Thursday, February 24, 2011

Decluttering: Step 1 (of MANY)

The first step will be to go through any magazines lying around.

Now that I have conquered the art of writing in cookbooks, I will conquer the most logical next step: ripping up magazines. (Ok, so maybe that isn't the next logical step nor the next step at all, but we'll go with it.)

I have countless home design and cooking magazines lying around our place. They are not organized in a magazine stand. They are not neatly stacked on my bedside table. No, they are not even stashed beside the toilet or strewn across the coffee table. They are packed in boxes, packed in beautiful pine chests, and laying around in other spaces where they will never be looked at. (Why do I do this??!!!)

So, the first step to de-cluttering our home will be to go through said magazines and to TEAR OUT the pages that appeal to me.

Here are the rules:

No tearing out ...

1) photos of clothes I'd never wear.
2) pictures of good-looking men (haha ... this is just here for my husband. I'd be hard-pressed to find pictures of men in the kind of magazines I have lying around. Mostly just kitchens and food here ...)
3) dessert recipes which are too decadent and/or artery-blocking for me to feel good about making
4) photos of design options that we will never have (ie. they could never work in our current home)
5) recipes which are made up primarily of ready-made store-brought products

Once pages have been torn out, recipes will be clipped and taped into my recipe scrapbook for later use. Home design inspirational photos will be sorted by room category and placed in a folder for future reference. Craft ideas will also be sorted and placed in a folder. EVERYTHING ELSE GOES IN THE RECYCLING BIN ..... no second chances or pass-throughs.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A word or two on babies and sleeping ...

I am no expert when it comes to babies, sleeping, or the two combined, but I like to think I have a brain in my head that works reasonably well.

I just have to get this off my chest because it's something that really drives me up the wall.

All people are not the same. Some people sleep long periods of time. Some people wake multiple times in the night. Some people take naps. Some don't. Some like to sleep under the covers, some like one foot sticking out. Some people crash the moment they hit the pillow. Some toss and turn for hours at a time.

What am I trying to get at? Sleeping patterns, I believe, can vary appreciably amongst different people. And as a result, so can the sleeping patterns of babies!

Do not dare to put yourself down because your baby wakes up one, two, three, eight, or ten times a night. Do not judge yourself for nursing your baby to sleep, or for "wearing" your baby to sleep. Do not feel threatened when other moms report that their child sleeps through the night if yours does not.

Babies are different. They sleep differently.

Some can be laid down in their crib when they're sleepy and will put themselves to sleep. Some require rocking to sleep and can only be laid down when they are completely "out." And still, others prefer to co-sleep all night long.

It doesn't matter how your baby or anyone else's baby sleeps. What matters is that the baby gets the sleep they need and that you do too (eventually!).

So, for the love of all that is holy, do not feel bad about your kids' sleeping patterns, and certainly do NOT give unsolicited advice to parents about their children's sleep habits.

Thank you. And thank you for putting up with my rant.

PS. This wasn't meant to be an angry post - just a shout out to the moms out there and a reminder to myself for when I'm having a weak moment :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Write in your cookbooks!

Do it. Do it now. Do it often. Dirty up those cookbooks. Scribble in them. Doodle in them. Document in them.

If you are a food lover, someone that loves cooking, or even someone who just opens a cookbook occasionally, WRITE IN YOUR COOKBOOKS.

Maybe this seems like an obvious notion to you, but it was anything but obvious to me. It wasn't until my sister-in-law told me about how much she loved reading an old annotated cookbook that I even considered scarring up my cookbooks with my chicken scratch. It's as though it were some blasphemous act to write a note in a cookbook that is your very own. The thought of writing in pen, let alone pencil, in any sort of book other than a notebook seemed like a cardinal sin. But why?

For no good reason - that's for sure!

So now I write in my cookbooks. I write in all of them. I write in them every time I make something new, and even sometimes when I make something for a second, third, or fourth time.

I always write the date - that's a good start. It's fun to look back at when you made it for the first time. I write about who I served it to and whether or not they liked it (and if I liked it). I write about any substitutions, additions, or omissions. Best of all, I write about what was going on when I made it.

They say that we have strong associations between smells and memories. Well, now I also have strong associations between foods and memories.

We had a chicken dish the night we got Mowgli. I made lemon poppyseed pound cake, oatmeal energy bars, and borscht the day before JC was born.

What do I do when it's an electronic recipe? I blog about it I guess!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Swimming Update

I wish I could say that I have mastered more of my goals that I listed off in a previous post, but you just have to take things one step at a time, right?

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I am proud to say that I not only met my first goal, but I trumped it!

The week after I posted that I wanted to "slip in" the pool with JC, I did it. It's no big deal at all. It simply involves laying the babe down on the deck beside the pool edge (with toes toward the pool so baby does inadvertently roll into the pool!), and keeping one hand on baby's belly while you slip into the pool. Then you simply pick up the little cutie and you're off to the races. SIMPLE. NOT scary.

So how did I trump it? Well, 3 weeks ago, we were introduced to "underwater passes." This involves diving the baby into the water head first and having the instructor "catch" the baby as he/she comes up from the water. (Sort of like a little dolphin dive.) You support the baby's belly with one hand (left hand for me), and with the other arm, you support the baby's back with your forearm and support the baby's head with your palm (right arm/hand for me). Then you dive the baby into the water, head-first, and slide the baby out of the water in an upward motion, allowing the instructor to grab him/her. This one is much scarier than "slipping in," but still is NOT THAT BAD! JC didn't seem to mind a bit. In fact, it seemed easier for her than when I dunk her!

I wonder what the next swimming hurdle will be ...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And in the fine print at the bottom it says:

If you do not want to receive these daily deals, please Unsubscribe from this mailing.

We're VERY slowly decluttering things around the house and I am so very thankful for that!

However, my inbox is a HUGE source of clutter. How huge you ask? Well, I currently have 2156 messages in my gmail. I pride myself on keeping it under 2200. I know, I know - I have high standards ... haha.

So, my current mission is to unsubscribe to newsletters etc. when I receive them rather than simply highlighting them all and deleting them.

I had been doing very well with my "unsubscriptions" until one made me stop and think yesterday. When I clicked "unsubscribe," it led me to the usual type of website where they either a) let you off easy by saying they're sorry your won't be getting there mail anymore b) ask you to enter your email address so they can remove you, or c) ask you to explain (or click checkboxes) as to why you no longer wish to receive their mail. Well, after completing the mini-survey for why I was leaving, I actually felt GUILTY about leaving. WHAT?! Yeah, that's right. I was concerned that I may have hurt some huge corporations FEELINGS by unsubscribing to their newsletters which I don't even read! How silly!

So, from this point forward, I will unsubscribe with abandon and not worry that multi-million dollar corporations will have hurt feelings because they won't be able to fill up my inbox anymore. And I won't burden myself by worrying that I am missing out on something hugely important because I no longer have a subscription to every last company and corporations' newsletters.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

the meal he requested

As I mentioned in a previous post (Yum!), I have been experimenting with some recipes from McCormick spices. This week my husband requested the Honey-Rosemary Stuffed Pork Chops accompanied by the Pear and Field Green Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

And so I made them.

For the pork chops, I used butterfly cut pork chops. I would have liked to purchase them from Teal's (a local pork producer), but I haven't been able to make it out to the farmer's market recently, so I made do with some seemingly trustworthy cuts from the grocery store. For the apples I used Empire because that's what I had in the fridge (in place of Granny Smith). I am sad to report that I used store-bought chicken bouillon instead of homemade (tsk tsk), but it still turned out well. The only complication was the stuffing part of things. I used ~6 toothpicks on each chop to try to keep 'em closed, but without luck. The stuffing fell out and so I pulled the toothpicks and decided not to fight the losing battle. It turned out delicious though, and because the pork didn't end up being "stuffed," I didn't feel guilty about cutting each chop in half so that we each had a REASONABLE serving of meat. (The recipe calls for 4 thick cut chops, but I used 2 butterfly-cut chops - roughly half of what they called for.) My favourite part of this recipe was toasting the almonds. They smelled DELICIOUS!!

For the salad I used red leaf lettuce because that's what I had in the fridge. I skipped toasting the walnuts because I was in a rush. I butcher the dressing because I forgot that I didn't have pomegranate juice and that we were out of ground cinnamon. It ended up being a bit of olive oil, a juice box (leftover from camping last summer!) of apple juice, a splash of sparkling wine, some busted up cinnamon sticks, some ground ginger, a bit of sugar, and a bit of salt. It was ok, but some tartness or zing would have been nice. Oh well. It did the trick. The blue cheese was delightful! It's not something we usually buy, so we savoured it and enjoyed every tasty little crumble.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Groundhog Day Snowstorm

I must say I was a little disappointed by the dreaded Groundhog Day snowstorm. Sure it snowed and the wind howled and the snow drifted, but we definitely weren't snowed in. Rick Mercer did a great little rant that I think applies to this situation.

The best thing about the heavy snowfall was the shoveling. I don't know why, but I LOVE to shovel snow. In fact, I was so eager to shovel that I bundled JC up in her snowsuit, plunked her in her carseat, tucked a blanket around her and placed her on the veranda while I shoveled for awhile. She was very patient and let me shovel our sidewalk, our 2 neighbours' sidewalks, our walkway and part of our driveway before she started to complain!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Just 'cause it's pretty ...

... doesn't mean I have to OWN it.

This is something that I NEED to get through my head!

We moved in to our new home on December 16th (2010) and I am still unpacking. I don't mean that there are a few boxes of rarely used things left to unpack. I mean that there are LOADS of boxes of rarely used things left.

What does this mean? It means we (or more likely I) have TOO MUCH stuff!

I have a horrible habit of buying things because they're pretty. I'm like a monkey attracted to shiny things! I buy note cards that are packaged in cute and pretty little boxes because I like to have them. Not because I use the box for something after I use up the note cards - nope! I do it just BECAUSE.

This also applies to clothing. I have boxes, and boxes, and BOXES of clothes I never wear, but they're too pretty to get rid of. So silly...

Then there's the difficulty of gifts. I have lots of beautiful gifts that I've been given over the years that are just that - they're beautiful (and often not all that useful). Sure I can store things in some of them, but do I NEED them? Do they add something to my life? (Other than another thing to unpack/dust/trip over?)

How did this start? Why do I (and many others) do this? I don't know, but I seem to remember having a closet FULL of empty tissue boxes. Yes, I collected empty facial tissue boxes. Why? NO IDEA. I should also mention that I collected empty sugar packages for a period of time as well.

I no longer collect anything. Nothing. Well, maybe money? (And it seems that I collect yarn, too.) But no teddy bears, elephants, giraffes, buttons, pins, thimbles, and DEFINITELY NO tissue boxes!

What do you collect (on purpose or by chance)?