Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TO-DO LIST-8-29-12

I'm starting a new series here... After all this is supposed to be a chronicle of all my "doings," both for me and for YOU: my three or four readers. :) (Thanks, by the way!) 
1. Kid-proof 


all drawers that hold:  knives, lighters, meat skewers, tape, keys, change, jewelry supplies, receipts (that was ugly), socks, important files (Caught the Bug reading our 2011 tax return??), bobby pins, toothpaste, fingernail clippers, corkscrews, stickers, um yeah, just pretty much the whole house. Certain little sticky fingers have suddenly gotten longer and higher. Damn you, vitamins and minerals! 

2. Organize garage. It is a shit-storm-and-a-HALF. 

You can't have two crafty people living in the house without some build up of projects/clutter/old furniture/paint/baby stuff. For posterity's sake I'm posting a picture--so you know that my house doesn't always look all cute and designery. Like pretty much all things in our lives, it can all be blamed on having a kid. Typical scenario: Run to garage, find project, complete as fast as possible, so as to relieve other parent, make a meal, get work done, sleep, take care of kid, repeat. Final step: drop all supplies of said project right where you stand and leave for the next person to trip over and dig through for next project. 

3. Finish painting hallway. 
Remember this project: 

Yeah, well the part you didn't see is that I ran out of paint at the top of the stairs and the opposite wall has looked like this for almost two months and whilst we had company staying with us: No Joke. 
And the brownish olive color gives the "I love you" note a Poop smear quality. Not good. 

4. Stock the shop for the holidays. 

This is only my second year of my Etsy shop and last Christmas I made nearly half of my yearly earnings from November to January. This year I want to double the product, and in a variety of prices and styles, so that YOU, my loyal readers, (one, two, three. . .)can buy all of your beautifully-wrapped, handmade goodies in one shot. First step: Commit to working for an hour each night after the Bug goes to bed instead of drinking wine (See last week's post) and bingeing on "How I met your mother" episodes with the Man.  Okay, maybe just three nights a week. Here'a a glimpse of a few new styles.






5. Enjoy some time outside. 

Temps have dropped to the 90s here in lovely ATX. You can come out now, people. 

**Sidenote..it should be said that item 1 will probably be pawned off on the Man. I will let you know how I/we do this week...

Cheers
~Rachel

Thursday, August 23, 2012

NEED GREENS WILL TRAVEL


Groan. A fun visit from my mom during her birthday (all she wanted was some "Bug time") led to too much salt, wine, and sugar.  
Bug loves Gammie

Having company at your home tends to lead to lots of "celebration" meals and overindulgence. I feel lumpy, tired, creaky and old. I need some serious green smoothie action over here and I need to hit the yoga mat in a big way (Class tonight!!).
I make a pretty traditional spinach green smoothie with banana, avacado, apple juice, parsely, etc.. and vary it based on what I have, but it can get a little dull so I tried a variation that turned out pretty awesome: The Thai Basil Smoothie

We have tons of Thai basil and mint growing in the garden, so I made the traditional recipe but threw in a handful of these herbs with a small (And I mean SMALL, people) slice of fresh red chili and added 1/2 cup of pineapple (I just used one of the Bug's fruit cups as a cheater).   I am a Thai food junkie so I looooved it. Give it a whirl. I will be eating green stuff until I don't feel like an 80 year old lump of poo. 

In other foodie news, the Man and I decided to decrease our farm deliveries to every other week. At the end of the hot season, it has been nothing but greens, squash, okra, and beets for several weeks with only slight variations. While I love the "weird" veggies, it's hard to eat them every week. Instead we've been taking our same dollar amount and going to their actual farm stand and getting more variety. It's working well, but I am looking forward to the big bounty coming from the delivery on Friday. 
I made a slight variation of this stuffed squash recipe this week:
image source
It's also Hatch Pepper season in Texas...YUM.
image source

Its an excellent time to shop sample Saturday at your grocery store in these parts. They put those Hatch-tasties in EVERYTHING. My fave: Hatch chile cornbread: 
image source
I made muffins using the recipe on the corn meal bag in my pantry and just added the hatch chilies and topped with a bit of cheese. They were so good and the Bug gobbled them up (hers were plain). I think I am going to make these every week and sub the chilies for chopped/smooshed frozen veggies and call them "cookies." Tricky.  While I am loading up on green, the Bug is still boycotting green. So it goes..

Cheers
~Rachel









Wednesday, August 15, 2012

MOM SURVIVAL 101

source

I constantly read posts from some of my favorite bloggers of carefully curated lists of the best in baby/child products--things that hard-working moms (or dads!) absolutely could not live without. I have decided to compile my own list but with a special twist. This survival kit is not full of expensive carriers, super fancy strollers, or 8000 thread-count onesies. It's a list of simple, silly things that keep me from going completely beserk on a day to day basis since becoming a full-time mama. 

So here it is... My TOP TEN MOM SURVIVAL items. In no particular order and subject to change at a moments notice. 

1. NETFLIX. 
Streaming four seasons of Curious George, six seasons of Babar, seven seasons of Sesame Street, two seasons of Yo Gabba Gabba, Busytown, Strawberry Shortcake, Wonder Pets, etc. Pretty much an endless supply of reasonably appropriate shows for kids of all ages at your command. Several are from PBS, hopefully slowing the stupidifying process, and eliminating the need for me to purchase expensive DVDs of Disney princesses gone bad. (Ariel, I love you, but you're a brat!). I don't condone TV parenting, but I literally could not shower, cook, write this post, or pee without Netflix, and all for around $10 a month. 
And when I get the Bug into bed for the night, the Man and I can binge on Vampire Diaries, Weeds, and Anthony Bourdain. Tony, I heart you.  


2. PANDORA

Seriously, people. If you don't know about this, get a clue. You sign up with an email address in about 2 seconds. You type in a song/artist/album etc. that you are in the mood for and it creates a playlist with similar characteristics. You can create up to 100 "stations" for free. Some of my favorites: Dawes radio, Zen Garden Radio(when we need some serious pre-nap CALM DOWN time), Latin Groove Radio (great for cooking, cleaning and pretending you are Salma Hayek), and Billie Holiday Radio (For transporting me to a little candlelit bistro in Paris when in reality, I am getting splattered with banana and eating leftovers). 
Every hour you hear a little local advertisement but it is a fraction of what you hear on actual radio stations. It's the greatest and we use it every day. 

3. The DOLLAR STORE. 


Yes, you may run into the occasional crazy person. And yes, the carts have security devices on them so that people don't roll the carts to the parking lot and never come back. But, why would you ever pay more than a dollar for any of those boring, mundane, items like storage bins, cleaning sponges, and super glue? The dollar store makes my house more organized, my kid more occupied, and frees up the Target budget for cute pillows and purty candles and stuff. 

Not to mention the fact that they have an absurd selection of hot wheels cars ("Sit in the cart like a big girl, and mommy will let you pick out a car!"), coloring books, office supplies, wrapping paper, tissue, and my personal favorite..Movie star sunglasses.  I can buy 5 pair and leave them all over the house. Also solves problems of dark circles under eyes. I leave with a cart full of items every time I go in there. Thanks for shopping Dollar Tree, your total comes to........$12.  And, I still have a dollar to give to the homeless lady in the parking lot. Yes, we can. 

4. ZIPLOC BAGS

Especially those little 100 calorie pack ones--they use less plastic and they are the perfect size for a "to-go" portion of chopped cheese, goldfish crackers, carrots, fruit, noodles,etc. They also seal in the food so that if your kid eats pasta at the restaurant, and you forget you packed some food in your purse and a month later you find it in the bottom under a gaggle of Dollar Store receipts, you can just THROW IT AWAY. Not that this ever happened..uh..yeah. I try to minimize my disposables as much as possible but using these is less wasteful than throwing out the Tupperware you just ruined by leaving chopped cheddar in your bag(again, hypothetical). 
source

PS..they sell these at the dollar store. See #3. (ziplocs not Poshes)

5. TORTILLAS. 

source
I've always been a fan, but now that I live in Texas, tacos are a way of life. Especially since H.E.B., our big grocery store makes tortillas fresh all day long. My kid--like most kids--is a cheese-aholic. I'm lucky, she likes a wide variety of healthy foods, but every so often she is boycotting green things. Solution: Quesadillas. You can smoosh up just about any vegetable, hide it under a layer of cheese on a tortilla, toast it for a few minutes, fold in half, and WALLAH. Your kid eats broccoli. Also works for small "pizzas."  For the Man and me: "Leftover" enchiladas, tacos, turkey wraps, you name it.  It's the Austin sandwich. 

6. THRIFT STORES. 

Are you seeing a trend here? I'm cheap--but I'm also creative. I'm not cheap about everything. I'm more than willing to spend serious ching on organic food, travel, dinner dates, concert tickets, etc, but we exist on one income--a teacher's salary--and being thrifty is a must.  Thrift stores provide ENDLESS sources for home decor, gently used clothing, household items, and the like--all within budget. I purchase TONS of jewelry supplies there. Probably 3/4 of the Bug's wardrobe has come from thrift stores and she always looks adorable for under $2.00. Proof:


I've purchased tons of stuff like this tree house play set for under $5: 


It was missing the animals. I soaped it, hosed it down and paired it up with some of her favorite little characters and animals. She loves it and I rotate different ones daily.  For those of you lucky enough to live in a town with a Savers (angel choir in background "laaaaaa"), they give you a 20% off coupon for your entire purchase, if you bring in a bag of donations. Their children's books are 5 for $1.  Otherwise, there is always Goodwill. 

Half of the projects on this blog are thrift store finds that I "Rach-ified" (as the Man calls it). As well as saving money, I love the thrill of the hunt. Typical conversation in my house:  RANDOM GUEST: "Oh I just love your lamp" ME: "Thanks, Savers. Four dollars."  I wish I could be more mysterious but its just too exciting to tell.  Thrift stores, you rock my world. Don't even get me started on colored tag day. 

7. CROCS.

I know...ICK, right?! When those horrible, neon, clunky, holey, things first came out, I thought, "Are you KIDDING me?" I wanted to yell "Eraser foot!" and push people down when I saw them. Then, I found these. 



Comfortable, with traction for playing at the park. Washable, for kids who fling yogurt at you. Cool, have holes, but protect my toes and hide neglected pedicure. And LEOPARD print, creating the illusion of being stylish, while actually being super lazy. The best part is that I got them at Savers for $9. See #6.  I may fork over the money and purchase some new ones as mine are getting brutalized. They are just too good for Mom duty. 

8. DOG. 

He drives me nuts. He barks. He whines. He steals food off the counter. He gets bent out of shape about the mail EVERY single flippin' day.  Someone once told me that once I had a baby, our dog would become the evil stepchild. It is sooo true.  But...he also let's me know when there is a stranger within 50 yards of the house, when the Bug is entering "off limits" territory, like the laundry area or the pantry that I didn't close. He chases big scary snakes out of the yard (okay, there was only one but it still counts), and since she has been in a food-flinging phase lately, he does excellent pre-wash by quickly gobbling up any noodle/bean/fruit/yogurt/cereal that goes airborne before it even has time to congeal on a surface. Get on board with dog spit if you have children.  It helps.

9. THE TREASURE BOX. 



Nope, not a dirty sex toy store... A small wicker basket on top of the fridge, filled with silly treasures like old metal cookie cutters, a tiny flashlight, rubber animals, stickers, and other fascinating weird bits that come down only on special occasions or emergencies when I just don't know what the hell to do with the her anymore. I rotate the items and use it mostly in the last hour before hubby gets home, when the troops are restless and mama needs help. Immediately see #10. 

10. REX GOLIATH CABERNET SAUVIGNON 



$4.99 available at the Texaco on the corner. Delicious and cheap. Because mamas work hard. Goes well with #1. 

Cheers
~Rachel






Monday, August 13, 2012

BLUE MONDAYS 8-13-12 OTTOMAN

Oh the neglect... It has been almost two weeks since I have checked in here. In our busy lives, choosing priorities carefully is more important than ever. I have been busy cleaning, cooking, organizing, and caring for my home and family and not so busy telling you about it! Many projects to share..starting with this ottoman project for a "before and after" version of BLUE MONDAYS. Remember this big blue uggo?

I bought this piece ($9.99 whoop) with the intention of recovering it to my liking while serving the dual purpose of living room coffee table/footrest, while also being toddler-proof. Tall Order. I had purchased a set of twin sheets in juicy leopard and used the flat sheet for this project. 

First, I stripped the layer of blue gross-o-fiber off the top. After using it for a few weeks, we decided it needed more squish. Nothing like propping your feet up and hitting the plywood underneath. I purchased an inexpensive bag of quilt batting from craft store (Hobby Lobby, you complete me), and layered it over the existing foam, which was in good condition. I stapled the batting just over the edge of the surface, knowing it would be covered up anyway. 
Then, I took my flat sheet and cut a large overlapping square for the top piece, opened it up and stapled the piece to the underside edge of the top. Pulling it tight and alternating sides to keep it even is key. TIP: Using a random pattern that doesn't require being perfectly straight is also pretty important unless you are a PRO. 

I didn't get fussy. In fact the underside kind of looks like a trainwreck, but it is hidden inside, and I can go back and add some trim to clean it up later. Next, I did the ends. I cut squares to fit and wrapped them slightly around the corners, knowing I would put square panels on the sides to cover it in the end. I flipped it and stapled again. 

I then cut panels to fit the sides which will really be the most visible. I stapled inside and then folded the edges and pulled it super tight to disguise the seams of the end panels. This vertical seam on the corners is not stapled, only folded and pulled taut. I then stapled the bottom like the others. Here is the finished goods. I plan to add some sassy trim in a contrasting color, and maybe some nail heads if they come my way. All in good time, and you'll be the first to know. 
For you keen observers, you probably also noticed that I got a new rug!! The el cheapo zebra shag (see first photo) served its purpose but it was time to upgrade. The Man and I found this one, at Ikea, believe it or not. It is beautiful, soft, and echoes the pattern of the entry way wall, which is visible from this area. It has kind of a cool, retro vibe, so it works well with our vintage furniture, but the pattern is modern and helps balance the look. Best of all it has lots of "roads" in the pattern for the Bug to drive her matchbox cars on. Brilliant. Kid tested. Dog approved. 


Hope your week is a bit less blue. 
Cheers
~Rachel