Thursday, January 28, 2010

Have you ever…

… cut off your nylons just above your hemline and just below the top of your tall boots to get rid of the exposed section on your knee, which (of course) has a run?

… wished that you didn’t pursue your current career because your (decent) salary and (high-ish) rung on "the ladder" limits your options to change jobs, work part-time or just quit and stay home with the kids?

… put your kids to bed late and let them run amok because you were trying to break your high score on Wii Fit Plus Ski Jumping?

… seen all those beautiful Haitian children and felt the urgent need to put one in your pocket and bring him home with you?

… bought your kid’s teacher a pink Snuggie to congratulate her on her retirement?

… put all the ingredients in the crock pot, then left it on the counter, unplugged, all day?

Yeah, me neither.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I’m feeling a little 8:25 AM-ish at 5:45 PM

So, have you heard about this study from Uniroyal Tyre in the UK? Apparently they did a survey of working moms and found that 8:25 AM is the most stressful time of the day. At 8:25, they have been wrangling kids out of beds and into clothes, making lunches and packing backpacks and trying to get them off to school on time.

I heard about the study at 8:25 this morning, in my car, as I was sipping the coffee my 9-year-old handed to me in a travel mug as I walked out the door (love that kid).

Mornings are not too bad for me, actually. I do most of the lunches the night before and just pop any thermos items in each morning. Backpacks are organized and ready the night before. The kids lay out their clothes before they go to bed. My kids are all wake up fairly easily, usually between 6:30 and 7:00. I’m an early riser myself, hopping out of bed at 6:00 to cycle the wash, unload the dishwasher, start breakfast and get myself ready for work.

I aim to leave the house between 8:00 and 8:15 each morning, at which point Homer takes over. By the time I leave, the kids have eaten, brushed their teeth and washed their faces, are dressed, have their hair done and have their snowpants and boots on. Lisa sets the timer to go off at 8:25 to signal that it’s time to put on the rest of their outdoor gear.

Evenings? Not so smooth.

I pick the kids up from the sitter anywhere between 5:00 and 6:00, usually about 5:30. At the sitters they are usually “in the middle of something”, like playing Wii, doing a craft or just playing, leaving me at the small entranceway begging them to please come and get their coats on. On average, it takes at least 10 minutes to get out of the sitter’s house.

In the 5-minute car ride home, they All! Want to tell me! About their day! Which is fine, but there is much fussing and pouting about who is getting more airtime.

When we get in the door, everyone knows what they’re supposed to do (hang coats, put away hats, etc., remove lunch bags and homework from backpacks), but it’s often only with nagging that it actually gets done (except for Lisa, who is very orderly).

I plan my weekday dinners, so I know exactly what we’re having, but I usually need to do a few minutes of prep to get the meal going so that it’s on the table at a decent time. I always ask the kids to give me these few minutes, uninterrupted, and then I’ll help them with homework while the dinner is cooking. They use this time that they’re not bugging me to harass each other. There is a lot of fussing, whining and shouting in these few minutes that leads to time outs, removal of privileges and frayed nerves.

Once dinner is served, the rest of the evening is fairly calm. Homework is done and we usually have time for a board game, some reading or maybe a quick Wii game.

When the kids were babies, the hour right around dinnertime was called “The Witching Hour” where all babies seemed to fuss and complain. Isn’t it nice to know that not much changes when they’re no longer babies?

Monday, January 4, 2010

LoriD Recommends – Kitchen stuff

If I’m not working or sleeping, I’m probably in my kitchen. I really love my kitchen. It’s a nice size and has useful amenities like food, drink, a computer and TV, good lighting and nice views. Over the holidays, I was in major purge mode. My drawers and cupboards were too packed and disorganized, I had too many cookbooks and I just felt the need for more space. I thought I’d share with you a few things that really work for me in my kitchen.


The one on the left is my favourite - it was my grandmother's and has a blue, wooden handle

Oh, how I love my scoops. I have small, medium and large and use them to apportion cookie dough, fill muffin tins and tart shells, stuff pasta shells, scoop out melons and plop biscuit batter onto a cookie sheet. Scoops make doing any of these things faster and cleaner. Baked goods are also a more uniform size, if that kind of thing matters to you.

Wilton Professional Bakeware

This is really fantastic stuff. The cookies, muffins, cakes, roasts, brownies, squares and casseroles just fall out – no need for tin foil, muffin cups or parchment paper. There’s no stuck-on residue (not even cheese or egg sticks to it), making clean-up super easy. I donated all my bakeware that was not this brand (2 bags full!) to Goodwill. The price is right on these too. Anything I purchased was 50% off, so the 9x13 pan, for example, was $6.50. It would still be a bargain at full price. Those are actually my pans in the picture. I have used that mini muffin tin in the front at least 3 times a week since I got it last Christmas (including this morning) and it still looks brand new.


When I first told Homer I was going to paint our door that leads to the garage with chalkboard paint, he thought it was weird. He thought it was an awkward spot for a chalkboard and questioned why I would paint the whole door when the children could only conceivably reach the lower half. Five years later, this large chalkboard is now an integral part of our command centre. The grown-ups use the top half for messages to each other and the lower half is used by the kids to draw, do math problems and practice spelling words.

Wilton universal scraper

This is a really handy little tool. It’s got the strength of a spoon and the scraping capabilities of a spatula. Use the large side to mix muffin batter and the small side to scrape out the peanut butter jar.

Measure once, bake twice

No matter how hard I try, I cannot bring out the flour/sugar/salt for a recipe without getting it all over the counter or me. I’ve started making an extra batch of dry ingredients whenever I’m making muffins, biscuits, etc. I’m doubling the recipe, but putting one amount in the bowl and the other in a Ziploc. The next time I make the recipe, I just pull out the dry ingredients and add the wet. It’s a real time-saver, both in the making of the recipe and the clean-up.

Recipe Cheat Sheet

There are some things that I tend to make over and over again. For those items, I have a cheat sheet on the inside of one of my cabinet doors. It’s basically the list of ingredients for the recipe with the baking temperature/time. Again, a real time-saver.

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

I’ve had my mixer for two years now and I love it. Before I bought it, I had no idea how much I would use it, but now I can report that I use it several times a week. It makes everything so much easier. From cookie dough to mashed potatoes, meringue to bread dough, it has really changed how my kitchen works. With the mixer, the scoops and my Wilton pans, I can make a batch of 3-dozen cookies, start to finish, in less than 30 minutes.

Glass bowl with lid

Tomorrow's muffins, just waiting in the fridge

Her Royal Highness (aka Maggie) prefers to have freshly-baked muffins in the morning. I’ll mix up the muffins in the glass bowl, bake up 12 mini-muffins or 6 regular muffins and put the batter in the fridge for up to 3 days. The bowl is also good for marinating meats or just storing leftover soup or chilli.

Tassimo Beverage Machine

Homer asked for this for Christmas. Since he asks for mostly weird things (e.g. a wall safe), I went right out and got one for him (when it was on sale, of course). This makes a really nice cup of coffee (it’s really HOT, which isn’t always the case with coffee makers), but it also makes hot chocolate, tea, cappuccino and lattes. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do. Homer has added it to the “Things that Must be Immediately Replaced if it Breaks” list (along with the stand mixer and his PSP).

What about you? What’s in your kitchen that you wouldn’t want to be without?