Goals This Week

Mostly my goal this week is to stay sane.

My two year old has realized that she can say no, she can just sit in the middle of store, sidewalk, etc... I have to come up with creative consequences on the spot and some days it can be hard. Maybe that's not a strong enough word, it can be extremely difficult. No one tells you this about parenting. No one tells you that your child will also call you by your first name or "honey" when she wants something. I have THAT child.

I do need to start Halloween decorating and start explaining Halloween in a way that a toddler can understand. I've dragged out the Halloween books already, next I'm going to try to find a Curious George movie or show that explains Halloween, and I have construction paper to make a bunch of Halloween crafts. Pinterest searching is what I'll do tomorrow afternoon and setting up crafts for the next few weeks (cutting pumpkins, figuring out what the Monkey knows how to do, and finally, where to hang all these things). 

On Thursday I want to go through my closet again and find more clothes to donate. One extreme measure would be the Project 333. I'm not quite ready for that yet. Just paring down what doesn't fit well, what I don't like, and things I haven't worn in years have been enough for me.

More toys have accumulated in our living room again so I need to bring more stuff downstairs. I see a bunch of books I can store for awhile, three puzzles, one "noise" toy, and a hammering bench that need to go. I also need to get together a stack of books to put in the "Little Library" down by the park. The Monkey grabs a book out of there every time we go to the park which means that I suddenly have weird books around our house that I would never read. Back to the park those go. 

With clearing out clutter, I've realized it's a daily task and effort so that things (yes, just THINGS) don't accumulate. Phew. 

And food, this week's meal plan includes chicken, pork chops, steak tacos, and I need two more meals - probably potato soup with bread on Friday, and frozen pizza one day. 

Happy Monday everyone, have a great week! Stay sane!


Fried Green Tomatoes

With all the tomato plants that I seeded and planted, none of them did very well. I've picked a ton of green tomatoes and I can only see two on the vines still that are starting to ripen. I'm a little disappointed. BUT at the same time this means that I get to make fried green tomatoes.

Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes - sliced into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices
Flour, about 1 cup, more if you have a lot of tomatoes
Sugar, about 1 tbsp
Salt & pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs, meh, maybe 1 1/2 cups, more if you have a lot of tomatoes
Vegetable oil, enough to cover about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in a deep pan
Eggs, 2, maybe 3 if you have a lot of tomatoes
Salt, 2 - 3 tbsp (more if you have a lot of tomatoes)

Slice your tomatoes.

Lay them out onto a sheet pan and sprinkle both sides with salt and sugar. You want the tomatoes to sweat. If they don't have a lot of moisture in them when they're fried, then they'll be super nice and crunchy and they will hold their shape a lot better, plus they won't be mushy. I hate mushy fried green tomatoes. Let them sweat for 15 minutes.

Lay out 3 bowls while the tomatoes are sweating - these are for breading.

Bowl 1 - the flour, salt & pepper
Bowl 2 - the eggs, beaten very well
Bowl 3 - bread crumbs

Once the tomatoes are done sweating fill a deep pan with about an inch of vegetable oil. Heat it over medium high heat, then drop the temp if needed. You'll see when you start frying, it's sort of a form of art...

Now bread the tomatoes. I use my fingers. Drop a slice into the flour and cover, shake off the excess. Put the flour-covered tomato slice into the egg, cover it with egg. Drop the egg-covered tomato slice into the bread crumbs and cover with bread crumbs. I put them onto a separate plate once finished with breading.

Once you have them all breaded take them to the hot oil and drop them into the hot oil one at a time. I can only fry maybe 4 slices at a time before the temp of the oil goes down too far and I get mushy tomatoes. I don't flip the tomatoes at all, I just let the oil do the work, this is why you have a good inch of oil to start with. 

Fry them for 1, 2, or 3 minutes depending on how hot your oil is, once the tomatoes are a nice golden brown then take the tomato out of the oil and put it onto a plate, I put paper towels down to soak up the excess oil.

Serve with ketchup if you want, or BBQ sauce, or ranch, or honey mustard.



Rusty Taco

Me (on the phone with Ollu Dog Wash booking a grooming appointment): Ok, I'm a stay at home mom so I'm available most days but I'm not available during naptime which is from 12:30 to 3:30.

Ollu: How about tomorrow at _____.

(I actually don't remember what time, I will have to call them back because of what happened next)

Me: Perfect. That works great. OMGMYDOGATEATACO.

Ollu: What? Right now?

Me: Omg. Yes, he just ate a taco off of my child's plate.

Ollu: He must be an opportunist.

Me: Why yes, yes he is.

Ollu: Did you know about the food truck, Rusty Taco?


A Bit More Is Gone

Again I loaded up the back of the car today and brought a whole haul to Goodwill. Books, clothes, household items, some more kitchen stuff.

I even went through my cookbooks.

Some lucky person will end up with some fabulous cookbooks.

There was a lot of decorating books too. I now have Pinterest so decor books have really gotten lost in the shuffle around here. I think I only kept maybe 3 out of the 25+ decor books that I once owned - a Cottages by the Sea, and a small house living, and a french country decor book.

I'm still debating about donating a few of my Rachael Ray cookbooks. She has a lot of great recipes but she uses SO MANY ingredients for simple meals. They can be a bit hard for me to make on any given night - plus I've discovered that I don't always have certain cuts of meat, I don't have certain vegetables on hand, so her 30 Minute Meals can be a little hard for me to throw together since I've moved into more freezer meal planning to make meals easier in this house (I just open the freezer, pull out meat in the morning and then decide on sides at 5:00 when I have more than two minutes to see what's in the freezer, fridge and cupboards). Ok, so after typing this, Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals goes into the donate box. Check and check.

I also have to start swapping out summer clothes for fall and winter. I opened up our small attic this morning and found clothes that I hadn't seen in three years. I only kept 3 items - one short sleeve green sweater, one pink sleeveless top, and one khaki skirt. Unfortunately it's only going to get colder after this week so I don't think I'll get to wear the skirt this year (and mostly because I don't feel like shaving my legs again. I've shaved them all freaking summer, I deserve a week off!).

Leggings are freaking amazing in Minnesota in the winter time and I have about 7 pairs of leggings. Two pairs pick up dog fur like mad and so I need to just get rid of those. I HATE DOG FUR. I HATE IT WHEN IT STICKS TO MY PANTS. Ugh, that's so embarrassing. So those two pairs of fur-leggings will go into the trash today, I have a pair with a hole which will also go into the trash. And I think, if I can remember correctly, I also have a super thin pair from Target - those can be trashed. I will keep my Under Armour leggings and my yoga leggings - both pairs are thick and perfect for fall and winter, plus the Under Armour leggings are also thin enough to be worn under my Levi jeans for shoveling and running errands (I know, this is a weird concept to people who don't live in cold-weather states, I wear long johns, I wear thermal underwear, I basically look like a frumpy, bundled, marshmallow for six months).

In the office I went through a large basket of extra paper, envelopes, and other office supply items. I trashed what was broken, what we couldn't use any longer (ummmm... CD labels???), and also what looked like it was just in rough and bad shape. I ended up keeping a pile of empty folders, copy paper, a few blank envelopes, and some plastic sheet protectors. Not sure why at this moment, but I'm sure those items will get used - whether its by me or for an art project for The Monkey I'm not sure. I have quite a few sheets of vellum from my drafting days in college that I'd like to use for some sort of artsy fartsy thing but I don't know what yet. I'll have to peruse Pinterest to find some inspiration.

And poor Monster. I went through his toys and tossed what was broken, unstuffed, in general disrepair, and what looked just disgusting. He'll need a new stuffless toy for Christmas and probably a few bully sticks.

So in a nutshell - today has been extremely productive, I'm super happy with my de-cluttering progress and at some point this afternoon I may even be more motivated to go through my closet and dresser once again.


Last Week's Instagram Re-Cap

Fried Green Tomatoes (recipe post to come this week!)

Too many green onions, had to save them somehow...

Favorite fall outfit - flannel, skinny jeans, rainboots

The squirrel that taunts my dog.

Delicious apples ready for apple crisp.

Le sigh. It's Sunday. Make room for me, dog!

Best Kitchen Clean Up Tip Ever

Run a load of dishes during the day. 

Empty the dishwasher.

While you're making dinner keep the dishwasher door OPEN. 

Put dirty dishes into the dishwasher as you go.

I've been doing this for years now, and I also wash my non-stick pans BEFORE I set food on the table so the only clean up left is the dinner plates, drinkware, silverware. It's my best organization tip ever, especially from someone who is not all that organized...


Help Me Identify A Flower

Please help me, because I have no idea what this is. 

Each year I buy packets of annual "wildflower" mixes and either toss them straight into my garden beds without a care if they come up or not, I also put three packets into three containers on my back deck for color all summer long (well, mostly everything is green until July...).

This flower came up in my annual wildflower mix containers but it also came up in my front garden beds where I did NOT plant any annual wildflower mixes. 

It's really pretty - simple and white, definitely a flower that could be used in a cut flower garden and one that blooms for more than a week at a time.

Can anyone help me identify it? 

If so, please comment with the name! I'm really interested in knowing!

The Ties That Bind Us...

If you've never asked any of your relatives about family history before, now is the time to do it. Seriously. Put down whatever you are doing and go ask questions.

You'll never know unless you ask.

I've discovered awesome stuff about Bimmer Man's relatives - his grandfather used to deliver groceries to Al Capone's mom in Chicago. His grandfather also did mapping in northern Africa during WWII (where he threw a gun out of a train window because he wasn't supposed to have it). These things I never would have known had I not asked.

I have interesting family stories too (my niece worked in an ER in Botswana, my dad worked on a Gemini series rocket ship). It's strange the things you learn about your family members but it's also so interesting to know and to be able to tell your children - not everything has to be about what people do for a job. There are recipes to be passed down (as in Minnesota sloppy joes that only mothers seem to know...), family secrets that you don't want anyone to know, and weird facts that you know other people would find interesting.

Family history is so important to know. It's important to know your heritage and to whom you are connected. I feel it makes you more connected to the Earth and to your family. It also makes you realize that there are millions of people here on Earth before us, it doesn't stop spinning just because one person died. The sun will come up tomorrow, with or without you and the only things that are left of each us are memories that people have. A bit morbid to think about, right? 

What I love about family history is also finding something that a family member created or made. I've known for awhile that a great-aunt was a children's book author but I hadn't really done much about it - I wanted to buy her books but I've never really had a good reason to, I guess. I mean, before having a child the book would have just sat in the bookcase, unread and unloved. Now, The Monkey gets to read a piece of her family history. 

I think it's pretty awesome, so I just had to share!

Toddler Activity: Grocery Shopping List

I'm an advocate of making my child work and learn how to do things herself, which has its strong points, frustrating points, but also, she makes me incredibly proud that she knows where apples are at the Co-op and surprisingly she can find the milk and snack aisle with no problem. And she's only two and a half. Holy buckets.

But let me share how she knows these things and how I taught her. 

I made her a super simple book ring full of food pictures. I found all clip art - we have the super basic Microsoft Word, not even the full version so I'm sure if you have the full (i.e. PAID) version of Word you'll probably find better photos than what I found. 

I laminated all the photos and trimmed the plastic down.

Simple tip - I made sure to find actual photos of the food instead of cartoon photos of food. I think it's really important that kids can identify food because if they know what it is and can pick it out at the grocery they are more likely to WANT to help you in the kitchen and to WANT to eat food.

Then I punched holes in the top left corner (you can do the right or make it more book-ish and do two rings on the left sides if you want, I just needed it easy for the Monkey).

I put all the food into categories - fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, bread. Then I put them onto the ring in the order they are at the Co-op - which is the same as listed in the previous sentence.

And voila! Now you can hand your child the "grocery list" and have them find the different foods you need and either hand them to you to put in the cart or have them put the food into the cart/basket/whatever.

The Co-op has child-size carts so I walk around with our "list" and point out the photo of the food we need, The Monkey picks out the food and then puts it into her cart. Dairy and eggs are still a little bit dicey at times and make me a little nervous but so far the Co-op staff have been fantastic at going along with The Monkey doing the grocery shopping. She even unloads the cart and puts it all onto the conveyor belt. I don't do anything but pay for it. I need to put her to work more often. Ha!


Wordless Wednesday


Super Easy Cashew Butter

 Seriously, so easy! 

I've been eyeing the shelf of nut butters at the co-op lately but I can't seem to swallow the $8+ per container cost. I just cringe a little when I've seen so many pins on Pinterest for homemade nut butters. I decided to give it a go and see what would happen.

I LOVE cashews. They taste amazing and some people even say that cashews have a fantastic mood lifting ability (and watching a toddler all day, I will take whatever I can get to lift my mood!). 

The ingredients. Cashews and grapeseed oil.

Easy Homemade Cashew Butter

 2 cups cashews

1-2 tbsp Grapeseed oil

Process cashews in food processor or blender until finely chopped, add in oil 1/4 - 1/2 tbsp 

at a time, continue processing or blending until as smooth as you want it. 


I only used 1 1/4 tbsp of oil. 

If using ROASTED cashews you probably won't need oil.

You may sub the Grapeseed oil with olive oil, sunflower oil, or any other mild flavor oil.


Weekly Instagram Recap

How was this past week? Great!

I made fried green tomatoes. Delicious. You need to sweat the tomatoes first so they're not mushy (sprinkle with salt & sugar 15 minutes before you start breading!). The bad part of this week is that I didn't end up with a bumper crop of tomatoes like I had hoped back in May. I had 3 tomatoes for frying, 9 for roasting, and only 4 for chopping and freezing. There's still a few green tomatoes left. We'll see what happens.

Ahhh... I love when utilities get turned off. I was great at homesteading it for 8 hours though. 

Started a new granny square afghan. Oy, it's going to take me forever. 

Want to follow me on Instagram?



New Recycling System

I cleared as much crap from the hooks by the side door as possible.

You might be thinking.... WHAT THE HELL IS THAT TENNIS RACKET THINGY????

That, my friends, is a bug zapper. I actually zapped myself with it once. It's a little, well, shocking... 

In any case, the last two paper bags were used last week, so we're just down to the new re-usable recycling bags. They can be rinsed out (which is fantastic because I'm not great at remembering to rinse beer cans).

I've got the recycling bags, the organic waste bin, the actual garbage bin, the cart, and finally, Rusty's water dish. I just swap the towel out. He drools too much for me to just put the dish on the floor.

So far the bags are working out really well. I've been able to bring my re-usable bags to all the stores with me and not have to worry about asking for paper bags for recycling. They're pretty square so they fit the small boxes from Amazon really well (beer can boxes too!), along with all my other recycling. It's been pretty easy so far, I just hope these stick!


Organizational "Stuff" - Do I Keep it or Toss it?

Since I've de-cluttered a few things I've cleared out storage bins. Now that there's no stuff to go inside them, I have to decide what to do with them.

I don't think I want to keep them but my thought process keeps going back to "I might use these!" I might buy more stuff to fill them! No, that's not what I want to do at all.

I've got 4 smallish bins right now that I don't know what to do with - I need large bins to organize The Monkey's clothes that she no longer fits in (I'm saving those for when we have our next child, and once we find out if it's a boy/girl, then I'll get rid of them or save them. Also, NO, I'M NOT PREGNANT, so don't think anything into this!!). However, I don't really want to buy new bins so I'm trying to get myself motivated to de-clutter the storage room in our basement so I can re-use the larger bins from that room.

And then I also have two CD storage boxes - I don't use CDs anymore thanks to modern technology and iTunes and Amazon so I don't know what to do with those. I think those will go into the next donate box for next week or the week after.

But I guess I can always post things on Craigslist and Freecycle - my only problem is that once I decide I want something gone, I want it gone that moment and I don't want to wait for someone to come and pick it up. When I'm motivated, I'm motivated and when I'm lazy, well, I'm lazy.

Same with the magnet spice tins on our fridge - if I use those as magnets for keeping stuff on the fridge, when it's used then everything under it falls to the floor. Irritating, annoying, blerg. So once I've used up the spices in those, I think I'm going to wash them out and give them to Bimmer Man to store small items in the garage. He can put them on his tool box or wherever to keep little things so they don't get lost.

De-cluttering can be more of a chore and a burden than a fun thing to do, however, once it's done and items are gone it's a fantastic feeling of relief. Or maybe a release? Not sure yet, but I do know that sometimes I need to sing "Let it go!" from Frozen to be able to just say to myself "THINGS AND STUFF DON'T MATTER."

BUT WHAT IF THE APOCALYPSE COMES??? WHAT WILL I DO WITHOUT MY STUFF??? Meh, I'll probably wish I had stockpiled guns and ammo instead of craft supplies anyway, right?

I guess I don't need my organizing bins for organizing my stuff after all.

I'll put them all into my donate box.


September Garden Update

 My goodness, my garden is STILL blooming. 

I'm totally shocked to see 3 more roses in bloom, plus my Clematis bloomed for the first time in 3 years. My good friend was telling me this morning that there's a little saying about Clematis - you plant, you wait, it blooms or something like that. And goodness, did I wait for that Clematis. It's the pretty star shaped purple bloom. 

Above: Rose

Above: Clematis

Above: Yarrow
This year my yarrow grew so tall that it basically flopped over and covered two hostas. I cut it back once it seemed to be done blooming (I don't actually know if you're supposed to do that or not...) and suddenly it was bushy and growing again. One stalk is flowering again. The dragonflies seem to love it. I've got two bushes of it and I have to google yarrow to see if I can split it. I'd like to put this down on our little strip of boulevard.

Above: Sedum
I've only planted this in the backyard where The Monster has peed on it and killed it. I decided to try it out in the front and it's doing fantastic!

Above: Cosmos
Cosmos grow like crazy in our front yard. They're annuals so I plant them every year. All I do is open 2 - 3 seed packs and toss the seeds out into the garden bed. They come in fun colors too, but I prefer the pink!


De-Cluttering The Linen Closet

I have this dream that I buy a serger and I will magically have 2 extra hours every day to serge cleaning cloths, napkins, hem old jeans, and somehow, obtain the know-how to do those things by reverse osmosis. If I could just put my phone to my forehead and BAM! Knowledge and time! I would be in Heaven.

But no. That's life. 

I pulled two sets of sheets from the linen closet - one was a jersey cotton, the other a flannel. I cut up the flat sheets to make cleaning cloths (I was trying to channel my mother while doing this, I remember her slicing up towels for dusting cloths when I was little). I got 16 cloths from each flat sheet, since I don't have a serger for sides, I don't want them to fray but they don't need to be hemmed, so I'm going to use a few different stitches on a few cloths to see what works best - I'm just going to run a line of stitches around the outside and trim the excess fabric and the frays. I'm not a particularly great seamstress, however, I can sew in a straight line and I make pretty nice curves when I set my mind to it.

There are still a few sheet sets in my linen area of the closet upstairs. What we really need is just 2-3 sets of sheets - one flannel for the winter, one regular cotton for the summer and an extra set of cotton sheets for when I'm washing the dirty sheets.

I don't care if we have a dust ruffle so that went out into the donate box (it only picks up dog fur anyway). I only need one shower curtain so the dark, heavy blue one went into the donate box (it's not the right fabric for cleaning cloths so I don't want to attempt to cut that up). I'm currently sorting through our mismatched pillow cases and since we use a ton of pillows I can't really get rid of those right now. I will at some point organize them and determine which ones will be used and which ones are the favorites and get to stay. Small steps, people, small steps.

My quest continues on even as more stuff is accumulating on our property.

Bimmer Man's race shop's lease has ended so we have a TON of racing stuff, car parts, engines, you name it and we have it in our basement, garage, driveway, parked in the street, etc... That stuff will need to be sorted, fixed, put away and/or sold or stored somewhere else (I don't know which yet).


Up this week:

  • Swap toys (put away the potato heads, music instruments, string toys, dolls, stacking boxes)
  • Trip to Goodwill
  • Possible sell items on Facebook groups for online garage sales (but do I want the hassle???)
  • Get all dirty laundry cleaned so I can vacuum laundry room
  • Rake up grass in boulevard and go to Sunnyside Gardens for bulbs/sale perennials