so here’s the deal

I’m exhausted, and it’s not like, “Oh, I don’t think I’ll have the energy to run that extra three miles today…” it’s really to the level of, “Oh. My. Word. Do I really have to get dressed?”

I do dress, however, and manage to brush my teeth and keep enough food cooked to sustain life and I get through work, but other than that- all bets are off.

That means the ol’ blog-o has fallen off the to-do list, right along with vacuuming and taking out the trash. I’m just too tired to even think about writing, my brain freezes up and screams, “PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME!!”

I should say that I saved up scraps of energy all week and used them to get the vacuuming done yesterday. I’ve become an energy hoarder.

So that’s my excuse for not having written in forever. I’m sorry.

Feel free to speculate all you desire and draw your own conclusions, Lord knows I have my own hunches about the matter… we shall confer at a later date…

Yours exhaustedly,

Andi

the big binder theory

‘… zealfully attending life …’

She attended life with her accustomed zeal – and now – with organization.

The Big Book of Organization

This is my Big Book of Organization. I am very pleased with myself for having created one, but I can’t take the credit for the idea. My friend Maureen is the most organized person I have ever met. Just being around her is like being embraced by every handy, nifty, thrifty, clever, ingenious, and downright organized household trick ever conceived by man or wife. I mean, this woman has a system for *everything* from getting the absolute lowest price at the meat counter to menu planning and keeping the bathrooms clean. I’ve never been in a house that is run so smoothly – it’s almost a bit surreal. I’ve watched her cook in utter fascination as every container is marked, every recipe filed away under some encoded system that she has devised, every spice pre-measured, and I’m sitting there like, “How does her brain work?”

It’s honestly a little overwhelming, but in a good way. Every time I’m around her (which isn’t much, she lives quite a ways away) I learn something new. I’m a slow learner, a lot more bounces off my forehead than what actually gets absorbed, but it’s sinking in…

On this last trip, Maureen introduced me to the idea of keeping sheet sets inside pillowcases so that they’re all contained. Oh. My. Word. No more searching for lost pillowcases, or lone ranger top sheets – they’re right there in the pillow case. This has been invaluable advice, since we don’t have a linen cabinet in this apartment and the sheets just kind of live ‘wherever’. Now they’re in a neat stack of sheet ‘kits’, ready to be hauled off the pile and put on the bed. Viola.

She also got me hooked on the whole Binder Theory.

The theory is this: if you have everything written down and contained in one location – you won’t loose you mind trying to remember it all. So very clever. She even outfitted me with a binder (“I always pick them up at garage sales and keep them – you never know when you need an empty binder! We use them for everything…” she says.) some paper and a few page protectors – a Binder Starter Kit.

a glimpse into the secret passages contained therein

Lest I go home without anything in my new Binder, she passed along her recipe for sourdough bread (as well as the starter- which, for the record, is kept in the fridge, not the Binder… just saying.), instructions for making fertility tracking beads (people are getting antsy for us to start having kids, I’m thinking…) and a few recipes for popular condiments that can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of buying them at the store. Salad dressings, ketchup, mayonnaise – I have the recipes in my Binder and I feel like such a legit housewoman!

Oh yes. I have since added more paper and more page protectors and have set up various ‘sections’ for home, some day farm, kitchen, health, finances, and knitting. Yup, knitting gets a whole section in the Binder. Not sure why – it just does. The End.

So I’m thinking meal plans. Does anyone out there do this? Right now we go from day to day or week to week with groceries and I usually have *some* idea about what to cook next, but I would love to get to the point where it’s a monthly thing. Monthly meal plans and then just shop according. My hubs *loves* to go grocery shopping, so this will probably continue to be a weekly occurrence, which is cool, but I’d still like to plan ahead more. Is that even possible? Is that silly to do since there are just two of us?  I just think of all the brain space I could use on a daily basis if I weren’t consumed with figuring out what to have for dinner…

My thinking is this – someday, fertility tracking beads or no, if the good Lord so wills, we will have children. I’ve been thinking about that an awful lot lately, not exactly in a wishy-washy way, or a ‘tear up when I see a baby in the store’ way, but it’s almost like I’ve gone into Planning Mode. Weird, huh? Me – who plans for nothing. Who has No Plan. Suddenly – everything about my world is, “How is this going to work when we have kids?”

I don’t want to be a crazy mom who can’t stay on top of the game, you know? I certainly don’t want to schedule the fun out of life, but I don’t want to be so stressed out due to lack of knowledge and plannig that I can’t enjoy life.  I think the key is not in being perfect, not in having a spotless house, not in never having an unplanned moment, but simply Knowing What You Are About.

I have to admit, since living so far from Maureen, my ol’ buddy Pinterest has become my go-to place for ideas about getting my brain in order. Talk about organization overload! Printable meal plans, chore checklists, ideas and inspiration, recipes – it’s like an Internet Binder that fills itself -without page protectors. I’m lovin’ it.

So what do you do to keep yourself in check? Any tips? Any wives and/or mothers out there with advice to pass along to this here Pleb?

I’m all ears…

P.S. …thought I’d add some links of sites I’ve been on recently that fueled and inspired my nesting drive… more to come

Bowl Full of Lemons

The Nest Effect

10 things link-up

I was reading a post from Niki over at Meet Your Treat where she talked a little about the anonymity of blogging, and how it can be hard to give people a good sense of who you are, walking the fine line between ‘sharing’ and ‘babbling’. She then shared a few photos of objects from her life and told a little bit about them. Brilliant!

SO – here’s my big idea.

Let’s do a link-up of 10 Things lists. If you read this blog, and would like to get a little piece of who you are out there, you are welcome to join me and share a list of 10 Things – any things, that says something about you that may be hard to convey in a more structured venue. If you have a blog of your own – post something and comment below, leave the link to your site and I promise we will pack up our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and head over to visit. Don’t have a blog? List your things in the comments, and we’ll have an ‘in-house’ showing. I know a couple of you have already done posts like this and if you want to include your ‘old’ Things List – go ahead, but I think it would be pretty awesome if you came up with something new ‘on the fly’.

Who’s with me? Anybody? Am I going to post my 10 Things alone?

We’re bloggers, and readers of blogs – we’re a community of people, let’s communitize. (I don’t think that’s a word, but I’m going to use it anyway.)

Here’s My New List of Ten Things

10 Weird Things That Changed My Life

1) Coconut oil. I am a total frizz-head and have exceedingly dry skin. I found coconut oil and it works wonders on my wild, child-eating hair and scaly skin. (I sound a little bit like a Marvel comic monster there, don’t I?)

2) Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days are Over”. That song gives me goosebumps – every time.

3) Realizing that Mr. Darcy isn’t a real person. Never was. Never will be. The End.

4) The moment I realized how to count back change.

5) Taking a course on folk weather predicting in High School – I barely look at the weather forecast now.

6) Almond Milk. Amen.

7) Aiding my little milk goat while she was giving birth to her first kid when I was 17.

8) Pad Tai

9) My first Kiss. I know that doesn’t seem all that weird now, but don’t you remember *your* first kiss? It was a little weird, right? Yeah. My husband still teases me about it…

10) Probably the first time I ever made a list and realized that *this* was the way I would structure my entire life from there on out. Listing.

I’m a big list person.

There you go – my ten things. What about you? What are your ten favorite books? Top ten movies? Ten songs you absolutely can’t stand? Ten pictures from your house? Ten places you want to visit? Ten things you’d never do? Have at it, I can’t wait to hear…

a little bit of idealistic pep talking concerning the chicken *thing*

Because really, doesn’t it seem extreme to be counting everything so minutely? Pieces of lettuce, noodles, rice, chicken wings…. counting, counting, counting.

Oh – the frustration! Why count? Why?

WHY? Because it does count. I’m not just a freak about chicken. Really.

We are home chefs – aren’t we? Whether male or female, cooking for a dozen kids or one new husband, we care about what we cook – don’t we? And there’s good reason for caring, we’re fueling life itself. Are we going to put crappy, nasty, cheap fuel into those we care for and feed? Say it with me, No.

And we’re not just counting calories or pennies, we’re counting nutrition and time and effort – we are counting life, every meal we make and eat represents a part of our one, wild and free life. I want these chicken meals to be worth something for my family, even though we are small and new and still figuring out who likes butter and who likes olive oil. I want to be thrifty, and cunning, matching my kitchen wit against the debit card and clock and ceaseless tide of Bad Food, as much as I can, with the best results I can afford.

Because it means something to me. That’s why. I don’t want to take food for granted, ever, but always be a wise steward of the things I have the privilege to count.

the great chicken challenge

“…. a challenge for only the brave at heart…”

 

Yes, that means you.

Hello, random reader. My arm is almost completely better (thanks to the life-saving efforts of my ever-lovely physical therapist, Darcy) which is good for me – bad for the blog. It means I am back to working part time (a mixed blessing, I suppose) and actually doing things like gardening, serious bike riding, knitting, tying my shoes, and other things that were virtually impossible three months ago.  This, reader, is why I haven’t been doing the writing thing so much lately.

I, once more, have a life which involves both arms.

Can I get an Amen?

This week at our angled apartment, we are embarking on a challenge having to do with the plump chicken now sitting in the frigid-aire.

How many meals can I get from one chicken?

You are about to witness something worthy of its own reality T.V. show.

2 people, 4 appetites (all this bike-riding and shoe tying has increased my desire to eat, and happily, my ability to!) 1 chicken. How many meals?

We start today; Friday, the 27th day of April, with a 5.8 pound bird that cost $1.59 per pound for a total of $9.22. Here are some of the questions I am challenging myself to answer:

1) How many meals can be prepared from this chicken, remembering that we both have hearty appetites. It was Alex’s request that I be *reasonable* (I am always reasonable…) and not do something like use the chicken skin to flavor a rice dish. Doesn’t count. We need meat, people. We need to feel Satisfied in the end – like we’ve had chicken!! The challenge ends when the chicken does…

2) How much money per meal, person and serving? This may be a little tricky, but I am going to try to figure it out the best I can and report back with my findings. What do you think? Should I go pound for pound? How picky should I be with counting the cost of ingredients?

3) Also, I would love to do a comparison using common restaurant prices. Exactly how cheap can we get while still ending up with a good, hearty, delicious meal? Hmmmmm??? How does *my* chicken alfredo match up with Olive Garden’s? I know every one says it’s cheaper to cook at home, but exactly *how much* cheaper?

4) Will we ever be able to eat chicken again after having it so often in a short period of time? This, I believe, will be answered by the variety of meals we have. I want to do very different tasting dishes each time so we don’t grow tired because, really, when you’ve grown tired of food, well – what remedy can be offered? I’m thinking chicken chili, grilled chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken curry, chicken soup of some sort, chicken pot pie – – we’ll see. It’s all about being creative.

5) Can I remember to take pictures of each meal? Probably not, but my intentions are noble as I begin with saying – “YES!! THERE WILL BE PICTURES.”

 


SO. There you go. The Great Chicken Challenge.

Are you with me?

Humbly submitted by – me.

homemaker’s victory

I consider the first woman who ever mixed leftover meat with vegetables and seasonings before frying it a domestic revolutionary. She is on my list of ‘Most Inspiring People’. I picture her standing over the blistering hot skillet, hand on her hip, a slight smile playing around the mouth that was more familiar with pursing in serious concentration.

 “Wait till he tries *this*.” She thinks, and I see the smile breaking out now, bright as dawn. Perhaps her burly man had sighed over the soups that were the usual destination for left-overs. Being the thrifty and ingenious matron that she was, she probably set her busy mind on the predicament while scrubbing linens or spinning yarn until she had her solution.

I can see her grating, chopping, adding a little of this and that to scraps of cured pork or beef or mutton, mincing them together with potatoes, cabbage, carrots… what ever her fancy landed on, making her hash and thereby answering her problem. The hot, black pan was made ready for the newborn culinary creation with a swipe of lard and then, just as the man of the house returned from his work, the hash was slapped on and cooked up. He was, I am sure, enticed by the fragrant promise of a good dinner and she was well pleased.

That is as far as I dare conjecture. I know, I went pretty far as it is, but I won’t presume to know whether she served it with eggs, gravy or  a sturdy, home made biscuit. We’ll leave that to her….

I made a very simple hash the other night for the Man of this home, and like that woman so long ago, I made it as an answer to a masculine request… “Can we get some canned hash sometime to eat? I love hash.”

Canned Hash?

Call it Pride (go ahead, I did already and have since repented of my wickedness) but I decided there and then to Make Hash for my husband, Good Hash. Homemade Hash, The Old Way, the Right Way, and if he still desired Hormel, then I would gladly fry him up a can of the stuff and say no more, but please – let me try my hand at it first. Hormel is no fit competition for a woman with a mind and a frying pan. I will hold to that.


Hash

1 potato
1 carrot
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 pound leftover, cooked corned beef

salt and pepper

 

I am sure our matron didn’t have a food processor, but I do. This makes a simple meal even simpler. I minced the potato, carrot, onion, garlic and corned beef in a matter of minutes with the food processor. Some recipes I have read have you add broth to the mix, but I didn’t have any broth and so didn’t find it necessary to use it. This truly is an ‘as you like it’ sort of meal, so you could do wonderful things; add peppers, broccoli, use roast beef or chicken instead of corned beef- it’s up to you!
I spread the hash out in a layer on the bottom of a hot, lightly greased cast-iron frying pan and let it cook, covered, for five minutes or so before stirring it, flattening it back out and cooking it some more. Once the raw vegetables are well cooked, it is ready to serve. At the very last, when the hash was technically ‘done’, I spread it out once more and cracked three eggs on top, covered it and let it cook until the egg whites were opaque but the yolks still liquid. Let me tell you, the hash, dripping with melting egg yolk is one of the best things I have ever eaten – In My Life.
We will not be needing to purchase any Canned Hash in the near future, in fact, I heard some unflattering words launched at the canned stuff while my dear man was happily eating up his dinner.
Real Food, once more, wins the day

 

proteinize me

I know. It’s not a word, yet it made it into the title of this here post- we’ll just look the other way and move on…


My husband has a fondness for Fast and Loud. I am not entirely sure how he was attracted to me- a girl who believes humans really weren’t meant to go much faster than a horse can run and would rather spend an hour chopping veggies rather than use the somewhat noisy food processor.

Ah so. Here we meet in the middle-ground of true love, him with his motorcycle and me with my spinning wheel, happily living together in a world where fast and slow don’t necessarily exclude one another.

How do we fuel this expedition of life? Trying to eat healthily and stay fit to chop veggies or work on cars isn’t as easy as it may have seemed at first. For starters, there is the whole Protein dilemma. How much is enough? How do we get it? How do we make it taste good when we’ve gotten it (I do still believe the answer is ‘deep fry it’….) How do we afford good meat so as to get *protein* and not *hormones* and *antibiotics*? And the ever present- What about snacks?


Questions, questions.


For tonight, the answer lies with this experiment that will be conducted in the kitchen tomorrow- homemade protein bars. Ta-Da.


I did an exhaustive (and exhausting) search for protein bar recipes online and came up with enough that I was able to cannibalize several, mix the pieces with ideas of my own and come up with something of a recipe to try.

*oatmeal
*cocoa powder
*honey
*peanut butter
*sesame seeds
*flax seeds
*coconut oil
*organic rice protein powder

Proportions are subject to my arbitrary whim, as are cooking times, storage and methods for consumption. I’m thinking I’d like to try making a baked one with quinoa flour…. what thinkest thou?

 

"Why did they separate us?"
"Probably for the sanity of those around us...."
"Yeah. Probably."

a very scary story in which the publicity is just too much

It was a dark and stormy night.

That’s the way most scary stories have to start, right?

Well, this story – in which I am scared out of my wits by a genuine fan – does take place at night (that’s the dark part) but there is no storm involved. Sorry.

It was dark though, very dark, and my husband and I were strolling down the sidewalk, arm in arm, headed home after an unsuccessful trip to the movie store downtown. (The movie store closes at seven, not nine, Ann. Duh.) We were talking about something, I am sure, or maybe just walking along in love-struck silence under the orange glow of the streetlights when we were approached by a woman who was leading along a little, fuzzy white dog on a leash. She didn’t seem to notice us as we walked closer to her, and we certainly didn’t pay much attention to her when she was suddenly right in front of us, the little dog sniffing around in the leaves on the edge of the sidewalk, she looked up at me and yelled,

“SWEET POTATO PIE!!!”

She had a huge smile on her face, but I jumped back and immediately tried to hide behind my husband, who was now looking at the lady and the dog – determinedly pawing in the sidelines. She seemed to be about middle age, short brown hair with a happy laugh and not too dangerous a build – the dog was nothing to fear either but my voice and breath were stuck somewhere between my heart and my stomach. Why was she yelling foods at us? Did she want me to respond with another type of pie? Were we doing desserts, or any food, or ones that have to do with potatoes? Or was she just crazy? Or was I sleeping? I stood there, staring at her, mouth open, cutting off the blood to my husband’s hand with my grip on his arm, wondering if I should just run.

“Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you. You wrote that recipe for sweet potato pie in the Reporter. I love your articles, I read them in the paper….. “

I had absolutely forgotten that my column with the sweet potato pie recipe had been published that day. I can’t really remember the rest of what she said because I was so relieved we weren’t about to be killed by someone with an obsession about sweet potatoes. How creepy would that have been? I think I nodded and I must have smiled a little because she kept talking as she walked on, followed by her small dog, apologizing for scaring me and promising to be more discreet should we ever meet in the daylight. I don’t think I had said a single intelligible thing.

Alex and I turned to continue home and he said, “Babe, we need to work on your people skills…. especially if strangers are going to keep coming up to you and saying how much they like to read your column in the paper….”

The next day, when I wandered across the street to the library to pick up a book, the librarian took one look at me and hollered, seasoned with a terrific amount of glee,

“Hey! SWEET POTATO PIE!”

This time I was ready for it and laughed as I said, “Oh, you saw the column yesterday, eh?” The delights of living in a small town. I did much better in the daylight as we talked a little bit about sweet potatoes and pies and books and the freelancing course I took a month ago- Alex would have been proud of my people skills.

I think I am going to start giving my columns more interesting names so that when people scream them back at me, I will have a better idea that they are not threatening me, but simply quoting me. Here are some ideas…

“Hey! YOU’RE GORGEOUS!”

“Hey! REVENGE OF THE SPIDER SPINSTER!”

“Hey – 200 THINGS TO DO WITH BLUE YARN!”

“Hey! I MARRIED A YANKEE COP!”

“Hey! RIDING THE BUS WITH MY APPLE!”

And we all lived happily ever after,

The End.