Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday - Oven baked chicken - I'm sure this isn't the healthiest meal in town but every now and then I get an urge for baked chicken that tastes like fried chicken. I really like this recipe as the chicken turns out nice and crispy. I've been making this off and on for about 6 years now. I notice on the Betty Crocker site that this recipe is highly-rated. I'm not surprised!

Wednesday - Chicken nuggets/fries - A chaotic night that calls for a quick and easy dinner

Thursday - Meatloaf (I didn't get to this last week, we used the ground beef to BBQ burgers instead since the weather was perfect for BBQing)

Friday - Leftovers/pizza night

Saturday - Something vegetarian but I haven't decided yet. Maybe a veggie lasagne with lactose-free cheese

Sunday - Roast beef

Monday - Meatballs

Check out I'm an organizing junkie, for more great menu plan ideas

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Scrub a dub dub

I've acquired a new tool to scrub my kitchen floor - a vintage Sears/Kenmore shampooer/polisher. Problem is, I don't know how to use it.

There appears to be a tank that holds water and there are 2 large round scrub brushes on the bottom. My guess is that you put some kind of solution in the tank, depress a "pull up" knob near the top of the handle to release the liquid. There are 2 speeds on this thing and a "scrub" setting. If anyone's used this before, can you explain:

1) How much liquid should I put in the tank?
2) What would be the best shampooing solution I should use? I hate to buy something commercial when a mixture of lysol would do.
3) Can I just put "water only" in the tank, sprinkle some Ajax on the floor and scrub that way?

I'm ashamed to admit that my floor hasn't seen a good scrubbing in about 3 years. With the spine problems I have, I can't get on my hands and knees to scrub my linoleum well. I couldn't very well ask someone else to do it for me. I thought using one of these scrubbers would be the best solution.

I'm planning to tackle this thing tomorrow when the kids are at school. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Grout be gone

I've managed to tackle another one of those chores that has been weighing on my mind for almost 4 years. Yes, the dreaded tub caulking.

Everytime I went into the bathroom, all I could see was the brown stuff (mildew?) that I could never remove from the caulking no matter how hard I tried. I envisioned all my guests looking at that stuff and going "yuck".

Problem was, for a long time I could barely bend over to clean the tub let alone replace caulking. Well, I finally tried it. I found a tool to scrape off the old stuff and it worked wonders. Within 15 minutes I had the old stuff removed. I used plastic tape stuff instead of more caulking. I remembered the last time I did this the caulking fumes just about knocked me out.

I'm still having problems removing some of the old stuff from a few of the tiles. I have these 1" tiles that cover the entire bathtub enclosure. They're a bugger to clean and you pretty much need to be on hands and knees with a toothbrush to do it.

It's not perfect but it's definitely better. Chalk this up to another task "done"!



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thinking about this week's menu was more work than usual. For some reason, I had difficulty choosing meals. After much deliberation, here's this week's "chow".

Monday - Cook's choice - we ate leftovers (crock pot pork chops from Sunday) since there was so much to eat.

Tuesday - Vegetarian Spinach Curry (I didn't make this last week as it was on the menu - can't remember why now...?)

Wednesday - Frozen chicken nuggets/fries (I need a quick meal tonight that the children will eat - lots going on)

Thursday - Fast food (we rarely eat take-out but I couldn't think of a meal and I've already gone shopping. We'll be at the dentist until 5 p.m.)

Friday - Paperplate/leftovers/pizza night

Saturday - Spaghetti and meat balls (the meatballs are frozen but I'm thinking of making a nice "crock pot" sauce and I am looking for recipes)

Sunday - Meatloaf (yes, my family has requested this yet again).

For more great menu plan ideas, please visit I'm an organizing junkie.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The struggle continues...

that's the phrase my husband always uses...

I bought these Glad XXL bags at Walmart yesterday. These things are enormous. When my husband saw me with the Glad box he said: "you're not going to put me in one of those, are you?". He also commented on the happy look the woman on the box has as she's carrying one of those bags. He said I had the same look as I carried the box in from the car.

Anyway, I've decided to remove the 3 bins of yarn I have and put them in these bags. I was hoping to fit all my yarn into one bag but, alas, no such luck. I did manage to clear out 2 bins of yarn (one being a very large bin) into one XXL bag. I figure it's cheaper to buy these plastic bags than it is to buy 3 more plastic bins. Mind you, where can I put it now. It doesn't really fit on the shelves like the bins did.

Here are the bins I've liberated, hoping to be filled with more stuff:

Here's my yarn. One thing I notice is that a photo does not do the bags justice for size. This thing's so heavy it's really awkward to carry.

As I type this, I think I should really aim for fitting all my yarn into 1 bag rather than two bags. It'll require some giveaways and eBay selling of yarn but I think I can do it.

Did I mention the huge shopping bag of yarn I have slotted to give away already. I think I have a problem. A serious problem with yarn....H E L P M E!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chippin' away at the clutter once piece at a time

I thought I'd show some of the progress I'm making on my basement:

The "before" photo

The "in progress" photo

Wow, did this take me a while to do. Mostly throwing out garbage. I'm not done with this area yet. My goal is to buy some more of those blue 40L containers and put all the "loose" stuff into them. I originally bought the blue containers you see in the photo about 5 years ago and I can't find them anymore. I found something similar but they're about $8 each (before taxes) and I'm willing to pay no more than $5 (before tax). So, the hunt continues. All told, I don't want to spend more than $50 on containers.

Ready for some more photos?

The 'before' photo

The "in progress" photo

We can now walk over to the washer and dryer to do laundry. Again, there's still more to do here. I need to purge a little more. My basement is so drab and dreary I'm not sure if there's anything I can do to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The walls are concrete which makes it virtually impossible to drill into. There are also many pipes above the washer/dryer so I can't really work around them. Do you see that storage box behind the washer? I bought that about 10 years ago to install above the washer and dryer to hold items. Unfortunately, it has a 48" depth and my basement ceiling is so low that it won't fit. I don't know whether I should get rid of it or keep it to use elsewhere.

More photos to come in a later post....

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some good eatin' at our house!!

I made two recipes that were so good I had to blog about it.

Chicken (or should I say turkey) pot pie
First the recipe for chicken pot pie. It's the Chicken Pot Pie IX recipe on allrecipes.com. I used what I had on hand in the way of vegetables and omitted the celery (since I had none).

I made my pastry from a boxed mix. The brand I use is Robin Hood Flaky Pie Crust mix. This revalation came from a grandmother at my daughters' school who bakes constantly for everyone. Her food is "to die for" and I asked her what her pie crust secret was. She confided that she uses the stuff "in the yellow box".

I always made mine from scratch. Well, I was skeptical but I gave it a try. I'm telling you, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference taste wise. All you do is add some water to this mix and, voila, you have a pie crust.

Anyway, I digress....

When I finished the pot pie, I knew we were in for a treat because this baby looked like a work of art. My husband was mightily impressed. It was almost the chicken pot pie that wasn't because, unknown to me, my hubby ate most of the turkey for lunch. There was just about 3/4 cup left. Of course I didn't find this out until it was time for me to put the turkey into the recipe. I did what I could and you couldn't even tell it was lean on turkey.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
A mom at my daughters' school gratiously stepped in to take care of my kids, without pay, when my oncologist's appointment ran 3 hours long today! Gee, that's a story for another blog entry. I thought I'd make some cookies for her two boys. I'd remembered a recipe a friend had used when she gave my family some cookies a few years ago. Something about Hilary Clinton....

Anyway, I found the recipe and made it. The recipe's called Hillary Clinton's Chocolate Chip Cookies. The cookies are (should I say "were") great!! It was inspiration from above since the idea just "came to me". The friend who first made me the cookies was a member of a cancer support group I belonged to. Sadly, she passed away about a year ago. When I made the cookies today, I thought of her.

I just had to pass these recipes on....

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday - Turkey pie (to use up all my turkey leftovers) - anyone have a good recipe I can use? If so, please post in my comments before 4:00 p.m. today

Wednesday - Vegetarian Spinach Curry - I like to cook a vegetarian meal at least once or twice a week, thanks to Across My Kitchen Table, for the inspiration for this one. I just found this recipe on the Internet, I've never tried it before.

Thursday - Crockpot BBQ chicken - yup, I'm livin' on the edge - two new recipes this week. Thanks to A Jugglin Mum for the recipe.

Friday - leftovers/frozen pizza for the kids/paperplate night

Saturday - Tacos (my youngest daughter's suggestion)

Sunday - Oven baked pork chops - I'm not sure yet how I'll bake these

Monday - Cook's choice

For more great menu plan ideas, please visit I'm an organizing junkie.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I've been sidelined...

I'm down but I'm not out. I knew that working on my basement would put me into recuperative mode. I still have some cancerous spots on my spine but, for the most part, I don't feel them. Whenever I move boxes or do anything even remotely strenuous, I end up in pain. It gets me mad because I want to do stuff. The main reason for my clutter is because I wasn't able to do much for several years. So I'm sitting here with a hot water bottle on my back.

Well, I've taken a break from the basement for a few days. Actually, my goal now is to sort through one box a day. I do believe that taking small bites rather than big ones will show progress over time.

Is it worth it? People always say, take care of yourself first and I agree. I have to say that tripping over stuff in the basement and spending endless amounts of time looking for stuff that should be in order is not taking care of myself. It makes me angry and frustrated. Both things I think tend to take away from the "harmony" I need to feel better.

The worst of the moving of stuff is over. I just need to clean and tidy now. I couldn't in all honesty invite people over to help for fear of them hurting themselves. I will succeed. I think it's time to call in the troops!

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Basement
I did manage to spend about a hour on my basement. I emptied two garbage bags of stuff but aside from a noticeable clearing of the floor (you can now walk unimpeded to the washing machine), there appeared to be little noticeable improvement, hence no photo.

The Living Room
On the other hand, I did manage to get some photos of my living room:

I have a small space which shows clutter almost immediately. I've managed to pick up everything that was in corners and on the floor. Somehow the floor is a magnet for stuff. As you can see by the window, I still have a wooden chest that acts as a "catch all" for stuff. I've tried to organize the stuff on it as best as I could. My plan is to remove it and shift the contents elsewhere.

My focus now is on making the room cozy. I'd like to buy a rug and proper coffee table(s). I'm currently selling some furniture to add to my "home improvement fund". I'm also not sure what to do with the big empty "wall" that's beside the flowers in the vase. Hmmm...

Now the other side of my living room:

I need to replace those "dingy" blue pillows. I sewed them myself about 20 years ago and they used to match my "old" couch. My plan is to sew about 6 or 7 pillows for this couch to make it more comfortable. Notice my kitty? I can always tell the sign of a clean room as he likes to curl up in clean spaces.

I find the photos somewhat misleading. Considering the amount of work I accomplished here, I would have figured there would be more to show. I have to say that I notice photos show "everything" and it doesn't look too bad. Maybe that's something...

My living room is the first place people see when they enter my home. There's no indoor porch or landing so once you step in, you're there. Keeping my front door area uncluttered has always been a challenge.

What do you do with all the boots, coats, etc? I bought this at IKEA and I find it's a lifesaver!

It keeps all the shoes self-contained. I used to have about 30 pairs of shoes at the door. Now, if the shoes don't fit in the cubby, I move them into storage. I find that 6 slots are sufficient for 4 people. I can often fit more than one pair of shoes in each slot. I placed baskets in two of the cubby holes to hold hats, scarves and mitts in the winter. I do find that the top of the shoerack tends to be a catch all for backpacks, etc., but I clear this daily. The surface makes a nice "resting place" when you come in to take off your boots. One day, I'd love to put a cushion on top.
As for the coats, I hang them on pegs in the hallway going downstairs to the basement.
I find this arrangement keeps my front door area clear.

Monday, April 2, 2007

I was about to blog about this on my knitting/crochet blog and realized that this is the better spot for it. It's all part of my plan to become better organized and I've been planning my menus since November. Here's this week's plan:

Tuesday - Vegetarian Chili (hmmm, I'd love to try a crockpot recipe for this one)
Wednesday - Hotdogs/fries
Thursday - BBQ Chicken wings
Friday - Leftovers/pizza
Saturday - Meatloaf
Sunday - It's Easter (we're having turkey and ham)
Monday - Leftovers again, of course!

I get rave reviews about my meatloaf. It's super simple and fast and my kids (who are very picky) actually ask for this dish to be put on the menu. I've used this recipe for almost 8 years now.

Home photos to follow in next post. :-)