Friday, July 20, 2007

Did you know...

I've been trying to clean our house and keep it clean for the wonderful people who want to buy it. Did you know...

  • that it takes Nathan exactly 10.2 seconds to touch my upstairs glass door after I've cleaned it. I've tested it several times and it is always the same amount of time
  • that cheerios and popcorn grow underneath couches
  • that you can mop your kitchen floor 3 times a day and, if you have four children, it can still look funky when you go to bed
  • that my children are doing an amazing job helping keep their rooms clean. It may help that 95% of their toys are packed.
  • that in a 4 story home you can start dusting in the attic, dust everything all the way to basement and by the time you are finished the attic is dusty again
  • that in order to keep all my dishes clean, I average running my dishwasher 2.3 times a day
  • that in order to keep my clothes, towels, sheets, and everything else cotton or polyester in the house clean, I average 2 loads of laundry a day
  • that it also takes Nathan exactly 10.2 seconds to touch my front glass porch door after I've cleaned it
  • that lemon oil makes a great cheap varnish--you wouldn't believe the shine; it also makes for a great floor to fall on when you are running circles around the dining room table

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ocean Nibbles

We, or rather the kids, had fish sticks for lunch today. (I had a chicken panini with pepper jack cheese--quite delicious). I hadn't fixed fish sticks (AKA ocean nibbles from Charlie & Lola) in awhile. I was looking for a little variety the last time I was at the store so I grabbed a couple of boxes. Now my toaster oven is in my basement utility room. It isn't technically packed yet. However, we moved it off our kitchen counter so we could give the kitchen an appearance of being clean. I was feeling lazy and didn't want to haul it up to the kitchen and I didn't want to turn the stove oven on and heat up the entire house. So I decided to microwave--one of the greatest inventions ever known to man--especially to moms. I grabbed the box of Great Value fish sticks and read the side. I scanned the oven instructions and then reached the bottom sentence "Not recommended for microwave" And that was it. Typically a box will suggest the most favorable way to cook something, but will also give you the directions/times even if it is not a recommended method. Not so with the Great Value fish sticks. Evidently they want to make sure that we don't destroy the gourmet taste by sticking them in a microwave. The rebel in me started going nuts. Who are they to tell me that I can't microwave their fish sticks? And so I filled the plate and set the microwave on high for 1 minute. They were still quite chilly when I pulled them out so I set it for another 1 minute and 30 seconds. After I fixed drinks for everyone and set out the gourmet dipping sauce (Heinz ketchup), the microwave did its pleasant ding and the fish sticks were ready for consumption. They weren't quite as crispy as they typically are in the toaster oven, but they were definitely tasty--if fish sticks are your thing. Personally, I prefer lobster.

My chocolate chip cookies

Joe brought home a 3.5lb bag of Ghirardelli (yes, I had to get up and check the bag to see how to spell it) chocolate chips from Sam's the other day. What in the world?! Was my question, of course. For someone like me who really likes to eat for comfort and stress release and is selling their house and would like to NOT gain back the 30 lbs I've lost, why would you buy me 3.5 lbs of chocolate chips?! "To help sell the house." was Joe's answer. I guess that the most appealing smell to someone when they look at a house is the smell of chocolate chip cookies. Well, I guess I need to contribute to the cause, so I, of course, submitted and agreed to make cookies. I did this yesterday afternoon because you never know when someone could call and want to be there in an hour to see the house. I also decided to try a different recipe for my cookies. A few years ago, about the time I started having kids and had a little bit more time to actually bake cookies, I went on a quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. All my life my chocolate chip cookies had turned out very flat and very crispy. I wanted to be able to make the Toll House variety like you can buy at Target (and probably some other stores too.) I wanted plump, soft, and chewy chocolate chip cookies. I have no idea how many recipes I tried, but it was a lot. Several people told me that it was a butter issue--if you don't melt the butter all the way and just soften it, that they will turn out soft and chewy. Anyway, I finally figured it out and since then my chocolate chip cookies have been AWESOME! But, the bag of chocolate chip cookies that Joe brought home said they were bittersweet chips not semi-sweet so I wasn't sure if they would taste right with my recipe. Maybe they would need more sugar? And I didn't really want to take the time to look up the difference on the handy internet--the cookies were calling me afterall. So I used the recipe on the bag. I made sure my butter was just slightly soft and mixed everything together and tossed them in the oven. About halfway through the baking time, I checked them and did they look AWESOME! They were big, plump, huge chips, and not quite done. So I let them bake a little longer. About five minutes later I pulled them out of the oven--and had flashbacks of my 20s--they were very, very flat and very, very crispy! I couldn't believe it! Completely ruined. I know, I know, I'm sure they still tasted great (they did--I tasted one) but they just weren't the same. And so I will return to my old recipe and just trust that they won't taste bittersweet. For those of you who may be interested, here is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. BTW, it is from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook copyright 1989 (it was new when I got it!!!)

1/2 C shortening
1/2 C butter (and NO you cannot use margarine)
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips

Oven 375 degrees. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

The recipe I used yesterday didn't have shortening--I think that is the key ingredient maybe...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Second Hand Lions

The tradition continues. We have a tradition in our house when we watch movies. Joe watches the movie and I sleep. I have tried many, many times to break this tradition, but have had no success. Last night we (or I should say) Joe watched Second Hand Lions--one of his favorites. It would probably be one of my favorites too if I had ever seen the whole thing. He asked me if I wanted to watch it and I honestly couldn't remember much of it. I even had to ask why it was titled that. (In my defense, I don't think the lion is all the important--or did I sleep through that part?) As we started to watch it, I remembered why I couldn't remember it. I had fallen asleep during my "watching" it the first time. I was pretty awake this time and was fairly determined to stay awake because I remembered being very frustrated when I woke up at the end of it the last time. Evidently if you don't see the whole movie you don't understand the ending. Imagine making a movie like that!!! Anyway, I made it further this time and then Joe decided to take an intermission and go get us ice cream. The ice cream was awesome (twix frozen bar--the best!), but it seemed to be the death of my success. I think it was within 30 seconds of the sugar shock that I was sacked out on the couch. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the exact same spot I woke up the last time--and feeling very frustrated, but deliciously full from the ice cream. Note to self--resist the urge of the ice cream if you really want to stay awake.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sara's perspective

Sometimes it takes children to provide proper perspective to your life. Sara, for example, said of moving the other day "I think moving is better than going to Disneyland. Anyone can go to Disneyland, but not everyone gets to move."

The hammock and the rabid opossum

We decided to take a little trip and take the older 3 kids to visit the town we will be moving to. Our plan was to get a hotel room and make it a mini-vacation. Our kids have only stayed in a hotel one other time so this was a pretty big adventure--especially for them. Well, once we started looking to book our room we decided to go cheap. We got a room with two queens thinking that the kids could sleep in one bed and we could have the other. At least that was our plan. As you might have guessed our plan did not work out perfectly. John ended up sleeping with us. And the bed, since it was cheap, was not the most comfortable. I think Joe described the night well. He said "It was like sleeping in a hammock with a rabid opossum."