Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Paisley?

Yeah, I added some pizazz to my poor little blog. But why paisley? It's kind of a nice mix of masculine and feminine (curvy, but also a little like your dad's law office drapes). I had an awesome paisley ski jacket in junior high (I don't ski). And I had some great paisley velvet jeans, also in junior high (I think junior high was my fashion peak). And now I have a paisley duvet on my bed. So, paisley was the obvious choice.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lentil Stew

A few days ago we had pot roast. We'd eaten what we wanted of the leftovers, so I used what was left in this lentil stew. I got a recipe from All recipes and changed it to suit my needs. Here's what I ended up with, and it was tasty:

Lentil Beef Stew

2 cups dry lentils
2-3 peeled and cubed potatoes
4-6 peeled and cubed carrots
1/2 to 1 onion, diced
2-4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 qt. beef stock
2 tbsp. cumin
salt to taste
1 12 oz. can of V8
1 15 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
any leftover meat you'd like to add

1. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil (just for a little bit)
2. Add everything else
3. Cook until lentils, potatoes, and carrots are tender (45 minutes to 1 hour)
4. For best results, serve with corn bread. Yum!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Huh? I have a blog? Yes, a sadly neglected one.

Since the last post, we wrapped up the school year, finished t-ball (with a heartbreaking and frustrating final game for Ian), prepared for an international trip, went on said international trip, visited family and several hamburger joints in Texas, participated in a summer reading group (Ian loved The Secret Garden), took six weeks of swim lessons (Ian and Lily are now swimmers!), went to a couple parties and dental appointments (they have so much in common, don't they? favors, tasty treats, lectures about oral hygiene...), had a few sleepovers, created a complex homeschool schedule, celebrated Quincy's fourth birthday, and started soccer.

See? One run-on sentence later (at least all parts of the sentence are in agreement) and you're all caught up. I guess I really only have to post quarterly. Okay, okay, I'll try to get back to twice-weekly posts. And in case I don't, have a great holiday season!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Semi-decadal Cleaning

Many of the mom blogs I read--the ones with pretty banners, lots of readers, and actual ad revenue--are talking about spring cleaning. It is spring, and they are the type of women who clean regularly, so it guess it makes sense.

I would like to clean regularly. I know, most people who've been to my house would probably question the honesty of that statement, but it's true. If I had time, I'd love to clean my house. If I wasn't busy driving people places and teaching people things and feeding people, I'd clean my house. And then I'd yell at everyone for making it dirty again.

Because this is our last week of formal homeschooling (we'll be reading and reviewing all summer, but this is our last week of answering to "the man"), I can start spring cleaning on June 1st. I usually try to do everything at once, get very frustrated when it doesn't work out, and give up 1/3 of the way through, but this year I'm sticking to the spring cleaning plan outlined by Simple Mom.

My house is different than Simple Mom's, and some areas of my house need more attention than others (my bathrooms are just a step above outhouses), so my plan will be a little different. Here's how it's gonna go down:

Day 1: Family Room
We just did a major toy purge, so it shouldn't be too bad, and I'll enlist the kids' help (they actually really like cleaning). Vacuum and mop floor. Vacuum couch. Tidy. Call handyman about slider (I'll have to clear this one with Nathan first).

Day 2: Kids' Rooms
Because they don't keep toys in their rooms, these rooms are already in pretty good shape. Dust mop wood floors and vacuum rugs. Clean off and dust dressers. Change sheets. Clean out girls' closet and under-bed drawers. Put kids in cages so the rooms stay clean.

Day 3: Kids' Bathroom
Whew! This one's a doozy. I won't even list what this job entails. Just imagine all that goes into a normal bathroom cleaning + a litter box + lots of kid muck + residual grime from the disgusting renters before us.

Day 4: Living Room
The usual. Move furniture, dust, vacuum. Maybe I'll also hang the floating shelves I've had for almost a year and move some of the pictures around.

Day 5: Foyer
For most people, this wouldn't even be considered a room for spring cleaning purposes, but when your daughter dumps preschool sand all over the floor, a tub of drywall mud and other miscellaneous tools take up 1/3 of the shoe bench, and everyone's shoe cubbies are overflowing, the area needs some attention. I'll move everything out, vacuum, then move most everything back (after decluttering).

Day 6: Master Bathroom
Again, really nasty (and this is our bathroom, so I can't blame the kids or the cat, but I can still blame the renters--oh, those poor, disgusting, rightfully-blamed people). General cleaning. Bleach the shower curtain (heck, it may need to be replaced).

Day 7: Kitchen
I won't clean every shelf in every cabinet, I won't inventory every food item, and I won't move appliances. I will do dishes, clean counters, clean appliances, sort through some dishes and plasticware, and mop the floor. And then the cat will promptly scatter cat food everywhere.

Day 8: Master Bedroom
Oh, the dread. Our master bedroom is where all clutter goes to die. But it never really dies, it just sits there collecting dust. I need to dust, dust mop, change sheets, and unpack. Yes, unpack. We moved in almost two years ago and we still have boxes in our master bedroom.

Day 9: Office
We don't have a dedicated office. It's more of a catchall. A hallway. A waste of 95 square feet. But it's full of stuff and needs some major work (hence the "day 9" assignment). I need to organize the armoire, organize the filing, organizing the homeschool materials, organize the kids' art stuff, and organize the bookshelves. See a theme?

Day 10: Ketchup
Yes, I need a whole day for my ketchup collection. I'll also catch up on laundry, dishes, and filing. I'll take stuff to Goodwill and buy anything I might need (a new rug for the back door, bins, some industrial-strength mystery chemicals, etc.).

And if all goes according to plan (HUGE caveat), I'll have a lovely house in about two weeks (I'll take weekends off). Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Everyone Loves Peanut Butter and Chubby Babies

All I do is facebook. I live, breathe, eat, sleep, and poop facebook. So, as I was getting my morning fix, I noticed that today is Unite for Hunger and Hope Day (thanks for the do-gooder goading, Jay). Bloggers are supposed to write a post about ending world hunger. And since my blog is the first thing most Americans read, I thought I'd do my part.

There's nothing worse than being hungry (I know how bad I feel when I haven't had my Nesquik by 10 a.m.). And as a parent, I can't imagine looking into the eyes of my starving children everyday. Half of the world's children who die, starve to death. But that's actually a good thing--not the death, but the cause--because the problem is solvable (unlike AIDS, cancer, child abuse, or other causes of death). In fact, a French scientist developed a great product called Plumpy'nut. It's made of peanut butter, vitamins, minerals, and powdered milk; it doesn't need refrigeration; and it has a 95% recovery rate for severely malnourished children. Wow! What a product!

For $15 (my family spends twice that at McDonald's), you can buy enough Plumpy'nut to save a child. Sometimes it's hard to be moved by anonymous people halfway around the world, but imagine how grateful you'd be if someone gave you something that would save your child's life. You can help here.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy April 15th!

I think it's our responsibility as citizens to be able to do our taxes. Sure, for some it's easier or more efficient to to go an accountant. For others, their taxes are complicated and they need professional help. But most people should be able to use a software program or just read the instructions in the 1040 booklet.

Yes, the U.S. tax code is complex, but much of it doesn't apply to average individual tax payers. And it's not like filing tax returns is a one-time deal. It's something most people do every year for 50 years or more. So, figure it out. If you have a new tax situation, learn about it. Your knowledge base will grow and what once seemed tricky (claiming income from stock sales, filing with partial-year residency in multiple states) will become easy.

And for goodness sake, don't under-withhold. Just don't do it. And if you do it, don't blame anyone when you owe money.

April 15th shouldn't be a bad day--unless you have a messy house and seven people coming over tonight. Better get to work!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Less Is Less (Work)

We always have a laundry back-up. I guess it's because we're disorganized, or because we have four small kids, or because we're busy with more important stuff, or because our washer and dryer are in the cold garage, or because the kids fight and misbehave and get into the Thin Mints when I'm out of the house for five stinkin' minutes! Well, for whatever reason, we have piles of dirty clothes. The piles get moved when we have company, sorted through when we're looking for something specific, and just stepped on the rest of the time.

We usually assess the clothing situation every night. "Do the kids have clothes for tomorrow? Are they weather-appropriate? Do we have clothes? Are sports uniforms clean?" Inevitably, we forget something, and Ian is wearing my socks, or we're drying off with hand towels (a 6'1" man drying off with a hand towel is pretty comical). After studying this problem for several months, I've noticed that we're all wearing the same four outfits (well, we're not ALL wearing the same outfits, we're each wearing our own same four outfits). A few clothes get washed, they're worn and thrown on top of the dirty pile, they get washed again, and the vicious cycle starts over.

After amassing piles of data (literally) and conducting a thorough analysis, I've concluded that we all need fewer clothes. The kids will have seven warm-weather outfits and one cold-weather outfit for spring and summer (we recently bought their spring/summer clothes and I'm in the process of sorting their winter stuff). All their other clothes will be given away or put away for a younger sibling. I have tons of clothes that I will only wear if nothing else is clean, but if I keep my acceptable clothes clean, I won't need the "emergency" clothes ("Quick, grab the stained Yosemite t-shirt--it's a laundry emergency!!"). And Nathan can't possibly need 20 junky work t-shirts and 30 pairs of holey socks.

I hope that this simplification will improve the laundry situation, and if it doesn't, at least the piles will be smaller.