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Monday, February 28, 2011

End to Chaos

Our house is back to normal. Actually now it's better than normal. The cabinets are in and Andy did a great job. Hopefully, at least for a minute the butterflies and their effect have left and our remodeling is done. Check out these pics....

One of my favorite additions to our new space is this new sign. Thanks to my crafty sister in law Leslie for the help with the words, and to a certain favorite bakery for the inspiration. 

Now I hate my kitchen a whole lot less, so I guess we aren't moving any time soon. I can find things now too, so I guess I should be cooking at home more. The project was money well spent. I came in under budget so we can get Andy a new flat screen monitor for the other computer so they will both "match." Anyone else has a husband so concerned about symmetry???

Thanks babe for all your hard work. You did a great job and I love the results. Now where's my label maker??

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Whirlwind Weekend

We've been living in mass chaos this weekend. It's been full of accomplishment at lighting speed. We shopped the Draper Family Discount store and scored some great new stuff for our house. Thanks parents! The butterflies are still flying rapidly around my house and changes are abounding. In the midst of all our pandemonium I still had my normal "mom stuff" like making dinners, play dates, cleaning, etc.  Ya know the everyday stuff every young girl dreams of doing when she marries prince charming, rides off in his golden coach to their castle and fires all his servants cause she can do it more effectively, economically and efficiently than anyone else. Lesson learned!

With chaos abounding I had very little time to think about where lunch was coming from or what was for dinner--Note: I cleaned my oven this weekend because a nice frozen pizza broke in half and cooked in the bottom of the oven. The mess was so bad it set off our fire alarm. That was a memorable dinner.

How can you learn from my experience? I thought of a few things that can easily be made for quick, relatively healthy lunches and dinner when the oven is not an option and you're embarrassed to call the pizza guy because he knows your voice when you call. Hey Steve! Time to save money and not go out to eat.

Hot dogs/ Chili dogs-- Boil the hot dogs and warm the buns. Open a can of chili. Add crushed Frito's, shredded cheese, chopped onion and peppers as desired. Make this option healthier by using turkey or chicken or tofu dogs and turkey chili.

Chicken Wrap--Microwave 3-4 nuggets, or use leftover chicken. Wrap in whole wheat tortilla (or whatever you have) add veggies and condiments as desired. I love mine with chipolte mayo, banana peppers, jalapenos, spinach and sprouts. You can also use cold cuts instead of chicken as another quick option.

Pigs in a blanket--A throw back to my youth! Wrap thawed hot dogs in a triangle of the crescent roll dough. Bake at 375 for 20-22 min. Again using turkey or tofu dogs and low fat crescent rolls will ease the fat consumption.

Ramen/ soup and grilled cheese-- Ramen noodles take about 6 min. to cook in the microwave. You can add frozen or fresh veggies, cooked chicken or tofu to increase the nutrition in these. Also I only use half the seasoning packet and then add fresh or dried herbs to compliment the flavor and cut the salt.  The grilled cheese can be made in a pinch with this cheat: toast the bread in a toaster. Melt the cheese on the bread in the microwave for 20 sec.  It doesn't taste as crisp as if you cooked it on a griddle, but hey, if you are in a hurry...

PBJ or PBB or PBM-- Peanut butter is a staple at our house. Growing up my dad taught us jelly and honey aren't the only options that go well with peanut butter. He likes PB and banana and PB and mayo. I know the last one sounds creative--OK, gross!  This can still be a healthy and quick option. Adding fresh fruit is always good--try strawberries or bananas. Using whole wheat bread is also good for you. It takes about 30 seconds to make, kids can do it without burning down the house (hopefully) and it's cheap.

Now back to organizing my house and redesigning it so no one knows the tornado landed here. BTW the new cabinets are in, painted and almost ready for their Internet debut. Stay tuned..

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Have You Ever???

We have a lot of interesting conversations in our house. Today has been no different. I had the morning news on while getting the kids off to school and the twins walked in during a report about Bernie Madoff. Have you ever tried to explain how a Ponzi scheme works to a 9 year old? Me either, until today. My advice, DON'T!

The day progressed with Danni asking me why cars aren't made from marshmallows. "Cuz mom, if you get in an accident you wouldn't get hurt. Then you could just eat the rest, go to the store and start over." Why hasn't Ford or Chrystler thought about this? I've also been asked why isn't Disneyland closer to our house and is it where Jesus lives, or close to where He lives.

Our next big discussion has been about the girls having their own e-mail accounts and when they can have their own computers. NEVER to both. Ok, ok, I know they have to have some rope to replace the umbilical cord that has been withering away for the past 10 years. They can barely spell; they are not ready to e-mail. I know it's a right of passage and we are giving it to them. As long as the understand their Dad is ALWAYS watching. They want to post things on this blog all the time. I guess they are ready for a little independence.

Have you ever been asked a question that you don't have an answer for? Some of my kids really have the gift of gab and they go on, and on, and on. I don't know why bad guys are's genetic or environmental or maybe they didn't have a loving mother who listened to their 9 million questions when they were little. I also don't know why the sky is blue, or why short days are on Fridays or why God made the duckbill platypus.

I used to think my going to college was a big waste of A LOT of time and cash. I realize now it wasn't necessarily to learn my craft and make big companies look good, even in the eye of adversity. I went so I could have a half decent answer for life's toughest questions like why cars aren't made from marshmallows? Not a waste of time or cash after all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lots of Change

You're probably familiar with the domino or butterfly effect. You change one thing and it slowly escalates to the new thing affecting other things, sometimes unintentionally, so then you have to change that thing, which makes something else need altering. We'll we've unleashed an army of crafty butterflies at our house. Last week Andy got an early Valentine's/Anniversary present. We've been together over 12 years and we can't wait for an actual holiday to celebrate. He got a Russ Isabella original photo of the U of U gymnast Kristina Baskett for his man cave. For those of you who don't know Russ Isabella, he is one of the main shutter bugs for the U of U. He has some amazing shots of athletes in action. Getting the new pic led to us rearranging pictures and furniture throughout the house, and for $120 we now have a new family room and a new living room and an updated bedroom. It's funny how your stuff can be re-purposed and you don't have to spend a ton. My favorite addition to his room???

I made this clock--or remade this clock. I call it upcycling--making something better than it was in it's original form. It was an oak and brass clock we got for our wedding. With a bit of spray paint and some scrapbook supplies my man has a new man clock for his man cave. I don't just love it because it was FREE. I love it because it turned out so great AND it was free.

I also won a $25 gift card to RC Willey from a Super Bowl cooking contest. So I got a 30 X 40 canvas landscape print for our room and an iron sculpture--both FREE. I guess if you count the hour it took me to find something I needed/wanted, it cost me one hour, but was worth it.

The crafty mess continued at Home Depot. We had to buy $2 worth of bolts to anchor Lexi's crib. That led to an "accidentally/on purpose" purchase of $1000 cabinets. Many of you know I hate my kitchen. The layout was likely designed by either a man who had never been inside a kitchen to do anything but eat, or a woman with no children who really liked shiny things. We have a huge open space on the north side of the wall and we've been dying to create a large serving buffet/ upstairs office space for years. We had budgeted (of course) for this, but I told Andy we had to wait for their yearly sale. I've been hunting the ads for weeks, and happened to miss last week's Home Depot ad. As luck would have it, they went on sale last week, 20% off. That's huge. So that's his next project...our next project. You really can never do a home improvement project right until you go back to the store at least 3 times. So far I'm going on trip #4 to make another return of extra handles.

My last craft was new summer dresses for the girls. I found a cute idea online for pillowcase dresses. I guess this is one way mothers would "make it do" back in the day by remaking pillowcases into dresses for their girls. I tried it and my first attempt made Danni look like an orphan who'd been born in a patch of wildflowers. So I remade it. Then I made a second one. Trust me it's an improvement. She looks so cute in it. Of course once I told her that, she took it off and said she'd only wear it on holidays. Is a summer dress on Valentine's too much to ask? The great thing about this design is that it can be worn over leggings and t-shirts to adapt to the season. Also the ties are longer so as she grows the dress length can be slightly altered to fit. I am going to have to make up fake holidays so she'll wear it more often.

Sometimes change is good.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Sweet It Is

Warning: This post is likely to be all over the place. I am not on anything, just trying to catch up on life.

We've had a sweet week. I sold my stuff on KSL and have a little $$ extra to blow toward something that will likely end up on KSL in a few years. I found my favorite shoes again, thanks to Andy. Ya'll know we are big dress up fans at our house and D. has been obsessed--like Imelda Marcos obsessed--with shoes. She decided to wear my shoes and then decided that Dad's were better. His shoes are a size 13, so when she couldn't fit into them she put her shoes on, then my shoes over hers and all of that into Dad's shoes. When I got ready to leave she panicked and ran, leaving my shoes hiding in Andy's. Luckily they were recovered safely, but not before I had to leave. I had to wear my not-so-fave shoes out last night, but survived.

That being said our next sweet moment is that Andy was finally given some relief at work. He is back in his favorite department and working under a wonderful boss. Hopefully his company has finally realized what an amazing genius they have working for them and the $#*! will stop here (ha, ha pun--he works at a waste water treatment plant where lots of $#*! ends up). Anyway I am extremely proud of him for sticking it out the last 6 years and putting up with stuff for way too long. He is so smart and such a good negotiator. I don't even thinks he realizes how good he is. I guess good things really do come for those that wait. Way to be patient honey! You deserve this

Now onto other sweet stuff.
I went to a Girls Night Out activity all about chocolate last night. It was a good time. We had fondue and made chocolate body scrub, lip gloss and play-dough. Annette Lyon wrote a book about about everything chocolate and the following is her recipe for chocolate lip gloss.

8 tsp. petroleum jelly
1/2 tsp. honey
20 chocolate chips (milk chocolate for light color; semi-sweet for dark)
1/2 tsp. shortening

Warm up the ingredients in 20 sec. intervals in the microwave, stirring in between rotations. When chips are fully melted, mix ingredients together again and then place in small airtight containers. **You can find these at most craft stores. We used small plastic paint jars to store ours.** When containers are filled, place them in the freezer for 15 min. until solid.
Yield: 4-5 jars, depending on size.

With Valentines Day right around the corner I think some fondue is a fun way to celebrate, with or without kids. You don't need anything special to make it either.

Annette's Classic Chocolate Fondue
1 12 oz. pkg. semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla

Melt this together in the microwave until chips are smooth. Then pour sauce into warmed fondue pot or small crock pot to keep warm while you eat. You can also change the flavor by adding different ingredients like almond extract instead of vanilla, or mint flavoring. You can add marshmallows and candy bars. Use your imagination! We dipped graham crackers, cinnamon bears, strawberries, grapes, pineapple, pretzels, cheesecake bites, pound cake chunks, cream puffs and marshmallows. All were good--grapes not my fave IMO.

Monday, February 7, 2011

February Scapbook Post

This is a post to keep track of me. I don't want to just be someone's wife or mother--although those are great titles. I don't want to lose track of the person I am underneath all the titles of wife, mother, cook, chauffeur, PTO volunteer, room mom, etc.

1. What did I eat for dinner today?  We are having Sheppard's Pie
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Tiffany (ok, her machine)
3. What color did I wear today? Grey
4. What was the last good thing I read? Lexi's new scrapbook 
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Finishing all 6 scrapbooks to date
6. What's one thing I need to work on? Patience
7. Today's best thought? Get the kids to school, that's all I have to do.
8. One word to sum up today is? depressing
9. One worry or concern? Nothing too new
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Super Bowl party with the fam

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spring Cleaning with Julie

Here is a list from Julie Edelman, the "accidental housewife" author. Google her for more great ideas!

1. SAY HI-LO TO DUST – Start from the highest places where dust has gathered such as ceiling fans, high lights, move on down to blinds, then walls to the baseboards and finish by disturbing those dust bunnies who have taken up permanent residence under your couch’! Use microfiber cloths and mops with extendable handles which are terrific at attracting dust dry or complimented with water or store-bought products. Using micro-fiber products are also a great and mindless way to be ‘green enough’ without becoming the Queen of Green overnight!

2. SEE YOUR WAY CLEAR- After a winter of snow, ice, sleet, rain and indoor smut, smoke, fingerprints and who knows what else now’s the time to take aim. Grab that microfiber window cleaner and/or squeegee so you’ll see the buds on the trees or your neighbor’s hunky landscaper! A simple and handy mix of 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3rd water will get the job done and cost you just pennies! You can also use yesterday’s newspaper to dry which is lint free and very eco-friendly!

3. SMITE THE MITE-Sneezing, coughing, got itchy eyes? Likelihood you’ve been sleeping with the doo from dust mites. So when you change out your quilts for the lighter blankets, bedspreads and linens wash those suckers including your mattress pads, pillow covers and all else in a high, high heated cycle (of course check care labels first!). After laundering store the winter items in air tight bags to keep those mighty mites out of there and next years achoos at a minimum!

4. SUCK IT UP –When all your dusting and cleaning is done vacuum the floors and carpeting. Better yet, if you have a child of 5 years of more get them to do it for you since they love to vacuum…If you’re childless feel free to ask a friend or neighbor who may have a child—they’ll be happy to loan them out so they can enjoy some me time alone! Be sure to vacuum mattresses too-both sides--and your bed’s baseboards to suck up those nasty mites and their doo!

5. CHECK, CHUCK ‘N CLEAN –Go through all your bathroom and kitchen drawers, cabinets, counters and fridge. Chuck anything that smells, has changed color or that’s taking up space that you haven’t used such as that juicer or blue eye shadow that was last winter’s must have. Check expiration dates too. Then wash with disinfecting wipes or a mix of vinegar and water to sanitize.

6. COME OUT OF THE CLOSET- Hit those closets and loose that magic mirror! Get rid of any of those shirts, pants, skirts, or suits that somehow shrank in size over the winter! Use old shopping bags (which I collect like Manolo Blahnik shoes as did Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City) and label one STORE, TOSS and GIVEWAWAY. Leave the bags in your closet year round so you can organize and edit on a whim anytime! After you wash or dry clean items like sweaters and other wintry stuff store them in seal proof bags so moths don’t make them holier then thou during the warmer months.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I've found my twin...

Anyone know Julie Edelman?? She is the author of the book "The Accidental Housewife." We look nothing alike, but our cleaning mantra is twinlike. She has a whole book dedicated to efficiently, effectively and economically cleaning your house.

I hate to think of the things lurking in my home. It's surface clean, but I have a hard time deep cleaning more than a couple of times a year. Since I am dying for spring, mostly so I can drive without worry again and so my kids can make their noise outside instead of inside, I am really in the mode for spring cleaning. I have adopted a lot of principles from "Design on a Dime" from HGTV to rearrange/redecorate for cheap, and now it's time to clean!

My Cleaning Tips
1. After you clean your microwave (boil 1 c. water and 1 c. vinegar in a glass bowl to help loosen stuck on crap and then wipe down) stack 12 paper towels on the tray. Each time you use the microwave, remove a towel. This can keep your microwave cleaner, longer.

2. Put dryer sheets in the bottom of diaper pails and garbage cans to keep smells away. I tried everything to maintain diaper smell when the twins were little. Stick-ons, air fresheners, baking soda, but the dryer sheets worked the best. You can also leave them in drawers or under car seats to make them smell better.

3. Clean out your fridge once a week. At our house stuff gets pushed to the back a lot and I forget about it. Pulling everything out, checking expiration, wiping down shelves reduces mold and bugs that can make you sick. Also cleaning off the top of the fridge is a good idea. Appliances work more efficiently if the tops are uncluttered. Don't forget to vacuum out the coils on the bottom of the fridge.

4. Use your above stove microwave fan when cooking to absorb potential mold. Think about all the water evaporating when you cook..where is it going? Turning on the fan will help suck it out of your house and you won't be breathing it.

5. I learned this the other day. Vacuuming more than once a week causes dust mites to multiply and can cause allergies or allergy asthma. Once a week is good to keep things clean. Using a vacuum with a Hepa filter also helps.

6. This next tip is for Andy. He has an obsession with door knobs. He wants them all to match--color, style, brand, etc. That's fine with me--we spent a small fortune in our last house making his dream come true. In our current house they all matched when we moved in, probably one of his deciding factors, although I've never asked. Anyway, disinfect the knobs and switches at least weekly to prevent spreading germs.

7. Don't forget to disinfect your mouse, keyboard, cell phone, regular phone and remote control. Lots of people are using them, lots of germs are spreading.

That's all for me. I am adding Julie's tips in an upcoming post. Glad to know there are people who think like me, and are OCD like me. Makes me feel more sane than I normally feel.