Kitchen Beautification Project

19 05 2010

Now that I’m between jobs, I’m starting to get a little squirrely, which only means one thing: I need an outlet for my creative energy. The kitchen beauticiation prject is an all-encompassing one that entails a total makeover of the kitchen, as well as its contents.

I have always made of a point of saying that I want us to eat better – more produce and lean meat, less processed food, etc. I’ve always been a big fan of the Clintonville Farmers’ Market and I make a point of getting to know the vendors and what they have to offer. My latest trip yielded sheer gold.

Check out this gorgeous salad I pulled together with fresh spinach, strawberries, blackberries, and homemade vinaigrette.

Of course, the downside of a trip to the Farmers’ Market is trying to figure out where to put everything. Behold the disaster that is the inside of my refridgerator.

As you can see from the dark and blurry photo, everything is crammed in there and is in no particular order. It’s next to impossible to find things and we lose an incredible amount of leftovers because we have no idea what’s in there.
I just read an article in Real Simple about how to organize your refridgerator and let me say that Rubbermaid’s Produce Savers are a godsend! This is your garden variety food storage container, but it has a thing that goes in the bottom that controls moisture and keeps food off of the bottom of the container. Apparently, I’m a little late to the party here – restaurants have been using these for years.
Note: I’m not even being encouraged to promote this product. I just like it a lot!

I also added a lazy susan to the inside of the refridgerator. It takes up a decent amount of space, but at least you can spin it and find your condiments. Obviously, this project is nowhere close to being done, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Kitchen Beautification Challenge: I have very minimal space in my kitchen and have a pantry that lives behind a closed door. It’s cramped and dark in there and finding my spices is a pain, so phase 2 of this project will be giving this space a much-needed makeover. What kitchen organization tools work for you?




V-Day Countdown

11 02 2009

valentine

In case you’re living under a rock, Saturday is Valentine’s Day, which means that the preparations are underway at The Casa. I have already picked up dinner supplies – pizza and an early bedtime for the kids; fillets, twice-baked potatoes, steamed asparagus, and lava cake for us – but what I’m struggling with is a gift. I’m easy to shop for – shiny things and geeky gadgets make my little heart go pitter-pat – but I’m having a hard time figuring out what to get the Hubs. I did a little too well at picking out gifts for him at Christmas, so there’s nothing in particular that he wants or really needs. Hmmm… I may have to tkae this one to my Girls and see what they come up with.

Meanwhile, we’re bracing for another storm. We’re already under a tornado watch, so I’m really hoping that we don’t have to revisit this scenario anytime soon. And if I see the following, I’m not coming out of my basement anytime soon!





Ho-Ho-Hell Yeah!

26 12 2008

This may sound very un-mommylike of me, but I’m very glad that Christmas is over. No more frenzied baking, shopping, and moments of forced gaiety. And the minute I wake up on New Year’s Day, the Christmas crap is coming down! Monday, my dog managed to surprise me by moving the Christmas tree three times in the span of two hours. Not bad for a dog whose intellectual capacity generally rivals that of a bowling ball, eh? Despite my je-ne-sais-whatever (you do know that making up words is a slight obsession of mine, right?), The Baby had a great Christmas: lots of presents and great food, if I must say so myself. For those keeping track at home, dinner consisted of sweet pepper stew, sausage stuffed pork loin, garlic mashed potatoes, salad, crusty bread, and pecan pie.

Meanwhile, the job search resumes, now that the holiday machine is getting ready to grind to a screeching halt. Wednesday is my last day at work and it’s going to be a tough day. I never wanted to leave and maybe this would be easier to accept if I had done something wrong However, it is what it is (a layoff) and I don’t have time to sit and feel sorry for myself.

On a totally random note, what is the deal with WP? All of a sudden, I can’t insert photos into my posts. Why???





Gettin’ My Nerd On!

23 11 2008

thanksgiving-turkey

It is officially Thanksgiving week and nothing warms the cockles of my nerdy little heart quite as much as planning The Dinner (a close second would be getting refill pages for my organizer book, but that’s a different entry!). Yep, Turkey Day is in par with the Super Bowl, in terms of planning and preparation, at least as far as I’m concerned. This year’s menu is lifted entirely from the pages of Real Simple (let me clarify by saying that my brother started bugging me before Halloween, in hopes of getting me to pin down a menu. For the record, I prefer to set the menu a little closer to the actual day because the menu usually depends on both my mood and my finances, so I don’t usually appreciate being pressured into making a decision a month ahead of time.). In case you’re still struggling with the menu, here’s mine. I have also linked to recipes:

Turkey

Gravy (I’m cheating and making it from a pouch, as homemade gravy eludes me)

Rolls

Stuffing (from a box)

Sour cream mashed potatoes

Maple glazed carrots

Roasted brussels sprouts

Cranberries (from a can. It’s just easier that way)

Pumpkin cheesecake

For the record, I am all about roasting a turkey in an oven bag. There’s less mess and the turkey comes out perfectly each time. Speaking of the turkey, I got mine yesterday and our local store is running a special where you can buy your turkey for 29 cents per pound with a $30 purchase, so I got a 20 pound bird for about $5. Happy, happy!

Speaking of nerdy delight, this week, I am also in the process of deep cleaning the Casa for company. Nothing makes me happier than a clean house (aside from new pages for my organizer, but, again, I’ll write about that another time).

Right now, I am playing Nurse Mommy to two sick kids. The Baby has a viral infection and antibiotics have no affect on this particular bug, so we’re going to have to ride this out, meanwhile, the Big Kid is just getting the same bug, so they’re both pretty miserable and I hope they’re both back up to full strength by Thursday, or else Thanksgiving Day could be kind of rough.

Speaking of the holiday, I’m working on my list of things to be thankful for. Of course, I’m grateful for Hubs and the kids, but I’m also grateful for my job. While I’m still bitter about having to look for work, I’m thankful that I still have a job through the holidays, but, more importantly, this position has taught me about what I want to do and what I’m capable of doing. I have learned new skills and made contacts I might now have been able to make otherwise. Now that I have had this experience, I know now that I can’t settle for anything less.

Friday is the infamous Black Friday and while I’m all about getting good deals, I hate going into stores on that particular day, which is why I’ll be doing a lot of my shopping online. What about you? Do you shop on Black Friday? Earlier? Later?

If you’re looking for toys, might I suggest heading over to Small World Toys for educational toys, games, etc. Use code “SALE 147” to receive 20% off of your entire order and free shipping if your order is $100 or more.





Monster Mash?

19 10 2008

We just got an invitation from our neighbor, Ray, to come to their Halloween party next weekend, so now I’m all atizzy. The invite says to come dressed outrageously. Hmmm… What, exactly constitutes outrageous? What will mix well with 300 pound gay men in tutus? Anyone have any costume suggestions?
Speaking of costumes, next Friday is the annual Halloween party at my church that I help plan every year. So, I’m also in search of an appropriate costume for that, as well.

If nothing else, all of this is a welcome reprieve from the cold that’s taken over my body this weekend. Ugh! I’ve spent so much time on the couch this weekend, it’s a wonder I don’t have bed sores! Hopefully, I’ll get in some quality time with my garden this week. The fall veggies are doing well, but I’m worried about them dying from frost before the broccoli has a chance to develop into heads. Did I wait too long to plant them or is the frost coming a lot faster than I remember it coming in years past?

And work this week promises to be crazy, which I’m looking forward to! We’re shooting a commercial that my boss has pretty much pinned our entire 4th quarter on. No pressure, or anything!





Lights Out, Uh Huh…

18 09 2008

You may or may not be aware of the massive blackouts that have occurred from Texas all the way up to New York (hence, my J. Geils Band reference), but we felt Hurricane Ike’s wrath all the way up here in Hooterville. In fact, the entire town was basically shut down four an entire week. I know I really shouldn’t complain about not having electricity for four-ish days when there were people in Texas who lost their homes, but I really do find disruptions to my routine distressing. All of the forced downtime gave me some time to think as I got caught up on my housework and I have had several mini-revelations I’d like to share with you:

1. There are stages you go through during a long-time blackout, much like the stages of dying and/or grief:

  • Shock. “Oh my God, the lights are out! I wonder how long this will go on? Where are the candles?”
  • Elation. “Really? I don’t have to go to work today? I can get some one-on-one time with my kid AND get caught up on my housework? And I can’t do the laundry I’ve been putting off? Score!”
  • Boredom. “Sure, we can sing the clean-up song from Barney while wearing tiaras and blowing bubbles in the backyard! We’ve got all day, my little friend! I’ve already cleaned the house, alphabetized the toys in your room, AND made a scrapbook of your third cousin Itchy’s wedding!” (Meanwhile, you’re secretly plotting a looting spree with your girlfriends because there really is nothing else to do)
  • Denial. “The lights won’t be on til two weeks from Tuesday? Nuh-uh. They’ll be on tomorrow. I just know it! The crews are working really hard.”
  • Anger. “What?! (struggling to maintain composure) You told me this morning that the power would be back tonight. Now you’re telling me that it won’t be back for another week? Hold on a sec… (tone becomes increasingly shrill) If I told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t bother Mommy while she’s on the phone. Yes, I know you need to go to the potty! (pause) Figure it out! Just leave Mommy alone! She’s talking to the nice man from the %$#!@ electric company! (tone brightens a little) Now, what were you saying?”
  • Bargaining. “Maybe if I get my house clean and ready for the power to reappear, the lights will magically come on all by themselves. It could happen! Kind of like ‘Field of Dreams’…if I clean it, they will come.”
  • Acceptance. “Screw it. The power is never coming back and I’m going to die a horrible death at the hands of looters who will step over my lifeless body as they search for my iPod, which they’ll probably sell for crack, anyway. Bastards. Where’s the wine?”

2. During a lengthy blackout, your spouse and children can do nothing right. Just accept it and relocate to an undisclosed location and be done with it.

3. Too much time on your hands is a bad thing. Trust me on this.

4. In the shower, no one can hear you scream, especially if you stuff a washcloth in your mouth first.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I have never dropped the f-bomb as many times in my life as I did over the past few days. Seriously, it was ugly and I’m just now starting to come down from all of the excitement.





Hmmm…

11 09 2008

It’s been an interesting last couple of days. Where do I start?

Let’s see, work has been really good lately. The week started slowly and, with that, my sense of paranoia was in overdrive, but all is well now. Also, a couple of bursts of intuition where new business is concerned look like they may be paying off, so I’ve been mentally doing a happy dance for the past few hours.

Meanwhile, after trying to discuss a work-related idea with Hubs and being repeatedly shut down, I sadly came to the realization that Hubs will never really respect what I do for a living and I have to learn to live with that. He thinks that aspects of what my company does are evil, but he’s learning to keep his mouth shut, especially since it’s keeping a roof over our heads. Really, all I wanted, after having been starved for interaction with live humans today (my boss and my buddy were both busy with other things, so I was completely alone for hours) and then dealing with the Baby, who was quite manic (more on that in a sec), I desperately wanted to have an actual conversation with my husband that didn’t revolve around kids, politics, what’s wrong with the world today, or TV. More than anything, my feelings were hurt that he didn’t want to hear about something that’s important to me and that I find exciting.

The Baby has been a handful lately. Yes, I know she’s 3, but I’ve had a hard time with her. She’s been getting really snarky, especially toward me, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I ask her to do something and she tells me no. I give her dinner and she throws it. Anyone have any parenting advice? I’m not a spanker and time-out’s aren’t working. What do I do now? I’m seriously getting tired of peeling spaghetti off the dining room wall!

The Big Kid’s birthday party is Saturday, so we’re frantically trying to clean the house before the in-law’s arrive. What I wouldn’t do to have a maid for the next couple of days! Looks like the menu will consist of make-your-own pizzas, snacks, crudites (veggies and dip, for those not in the loop), and cake. Very simple menu, but the kids will love it. Now, if only I can figure out what to get her as a present! She’s going to be 10, which is a strange age, as far as gift-giving is concerned. She’s too old for a lot of the toys that are out there, but not quite old enough for the electronics she wants.

Meanwhile, the diet is coming along swimmingly. I have lost 8 pounds (yay, me!) by pretty much going against all of the advice the diet gurus publish – I skip meals, I don’t work out, and I probably drink too much water. While I may have a headache occasionally from missing a meal or two, I’m starting to fit into the pants I was about to toss into the box to take to Goodwill. Again, yay me! I was bulimic at one point, so I seriously have no idea how to lose weight without involving disordered eating of some sort, so bear with me and my funky eating habits! Seriously, for the most part, I am doing pretty well – I am eating a lot more fruits and veggies than I usually do and I’m getting pretty good about eyeballing what a portion size is supposed to look like (1 ounce of cheese is about the size of a domino, a serving of meat is equal to the size of a deck of cards, use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate, and fill your plate 1/2 full of veggies and then divide the remaining half between protein and carbs), so don’t fear. I AM eating and I’ve come to the realization that I will never be a size 2 supermodel and I’m okay with it. I do want to be healthy and energetic. Basically, the goal is to be smarter, daintier, with a better wardrobe, and just plain fabulous by the time I’m 40. Dang it, I wanna be a MILF!

The garden is doing great! My herbs are flourishing, so I may have some to harvest soon. The tomatoes are going crazy, so I will soon be making roasted tomato bisque. The zucchini, broccoli, snap beans, and lettuce are growing quite nicely and are loving the cooler temperatures and rain we’ve been having, so it could be a great harvest this fall!

Finally, I have to give props to the crew at ALDI. I zoomed in there 5 minutes before closing time and did a commando-like sweep of the store in my 15 minute shopping trip. While I’m sure the crew wasn’t too thrilled to have me there right at closing time, they were still kind and gracious. So if they were thinking, “Gawd, lady! Would you leave already,” you’d never know it and I appreciate it.