[Still] Playing to My Strengths

So, on Monday of last week, I had all these ideas floating around in my head.

It was one of those days where I wanted to do everything at once, writing out to-do lists and creating strategies for cooking, cleaning, and parenting.  I had such a hard time staying on-task as I tried to get the house clean, because I’d start thinking about something that I wanted to get done, and the next thing I knew I’d be reorganizing a drawer or looking something up online.  But the house was dirty, dang it, so I tried not to indulge myself, pushing my ideas out of my mind and fighting to focus on the [boring] task at hand.

One or two days later, I was having trouble figuring out WHAT to do to make our home run more smoothly.  I needed a strategy.  I sat down with a pen and paper, but I had nothing.  Blank stare.  I didn’t want to think creatively.  I COULDN’T think creatively.  More than anything, I just wanted to be handed an assignment, so that I could plunge ahead on some mindless task while giving myself a chance to mentally relax.

Wait a minute, thought I.  Maybe I should have done this on Monday, so that I would have a task for today!

That’s when I realized: I almost always have brainstorming days on Mondays.

How do I know this?

Well, when I’m having one of those super-energized, creative thinking type days, I try to think of fun ways to choose my housework tasks.  And one of the fun ways that I often choose a task is by seeing what chore day it is on Home Ec 101.

And it’s almost always Laundry Day.

So, in keeping with my strategy to “play to my strengths,” I decided to make this Monday a planning day.  Of course, I did some housework, but I kept a pencil and notebook handy, and I gave myself permission to stop whatever I was doing whenever I thought of something that I wanted to remember or brainstorm about.

What were the results?  A plethora of lunch ideas (we never know what to eat for lunch around here), and a relaxed, enjoyable day.

I’m gonna have to make a habit of this!

WFMW: Stick-free Eggs Without Teflon

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Let me begin this post by saying that some of you may read this and say, “Duh! Everybody knows that!”

Um, no. Not everybody.

Thanks to the feminist movement and the rise in boxed dinners, fast food, and other monstrosities, many of us made it through childhood without learning even what was once considered the very basics of cooking. I’ll never forget the first time I made a soup that was supposed to contain squash. The recipe didn’t tell me directly to cook the squash, and it was only after cutting into it that I realized that I was making a mistake. A quick Google search told me what I had missed, and I shamefully hid the squash deep within our garbage can, serving the soup without mention of what it was supposed to contain. Somehow, we as women feel that we’re supposed to intuitively know how to cook. How are we supposed to know what we haven’t been taught??

Okay, enough with my rant! Back to eggs!

When Dan and I were first married, I got a sexy set of Teflon-free pans. But after months of laboriously scrubbing eggs off of my omelet pan, and then months more of refusing to make eggs, we finally bought some Teflon. When it started chipping a few months ago, I started looking for an alternative, and, a few weeks ago, I found the solution!

I now use that same omelet pan to cook scrambled eggs, and clean-up is as simple as it was with the Teflon pan.

The secret?

Start with a hot pan. I mean hot. Stick that thing on the burner with nothing in it, and heat it until it is hot enough to cook on. THEN, only then, add some butter. One or two tablespoons. It should melt quickly, then bubble, and it might even brown within a minute. Good. You did it right.

Now add your eggs and cook ’em. See? Isn’t that amazing? It’s like you’re using Teflon, but without the cancer-causing toxins!

Apparently, the problem lies with oil and water and their inability to mix, according to a website I found. When your pan is cold, microscopic particles of water sit on it or in the pores and tiny cracks in the metal. You put the oil or butter on, but it can’t perfectly coat the pan because of the water. When you heat it first, the metal expands, allowing the release of every last drop of quickly-evaporating water. NOW you add your oil or butter, and it can truly coat the pan and prevent sticking. At least, that’s what I was told.

But in reality, who cares WHY it works, as long as it works! Anything that lets me make food safely works for me!

Tasty Tuesday: Calling All Cooks!

As some of you may know, I’m really trying to decrease the amount of meat in our diets over here at Makeshift Manor. The trouble is, it’s hard for me to find many hearty, filling meals that do not incorporate meat. Yeah, I do a lot of meatless burritos, chili, and vegetable soups, but beyond that, it’s easy to get stumped.

Mr. Makeshift wants dinners to be “real dinner” – that means, from scratch, delicious, filling, and decidedly dinner-esque (not something that a person might just as easily have for breakfast or lunch, at least not most of the time). So tossing some veggies and hummus on the table and telling him to “dig in” isn’t really an option.

(Please, no hate comments for Dan. He’s a great guy, and me cooking real dinners was an original part of the plan when we got married. I’m happy to have that job, even though I don’t always feel particularly energetic about it.)

SO, I want to ask you all today – what are your favorite vegetarian, vegan, or near-vegetarian dinners? Oh, and I should say that I am not allowed to cook with tofu, by order of the lord of the manor.

You can leave a comment here with your recipe or a link to it, or you can email me at makeshiftmeals at gmail dot com. I’ll try any recipes that sound edible to both of us, take pictures (assuming you haven’t already blogged the meal with pictures), and review it with a link back to your blog. Not that I get a ton of traffic over here, but hey, every little bit helps, right?

Hurry! Dan’s starting to get hungry! 😉

Thanks, all!

Makeshift Monday: Lovin’ That Secondhand Stuff!

Hey, all! Welcome to the first official Makeshift Monday post! This is where I’ll be talking about how I make do on a limited income. Because, dang it, we are broke!

Today, I want to talk about secondhand items. In fact, I think I might even make this a series.

The biggest thing I have learned about buying secondhand is that it’s all about perspective. Some people think new=superior, used=inferior, but this is not necessarily true. In fact, I would say that the two don’t often correlate.

The truth is that quality=superior, cheap junk=inferior. When you look at products through that perspective, Goodwill suddenly looks like a gold mine. You see, the trick to buying (or receiving through Freecycle or whatever) secondhand items is to buy things that are well made, and would probably have cost a good amount of money when they were new.

Take Ariel’s “vacuum.” It cost $3.99. And odds are that it will last through both girls, and, if we keep it (which I think we will), will one day be used by my grandchildren.

On the flip side, I could have bought a junk plastic one for about the same amount of money at Kmart or something. Or I could have gotten a realistic-looking vacuum at Toys R Us for $20ish. Not only would it be bright and make more stress-inducing sounds – not only would I be nervous about Felicity chewing on it and getting funky plastic chemicals in her little body – but it would probably end up scratched, beat up, and generally ugly after going through two children. We wouldn’t have any interest in keeping it, both because it’s not aesthetically pleasing and because it would be cheap enough to replace. The wood one is nice. It is an heirloom toy.

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Now which was the better deal?

My head is flipping killing me.

So I’ll write a real post tomorrow.

Sorry.

Technically, though, I posted today, so I’ve only missed one day this year.

So there.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Here is Felicity, one hour after nursing this morning:

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Notice the complete lack of facial redness, pimples, or bloodcurdling screams?

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Kinda nice, huh?

[suspense music plays]

Tonight, for dinner, the four of us went to BJ’s.

There, for the first time in over four months, I ate cheese.  It came in the form of 4 breaded mozzarella sticks and 2 slices of pizza.  And dang, was it good.

Felicity nursed during the meal, but that was the last time before bed.  So I really don’t know yet if it will affect her or not.

A significant percentage of babies who have milk protein intolerances outgrow them by age 6 months.  Felicity turned 6 months on February 9th.  So it’s possible that she will be fine.

I’m still bracing myself for bloodcurdling screams tomorrow morning, though.

Cross your fingers for us!