Saturday, March 24, 2012

space time continuum bendies Part 2

Alrighty then, so I already posted about the itty bitty drawer that could have been hiding Hoffa and how this led me to have more faith in my odd abilities.  The particular odd ability with which we are focusing this post on: I apparently can bend the space time continuum and have located the fourth dimention.  Yes, yes, they don't call me Dr. DomesticRocket for nuthin'!

For so long I have bemoaned the shrinky dinkiness of my kitchen ... well my whole house really ... and to discover that I actually could really pack a butt ton of crap into these previously thought of as small spaces ... it was downright emotional for me.  But the problem with my pantry was that even if it happened to hold more than I thought it would, it was still wildly unorganized and downright frightening.  Truly.  Brace yourself, I have pictures.

I usually opened my pantry while it was in this state with one eye closed in case the open one was damaged so I would still have half my sight.  I also had my arms outstretched and one foot back for much the same reason.  It was scary to open because the crapalanche was always at threat level 10 and to add to that I could never find anything.  Seriously, I had no idea how much food was in there, and I was always feeling like a mad woman.  I know I have a can of tomato soup, I am sure I bought one last week, but where is it?!

So I started facing this nightmare by emptying the whole thing out.  I figured my kitchen table would be enough space for all of it ...

Yeah, that was three shelves worth.  Seriously.  At this point I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and also apologizing profusely to the pantry that I have spent the last three years calling various unflattering adjectives like "worthless" and "puny."  It became apparent to me that the problem was much more a ME issue rather than a structural one.  Clearly, I have no organization skills along with the absence of domestic ones.  But on the bright side, I can pack crap into a small space like a seasoned hoarder.

Long story short I got all of it out, cleaned it up, tossed the crap I knew I would never use or had expired (which was pretty shameful once I got to the stuff in the back) and condensed things where I could.  Then I had a marginally less large mess and a full garbage can.

Because I am all about being inspired by blogs I have spent a lot of time reading about the insanely organized Jenn at iheartOrganizing.  May I just say iheartJenn.  Seriously, I love this site and pray that merely reading it will give me better organizational skills via osmosis.  Since that hasn't been working I have decided to try to actually implement some stuff I have read and I gotta say, my inner teacher still wants to label everything.  Seriously, everything. I had some baskets/containers that I already intended to use, but I knew it wasn't going to be enough.  I made a quick run to the dollar store to purchase some containers so I have some uniformity to this beast and that led to this ...

Which meant I had eliminated this many boxes from my pantry.

And because I was having a total OCD spazzy organizing fit I noticed these cute baskets in the dollar section at Target and had another brilliant idea ... but I will save that bit of brilliance for another post.

For temporary labeling I used clear packing tape and wet erase pens.  It wasn't pretty, but it worked and cost me nothing upfront.  However Pintercrack has awakened a severe need for chalkboard coated surfaces because they look so danged cute when I pin 'em!  {I should note that as a teacher I absolutely detested chalk and chalkboards, a fact my husband points out every time I discuss covering any surface with chalkboard paint.} I found a recipe on Pintercrack for chalkboard paint, but I had an Amazon gift card and the contact paper was only $6.87 so I wanted semi-instant gratification.  Once the contact paper arrived (the next day) I busted out my Cricut and cut the shapes I wanted for everything.

That, and the final reveal will be in part three ...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I am a crap hoarding Sharpie junkie

I don't even want to sniff them, just HAVE them
Hi friends, my name is Dr. Domestic Rocket, I am {insert age here} ... and I ... I am ... well, hells bells I am addicted to Sharpies!

Yes, Sharpies. *hangs head in shame*

Don't laugh, its actually very serious addiction.

After spending a few years being a teacher I have inherited the ability to hoard all sorts of random stuff (read that as crap) and file it mentally under the moniker of "I could use that later!" Granted I never fully envision what I will use it for, but I feel better knowing I have it IF later ever comes and I randomly happen to need, say, 36 foam magnet frames I don't have to go buy them. Because, really, you never know, right? And I really do feel better knowing that it is in a box somewhere, waiting for me to discover its purpose in life and use it. Michelangelo once said that he could see statues in the marble, he simply had to free them. Same idea, only a lot less cool and artsy on my part.

gasp, I wish this was mine!
But I married the anti-crap-hoarder and we are rehabbing me. Our efforts to clean out my stuff, la purga as I have grudgingly called it, is going well and I have parted with not only the garbage I was holding on to for no reason other than some stupid sentimental moment -- careful I have turned into a bit of a hard ass in the name of obtaining more storage space -- but also with a lot of my teaching goodies. They all went to a good home, a new crap-hoarder, er, I mean they went to a nice young lady who is becoming a teacher. To prove that she is already taking on the mantle of teaching ever so well, when she saw the 14 boxes of stuff I was giving her she actually cried with joy, bless her. My husband was crying with joy while he loaded it in her car, but I don't think it was joy for her per say...

Anyway, back to my addiction problem: Sharpies. Really I have a permanent marker thing because Bic makes these markers that I have a *ahem* few of in my collection too. Here I can specifically blame teaching for exacerbating what was probably a silent and controllable problem to begin with. Not only does the teacher's silent creed include a pledge to accumulate "stuff" for various projects, but there is also a very important rule about permanent pens. Namely, don't let kids have them. As an elementary school teacher I knew this because they would accidentally use them on my whiteboards (for the record if you draw over the permanent pen with a dry-erase pen it comes off, no need to freak). As a middle school teacher I knew that I had to hide my permanent pens because I didn't want the kid sitting in the principals office looking like Kat Von D to say they got the pens from me. So I learned to protect my pens. Hide them. And with all the labeling I did those pens were so important to me ... and thus my "issues" began.
God Bless the USA ... and Sharpies

Okay, maybe I had issues before then, but the point is that I am not ready or willing to give up my habit. I am a Sharpie junkie, and proud dammit. I will admit I have a problem, but not seek help for it. They are dead useful. I can label anything you want, and in a wide range of colors to boot! They are consumable, so really if I have 6 hot pinks its only because I am planning for the future when I may use up five in one sitting and need that last one. You never know!

This said, like any addict I cannot avoid obtaining that which I crave, and so if you see me sneaking down the office supply aisle in the grocery store you know why. I also like to go to the craft like stores unsupervised because my husband hasn't realized yet that they have a wider variety and I tend to come back with more there than anywhere else. I already have a solid no-book-stores-unsupervised rule so I gotta be careful he doesn't cotton on and start imposing more rules in the name of protecting me from my bad habits.

Yeah, books and sharpies. 

I am so hard core.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

homemade tomato soup = FAIL!

The tasty juice ... before I ruined it.
I had such good intentions.  I really did.

It smelled faboosh, looked halfway decent ... but taste?  Ah, no.

In my recipe organizing frenzy I came across an "easy" tomato soup recipe and I foolishly thought to myself "hey, I can do that!"  I used my beloved juicer, Jack.  (Yes, I named my juicer, doesn't everyone name their appliances?)  I had all the stuff on hand and we are scraping fridge bottom until payday and grocery shopping so I was feeling pretty proud that I came up with something that would appear complex but was still "easy" supposedly.

I think I went wrong in that I had to use almond milk instead of cow juice.  We don't have any real dairy in our house due to allergies, and in most things I can substitute the almond milk without an issue or needing to change anything else.  Perhaps that is why this went wrong, but it was watery and bland.  I also added more "juice" to the soup but still had the right quantity of juice overall so I wasn't worried.  We have plenty left over, so I will be trying to doctor it up from here because I want it to work, it smells so freaking good!


Quick Fix Tomato Soup

1 T flour
1 t sugar
1 c milk
2 c tomato juice
dash black pepper

  1. In saucepan stir together the flour, sugar and ¼ cup of the milk until smooth. Stir in the rest of the milk.
  2. Heat on medium-high until the mixture starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir and cook 8 minutes, or until soup thickens.
  3. Slowly, while still stirring, add tomato juice. Continue cooking 1 minute, or until soup is hot.
  4. Season with black pepper to taste and enjoy.
Serves 1 and takes 10 minutes.

The "milk" mixture ... where it all went wrong?
So I had to double it because there were two of us eating (it really bums the husband out when I don't feed him too).  Simple enough, right?  Sigh.  I put all my tomatoes through Jack (the juicer) and didn't have enough juice.  I also have a husband who thinks tomato soup is booooring, so I got clever and juiced a whole red bell pepper and a green bell pepper.  I also stuck like four cloves of garlic in there and a quarter of an onion.  The juice smelled fantastic.  I added some basil, oregano, black pepper and was feeling like I was going to have some tasty goodness for dinner because I took a little taste of the juice and it was yummy.  Not soupy though ... so I added it to the milk/flour/sugar mixture just like the directions say.  I swear I followed them this time.

Sad face.  Its not tasty anymore.  

So I am going to try it again today (maybe its like casseroles and salsa and needs a Sabbath before it tastes right?) and hope for a miracle.  

Anyone have any brilliant ideas where I went wrong?  Though not surprising (cooking fails do occur here) it still bums me out every time!

In the battle of Food vs. Me ... Food wins.  Damn.

Monday, March 12, 2012

menu boards, recipes, and cookbooks ... oh my!

While I am no Betty Crocker, I do shoulder the responsibility of cooking for the Domestic Rocket Clan.  Frightening, I know.

Between mom blogs and Pintercrack I am pretty much convinced that the path to culinary success is lined with highly detailed menu boards.  So while the minions were otherwise occupied this weekend I did some looking into this.

And I discovered something very, very important.

While I may be an OCD spaz who loves color coordinating charts, graphs, tables, and the like -- it turns out that when I look at really complex menu planning systems I sorta have a brain flatline.  You know on TV when someone is dead and the heart monitors have that one long, single tone beeeeeeeeep with the monitor reflecting that there is not beating in that ticker?  Brain flatlining is like that, but only with my head.

(and the wonky labels make my eyes want to explode)

And the mother of all highly-organized-I-am-never-going-to-be-this-awesome menu planning systems:

I am a firm believer in baby steps.  All of those menu boards up there, and the multitudes more you will find on Pintercrack and the mommy blogoshpere, are nice.  But not very doable for me.  If I did have the time, and did want to spend it making one of those, I wouldn't stick with it at this point.  Not even kind of.  Like at all.

But I see the value in meal planning.  It prevents the epic nightly fail of hearing "so whats for dinner?" and responding with the ever intelligent "uuuuuuuhhhhhh ...."

It also is a great way to save money and hit that grocery budget.  

But I am not there *points at any of the pictures above* yet.  Expecting me to pull that off would be kinda like asking a person who doesn't know how to ride a bike to do some awesome BMX tricks blindfolded.  And drunk.  While juggling chainsaws and monkeys.  I am not even sure I want to do that yet.  (the detailed crafty boards, not the BMX juggling act)

So I started with acknowledging that I have no system for the recipes I do have.  I print them off of the internet, then lose them.  I have some recipe cards my mother-in-law gave me for a wedding present, but I have no organization to them other than they were in a box.  I don't like the box, and none of "my" stuff is in the box because I don't have cards.  Really, like 80% of the time I just make it all up anyway and don't actually follow a recipe.
My labels

So I did this.  Its not a recipe card binder, but it is a binder.  I made categories for it, but being the rebel I am I couldn't label them logically.  So here are the section names:

Ole (Mexican)
Mangia (Italian)
Domo Arigato (Asian)
Good Mornin' (Breakfasts)
Slurp (soups, stews, chilies)
Warmin' Up (appetizers)
Fat Pants (desserts)
Not Veg (meat based meals)
Slainte (beverage, not all alcohol for the record)
??? (stuff that I had no idea where to put)
Faux (the cleaning supplies and what -not that I am making to save moolah)
Brrr! (specifically designed to be frozen, like this pizza dough)

I used "return address" labels and stuck them on the dividers because it is about a million times easier than trying to sit there and slide those stupid pieces of paper in those itty bitty things.  

I still have one blank section left so when I remember something, like side dishes, I can add that to the book.  

A page from the Fat Pants section
Then I just use sheet protectors for the printed off, full size recipes.  I can also just tear out any magazine pages I want and stick them in there too.  I will eventually make a format for my recipes, and then eventually I will need to have some way to visually represent them, I guess.  But in the mean time I figure this will have to do.  I have a white board on the fridge that I just wrote the days of the week on.  Each day gets a meal next to it, simple enough for now.

This "system" cost me nothing, the former-teacher-stock-piles had the nice binder, sheet protectors, binder dividers, and sticker labels.  

So, in summary:

1.) I got to do something that makes me look and feel more organized.
2.) It cost me nothing really!
3.) I got to tap into the teacher-stuff hoarder bins that my husband says I will never need.  So I proved him wrong, again!
Triple win if I do say so myself!

** A word about the Non Veg section -- We are actually a vegetarian family, slightly transitioning into the vegan world due to severe milk protein intolerance.  This blog isn't about that, so it doesn't come up often but that section of my "cook book" is for all the family recipes we have (ie my MIL's recipe cards) that are meat based.  I can modify them, but know where to look if I want one. **

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I would buy that because ...?

Crib bumpers are such a complicated thing.

On one hand, while the baby is still baking in the oven and you are picking out all the cute crap, you think to yourself

Self, when the baby rolls, turns, and flips 
like he/she is doing now in my poor, battered uterus, 
he/she will surely need padding on all those hard crib bars.

You also notice that while picking out exorbitantly priced crib bedding that one of the only parts of the bedding that is decorated is the blanket/comforter and the bumpers.

Both are parts that are not recommended for use according to various sources.  Newborns aren't supposed to have blankets and the bumpers become fabulous suffocation hazards that can double as stairs when your child is old enough to try to escape the crib.  Ten points for multitasking!

So let me get this straight, we spend a freaking fortune on crib bedding sets only to have the bumpers up (at your own risk) for a short period of time and the blanket not in there at all ... meaning the only parts of a standard set you see is the sheet (which is usually a solid color) and the skirt.

With the impending birth of the second minion, we had picked out some adorable stuff that was all surf themed.  But it took no time at all for my mini Sir Edmond Hillary begin moving around enough that the damn bumpers (the cutest part of the whole thing) had to go.  Bummed I rolled them up and stuck them on a shelf in the baby's closet and was back to a blue bed sheet with denim skirt.  Sad face.

Then he discovered that not only is a crib a place to try to climb out of, but its also a damn fine trampoline.  And he began trying to launch himself out with a few good jumps.  Scared he would have a crib railing grill in no time, I checked out crib railing padding at the local baby-stuff-store ...

Um, I prefer it with my clothes off in the dark after you bought me dinner, thanks.

Standing there in cheap bitch disbelief wondering how in the hell they can charge me the ungodly fortune I spent on the adorable, yet fairly worthless bedding then ask me to spend $25 on chew proof padding for my little daredevil.

Then it hit me like a teething ring being flung from a pissed off baby ... crib bumpers are kinda padded ...

And voila ... The cheap, yet damn cute if I do say so myself, solution to prevent my little monster from face planting into a hard rail AND re-cuteifuying his room.

Best part of all, cost me nothing.  Woo hoo!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

one cheap beotch

I have expensive tastes.

We have one income.

And my husband isn't a professional athlete.

End result is that in becoming a one income family my previously not interested self had to learn to adjust my financial thinking.  I like to buy things, but I do like my bills paid too.

I know, I am just so silly!

So one day a while back, whilst spending an unreasonable amount of time on Pintercrack, I saw something about homemade glass cleaner.  Wait, hold up, homemade?

While it sounded dangerously close to "cooking," something that makes me a tad wary even on my "good" days, I clicked and read about it.  Turns out its not so much cooking or making as it is "pouring" ... I can pour.  Just pretend the ammonia is grenadine, the alcohol is drinkable ... just remember to mix it in a spray bottle and not mommy's special glass.

I sooo have this covered.

So the combination of this info with the lack of funds, or rather my lack of wanting to spend our limited funds on stupid shit like cleaning products, led me to become a frugal-home-making-stuff-maker.  Okay, that title totally bombed.  Trying again -- I am one cheap bitch now!

Furiously googling homemade cleaning recipes I came across two I could do immediately because I happened to (shockingly enough) have the stuff on hand.  Yay me, I get points for that, right? I also found Fake-It Frugal and HomemadeMamas and I so heart them both.

So here are my Ghetto Drier Sheets:

Here is the tutorial I followed.  Well, that I sorta followed.  See they had cute flannel scraps on hand.  Me no havie.  They suggested cutting up an old shirt, but I be awful lazy and cutting sounded like it resembled work.  I also knew that I do not have "pinking shears" (I felt totally proud I even knew what they were) and if I cut anything it would fray and drive me bonkers.  So I need to find something I had, that was little to no work, and would hold up to repeated washing and drying.

Washcloths.  I have a million of them.

I only used blue ones, and older ones that were a bit on the thin side.  I also had the container from my classroom days, made a label because I am OCD like that, then poured some fabric softener (ala dollar store) into the container with hot water.

Totally Awesome! Am I the only one who reads
this label in Wayne and Garth's voice?
It does nothing for static, but it works and it uber cheapo since the only thing I had to "buy" for it was tooootally awesome fabric softener (see pic, it even says its totally awesome!) and that bottle cost me a buck for 64 ounces.  Score.

I can also use this same fabric softener to make me some Downy Wrinkle Release -- Mommy's solution to never ironing.  But that stuff ain't cheap, so making it ... oh heart be still!  Either way, I can not iron while not having my mom notice the wrinkly clothes my family is sporting.  Win win I say!

I have other homemade recipes that I have been trying since, and I will share my successes (and failures, bound to happen) as they come along.  Basic requirements for me to want to make a faux recipe are as follows:

1.) I use the "real" item enough for it to be fiscally worth my time.
2.) It has to be easy -- time is money and I am an expensive hooker.
3.) It has to be cheap while having decent results.

If I can say yes to all three, its a keeper.  I love love love my Ghetto Wrinkle Releaser, and I like my Drier Sheets so they are keepers.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

hallway closet crapalanche ... check!

So there once was a hallway closet ...

An ugly, frightening, stuffed to the gills hallway closet.  Small and over packed, it was difficult to find anything, and no one ever put anything back where it belonged.

And it drove me nuts.

When we got married and moved into this house we timed it well/horribly.  You see, ultimately to make a long convoluted story short and less boring, both sets of my grandparents were moving.  The process of moving into assisted living spaces meant that they had to clear out a ton of their things, and being that my husband and I were "just starting out" we were generously gifted with many of these things.  Problem was that only some of those things were the kind of stuff that make you go "oooh, this is cool" and the rest of it was just "old people's stuff."  But being broke has a funny way of equalizing things on the I Should Keep This scale.

Case in point, the hall closet.  I do not own a set of towels.  I own random, mismatched towels, many of which are older than my children (I have a ten year old, this is not a good thing!).  I have dish towels with flowers and geese on them, and I have like 40 of them.  I have more of those lovely afghans that grandmothers so lovingly knit than an afghan sweatshop. And somewhere in this closet there appears to also be a monster that eats flat sheets.  Because I can't find the damn flat sheets.

At any rate, I spent an hour pulling things out, throwing things out, and putting stuff in a box to donate (hellooo 100 Things Challenge!) and was left with less crap, but still crap.  But its crap I will use, as it is still useful and we can't go buy new towels for the bathrooms right now.  I did ditch the geese and flower dishtowels though.

If you use Pintercrack you may have seen this pinned at some point:

Its supposed to be this wildly simple-yet-oh-so-great way to store your sheet sets inside of the pillowcases.  Except I wanted to take scissors to the damn elastic thingies.  I wound up with this, after multiple tries.

And I was happy with that.

So after I had the closet all organized and cleaned out and tons of shit re-folded, I reminded myself that the last time I tried to straighten up in there it was a hot mess again in like 4 days.  So I decided to write a little love note to my family ...

Undoing over an hour of my time makes Mommy feel Stabby McStaberson, friends.  Lets keep that in mind.

Here is the oldest Minion reading the note .... he was appropriately alarmed.

So while it isn't "done" in the sense that I know it will be a mess again soon, it is better.  I think better is good.  I will need to come up with a better organization to it or just not allow anyone else to touch the darn thing (so not happening).

So on the list of things I want done around the house so I can feel like I am not a massive failure as a housewife I can scratch off "reduce crapalanche potential in the hall closet so I can get a damn towel out with out being buried alive."  Yes, it actually says that on my list.

Monday, March 5, 2012

10 things I want Pinterest to know

Dear Pinterest,
I admit, I have developed a pretty unhealthy relationship with you that I am absolutely unwilling to give up. Truth of the matter is this is an abusive relationship, a passive-aggressive-abusive-relationship. How, you ask? It's simple. You scream I am a massive, complete, utter wild failure with all your pretty pictures that suggest success comes easily. I know that success does not come easily to me, yet I pin my ass off hoping. Each time I hit "repin" I think to myself, quite foolishly optimistically, "ooooh, I could do that!"

But then, occasionally, I try to do it. (Like with this, this, or this)

Clever cooking stuff like this, but while I execute it acceptably, I get this for the aftermath.

So here are some things I wish you would just know about me. Things I wish you could filter my results knowing. Things that make me suck more than you think I do.

 1.) I don't have that much hair. If I did have that much, and if it was that long, and if it was that beautious, I wouldn't need a damn website to show me how to curl it, tie it up, pony tail it, or color it to make it look even better. If I had hair like that it's because I have a gay male stylist who knows his shit and costs a fortune.  Done.

2.) It's easy to make a space that is both large and architecturally awesome look kick-ass. There is nothing clever or DIY cool about it. If I had an awesome bay window, balcony, brownstone apartment, massive kitchen, or huge vaulted ceiling in my frigging bathroom I too could have a pin-worthy space. As is, I have a small, cave-like home that no amount of aqua and red paint can fix.

3.) I can't cook that good. Call it "easy" all you want, but, I know better.

4.) I would need to have a Duggar sized family to utilize all of the cool nursery ideas I pin. I would still have too many ideas and not enough uterine elasticity to make them practical.

5.) I can't knit.  Got it?

6.) I find that having "the fitness solution" or "4 minutes a day to fab abs" pinned next to "salted caramel and chocolate cake in a mug! OMG heaven!" a bit sick.  Mixed messages much?  Do you want me to be Fat Albert or Twiggy?

7.)  I do not, I repeat NOT, need more freaking coasters.  Yes, I know you can make them.  Yes, I know they are cheap.  Yes, I even know I can make them as cheap gifts for friends but here's the deal -- my friends have Pinterest too.  They, also, don't need more freaking coasters!

8.)  Am I the only one in the world who doesn't need another "How to tie your scarf 47 different ways" tutorial?  And yes, I know you can make them out of t-shirts.  That has been pinned a million times too.

9.) Cupcakes don't need to be pretty.  I eat ugly, boring ones too.

10.)  You ever seen the movie Airplane?  You know the lady trying to apply her make up while the plane jumps around erratically?  If I try to apply that much eyeliner in order to achieve the "smokey eyes" effect I will look like her.

Oh and P.S. why do all my single friends pin the crap out of wedding and baby stuff?  Come on over if you want to see the non-Photoshopped fun that wife and motherhood leads to ladies!  Pin that!