



I've decided to reinvent myself once a month.  That seems about right. 

Jimmy Buffett sings about spending a few days trying to recall the whole year ('round here we call that writing the Christmas form letter).  I change toothbrushes quarterly and update menus seasonally.  Clothes seem to follow a seasonal update schedule and then, of course, there is the summer-school breakdown of time. 

I come up with a plan, live with it a few weeks, tweak it until it works and then..... something changes.  So I've decided the only way to cope is to reinvent every month. 

Remember when I was so excited to be on schedule in October?  The morning schedule was really working.... and then Hot got a different job.  And now I am in charge of get up-get ready-make lunches-school and daycare drop off and things are ok but not great.... that's an example of what I'm talking about.

So.... what are you going to reinvent this month?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cat Nap

Chili loves babies.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A rug has been selected.

Version 3.27 of the spare bedroom.  In this scene we notice an area rug has been purchased.  I went with Elle's suggestion and got the 8x10 cream rug from Home Depot.  $147.  Done.

Next up will be, possibly, photos of the room with the rug rolled out.  It looks quite good but I haven't photographed it yet.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Holy Cow it is Wednesday

It is Wednesday.  We are STILL on a good morning schedule.

Put THAT in your record books.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Perfect Morning

Do you ever have one of those mornings?  No, not THOSE ones... the ones where things are perfect and smooth? 

Let me tell you about my Monday.

Hot's alarm rings at 5.  I think,"Is it hunting season?"  Hot doesn't get up.  My radio goes on at 6.  Hot gets up.  I nurse Bugsy.  Apparently Hot WAS planning to get up at 5 and go walk.... so that explains the alarm.  At about 6:30 I roll out of bed (late.... I need to be up by 6:15) and wander around for a while with a sleepy baby grinning on my hip.  Hot already has his lunch made and Sweet's lunch made.  Coffee is brewing.  He's showered and ready to go.  I stumble into my clothes and drink some coffee and am thankful I showered and put out clothes the night before.  Hot gets the big kids up about 6:45.  They stumble downstairs (they ARE my kids) and dress in the living room while I dress Bugsy.  Sweet eats breakfast and brushes.  Tuff brushes and I do her hair.  Shoes and jackets.  Tuff, Bugsy & Hot head out the door at 7:12.  (Must leave by 7:15 or get stuck behind buses and be late.)  They are off to daycare where the girls will eat breakfast and have a great day.  Hot will be to work plenty early and have time for a quick read of the paper and one more cup of coffee.

Sweet and I look at each other and realize we are totally and completely ready to go at 7:15.  The house is still clean and the beds are made and a load of laundry is on the timer in the washer to be finished when we get home.  So we play cards for 30 minutes.  For the record:  He beat me 3 times... once at King's Corner and twice at Speed.  We head out the door about 7:50 and I drop him at school a few minutes after 8 and I arrive at work at about 8:15. 

Amazing grace.

This is how mornings are SUPPOSED TO WORK.  I got to work all calm and ready for the day.  It was incredible.

Now talk to me about how things go on Tuesday.
The weekend was gorgeous... again.  This weather is so damn fine.

We did NOT paint the porch posts.  Hot ended up working most of the day Sunday.  Friday I left work at 3 to get Sweet and realized I was already over 40 for the week.... so we didn't go back.  Got the girls and hit Target so Sweet could FINALLY spend his birthday gift card.  Then to the library for movies and books.  Home to hang out.  Saturday Hot & I focused on the INSIDE of the house for most of the morning.  The tidying.  The tidying.  The tidying.  What a mess.  Bugsy and I spent some time pulling grass out of the edge of the rocks and playing "kick ball" on the lawn.  Lots of laundry on the line.  Made rolls.  Made calzones for dinner..... 3 cheese for the kids and cheddar and potato for Hot.... I looked at him cross-eyed when he requested cheddar and potato but they were quite lovely.  A giant bubble bath (after showers to wash the ook off) for all three kids... wish we had a bigger tub.  Then books and bed.

Our first politician stopped by.  He came to the road-side door so Hot talked to him.  He was very far right so I'm sure he thought it appropriate Hot was in the recliner watching football while I was outside (barefoot) hanging clothes on the line.

Sunday we debated painting porch posts but the weather report said rain on Sunday night so we bagged it.  Of course, no rain.  But we had plenty to do.  Hot made a fabulous breakfast with the remaining potatoes from the cheddar/potato calzones.  Fried potatoes, toast and fried eggs.  Mmmm.  The kids and I cleaned off the porch.... all toys in the garage, sweeping, washing table cloths, that kind of stuff.....  Cleared the water toys out of the trunk and readied it for pellets.  We tried on snowpants and washed them.  I got out all the hats/mittens and dumped them in the storage stool.  Maybe we will sort them next weekend.  Got out Tuff's box labeled "Fall 2010 Sizes 5-6" and sorted.  The six stuff is still big but 5's seem to be the ticket.  Now to clear space in her closets for all of it... that is such an unending process and one of my least favorite things... the clothing sorts.  Made Sweet sort out too-small jeans so he's in pretty good shape.  Trimmed everyone's nails and Tuff's bangs and ends.  Then we did pedicures on the porch.  I read an old Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine while lounging and pushing the girls on the swing.  They love that swing.  The neighbor boys came over to play.  We made some cinnamon rolls so I sent a plate home with them.... returning the plate I've had since they gave me chocolate-dipped pretzels AT CHRISTMAS TIME.  I'm a terrible neighbor.  I snuck in my final catch-up episode of Ax Men.  I made beans-n-rice for dinner and nailed it.... I tempered it with lots of rice in the pot so it wasn't very spicy for ulcer-man.  Sweet was in heaven... it is his favorite dinner.  Bugsy ate TWO bowls.  Even Tuff choked hers down.... something about cooked kidney beans ooks her out. 

The house is about as clean as it can get right now.  I mean, the windows are still filthy but everything looks ok anyway.  Hot accused me of being.... something.  He said I'm not happy unless I'm busy and I don't know how to relax.  Not true.  I know if I don't get things done our lives won't function smoothly and we won't be happy.  It is one of our biggest ongoing arguments.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Photos from the weekend

Team B:  In search of bait

 The forest foragers

The catch.  And discussion of orange spots.

The snack wagon

The Weekend in Review

So the weekend.  To document.

Friday afternoon found me doing the kid-juggle.  I ended up with the two big ones at my lab result doc appt.  (I'm fine, by the by, but I got a cortizone cream for the stress-induced rash I get on the back of my neck and a new epi-pen for the latex thing.)  Somehow Hot skated and got to go to the doctor alone... but then he had to pick up the littlest one so that was payback.  I went to Costco with the two bigs and was completely confused because I kept looking around for the baby.

I bought myself some glass-lock containers.  They were $30 plus $6 off with Costco coupon for an 18 piece set so it was a bit of a splurge.  (9 containers and 9 lids)  So far I love them.  I like clear containers in the fridge and I like glass for the microwave and I love the locking lids for work lunches.  I have some very pretty "french white" bowls with lids but they compost in the fridge when I can't see what is in them.

I can't even remember what movie we watched for movie night.

For those of you who know me off-line.... the Hot health saga continues but is improving.  He probably isn't dying of colon cancer... more likely it is an ulcer in his duodenum.  Prilosec rocks.  Although I really wanted a bottle of wine this weekend and he can't have alcohol so that sucks.

Saturday was a birthday party.  Great weather.  The kids played and played and I got to just veg out for a bit.  Lovely.

Saturday night I was up putting kids to bed and reading books.  Hot holler for me.  I came running thinking something was on fire.  A mouse.  By the couch.  Get the cat.  So Bugsy and I run around like cartoon characters tossing the cat at the mouse (confused cat) and planning to trap the mouse with a giant Costco-sized Wheat Thins box.  Meanwhile... Hot is still reclined in his chair.  I stop.  Look at him.  We both start laughing.  He didn't want to scare the mouse.  Uh-huh.  We finally give up and that damn Mickey sticks his head out, thumbs his nose, and takes off.  Hot found him in the bathroom cowering under the ironing board (who knew I even OWNED an ironing board??) and moved it so Chili could chomp him.  Here comes Hot, Chili held in front of him, in her mouth a very-much-alive mouse.  Don't drop it.  Don't drop it.  And out the door they go.  Last time she caught a mouse in the house she dropped it (still alive) in the dining room and I had to prop the door and use a piece of cardboard (interestingly, probably another Costco-sized Wheat Thins box) to bat it out the door like a star hockey goalie. 

I'm hoping this explains the mouse poop under the kitchen sink... but you know mice are rarely batchelors.

Sunday dawned gorgeous.  We decided to finally prime the porch posts and window frames.  FUN.  We also did the garage door frames.  And from now on, please refer to Hot as "roller-man" per his instructions.  Do NOT call him sponge bob.  Perhaps this weekend we will do the actual painting.  Please remind me to stay on top of this in the future.  They were looking incredibly white-trash.  I also elected to paint the kitchen window frame (it is paned) without tape.  (What?  It gets a better seal that way.)  So now the window looks "flocked" for Christmas.  I think I'll call it decor and not scrape it off. 

The car is finally vacuumed.  I love my little shop vac.  But the windows are awful.  Windows are an issue for me... in the car AND in the house.  Always filthy.  And I didn't deal with recycling OR take the pile of stuff to Good Sam's.  Maybe next weekend.

I also had to take the Dyson apart.  It smelled.  Awful.  I have no idea.  But it is better now.  And while I was at it I cleaned all the hair and dental floss out of the roller and belt.  Ew.

We went for a little fishing trip to the creek, had some snacks (Wheat Thins, of course), and then played football.  Bugsy grunts and smacks her hips so you put "flags" on her.  (Duct tape) Then she runs and giggles.  She will also growl if you say "set, hike" the right way.

We caught a little Brookie.  Hot asks what kind it is.  Tuff shouts, "TUNA" and we all fall down laughing.  That girl is FUNNY. 

I made a lovely ulcer-man dinner.  Chicken tenders & potatoes & corn.  Then we curled up and watched Ax-men on netflix.  Great weekend. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ulcer Man

Remember this vaguely smug post about getting back on the wagon with meal-planning???

Do you hear the Universe laughing??

Hot found out he probably has an ulcer in his duodendum.  Or something like that.  Which beats the hell out of my google-diagnoses.  Actually the most amazing part to me is he was required to do three stool samples.  He went to the doc Friday afternoon and this morning he had the samples all bundled up and ready to go.  It would take me a month to get three stool samples.  Especially under pressure.

But what does this have to do with meal planning?

Oh right.

So now he's on an ulcer-guy diet.  I don't really know what this means since he can't find the paper that tells him what he can and can't eat.  But, basically, it appears to be a diet of bland pale foods.  No red meat.  No alcohol.  Limited fats.  Nothing spicy.

Well that shoots Taco Tuesday all to hell now, doesn't it? 

Until I figure out some recipes he's on a diet of baked potatoes, rice, chicken strips and canned soup.  Lots of crackers and cottage cheese. 

It might kill him.

But better eating and daily prilosec is making him feel better.... so we will roll with it. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lasagna Cupcakes

From Framed.

I love this site.  Although I made the French Toast Muffins and they were not a hit at our house.  My kids love Schwann's French Toast Sticks but I haven't attempted a recreation of those.

Yesterday, due to unforseen circumstances, I was home all day with the kids.  SO we made these for dinner.  Served with a lovely side salad and some frozen corn.  Just call me June.  June Cleaver.

Below is my re-adapted recipe from Framed who snagged a version from

Lasagne Cupcakes

Pasta sauce 2 cups or so
Ground meat 2lbs (I used moose last night)
Wonton wrappers (I used 3/ 36)
Fresh Parmesan
Cottage cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray 12 serving muffin tin with Pam Olive Oil spray.

Cook meat.  Slap a wonton in the bottom of the muffin tin (mine is a muffin silicone... not nearly as great as a tin).  The "real" recipe recommends cutting them into a circle... I didn't.  Sprinkle parm, mozz & cottage cheese.  Then meat.  Then a spoonful of sauce.  Wonton again.  Cheeses.  Meat.  Sauce.  Wonton.  Cheeses.  Meat. Sauce.  Top it off with a blob of mozz and a sprinkle of parm.

Bake about 20 minutes.  Let sit about 5 min.  I (am so smart) put the pan on a cookie sheet because, well, since my microwave shit it's pants I have no way to self-clean my oven... I'm a careful cook now.

Getting the mini-mes out of the pan seemed like a challenge but the handy-dandy pam olive oil spray worked like magic and they popped right out. 

So cute.  So delish.  Bugsy ate one all by herself (and a good chunk of Ceasar salad... that girl is odd.)

So there you have it.... an easy week-day version of lasagne... in portion controlled format.  I imagine they would freeze nicely if we weren't such hoggers.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Meal Planning

Slowly moving back into the world of being planned and organized for meals.

Tonight is taco night.
Tomorrow will be red beans and rice.
Wednesday I'm going to try some lasagna cupcake things.
Thursday will be leftovers.
Friday.... some sort of instant food.... maybe pizza rolls or burritos. 

One week down.  I like to plan for two weeks at a time but that's all I've got right now.....
This morning as I was leaving the house my husband yelled, "Don't be so hard on yourself.  You're good."

I had a great weekend but it ended with me washing a small load of laundry with a dark green scarf and destroying a few items and forgetting I had an award thingy at 2:00 today.  It's ok... I was wearing "good eyes" and a cute top and even the Governor was wearing jeans.

So the weekend.

Friday we had an office celebration lunch of Bullman's Pizza.  Yum.  And cupcakes.  Then off to get the kids.  We shopped our daycare lady's husband's garage sale.  Purchased two guns and a princess book. 

Then to Macy's for the traditional birthday week bra fitting.  I won't give you a size... let's just say for where I am right now in life there really is only one bra that works.... sigh.  So I bought two of them (they look like satellite dishes) and a fabulous Champion sports bra.  Because jumping jacks with Jillian is killing me.  Hot stopped on the way home and bought a bottle of wine for me.  The kids watched Pippi Longstocking for movie night. 
Saturday Hot worked.  I cleaned and made biscuits in the am.  Discovered three large yellow spots on the feather duvet on our bed....  I can't promise they are cat pee because I washed it before I saw them but I tossed the feather duvet in the trash anyway... it was fairly old and it is time for a new one.  I wormed the cats and dog.  The worm saga continues.  But putting a little butter on the pills is a great trick.  Tastes good and they slide right down.

Then we went to the gymnastic's place open house.  Fun was had.  Sweet got into it.  Tuff was the leader since she's been to camp there.  Bugsy wore a pink leo and leg warmers.  She loves the tumble trak.  Everyone was so good... so we went to McD's for lunch. 

Internet.... I must confess something.  I LIKE the caramel frappe at McDonalds.  Skewer me now.  Fake caramel taste and all.  Ew. 

Then home.  Decided to bail on rest time and invited the neighbor boys over instead.  They played Dinosaur Army for several hours.  They were nice to Tuff.  Bugsy ran and ran.... she would run to one fort just as they bailed out and headed for another... so she'd run over there.  Finally I helped her and she became The Skunkinator.  The evil enemy that tosses stink bombs from her endless diaper supply.  We made them run and squeal.  And she helped me clean all the garbage out of the van.

Also.... I believe everyone was peeing behind the barn... which is ok because that's the side the boys live on...

Then the boys had to go home and we got ready for dinner.  Dinner out at Macaroni Grill.  I had two glasses of wine.  TWO.  It was lovely.  The kids were adorable... even with no naps or quiet time.  Tuff, Bugsy and I split a lemon gelato. 

Then home for presents and a little more wine.  I got everything I could have wanted and more.

Sunday we put the kids in front of the tv for a short movie so we could sleep in.... you know how well that works.  So I took my fabulous cup of Costa Rican coffee (that my boss brought back from... Costa Rica) and went outside to pull grass out of the flower beds.  I got a lot done.  The kids mostly zoomed around with the new guns and caused mayhem.  We played a few rounds of King's Corner and the kids took solid naps.  I made cookies, did a little more yardwork and went to an open house down the road to snoop out the interior.... there were SIX neighbors there doing the same thing. 

Then off to dinner at some friends.  Our kids had a blast.  We got home before it was late and I discovered my laundry disaster.  Oops.  Did all that "prep for the week" stuff.... looking at schedules, putting money in school portrait envelopes, finding apples in the fridge for a math project this week.  Those kinds of things. 

It was a productive weekend.  Although I didn't finish cleaning the laundry room or deal with all the paperwork in the "office" corner.  And the spare room is still bare.  And I need to start bringing winter gear back in the house.  (Packed it all when I thought we were remodeling.)  But those are chores for next weekend.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Confession Time

I lost my spark. 

I haven't done A SINGLE THING in the "spare" bedroom since the floors.  Nothing.  Na-da.  Zip.  Zilch. 

All the "decor" is piled in the laundry room.  Nothing on the walls.  No rug.   

We did put the trim back in.  And I vacuumed up some feathers from a hole in the duvet.

No ideas.  No inspiration.

I've lost the spark.

I no longer see possibilities....  I see.... nothing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

3 Day Record

A special moment in history.... we've eaten dinner at the table as a family 3 nights in a row.


Night One (Saturday):  Moose steak & fried potatoes & green beans.  Hot cooked. 
Night Two (Sunday):  Stove Top, chicken tenders, rice & salad.  I cooked.
Night Three (Monday):  Spaghetti with jar sauce, leftover green beans & salad.  Nobody cooked.

Can we make it four nights?  No.  Because Hot works until 6:30 tonight and Sweet has football practice at 6:30.  Sweet will chow down on leftover spaghetti and the girls will pack a snack-dinner to take to practice.  The grownups are on their own... so eggs or salad or leftovers are the options. 

I'm very pleased with Hot for making the effort.... love you honey.... you make me happy.  (Especially when you do what I want...)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

But then I get a 3-day weekend and I wish it was 4 days.

I think I got a lot done this weekend.

My mom was here Friday.  She took home a couple of boxes of stuff for my sis-in-law.  Breast pump.  Milk storage bottles.  Spare boobie pads.  Baby jammies. 

I took a moment to reflect.  That part of my life is over... the pumping part.  I won't miss the pump.  I will miss having tiny babies. 

I spent a good chunk of Saturday running errands with the kids.  We got a few gifts for Hot's birthday, bought caulk for the edge of the bathtub, got some jars at Ross.  Diddly stuff but good to have crossed off the never-ending list.  We had a lovely lunch at Burger King.  The kids played in the playland... even though it ooks me out.  And, also, note to self:  Fast food is expensive with three kids. 

I managed to watch 3 movies this weekend.  Shutter Island on Friday night while Hot was working late.  Then I started The Road and watched it in bits and pieces over the next 3 days.  Last night we hunkered down to mourn the end of the long weekend and watched, um, name escapes me.... Girard Butler and Jennifer Aniston and he's a bounty hunter and she's his ex-wife.  Yeah... The Bounty Hunter.  That's it.  Here's my assessment:  Shutter Island.  I would probably like the book better.  It was creepy in a good way.  But ***SPOILER ALERT*** I can't deal with movies where kids get murdered.... especially when their mother drowns them in a pond.  Then came The Road.... another upbeat movie.  Again with the mother abandoment issue... I just didn't need it.  So we added a little fluff to the weekend with The Bounty Hunter.... And can I say... with my addiction to decorator style.... I loved Aniston's character's apartment. 

Did a little more baking this weekend.  French toast muffins.  Ok but not great.  Definitely fun to bake with Tuff but not that tasty.  Not as good as the pumpkin-chocolate chip recipe and I think that one was healthier so we will stick with it for now.  Made bread dough to make pigs in a blanket.  Made beans and rice. 

Tuff says, "Let's make bacon bits."  "What?"  "You know.  What are those things called again that your mom made for you for breakfast when you were little?  Bacon bits?"  Oh.  "Biscuits."  So we made biscuits with honey.  Mom gave me her little honey jar.... it is shaped like a hive and has a little yellow honey dipper.  Love it. 

We played a lot of lincoln logs this weekend.  And tons of card games and board games.  Bugsy has a new fascination with the kitchen set so she played for several hours "camping" and "restaurant" with the big kids while I cleaned out their toy space a bit.  It will never be perfect but at least I got "like" with "like" and corralled most of the tiniest choking hazards in an applesauce jar.

I packed out quite a bit of kid clothing... this early move into fall is showing me how much they have grown.  I can honestly say their bedroom is as clean as it can be right now.  It looks good. 

I boxed up FIVE paper-boxes of clothes from my closet.  FIVE.  And it is still packed full.  But I got tired.  I need to work on the light situation in the closets before winter truly hits.  I have some rope lights and I was thinking of getting one of those "seen on tv" switches for it (We have that solution in the downstairs bedroom) but there is only one plug in and it just wouldn't work quite right.  I have some of those "pop" lights in there but they aren't great ones... maybe if I spring for better battery operated lights.  There is an overhead light over the "desk" between the two closets under the eaves but the light shines pretty much directly in the eyes of the one still in bed and not in the closet at all.

I put Bugsy's 18 month fall clothes in a rolling tub under her crib.  I hate that but it is what works right now.  I cleared out all of her small clothes and most summer stuff from the drawer in the bathroom. 

I cleaned the laundry room rug.

I poked around in the upstairs hall closet.  It needs to be emptied but I ran out of time this weekend.

Still need to do more work in the laundry room.  More work means.... toss more craft stuff.

Pulled blue tape from downstairs bedroom and tidied.  Hot has plans to put the trim back in today.  Still need a rug. 

I moved around some kitchen stuff.  Got rid of the baby bibs.  Put my coffee beans in a new glass jar.  Put the powdered milk and corn meal in canning jars.  Put the remaining plastic stuff in a drawer, donated most of the travel coffee cups and put the rest on a shelf.  I'm about one 9 inch spinny tray away from being organized in the kitchen... with room to spare.  All those boxes for donation are worth it.

How do you store your brown sugar?  I got a set of glass jars and one is tall... like for spaghetti.... should I put the brown sugar in it?  Will it get rock hard?  I have one of those little terracotta things to keep it soft... will it work?  Mmmm.  Brown Sugar.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Internet.... I'm going to post something that will make you hate me.....

I don't have a junk drawer.


I have no drawer dedicated to junk.

The flip-side of that is, possibly, all of my drawers are dedicated to junk?

It isn't that I don't have junk... I just don't have a drawer.

So, instead, I will list all of the things that should would and could go in a junk drawer and I'll tell you where I hide them instead.

1. Pens & Pencils & notepads. Notepad and pen in my bedside table. Notepad and pens in the armoire drawer where the computer lives. A few pencils and papers in the drawer with the phone book... but not much. A little wire basket in a flat cabinet with "homework stuff" like pencil sharpeners and erasers and scissors. This flat cabinet also houses some spare keys, stamps, address labels, sharpie markers hand sanitizers, tape, the emergency phone list and various bits of things that are important to my husband... like knives and notepads for work. Notepad and pens and scissors in the silverware drawer.... Ok, wait, what? Yes. This is where I make my grocery list and notes of things I might forget. A tiny little spiral bound notebook lives in this drawer and odd bits of info get jotted here.... random phone numbers, the price we paid for stove pellets, a recipe for chocolate cake in a cup... all in this notebook... right next to the can opener and the pizza cutter. Odd, I know, but it works.
2. Random laundry room items. There is a drawer in the laundry room specifically for "things that need to be fixed" and "next projects" for me. Every once in a while I rampage through this drawer and toss or glue everything. This drawer also contains projects I haven't completed yet... like the light switch that needs to be replaced upstairs and the paper to make wallpaper for the doll house and the alphabet cards I was going to put on the wall. There is also a little pink tub in this drawer that has, well, stuff.... little screws and broken bits. Interestingly, when I was putting out Easter decor this spring I found a thing that was missing a screw and, lo, the screw was in the pink tub... so it works.

3. Random socks. Top right drawer of my dresser. (It also contains a wrist brace from my fight with carpal tunnel.) These drawers are tiny. The left drawer has love notes & letters from my husband. The middle drawer has jewelry and a tape measure/notebook for when I feel the urge to punish myself by body measurement.
I keep a tub of lip balm in the cupboard with the dishes in it.... this is also where the advil/aleve lives and the vitamins.  And in the summer the allergy meds.

glue and sticky things, bottom drawer in the laundry room.

nail files, clippers, floss, bookmarks, the little drawer in the end table in the living room.

kid treasures, each has a red plastic shoe box for special odd and random treasures on a shelf in their room.

I'm trying so hard to simplify.  Sigh.  I don't think it is working.

Cinnamon Bread

Had a vaguely successful baking mission last weekend.  I was trying to adapt a cinnamon bread recipe to the bread maker..... total success EXCEPT I followed the instructions and used one pan instead of two... even though I knew 3.5 cups of flour was better for 2 pans.....  So it rose... all over.  I punched it back in the pan and baked it anyway. 


Thursday, September 02, 2010

Comfort Food

I had to call my mom this week and get her recipe for "Chipped Beef on Toast."

I've never gotten the recipe before because, well, I've never craved it before.  We used to eat it pretty often as kids.... it's cheap and easy. 

Too bad it isn't healthy.  Except... when I said this.... mom says, "Dairy.  That's healthy."

Then I called my sister and freaked her out because she was craving it as well.

So... without further ado.  This will probably gross you out but I think we are having it for dinner next week.

Chipped Beef on Toast (aka Shit on a Shingle)

Melt 4 TBS butter, add in 3-4 TBS flour so it makes a paste.  Add 1.5-2 cups of milk.  Bring to a boil and let it get thick.  Add a package of chipped beef, torn into bite-sized pieces.  Serve over toast. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Rice Crispy Treats

Here's a tip.  Don't go to Costco the day before school starts.  Everybody within a 10-mile radius is in there buying peanutbutter and bread. 

I overheard a dad (with 3 or 4 kids around him) say to the mom, "Do they start school tomorrow?"

I beaned him with a box of rice crispy treats.

No.  Not really.

I did buy Sweet a box of pre-packaged rice crispy treats.  I thought it would be a delightful back-to-school treat and he's been begging for them every time we go.  Bonus... I had a coupon. 

He said, "Oh, mom, you are the best mom ever."  "Because I buy your rice crispy treats?"  "Yeah.... that and when you make fudge."

Love that boy.

Then he tried one.

Now what do I do with the remaining 53 treats?  You know "picky eater" took one bite and didn't like them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 2, Grade 1

Sweet is already tired of packing a lunch.  Even a super-special pb & powdered sugar sandwich with a magic sprinkle of chocolate chips for the first day wasn't doing it for him.

"But mom, I don't like cottage cheese."

Me.  Blink.  Blink.  This is the child who can eat an entire carton in one sitting.

"But mom, remember, I'm a picky eater."


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The cleaning of the shed continues.  The kids had a costume party at daycare this week and, in an effort to find face makeup for a vampire bat, I brought in (and sorted) the Halloween tub.  It wasn't bad.... I culled it pretty hard last year. 

I'm trying to sort/purge a tub every week.

I thought I had a tub in the shed full of towels I was saving for some unknown reason and I recently made some decisions about towels.... So I went diving in looking for them.

Guess what? At some point in a pregnancy-fueled fit of cleaning I got rid of those towels! I wonder which pregnancy it was? Anyway....
Here's the new improved towel score card at my house. I have one bathroom.... so that makes it easier.
The shed: A tub with a few towels in it. The beautiful butter yellow set that will go with my new bathroom after we remodel and a set of green/tan ones with moose or trees or something on them... brand new and a wedding gift and no real reason to keep them except I'm hoping to pawn them off on my sister later this spring.

The garage: A whole cupboard of towels and rags. Perfect for lining a dog kennel or cleaning bloody knives (What? My husband hunts....).
The laundry room: A gorgeous stack of cleaning rags.
The kitchen: My kitchen towels were inadvertently addressed last year. Leaky sink drain plus whole sink full of bleach water plus kitchen towels stored under the sink equals, well, lots of new rags for the garage cupboard and a renewed commitment to NOT use bleach. I have 4 main kitchen towels plus two Christmas themed ones and three little pink ones (for Valentine's Day and spring). I'd like to add two fall themed ones. Kitchen dish rags are replaced every year at Christmas time. Santa brings my husband new rags.

WAIT.  STOP.  Be horrified by my pink countertops.

Baby washcloths: These live in the drawer with the dish rags. I got a set of really nice ones from Ross in an effort to buy SOMETHING new and special for the baby. Love them. I'll also address baby bibs here. I have way too many. Need to cull this giant pile. I have one plastic one that lives on the high chair and is the one I use the most. (UPDATE:  DONE.  She is 14 months and hates to wear a bib.  Buy more oxiclean and leave her alone.)

Cloth napkins: I have 4 teal-ish blue ones in a holder. We use them every day. I also have a stack of red ones. We use them fairly often. I have 4 Christmas plaid ones that get pulled out and mixed with the red ones at Christmas time.
Wash rags and hand towels: They live in a wooden box on a shelf. They are ratty. There are 4 hand towels and 7 wash rags in rotation. (NOTE:  There are now 3 hand towels (one is in the cat carrier) and 5 wash rags (two were sacrificed to clean up some horrendous mess or another)... and they are ALL getting replaced the next time I find fabulous ones on clearance.)

Beach towels: We have 5 big pool towels on a shelf in the kids' room. They move to a trunk on the porch in the summer. There is also a spare in each car... affectionately referred to as the "Frow Up" towel.... for emergencies of all sorts.

And, finally, the actual towels: My hubby and I each have a towel on a hook, each kid has a hoodie towel on a low hook or the bathroom door (yes, that is an adorable tiny duck bathrobe on the back of my door..... the baby looks like a tiny demented Hugh Heffner when she lounges in it). I also have one of those dorky hair towels. Then we have 5 extra towels for guests.

All towels are swooped up and washed weekly and then hung directly back on their hooks. I don't like to fold towels. Are you horrified we don't use a fresh towel every time we bathe?
Holy Catfish.... who knew a post on towels would take this long to document?
Now I'm off to dream about plush white hand towels.....

Secret Confession: I had a really hard time letting go of some kitchen towels and rags my grandma made for me. But then I thought about what she would say. This was a woman who kept a specially marked "GIVE AWAY" bag in her closet before it was cool. She would tell me to use them up, cherish the memory and move on.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Time to go back to the "school schedule" routine around here..... class starts on Monday.

Dear Summer.... I will miss you.

6:00 am. The alarm goes off. I have a Spa Clock. Not as relaxing as it sounds.... how relaxing can an alarm clock be?? But I do like the ceiling projection. My alarm is set to the sound of thunder. Why? Because thunder doesn't wake a sleeping baby. And snoozing thunder 6 times doesn't disturb a sleeping husband. Although this morning it was static... loud static... because some small person messed with it. Ahem.
So the alarm goes off. I snooze it.

I drag myself downstairs.  I let the critters out.  I start the coffee and put away dishes in the drying rack.  I let the dog in.  I spend a moment missing my dishwasher.

Then it is off to the shower for me & to unloading the bathroom drawers for Bugsy.  In theory she should stay asleep in bed but she never does. My bathroom routine is, basically, this: scoop litter box, hang jammies on door hook, shower, apply lotions-n-potions (body moisturizer & pit stick), put on my face (let's be real.... tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, curl/mascara, eyebrows... in my old age I've added Boots serum, mascara and eyebrows.... and does anyone have a suggestion for a good high SPF face lotion??), brush my teeth (does anyone else have days when they think, "I don't have time for TWO WHOLE MINUTES with the electric toothbrush"????), comb hair, put on robe (yes, Elle, I'm still wearing the grey fleece robe from 20 years ago....).

I'm working up to cleaning my closet enough that I have just a handful of "go to" work outfits to select from each day....  baby steps.
Stagger to kitchen to see if coffee is ready.  Dork around.... load the washer and set it (via the delay mode) to be washed when I get home from work.  Maybe start the roomba.  Start a project.  Make a list..... whatever it takes to make sure I get off schedule for the morning.
Other things that need to be done that may get done before 7:00: change and dress the baby, pack my lunch, get out daycare bag and put milk in it, pack lunch for the first grader. 
My hubby usually makes Sweet's lunch. Bologna and cheese on wheat, granola bar, pretzels, carrot sticks, apple slices and a peanutbutter cup is the usual.  It's pretty automated.  And I'm not afraid to rely on convenience packaging (although it took me a while to accept it) for things like chips and baby carrots.  I confess that I rinse out baggies and reuse.  I pre-package apple sauce and cottage cheese and canned pears (not all together) in those cool containers you clip an ice pack into.  Oh... look at the cute new kid stuff they have.  I'll wait for it to arrive at Ros.

A few minutes before 7:00 the baby and I go up and snuggle Sweet and wake him up and decide what he wants for breakfast. He then grabs his clothes and comes down in front of the stove to dress. Tuff gets up and does the same around this time.
We are big fans of picking out clothes the night before.
My hubby's alarm goes off at 7:00.

I turn on the Today Show at 7:00 for a few minutes of news while I dress and snuggle the baby and sip coffee.
Then I turn the tv off. This seems to be the key to getting it together in the morning.
My son eats breakfast (I use that term freely.... "breakfast" can be leftover pizza, hot pockets, chicken nuggets....) and brushes and follows his schedule (on the fridge) while my daughter dorks around getting dressed. She usually eats breakfast at daycare.... a lifesaver since getting her to eat breakfast quickly usually ends in one of us crying.
Then I fix her hair and she brushes her teeth.
On cold days, my husband starts my car and brings it to the front door for me..... and tries to nicely remind me to not park so close to the workbench in the garage. :)
Then comes coats and hats and that last minute dash of the morning.
In theory I should be able to leave by 7:30 but it never works that way. You will also notice a lack of regular exercise routine in my mornings.... I'm working on that.
The important mental checklist for the way out the door: coffee, sunglasses, cell phone, car keys.  Usually I have my lunch, work papers, stuff to drop off and lists of things to do already stashed in my purse.

My hubby leaves at 8 with all the kids and drops our son at school and the girls at daycare on his way to work.

On "my" days to drop off I leave at 7:30 and drop the girls first and then Sweet at school a little after 8 and make it to work by 8:15.... in theory.
I'll tell you all about our evening routine next time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bowl. Bowl. Bowling.

That's right. I just got all crazy and moved them.


And my dad was at my house and he said he'd never heard of such a thing.... bowls in drawers. And I started spouting "Montessori" and "Ikea" and, secretly, I started planning a post about it.... because what good is family unless they are inspiration for a blog post?

My only regret is I have no before pictures.

So let me back up and talk about the inspiration for this major act of kitchen treason and reorganization.

First, the facts:

1. My kitchen is quite small. Not postage stamp-sized but more like, um, post-it note-sized.

2. I've been thinking about this change since I got new pyrex for Christmas. Lots of new pyrex.

3. Also... new sippy cups. Only 2 new sippy cups.... but with these sippy cups came the realization we have a lot of sippy cups and lidded-drink cups and for the love of catfish, we only have 5 mouths in this house.... WHY do we have so many of them??? I'm all for hydration but this is just silly.

And so it began.

I consolidated two plastic container tubs into one. (And I questioned the need for so many plastic containers...) I put sippy cups into one of the plastic container tubs. (See the photo... those two tubs were plastic containers... now the one on the left is sippy cups) I wiped out the sippy cup drawer and then loaded it with bowls. Not all the bowls (the big white bowls are all still in the cupboard up top) but most of them. Then I shuffled a bit to accomodate the new pyrex. AND ta-da.

Here's what I'm left with:
1. A drawer of bowls (and baby spoons). These are the kid cereal bowls. The vegetables-for-dinner bowls (What? Nobody likes their cheesy-peas to touch their chicken tenders, do they??) and the snack bowls. The baby food bowls. The pack-the-leftovers-for-lunch-with-a-lid bowls (doubling as portion control... like how I built that in there?).

2. A tub of sippy cups... still easily accessed by the little set. (Added bonus: I cleaned out the travel coffee cup drawer.... I know... but believe me, this photo is a huge improvement.... the drawer opens and closes now....)
3. A big cardboard box of randomness. Sippy cups and plastic containers. A fancy Pampered Chef cheese grater, a ceramic garlic cooker, a Velveeta cheese holder (I am not kidding.), and some various odds-n-ends of kitchen life that needed to be retired. I have the box in the shed for the "if you don't need it in 6 months" dumping plan. So far no one has needed anything... you aren't really surprised by that, are you??

4. Follow up. There is always follow up. I'm now hunting for a perfect container to put on the shelf to replace the sippy cup tub.... 14x23x6. It will allow the sippy cups to be less crammed (see photo) together. (Nothing says frustration like a 3-year-old defeated by crammed-together sippy cups.) I'm thinking of cutting down a cardboard box to test that size to make sure it works before I spend any cash.

And I need more of those smaller-sized clear pyrex with the blue lids. 
And me? I'm feeling giddy with power. One kitchen thing done, one thousand to go.

This post is from February or so.  I've lived with the new bowl situation for a while.... and I like it.  I "edited" out a few more sippy cups and decided the white bin was big enough.  But I do need more clear pyrex bowls.... those solid white ones get lost in the fridge... if I can't see what is in them I ignore them.  And those 4 little pyrex ramekins with no lids... fairly useless. 

Emptying the dishwasher (if I had a dishwasher..... but I do have a draining rack....) is a breeze.  All the bowls just plop into that drawer.  So clever.
I wish I had one more drawer.  Then I could stash all the other bowls that are up top.

Next up:  The re-do of my spice cabinet and baking supplies.

The Floor... More

Patching the eleventy-million screw holes.  (Add to the list of thank you's to Hot:  Buying new putty for the floors.. I was going to use the dried up stuff in the garage or wall stuff.)

My NUMBER ONE assistant....

The New Game

It kinda looks like they are doing an earthquake drill but this is the latest game at our house. 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Looking out the Window

Looking out the window.  This is me, looking out the window before I started the REAL coat of paint.  Yes, that last set of photos was just the primer.  So I'm looking out my plastic covered window at Old Trot there.  And the leaning cabin.  And guess what.  I DID NOT OPEN THAT WINDOW.  Big Mistake.  Fumes from oil-based paint.  Ack.  I had no idea.  My house still reaks THREE DAYS LATER.  And, also, the paint is not dry enough to walk across to OPEN a window.  "Dry to light traffic in 24 hours"  MY ASS. 
It went quite well.  I washed the walls.  I took everything out.  I pulled a few staples I missed before.  I spackled floor screw holes.  I spackled wall nail holes.  I dug out the old green paint and fixed the ceiling line.  (THREE coats around the room.)  I touched up.  I ditzed.  I was in heaven.  Then I got out the roller (Thank you, Hot, for taping AND for buying a pole for the roller... yes, we have on in the garage (I call it the push broom handle) but I wouldn't have bothered and it made the job go oh-so-fast.) and I rolled.  One coat.  Much smell.  Baby on hip.  Pictures later.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So I read somewhere that if you aren't sure what to do with a room and you've become visually immune to the clutter..... take a picture.

The following is a series of photos of the bathroom this morning and my thoughts on what is stored where and changes that need to be made.

Does everyone have this odd kind of "stash" spot? Jammies, robes, shirts that need ironing.....

The dresser:  Top big drawer is Bugsy's clothes.  Bottom is Hot's.  Two little drawers contain Bugsy socks and shoes and the other one has a curling iron, a hair straightener, baby lotion and some baby-related items like aveeno soak and moisture stick.  That horse-shoe shaped wooden hook could probably go, couldn't it?  Fairly ugly, right?  The tub toy bin is hanging on it.

The white wood thing with hearts... what can I do with that?  It has some sentimental value but certainly isn't my taste in decor.  Hmmmm.  Also please laugh about the toilet paper situation in our household.  It's in that copper thing with the black lid.  Why?  Because the cats shred it on the roll.  Also... that tp holder needs replacing... U-G-L-Y.

The kid towels (except Sweet's.... for some reason it is over there on the horse-shoe hook)... this doesn't work... too far from the tub and too high for them to get themselves.... these pesky hooded towels hang really long.... I don't want the touching the baseboard heaters.  And, oh, hey... there are the swimmie googles.... I was missing those.

Paint the floor heaters white? Can you do that?  I need ideas for a new shower curtain.  The windowsill holds hand sanitizer, the adult toothbrush bucket and a 3-drawer container for hair pretties and randomness that the cats might steal.  I think I will move that white-curly-q shelf up and put hooks under it for kid towels.... but have to clear the baseboards.  Hmmmm.

Need to move this towel hook over.  And that big wooden expanse is begging for.... something.  And please don't get me started on the sexiness of hollywood lights over the sink.  I need an electrician.

I'm almost pleased with the storage shelves.  Almost.  Need a clever way to store the vitamins and to hide Hot's pit stick and shaving cream.  He culled his hair cut kit and now it all fits in a tub in the back along with his razors and blades.  Notice the classy spare cat pan stacked up on top... it is sealing and protecting the tp stash.... those kitties are shredders.  Also... that's a cat bed up there... than tan thing... and another on top of the laundry basket.  3 wicker bins... jammies for each.  A stack of baby blankets, a potty seat for those "stuck" poopies, and the mop bucket and toilet plunger is stashed in the back of the bottom shelf.  Also... diapers and wipes are stashed in the back of these super-deep shelves.  And, the final count:  7 adult towels (two on hooks, five for guests), 3 hoodie kid towels, 3 hand towels, 5 wash rags.  Finished.

Ugly light fixtures.  Cream ceiling fan.  Ew.

Gross-out.  The trim by the tub came out and, since we were planning to tear down this part of the house, I didn't fix it.  NOW LOOK.  BLACK MOLD.

Drawer shot for Kae.  This will totally gross her out.  Toothbrushes run amok.  Everywhere.  This is the kid tooth drawer.  Ew.  But please note the bottom drawer is EMPTY.  What should I put in there?  Hot had his razors, pit stick and shaving cream in there but he got tired of Bugsy taking them out and wandering around so now his stuff is on the storage shelves.

Under the sink... why do you care?  Because it looks so much better than days of old.

The bottom drawer of no return.  This has a container of bath packets and a contain of salt packets for my nose.... a container of mama hair pretties & mama's fancy makeup.  This needs further culling but, considering how it started, it looks pretty good.

This is mama's drawer.  My makeup in the striped bag.  All the hairbrushes and combs.  (The good brown brush has gone missing again....)  It also appears my pit stick is on walk-about....  I actually found it later in the laundry room... I love you Bug.

Here's a point of chaos in our household... how do YOU organize hair pretties?
I have this box on the shelf.

And clips are all here.... and there are 3 drawers in that jewelry box looking thing on the window sill that house overflow.

But that's a lot of hair stuff to wrangle.

And then there is this cute thing that came in from the swing set (at 6:30am) to give me a grin.  (Note the boo-boo where he ran into the hammock frame with his face.)