Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween Everyone.

Avery and I made a little video to celebrate. It is a tutorial on how to make Hershey Bar haunted houses. We hope you like it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

2 sketches 4 U and Action Shots

I am finally back on my game enough to enter one of the 2sketches4u challenges before the deadline. I took liberties with the sketches as is my practice.

Here are the two cards I made:

My sweetie bought me some Prismacolor pencils so I am trying to learn how to blend them and color in my images batter. I have a lot of learning to do and it has been a blast.

My dear friend Elizabeth asked for action shots of my boots so here they are:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Design Team Application

I posted a while back that I made the second round in the design team application process for Odd Bird Planet rubber stamps. I thought today would be a good day to show you the cards I made. But first, I wanted to share a little about why I applied for this DT. As some of you know, I have a strict personal rule about crafting is fun, not competitive and so up until now, I've avoided applying for design teams. When I heard Odd Bird Planet was having a call, I just couldn't resist. Here's why:

1. Johanna is amazing. She and I PMed a few times at Self-Addressed and impressed me so much with what a nice, encouraging, cool person she is. She also left a lot of feedback on my cards and many of those comments were ones I would go back and read when I was feeling discouraged. Folks, you just never know what a kind word will mean to the person you left it for. In this case, those kind words meant a lot.

2. Some ladies on her design team (past and present) are people in the stamp and craft industry that I have wild amounts of respect for (Claudette you are so awesome and Hope, you are tops in my book. Happy Birthday by the way - it's this week, right?)

3. Have you seen the Odd Bird Planet stamps???? They totally rock.

4. I have no trouble coming up with saucy titles for a lot of the images - which is an near endless source of amusement for me and my sweet husband.

So without further ado~

This card was what I made for the assignment to use stamps in an unexpected manner where you wouldn't immediately see the stamp in it's usual way. I used the plain perch snowglobe cakestand to make embossed scallops:

For this card I used the cake stand again and added three little owl-bert stamps upside down because I thought it made great aliens and the little owl legs were perfect antennae. Don't you think this card is very "me". LOL. The moment it was done my youngest ran of with it, thumb tack in hand to put it on the bulletin board by his bed. I rescued it just before it was skewered :-)

This card was using a digital file of stamps that aren't released yet. I was tickled to get to play with something brand new!

And this card was made with both stamps and the digital file. I colored the images with watercolor, it was a really fun card to make. Most of the images were using birdhouse row except for the long birdhouse which is a new release.

And I didn't send this one in even though I was incredibly happy with it. The card is completely paper pieced and some of the pieces are multiple thickness or popped up with dimensional tape. I am looking forward to finding just the right person to drop this in the mail for.

So there you have it, my who, what, why and how. Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Swap Pages

I finally finished my LOs for the TSR page swaps. One set is Christmas themed, I went Christmas-Lite because I wanted them to be versatile enough to use for different aspects of the holiday. The other was "generic". Making the generics was a total debacle. I made the teal page first and really liked it so I decided to buy enough supplies to make them all the same instead of using my stash. After buying it all, I cut all the pieces and then set down to assemble them only to discover that the cardstock I'd chose for the background clashed horribly. Tip: never assume you can recall a certain shade of off-white or that you'll know it when you see it. So I had to set aside all those cut pieces and make three new, different pages. They turned out so pretty though so it wasn't a big deal. Now what to do with those cut bits... maybe I'll make some LOs for Etsy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

What is a Perky Nihilist?

Before you start reading, who knows what Brad Pitt has to do with todays blog post? Anyone?

The question has come up far too often now to not address it publicly so here I go - my reasoning behind the handle Perky Nihilist. In case you're short on time, yes, I am a Christian and believe in God. No, my philosophical views do not conflict too sharply with my spiritual views. The end.

Now for the long version~

As a Christian, I reject the aspects of nihilism that believe in the absence of absolutes; I very much accept as true the disillusionment that can occur when you search for meaning while living in our modern, consumerist, unbalanced culture. And really, who can separate their beliefs, values and "truth" from the society, culture and environment they are living in?

But the Bible is truth...

Yes, it is. But when studying the bible the first thing you must determine is who was talking? Where were they? What was going on at the time? What issues were they/the church facing? So even the bible is, on some level, truth that cannot be fully excised from the culture it was written in.

I have some serious health problems and have weathered more than my fair share of hardship, injustice and loss. If everything means something and bad times and good are personal and more than just the symptoms of life then I don't know how I would manage. I believe that good times come and sometimes you feel so blessed that your happiness is like a light glowing around you - too powerful to ever let the darkness in. But the darkness comes along despite your imagined security. At other times life hurts so bad that you can't find the strength or even the will to lift your head off your pillow. You just want to lie still and pretend you don't exist. But you carry on and someday down the road you are happy again. It can't all mean something. Good and bad come and go as constant as the seasons. As they say, sometimes you're the dog, sometimes your the fire hydrant. For reasons I haven't fully explored, this makes me happy. Genuinely, to the bone happy. The meaninglessness I perceive in all the suffering comforts me and helps me smile and joyfully carry on regardless of circumstance. It's not personal. It doesn't mean anything. It's not for a Greater Good. It's just life. Plain and simple. And if I'm going to keep living it then I need to suck it up and carry on.

I think heaven will be wonderful and in regards to my time there I am incredibly optimistic. This part though, life here and now, it can be impossibly tough. So I choose to not be like Habbakuk, asking, "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save?" (Habakkuk 1:1) but more like James who said, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds." (James 1:2)

So there you have it, a perky nihilist.

Fight Club is a book that best put into words the way I feel. Here is a one minute video that I think does a good job taking a jab at modern culture. Warning: at the end of the segment the man uses the word "pornography" and at the beginning he is sitting on the toilet reading a catalog - you can see the side of his leg. If this will offend you then don't click play.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Card Sketch A Day Blog, Boots, Weight

One of my cards was featured on Susan's wonderful card sketch a day blog. They are having a week of Halloween cards that you really don't want to miss. Check out the adorable mummy card done with todays sketch - it is right up my little guys alley.

I finally found a new pair of Doc Martens. Most of you know that our house burned down in 1997 and we lost everything. Among the everything was my treasured knee high Docs with skate style lacing. They were so awesome. I vowed not to replace them until I found a pair that are even cooler. It took eleven years but I finally have a beautiful pair of new Docs.

When I was sick I lost six pounds. Usually after I recover the weight piles back on in a matter of days. A week after being ill I had gained back a half a pound and ten days ago I had regained a total of 0.7 pounds. Which wasn't too bad considering I would have normally put back on all of it. This morning I hauled my sorry self to the Wii-Fit (my scale), did a twenty minute work out and weighed myself. I've lost another 1.2 pounds. Woo-hoo! I'm still a bit over a pound away from a forty pound loss. So I'm getting there, slowly but getting there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween and Cuttle Bug

Le Petite Banane is a madman for Halloween and he's at an age where all of the trappings are very important to him. We've made a small leaves-and-pumpkins display on our buffet and he's spent the last months allowance on a collection of plastic heads on sticks that he can shake at everyone menacingly. But I'm a minimalist and holiday tchotkes are not my speed. Last night I realized I haven't done much to let the poor sprout know if it's important to him then it's important to me.

In a stroke of serendipity I was browsing around some blogs and I found Cuttlebug Challenge and they are having Cuttlebug Camp this weekend. The first set of challenge was some fall themed table items. I whipped up a set, filled them with goodies and my little boy is one happy sprout.

Here's what I made:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Efficiency Week Day Five: Frugal, Eco-Friendly and Tips

So ladies, how many of you like to save money? How many of you are interested in being a good caretaker of the wonderful earth we inhabit? Living efficiently is the best way I've found to do both.

Take the chicken example from Day One. The trash generated from preparing those dishes was one large plastic bag and a bacon wrapper. If we'd eaten packaged and processed food that was "quick and easy" it would have created tons of trash. Buying bulk reduces packaging and usually the price per ounce is much lower as well. Having dinner made on days (like yesterday) when everything goes wrong saved us from driving out in search of food (lowering our carbon footprint and padding our wallet). Even a junky fast food meal costs a lot more than a homemade dinner. Last time we ate drive-thru I nearly had a fit when I saw all the packaging. Perhaps absence made this heart forget but we generated more trash that meal than we do in more than a day at home. That is just not okay. That trash has to go somewhere.

By following a clean as you go method you won't feel as overwhelmed by your housework. Way back when I had two lovely women come and clean my house every two weeks because it was just too much to manage. Now I have a better handle on it and that is two-hundred dollars a month that stay in our account.

Some closing tips:

*Keep your cleaning products near your mess. For example, I keep a magic eraser at the top of my shower. When the floor looks dingy I can wipe it clean while I'm in there. Ditto for a squeegee to clean the glass.

* If bulk cooking isn't your thing then consider a type-of-meal plan. Before I could manage doubling up recipes I did this and it really took the pressure off. Here's what we did:

Mamma Mia Mondays (spaghetti, lasagne, alfredo)
Taco Tuesdays (tacos, burritoes, quesadillas)
One Pot Wednesdays (stew, soup, chilli, fried rice)
Turkey Thursdays (turkey meatloaf, pot pie, grilled cutlets)
Fast Food Friday (eat out or make pizza, hot dogs, burgers at home)
Seafood Saturday (fish sticks, grilled salmon, clam chowder)
Sunday Funday (leftovers, so you can eat whatever you want)

*Make your kids clean up too. My boys could sort socks and fold clothes by three years old. There is no reason, short of the babies having moved out of the house, for you to be doing all the work yourself. If you think I'm mean or their time would be better spent practicing the trombone or their slap shot technique, ask yourself this : How much trombone playing do you do? How about this, How much laundry do you do? How often do you need to eat? Raising kids that can manage their own home is a responsibility too many parents shirk. It always saddens me when I see teens in that first year away from home living on cereal and McDonalds and wearing dirty gray clothes. Teach them while you have them at home so they won't have to go through the struggles of learning on their own.

* Match something fun to the tasks you have the hardest time getting to. We try really hard but don't have the best track record with washing and detailing the our vehicles. When we bought the Explorer we established a new tradition called Sundaes on Sundays. Every Sunday we get to go out for or make at home ice cream sundaes. We even bought fancy - okay, from Walmart, but nice - glass sundae cups. The catch is that we can't have sundaes until the car is clean. Now instead of being able to put off cleaning the car indefinitely, I have three little eaters to remind me. Plus, it's a great family tradition.

Thanks for stopping in each day and reading along. I hope there was something in these wordy posts that you can integrate into your routine or that inspired you try something new.

We Interrupt the Regularly Scheduled Program

Hey folks. Thanks for all the love this week. I'm grinning from ear to ear. I have a great Friday post to finish off my Efficiency Blog Week but first:

Last night I had some creative time and I had such a blast! There was a challenge over at Split Coast Stampers to make a three stair step card. I couldn't resist. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to use some of my awesome Marieke Vermeulen Design Printables. Here's the results:


This one is for my mom:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Efficiency Week Day Four: Keeping Ahead

If you've been following along and now have a freezer full of cooked chicken and turkey, your bathrooms sparkle and your laundry are is gleaming the next obvious question is, what will you do with all your spare time? Yes, I nearly fell off my chair laughing at the concept of spare time too. As wives, mothers, employees, student etc. spare time is hard to come by. What's worse is that four or five dinner surplus can be gone in a week. Bathrooms get soiled daily and there's always more laundry and it's entourage of dust and grit. Keeping ahead of things is an every day, every hour job and the sooner you face that reality the sooner your house will run smoothly.

So what does keeping ahead of the mess look like exactly?

Let's take the day I prepared all that chicken as our example. If you recall, I'd made four meals while cooking breakfast and cleaning the fridge. The cleanup was only marginally worse than it would have been for breakfast alone and I was sitting pretty on four dinners. That afternoon El Bone Disease Grande was having a snit so I rearranged my dinner plans to have the Lemon Chicken instead of cooking. All I would need to do is pop it in the microwave and my family would have a warm, nourishing meal in minutes.

When five o'clock came though, my back wasn't that bad and it was too late to thaw and prepare the meal I had originally planned. So I went ahead with Lemon Chicken but during the time we set the table and readied ourselves to eat I made two 9x13 pans of homemade granola bars so Chris and the boys would have breakfasts all week. It only took about fifteen minutes but the last three mornings have been simple and mess-free and the kids haven't been asking for expensive purchased snacks to take on hikes in the afternoon. It would have been easy to squander my surplus time and goof around. I could have been smug and basked in my good planning. But I know that things are undone much quicker than they can be done so I invested that work-free dinner and was paid in five work-free breakfasts. That is what I mean by keeping ahead of things.

My family doesn't like having the same meal too often and granola bars at breakfast and on hikes will get old pretty quick. So I made muffins too, and instead of cooking the twelve we normally have for a meal, I made twenty-four (which as far as I can measure took about two and a half minutes longer) and was able to pop a dozen in the freezer. Chris thaws two on his way out the door in the morning - so that two and a half minutes of effort yielded six breakfasts for my sweetie. Those two choices ended up providing a net gain of two weeks of breakfasts. In my opinion it was well worth the additional labor.


What area of your housework do you have a hard time staying ahead of? What steps can you take to make that run smoothly?

For us, our island is a "hot spot" for people to throw stuff on. I'm the worst too. Because I scrapbook at the kitchen table I have to gather it up for each meal and inevitably I toss the stuff on the island. Once my family sees anything on the island it's like a free-for-all and next thing you know it's piled high in mail, gloves, cups - you name it. I tamed the beast a bit by making a tote to collect mail but it's still a hard spot to keep tidy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Household Efficiency Day Three: Recipes and Laundry

I’ve received a lot of extremely positive feedback on this series and with that many requests for the recipes I mentioned on Day One. If you are enjoying these posts please pass them on or add a link to them on your blog. I really love to help. Here are the recipes, feel free to take liberties and adjust them to suit your family’s tastes.

Thai Peanut Pasta

8 oz of udon noodles or linguine
2/3 C creamy peanut butter
2/3 C water (or more if you like it saucy)
4TBS soy sauce
3TBS rice vinegar (we use the one with garlic)
1 tsp chile paste with garlic
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt (divided)
cooking spray
1 pound of cooked sliced chicken breast
3/4 C chopped seeded cucumber
1/4 sliced green onions (optional)
3TBS chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges (optional but delicious)

Cook noodles. Drain, saving a cup of cooking water. Set water aside.

While noodles cook, combine peanut butter and next five ingredients in a large serving bowl. Add 1/2 tsp of the salt and stir well.

Heat skillet, spray with cooking spray, toss remaining salt with chicken and saute until done. If using precooked chicken just microwave the chicken until warm.

Add chicken, noodles, and veggies to sauce. Toss well. If it looks dry add some of the reserved cooking water.

Enjoy with a squeeze of lime

Arroz con Pollo

2 Tbs. olive oil; more as needed
1-1/2 lb. chicken breast, seasoned with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ to 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage cut in pieces
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium green or red bell pepper cut in 1/2-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground turmeric (optional)
½ C peeled, crushed tomatoes
½ C dry white wine or beer
1 bay leaf
2 Cs medium-grain rice
2 ¼ C water

In a deep, heavy pot heat the oil on medium high.

Sauté the chicken until golden on all sides, 7 to 10 min. Transfer to a platter. (Skip this step if using precooked chicken)

Sauté the sausage until browned, about 3 min. (toss in precooked chicken to reheat at this step) Transfer to the platter.

Pour off excess oil, leaving about 1 Tbs. in the pan.

Reduce heat to medium and sauté the onion, pepper, and garlic until softened, about 5 min.

Return the chicken and sausage to the pot and add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and turmeric, if using, stirring to distribute the spices.

Cook for 1 min. and then add the tomatoes, wine (or beer), and bay leaf. Increase the heat to medium high, stir, and cook for 2 min.

Add the rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to a simmer.

Cook 25 min. If the rice is done but still very soupy, remove the cover and cook very gently until the liquid evaporates, taking care not to burn the rice.

Toss rice and let sit for 5 min. before serving.

Turkey Florentine Meatballs

olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted in the microwave
2 pounds ground turkey breast
1 medium onion, grated or finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
1 large egg
¾ C bread crumbs
½ C grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Wring defrosted spinach dry in a clean kitchen towel.

Place turkey in a bowl and make a well in the middle of it. Into the well, add the grated onion and garlic, egg, breadcrumbs, grated Parmigiano, spinach, salt and pepper.

Form into meatballs and arrange on a nonstick cookie sheet. Brush the meatballs with olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. I turn mine once to brown all sides but this step is skippable.

Cool and freeze in meal-sized portions.

These can be used as regular meatballs in spaghetti sauce or in meatball heroes. We like them with béchamel sauce on baked potatoes.

Potatoes with Meatballs Florentine and Béchamel Sauce

When you are getting ready to settle into your favorite hour long television program, wash and pierce some baking potatoes with a fork. Throw them in your oven at 350 degrees and then watch your show. When the credits roll take the same fork and poke your potato. If they are soft, take them out. If they are still hard, watch another show and then poke them again. Cool on counter and then pop them in the fridge for a myriad of quick dinners later in the week.

Remove potatoes from fridge, split in half and place them on a cookie sheet. Butter them (like you would bread) and sprinkle with garlic powder or garlic salt. Pop in the oven on broil.

While the potatoes are warming and getting bubbly, heat a small saucepot over medium heat with 2 tablespoons butter. When butter is melted, whisk in flour, cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and chicken stock. Bring liquid up to a boil and simmer until thickened. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg, turn down to low.

Slice your meatballs into coins (each ball makes about three coins for me) and add to sauce. Remove sheet of potatoes from oven and if you like you can sprinkle some parmesan cheese on them. Top with some of the meat-filled white sauce and the provolone cheese. Place back in the oven or under the broiler to melt the cheese.

This dish warms up very well.

Turkey and Stuffing Meatloaf

• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 small-medium onion, cut into small dice
• 4 pieces celery, cut into small dice
• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
• Salt and pepper
• 1 box of Stove Top Stuffing
• chicken stock or water (I use water)
• 2-2 1/2 pounds ground turkey
• 1 eggs

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt butter. Add the onions and celery, season with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper; cook until the veggies are tender.

Add the stuffing mix to the skillet and mix in enough water or chicken stock to moisten. Remove the skillet from the heat and let the mixture cool, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, egg and cooled stuffing mixture. Form the meat mix into 2 long loaves. I do this in an aluminum foil lined 9x13 pan. Freeze. Pop meat loaves out of the pan and wrap in foil. Label.

When ready to cook, thaw loaves. I think you can cook these from frozen but that always makes me nervous so I don't.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place loaf in a 9x13 pan sprayed liberally with cooking spray. on a baking sheet. Drizzle or brush loaf with olive oil. I usually make roasted potatoes with this. Dice white or sweet potatoes and toss in olive oil with your favorite seasonings. I use steak seasoning or italian seasoning with garlic salt. Spoon potatoes into the trenches on either side of the meatloaf and cook in the oven for about an hour, until brown and cooked through (165ºF internal temperature) and the potatoes are tender and brown. Serve with a vegetable and a warmed up jar of turkey gravy.

Whenever I serve this I try to make a second 9x13 pan of potatoes to bake alongside. It takes a few more minutes of peeling and dicing but then you have tons leftover for breakfast burritos, hash browns, chowders. etc.


Laundry rooms are hot steamy, often stinky dust traps. Worse, since they serve a single purpose, once the laundry is done (is it ever done?) it an easy room to forget. One of my favorite cleaning tricks for laundry rooms is when switching the laundry to the dryer, take a freshly washed cloth from the washing machine and use it - in all it’s nice smelling perfectly rung out glory – to wipe down the cabinets, machine fronts, any spills and the floor if needed. Once you’ve spruced the place up throw it back in the washer with the next load and voila – totally pain free cleaning. Do this every wash day and your laundry room will stay clean.

If room permits, have a small wastebasket in your laundry room. This way you can discard lint, broken hangers and holey socks immediately without the added bother of carrying them to another room.

Also, try to have a laundry hamper in every bedroom to help dirty clothes find their way to the wash. It’s much nicer than throwing them on the floor by the bed.

What do you do with the empty hanger once you’ve taken the shirt down and put it on? Or did you even take the shirt down? Perhaps you just pulled hard on the shoulder and considered yourself lucky when the hanger sproinged free and remained on the bar. It only takes a second, but pick up that hanger and put it in a designated spot in your closet reserved for unused hangers. Then when you take your full hamper to the washing machine you can easily grab a handful of hangers on your way by. Nothing is worse than wasting precious minutes of your life hunting through an overstuffed closet looking for hangers so you can hang up your clothes. Choose to vanquish this time sucking irritation once and for all.


What are your laundry habits like? Do you do a load or three of wash every day or do you have special days of the week when you take care of it? When the clothes are dry, do you fold and hang them warm from the dryer or do they collect in a great pile on your bed or sofa?

We wash a load or two of clothes each day and it is the boys responsibility to fold them and put them away. Since they exhibit an astonishing ability to ignore the most obvious task we do something shocking. We toss the clean clothes out the door of the laundry room onto the floor of the narrow hallway blocking their bedroom from the rest of the house. That way, the only way to access or leave their room is to fold the laundry or climb over it. Trudging through clean laundry is a bad, bad thing so it usually gets done immediately. Sounds weird but it's the only trick we've found that insures the boys do that particular chore.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Efficiency Week Day Two: Lazy Girls Guide to a Clean Can

I am a lazy girl. Now a lot of people who know me would disagree but seriously folks, I am motivated by leisure more than anything on the planet. Back when I was a newly minted housewife I tried the heavy housecleaning approach where you clean the house from stem to stern once a week. I tried the one room a day system which was a hellacious disaster. With three little boys running about I ended up with a house that had a spotless master bedroom but a nuclear-bomb-went-off level mess in the living room. All that system amounted to was a perpetually dirty house. I even tried a master list plus one system where each week you do a set of tasks plus one big task like window washing or garage cleaning. I just didn't do it. What I've fallen into is the clean as you go approach to housework and it's without a doubt the greatest way to go.

I'm going to spend a couple of days talking about cleaning starting with bathrooms

Supplies for a clean house:

You need a vacuum on each level of your house. Nothing keeps the upstairs carpets dirtier than having to haul a vacuum up a flight of stairs. There's never a time of day when lugging a vacuum looks appealing. You also need a couple of boxes of Magic Erasers, Simple Green and paper towel, toilet brushes and window cleaner in each bathroom. Also invest in more handtowels than you think you need. I promise it's worth it. I bought these items over time to spread out the expense and it has been so worth it.


When you pee take a look at the hand towel. If it's dingy or worse, obviously grimy, than I can assure you your bathroom is too. Flush and pour some toilet bowl cleaner (if you use it) in the toilet. Grab a magic eraser and clean your sink, and faucets. While you turn on the tap to rinse, let the water run on your soap dish to loosen the melted soap scum. Clean the soap dish. Dry off everything with the backside of the dirty hand towel paying special attention to the faucets - shine them up! With the now damp hand towel clean all the splashes off your mirror and buff with a dry part of the hand towel. The hand towel is probably getting icky now; use it to wipe down the bowl of the sink and pedestal or the cabinet fronts and the light switch. This is especially important if your kids don't dry their hands as the area around the switch plate is a splash zone and looks gross.

Move over to the toilet and use your toilet brush to clean the bowl. Also use your brush on the rings and those screws that get gross and rusty from boy-peers. Rub the brush along the hinge too. You should have a wet mess. Flush. Starting at the top of the tank wipe the dust away with your hand towel and work your way to the base of the toilet cleaning off the rings, rim of the bowl, the bowl etc. It should be sparkling. Clean the floor around the toilet bowl as well as the area around the base of your sink. If the rest of the floor needs it, run the hand towel over it as well.

Wash your hands and hang up a new hand towel on the towel ring. Admire your handiwork. Pick up the soiled towel and take it directly to the laundry room and throw it inside the washing machine with like items and turn it on right that minute. This is important as you don't want to end up with grungy looking hand towels.

With this approach I only need to break out the big guns like window cleaner for the mirrors and washing the bathroom walls every six to eight weeks and my bathrooms stay sparkling. Tidying up is something I don't mind. Cleaning is something I'll put off indefinitely. This swish and wipe system ensures a sparkling bathroom without the pain.

What is your opinion on magazines in the bathroom? If you have them, do you have a basket on the floor or some sort of hanging contraption mounted to a wall?

Personally I find magazines incredibly practical in the bathroom - especially if you are going in there not to answer nature's calls but to have ONE. SINGLE. SOLITARY. MINUTE. TO. YOURSELF.

But on the other hand, they are sort of an announcement to people, " We poo."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Efficiency Week Day One: Meal Planning and More

My unpredictable health has prompted me to learn new tricks to manage my household in a way that I can sustain when my mobility is impaired. While I doubt anything I do is groundbreaking or original, I came to most of it the hard way, through personal experience, and I'm happy to share.

In our neighborhood the trash comes on Monday morning around seven AM. So on Sundays I clean out the fridge so that no foodstuffs end up languishing in the trash and stinking up our garage for seven days straight. I can usually clean the fridge while making a big breakfast so the net time expense of a clean fridge is basically nil. This has been a wonderful addition to my routine because it ensures a clean fridge and we don't "lose" things anymore.

I had defrosted a large bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco on Friday. Since they should be cooked within three days, I only had two days left and the benefit to cooking on Sunday meant the bag of icky chicken juice would be whisked away by the trash man before it could turn. I devised a meal plan for the next two weeks taking all that chicken into account. Also, our bag of lemons were looking sad. The chicken specific meals were:

Chicken pizza
Lemon chicken
Whiskey River Chicken Wraps
Arroz Con Pollo or Thai Peanut Pasta

Since I prefer to cook my chicken for pizza in bacon grease, I chopped and seasoned the breasts and then cooked the chicken cubes in the leftover drippings from our breakfast while the bacon drained on paper towels. I also scooped out some of the bacon and put it in a baggie allocated for the pizza toppings.

Small pieces cook fast and soon it was cooling in the fridge like this:
I set the pan aside to cool a little before scrambling the eggs ( three dishes, one frying pan to clean; my idea of heaven!)

Meanwhile Chris turned on the barbecue while he cleaned our spa. He was able to grill half of the chicken while he was already outside and within arms reach of the grill. The net time expense for grilling chicken was also zero.

I cut the remaining chicken in chunks, floured it and started browning the meat for Lemon Chicken. At this point breakfast was almost ready to go on the table. Just as the last toast was being buttered I slipped the lemon chicken from the pan and set it aside to cool before going into the fridge.

After breakfast I started a huge pot of rice that would see us through the week and cut the grilled chicken into slices that will work for Thai Peanut Pasta, Arroz Con Pollo or BBQ Whiskey River Chicken Wraps. Remembering we had an appointment Monday night over dinner helped me decide to put enough sliced chicken aside in a bowl to make wraps to eat in the car and the rest in a freezer bag.

In the end, I had messed up a knife, cutting board and two frying pans which was only one frying pan more than I would have to make breakfast alone. We ended the morning with four dinners well on their way to done. At fourteen dollars for a bag of chicken, that amounts to $3.50 per meal. Now all I need to add is rice (cooked, bagged and in the fridge) pizza crust & cheese, tortillas/BBQ sauce/ranch/cheddar, and either veggies & peanut butter for thai peanut pasta or canned tomatoes, veggies & sausage for arroz con pollo. No matter how you slice it, the worst part is behind me.

I try to do one kind of meat per week at a time when I'm well enough to manage it. Last week I bought ground turkey and made two turkey and stuffing meat loaves, and two generous meals of turkey florentine meatballs so we could have them in béchamel sauce on baked potatoes and in spaghetti. If you do this often enough you'll always have a nice variety of dishes in the freezer.

Check back tomorrow for another efficiency post.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Grandmas & a Scrappy Trick

I feel honored to have spent a few hours with these two incredible women. This time when we went back to Canada, visiting them meant going to their graves. It was an emotional moment for me, rich with lost opportunities to have been a part of their lives. Makes me want to cherish the time I have left with my own grandmother even more.

Scrappy Trick

Perhaps I'm thick-witted but I hadn't tried this before and thought I'd share it just in case you hadn't done it either.

When I did this LO, I used a plate to trace a circle and then cut it out (nothing new there). I really like the fancy edge papers but didn't have any so I used decorative scissors (scalloped) and cut about 3/4 of an inch from the cut edge of the sheet where the circle had been. Then I flipped the decorative edge piece over so the back side was up, inked it and glued it down butted up tight against the circle. The end result is very similar to the fancy edge papers without the expense. There was a little bit of an angle that didn't fit at the ends because it was flipped over but I just trimmed it off. You can see the problem at the top right edge of the circle - it's not too bad. Of course, you needed to use double-sided paper.

The sketch was by phutch and the LO was done for a sketch challenge at TSR.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Yesterday I thumbed through my old magazines and tore out any LOs I wanted to try my hand at. I got right to work and made these two. Sorry the pics aren't great - I can't find good light today.

Click on the pic to expand the image.

On the wedding page I had a great time making my own embellishments with the cardboard backing of a notepad and glitter embossing powder. I think it's my new favorite thing.

There is a cyber crop at the scrap-room today and tomorrow. Come on by and hang out with us.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A New Card, a Hoodie and NaNoWriMo

This is a card that I made as a sketch sample for the Card Sketch A Day Blog. Susan is doing a beautiful job with her site and it is a terrific resource for card makers. Thanks, Susan for letting me play along.

Right now they have a call out for December card designers so if you would like to participate you should head over there and take a look-see.

My very favorite hoodie in the whole world is full of holes, has a broken zipper and is two sizes larger than I need. Replacing it was an unhappy thought as I was sure I'd never find a cooler one than my old one. I went to Buckle on the weekend and found this incredible Lucky Brand hoodie (in Medium!). I just love the wings, peace sign and the writing/embroidery down the arms. This is my first try at using the timer on my camera so excuse the blurry pic.

Anyone getting ready to do NaNoWriMo? The boys started crafting their outlines yesterday but sadly their mama is still on the fence and leaning towards not doing it. I've found NaNo to be incredibly hard when the kids are doing it too. A lot of my time is spent coaching them through their novels. I need to set word count goals for them sometime soon. Any suggestions? Brayden in nine and is just getting good at reading. Avery is almost eleven and is still struggling with language and Trenton is twelve and reads voraciously and loves to write.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gothic Decoration

This month the scrap-room is celebrating their birthday. On their blog they have been having a lot of contests and giveaways. Here is my entry into this contest. I thought the 6x12 format would make a great wall-hanging and since Brayden is desperate for Haloween decoration it seemed like a great match. The picture of the raven sitting on a tombstone was taken in Thunder Bay. We were leaving one of the cemeteries and while passing through the historic section I saw the bird perching on the gravestone and asked Chris to stop the car so I could take a picture.

Tomorrow I'm going to find some nice thick, black ribbon and hang it up from a knob or hook. Brayden will be thrilled.

Cupcake Card

While teaching today I made this card using Kazan's fantastic sketch

They are having a design team call so if you are interested be sure to click on the link and check out the details.

I had a doctors appointment today and it was good and bad. I'll probably post about it once I sort it all out in my head.

Hope your day is brilliant. We have bright sunny skies chasing the snow away.