Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Planet Laundry

I used to only do laundry on Mondays. Domestic Duty Day. I could clean the house and do all the laundry in just one day. For years I've been hanging on to the idea of Domestic Mondays. Baby one came along and we noticed an increase in laundry, but Mondays were still fine. Baby two, more laundry. I could get it all washed on Monday, but inevitably a basket or two would sit around for a few days. Baby three. Wow! There's a lot of laundry! An idea that my husband has been mentioning for at least a year filtered through my thick skull today... every day is laundry day with three kids.

I really hate laundry, so this realization makes me very sad. I do not want to do laundry every day. Sometimes I'll watch guilty pleasure shows like Desperate Housewives while hanging and folding, which eases the pain, but most often if the tv is on the children come 'round, so off it stays.

How does a domestic goddess stay motivated? It should be intrinsic for a true domestic goddess, but it isn't for me. It can be learned! There's a book that helps...  check it out to the left. I love it!

A final question: Why is it that men seem to completely forget how household appliances work after they get married? (A wonderful exception to this is the stove and oven, of which my husband makes tantalizing use).

Monday, September 27, 2010

I love Mondays

... now that two out of three are in school! My house is quiet for the first time in days. Two in school, one napping. Even one of the cats is entertaining herself (the other is off adventuring).

Yes, there is laundry to do, dishes to be washed and the week to plan, but right now it's just my coffee and the computer. Peace. A rare and joyful thing.

How often do you stop and simply listen to the birds singing, or watch the light dance through the trees as the sun embraces the day?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What a week!

And it's not even over yet!

- Darling daughter #2 loses her lovey somewhere between taking her shoes off and going to play with her sister. She and Papa are both certain she brought him home, but he is no where to be found. Bedtime is very difficult.

- I discover my 1-year-old's crib has been recalled.
- The cat came home with a very swollen paw that he can hardly walk on. Looks like a bite.
- My sweet singing first-born joins a choir!!! She had a blast. It was so cool. Little sis is still on the fence.
- Bedtime is still difficult for DD2. We've looked everywhere.  The beanie baby has been discontinued and is ridiculously expensive. E-bay offers a solution! The Lost Lovey Store is my new favorite.

- Same cat (we have two) vomits all over the couch and darling daughter #1 says, "Mommy! Milo's vomit is moving!" So disgusting! Worms. Apparently round. Call the vet and it's likely both cats have the worms. Appointment, poop review and wormer meds will cost around $100 per cat. I'll call back.
- Three sleeping children and a quiet dinner with hubby. A romantic thunderstorm and suddenly... black. no power. Baby screaming. He joined us for the rest of our dinner. Thank goodness for those camping lights!
- Baby can't fall back to sleep during the storm. Sleeps with us. Middle of the night I put him back into his bed. Awake a few hours later with one girl on each side of me.

- No school due to power outage. Sadness! Kids are happy, though.
- I am a wimp without electricity. Consumers tells us it might not be back until 5pm Friday!
- 5pm power is restored!!! Whoo hoo!
- DD2 is ok without the lovey for the first night.

- Grumpy girls.
- Vet appointment for Milo this afternoon.
- A replacement lovey arrives. DD2 is very happy. She knows it isn't the one she lost, but loves it and she takes him promptly to her bed where it will remain safe. Mommy is happy too.
- DD1 complaining (that's putting it mildly) about her ear. Cold + ear pain...

Can't wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Crib recall: Steps 1 - 5

So, I'm doing a series of articles on crib recalls for examiner only to discover that the crib we've been using for the past 4 years (3 for darling daughter #2 and 1 year for our son) is on the recall list! So, I thought I'd document the wonderful process of dealing with and replacing a recalled crib.

This is for a Jardine crib. Other manufacturer procedures may be different.

Step 1: Crawl under your child's crib to obtain the model number and production date.
Step 2: Write the number down so that when you get back to your computer to verify your crib is part of the recall you do not have to go back upstairs to look again due to short term memory failure.
Step 3: Go to the recalled crib section on www.cpsc.gov or this link: recalled cribs
Step 4: Fill out the form (e-file) to initiate the receipt of your pre-paid Fed Ex shipping label or do it by snail mail.
Step 5: Stop there because you're exhausted already!

And in the meantime the baby is still sleeping in this crib.

Jardine Olympia crib recalled 2009 Photo from www.cpsc.gov

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baking Frenzy

Yesterday I went completely insane in the kitchen. I'm no longer buying bread from the store and we are now happily eating only homemade bread. This means I bake a lot of bread each weekend. I love it! It's easy, fun and rewarding. And the house smells great! My husband's only complaint is that it is too tasty to stop eating!

This week I decided to deviate from my typical basic bread loaf and searched for a recipe to make a softer sandwich loaf. Oh, I did the basic loaf too (flour, yeast, water & honey - pictured at left in various shapes, sizes and flour combinations) and also zucchini-carrot muffins for my preschooler's classroom snack. I felt like a professional baker with kitchen surfaces covered with freshly baked bread, rising dough and muffins. I baked for 3 hours straight. This thanks to a 1-year-old who took an incredible nap and the best husband/papa who took with him one little girl and did the grocery shopping.

The sandwich loaf is good, but more complicated to make than the basic bread and I have to say, isn't as delicious. So, to impress your family and friends, stick with the basic for now. This recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver's (see link in previous post). So simple that you have no excuse but to try it for yourself.

Four cups flour (I typically use 2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour and 2 whole wheat).
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2+ cups warm water (not too hot or you'll kill the yeast)
1 or 2 tablespoons of honey (I don't measure anymore)

Mix the flour, salt and active dry yeast in a large bowl.
Make a pit in the center and pour in the water
Add the honey
Mix with a wooden spoon until combined and then (after thoroughly washing your hands and removing jewelry)
knead on a clean, floured surface (I use a large plastic cutting board).

The reason I love baking bread far more than cake or other measured baking is because it is a little different every time. You may need to add a bit more water or you may want to work with a dryer dough until you're more comfortable with kneading. And you can cheat and use a mixer with a bread hook, but it just doesn't turn out the same.

So, knead! For about 10 minutes until it's that perfect texture and push it into a ball.
Set it on a floured surface and score it two to three times.
Leave it to rise until doubled in size (90 minutes).
Punch that baby down (gently) and listen and feel the air squeezing out of it. Back into a ball. For two smaller loaves cut it in half. For a big one leave it whole.
Flour the top, score it 3 times and leave it again for another hour or two.
Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes.

Et voila!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A clean kitchen - ever hear of that?!

As a Stay-at-home (trying to work from home) mother I despise the constant cycle of clean kitchen/messy kitchen. I'm writing here now to procrastinate putting away the dishes for the second time, vacuuming for the second time, putting away crayons and colorings for the third time and all the joys and wonders that go along with it all. The baby will wake in moments (especially as his big sisters keep jumping and screaming in the bedroom next door to him), I've no idea what's for dinner and I'd much rather be writing anyway.

If you've got little ones at home, I'd love to know how many times a day do you clean up? For me it's between 4 and 6 times a day on average. Breakfast, 10am snack, lunch, 3pm snack, dinner for the kids, dinner for the parents. How many hours a day are spent (wasted) on this vicious cycle?! Add to that the trail of toys and clothes. I try to tidy only three times a day: once before lunch, once before dinner and once after bedtime. Note that the tidy times just happen to coincide with the arrival of my dear husband! I usually get a break from the after-bed tidy as he does it while I'm putting the monkeys away. I mean to bed.

Back to the grind now. More tomorrow on birthdays cakes and insane bread baking.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kindergarten, Kleenex and coffee

My little girl started Kindergarten yesterday! She was so excited. The nerves only came out at drop-off. Too many parents clogging the way into the classroom and the area where she needed to hang her jacket and backpack. We let her go in by herself, but when I peeked in to see how she was doing I saw her just standing there, not knowing quite what to do. Mommy to the rescue! After she was settled she gave me a kissing hand and checked to be sure she still had all the kisses I had given her earlier!

Little sis starts preschool next week. 3 mornings of only one child and hopefully he'll nap most of that time! He's the Kleenex and coffee portion of this post. Teething, a cold, and not sleeping very well! Which means neither am I, of course. But what's new! The boy turns 1 next week and hasn't slept through an entire night even once. But he sure is cuddly, and he's the last (please, god and birth control), so I guess I don't mind enough to do anything about it!

Now, to get into DGMommy mode.... I'm off to bake a birthday cake from scratch! As soon as hubby gets home with the eggs...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My personal definition of a Domestic Goddess

OK, here's what I think a domestic goddess is, or should be, today. A relative mix of June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable and Elise Keaton (family ties).

I think holders of the DG title have to be good housekeepers, good cooks, good entertainers, good to their spouses, keep themselves relatively put together and be great parents.

Some of my household goals are (and the reality is):

- Keep a clean and tidy house (it's tidy at least 3 times a day, but not so clean!). Specifically, I'd like to have a weekly clean schedule that I always stick to, i.e. laundry on Mondays, Bathrooms on Tuesdays, Dust/Vacuum Wednesdays, etcetera, etcetera...
- Have organized closets (Currently I'd give myself a grade of C-)
- Always be on top of the laundry (completely failing most of the time... should be doing that now)
- Have menus planned out 3 days in advance (the real goal is a week, but I'm starting small since I typically plan them between 1 hour and 5 minutes in advance),
-Be crafty. I've always wanted to be one of those moms that could sew anything (I can only do buttons and socks)!

Enough of that depressing self-assessment! I'm a great cook, I bake wonderful bread, I'm good at loading the dishwasher efficiently, doing most any task one-handed (the other usually holding a baby), telling bed-time stories, making up songs, cracking-up my children and I manage to shower at least 5 times a week! Remember, I have a 5-year-old, a 4-year-old (on Thursday!) and a 1-year-old (next week!). As any mother of young children knows, showers are a true sign of accomplishment.

What's your definition of "domestic goddess"? Where do you excel and where do you want to improve? Let me hear from you!

What is a "Domestic Goddess" anyway?

Let's explore the dictionary definitions of "Domestic" and "Goddess"...

Definition of Domestic: do·mes·tic (adjective)
3: of or relating to the household or the family <domestic chores> <domestic happiness>
4: devoted to home duties and pleasures <leading a quietly domestic life>
Definition of DOMESTIC (Noun)
1: a household servant (Don't like that one at all! Do you?)
Definition of GODDESS god·dess noun \ˈgä-dəs also ˈgȯ-\
1: a female god
2: a woman whose great charm or beauty arouses adoration (better!)

According to Urbandictionary.com a domestic goddess is:

A female who excels at baking, cooking, cleaning-housework of all sorts. She loves to please and enjoys hearing compliments about her awesomeness around the house/kitchen. She may sew, knit, have domestic hobbies that come out well. She doesn't have to have children to be considered a domestic goddess.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Homemade Pasta could kill you

Yesterday we made homemade pasta and a meat sauce to die for. The sauce cooked for 12 hours, until the cheap piece of meat had cooked until it fell apart, the garlic melted into nothingness and even our two-toothed baby could take bites!

The kitchen is one area where I may eventually achieve domestic goddess status if I had the time. Perhaps when the children are a bit older. Anyway, the pasta. Fresh pasta is easier than you think. It's fast and costs pennies when you consider it. We use a recipe for basic pasta out of Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef cookbook. This book is superb for the beginner, or even a seasoned home cook.

Essentially, it's flour and egg. My husband and I decided to cut the recipe in half, so we did 2 cups flour with 3 eggs. Drop it in a bowl and either use a wooden spoon or your hand to mix the two together. Once incorporated, take it out and knead it on a flat surface for a few minutes until it's a nice smooth ball. Then your ready to roll it out or use a pasta maker (we prefer the non-motorized, but we're traditional) to get it thinner.

Homemade, fresh and delicious!
That made enough for our family of 5 with some leftover. We used half whole wheat, half AP and the pasta was amazing. Like silk! So good that my husband and I couldn't comprehend why we ever buy the dry stuff from the store! The baby uttered his only word, "Good!" with every bite!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Take a walk with me

So, here I am, finally entering the blogging world. I'm a writer, but first and foremost a wife and mother. I am no where near a domestic goddess; I don't even believe it's achievable with young children, but I'm determined to get there... eventually!

I hope you'll join me on the endless merry-go-round of parenting and life!