Friday, January 24, 2014

We've Moved!

No, not us, just the blog.

I've been using WordPress for my web development work for a while now, and I've finally gotten around to converting my own blog over to that platform.

All the content from this blog should be on the new one, but if you happen to notice anything missing, please let me know.

I'll keep this version of the blog up indefinitely, but will only be updating at the new location.

So, please change your bookmarks and come see us at!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Actually, Peeper and I did go see the movie Frozen last night, as a little something special to make up for Shrike getting called in to work at the very last minute. She loved it, and thanks to a friend who unexpectedly hooked us up with a copy, she's watched it another time or two today.

But we're also pretty frozen today. It's around (below?) 20 degrees out there, with snow falling all day and several inches of accumulation. Peeper was already scheduled to be off school, for a teacher inservice, but all the other schools in the area, including the college where I work, were off too.

Peeper does love her snow. I think she went out in it about four or five times; I made her go by herself at 8 am, when the ground was barely covered, because I knew I had another trip or two ahead of me later in the day. As it turned out, I think I went with her twice and Shrike twice.

She wanted so badly to build a snowman. Light, fluffy, dry, 20'F snow is great when you have to shovel and clear off the car, but not so much for snowmen.

After we came in, I heard her in the bedroom where Shrike was sleeping. She said something to her about drying off PerfectPup, and went and got a towel from the linen closet. Then another. And another.

I went in to see what was going on, and found Shrike still asleep, and poor PerfectPup like this.

That pink thing beside her is Peeper toy blow dryer. Running.

This is what she left behind when she finally got fed up and walked off. I guess Peeper was right that she needed to be cleaned up.

Galoot on the other hand, was just keeping Mommy nice and warm.

A few more trips out in the snow, including helping Mommy shovel, and an attempt to fix up her snowman, and then we had a perfect snowy weather dinner - hot soup and hot-ish chocolate.

Peeper declared this "the bestest soup ever!" (Campbell's chicken noodle.)

Looks like she could use it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Get Out And Stay Out!

As we've been gathering up things to donate, we've been trying to figure out exactly what to do with them. First we were thinking we'd take them to one of the local animal shelter thrift shops, but as we got more and more stuff, we started looking for organizations that would come and pick it up.

We weren't having much luck, then this appeared in our mailbox!

We checked it out and it seemed legit, so we booked a pick-up for tomorrow. Shrike signed us up for the large load, which is 11 - 24 boxes and/or bags. We have maxed out.

According to what I've put down for the tax deduction, which is based on low-ball estimates of how many items are in some of them, those 20 boxes and 4 bags contain:
Kids clothes - 200 items
Adult clothes - 100 items
Bras - 4
Adult Socks - 25
Cups/Mugs - 45
Books - 110
Stuffed animals - 5
Puzzles - 2
Mattress cover - 1
Halloween costumes / decorations - 1 box
Misc baby stuff - 1 box
Pots/Pans - 4
Crockpot - 1
And using the low end of the prices on the Salvation Army and Goodwill's donation calculators, I'm claiming a deduction of $1021.25.

Would it have been super-cool if we could've found somebody to actually pay us $1000 for the stuff, sure, but given the likelihood of that happening, and the value of our time and effort, this was an awesome solution to our problem.

We will start filling up more boxes immediately, and will be scheduling another pick-up before long, I'm sure.

(Oh, and Shrike is now officially vindicated for bringing all those empty boxes home from work.)

Baby Step #4: Pots and Pans

Last Christmas, I asked for a set of good pots and pans. The ones I was using were the set that Anonymama bought me when I got my first apartment in 1988, and they were the quality that you'd buy for a twenty-year-old getting her first apartment. Twenty-five years later, I thought it was probably time to upgrade.

Also, I really, really wanted some cobalt blue ones.

I wanted to pick them out myself, so the Anonyparents gave me an Amazon gift certificate for them, I shopped around a bit and ordered a set of blue T-Fal cookware. When it came, it was so dark that maybe right under a light, you could see that they were blue, but any other time, they were black.

At first, I just felt like I was being picky, but then I thought, you know, for the next twenty-five years, every time I look at these things, I'm going to be pissed off that they're not blue. So I sent them back and kept looking.

Well, it seems that they don't make cobalt blue cookware, at least not in the price range that I was looking at. So I waited, and looked around every now and then, and waited, and started to resign myself to getting red, which is at least Shrike's favorite color, and mostly just kind of forgot about it.

Until several weeks ago, when I was making a bit Target trip, stacking and double- and quadruple-stacking sales and Target coupons and manufacturers coupons and mobile coupons and Cartwheel. As I was doing my research, I came across a 40% off Cartwheel offer for Gaida de Laurentiis cookware. Well, that might be interesting.

When I got to Target, it got a whole lot more interesting when it turned out that the set was already on clearance 30% off. And of course, I have a 5% Red Card.

So, I got this $129.99 set for under $60. Yeah, I can live with red.

Of course, the box then sat on the floor of the pantry until, well, today, because not only did I not have room for them in the cabinet, but I'd specifically promised Shrike (last year) that I would get rid of one existing item for each one in the set. New big pot? Goodbye old big pot.

That sounded like a whole lot of work, so there they sat.

But, new we're getting our shit together, right? And I had a bit of a deadline, because we have a bunch of stuff being picked up tomorrow morning (more on that in a bit), so I finally did it, with a little help from Peeper, who crawled into the corner cabinet, between the shelves of the lazy susan (or "round about" as she kept calling it) to retrieve things from the far reaches, where I never could have gotten.

I ended up throwing out (okay, they're still sitting in the kitchen floor, but they're going to be going) anything with a peeling non-stick coating, and giving away almost everything else. I kept the cast iron skillet of course, a bundt pan, a big flat skillet that I use for things like pancakes, because it's considerably bigger than the new "big" skillet, and a wok-style skillet, for the same reason (along the other axis).

I also threw out some disposable foil cookery and culled the cutting boards.

Once again I didn't manage any before photos (What is wrong with me? I should go take pictures of every cluttery part of the house right now, so I have them.) but here's the finished cabinet.

Top shelf, just the pretty new stuff!

The bottom shelf of the round-about.

I wanted to get rid of a few more things, so I tackled the mugs in the same cabinet where I redid the meds a few days ago. That middle shelf was full, and had things stacked on top of each other. The top shelf was things that we never used. So, most of the top shelf stuff is now gone, and the "backup" mugs from the middle shelf have move up, leaving just our favorites.

Yes, there are only two of us, and yes, we do usually drink out of things other than mugs, but we do host coffees and other MOMS Club activities fairly often, so enough mugs for several people isn't out of line.

Then, I went looking for other glassware that we don't use, and got rid of some souvenier glasses and even more mugs. A few were gifts, so I felt kind of bad about it, but if I haven't used them in so long that I didn't even know they were there, what's the point in hanging on to them.

Beside, I think that someone else will get a lot more use out of a mug that says, "Go Ahead, Card Me! I'm 21!"

(Thank you for the mug, LadyKay. It was a lovely gift, and I very much enjoyed it. Twenty-four years ago.)

When I finished there, I actually had some empty space on the shelf! What?!

I actually do have a plan for that space. There's some glassware in a cabinet in the laundry room that I just had to have, because it's cobalt blue. Four different sets, actually - wine glasses, tumblers, juice glasses and tall, skinny coffee mugs. (With the slanty-out sides. Do those have a name?)

As you can imagine, they are not being used at all, and I know that I need to either use them or ditch them, but I haven't brought myself to do it yet. I have this idea that someday, when Peeper is much bigger, we can use the tumbler and maybe even the juice glasses for "every day," and I really like the big coffee mugs, and . . . .

I didn't say my shit was together, I said I'm working on it.

Oh, the plan? Yeah, I think I'm going to move the wine glasses, or at least some of then (they're pretty wide) into this cabinet with the others, and see if we actually use them then. To be honest, if  it's just me and Shrike having wine (and it usually is) we tend to use those little glasses up front, because they're more sturdy.

So, we shall see what happens there, but in the meantime, it's all quite improved. I'm on a roll!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Mashed Potato Stuffed Meatloaf

Along with all the other shit-together-getting I've been trying to do, I'm working on actually cooking real meals as often as possible, mostly from what we already have on hand. I even made an actual meal plan! We're a week into it, and I think I've followed it almost every meal.

This evening, I made meatloaf, which I'm pretty sure I've never actually made before. I scanned Pinterest for recipes, combined a few, threw in some other stuff that sounded good, and voila!

I couldn't tell you the amounts, but I sure hope I can manage to reproduce it, because it was really good.

Meat Loaf
Ground beef (duh)
Bread crumbs (that I made from actual bread for another recipe a while back)
1 egg
A bit of Zatarain's creole mustard
 Bell pepper
Grated carrot
Chopped fresh spinach
Tiny bit of sage
I think that's it? 
Mashed potatoes Potato (the last of the ones from the CSA farm last summer)
Shredded Cheese

Brown Sugar
Put it together, as in the photos. Cook at 350° for 30 minutes, then add topping. Cook another 30 minutes or so, add a bit of shredded cheese on top and back in just until that's melted. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Baby Step #3: Meds and Spices

Today, I tackled three upper cabinets in the kitchen, the ones currently holding medicines, spices, and what used to be our primary food cabinet, but now most of the food is kept in the big pantry in the laundry room.

Seriously, can I ever take a "before" photo? What is wrong with me? It's not like I accidentally stumble into these projects and didn't know I was going to be decluttering and organizing until it's too late.

So, once again, you have no idea how bad these cabinets actually were when I started, but I hope you can still appreciate how great they look now.

This cabinet used to have a small lazy susan, which orginally held less frequently used spices (I guess that was my logic?). The rest of the bottom shelf was supposed to have a few medications. Yeah, well, that was ten years ago, and now we have a lot more medications, including a whole 'nother person's worth.

So, I took all the spices out, contained Shrike's meds and Peeper meds (both labeled) and miscellanous stuff (free samples, dog meds, etc), which left just enough room for the giant bottles of Ibuprofin and Acetaminophen. (I have quite a stash of meds myself, but I keep them on top of my desk, because I can't be bothered to walk into the kitchen to take them or to set up my Old Lady Pill Box once a week.)

This cabinet was full of spices and the like, to the point of having to remove several bottles to get to anything that I don't use pretty much daily, and the the garlic / sea salt grinder was falling out pretty much every time I opened the door.

Out they all came, for inspection and organization. Of course, a ton ended up in the trash. There were things with expiration dates before Peeper was born. Some things, I couldn't remember the one dish I bought them for, but I'm pretty sure it was back in early 2007 when I wasn't working, and was doing a lot of cooking. (Around the time I started this blog.)

I found a can of Tony Cachere's season, which had tape on it, which means that it was sealed up for moving, at least once. We have been in this house for over ten years. And, while it is available here, I suspect that I bought it in Texas.

So, out with all the spices, and in with the few things from the big corner cabinet that we actually need to keep in here. Some staples, like oats (actually, there's only a tiny bit left in that giant container, but it will eventually be replaced with a full one, so I kept it, to reserve the space, flour, sugar, rice and (white and brown), plus some things that Shrike uses a lot, oatmeal and peanut butter.

So, what happened to all those spices? Into the big cabinet, all on its lazy susan, which originally held canned goods. (The little lazy susan is out completely, and may be used in the big pantry at some point.) If you had a better view, you'd see that I have them sorted into savory (garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, sage),  "sweet" (cinnamon, cloves, allspice, etc.), and salt/pepper, with back-up bottles and bigger things behind. To the far left, behind the big bottle of garlic powder, you can see some ziplocks containing dried herbs that we picked at the farm this summer: basil, dill and cilantro. I've used up all the oregano, and the mint is on top of the K-cup drawers, with the tea ball that I got for Christmas, for making peppermint mocha and hot chocolate.

On the shelf above these are a few things that we use less often, like food coloring, extracts, etc and on the very top shelf, are sprinkles and cupcake liners.

Next time I will try to get a before picture.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Yup, That's My Wife

I went to get out some socks this evening, and found this.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Baby Step #2: The Desockening

Why can't I remember to take before photos when I start a project? Because this drawers drawer would be much more impressive if you had any idea what it looked like before.

Does it help to paint the picture if I tell you that I packed up 25 pairs of socks, 4 stretched-out nursing bras and one or two pairs of stretch (but not mesh) hospital undies, and threw out more than that?

The drawer was stuffed, plus a pile of unmated socks on top of the dresser. I went through them, trying on all the socks and looking for mates. Anything threadbare or with holes, I tossed. Any socks that required effort to get on, I gave away.

(Shrike's mom gave us a bunch of socks a while back, and Shrike doesn't like this style, so they went it my drawer, but her feet are smaller than mine, so several pairs were too tight, but I kept wearing them anyway.)

I was left with a pile of single socks, which I started to set aside to wait for their mates, but then I took another look at them, and asked myself, "Which of these would I be excited about if I found the mate? Which would I actually want to wear?" I kept one, which I think I wore yesterday and I'm pretty sure the mate is in the wash now, and threw out the rest.

My final judgement was to group the remaining socks by color and ask myself, "How many pairs of pink socks do I need, really? And how many need to be exactly the same shade?" So, out went a few more, to the donate pile.

When I put everything back, as you can see, I was able to organize them into "lady socks" (trouser socks that I wear to work with slacks) and "regular socks" (crew socks that I wear with everything else), with a panty-and-bra-wall down the middle to separate them.

Look at all those lady socks! No more standing there in the dark, groping around hope to find two similar enough to wear together, while trying not to wake Shrike up.

Also, look how the socks are all rolled up in tight little balls? Usually, I just fold the cuffs over together, but I figured this could be a sock version of the thing where you hang all your clothes up backwards once, then put them back normal, so after a while you can see which things you have actually worn. I've instructed Shrike (the clothes-putter-awayer) to just fold them over, and in a few weeks, I plan to purge again, and get rid of those that it turns out I actually don't like so much.

At least that's the plan.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Well, We Can Check Off That Milestone

So, Peeper trimmed her own bangs this afternoon.


Luckily we have haircut appointment scheduled for tomorrow anyway. (Hence the too-long bangs that were bothering her.)

One side, she didn't touch at all, but the other side is about an inch long. Except for the part right in the middle that's about, oh, a centimeter long.

I took some photos (ostensibly to send to the hairdress, so she'd know what she was dealing with), but Peeper doesn't want me to post them, so I won't.

Of course, it could have been much worse; she could've hurt herself with scissors, or cut a lot more hair, so we should probably be thankful that this is something that will be fixed fairly easily.

But for now, she is really upset about it. When I told her I was putting the scissors up high, she said, "I WANT them up high!" No additional punishment needed. There's nothing we could do to her that would be worse than how she feels right now, and waiting for it to grow out.

While comforting her I said, "What if I read and find out what kinds of foods help hair grow fast?" and she said, "There's no such thing!"

I told her that I was sure protein would help, because hair is made of protein. Later, as we were googling it, and I said that again, she asked, "But how can hair be made out of meat?!"

Turns out that protein is good, and also things high in vitamins A and E and omega 3s, like carrots, spinach, citrus, salmon, and so on. So, that might be helpful.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Super Galoot

As fast as the wind, as strong as two plates!