WFMW: I need help in the kitchen!

I have a few questions that I really, really hope some of you can help me with!

Kitchen Question Number 1: I would really like to get a toaster oven. I know nothing about toaster ovens, I just know I want one. What should I be looking for? Do you have one that you love?  What is your favorite thing to make in one?

Kitchen Question Number 2: What is the easiest way you’ve found to organize coupons?  I already use the electronic ones, but would like to use the ones I’m clipping from the newspapers too.  I just don’t know what to do with them once I’ve cut them out, other than to put them into useless piles.

Kitchen Question Number 3:  We entertain a lot in the summer.  Usually it’s an impromptu gathering for cocktails on the patio. Cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, and salsa and chips are the usual fare, and they’re getting a little old. Do you have a favorite summer snack you like to serve to guests?

Please share with me what Works For You, and afterwards hop on over to We Are THAT Family to offer your wisdom to dilemmas others are having. Thanks so much for your help!

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Finally! A Mother’s Day Gift Idea

My poor mom. Over the years she’s had to endure some less than thoughtful Mother’s Day gifts. Last minute gift pilgrimage’s to 7/11 doesn’t inspire the most wonderful gifts. (Boone’s Farm, anyone?) It’s not that I don’t love her. It’s just…well…you know. It’s hard to shop for someone who runs out and buys whatever she wants or needs, the minute she wants or needs it. (That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.)

Happily, this year is going to be different for her. Today my toddler and I are painting a flower-pot for her as her “Happy Mother’s Day, Grandma” gift. I even have the cute little plant to pop into it. It’s bound to warm the cockles of her grandmotherly heart.

 For her “Happy Mother’s Day Mom” gift, she’s getting a gift certificate for… Missus Smartpants . For those not familiar with Missus Smartypants, it’s a service provided by a wonderful woman named Leslie for those of us who need a little help with our wardrobes. To check her out, you can sign up for her free weekly newsletter. The newsletter includes “style missions” that are a great reminder to focus on yourself at least once a week. 

 My mom is the type of woman who is constantly giving or doing for others. I’m pretty happy about finding a “selfish” gift for her. And as long as I remember to pick up a card, I’m also pretty happy about not making my annual pilgrimage to 7/11.

[Full disclosure: I am not being paid to promote Missus Smartypants. As far as I know, Missus Smartypants does not know I, let alone my little blog, exist.]

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He Never Promised Me A Herb Garden

I was wandering around my backyard last week, admiring the spring bulbs that had flowered. The hostas that I had planted the week before Easter started making their appearance. The fruit trees were in full bloom and gorgeous. It was a happy moment, and I felt pretty pleased with all the work my husband and I have done  over the 17 years we’ve lived here.  And then I turned the corner and saw it.  You can’t help but see it. The eye sore of the yard. The cause of bickering between my husband and me over the past few years.

It’s supposed to be a flower bed that runs the length of the walkway that connects the backyard gate to our back door. The previous owner had put railroad ties along the length of it to make it a raised bed. Over the years, we’ve stuck a couple of rose bushes in it, a couple of dwarf fruit trees, and a few spring bulbs. In short, it’s a hodge-podge of shtuff. To top it all off, the railroad ties have shifted over the years, claiming more and more of the walkway.

A few years ago, I decided I wanted to plant herbs in there. It’s right off the kitchen, so how convenient would that be? Before I could have fun planting, though, I wanted my husband to put the railroad ties back where they belong. (For those not familiar with railroad ties, they are long square logs that are heavy as all get-out. I have three of them along that flowerbed.) Before he would do that, my husband wanted me to transplant the spring bulbs. And round and round we would go about who needed to do what to get this project started, let alone finished.

When I looked at the eye sore last week, I heaved a sigh and thought, Hmpf! Since he’s not here, this is going to be another year it’s not going to get done. Immediately after that thought, came another one that pulled me up short:

When the hell did I become helpless?

Trust me, I’ve done a heck of a lot harder things in my life  than shifting a couple of railroad ties a few inches to get something I wanted.  Why I thought I couldn’t do this little project without my husband is beyond me.

And a “little project” was exactly what it turned out to be. Transplanting bulbs, moving dirt aside, shifting the railroad ties over five inches, and planting the herbs took all of three hours. Not only did I do this by myself, but with a toddler “helping” (and adding “replanting hostas” onto the project list).

Now whenever I look at the former eye sore, I grin. It’s going to be nice having such a gorgeous reminder of what a waste of time self-imposed helplessness is.

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WFMW: Mini Flylady Control Journal

 

 

I’ve been following  Flylady’s system for almost 9 years now. It’s been great! Most of her ideas work really well around here. One that didn’t, though, was making a control journal out of a binder. It took up too much space if I left  it out on my counter or table. It looked like clutter. And using a binder was an invitation to me to toss rogue papers into it. More clutter. 

Enter my cute little control journal! I picked up a checkbook sized photo album and inserted notecards into the slots. Using Flylady’s control journal as a guideline, I was able to make a control journal the was just right for me. Check it out! 

 

A mini control journal works for me! Check out what’s working for others at We Are THAT Family!

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Three Weeks…

Three weeks is the amount of time it takes me to get used to any change in my schedule. Kids going back to school or starting summer vacation, my going back to work or quitting a job, getting accustomed to my husband being home all the time when he was first laid off…you get the idea. It takes me three weeks to go from total bewilderment to a new happy groove.

My latest situation has been no exception. A little over three weeks ago we had some good news/bad news around here. The good news: my husband went back to work for a construction company that has numerous jobs lined up that will give him enough work for at least a year. The bad news: those local jobs don’t start until June or July. Until then he’ll be working in Georgia. We live in Michigan.  He was given a few days to pack, drive down to Georgia, and report for work.

I know this is a great opportunity. I know we’re lucky he has a job. I know this is our choice. I also know this separation sucks. I’ve never had a greater respect for military wives, and I’m not even going through a tenth of what they do.

Back to talking about adapting to my current situation. Today marks the end of the third week since my husband left. It’s been… interesting.

Week 1: A frenzy. Two outings with girlfriends that were planned ages before the new job came up. Recovering from not just my husband’s departure, but also hosting Easter dinner for 20+ of our family and friends. And a realization of exactly how much my husband does around here.

Week 2: Acceptance. Started to get the hang of what slack I need to pick up, and what I could delegate to the teenagers. Cancelling some appointments, rearranging others. A false sense of calm descended.

Week 3: The Glitches. Where to start? How about with the toe I stubbed, and looked like I had broken. My beloved hairstylist quitting  without letting me know. My toddler getting sick. The stove dying. The bank confusing me with someone else, and bouncing my payments. And, just to make things a little more interesting, let’s toss in a couple of emotional whammies: receiving my toddler’s preschool enrollment packet for next fall, and my oldest turning 20. Those two events happened within two days of each other.

Now we’re entering week 4, and the new groove is starting to show its self.  This morning I woke up with a clear game plan for the weeks ahead. All glitches from last week have been resolved. I got through the emotional stuff without getting a tatoo, or at the very least curling up in a fetal position with a bottle of vodka. I’m ready to embrace this  “happily married single parent” phase of my life.  But I can’t wait for my next three-week adjustment when my husband comes home.

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A Little Link Love…

Well hellooooo, stranger! One day I will figure out how those awesome bloggers keep going when life throws them a curve ball. Until then, I’ll settle for sending myself on guilt trips for neglecting you all.

I may not have been writing, but I have been reading. And I just had to share what’s been showing up in my reader…

Amy over at Earnest Parenting has written her first book! I’ve admired Amy for years, and cannot wait to read Fun & Free Activities For Families on a Budget. Her timing is perfect!

If Gretchen ever hosts any of these carnivals over at Second Blooming, I swear I’ll start another blog so I can participate twice.

I stumbled across Diane Denmark about a month ago, and have been going back ever since for a daily smile.

Finally,  I saw these binders and had to run out to get the supplies to set up my own immediately! (And by “immediately” I mean I have the stuff now, and hope to accomplish them before my toddler enters kindergarten.)

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Friday Fun! March Movies…

This month’s movie picks were definitely influenced by my March Madness and cabin fever. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

What About Bob? I haven’t felt this sorry for Richard Dreyfuss since he left the shark cage in Jaws.

The Dream Team  Ahhhh…always good to hang out with Michael Keaton! Christopher Lloyd steals the show, though.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Jack Nicholson’s best character ever. Look for Christopher Lloyd in this one, too.

Shawshank Redemption Yep, we’re going from the nut house to the big house.

Last Castle There’s few that are cooler than Robert Redford.

The Longest Yard I’m talking about the original with Burt Reynolds. Eddie Albert was a fabulous creep!

 

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