Monday, September 28, 2009

Total frickin' awesomeness apple pie

The secret is vanilla.

There. I told you. That's all you get. Because I'm not sharing this pie. It's mine. You may not have a piece. You may just beg and drool and cry and be jealous and hate me because I'm not sharing.

I'm going to eat the whole thing all by myself. In the dark. With a large spoon. Where my family won't find me. Then I'll wash the dish. And dry it and put it away. And they won't know that the whole pie is gone until they find me in a near-coma, belly swollen, little dribble of cinnamon on my chin, babbling "oh. oh. oh. must eat pie. must not tell anyone. need more apples."

And then they will cry and beat their heads with their fists and scream at me and collapse in anguish.

Cuz I ate the rest of the pie.

It's that frickin' good.

And I'm not even going to have a glass of (soy)milk with it. Not even a scoop of vanilla So Delicious soy cream. Not a single thing gets between my lips and that pie.

Mmmmmm.... pie.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Adventures of SteamMop!

My kids love infomercials. Whoever had the idea to place infomercials for household products during kids' programming on Nickelodeon is a genius, because I can't be the only mom that is hounded for stuff like Debbie Myer's Green Bags (got them), the Betty Crocker 100-piece Cake Decorating Kit (got it), and now the Shark Steam Pocket Mop, of which we are now the proud owners.

My middle child is particularly enthralled with the boisterous claims of pitchmen like Billy Mays (may he rest in peace), but I am not so fascinated, having my doubts about the quality or durability of these items. So when one day she hollered at me to come see this mop commercial while I was cooking dinner, I brushed her off. The next morning, she found me changing the baby's diaper -- "Mom! Mom! The Shark Steam Pocket Mop is on TV again! The one I told you about yesterday! It makes smoke! Come see!" I protested, "But I'm changing the baby! Hang on!" She screamed from the other room, "I PAUSED IT!" Ah, this is why we got Tivo, to make sure we don't miss an infomercial?!

Moments later I obliged her desperate pleading and watched the commercial. Oh. My. Gosh. I was instantly hooked. I had heard of steam mops before, even considered buying one last year when we got the Hoover FloorMate Hard Floor Cleaner. But I wasn't convinced then. Now, I was.

The "smoke" was actually steam pushed out of the reversible cleaning head through the microfiber towel that was washable and reusable. The unit looked light and portable, simple and chemical-free. On the other hand, the Hoover FloorMate was big, cumbersome, needed expensive chemical solutions and made A LOT of noise. I had only used the Hoover a handful of times because it was a pain to set up, slow to move around, didn't get the floor that clean, and was gross to take apart and clean out when I was done. The Shark was so easy in comparison.

I was sold.

Within an hour I had located my original receipt for the Hoover and called the store. I told them I had a FloorMate that I didn't like, and the employee simply said, "Then bring it back." I replied that I didn't have the original box, and she said, "Don't need it. Just bring it back." Woohoo for Bed Bath and Beyond's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee!

By the afternoon, I exchanged the Hoover for the Shark Steam Pocket Mop (not only was it in stock at BB&B, but it was cheaper than the other machine, so they gave me store credit for the difference!). I assembled it right away and took it to the kitchen. My kids were so excited, they started begging me for a turn to use it. I ran the first pass over my floor. Whoa. I knew my floors needed a good mopping, but we were all amazed at how clean they got (and how gross the pad was.) The next day, my kids were asking to mop the kitchen again. And the next day, we took turns mopping our tiny hall bathroom. By the fourth day, all the tile floors in the house were sparkling and the kids were trying to get the baby to drop food on the floor so they would have an excuse to mop.


Later in the week, we visited our favorite grocery store, where there is a kids' club playarea, supervised by a childcare worker. My kids love Miss Nicole and beg me to shop at this one store so they can play there. I must not have taken long enough with my coupons during the shopping trip, because when I finished checking out and went to pick them up, my middle child threw herself on the floor and refused to leave.

She wailed, "I didn't get enough time to play!"

I told her, "If you don't get up right now, you won't get to mop the bathroom when we get home!"

She bounced up, put on her shoes and proclaimed, "Okay, I'm ready to go!"

Nicole's jaw dropped. She turned to me with a stunned look and asked, "How did you DO that?"

I answered, "It's not me. It's the steam mop."

"Home Workspace Remodel," or "How to Find Things You Didn't Know You Lost," or "Losing 100 Pounds in Just One Day (I Mean Pounds of Junk)"

My "Year of Decluttering:" the year is proceeding at a much faster pace than the decluttering is.

The kitchen was first, and was mostly done by the time January was over. Next was the "pink" room, where I took a bin's worth of stuff out and the girls didn't even notice. In March I tackled the baby's room and in one Sunday afternoon made a huge dent in there, but it didn't really come together until we got the toddler bed in June. April and May were both assigned to the "computer room" because of the massive task it was going to be.

It's now July. Um, it's not done, but I am very proud to do a partial "reveal."

Here is the "Before" picture of our desks/workspace. It was a frustrating mess of paper, it was hard to find anything and depressing to look at. See why it took two extra months to get going on this part of the decluttering?

Here is the "After" picture of our new desks and shelving units, now nicely stocked and no longer intimidating:

The new workspace is clean, organized (what an overused but precise word), inviting and serene. The stuff we want to keep is neatly put away on the shelves, we can find important things like pens, rechargable batteries, notepaper and the pencil sharpener. There is deskspace to be able to actually get some work done--indeed, I have been catching up with some postponed paperwork (and blogging) instead of just surfing the Internet. It feels so much better to be able to overcome a hurdle like this one and throw/recycle/shred away 100 pounds of paper in just one week!

There is still more to be done in the room. Some of the paper in the "Before" picture still has to be dealt with (filing and storing, but much less of it than before) and I would like to reclaim my sewing table from the pile of little projects that need gluing, mending and tying up of loose ends (crochet ends, that is). For now, I am happy to reveal this half of the room and spend the rest of July on the other half.

You may be asking, "What were June and July's project rooms, eh?" Well, June was an "Off" month, a built-in break for vacations, summer activities, and catching up--yes, I anticipated needing the extra time for the previous project rooms. July was designated for the Master Bedroom, and August for the Family Room. The kids will be back in school next month, so I think it will be a two-fer.

Look out August! I am on a roll!

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Toddler Guide to Throwing Tantrums

1. Tantrums are useful for getting your point across, especially in public places. Which point? Anything that makes you upset: hunger, thirst, feeling tired, boredom, dropping Mommy's keys in the back of the cart and nobody noticing, not getting that balloon by the greeting card section and it gets farther and farther away.

2. Learn to tantrum as soon as you learn to walk. Wobbliness helps with the dramatic display and brings someone to you very quickly because they don't want you to fall and hurt yourself.

3. A word on falling: do it carefully. Avoid things like tile floors, concrete, stairs, baseboards, toilets, bathtubs, stools, edges of beds or sofas. Those are hard objects and they hurt when you smash into them.

4. Good surfaces for tantrums include carpet floors, piles of dirty laundry, soft bedding and Daddy's tummy.

5. Proper technique is key. Start with a pouty lip and loud cry. Drop your head to the floor (remember to put out your hands or you end up with a goosegg on your forehead), then swing your hips and roll onto the floor, letting your shoulder and your diaper absorb the impact. Close your eyes and wail. Scream out all your air and gasp for breath. Usually by this time someone is trying to pick you up, so let all your muscles go limp and flop backwards. If the item you want is not being wiggled in front of your face, wail again. Repeat until you are bored or an acceptable alternative is offered.

6. Effective complementary techniques at getting what you want: go quiet for a moment and narrow your eyes at the person closest to you, giving them an extreme feeling of guilt; go find a sibling or grandparent to retrieve what you want; remember where the item is and later learn to climb to reach it.

7. Lastly, remember that even though you're the baby, you are still "da boss."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Grrrr, I'm an Ogre!

Shrek baby hat:

He looks adorable in it, but he won't model it! He will only keep it on his head if his ears are cold. His real ears, not the Shrek ones.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I took the Wardrobe Refashion Pledge

The Pledge

I, The Incompetent Homemaker, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed, The Incompetent Homemaker.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Camera Case

I made this camera case for my new 8.0MP Samsung compact camera that Santa brought me. (Lucky me!)

I didn't want another bulky case, because I want to keep this camera in my purse, but I didn't want to just drop the camera in those dangerous waters either. So I picked up some scrap fleece that was lying around here and whipped up this little case. The fleece is double-layered inside, with only the sides sewn together, so the inner, smaller square creates two pockets that I use for storing batteries. Two layers of soft fleece provide just enough padding for my needs. I also made a similar case with three layers for my 8-year-old's new camera, which makes her case bulkier but safer.

I leave the strap out for ease of carrying the camera. These are so quick and easy, I just might make more of them for gifts or craft swap.

Happy New (and Thrifty) Year!

January first. The perfect day to go to... Goodwill! Why? Because it's open and it's Dollar Day!

I felt inspired to pick up some new clothes for my new size and the new year. I found three pairs of pants and four shirts for a dollar each. And... this handmade skirt for a buck.

It's an interesting skirt. It's a wraparound skirt, with a buttonhole on the waistband for one strap to fit through and ties in the front. The color in the photo is a bit off, but it's a pretty salmon color, with a white butterfly-and-riverbank pattern on the front panel. The other two panels are the same solid salmon color. It fits nicely, so I might copy it for other skirts!

The sewing is very well done. You can tell a lot of care went into creating this skirt. I always wonder why people get rid of handmade items that were crafted with such love and care (there are always tons of afgans in the thrift stores and not all ugly).
I was originally looking for offbeat clothing items to re-do, but I think this skirt should stay as it is. Now I just need to figure out which top to wear with it.