Picking Up the Pieces

As some of you know, I got a job at the beginning of October.

And then I quit.

There are a lot of reasons that it didn’t work out, but the biggest two were that:

1. I was just making enough money to cover childcare, gas, and other expenses, leaving no extra  income for bills.

2. The girls were adjusting very, very poorly to being away from me four days a week.

So now I’m back home, and with a renewed gratitude for the opportunity to be my kids’ mom and the manager of Makeshift Manor.

The computer room is covered in toys and board books.  My kitchen floor is sticky.  And I can’t seem to catch up with my laundry to save my life.  But I’m filled with a sense of hope.  Hope, because I’ll be here tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, surrounded by opportunities to make this a better place for my family.

Incidentally, if any of your know of any weekend job openings in my neck of the woods, please let me know.  I still need that extra money to cover the bills…

“Soon” is a relative term.

I told you that the kitchen was coming soon, and I meant it, kind of. I mean, this is soon, right? Compared to, say, “soon, we will be independent of foreign oil” or “soon, I will get my pre-baby stomach back”?

That’s what I thought.

Why did it take me so long, you ask?

Well, let’s see…

I didn’t want to show you the sink quite yet, because it’s always a little messy.

I didn’t want to show you the window above the sink because it only has old cloth napkins of a window treatment.

I didn’t want to show you the island because there was still garlic peel on it from yesterday’s roasted garlic asparagus.

I didn’t want to show you the pantry because it’s disorganized, and I don’t have a spice rack yet, so my spices are a jumbled pile of tiny jars.

And I didn’t want to show you our lovely new table that we got for a steal, because there always seems to be SOMETHING on it.

But, a month and a half after our move, I’m realizing that if I wait for things to be just so, it may be awhile!  So here, without further ado, is my kitchen.

A bit messy, but boy is it fabulous!

One-Track Mind

All I can think about is that house.

Oh, I didn’t tell you about it? Maybe I was just too excited for words.

It has 3 bedrooms. Large bedrooms. 2 bathrooms. A jacuzzi tub. A huge walk-in closet. A large kitchen with an island. A pantry. A laundry room.

It is too fabulous for words. It’s not my dream house, per say, but it’s the closest thing to it that we could ever possibly hope to afford.

I never dreamed that such a house would ever be rented out at a price that fits our budget.

What’s the catch? I can’t find one. It’s in a nice location – one of the only one-levels amidst a nice little suburban-like neighborhood of new two-level homes. It’s on a corner, so traffic isn’t very fast.

All I can figure out is that it’s by the airport. Maybe the sound of planes flying low overhead decreases its value.

I don’t think I would mind the noise. I worked off of Airport Way for about a month two summers ago, and I thought that the constant sound of planes was actually kind of fun, and very easy to tune out when I needed to concentrate.

So then came the drama. They wanted cash for the application fee. While Dan ran to the nearest mini-mart for cash, another woman handed hers over. Dang!

After a week of waiting anxiously, we found out yesterday that the woman was turned down, and now it’s our turn. Today, the lesser said that they’re just waiting on our rental history report to come back from the background checking company. She’s probably sick of my constant calls.

I just can’t help it. I’m on the edge of my seat.

The living room is piled with boxes, but how can I pack when I don’t know if we’re moving? And how can I motivate myself to do anything OTHER than pack when I’m so preoccupied with this house? Help.

Someone come save us! We need a housekeeper, stat!

Food for Thought

“Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness!”

“I’ll take better care of my things when I have nicer things to care for. Who cares? It’s crappy stuff, anyway!”

Sounds like God and I have slightly different views on stewardship…

Edit: Mom says this sounds like I disagree with God.  My point was that I tend toward the second view, when I need to be adopting the first.  KK? 

[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

works-for-me-wednesday.jpg

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!

WFMW: Banana Bread Made Easy

works-for-me-wednesday.jpg

First of all, let me just let you all know that, while this button says Rocks In My Dryer, this week is actually being hosted by Don’t Try This At Home, so that’s where the button will actually take you.

Okay, this almost seems too obvious to post, but since it took me so long to realize the advantage of this method, I thought maybe a few of you would appreciate it, too. Don’t slap your forehead too hard!

Okay, so here’s what you do. You line your bread pan with a generous amount of tin foil. Like so.

img_1939.jpg

See how the foil reaches the bottom of the pan on the OUTSIDE on either side? So the original piece was about as long as 5 times the width of the pan.

When the banana bread (or other quick bread) comes out of the oven, you can easily lift it from the pan using the foil edges. This allows it to cool more quickly, so that it will be ready to slice.

img_1943.jpg

When you’re ready to store the loaf, you can simply fold the foil back over it to seal out the air and keep it moist.

img_1948.jpg

Look at your pans! No scrubbing!

img_1952.jpg

Remind me why I ever made banana bread without foil?