Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday's Deep Thoughts

The remote is too complicated, which is why we got the ONE simple one, then it broke and we were lost!!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Menu Planning

Menu planning is the key to making dinner work for us. It might not be for everyone, but I cannot imagine why it would not work for anyone!

Every Sunday, we plan what we are going to have for dinner each night until next Sunday. It makes the time before dinner so much less stressful. Who has not thought at 5:00PM “What am I going to make for dinner tonight?” And most of the time even if I can think of something I want for dinner, I usually don’t have all the right ingredients. (Sound familiar?) We may not make the planned meal on the planned night, but if we make a change, it is just a swap, so we have all the stuff and we know what we are having in advance still.

The other good thing about planning in advance is that it makes budgeting and spending less at the grocery store so much easier. And who does not want to spend less at the grocery store? Especially with prices what they are now? You only have to buy what you are going to need and use, rather than just what you *might* use or want. We have saved so much time and money with this method. I have been doing it for 3 years now and it makes huge difference. It makes it so much easier when you have some other issue going on. When we don’t do it (because there are some weeks where Sunday just gets insane) we can definitely see the difference. The stress and daily visits to the grocery store tell the story.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


If there is one thing that an organized TV-watcher loves, it is organizing even that aspect of her life. And I have done it. I use my DVR so much now… For lack of a better term, I will call it Tivo, because that is what it is, but it can be any service. I just happen to have Tivo and we call it that…

I will admit now that I went into the whole Tivo thing kicking and screaming several years ago. We were definitely early adopters on this thing. My DH really wanted it and so I gave in but thought I would never need it or want it. Let me just tell you, it has completely changed the way I watch TV! I hate to admit that I love it, but I do!

First of all, we almost never watch live TV anymore. Even a show we like that we want to end at about the right time (American Idol, Survivor) we typically start about 20 minutes into it, so we can skip all the commercials and just watch the show. I am sure that I am an advertisers’ worst nightmare, but oh well. I have learned that we can watch a 30 minute show in 22 minutes and a 60 minute show in 40 minutes. This is how much non-show TV we watch every hour, folks!

Then there is the Season Pass Manager. Anyone who has one might know what I am talking about, but first of all, you can pick programs you like or want by name and never know what time or channel it is on. It is already better than a videotape or a VHS. The other thing is that it will record all or new episodes that you want, not just a single episode. The best part is that you can then prioritize the shows that you want. My husband and I still do not agree on how you prioritize items (and we are not going to go over that argument again…) The worst part is that when you change the order or anything on the season pass, there is a 10 minute wait.

Having this DVR has completely changed the way I watch TV and I like it a lot! When I first got it, I was all excited about maybe being able to pause live TV, since we had young kids. But what I had planned to do and what I actually do is much different.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Mystery of Pee

I know it doesn’t seem like it should be a mystery, but I have been toilet training my youngest forever now. It has been 18 months, which is way too long. He has been pretty good for the last 12 months or so, but still makes me wipe him (GROSS!) and does not have perfect aim yet when it comes to using the toilet for #1. (I am trying to be politically correct, but it is so hard!)

Anyway, he hits is more often than not now, but there are times when our half bath off the kitchen smells like a truck stop. Or a frat house. Or a gas station. You can insert your own worst experience in a bathroom here. But I know that when it comes out it is just barely yellow and after a few days, or sometimes even a few hours, there is a dried on bit of DARK YELLOW gunk on the bottom ledge of the toilet, near the floor, but not on it. I could not figure this out for the longest time. You may be in the same place as I am. So after a few weeks, I asked my husband, somewhat rhetorically, what this could be. Lo and behold, he actually had an answer.

When the kid pees and misses, it goes to that spot. And this is the part that eluded me. THEN THE WATER IN IT EVAPORATES, leaving the darker yellow gunk. Who knew?

All I know is that I will be so excited when everyone pees in the toilet and makes it and I don’t have to sit in pee. And since the older ones are too lazy to always lift the seat, that might be when they all move out of the house! (I have actually sat on a wet seat twice in the last month. EWWWWWW!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beverage Center

Do you love coffee in the morning? Well, really, this works for just about any beverage, but coffee sounds so much better, doesn’t it? And lately I have been really into iced coffee and this is perfect for that!

Many of you have probably done this already and do not really think of it as organizing, but it is! I did not do it for years and am now kicking myself for not thinking of it earlier! (Or reading about it somewhere and just doing it!)

I keep all my items for beverages together in the same cabinet. (Picture here)

That sounds rather obvious, but for so many people it is a matter of “do what I say and not as I do” here. I keep the coffee maker just under that same cabinet. I also pre-set the coffee maker the night before to start at 6:15AM so that it is done when I get up at 6:30. That is such a cool feature. Washing it out and refilling it for the next day is part of my dinner routine. It works so well. I keep the dry coffee, the artificial sweetener (in a cute crock!), the non-dairy creamer, and the coffee cups that I use in the cabinet just above the coffee maker. It is so easy to find everything, even when I am dead-tired in the morning!

And since that is my “beverage cabinet” I also keep all the tea bags there, as well as the dry Kool-Aid, Crystal Light, and anything else that does not need to be refrigerated that is associated with drinking. (Not THAT kind of drinking, but I am sure you could put that there too. Should I be worried if mine will not all fit there?)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday's Deep Thoughts

It seems as if the people who love self-help books the most need them the least. Is that because they have read a lot of them and made themselves better or is it because those kinds of people want to be just a little bit better and those who really need them know that it is a lost cause?

Thrift Stores

Volunteering at the thrift store, which I do for 2 hours a week, is the best thing ever for someone like me. It is like perpetually organizing someone else’s closet! I am sure I am the only one who loves being a “sorter” in the back room. It never seems to end and people keep bringing stuff in, but I love it! If I can do it while listening to my ipod, all the better!

I originally started to do it because it would make me go in there and I wanted to get cheap jeans for the kids, who get holes in the knees, even as pre-teens. I don’t get it. But I digress. Anyway, I originally just wanted to get jeans, but I ended up finding so much more, mostly name brand stuff, for like $2 each. I could not beat it. I am now wishing I had been doing this for years now because I could have saved a lot of money!

Anyway, back to the volunteering thing. I just finished my third stint there and I am still loving it. I would think if the novelty was going to wear off, it would have done it last week or this week and it has not! So if you really like organizing your own closet and that of others, like kids or other family or whatever, then I highly recommend spending just a little time working at a thrift store. The management there will be so grateful and it will fill, at least partially, your need to organize someone else!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Making Laundry a Little Easier

I am a big fan of Real Simple magazine. The new one – the October issue – came out over the weekend and I read it right away. There was a great section in it on the readers’ greatest organizing tip, which I thought was great! The actual article could not be found on the website, but here is something very similar.

If you have never been to their website, I highly recommend it, because there are tons of great ideas and articles and you might just find something you like or need, even if you weren’t looking for it. The website is here. I could spend all day just reading stuff on that website, but I have to actually get stuff done around here. It is so sad that I have to actually do work! (As the washer runs and the dishwasher is on and the countdown to getting my youngest at preschool is on…)

But for an original tip, I thought I would share what has mostly worked for laundry. I say “mostly”, because the kids are still driving me nuts, but less so now.

For the adults, we have two laundry baskets in our closet. No hampers. At all. Our closet is, thankfully, a walk-in, but this tip would work with almost any-sized closet. Like I said, we have 2 baskets in out closet, one for lights and one for darks. This is the most I could get anyone to sort anything, ever, so it works for us. “Darks” includes our green towels, but if we had lighter towels, they would go in there. Needless to say, that basket fills up a lot quicker. When a basket gets full, I wash it. It is already sorted and in the basket. It could not be easier!

For the kids, they each have a laundry basket (smaller than ours) in their rooms and there is one in the bathroom upstairs (their bathroom). When it gets full OR every Thursday (at least), they are to bring those baskets to the laundry room. I still have to remind them most Thursdays, and sometimes they are overflowing, but there is no excuse for them anymore. The reason we went to the laundry baskets in their rooms was that they were constantly arguing about whose stuff was whose in the laundry. While they still do that a little (and claim the other threw it in their basket, etc.) I can easily say to them, “If it was in your basket, then you do it!” and be done with it. I have also said to them that if there is NOTHING in the bathroom basket but towels, I will do it. That almost never happens, but the ideal situation is that clothes get taken off in their rooms, towels get used and discarded in the bathroom, and there are no towels in their personal laundry and no clothes in the bathroom. Like I said, almost NEVER happens, but that is the theory and what we are striving towards. Maybe by the time they leave the house at age 18, that will happen!

Laundry still sucks and it is never-ending, but with a simple system in place, it is a little better than it could be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been thinking about what I want to do with my life as the next chapter and honestly, I am paralyzed with fear, I think. It was easy in my other job to call things “out of reach” and not think about them because even then, there were so many things I wanted to do. But now that I have the opportunity to actually do one, I cannot pick one yet. There are so many things still and many of them are not related at all.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The house is for sale. Wanna buy it?

Selling a home is hard. I know that most people know this already, but when your house is not actively for sale, it is easy to forget how hard! My house has now been for sale for just over 6 months. During this economy, the time frame is not too huge (yet!) but the worst part of this is that during this time, I feel as if I cannot LIVE in my house. I want to do things to the house and yard, but I do not want to spend any money on the house now. We typically have the scariest yard during October and especially at Halloween. However, this year, we did nothing and it was disappointing. Our fake headstones gather dust in the garage. It is so frustrating!

Sunday, January 18, 2009


So the school called this morning and said my youngest, who is 3 and in preschool had a “play-doh accident”. My first thought was “Can you have a play-doh accident?” and then I thought maybe he ate it or shoved it up his nose… But no. There was this play-doh toy that is like an extruder with plates that slide on and off the front of it. I am sure many of you have it at home. Heck, we have it at home! So I went into the school to look at his fingers and they were a little banged up, but being the third BOY I have had, not a big deal at all. They problem they were having is that he refused to use that hand, for anything. For a few hours, that is perfectly normal, even for him. When I have a nail break off too low, I avoid using that hand for days!

How did it happen, you ask? When we have one at home, it is odd that he would do anything like that at school, right? I asked the teachers the same thing. Apparently he was playing with it and put his fingers into it (who knows why, but I have learned not to ask the WHY question) and another little boy closed it on his fingers. He is also 3 and my son’s BFF at school, so I am sure it was an accident, so I am not worried about it at all.

He had a small cut, but it was so small you could barely see it! It was not a big deal. So he stayed at school and since he only does half-days anyway, I was back in 2 hours to get him.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saturday's Deep Thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about why I like to mess around in the kitchen so much and I think I have finally figured it out. When I make something for the family, especially something sweet, I feel like I am taking good care of them and doing something that makes them happy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Cuisinart Griddler

A Christmas would not be complete without some kitchen gadget finding its way into my life and this year was no exception. And it makes it easier to “experiment” in the kitchen which is good for both you and me! I wanted a Cuisinart Griddler and that was really the only kitchen thing I wanted. And yes, I did get it!

Let me go back and say that I was already thinking about pulling the old George Foreman grill (I tried to find a link online but I guess mine is so old that they don't even make it anymore!) out of storage (sorry, George!) but had not yet. With the Foreman, I loved that it grilled stuff and drained off the fat. I did NOT love that it was SO hard to clean. That problem is mostly solved with this Griddler because it has plates that are removable and dishwasher-safe AND the top does not close on a hinge, per se, but sits on top of whatever is cooking. It is like the best of both worlds. I do love it.

So on Christmas morning, we made pancakes for breakfast. I did not want to spend all day cooking so I found a recipe on, guess where? Of course, for pancakes where you just thrown all the ingredients into the blender. Blend it up, and cook it. (It has been so long since I made it that I cannot even find it on the site, but I know it is there!) I loved the concept. The kids loved the taste. It had a lot of sugar in it and it was kind of sweet. Like I said, the kids loved it. It also might be great for a sweet fruit topping or whatever. But when you are adding syrup, which is already sweet enough, it was just a little too sweet. I will tweak this or find another one soon. But they turned out great!

And then the next day we had leftover ham, so began two days of paninis for lunch! I made ham & cheese paninis twice in it with the grill plates. It was amazing. The day after Christmas, we had planned to make burgers, but the outdoor grill was covered with snow, so the Griddler came to the rescue and we had them indoors. They tasted amazing and cooked super-fast, what with cooking on two sides at once, however, the Griddler could apparently not drain the fat fast enough on these uber-greasy burgers. The plates were really dirty (gotta love that dishwasher-safe thing!) and even under the plates got greasy and when I tried to clean it the next day, it would NOT come clean. I might be stuck with a dirty thing forever. The good thing is that the plates look wonderful, so no one knows about the dirty insides but me. However, it just really bothers me that it got so messed up on the second day!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Martha Stewart am I

I am the next Martha Stewart. I have to find a way to make it happen, but I know it is true and I know people want to believe it is possible. I started out as one of those people. I currently live in a small town, and I want to live near a larger city for many reasons, but this is one of them. I know you can’t make it big in the domestic arts in a small town. (Well, you really can’t make it big in ANYTHING in a small town.) The thing is, I do not want to live in or near NYC and I am hoping you don’t have to live there to be Martha. Wherever I end up (and the house has been for sale for 6 months, but this is a terrible economy to try to sell a house) I hope to be the local Martha Stewart and give hope to all the local housewives that it is possible. That being the case, I need to step up the game in my own house a little. No more boxed cakes, I guess! Aw, who am I kidding. Every once in a while, a girl just needs to do the easy thing. As long as it is not the easy thing every time, I think that is a great message for everyone!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One resolution a month

I started this post on New Years Day and then got sidetracked and never got back to it and then was on vacation and then had the flu, you know! And since there were so many resolution posts on January 1, it did not bother me too much NOT to be in the fray. How many people do a resolution post on January 12?

This year is going to be so much a better year than last. I am normally quite the optimist, but even I know that this year was not that great.

I am not a huge fan of resolutions, so my modus operandi (MO) is to resolve one thing each month and then at the end of the year, I am so much better off! So for January, my resolution is to get my writing life in order. I vow to do one thing each day that gets me closer to that goal. I will do whatever I can from January 12 to the end of the month to plan out the year in great detail, but with enough flexibility that it is not too taxing!

Preliminarily, my monthly resolutions will be:
January – Writing life more organized
February – House cleared of all the clutter and ready to sell (I am almost there but need another sweep, so it is perfect for a short month!)
March – Closets cleaned and spring/summer clothes out and washed
April – Birthdays for the year in one list and cards bought or made for them all
May – Christmas list made (at least for extended family and friends)
June – Get my body more toned
July – Inventory knitting needles and yarn
August – Get kids organized and ready for school at least 2 weeks in advance
September – Inventory Halloween and Christmas decorations, put them in separate and appropriate boxes
October – Halloween costumes for the kids cute and appropriate for the weather
November – Christmas cards done and sent
December – Christmas shopping and wrapping done at least 14 days in advance

But the house is for sale and we may move, in which case, the resolutions might be completely different. And if I change my mind, they might be too. And changing my mind is my right!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Giant Gingerbread Man mold?

I am itching to use that big pan/mold again for something else. Any ideas on what else I can make in the shape of a gingerbread man or just a guy? I have a few ideas, but they are not terribly creative.

Results of the knit gifts

The knit gifts went over really well at the in-laws' last weekend. I had made a washcloth (knit) and homemade soap (not knit) for each of my husband's siblings and their spouses. For my MIL, I did a felted purse with same yarn as a felted hat she got from me 4 years ago and she seemed to love it.

And the hat and scarf detailed below were great gifts! The scarf got done at 10pm the night before we left. DH said I could finish in the car, but I wanted it to be done and wrapped and relax. And I did finally get my wish. It was close! It turned out uber-warm! This is a great pattern if you want to do something warm and are in NO HURRY. It kinda sucked being in a rush! This year, if I decide to make stuff, I will start early. Like now. My FIL seemed to really love them and he wore the hat to walk the dog every day we were there. Now I am going to have to make those hats for my kids!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Giant Gingerbread Man

I was not yet 100% after the flu on Saturday, so I did not make dessert, but I did on Sunday and it was amazing.

After Christmas, the local wal-mart had a giant gingerbread man kit for 50% off, so for $4, I got a pan (which is as big as my cooling rack and wider than the sheet pan I wanted to decorate it on) and a decorating kit which included icing mix (I had to provide half a stick of butter) and about a dozen and a half gum drops. I took it last weekend to my MILs house, but she was unable to make it with the kids (I thought that might be a fun project for them one afternoon when we had to be out for an hour or so) so I made it with them yesterday.

I made a batch of my favorite gingerbread cookie, which was amazing, if not a little thick. But what is a bigger cookie?? It is still a cookie, right? YUM! After I made the giant cookie and let it cool, I made the icing and let the kids decorate it. It was not a pretty as I would have liked, but they had fun. (And they got to eat a few gum drops!)

I will definitely use the pan for other stuff, as it was so fun! It suggested Rice Krispie treats or pizza. I think the treats or a different flavor of cookie sound good, so those are the most likely contenders at this point.