Domesticated Happenings

Friends, there are always as many as three blog posts being written on the computer, as well as 7,000 being written in my head.  That is how my brain just functions.

Sometimes I get around to writing these fantastic blog posts I have in mind, but most of the time, these posts end up in the graveyard of dead and lost ideas.

Yes.  I have one of those.  It looks very similar to the elephant graveyard a la The Lion King.

Since a few things have been happening around here that I haven’t mentioned, this will be a hodge podge blog post.  A few of these things I will elaborate on more in future blog posts, but others will just have this small cameo appearance.

First, we have finally settled into our new rental home.  It felt like it took forever for me to get all of the boxes unpacked and to get everything where I would like it.  Because we didn’t move with very much furniture, we had to collect some new-to-us furniture.  There was a one month season where we had a free but very smelly couch.  The day I decided the smelly couch needed to go into a burn pile, friends of ours gifted us their old couch because they were buying a new one.

(Side note here:  The entire time we had said smelly couch, I would walk past it singing “Smelly Couch” to the tune of “Smelly Cat”, the tune written by the beloved Phoebe of the television show Friends.  My girls wondered how I made up such a clever tune about our unfortunately odorous couch.)

Our neighbors’ boss (yes, that possession is correct; both of them work for the same person) gave us his old dining set.  This was an unexpected blessing since we had never met this man before, and we really needed a larger table to accommodate any potential dinner guests.

I finally straightened up the office today, as well.  Our office/playroom is characteristically a dumping ground.  Even in Virginia, if the office was cleaned, I must have had some serious free time that day, or I was having company.  It’s nice to not have visual clutter staring me down each and every time I sit down to check e-mail or blog.

Our trusty old SUV is no longer safe to drive due to some rust issues and a non-functioning master cylinder.  Rather than repairing the car (which would probably cost more than the vehicle itself is worth), we looked into selling it to someone who would be able to repair and enjoy it.  In the meantime we had three children, all with car seats, in the back of our commuter car, a 2-door coupe.

I will mention here that we learned a valuable lesson through this experience:  Most car seats are very safe, but it is the most expensive car seats that are narrow and allow you to put multiple children in one row of a vehicle.  We did not consider this when we originally purchased car seats for the kids.  Oh boy.

After a few weeks of hauling a family of five in a scionTC, we grew tired of the “clown car” feel.  We scoured the internet for minivans that fit a few very specific criteria that my husband was not willing to budge on.  Fortunately for me, the search led us to a van in Illinois, just a few hours south of us.  Off my husband went one day last week to rescue me from having to squeeze my adult-self in the back seat of a 2-door coupe to buckle in my three children.

Our new van is a Honda Odyssey (surprise), and although it isn’t new, it is new to us.  It has some things that our family could really benefit from, like leather seats (ever taken crayons on long car rides??) and a low, deep trunk (for those of us who might be vertically challenged).  I had dreaded this stage of motherhood:  the acquisition of a “mom van”, but now that I’ve sat in the driver seat, the idea of a mini-van is growing on me.  It certainly is much more convenient than I had previously anticipated.

In light of purchasing a new vehicle, the Beard and I took a long, hard look at our finances.  Although we had taken Financial Peace University (a Dave Ramsey financial planning course), we had fallen off the bandwagon somewhere along the way.  We had, at one point, been throwing lots of money towards our student loan debt, but as of late, our zeal had waned.  Adding a car payment to our budget gave us a reality check, and we have decided to put all of our financial efforts into paying off debt before anything else.  Before buying another house.  Before buying another anything that is not absolutely necessary, in fact.

And finally, friends, I am working on taking my job at home more seriously.  As it happens, every year or so I go through phases where I feel like my work at home, raising babies, cooking, cleaning, etc. is just not “real work”.  I can feel a bit unaccomplished.  Of course this cycles downward quickly, and I find myself in pajama pants at 2:00 PM.  In order to circumvent this cycle, I intend to value and put effort into my work at home, both in order to find satisfaction in it, and to do it to the best of my ability.

That is all for this holiday weekend.  I hope you all enjoy some hot dogs, fireworks, and a toasted marshmallow or two!

Sharpies, You Have Met Your Match!

Friends, today’s post will be short.

But informative.

Do you have a toddler who may or may not have grabbed a red permanent marker and colored in various places of your home?

Like the door to your coat closet?

Or your kitchen floor?

Or your ever-precious, please let it still be sellable Bumbo seat?

If you do (or if you just slip and get marker on a surface you don’t want it) use nail polish remover.


Nail polish remover.

I use the non-acetone type, and that worked well.  I know the acetone type will work, as well.

I was able to pull the permanent marker off of each one of the surfaces listed above.

And that pretty much made my day.

I hope it makes yours.

You’re welcome.

For Those of Us Who Don’t Have Self-Cleaning Ovens..

A few nights ago, Beard and I made some homemade pizza.  It came out pretty tasty, but the baking process was less than pleasant.  Since we moved into our house, I’ve never cleaned the oven.  I’m not sure if the people who lived here before us cleaned the oven either because they weren’t here very long.  So I can safely assume that the reason our oven smoked and stank like death was because it hadn’t been cleaned in over two years.  Until this morning, that is.

For this job I rounded up my favorite cleaning products:  baking soda and distilled vinegar.  Consequently these two ingredients also make a nifty “volcano”. 😉

(I’m also very glad I threw the washcloth in this picture, because I was able to take a shot of that after cleaning.)

Here is what my oven looked like before I started:

Lovely, isn’t it?  There was also a chunk of charred stuff on the bottom that I couldn’t photograph properly, but I’m pretty sure that is what was causing my smoking, smelly mess.

To get started, I poured some straight vinegar in the spray bottle and sprayed the whole oven generously.  Then I grabbed a mug and sprinkled my baking soda over as much of the oven as I could.  Again, this was a generous sprinkling.  The baking soda and vinegar fizzled and made crazy bubbles, so I left it for about a half an hour to work it’s magic.

This is how it looked after that half hour:

The fizzing settled down, and the vinegar was able to loosen up some of the grimey stuff in my oven.

I filled a clean bucket part way with hot water and used my washcloth to scrub out as much nastiness as I could.  The baking soda really helped to scrape off some of the baked on stuff without scratching the surface of my oven.

This was my finished product:

Admittedly this is not perfectly clean, but in comparison to what it looked like before, this is beautiful!

But the easiest way for me to tell how much gunk I got out of my oven:

And that was my third bucket of water for this job!



The Great Fly Massacre of 2012

As I talked about a few days ago, yesterday we had some family and friends over for Beard’s graduation celebration.  All went well:  food was good, company was great.

As with any barbeque party, we expected people to be coming in and out of the house to use the bathroom, get drinks, etc., and with the door being open so much we expected a few uhh, unwelcome visitors to make their way into the house.  Namely, we expected Malcolm and Nadia to weasle their way inside.

If you haven’t read my “About” section I talk about how both Malcolm and Nadia (our cats) used to live inside until, after living with us almost a year and a half, they decided to stop using the litter box. Ever since then they have lived outside.  We never had them de-clawed, so we knew they could fend for themselves in the “wild” of our neighborhood.  Occasionally we are left gifts of mouse or chipmunk carcasses, but for the most part, our feline friends still feast on Purina One Cat Chow, just the same as they did inside.

Anyhoo, not to get off track.

We had expected Malcolm and Nadia to make their way inside, but we hadn’t counted on other unwelcome guests: guests of the winged variety.  By the time everyone left last night we had about 15 flies sleeping on our living room ceiling.  Disgusting, yes.  I agree.

There’s not much we could, or really wanted to do, at the time, so we waited until today to take care of them.

And folks, here you have it:  the silly Beard moment of the week.

Armed with an old school fly swatter, my sweet husband defended my honor by killing 17 flies in our kitchen this afternoon.  As a woman not so keen on flying, winged insects, this afternoon, my husband is my hero.

Another Household “Necessity” Found Unnecessary

Are you like me?  Do you often try to find new alternatives to products you find yourself bound to?  In only a few recent years I have freed myself from most pre-cut, packaged foods (including bread), laundry detergent, and now dish soap.  (Not to be confused with dish detergent.  I’m talking about the stuff you wash your dishes in the sink by hand with.)

I went on a grocery shopping extravaganza yesterday.  We are having a graduation celebration for Beard tomorrow, and I wanted to make sure I had enough burgers, brats, sides, and drinks for 15 people.

On a side note, I thought we should have about 20 burgers and 30 brats since some people will eat two burgers and some won’t eat any, but most people who eat a brat will either eat two or have both a brat and a burger.  My husband told me I was crazy and that 30 brats is a bit excessive.  I suppose he’s right, but can you imagine the wonderous amount of leftovers??

Back to my shopping extravaganza:  Some how in all of my list-checking and cart maneuvering I managed to forget to buy dish soap.  And we are completely out of dish soap.   Yes, I have already put some water in the bottle and shaken it around a little to get the last bits of sudsy goodness out.

Alas, this morning I still had a few things I had to wash by hand.

We do have a dishwasher, which I am so grateful for, but there are things that I would never never never ever in a million years put in a dishwasher.  Like my super awesome chef’s knife that Beard got  me for my birthday this year.  Or any of my wooden spoons.

Well, with some necessary items to wash and some dishes to wash, what’s a physicist to do?  I needed something gentle, but sanitizing, yet non-toxic.

So bleach was out.  I’m not soaking dishes in bleach, although I hear they did that in the olden days of housewifery.

But what other product do I have in my house that can sanitize things?  Lemon juice, of course, but I’m planning on making a few gallons of lemonade for tomorrow’s party, so I didn’t want to risk not having enough for delicious, refreshing drinks.

Distilled vinegar, though.  Now that was an idea.  It is definitely non-toxic (I put the stuff on my salads sometimes), but it sanitizes things, like my kitchen counters and large kitchen appliances.

Since I wanted a little sudsy-ness in the mix, I used some bar Ivory soap in hot water with the distilled vinegar.

Before you get worried about the DP family, know that Ivory soap is only toxic when eaten in large amounts (like half a bar) and I rinse very thoroughly with the hottest water I could get out of my tap.

I had a few pots that were being stubborn, so I used Brillo on those, as usual, but for all of my other, not so stubborn dishes, this mixture worked fine.  To be honest, I’m not sure that dish soap is as much of a necessity as I’ve been thinking it is.

I’ll take a week to wash my dishes this way (until my next grocery store trip), and I’ll let you know how I feel about it then.

If nothing else, I hope this helps those of you who, like me, run out of this household “necessity” and forget to buy it while you’re out.

Are there any household “necessities” that you’ve found you don’t necessarily need?  What are they? I’d love to hear about some and test them out myself.


A Wednesday Kind of Miscellany

I write this type of post mirroring posts I’ve seen on The Frugal Girl


Finally after having three weeks of bare (but nicely painted!) walls in the living room I decided to map out where I want to put pictures up.  I’ve got a few from our wedding a few years ago, one of each of us with Bitsy Girl, and one of each of us from the past.  Once that is up and done, I’ll share pictures.

This past weekend I cleaned out the pantry like a mad woman, and I’m ashamed to admit that I had some spilled corn syrup on the walls and shelves in there.  (I couldn’t see it until I moved everything out of there; don’t judge.)  Of course corn syrup is a terrifying substance, but I found the best thing to remove it:  hot water.  I put the hottest water I could stand in a bucket and wet a washcloth with it and wiped the syrup off.  I found if I rubbed in circles or side to side, I just spread the sticky stuff, but rubbing in the direction of the drips really got it all off!

Tuesday I took the day off to save sweet Bruno from the pound.  It turns out a neighbor’s dog was killed by a medium-sized black dog, and of course they swore it was the pitbull mix who did it.  Funny I didn’t notice any blood on his white snout….

Today was my going away lunch at work.  It made me realize that my resignation is for real.  I have been talking and thinking about it for a long time now, but to actually be this close to it is amazing to me.  As of Friday I am no longer gainfully employed.  I’ll write a post on it sometime soon, but I’ll just say this:  it was probably the second most controversial decision I’ve ever made*.

Finally, today I pick up my sister from the train station.


That’s my Sniglets at our wedding.  Isn’t she lovely?  She’s a very cool older sister, and I’m very much looking forward to her visit.  🙂

Next adventure:  hanging pictures in the living room.