Sunday, September 16, 2012

reality check

i started this blog as a place for be honest about how life really is as a stay at home mom. not that most of the people reading this probably care but to stay true to the purpose of this blog let me say that cooking does not always happen and cooking days are certainly not the norm. for the last 2 weeks at least we have had lots going on ---i was sick twice, sophia was sick once, busy with birthday party planning, etc.--so the girls and i have lived off of kroger rotisserie chicken, annie's mac and cheese, sweet peas, and almond butter/jelly sandwiches. oh well at least we ate and it was good (o:

Friday, August 24, 2012

the difficulties of cleaning

i am sad to say that i still haven't figured out the best way/schedule to clean the house, and i have been a stay at home mom for just over a year now. that is especially sad for an organized, list oriented person. i think my main issue has to do with the above quote...obviously there are things that have to be done around the house but i don't want my girls to remember me cleaning all the time. i want to be there for them to make memories. because i have the joy and the privilege to stay at home, i want to soak up as much time as i can with my girls!!!! when i was working, it was heartbreaking not getting to be with them throughout the day. so thanks to pinterest and my friends i have gotten some good ideas but of course it comes down to what works for each individual family..still don't think i have it figured out but here are the ideas i found. this site has 4 rules for keeping things in order without going crazy. one of my friends does a schedule like this (sorry i had to make these pics so big but otherwise you wouldn't be able to read them):

she has certain tasks she does on certain days; i wasn't sure about this because i like to get everything done at once but there was no way with a newborn--who was nursing--that i would have a few hours to do it all. i tried doing a few things a day but still could never keep up. even if i was only supposed to do one thing that day, it always got postponed for one reason or another. there were always dishes in the sink and the dishwasher, the laundry room was overflowing with dirty clothes, the couch and chairs in the living room were full of clean clothes waiting to be folded and put away, dusting only occurred out of necessity--like company was coming over, vacuuming was maybe every 1-2 weeks so there were dog hair bunnies in every corner, i don't even want to talk about the state of the bathrooms. it was horrible. sorry to be so blunt...i'm sure many of you are now terrified to walk in my house! but i promise it has improved.... it started with the laundry. i decided i had to take control of the piles everywhere situation. so i found a laundry basket that wasn't being used for anything worthwhile and designated it the clean clothes hamper. the minute clothes came out of the dryer they went in the basket and were fairly immediately folded and put away--great job for my oldest to help with! then to tackle the dirty clothes piles, i had to start fresh and just wash it all on one day....that was a long day but now i can walk in my laundry room without tripping over anything! now i make a concerted effort to monitor the dirty clothes hampers in all 4 closets so that i can wash wayyy before they start overflowing.
as far as the other cleaning items, for some reason i have always liked thursdays as a cleaning day; just seems nice...right before the weekend so the weekend is relaxing and not at the beginning of the week, because let's face it mondays are hard enough without scrubbing toilets. so i am trying to add things to my schedule one at time. after the laundry got under control, i took on the kitchen sink and dishwasher. basic rules at least 1-2 loads in the dishwasher a day. at minimum, i try to start the dishwasher after dinner and then unload it the next morning while the girls are eating breakfast; and of course after i unload it that morning, i put any dirty dishes from the sink in there.
i think something also clicked in my brain when my hubby went to school; he was not going to be around to "pick up my slack" not that i did that intentionally but in the back of my mind, i always thought, oh i can wait until he gets home to do that while he plays with the girls or i'll ask him to do that tonight. since those options are no longer the norm, i guess my subconscious realized it was up to me and me alone to get it done!
anyway, i am trying to vacuum at least every 3-4 days....does that seem excessive to anyone??...well when you have 2 dogs that shed and bring in all kinds of leaves, grass from the backyard, and a baby that is half crawling, half walking, it is a necessity to vacuum very often. my BIGGEST hurdle is dusting. i hate dusting!!! i hate having to move everything off and dust each little thing, then dust the surface, then put everything back only to realize it's not exactly how i had it before (which is not good for ocd-ness!). my plan is to make myself dust at least every 2 weeks on thursdays. that plan has not been implemented yet...maybe this thursday...
i am doing better with the bathrooms; haven't really set a time i clean them but usually once a week. thankfully we only have 2 bathrooms. i do not like cleaning our stand up shower! it is so hard to get clean and then try to wash off all the cleaning products without causing a flood in the bathroom. tips on that are greatly appreciated!!! the miscellaneous cleaning like the floorboards, blinds, light fixtures, fridge, etc. i have been doing randomly. i need to put that on a rotation. i have tried a few of the pinterest cleaning ideas---the baking soda sitting in the toilet to clean it...didn't work that great for me; using a dryer sheet to clean the fabulously! going to try it on the blinds next; using a dryer sheet to clean soap scum off shower door...not so much, or maybe the soap scum on our shower door is too much for it to work right; once i get the shower door clean, i will be apply rainx to it which should help alot!
so my schedule is not much of one i guess but it's better than not having one and not doing anything! i really like the set up of this cleaning schedule below. it's in a frame so you can check off things as you do it with a dry erase marker. i plan to make one of these so i can keep track of what i have done. makes it a little more flexible about when certain things are done throughout the week and month. however, i certainly will not be doing all that shown on the daily list! please tell me if you do all that everyday and if you do, please tell me how on earth!? i'd love to know!

sorry this was so so long and may or may not be of interest to you but it was helpful for me to get it all out on "paper". please pass on any ideas you have for cleaning, etc.
one of my helpers (O:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

i'm sorry....

one thing that we have been trying to impress upon ella is the importance of apologizing and forgiveness. we believe it is important for her to recognize what she did wrong, who was harmed/wronged in the process, to approach that person, look in their eyes, apologize for "blank" and ask for forgiveness, then hug. know how i also believe that our children are here to sanctify us? they certainly do. several weeks ago, it hit me, when have i ever apologized and asked for forgiveness from ella? with big, obvious things, of course i do! but what i became convicted of is that i don't do that in the little when my tone of voice is not what it should be or when i say something harshly or when i don't do what i say i was going to. that was a hard pill to swallow! until then it had not occurred to me to apologize to her and ask for forgiveness for my actions in those small things. but those small things really are big things. my voice will be the words in her head one day; my tone will carry through years; and not keeping promises certainly hurts the trust in our relationship. and maybe it's because she is now 4 1/2 and we are both more aware of our actions toward each other; she is able to understand much more. maybe i'm the only one coming across this, seemingly a little late, but maybe not. so i wanted to share my shortcomings in case it might help someone else. (o: love your littles as much as you can squeeze in every minute of every day

Sunday, August 19, 2012

cooking day #3

things have been sooooo busy at our house!! i have been trying to think of ways to simplify especially when it comes to cleaning and cooking. i have been making weekly menus for years and lately have been trying to arrange those menus around what is on sale at the store to help moneywise. we cannot afford to eat out and i certainly want us to eat healthy which is almost impossible to do when eating out. i also needed a way to send food with my hubby when he is at school. so i talked to my college friend, anna and perused this site-- there are a few posts on cooking days/freezer cooking. i also read the book "don't panic dinner is in the freezer". about 3 weeks ago i decided to tackle a cooking day...well it turned into 2 days but that's ok cause it was my first try. today my goal was to cook/make 7 meals--2 breakfasts and 5 dinners. i was able to make all but 1 dinner! woohoo!!! and the only reason i didn't make it is because i didn't realize i was out of bacon (and i had already send my hubby to the store for a couple other things i needed; he's so sweet!) but i can cook it tomorrow. yesterday both of the girls went with my hubby on an errand so i took advantage of that and got started on my list! i made cereal balls, which are.. well... not really balls anymore. making them into balls is way too time consuming but the name stuck. i kind of made my own recipe for the cereal balls and you can find that here. some people have been curious about how i do this and believe me i am no expert...remember this is my 3rd time!! but i am more than happy to share what i am doing to make our life easier! i started about 8:30am by getting my ingredients together for my 2 crockpot meals--lime cilantro chicken tacos and chicken taco chili.  oh and chicken breasts were on sale at kroger last week so i got these for $1.99/lb!!!

lime cilantro chicken tacos
chicken taco chili
the lime cilantro chicken is a new recipe this week and it turned out sooooo good!!!!!! i followed the recipe exactly except i did not use any jalapenos. the chicken taco chili is a staple at our house...everyone loves it!! it makes a ton which is wonderful because i was able to make some to eat this week and then froze about 3 meal portions of it! when cooking the chili, i follow the recipe and use the girl's tips in red. i also make my own taco seasoning which you can find here. i will never go back to buying store taco seasoning; it is so easy to make and tastes a ton better. i made sure to start these 2 items first since they both needed to cook for about 6 hours. after they were switched on--and i set the timer!-- i started making the blueberry muffins. i want to try this recipe for blueberry muffins but i had a box of duncan hines simple mornings mix to use. the recipe calls for eggs, oil and water; i substitute skim milk for the water and it makes a big difference! so yummy!!! while the muffins were cooking, i made more of the taco seasoning and set out the cream cheese to warm to room temperature. can't wait to have these in the morning!!

after baby sophia woke up from her nap, i started cooking the ground turkey for the taco cupcakes and the bacon cheeseburger puffs. both recipes call for 1/2 pound (recipe says beef but i always use turkey instead) so i cooked the whole pound and then took out half before i added the black beans for the taco cupcake recipe. the bacon cheeseburger recipe doesn't call for any seasoning but last time we made them, it seemed like they could use a little something to put them over the edge. that was another reason i cooked the whole pound together so i could put in 2 tbsp of my taco seasoning. again i couldn't finish the puffs because i don't have any bacon, so i just set aside the meat and put it the frig after it cooled. one less step this week when i do make them! for the taco cupcakes i follow the recipe more generally when it comes to measurements; i just place "scoops" of the queso, meat, salsa, and cheese. i don't bother measuring it all out for each muffin tin. and i use the whole can of black beans...what on earth would i do with 1/4 of the can anyway! before i started on my assembly line for the cupcakes, i put some chicken broth and water in my pasta pot so it could be coming to a takes forever to boil!!! here is my assembly line with the first wonton squares in the pan. oh and the wonton wrappers are usually in the deli/produce section; at my kroger they are in the refrigerated organic section.

after i got the taco cupcakes in the oven, i started on my last meal!!! baked cream cheese spaghetti. i followed the recipe except i used ground turkey instead of ground beef and i also put the minced garlic in while the ground turkey cooked to flavor the meat. since we weren't eating this tonight, i divided the ingredients into 2 pans, layered like in the recipe; included a label for the next step; and after they cooled, put in the frig.
by the time i finished all that, i had about an hour before the crockpot meals would be ready. both meals needed the chicken rough chopped and then stirred back in the crockpot before serving. we had the lime cilantro chicken for dinner tonight so i didn't have to worry about getting that cooled off; however, i had to try to cool off that huge pot of chili! i scooped out a few bowlfuls and let them cool off. i learned from anna and the book, that the best way to freeze things is flat in a freezer ziploc bag. i wanted to get that chili cool enough to put it in bags in serving size portions for my hubby to take.
well i am exhausted... it took pretty much all day to do all that cooking but, rest assured, i wasn't cooking literally all day either. with 2 girls and the hubby at home--and usually in the kitchen with me, i had some wonderful distractions (o: it was a nice laid back cooking day with my family...doesn't get much better than that! at least it didn't take me 2 whole days like it did the first time. even though it makes for a long day, i really really appreciate it during the week. i don't have to wonder what is for dinner or how long it will take to cook or if my sweet baby will let me cook that night, etc. nope i just open the fridge and pop it in the oven or microwave and dinner is served!! my 4 1/2 year old really appreciates the quick prep when she is just so starving she "can't handle it" (o;
here is what i sent with my honey bunny---container of lime cilantro chicken with shredded cheese (he already had tortillas and salsa), 3 ziplocs of one serving each of chicken taco chili (2 of which he will freeze), pan of baked cream cheese spaghetti with a ziploc of parmasean cheese taped to it with instructions for cooking, a container of 4 taco cupcakes, ziploc of grapes, an apple, and a ziploc of strawberries.
hope that wasn't too jumbled or rambly!! let me know if you have any questions (o:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

laundry room

i am sure you have been waiting on pins and needles for the laundry room portion of the redo (o: i won't keep you waiting any longer! i love the cabinet space in our laundry room but like the kitchen it poses problems for my height. the 2 middle cabinets only have 2 shelves so i cannot reach the 2nd shelf without a stepladder especially since the washer/dryer stick out alot farther than the cabinets. so again i tried to put the most frequently used items on the first shelf. as you will see there are still a couple of projects left to do in there one day.
the top pics are the before and the bottom pics are the after. the top right cabinet before is not completely accurate...i forgot to take a pic but that middle shelf was overflowing with kitchen towels and the top shelf had all kinds of junk. so the first cabinet holds the laundry items; i utilized a basket for the random dog items like the flea meds, ear drops, etc.and put the rarely used cleaning/household items up there....yes rarely used items does include that iron. i do not like ironing and avoid it at all costs! the middle cabinet was overrun with cleaning supplies. some never used but mostly the height of the shelf is so tall it didn't work well. i used a metal shelf like this to organize better and also sorted through cleaning supplies, tossing ones i don't use. i am trying to transition to more "organic" (and cheap) cleaning supplies so hopefully once i do that i will have fewer items in that section. (post to come soon!) and i know you are thinking-- we have alot of towels!! yes we do! the white towels next to the beach towels are mostly used for the dogs when it's raining/wet outside--don't want them getting the whole house wet! the other towels on the first shelf are for dusting/cleaning; there are some old handtowels too that are useful for small kitchen spills or to wipe the dogs feet. the last cabinet has 3 shelves which is so helpful! the top shelf holds koozies and a box of fancy placemats and napkins--this was one of the items that used to live in the hall closet. the middle shelf has furniture cleaning kits that came with the couch we bought, extra mason jars/baby food jars, and light bulbs. VERY obviously the first shelf needs work. this is the medicine shelf. i previously tried to organize it with some plastic boxes but it has slowly become unruly again )o: i have to think of a better way to organize this stuff!! at least the medicine is grouped together by type of medicine.

this shelf is above the clothing rod. extremely helpful but i kind of wish it was enclosed like the other cabinets. i think that would have made for better use of space instead of having to stack so many things and also having to see all of it. the pic on the left is the before pic. not too much changed but i did move the bottle warmer and box of sippy cups elsewhere because neither are being used right now but might be in the future. the 2 bottom pics are also on the to do list. the cabinet on the left holds the dog food box and extra paper bags. who knows why i feel the need for so many extra bags but they are so handy to have....when you need one...might need to read my organization "rules" again and discard some of those. anyway, i CANNOT wait to get started on the rack in the right pic!! this is right behind the laundry room door which is nice because it hides all the clutter but it also doesn't hold things well. the previous owners had installed these hooks, which are really just a glorified piece of wood with wooden dowels stuck in it. when my parents moved, i was able to get their old fabulous metal double hooks! i can't wait to spray paint them (rustoleum oil rubbed bronze (o:), install them and make this function better and look better!!

organizating never i need to work on the few places that didn't get sorted out during this kitchen/laundry redo but my next BIG project after all that is to tackle ella's needs help! i hate opening the closet doors because it is just one big pile of me palpitations...and not in a good way.
***side note..the first pic with the odd painting...that is a picasso-ish painting i did at easely amused of my 2 first babies (o: adds some great color and sense of family to the otherwise drab laundry room

Monday, July 9, 2012


ok so here is the kitchen part of the accidental organizing takeover. when we moved in, i wasn't really sure where i needed certain things, or if i would even use them the food processor, grater, etc. there are still a couple of areas that i need to work on. the plates, cups, and silverware are the only things that didn't get moved around. i can't wait to do a better job of organizing my canned goods and baking goods once i can get at least one cansolidator. but of course rearranging those items may cause me to rearrange the big cabinet/pantry...oh what fun! (o: and yes i am serious! ok back to what i did finish. i was able to get rid of some things i never use; i also took things that are fairly expensive but that i rarely use and placed them in the back of a cabinet. i love the many many cabinets in our kitchen but since i am on the shorter side i cannot reach the 3rd shelf without a stool. so the things i put on the 3rd shelves cannot be something i use often. given the age of sophia and her developing curiosity, i needed to have a cabinet that allowed her free access to play; she can get in the other ones but i wanted her to know which one "belonged" to her. the tupperware cabinet is perfect for that! i put a few of her own toys in there too. originally i had the extra kitchen towels in the laundry room but i hated having to go in there to get a new one...usually i didn't know i needed a new one until i already had dirty or wet hands so putting them in the cabinet right by the sink made more sense!

the top pictures in this collage are the before pics and the bottom ones are the after pics. i was so tired of unstacking pans to get to the ones i actually use. i moved the muffin pans to be with the flat trays and moved all the storage jars --used baby food jars, mason jars--to the laundry room. this gave me alot more room than i thought it would! now i can grab a 9x13 pan without unstacking!! it also helped to pack up the beabe baby food cooker that i didn't need anymore since sophia is older. i put all the serving dishes/platters in the back of the cabinet since i don't need them very often.

this cabinet is huge!! one of the things love about our kitchen. these 3 shelves are the top section and there is another section below it. the only thing that makes it quite trying is the depth! it is so deep!!!! i cannot reach the middle of the second shelf without a stool! but it is great storage so i tried to put things i rarely use in the top shelf and in the back of the second shelf. i put all the party napkins, plastic cups, plastic ware, and ice bucket together on the top shelf. they were all scattered in different parts of the kitchen which made no sense! i also put some pots/vases up there. the middle shelf has the kitchen appliances that i rarely use but don't think i should part with just yet, like the food processor. the bottom shelf holds the everyday stuff. i love how uncluttered it all is now!! the wooden tray is especially great for my hubby to put his keys, id badges, etc at the end of the day.

this desk is one of my favorite places in the whole house!! the shelves hold some of my favorite cookbooks--some classics, some we received as wedding gifts, some newer names. i'd like to work more on the top's a bit bare. there was a nice plant in that pot but i kept forgetting to water it since i had to get the stepladder to reach it! i got the frame idea for my menu from pinterest. i love it! so easy..picture frame with a sheet of scrapbook paper in frame, then use dry erase markers to write on it! i got the decorative organizer at tj maxx. it's a great size to hold bills, notes about school, extra note pads, etc. i had another one there but i was alot longer and had a drawer. i like having the extra space more on the desk top. i love clean and uncluttered...although it's usually one or the other not both (o:

so that's what i did in the kitchen. like i said before i still have a few cabinets to purge and organize. hopefully i can start on that soon..or i might read a book's been almost 2 weeks since i finished a book and i'm in withdrawal already...hmm...maybe i can do both..haha probably not with these sweet girls to love on (o:

Friday, July 6, 2012

summer fun

here are a few pics of the summer fun we have done so far!
ella's first snowcone

homemade father's gift

toilet roll butterfly