8.28.2014

So Long Irritating Rugs...

I love my bathroom rugs. They are approximately 2ft x 3ft, are more than an inch thick and ridiculously soft.

And I'm getting rid of them today.

Why?

BECAUSE I HATE WASHING THEM.

From reading lots of "simple living" blogs, and minimalist blogs, and the book "Clutterfree With Kids," I've come to the conclusion that I just need to rid myself of the things that irritate me in my house. I hate cleaning. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before. No? Yes, I'm sure that I have.

I tossed the dirty, disgusting dog bone rug that I hated vacuuming a few weeks ago. I've never been happier just to run the Dyson around the perimeter of the kitchen and then use the Bona mop with water/vinegar/essential oils. Now it takes me much less time to clean the kitchen.

I keep reading over and over again: less stuff = less stress

I'm thinking that I really like that idea. A lot.

And those damn bathroom rugs. I just can't sacrifice my sanity anymore for the luxury of my feet. I'm done. I bought a super small, more towel-like rug for the first floor bathroom which means that I can toss it into the washer with a load of towels instead of saving up rugs to do at once and shake my fist at the washing machine every.single.time I wash rugs. I'm done with one less stress and irritation.

I know that I bought something new, but I'm donating 3 rugs in place of one. I think it evens itself out. And why on earth did I have 3 rugs? Blerg. Consumerism, right? You see something that you think you have to have and buy it only to realize that it really just sucks the fun out of you.

So now as I wait listening closely for those damn rugs to unbalance the washer, I'm getting more and more excited to toss those rugs into my donate box.

My road to a de-cluttered house is turning into more fun by the week as I shed items that bring me more stress than I thought.

**************

Do you need a de-cluttering challenge today? If so, do you have an item that causes you stress and irritation when you clean it or take care of it? How does it make your life better? In what ways do you justify to keep it? What would happen if you didn't have it? Could you live without it? Is there something else that you have that does the job better?

Are you going to sell it or donate it?

Feel free to comment with your "irritating item" and what you decided to do with it...

8.26.2014

Shelf By Shelf, Item By Item - Hall Closet

Slowly but surely I'm working up to cleaning out the office, and whatever else I can.

It feels great to make little accomplishments though, and do them in 5 minutes or less which definitely doesn't make cleaning and de-cluttering feel like a chore. I have no schedule, just more of what looks like needs to be de-cluttered and cleaned gets done.

Maybe I should have a schedule?

No, I don't do well with self-set schedules. They don't quite make sense to me, as I don't know where to start and I may not have 15-30 minutes to do something on that day, nor might I feel like tackling a whole room.

Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

Which is why I share with you my two shelves that I cleared out this morning in under 10 minutes. Thanks, to Curious George on PBS I had time. WOO HOO.

However, since I really wasn't sure what was even in these shelves (because I just kept putting things in and not taking them out....), I really didn't know what I would find.

I kept a pile of bags to use for gifts, but I think I might go through them one more time and toss store-specific bags. I don't want to put a gift in a bag that doesn't correspond to the store. And I gave Simone two of the smallest bags so she can pretend to "shop" with her shopping cart at home too.

I do need to keep tissue paper. I ship all of my crochet wrapped in tissue paper, attach the invoice, etc... so that is all staying. The square basket will have to be sorted through again another time because somehow spare parts to pretty much everything were in there and not in a tool box (nails, braids, hardware, weird Ikea tools, etc...). I don't know if those things will need to be saved or not. I guess if they haven't been used in years, then I can toss.

But they look better than before. I didn't take a before picture. I didn't even think about it.

Just an FYI - The Monkey thinks Clinique's Be More Happy stinks so I tossed it. It smells like an old lady. Too bad I sprayed myself with it because I couldn't remember what it smelled like.



Freezing Fresh Corn

I LOVE fresh sweet corn. And so does The Monkey and Bimmer Man. I don't feel like I've bought enough of it this year though so I bought 5 ears of fresh, organic sweet corn from the Linden Hills Co-op last week. I opted to freeze it since I have to cut the corn from the cob for the Monkey to eat. 

I don't look at ears of corn when I buy it anymore. After not being able to pick my own ears from belonging to a CSA, I just don't bother to look. Organic corn can have worm damage and sometimes the worms are still alive - that's because there's either no pesticides used on the corn or less harsh or natural pesticides or something else is being used as a pesticide or herbicide (the label "organic" doesn't mean "no pesticide/herbicide" it means there is something else being used in place of the bad pesticides/herbicides, it may be an organic pesticide or a natural pesticide or a different type of farming, I'm not an expert at the organic labels though, so this is just the basic explanation). 

Just cut off the worm damage and carry on with your normal corn cooking routine. 

For freezing, I just boil the corn for a few minutes and then cut it off the cob, freeze it flat in a Ziploc bag (I need to find something to freeze stuff in flat instead of Ziploc bags!). 



The corn above has worm damage, I was surprised that the worm wasn't in the corn. Just chop off the damage and continue on...


Out of the 5 ears I had to cut damage off of a few. I don't mind cutting off the damage - if no one buys this corn at the store then it just goes bad. Might as well eat what we can!



After cooking, just stand the corn on one end when cool to the touch and slice off the corn into a bowl.


Nom, nom, nom....

Now we can have fresh corn when it's out of the season!



8.23.2014

Review Series - Part 2 - Arbonne Cosmetics

I didn't buy a whole lot from Arbonne, but I did try a few things.

First, let me tell you about my beauty routine.




Um, yeah, that blank spot... that's it. I don't really have one. Isn't that awful? I thought all women had beauty routines.

I use Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser on my face in the shower, toner at night, toner in the morning, and most definitely Doterra's Melaleuca oil on any random oily spots and zits (especially my forehead and chin after I've been biking!). I still get zits, sometimes bad ones, I still have oily skin in spots, I break out randomly, and I have larger pores than I did when I was younger.

So, since I don't really have a beauty routine, I decided to go ahead and try it.

The Arbonne rep gave me a little sample bag (I think they may be called friendship bags?? Not sure, I didn't pay that much attention...) with the Calm Collection in it.

Let's just say that it didn't go well. I stopped using my usual stuff since the acne stuff doesn't mix well when you use it with other acne products (I get a little itchy, I've used two acne products at once before and I didn't want the same thing to happen again). I don't use much on my face anyway so when I did 3 steps, I'm not sure what did it but my face was as red as a tomato and it seriously looked like I spent hours in the sun without sunblock on. So it didn't go well.

However, there was this gel eye roller thingy that was pretty cool. I used that on its own after my face looked like a tomato and decided I really liked it, so I bought it. In four months, I can see that the bags under my eyes aren't as dark (I use it at night and in the morning), the skin is softer, and I think it's maybe helped combat some wrinkles. Maybe. I'd buy it again. Especially in the winter since my skin gets so dry here in Minnesota.

But here's the catch - I was looking at the bottle and it only lasts 6 months. If you don't use it every night and day, you'll end up tossing a whole lot, so I've really forced myself to use it, which is why I think it's working. I'm really not great at following through with skin routines. If it's easy, you've got a 50/50 chance that I'll continue it.

I also bought eye shadow. I decided to try something new so I bought a green eye shadow. It's ok. By that I mean, I'd much rather spend more money on MAC, Clinique, or STILA. Arbonne's eye shadow is matte and I prefer shimmer shades over matte - I did have to sort of layer it on because it can be pretty powdery depending on what you use to apply it (I used a sponge brush first, hated how it turned out, then used an angled brush, hated that too, and then I used a round small paint brush and I liked that, what can I say? I'm an artist, if I can't find a brush in my make-up bag, then I raid my fabulous assortment of expensive paint brushes!). It's also a single shade so I did apply a layer of a shimmer powder over it. I don't think I'd buy it again, I'll just use it up.

Overall, I would say, if you like trying new beauty products, go for it. Buy something you want to try and let me know how it went. I'm interested in trying the mascara next, but I just bought a new one from Clinique (I buy mascara often, my eyes can tell me when it's old before I even have to look at the expiration dates). I do like trying anti-aging products, but I'm also not interested in paying over $300.00 for a set. I'm not quite that into the anti-aging stuff yet. I will buy the gel stuff again, maybe I'd try out the nutrition bars (but it's $25.00 for 10 bars, when the Luna bars at Target are 6 for $5.00 right now). Maybe if I have extra fun money later this year I'll order a pack.

I've never been to an Arbonne party or anything like that - I just ordered from the rep and put her number into the website when it asked for your information. If you want a referral for any of the products I mentioned, let me know and I'll get you connected.

Have you tried any Arbonne products? What did you try? Did you like them? Would you recommend them? Order again?

8.20.2014

My Recycling Conundrum

First world problems whine, I know.

I know.

I KNOW.

This has been a problem in our house for years. Where do we put the items we need to recycle in our kitchen. Well, we don't use the side door so I just pile up our paper bags in front of it and that's that. Problem solved. Sort of. I unfold 4-5 paper bags and we just fill them up, let it all pile up, and then I get mad that nobody but me takes out the recycling (which isn't totally true... but at the same time... yes, I do take out almost all of the recycling or I put it in front of the back door for Bimmer Man to take to the big bin so I don't have to nag him. Nobody likes being nagged at, right?).

But the other thing is that I hate stealing paper bags from the grocery store just for my recycling. How stupid is that?

And why can't Target just stop with the plastic bags? JUST USE PAPER. I don't know. That's another first world problem. I guess I do live in the land of Target, I could complain.

I think I'm going to get these, suck it up, and take them out to the large bin when they get full instead of just opening another paper bag and filling it up. Now I can use my re-usable bags all the time, not just at the Co-op and the farmer's market.


Bimmer Man better bring these bags back in the house instead of using them for car parts in the garage instead.

We've had this recycling problem for years. Please, please, let's just hope these darn bags fix it. 

Cleaning Out My Non-Existent Pantry

I don't have a pantry.

Our house was built in 1949, so there's little storage, little or no closets, no mud room, a teeny entryway, and no counter space in the kitchen with not very many cabinets.

A few months ago I was dreaming about a HUGE kitchen with a mudroom and a ginormous center island and butcher block counter tops and a fantastic selection of pots and pans.

I have realized that I don't need all of that (but butcher block counter tops would be AWESOME, then I wouldn't need a cutting board), and I still want a mudroom (not just for storage but because we don't use our side door and basically, when two people walk inside at the same time, you have to balance yourself so you don't fall down the basement stairs. Not cool).

In any case, I digress.

This morning I cleaned out the "pantry cupboard" in the kitchen.

I threw away old flavored vinegars that expired in 2012 or 2011. I tossed an unopened container of Hershey's chocolate powder that expired in 2010. Into the trash went a box of Bisquick that expired earlier this year.

If we had a pantry, I don't think I'd be able to use half the stuff in it - I would be tempted to fill it up just because I had the space and then we'd be tossing unused food. That's not cool either. That's just plain old wasteful.

In the past few months I've become more conscious and aware of what we have in our cupboards to eat, or at least I thought I had. New items went into the cupboard and old stuff was just moved to the back.

Sort of like our other cupboard with glassware. Somehow we kept getting new glassware and the old stuff just went to the back and wasn't used. So I donated whatever we didn't use on a regular basis (um, I don't drink martinis but we had several martini glasses! I see a drink shaker that we've never used but had for years, that will be going into the donate box today too!).

Food expires. You have to toss it, it's just making the time to go through your pantries and cupboards and cleaning out the shelves. Don't remember when you bought it? Toss it. Expired? Out it goes. Never going to cook with it again? Into the trash (or organic waste bin in our house).

Lately my favorite time to do this is when I'm waiting for a pot of water to boil for pasta or waiting for chicken to cook on the stove. I'm already in the kitchen, why not kill two birds with one stone?

So, the bottom shelf of the cupboard has been cleaned out, I just need to wait until The Monkey's nap this afternoon to do the rest. I'm short so I need to stand on a chair and I don't want her to see me doing that - she may get some new ideas of her own if she knows she can stand on chairs in the kitchen. Aye, the things you don't think about until you have a toddler....

So, if anyone wants to follow along with me... Challenge yourself to clean out one shelf in your kitchen of expired, unused, old food. I think you'll feel great once you've finished!

8.16.2014

Review Series - Part 1 - PartyLite Candles

I have bought so much stuff from people that I know who have home-based businesses. Like, well, boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. I'm going to do a series of all the products that I've bought and what I liked, didn't like, didn't work, tasted great, tasted horrible, etc...

Why?

Because I didn't know shit about these businesses before going to a party and I ended up buying a lot of stuff. I thought I would be helpful. Plus it's pretty fun to read reviews.

Onto the good stuff -

Part 1 - PartyLite Candles

If you don't like candles, don't read this. If you like candles, then please, carry on.

I like candles. I don't burn them all the time but lately since I have a shitload of them, I burn them daily. I have a ton of tea light candles which I like better than the larger candles because I hate leaving out wide candles because I don't burn them, they end up dusty and when I do finally manage to light them, they end up sparking so badly from the dust and they just don't smell right. So, tea light candles it is for me.

I use a tea light oil warmer when I use essential oils (there will be a post on essential oils in the future) so I mainly buy unscented tea lights. Colors don't matter for me because the flame is hidden in a little marble candle holder thingy. PartyLite tea lights come in packs of 12, the wax and wick are contained in a plastic case (which is recyclable!). The wax doesn't move around like the tea lights from Target in the package of 100 with cheap metal to hold the wax. The ones from Target suck. The little cases also seem to be a bit taller than the wax which makes them easier to move and not spill hot wax all over. I've done that before and that sucks. Overall, if you use a tea light oil warmer, buy these tea lights. You will be pleasantly surprised at how long they last and at the strength of the wick. There's nothing worse than dropping your last tea light before lighting it and the wick breaking off when all you want to do is freaking smell something good in your house.

I have also bought several candle holders. I bought a set of three bug tea light holders for our outdoor patio set. They're way too small to hold anything that has citronella that repels bugs. They're just for home decor. If you're looking for something to hold citronella candles, do not buy any tea light holders. They won't do a damn thing to keep away mosquitoes. You're better off getting a bat house.

The other indoor candle holders that I've purchased work as described. They hold tea lights. They look great! I bought them all from their sale section since I'm a pretty cheap person and I like to find great deals - if you don't mind paying full price, then go ahead and get what you want, otherwise hold out for awhile and you'll get a great deal on candle holders. If you weren't invited to a party, ask your host if you can just order from someone else's party to get a good deal. I'd love to get some outdoor lanterns but we just don't hang out after dark outside enough for me to justify buying any large lanterns.

The scents are pretty good. I like the Perfect Pet, Fig Tree, and one with Blue Lotus something or other, and I also really like the smell of cucumber so I bought some of that scent too. Nothing is too over powering unless you stick your nose into the wax (especially burning tea lights, they're small anyway, so not enough melted wax to spread scent all over the house). If you want more scent, just burn more candles.

I recommend hunting down a representative and asking them to bring out their scent box so you can actually smell everything before you buy. I realized that some of them just started smelling the same to me so I ordered whatever I remembered that I liked. I'm not really a "girly" smell girl, I don't have too much scented stuff around the house so ordering the scented candles was a bit out of my comfort zone.

Questions? Comments? Anything that you want to share about PartyLite Candles?

Cutting The Sentimental Crap

Slowly but surely I'm getting all the "stuff" out of this house.

Today (after two Bloody Marys from McCoy's) I'm starting to wonder how in my right mind I'm going to tackle my craft supplies. There are items that I KNOW I DON'T NEED. I just don't know what those are quite yet.

And so I got rid of a rug instead of tackling craft supplies.

Le sigh.

There are items that are going to be ridiculously hard but then there are going to be items that won't. Like all the sentimental items in the office.

For example, I encountered a piece of drinkware, ok, a Dos Equis pint glass with Bimmer Man's signature on it and a date.

The date, I confess, I did not remember.

It took me a good five minutes (sorry, Bimmer, I just couldn't remember the specific year...).

And then I remembered, I took that afternoon off of work so we could get married. But the glass? I have NO IDEA why that thing is important. I just don't remember why a pint glass could be so important. I must have saved it for a reason, right? Did one of us steal it from the bar we went to after we got hitched?

I don't know.

Which is why I didn't keep the glass.

I had no idea why a glass was so important to keep after seven years. Why? Why was it even in our office? Why did I not wash it off and keep it in the cupboards to drink out of? I don't get it. If it was so important to us, why wasn't it out in the open where everyone could see it?

My memories are much stronger than an item of sentimental value. The moments of your life are defined by your memories and everyone's memories are different. Your memories are not defined by things.

In the seven years that Bimmer Man and I have been married, I haven't actually heard him even mention this pint glass once. Nope, not ever.

So I understand why sentimental items are hard to let go - they bring back memories of good times and bad times. But when you look at an item and can't remember why you even have it, then what's the point of saving it?

And then at some point I'm going to have to tackle different sentimental items that I won't really know what to do with - old college artwork that I don't like (throw it or donate?), craft supplies (recycle? toss? donate?).

Gah.

I suppose this is why it's going to take me forever to get through this house.

At some point in the future, I will not clean as much crap because it won't be in the house, I will be able to spend more time with my family because I won't be cleaning, I will be able to garden more because I won't have "things" to take care of, I will be able to read more books again because I won't have to worry about buying more storage bins for more stuff. I will be able to do exactly what I want to do.

I just have to get through all the sentimental crap first.

8.14.2014

New Crochet Hats


The Monkey needs a new fun hat for this upcoming fall and winter. When I bring her with me to the yarn store she's absolutely drawn to the hot pink yarns. The SOFT ALPACA pink yarns. If she gets her hands on a skein or a ball of yarn, I know I'm walking out of the store with it, otherwise it will end up in a mad mess on the floor. Since I crochet, well, I can't turn down yarn but also, I never have anything in mind to make. She grabbed one skein of this and it's been sitting, waiting for me to think of something to make. I think this hot pink suits the alpaca well, right?


And since I love the pattern so much, I thought I'd try it out with a sock yarn that I found. It was free at a garage sale - I also picked up a yellow variegated yarn too, same sock yarn. I'm not quite sure if I like it yet, but I'll soldier on to try it out. This is the same pattern as The Monkey's hat, just larger for an adult.

As you can tell by the photo, I make these inside out to account for the back post stitch.


The Inevitable Ill-Placed Band-Aid

And sometimes you don't get to choose where your child gets her boo-boos. 


Super Easy Use-It-Up Pizza Burgers

I hate that you never have enough burgers to use up the buns in a package of hamburger buns. Plus I can only eat so many sloppy joes in two days and deal with drooling dogs at the grill with burgers. I hate tossing burger buns into the waste bin, it just seems so wasteful to buy 8 buns for 4 burgers. 

I needed to come up with something quick and I realized that I had leftover tomato sauce in the freezer and grated cheese in the fridge (and since when do I not have cheese in my fridge? I LOVE CHEESE). 


My mouth was starting to water as I put these together. I had made sauce with red wine... it smelled extra great to me after a long day in the sun, biking, playing, cleaning, etc...


And the cheese. I should have put more cheese on top so they were extra gooey.


And baked. Crispy bread, hot sauce, melty cheesy goodness.

Pizza Burgers (sort of)

2 - 4 hamburger buns split in half
2 cups pizza sauce, leftover spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce
2 cups of grated cheese - I use an Italian blend or a cheddar jack blend
And pizza toppings of your choice (I didn't feel like anything other than cheese)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put bun halves on baking sheet.

Top each half with sauce.

Then top with cheese and all other pizza toppings you want!

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cheese is melty and buns are nice and crispy.

Serve with a salad.

8.13.2014

The Lone Empty Shelf

I've never had an empty kitchen shelf.

Never.

And now I do. 

WOO HOO.

Ok, it's a super small and awkward shelf, but still. It's empty and I call it a fantastic step in emptying out my house of stuff we don't need.

My road to a more minimalist lifestyle is beginning to take shape, I'm hoping that I can empty out the above closed cupboard of random leftover containers without lids tomorrow and get a box of stuff over to Goodwill. I'd wait for the Disabled American Veteran pick up, but it's still a month away and I just want to get rid of stuff. 


Another thing that I did was rid the kitchen of the rug beneath the dog water dish. All I would do is vacuum it and then it would be dirty in about two minutes. That went into the garbage and I've never been so thrilled to be rid of a chore. I hate cleaning so the less I have to clean the better. 

I also took the small kid's potty chair for the Monkey out of the bathroom since she prefers to pee on the seat that we put on the big toilet. One more less thing to clean.

Next up for small steps on Friday: open up a book case in the office and clear out one shelf. And then put away some crochet stuff in the book case. Or maybe move magazines there. I don't know yet. I don't have the heart to part with my Garden Gate or Domino magazines yet. I still read those and get a lot from them so... they shall be saved for now. A few weeks ago I went from having maybe 18 full magazine holders to 10. I can still part with more and toss more into the recycle bin. I also need to pare down office supplies - by that I mean throw away pens and markers that don't work, and see if we have doubles of tape dispensers, pencil sharpeners, too many folders, etc... and put those in a box for donation too. 

BioBag vs. Bag-To-Nature

Since beginning the organic waste program with our local city, I'm in love with it. I can throw so much stuff in the organic waste instead of the garbage can. It's freaking awesome. If you have the option, please do it! We do pay $10 per month for it, but it's worth it in the amount of waste reduction going to landfills and the burning plant. Examples of items we can toss - all leftovers, paper towel cardboard, egg cartons, fish, bones, paper towels, take out containers, paper q-tips, tissues.

I've used two brands of compostable waste bags and these are my (short but sweet) reviews:

Hands down, Bag-To-Nature is my favorite composting bag for the kitchen organic waste bags. They feel a little more like the plastic bags you get from Target and are much more stronger, easier to tie with the ends, and definitely contain the smells of organic waste tenfold over BioBags. These are a bit harder to find - I haven't seen these at Target but they are sold at Frattalone's Ace Hardware and the Lakewinds Co-op. I haven't bought any at the Linden Hills Co-op yet, so I don't know if they sell these or another brand.

BioBags are great for your regular compost when you take it out every night - these ones start composting immediately. As in, they don't work for your regular organic waste (leftovers, etc...) because once wet, well, it's all over for the strength of the bag. I can barely make it to the organic waste cart behind our garage without it breaking. Use BioBags for your greens for your backyard composter. These ones feel a bit more rubbery and softer - they've got a little stretch to them which means if you're tossing chicken bones, the bones will punch a hole right through the bag.

Below are pics side to side of the bags -




Wordless Wednesday - Garden Flowers







8.12.2014

Fun Old Photos

Black and white photos are so much fun - especially when the people in them are your family and you know who they are and maybe even met them once or twice!

My sister has a TON of old family photos and at some point I will have to borrow them so I can scan them and print them for myself. We have a few old ones on the wall of Bimmer Man's family but I need some too!

With facebook I've been able to connect with a lot of family members, including some family that I had no idea that I had in Canada. It's nice to be able to use my french language knowledge!





8.11.2014

Holy Guacamole






These two kids. They just kill me with silliness and laughter some days.

When it's time to cook in the kitchen I try to find things that the Monkey can help me make. Guacamole is one of those things.

I don't actually home make it anymore, instead I Sandra Dee the shit out of it. Why? Because I just don't have time for it - plus the Monkey can help me more this way.

I cut the avocados, spoon them into a bowl and she mashes them with a potato masher. 

I cut the corner of a pouch of Rick Bayless' Frontera guacamole mix and she dumps it into the bowl of mashed avocados and mixes it all together.

Then we eat.

Side Note: The Monkey has now surpassed the "Minnesota Spice" level of just pepper in her food and will now eat spicy guac, medium salsas, and will taste spice chinese food. I'm extremely proud of her!

Homemade Burgers!

I love burgers. I could eat them every day. 

Maybe.

Burgers are a pretty close tie with pizza (seriously, any type of pizza, it could even be on a tortilla, but no matter what, I'd still eat it!).

I haven't made burgers at home in YEARS because we've discovered the already-seasoned ready-to-be-grilled burgers at Byerly's. If you have not tried their Pub burgers, or their Asiago Garlic burgers, or their pizza burgers then you are seriously missing out on delicious beef. 

And those are the reasons why I haven't made burgers at home in years. 

But then I decided that I could probably make my own and they may not taste as great but they will definitely be great. And great they were, trust me. 


Super easy to make. Delicious. 


And even easier to freeze for burgers later next week. WOO HOO!!!

I doubled the recipe for myself and froze three patties for the next week. Freeze them flat and then you can stack them for easier storage in the freezer. 

Homemade Burgers

1 lb ground beef (I use organic beef - the highest fat content will give you a better burger but use what you want)
1 tbsp McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 tbsp of minced garlic (I use the preminced garlic, I hate the smell of garlicky hands!)
At least 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, more if you really like it

Mix everything together with your hands in a big bowl. Divide it into 4 chunks. Shape the patties into discs and then press your thumb into the center. This makes for even cooking and the edges won't be burnt to a crisp before the center is done to your liking.

Grill about 5-7 minutes on each side. I grill a little longer for burgers for the Monkey since I like her meat to be a little more well done than my own.

Top with cheese - I like aged cheddar. 

Serve on toasted buns with your favorite toppings.

8.10.2014

Return to Line Drying - Tips And Tricks

Bimmer Man set up my new clothesline outside. I"M SO EXCITED.

I honestly don't know any other nerdy hippie that would be SO EXCITED about a clothesline.

It's 40 feet long, so it stretches from our back sun porch to the garage. I can hang approximately a half load of clothes on it (well, we have a super capacity washing machine which does 2-4 loads of clothes at once compared to a regular washing machine. I generally do 4-5 loads of laundry per week).

So with line drying clothes the question becomes, do I really want crunchy clothes or not?

I don't line dry underwear or undergarments. Too embarrassing (but what did people do before dryers?).

I don't do towels either after I used a crunchy towel after a shower one day. I read somewhere that dermatologists suggest using line dried towels for exfoliating and what not but I really think it depends on the towel. Our nice Ralph Lauren towels are too crunchy but the ginormous Ikea towels aren't all that bad after line drying.

After a few weeks of line drying (and drying about 10 loads now...) I have a few line drying tips.


  • Dry clothes inside out - brightly colored clothes won't fade and the pit stains in shirts will be sun bleached
  • Dry them hanging upside down (so pants should be hung from the legs, not the waistband)
  • T-shirts need to be dried inside out and upside down
  • Napkins fold neater and much more nicely after being line dried (aka no ironing necessary)
  • Socks take the LONGEST TIME
  • White clothes are most definitely whiter after being in the sun (no more pit stains, yay!!)
  • Vinegar in the rinse cycle (put it in the softener part of your washing machine) gets out excess laundry detergent which means less crunchiness since there's no leftover soap
  • It's ok to fluff clothes in the dryer - but I just fold clothes straight from the line and put everything away (I bring out 3-4 blue Ikea bags to sort and fold depending on what's in the load - 1 for me, 1 for Bimmer, 1 for the Monkey, 1 for household crap). I feel like returning the clothes to right side out and shaking them a bit helps to get out the crunchiness
So there's my tips for line drying clothes. I'm really happy with my clothesline but I sure do feel like the neighborhood hippie with our clothes hanging outside!

8.09.2014

Becoming A Minimalist

Simplifying life isn't easy.

I woke from a nap today thinking the following - the most important people that care about ME when I die are in the same house as I was in that moment. Anything else doesn't matter. 

Really, things are just things. Stuff is just stuff. 

I don't need 6 beer coozies, I don't need 4 different coffee mugs. Or 37 drink glasses. 

All I need are my loved ones.

And so I've started simplifying my life. Shelf by shelf I've been going through our stuff and either tossing or donating. It feels great. 

And so I started doing the same with my friends on Facebook. I've gone from 437 friends down to 3??. I'm not sure, I just ask myself "does this person really care about the crap that I post?" If my answer is no, then they get deleted. 

It feels wonderful. 

I don't really need Facebook. I don't need the digital world to "like" me to justify my life, to make me feel "liked" or needed. I don't care all that much anymore. I'm over 30, I have other things to do than care about what people think about my life (I wish I knew this in my 20's!). I post photos for my family members and for my favorite people to see what I eat, do, make, etc... 

However, it's now time for me to start on a new journey in my life. I'm simplifying everything. 

And it feels fabulous.

I'm going back to where I need to be. 

I 'm starting to cut out technology, cutting out all the extras. Letting my days be free and fluid with the Monkey. No tv, just music or quiet time. Living life, I guess is what you would say. 

I just need the peace and quiet of simplicity.

8.03.2014

Someone Peed On My New Rug Already

It's now "broken in."

Bimmer Man came home from work last week and this was our conversation. 

Me: Someone in this house peed on my new rug.

Bimmer Man says nothing and looks at me. 

Me: No! Not me! I didn't pee on the rug!

(It was The Monkey, I swear!)

8.01.2014

August Meal Planning

I still have quite a few freezer meals from last time so I don't have too much to plan out - woo hoo!!

BUT I bulk ordered sides - so in the cupboards I have Near East Mediterranean Curry Cous Cous and Near East Roast Garlic and Olive Oil Pasta. Both are delicious and the Monkey eats both so no worries on finding a starch.

Meal planning is so weird. I look at other blogs for meal planning ideas and while recipes LOOK FANTASTIC, I realize that when I put it down on my calendar that A) I don't have time; B) I am missing 2+ ingredients that I probably won't ever buy again; or C) I just don't want to make it because it's too involved.

Another thing about meal planning - there are things that I don't like that I see quite a bit -

  • I hate quinoa, 
  • I'm not much for elaborate breading of meat (I don't have room for all of that), 
  • I don't deep fry things, 
  • I don't have time to make a sauce or make a mix and then make dinner

And also there are only certain vegetables that I like and that the Monkey will actually eat:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Water Chestnuts (I know, weird)
  • Broccolini stalk thingys
Please notice what is missing - potatoes, asparagus, carrots, eggplant (which I don't like either), peppers and a few other veggies. I make french fries, tater tots, and homemade french fries but the Monkey refuses to eat plain baked potatoes or roasted potatoes. I don't know why (because she'll eat curried rice, LOL!). 

So in general when looking at other blogger's meal plans I have to switch up sides and make changes to recipes to suit our meal needs (like omitting hot sauce and switching from potatoes for a side to jasmine rice). 


I also have to work within our budget, so if that means that I only buy some lettuce, milk, butter, and eggs at the co-op, then so be it. My grocery budget sometimes has to be eating out of cupboards only (which is fine because they're usually stocked in general because every few weeks/months I buy certain items in bulk).

And the other thing with meal planning - I buy organic. We're up to eating 75-85% organic except for some frozen pizzas, cheese, and some pantry items. Organic can be expensive so I need to choose meals that fit within our budget. There are meats that we can't afford (like $17.99/lb for some meats at Whole Foods, seriously....) so I switch up marinades to cheaper organic beef and chicken cuts. Whole chickens are cheap but boneless, skinless breasts are the easiest for me to work with (Costco has organic chicken and beef for bulk purchases or else I order from my organic meat lady at the farmer's market).

So, as you can tell, I'm a super picky freezer meal planner and regular meal planner.

Onto what I have in stock...

Below I'm going to list my freezer inventory and my cupboard inventory so you can see what we usually have in stock. Then I just pick and choose what's for dinner from both lists. I choose a protein, starch, and veggie (sometimes I do two veggies and no starch).

I think this is the easiest way to meal plan for myself - that way I'm not tied down to a certain menu item because who in the heck knows what we'll actually be hungry for on Friday!!

Freezer Inventory

  • Greek Chicken (Italian seasoning, olive oil, salt & pepper, sliced lemons), just marinated chicken in a freezer bag
  • Plain "Just Bare" chicken breasts
  • Sweet Glazed Chicken (ketchup, apricot preserves, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, olive oil) in a freezer bag
  • Margarita Chicken (alcoholic margarita mix, parsley, olive oil) in a freezer bag
  • Thin cut beef roast
  • Taco Meat
  • Pasta sauce - meatless AND beef sauce
  • Pesto
  • French fries
  • Peas
  • Chicken sausage
  • Ground turkey (which I think the dog might end up eating)
  • Pork chops - two different marinades
  • Steak (5 steaks)
  • Mixed veggies - a few bags of random seasoned and plain veggies
Cupboard Inventory
  • Annie's Mac & Cheese (mostly for lunches)
  • Near East Garlic & Olive Oil Pasta
  • Near East Mediterranean Cous Cous
  • Black beans
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Jasmine rice
  • Honey
  • Spices
  • Flour & sugar
  • Black olives
  • Wildtree Organic spices, flatbread mix, cinnamon rolls
  • Pasta - spaghetti and rotini
Gah. I know there's more but that's what I know I have off the top of my head. I stopped at the farmer's market and got broccoli, two types of beans, lettuce and a few tomatoes for this week for fresh veggies. 

Oy, meal planning is hard. We'll see what we end up eating this month!