Saturday, February 28, 2009


We hit this milestone on our 2003 Chevy Venture Friday, February 27th, 2009.
Unfortunately you don't get to dust the dash when your Hubby gets home and have a do-over of the picture.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Much Better!

Don't the towels look so much better in this picture

than they did in this picture I showed in the post on organizing my kids' bathrooms?

I thought so, too.

But folding them that way was a little like putting my underwear on backwards. It was totally foreign. I kind of got twitches while I was doing it.

Seeing that nice smooth edge on those towels will keep me living on the edge though.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hey, Mom! I Got A Haircut Today!

Because I really am not sure when my hair got this long:

And my mom hasn't seen me in person since my hair looked something like this:

So, Mom, here's what it looked like before

and here's what it looked like after.

Can't really tell a bit of difference, huh? So here's the back view, with Sparky's instructions to keep the booty out.

I got about four scraggly inches cut off.

So now you know.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Organization — Scrapbooking Room (More Cubbies!)

I have a little confession to make. I have another room that started out sort of like this one. Not as bad, but it was one of those cases of, "Take this up to the 3rd floor loft," as things were unpacked in other areas of the house. You can see what developed from that.

Now when I unpacked boxes that were specifically for this room that contained my scrapbooking materials and especially my scrapbooks, I went ahead and put them directly on a shelf so they wouldn't get damaged. That's probably what saved this room from starting out as bad as the school room did.

The original plan for this room was the one Ikea cubbie cabinet that you see with the desk attached. Well, because of my little oops, I ended up with the tv cabinet up here also. It took a couple of days to decide that this would be the perfect spot, but it happened to be in the same finish as the cubbies we already had up there, I realized I could use the extra cubbies that surrounded the tv space, and I didn't have a stand for the tv yet, which was sitting on that white table you see in the corner.

You actually might not be able to see it since it's piled up with stuff.

And I took this extra picture not so you could see more of my messiness, but so my mom could get an idea of the layout of the house. These are the stairs that lead down to the second floor. My back is against a wall, and if I look to the right I am staring at Chatty's bathroom and bedroom. Her bedroom is opposite this loft, and the bathroom entrance is in the 'hallway'.

The first evening I worked in the room for about four hours. During that time I was also preparing things to take to an all-day scrapbooking event at church the next day, so really I'd have to say only half the time or less was really spent working on the room. This is what it looked like after that first session:

Then over the course of the next couple of days I worked in it a little here and there, tweaking it, staring at it, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with the rest, and I ended up with my final product:

I already had the lamp and just got a new shade. I also still need to find a spot for several boxes of negatives that I'm not willing to purge.

But I'm thrilled with the outcome. I've never had a separate space for scrapbooking, and I'm really not sure I'll know what to do with myself. We have a chair in the garage that we're going to bring up now that there's room so Hubby can come visit me, but he's not so sure he wants to watch Matlock and Murder, She Wrote episodes on DVD with me. Maybe I should have said he doesn't want to watch them, but we're putting the chair up there in case he decides he wants to come spend time with me anyway.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Works For Me — Keeping Cut Potatoes From Getting Brown

Monday evening I needed to be able to cook dinner as soon as I got home from an appointment. One of the things I was going to prepare was fried potatoes, but I wasn't going to have time to cut them up once I got home without delaying dinner quite a bit.

So about 4:30 before we left the house I peeled and cut up my potatoes, and to keep them from getting brown I put them in a bowl of cold water. Then I put them in the refrigerator until I got home. They were there for about three hours. Here is what the bowl looked like as soon as I got home and took it out of the fridge:

You can't tell too much with the potatoes still in the water, but this is what the water looked like as soon as I took the potatoes out:

As yucky as that looks, my potatoes were sure still pretty. Here's what they looked like as soon as I put them in the hot pan:

As perfect as if I just cut them! I've done this before, but never when I've had to leave the house and leave them in the water that long. I'm glad to know that it works for more than just 30 minutes or so.

Kristen at We Are THAT Family is the new host for Works-For-Me-Wednesday. Go check out more great ideas there.

Organization — Kids' Bathrooms

One of the interesting things about building a house is that you walk in and have no toilet paper holders, no towel bars...nothing. Well, except a standard bathroom mirror you might not really like. So what's a person to do?

When we met with the building superintendent, we asked that they not put any bathroom mirrors up. That way if we turned around and took them down right away we wouldn't be dealing with holes in the wall we probably couldn't cover up, Murphy's Law and all. In the meantime while we were waiting for the house to be built, we looked around at the discount stores, Marshall's, etc., for mirrors that we liked for good prices, with simple framing we liked, and that would fit over the different bathroom counters.

That was the easy part. Finding towel bars and stuff that I liked was a lot trickier. Do you know they don't make much of anything in a black finish? Most of it is antique bronze at best. So I fretted and fussed and we dealt without for a couple of months.

When my good friend Monica was here in December with Buddy's best friend from Virginia, we'll call him Leftie for anonymity and because, well, he's a leftie (I just realized his best friend from Illinois is a leftie, too. How weird is that?), Monica and I went to Ikea. Monica is ten years younger than me, but she is my twin separated at birth. She claims to not be quite as obsessive as me, but give her ten years.

So as we spent a little while, say about six or seven hours, in Ikea wandering and completely enjoying ourselves, they had this little display in one of the bathroom nooks. It was a black bar with some galvanized buckets hanging from it. When we got to the kitchen area to check it out, they had some other items that I figured out how to use in the kids' bathrooms.

Here is what we did in the second floor bathroom that Sparky, Buddy, and Caboose share:

The bar on the top is shorter than the one on the bottom. Each of the three kids that share this bathroom has a bucket for their toothbrush and toothpaste because they have a fairly small countertop. Plus none of the toothbrush holders these days hold the ones with the fatter handles. Each of my kids also has their own tube of toothpaste, so that gets to be a little too much on the countertop.

Chatty has her own bathroom up on the third floor next to her bedroom. Since it's just for her, it's a little more girly and I did it a little differently.

Instead of the galvanized bucket, she has the creamy white oval-shaped one. It still serves the same purpose. Her bars are also both the same length since her bathroom is a little smaller.

These bars, hanging shelves, and buckets were designed to go in a kitchen and hold tools, spices, and other things. They had other accessories you could hang from the bars if you used them in a kitchen, but they weren't really functional for me in the bathroom. At least I couldn't figure out a way to use them.

As I'm staring at the top picture, I realize I might have to start folding the towels that go in that bathroom the opposite way so the edges don't show. Either that or move a door opening, and I don't think the second one is an option.

 This post is linked to Blissfully Domestic.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — February 23-March 1

The Cheesy Spaghetti Bake from last week was a fantastic hit! I honestly can't say enough good things about this recipe. My original intent was to make one and freeze one, since it makes two 9 x 13 sized casseroles, but since I didn't have the freezer space I just cooked them both up and planned for leftovers.

We basically ate one casserole one night and then warmed the other one up the next night and ate it. There was a tiny bit left each night, but really just maybe enough for Hubby to take for lunch the next day. I personally liked it better on the leftover day. It was a tiny bit runny the first night and not at all as a leftover. As usual, I left out the onion and pepper the recipe called for, but I did sprinkle a generous amount of onion powder over the ground beef as it was cooking. Here's how much meat there was before I transferred it over to add the soups and cheese (it's one of those larger pans):

Here are my two casseroles with the cooked spaghetti:

It looked that skimpy when I was making it too. I had thought after eating it the first night I might put in more spaghetti next time, but after eating the leftover pan, it would have been too dry. So to find a mix between night one and night two, maybe making a few more noodles and getting them into the night one pan...

Here is the soupy mixture before adding it on top of the noodles. The recipe called to keep it separate for each casserole pan, but I just threw it all together and then eyeballed pouring half on each pan.

Here is the finished product. I probably put more cheese on the top then it called for, but I never measure my shredded cheese for the top of stuff. I just throw a bunch on — the more, the merrier!

So this week we're going to try a few new things again and mix in some old:

Monday — Clean out the fridge and pantry night. I'll make Kraft Mac & Cheese for my pickiest, I have some potatoes I'm using for fried potatoes (with Mrs. Dash garlic & herb), maybe some's sounding a little more like breakfast for dinner.

TuesdayTangy Beef Barbecue Sandwiches. I'm going to try a different recipe than this one I used a couple of weeks ago. We'll see if this has the "tangy" I'm looking for.

Wednesday — Hopefully we'll have enough for leftovers!

Thursday — Mexican Beef Casserole. My mom makes this a lot when we've been to visit because I love it so much, but I've never made it. I'm giving it a go...recipe below.

Friday — I'm not going to have time to cook, but I don't want to eat out and I can't find a slow cooker recipe I'm crazy about right now. I give up and will have to decide later. Maybe there will be enough leftovers from Thursday night.

Saturday — I'm fixing Crispy Chicken Tenders for lunch instead of dinner, since all but myself and Chatty are going to church for a Wild Game Dinner. Caboose is going because they have cake. Hope it was worth the $5. But these Crispy Chicken Tenders are the ones my Hubby loves! I have to decide between now and Saturday what I really want to ask him for...

Sunday — If we're good and eat in all week, we'll go out after church. Woo hoo! I really need a plan for Friday night.

Mexican Casserole
from my mom

2 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 lb grated American cheese
1 pkg Doritos
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can Rotel
2/3 cup water

Brown beef, crumble, and place in the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle onions and garlic over beef. Sprinkle 1/2 of cheese over this. Crush Doritos; add 1/2 of them over the cheese. Mix soups, Rotel, and water together; pour over chips. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the soup mixture, then sprinkle the rest of the chips on top. Bake at 350 degrees until brown.

Since I haven't made it, I don't know how long that is. And just so I don't break tradition, it is highly possible I just season the ground beef with onion powder.

For more menu ideas visit The Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did You Realize The Extent Of My Organizational OCD?

Do you guys have those fusible beads running around your house? You know, the ones that often come in a big mixed up jar like this one:

You put them on some cute shaped board

or if you are one of my experienced fusible-beading kids, you can use the large interlocking squares and come up with your own designs. Then you can pray you get it ironed before it gets bumped and messed up. You'd think I speak with years of experience.

I do! Two year olds can stick a bead up their nose and still breath through the hole in it, so you might want to watch out for that age-warning thing on the package. Plus the ability to breath through the hole makes it much more difficult for said Buddy to blow the bead out of his nose.

After years and years of children loving these beads and making masses of projects and me ironing them while I silently cursed the invention of them, because I've ironed more bead projects in my life than I've ever ironed clothes, I found out some things about fusible beads.

You can get them in single color packages! I found them on the internet, because let's face it, I think you can find anything there. I'm going to give you the link in case you have bead-crazed kids and didn't know this, and the company doesn't have a clue I'm doing it. Their name is KoolStuff4Kids, and I think they have a separate place you can go if you have Sculpey-clay obsessed kids.

But my favorite thing — if you purchase nine bags of beads, you get a free container for sorting. One bag of beads fits perfectly in three sections front to back.

Now I think you can buy these to your heart's content at Wal-Mart and places like that, and I think I actually did get a few of mine there. But if I'm buying nine bags anyway, I like free stuff. So here is where all the bead boxes are stored:

and here is a view of four of them up close and personal:

I have been known to take a spoon and move a row of beads over to fit a new color in that is between two shades we already have. You don't need to say anything. I already know. And in case you are wondering why there seems to be a darker row down by the lightest color and think I'm losing my mind, they are slightly different. They are *clear* beads, like transparent, so they sit off by themselves. There really is a method to my madness.

In concern that you couldn't see the nifty tweezers they make to help you in beading, I took an up-close picture:

We do use them occasionally to help us move beads around on a board, but they are very helpful in getting the stray beads out of the other sections when they seem to run amok. They need to be used to get that white one out of the red box.

You might think this organization drives my kids crazy. Really, when you buy the beads and put them straight into the boxes, there is nothing to it. As long as you make sure your box closes, experience speaking, it is a simple method to use. My kids love not having to dig around to find the colors they need, knowing if they have enough for the project they want to make, etc.

Just to finish up, here is how we store our pegboards:

This is the two smaller baskets a little closer. They contain all the large interlocking squares and other large boards, and the second one has all the larger animal boards.

We throw all the other smaller boards into that third larger basket. We also have a lidded bin that we keep our extra bags of beads in that we've ordered and don't have room for in the organized boxes, but I figured if you'd stuck with me this far, you'd heard and seen about all you wanted regarding fusible beads.

This is the one craft project that all my kids have enjoyed since we bought the first ones about ten years ago. They now make a larger bead for smaller kids to join in the fun, and probably so they don't fit up a nose.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Works For Me — Getting Ink Out Of The Dryer

Several months ago (okay, over half a year ago!) I posted about The Great Ink Pen Debacle. If that's not enough to make you turn tail and run, nothing is, but I decided it would be a good idea to share what worked for me in getting most of the ink from my clothes dryer.

I originally did not plan to use bleach. It didn't seem like a great idea for me to have my head tucked in the dryer with a chemical that had warnings about using it in a well-ventilated area. But Gayle from The Grocery Cart Challenge was gracious enough to give me a link with various methods of cleaning out the ink, one of which used bleach. It also sounded like the easiest, least hands-on, and most effective method.

I had three old white bath towels and one almost full bottle of the new liquid bleach that looks like fabric softener. I used about half of the bottle and got all of the towels damp where they weren't dripping, tossed them in the dryer, and turned it on for about 30 minutes. I checked them when the dryer buzzed and it was making a difference! So I used the rest of the bottle, resaturated them and tumbled them until they were dry. The good news — I didn't have to stick my head in the dryer and use bleach while doing so. And most of the ink came off, too.

The bad news is that I can't show you a picture of it. See, the builder put in a gas hook-up instead of an electric one when they built our house. So for now the victim of The Great Ink Pen Debacle, Part 2, is residing here:

At least it's clean for the next people.

To see more great WFMW ideas, visit Rocks In My Dryer.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday — February 16th-22nd

I didn't get to make all of the recipes I had on the menu plan for last week since we were able to stretch some of them for a couple of days with leftovers. That means this week will be easier! But I did want to update on some of them because I was trying so many new things.

First for the homemade syrup: I was going to be Betsy's guinea pig and see how it was as leftovers since she never has enough left to try it. I tripled the recipe and I had some left that I let cool, then placed in a glass Ball jar. It seemed pretty thick already, so I decided I'd leave it out and not put it in the refrigerator. It did have butter in it, but I know some people leave butter out. I was going to try it first and make sure it was going to make anyone really sick.

But look at it the next day:

There is a little trickling there, but not much. Now I could possibly put a little water in there and then microwave it, but I really don't want it to explode in there, and I'm trying not to nuke so much stuff either. So in the interest of not having to possibly clean up broken and sticky glass, I'm going to put water in this to soften it and then toss it. My verdict on the recipe though: very good. Next time I will not put the vanilla in it or maybe half what it calls for. I could really taste it and it was just a little much. I think that would put it over into the great category.

The homemade granola was really good and really easy to make. Sparky and I are the main ones eating it on our Yoplait Vanilla Yogurt. When Hubby got home I gave him a little taste of it straight, and the first thing he said was, "Is there honey in this?" So apparently the honey taste is a little strong. Here's what it looks like straight out of the oven. As it cools, it gets crumbly.

The White Chicken Chili was very good, too. Hubby and I especially loved it. Here it is in my large Crock Pot. I doubled the recipe, and when I got it all in the pot I didn't really have enough room to cut up the onions and put them in. I'm not really into putting onions in my stuff, so I didn't mind.

We ate it with both the sour cream and shredded cheese mixed in — yep, food in my food!

Then the Slow Cooker Barbeque Beef Sandwiches I don't have pictures of, but I did double the recipe so we'd have leftovers. It was pretty good. I think I'm the hold-out on it. The majority of my family liked it more than me. It seemed to be missing something and didn't have a zing I wanted. I didn't put the peppers or the onions in, but I don't really ever put peppers in anything when I cook. The only thing they get put in is if I make fajitas, and then I don't eat the peppers. But this recipe was not missing a pepper or onion flavor, it was a zing I can't put my finger on. Maybe I just need to get a more zingy barbeque sauce next time. Any ideas?

So here is this week's menu plan:

MondayCheesy Spaghetti Bake. It's still new since I didn't make it last week.

Tuesday — Probably leftovers from Monday, soup otherwise.

Wednesday — Fettucine Alfredo. My kids think it tastes like Olive Garden's. Recipe below.

ThursdayMeat Loaf. Pulled it over from last week, too!

Friday — Leftover meatloaf.

Saturday — Sam's Club Pizza. I want to try out my two new round pizza pans.

Sunday — Probably eat out, especially if we eat in all week.

Fettucine Alfredo
recipe from box

2-16 oz boxes fettucine noodles, cooked
2 sticks butter
4 cloves chopped garlic (I press mine)
5 cups half and half, divided
3 cups grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp pepper
4 dashes salt

Cook Fettucine according to package directions.
In large skillet melt margarine over medium heat; add garlic, saute 1 minute.
Stir in 3 cups half and half
Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes.
Add Fettucine to skillet.
Stir in remaining 2 cups half and half, cheese, pepper and salt; cook, stirring, 1 minute.

If it sounds like a lot of butter and cream, this recipe serves my family of six with healthy servings and there are enough leftovers for several of us for lunch the next day.

Go check out The Organizing Junkie for lots more menu ideas.

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