Monday, March 9, 2009

Just Call Me Martha

I did some more cooking this weekend, and it was quite yummy...believe me, no one was more surprised than Rodney! Of course, last night I caved and ordered pizza and wings!

I've been getting these Everyday Food catalogs for like two years and the only thing I had ever made from them was a really delicious Chicken Pot Pie. However, I'm discovering they're full of lots of other yummy things, too.

Unfortunately, Martha doesn't have all the recipes up on her site that I used, but next time I talk to her I will mention it.

So this weekend I was able to muster up the energy to create these two dinners:

Night 1
Spicy Orange Chicken Stir Fry (so yummy and so not on the website, but it's in the March 2008 edition if you have it)
Sweet and Sour Cabbage (again, can't find the recipe and I'm scared of Martha should I just post her recipes up here!)

Night 2
Mini Honey Mustard Meat Loaves w/Roasted Potatoes (Rodney liked these better than the meat loaf I normally make)
I just added cucumbers to the salad and dried rosemary to the potatoes, I also cooked some frozen peas

Looking forward to this week's menus,

Friday, March 6, 2009

Favorite Things Friday - Frozen Juice Cans

We've been drinking a lot of juice in our house...and by we, I mean me and the babe in the belly. I'm addicted. Seeing as I have a barely there pantry, storing jugs of juice takes up a lot of room that I don't have. So, I got to thinking. I wonder if they still make the frozen juice concentrate that my mom used to make. While at my FABULOUS SuperTarget, I headed over the frozen section and found an amazing selection of 100% Juice Concentrates...including my favorite, Pineapple-Orange. Not only do they take up a lot less space, they are significantly cheaper. So, I stock up to make sure we are always prepared for a juice craving!

Using these also allows me to use the cute glass "pitcher" things I picked up at the grocery. It's so much cuter than the jugs.

...and yes, that's fresh parsley there...I told you, I've been back in the kitchen!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hello Kitchen, I've Missed You...

For the past few weeks (possibly, months), I have not been doing much cooking--which is truly one of my favorite things to do. My sweet husband has either been whipping something up, or more often going to retrieve take-out. After an overdose of Chinese last weekend and some way-to-greasy Captain D's, I decided to head back into the kitchen. I started digging through my Everday Food magazines and have whipped up three pretty yummy meals this week that were quick and super easy.

I had hoped this was going to be a great post where you could click on the link to each recipe, but it seems Martha has already pulled some of these off of her website. However, if you get a chance to try to Southern Pulled-Pork Sandwiches, they are really yummy. Even though there aren't links to the others, I still wanted to pat myself on the here was this week's menu...

Tuesday night we had:
-Quick Crispy Chicken
-Snow Peas w/Dill Butter
-Brown-Sugar Glazed Carrots

Wednesday night we had:
-Spinach & Brie Chicken w/Tomato Orzo
-Sauteed Cabbage and Onions (no real recipe-just sliced up a small green cabbage and a small sweet onion, sauteed with butter over low til cooked through)

and last night we had:
-Southern Pulled-Pork Sandwiches (rather than following the recipe exactly, I used all the ingredients, but then I threw it all in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours)
-Cucumber & Sweet Onion Salad
Boiled Potatoes (again--no real recipe, just chopped up some Yukon gold potatoes, boiled, drained and tossed with butter and fresh parsley--and as always, salt and pepper to taste!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Favorite Things Friday - Method Air Fresheners

I'm a big fan of Method cleaning products, but I also love their air fresheners. I use the plug in ones and the discs. It took me a long time standing in the aisle at Target to decide which scent I wanted for my home, but I finally settled on Vanilla-Apple (the same as my sister!). Every person who has come in my house since I started using these has commented on how good my house smells. I use two of the plug ins in the great room area and some of the discs in certain rooms--Clinton's in particular. Occasionally, I get a candle for my kitchen as well--although, I'm in need of one of those at the moment.

If you're looking for the perfect scent for your home, check out these...they're yummy!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

See What Clinton Did In School Today

One of my favorite things about Clinton being in preschool, besides his excitement about going, are all the art projects he brings home. However, I found myself trying to figure out what to do with them all. My refrigerator was getting quickly overrun with the projects, and it wasn't the best place to display them. They were often flying off as I opened the fridge door or getting covered up with an invitation or the latest grocery list. So, mother and dad helped me make these display boards at Christmas.

I had originally planned on them being magnetic boards, but I missed the primer step and the boards absorbed all the magnetic paint, so now they're bulletin boards. I started with ceiling tiles--a whopping 37 cents each at Lowe's. Then Mother cut small, thin boards to frame them out with. Her and dad framed them using little nails and wood glue. Then mother painted them black. I bought antiqued brass furniture nails to use as my "tacks". They're much longer, so they don't pop out when a little hand tries to pull the artwork down. My fear was that tacks would end up on the floor and then in someone's foot...most likely mine.

I love seeing Clinton's art as I'm washing dishes or walking down the hall. He also loves seeing them and tells me "Cool! Cool!" (School! School!) when he sees them.

Rodney and I really love having things around our house that remind us of our family, and this is just one more thing we enjoy having around us everyday.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Can I Get A Choo-Choo?

For Clinton's birthday I did not throw a Martha-style party. There were no party plates, no party favors, no cute invitations and sadly no party games. But for good reason....this Martha wannabe is way prego and too tired to throw a party of such grandiose for a child who's not even going to remember it (much like the big, very expensive bash we threw last year). However, I did manage to come up with three things my little birthday boy boons (balloons), a train table ( and a choo-choo cake.

Martha, I searched and searched your site for your train cake, but to no avail. So, I had to scour the internet looking for another source. There I found this video demonstration that allowed me to make a cake my little boy so desperately loved and wanted to play with.

How to make a train cake

When Clinton awoke from his nap, I had cut and iced all the train cars and the engine. He kept looking at the brightly colored blocks saying, "Ummm, gool." (Ummm, good.) As I began to assemble the train onto the tracks and adding the candy details Clinton began to realize what all the goodness really was. His eyes got really big as he said, "OH....shoo-choo! (choo-choo)" He wasn't getting more than six inches away from it after that!

I did a blue engine is honor of Thomas, our favorite little engine, and used other bright colors to go along with it. This required a LOT of food coloring which I kept far from my toddler's reach, remembering what happened to us at our Halloween party. I made sure to use all candies that Clinton could eat which included Gummy Savers (instead of Lifesavers), Kisses, gummy bears, Raisenets, strawberry Twizzlers, and Oreos. I also used a Rolo and a Miniature Peanut Butter Cup for the smoke stack. Just as we were getting ready for the cake, Rodney started clearing gifts from the table and dropped Clinton's new scooter on it. YES, ON MY CAKE. However, it was just the last car and I did already have me and my pregnancy hormones kept our cool and moved on. We sang happy birthday and Clinton enjoyed a piece of his Strawberry flavored engine (the cars were vanilla). I had also made a chocolate cake but ended up not needing it! Note to self, 12 people typically do not eat three cakes!

If you have any cool pics of b-day cakes you've done, post a link in my comments so I can see! I now have a GREAT appreciation for cake decorating skills!

If you care to read more about what Clinton's day was like and haven't already, check it out here.

Friday, January 30, 2009

To Rest or To Nest?

Being almost 8 months pregnant, I'm wanting everything in it's place and spotless. BUT being anemic and again, pregnant, I'm exhausted! I'm going back and forth between trying to clean and organize and rest (ha!). I find myself waking up extremely tired eagerly awaiting 12.30p when Clinton goes down for a nap. Every day I say I'm going to nap when he does...and then I don't.

This week I decided to start working on my kitchen. A room that I never feel is clean. I truly believe you must eat out every meal to truly maintain a clean kitchen. By the time you can get the dishes washed, floors cleaned, counters wiped down and table cleaned off, it's time to start the next meal...ugh. But I decided to attempt some "revolutionary" changes anyway.

I started with the pantry. Of the many things I love about my house--nice big front porch with rockers, open floor plan, very private master suite--there are a few things I'm not crazy about...and my pantry is one of them. For starters, it's not even a real pantry. It's just some larger cabinets that are supposed to pass as a pantry. I dream of one day having a "walk-in" pantry with storage climbing to the ceiling, shelves deep enough for cereal boxes but not so deep things get lost, and maybe even some drawers....oh, and a place for my trash. But for now, I must work with what I have...and this is where I started.

BEFORE: Everything thrown in. Every trip for something a long search.

AFTER: Beautiful. I sorted everything into categories. Threw out the expired stuff...embarrassing. We'll see if Rodney notices all my hard work.

I also got started on a list Martha provided on how to Clean Your Kitchen from Top to Bottom. I didn't get too far, but managed to get a couple of small tasks completed that I thought made a big difference. The most amazing is how to clean the inside of your microwave. I'm terrible about covering stuff up, so there is always food splattered along the inside of our microwave...and Rodney HATES it! However, the suggestion Martha gave me was to put a bowl of water in the microwave on high for 3 minutes, then let it sit for 5. Then wipe it down. My microwave is sparkling. I also followed her tips for cleaning the garbage disposal and flushing the drains.

My goal for the weekend is to get through the rest of the list and make lists of what she's says should be done daily and weekly. I'm going to post those inside the door of my freshly organized "pantry" and maybe that will help me keep this perpetually dirty room clean!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Letting Martha Down

If Martha could see me now. There's dust on the mantle, crumbs in the corners, my husband had to make dinner tonight, and my child did not get a bath tonight. And I'm too tired to start my next project, although I have an idea of what it might be. I did get the laundry done today....Well, I got it all out of the laundry cart. There's still a load in the dryer and another patiently waiting in the washer...that's almost like being done, right?

For now, I'm going to succumb to the exhaustion the pregnancy is causing and just sit here and watch Thomas the Train...ugh. But tomorrow's a new day, maybe I'll do better then. Maybe I can make Martha proud tomorrow...or maybe I can get in a nap...oh, that's a tough choice...

Stay tuned though, I think my next project involves me, a drill, some electrical cords, and several electronic devices. Hope it works...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baby Steps

There are two things I know for sure about myself.

First, any changes I make have to be made slowly. If I jump into a diet, I find myself elbow deep in a tub of Double Chocolate Ice Cream by the end of the day. I have to take baby steps and incorporate changes slowly. That's how it will be with learning to take control of my house...changes will happen slowly, but hopefully this means they'll stick.

Second, I'm so much better at one time tasks than ongoing projects. I can analyze a need and set up a system, but struggle with maintaining that system. I can bury myself in a huge project, go through the checklists, produce a completed project, but struggle with consistently performing a daily task.

So, knowing this about myself brings me to my first change. The Mail. It's a never-ending project. It should be small and simple, but every single day the mail man drives up to my house and adds more to the mess of envelopes I still need to go through...ugh. Junk mail to toss. Papers I set aside to read when I have time!? Bills to pay. Explanation of benefits from the insurance company...and what am I supposed to do with that? Rodney's work mail. Announcements from church. And occasionally a sweet note or gift...usually from Amy or Janene.

I find myself organizing the mail into piles, then moving the piles to make room for something else I'm "organizing". Then moving it off the table so we can eat. Then after a day or two, I'm not sure where that bill is I need to pay, or that envelope is I saw for Rodney from his corporate office. And then I'm a panicky about it and usually in trouble if it's something Rodney's waiting on. Oops.

Over the past two years I have taken the initiative to do a few things about I said, slowly.

First, making sure Rodney gets his work mail...I installed a mail box near the door where he comes in at the end of the day. All of his mail (and other things I find laying around the house) go in this box. That way I'm not pilling stuff on his desk...or piling his stuff in my kitchen, only to lose it after a day or so. I can stop by this mail box on my way in to pull out his mail and stick it in his box and then I never have to worry about it again...ever.

I also decided to make a purchase for myself...a real desk. And I put it right in the middle of the house, where I can easily get to it to drop off the bills. They're in one safe place. They don't get moved over and over. And I set up online bill pay...after missing a number of bills following Clinton's birth. This way my car payment, HOA fees and other regulars are set up to pay themselves...and I can pay my others whenever I want, telling them what date to go out. Fabulous. And at some point I'm going to get brave enough to accept all my bills online, but for now I still take comfort in holding the paper copy.

My newspapers and magazine still have a tendency to pile up, but I'm sure Martha is going to help me with the magazines in the future...and the papers I've just about resolved. I know exactly where to go for local events, which is what I'm interested in. I scan that section, pull what I need, and toss the rest in recycling.

But Martha also had another great suggestion. There are sites you can go to and register to be taken off of junk mail lists. It was so easy. There may be some additional individuals I need to contact, but for now I'm hoping a big chunk of the junk will disappear from that box in my driveway that keeps spewing paper at me. Click here for Martha's tips regarding junk mail.

For the sake of saving paper and sanity,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Getting a Grip

I have a knack for convincing people (and sometimes myself) that I'm capable of doing things I don't really know much about. I've landed a couple of jobs this way and even got a promotion. What makes this work, is that I do have the ability to learn how to do these things after jumping in...and sometimes really well. My last job as a Market Intelligence Specialist was earned with a lot of talk, taking on a trial project and winging it, and convincing a couple of people I knew what I was doing. I was so interested in the field, I learned it and when I left my job last May I felt I had a really sound knowledge of research and analysis...and was on my way to another promotion. Oh, the feeling of being in control...

However, I had something else calling my name. It was a little one year old who would actually only scream, "Maaaaaa!" when he was upset....but still, as his mother I could hear the love in his voice.

I might have the mommy thing down....because the best I can tell, it truly is an ongoing learning experience for every mommy. There are no definite answers, no exact formulas, no set rules. So, while it's hard to say I really am doing a good job, I argue it might be even harder to prove that I'm not. In my mind, we're considering this successful. I'll let you know if that changes.

What I'm having trouble getting a hold of is taking care of my house and making it a home. I can't convince myself that I'm doing a good job of this, and I sure haven't convinced anyone else of it! You can only imagine how frustrating this may be...especially if you're another one of these mommies. When your world goes from being an environment you can control with rewards and praise to a never-ending, thankless job it is hard to figure out if and when you're successful.

Well, I'm tired of feeling out of control. I'm tired of feeling I'm drowning in laundry. I'm tired of feeling I'm losing a war with dishes. I'm tired of trying to be a gardner with nothing but dead mums and cracked pots. I'm tired of stressing at the playground about whether or not I paid this bill or that. I'm tired of standing in the middle of the grocery trying to remember what I wrote on my list that I left on the counter. I'm tired of worrying about where my next meal idea is going to come from. I'm tired of never being able to find the one paper I need as I'm going through stacks and stacks of other papers I managed to save. I'm tired of getting that sick feeling in my stomach when my husband turns to me and says, "Where did we put that warranty information?" I'm tired of laying awake at night thinking of all the things I didn't get done that day. I'm just tired of feeling like there is no control...

So, I'm on a mission to get my life back. I'm going to restore order. I'm going to learn the ins and outs of homemaking. I'm going to get organized. I'm going to make my house a home my husband and children look forward to returning to each day. I'm going to embrace my role and be successful. And Martha's going to help me... She, of course, isn't really aware of this, but helpful she shall be.

Mission. Experiment. Wishful thinking. Whatever you want to call it, I'm going after it. I hope you'll journey with me. Maybe I'll come across an idea that will help you OR better yet, maybe you can toss me an idea that will help me.

Deep breath. Okay, I'm ready. Let's go.