Monday, November 28, 2016

Menu plan for the week of November 28

Hi everybody!  How was your weekend?

And ... that's about all the chit-chat I've got in me today.  On to the menu:


  • Fundraising dinner
  • Beef stroganoff, corn, applesauce
  • Chicken & wild rice soup, rolls
  • Hot beef sandwiches, rolls, carrots
  • Pizza, salad
  • Nachos, taco toppings, guacamole
  • BBQ pork ribs, mashed potatoes, green beans


Monday, November 21, 2016

Menu plan for the week of November 21

For a couple of weeks now, Hubby has been saying, "we should make cookies," at least once a day.  And by "we," he means "you," as in me.  I guess I'm just not feeling the cookie-making vibe these days.  In any case, he got desperate enough last week to actually make cookies himself. And now he's back to saying, "we should make cookies" again.  I don't know.  It might happen this week.  Or not.  I'm not anticipating feeling like making cookies.

I love cookie monster, and he showed up on milk billboards in the late 90s looking a little something like this:

Do you remember?  I made Hubby buy me a shirt with this image on it after I gave birth to my first kiddo.  Because I did have milk.  Just not cookies.  Maybe I need to get my cookie monster got milk shirt out.  Maybe that'll stir up my cookie-making mojo.

Thanksgiving is this week.  You know, the holiday where we show how thankful we are by eating as much as we possibly can until we can't really move.  I debated whether to even post this week's menu plan, as focused as everyone is on just one meal this week, but then I decided, aw heck, I don't want to disappoint my fans.  And we still gotta eat the other 6 days this week.  We may not have to eat after that, though.  I'll get back to you.  Maybe.

Here ya go:

  • Grilled chicken burgers, buns, carrots, chips, mandarin oranges
  • Beef stroganoff, corn, bread
  • Clean out the fridge day (which is kind of silly to do on Wednesday, since I do my grocery shopping on Tuesday...)
  • Roast turkey with sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, oven roasted brussels sprouts, corn, green bean casserole, applesauce
  • Sausage and white bean soup, bread
  • Nachos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Pizza, salad
  • Taco bean soup
  • Granola
  • Greek yogurt
  • Brownie pecan pie
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Muffins
  • Turkey stock

Monday, November 14, 2016

Menu plan for the week of November 14

Here's what's on the menu this week:


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mopping the walls

I mopped my walls the other day.

I know.  That's up there on the crazy scale right next to vacuuming a stove, which I have also done, because ramen exists, and which I should have mentioned last week (the stove vacuuming part, not the ramen part).

If you're sitting there thinking, "this Scarlet woman is a little loony," you are correct.  If you are sitting there thinking, "this must be a cleaning hack," you are also correct.

This easy wall cleaning hack comes to us courtesy of Life Should Cost Less.

Here's the hack:
  1. Working from top to bottom and left to right, lightly mist the wall with your cleaning product of choice.  Just make sure it's safe for your paint or wall covering.
  2. Mop the wall, using a fair amount of pressure.
  3. (this is my addition) If necessary, use a magic eraser to remove any remaining scuffs.
  4. Enjoy the clean walls that you just achieved with minimal effort.
So I mopped my walls.  I was actually pretty surprised that this hack worked--shocked, even, as I watched those marks disappear.  You see, this is the reason I needed to mop my walls.  You think you have fingerprints and smudges on your walls?  Well, I live with an American Ninja Warrior in training.  He sweats on those walls.  At least it's a useful skill--that boy changed a light bulb for us the other day.

I don't have a fancy mop with washable covers like Sarah (although I totally think I should get one, because it would be so much more fun than my sponge mop--more sanitary, too), so I just used my mangy old sponge mop.  I also did not want to bother with a spray bottle, so I used a bucket for my cleaning solution.  Yup.  This totally worked to remove all of the hand (and foot) prints and a lot of the smudges.  Any smudges that were left after I went over the wall with the mop were easily removed by a magic eraser.

And mopping was a heckofalot faster than my previous wall cleaning method, which involved a step stool, a bucket of cleaning solution, a scrubby sponge, some rags, two children and a mama, and a whole lot of elbow grease.  Finished my hallway in about 10 minutes, as opposed to the 2 hours or so it took the last time I cleaned those walls.

Ready to try for yourself?  Here's what you need:

Let me know how it works for you!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Menu plan for the week of November 7

Hey y'all.  It's November.  November happened.  But in our neck of the woods (maybe in yours, too?), it has been unseasonably warm.  We had highs in the 60s, and we even kissed the 70s, last week.  I am not complaining, oh no.  It's just weird to think, "it's November," when it's so warm out.  Every now and then, it sneaks up on me, and catches me unaware.  I need to keep reminding myself that it's November, in the same way that I had to keep reminding myself, when we were in Hawaii many moons ago, that we were in the U.S. and it was January.

November used to be such a dismal time for me.  It was so gray, and everything was dead, and it was cold and dark, and there wasn't even any snow to pretty things up.  November was so desolate.  Not this year.

How is your November going?  I'm really looking forward to spending time with family later in the month, but again, it just seems so wrong that it's still so warm.  No worries.  I know the cold is coming.

On to the menu!  Let's start with dessert first this time, and see if anyone notices, shall we?


  • Chocolate peanut butter mini pies
  • Chocolate chip zucchini muffins
  • Cinnamon swirl bagels (these are so, so yummydelicious!  You have got to try making your own bagels)
  • Taco bean soup x2 (One of these days, I'll have to update y'all on how this recipe has evolved over the years... This soup is pretty much all I eat.  I eat it for lunch every day, and sometimes for snacks.  I've also been eating it for breakfast, and for supper when we're having something I don't like.  I'm trying to get stocked up, instead of running out of soup before I run out of week, but it sure would be nice if I had a larger pot!)
  • Creamy chicken wild rice soup
  • Egg roll in a bowl (because I still haven't made this!  And it'll provide a nice change from soup for a day or two)

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Container Concept

I don't know, maybe you've heard of this.  It's certainly not a new or revolutionary concept.  I was formally introduced to it in the spring (Scarlet, meet container concept...), when I took a free organizing video course, and I've been reminded of it recently while listening to the A Slob Comes Clean podcast.

The container concept goes like this: when trying to decide how many of a type of item one can have or keep, one should put it/them in an appropriately sized container.  Whatever fits can be kept.  Whatever doesn't fit should be gotten rid of (or not brought into the house).  It's a way of corralling, but also a way of prioritizing.  If you can only keep what fits, you are for darned sure going to make sure your favorites go in the container first.

A container could be an actual container, like a basket, box, or bag (I personally prefer rigid containers), or the container could be a closet, one shelf in a closet, one drawer in a dresser, or one room in a house.  My "starter" freezer is the perfect example of a container.  If it needs to be kept frozen, and it doesn't fit in my freezer, I can't have it (well, until winter, when we can use the great outdoors as our freezer...)

I do want to point out that you don't have to go out and buy containers, necessarily.  Most of my containers are either cardboard boxes, or food containers of odd sizes that I can't have in my kitchen anymore because all of my containers need to be stackable (it's a rule--which is also a helpful organizing tool).  I don't think I've bought a container yet, specifically for the purpose of applying this concept.

I love this idea  from Erin Spain to upcycle an ugly box into a pretty container
Now, I'm sure there are some of you who are sitting there like, well, duh.  Of course you can only have as much of something as you have space for.  But there are people among us who, while they might understand this on some level, they still don't seem to quite "get" it.  We want to have more, or we got a great deal and stocked up, so we get a bigger container.  Or we don't have a clearly defined container in the first place.  There are people, and I'm one of them, who need to be told these things.  And just in case you're one of them, I'm telling you now.  Container Concept.

It's all part of streamlining life to make our possessions easier to manage.  Just like with money, we have a finite amount of space, and it's important to make wise decisions about how to use that space.  It is hard to keep a space organized if it's overflowing with all kinds of everything, and organized clutter is still just clutter.

So I've been applying the container concept to various collections of stuff in my life.  For instance, we have so many water bottles.  So.  Many.  We have water bottles for hiking, water bottles for biking, water bottles for kayaking, water bottles for sports, insulated water bottles, even a special water bottle for car trips, which is actually broken, but I cannot get rid of it, because even broken it is useful (to some of us).  And we need them all accessible at all times.

You might think I'm being facetious.  I am not.  We really do need them all to be easily accessible at all times, because at any moment, any one of us might be called upon to hike or bike or road trip or sport.

And you know the thing about water bottles?  They multiply.  At least at our house, they do.  They seem especially attracted to Hubby, for some reason.  They're always following him home.

We used to keep them in one of our kitchen cupboards.  And they were always falling over, and the whole thing was a mess.  The children, who are nominally responsible for putting clean dishes away, would open the cupboard door, chuck the water bottle in, and then slam the door shut before anything could fall out.  But due to the need to keep them accessible, I couldn't put the water bottles anywhere else.

So I put them in a box.  In the cupboard.  And I informed the other people who live here that they are welcome to collect as many water bottles as they want.  As long as they fit in this box.
This is my favorite water bottle.
I kind of wish I had the quart size.
It's such an easy thing to do, once I realize that it applies to whatever situation I find myself facing--it's not quite a habit yet.  I don't know about the other people who live here, but I am certainly much happier, having applied the container concept to our water bottle infestation.  I do think Hubby might be hoarding some water bottles our closet, though...

Your turn: Are you one of the lucky people sitting there going, duh, of course?  Or are you like me?  Take a look around your spaces.  To what collection of items can you apply this concept?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Stove-top cleaning hacks

Hello again.  I promised you some cleaning hacks, so here you go!  Today's theme is stove cleaning hacks.

So first, I have to apologize to those of you who have electric stoves, 'cause these first couple tips won't necessarily apply to you.  Well, maybe the second one if you have the traditional heating coils instead of a glass or ceramic top.  And of course, glass tops are so easy to clean you don't really need hacks, right?  Right?  But stay tuned, because there's a third tip that will work for electric stoves, too!

So first up, to clean the burner grates on a gas stove, remove them, and place them in a plastic bag along with 1/4 - 1/2 c of ammonia.  Seal up the bag and leave them overnight or longer.  I've heard placing them in the sun helps (because it's the fumes from the ammonia that do the work).  When time's up, remove the grates from the bag and wipe them clean.  Yes, it really is that easy!  I've heard this method works on oven racks as well (use a large garbage bag for oven racks).

So, the burner grates weren't really my problem.  Mine are pretty slick, so they clean up pretty well with soapy water.  My problem was the wells of the burners.  You know, the depression that catches the potato water when the pot boils over?  That's the one.  I have spent years scrubbing at those things, to no avail.  I'd pretty much given up hope of them ever coming clean, until I saw this tip from the V spot.

Again, pour 1/4-1/2 cup of ammonia into the drip pans/wells of the burners, and cover the whole thing with plastic wrap to seal in the vapors.  Let it sit for 12-24 hours, then wipe clean.  Or scrub clean.  Or...well...scrub clean...enough.  Vivienne used Press'n Seal Glad Wrap, but I just used regular old plastic wrap--I just made sure to press it down along all the edges.  And it worked!  Just like Vivienne, mine's not perfect, but it is a whole lot better than it was before.

OK, now you electric stove owners can tune back in.  

Next I cleaned the filters on our exhaust fan.  It had never occurred to me to clean those suckers, but when you think about everything that goes on on a stove, it makes sense that they might get a bit gunky.  I used this method from One Good Thing by Jillee.  Basically, you stick the filters in some boiling water to which you've added baking soda.  I don't think the baking soda is even strictly necessary, since it's mostly grease on the filter, and everything that isn't grease is glued in place by grease, so just the hot water ought to do it.  If you don't have a pot big enough to submerge your filter, do one half, then turn it over and do the other.  Scrub with a stiff brush, if you must, but I didn't find that to be necessary.  

And did it work?  Well, the first time Hubby turned on the stove hood exhaust fan after I had cleaned the filters, he said, "whoa!  What happened?  This thing really sucks!"  By which he meant that the fan was doing its job, sucking up and exhausting cooking vapors.  So yes, it worked, and the difference was noticeable.

  That's all for now.  More cleaning hacks coming up next week!
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