Taking the House by Storm

The trials and tribulations of the average gal trying to navigate through life, love and the pursuit of domestic bliss.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cake on the Mind

So, for whatever reason, procrastinator that I usually am, tonight I'm looking around for SpongeBob SquarePants cake and party ideas for Ian's second birthday in June. I found some really neat ones and thought I'd share in case you, too, are in the market.

NickJr.com has a cute 2D cake and they give you step-by-step instructions on how to recreate it, which I thought was a nice touch. The entire site is actually kind of cool, with everything from party suggestions and recipes to parenting and travel tips.

Since I always enjoy a challenge, I'm thinking I'll want to go 3D when the time comes and found this great cake on Flickr by avid cake decorator Beth (check out all her cakes at her cakespace link, but be prepared: there's a female torso that took me by surprise).

If Ian were older, I'd seriously consider trying to emulate this 3D Pineapple House cake from easy-birthday-cakes.com, but he's too young to make the connection so I'll have go full-on Bob.

Doing all this cake searching got me nostalgic for cakewrecks.com. Sadly, there's not much I remember to do daily (brush my teeth, eat, go to the bathroom), so it's been a while since I've been there. Nothing has changed - still awesome. Makes me want to actively seek out horrible cakes I can share with her.

Anyway, while checking it out, I saw her Sunday Sweets: The Undead Wed post. Not sure why that would be the theme on National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, but hey, who am I to question. Let me tell you, there are some cool cakes here. If I'd have had a Halloween wedding, I would have wanted the Corpse Bride cake. Fantastic. Check them out, then try to recreate one come October. I'm going to – if I remember.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Can this Clutterbug be Cured?

That's the million-dollar question right now. As I've mentioned in the past, I have way more than my fair share of clutter.

If it's not an over-stuffed drawer full of underwear my butt has long outgrown, it's a forest's worth of paper strewn all about our bedrooms, living room and kitchen table. If it's not a closet full of packing peanuts and gift bags, it's a pantry full of soon-to-expire food. If it's not a 10-foot stack of magazines, it's a cabinet overflowing with cookbooks. If it's not a linen closet with little hotel shampoos falling off the shelf every time you open the door, it's a dresser top covered with more crap than a Christmas turkey.

Across the board, I have stuff coming out the wazoo and quite frankly, I'm tired of living like this. It stresses me out. It makes me feel like I'm not getting anything accomplished even if I'm busy cleaning, doing laundry, and going through stuff all day long. It depresses me. It makes me feel bad about myself. It's ruining my quality of life.

What am I doing about it? So far, I've signed up for Peter Walsh's Clutter Crew via Oprah.com. I even printed out the Clutter Pledge (or whatever it's called) but wound up recycling it versus signing it - it just felt too silly. Though maybe if I had thoroughly committed, I'd be keeping up with my homework assignments. Perhaps I'm just bitter they didn't contact me to be a part of their Clean Up Your Messy House tour - I did actually send in my story, though I left a few key issues out. Guess it's true what they say about that letter: sleep on it before you send it.

My friend, Christine, wants to start a decluttering business and was looking for people willing to let her take before and after pictures. If nothing else, the state of my house makes for some very compelling photography. She has come over twice to help me declutter our bedroom and we have made great progress. All of the stuff I had in there has been separated and boxed according to room and person – Rick and Ian each have their own boxes, there's a box for Goodwill and a box to go downstairs – or tossed in the trash.

She also did a great job of clearing off our dressers and rearranging some things to make it look more streamlined. And she gave me a lot of things to think about in the way I view my clutter. As soon as I get those boxes out of there, I'll share the pix, though I admit I'm afraid that'll never happen and I'll wind up recluttering the place. Please pray for strength for me – I need it.

Another thing I'm doing is reading a great book called Let Go of Clutter by Harriet Schechter. She really makes you think about the hows the whys and the whats of all this crap people tend to keep and talks about eliminating clutter versus simply organizing it. And believe it or not, that's what I'm after. GET IT OUTTA MY HOUSE, OUTTA MY LIFE AND OFFA MY BACK.

I'll keep you posted.

Feeling lucky?

I am, for a strange reason. Tonight, I wanted to make a pasta and the veggies I had on hand were carrots, squash, asparagus and broccoli. I did an ingredients search on allrecipes.com that netted absolutely zero. So I just typed in pasta - there's only 2,713 to choose from. After scanning one lone recipe that wouldn't work, I decided to re-search, this time for creamy pasta. Just 81 of those.

The first one, Creamy Pasta Primavera, had four stars, so I figured I'd give it a look. Even thought I didn't have most of the necessary ingredients, I thought I'd read a review or two. The first one, by Caliloo, said:

"As it is written, this is a bland mess. However, the thought behind it is good so I took it a few steps further. I added 2 cloves of minced garlic, 6 stalks of asparagus cut in 1 inch lengths, a small yellow squash sliced, some par boiled baby carrots and a cup of broccoli florets. Saute all the garlic and veggies together until they are heated through then continue as the recipe is written."

What are the chances? It seemed like kismet, so I whipped it up by sauteing a little shallot, garlic and onion along with par-microwaved carrots, asparagus, broccoli and squash. I only had about half a block of cream cheese, so I cut down on the milk and I used some leftover rotisserie chicken. A little salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil (might leave that one out next time), extra parm and voilá. We had ourselves a meal.

Next time, I might add a little white wine and if I happen to have shrimp on hand, I'll throw it in. Now if only my lottery numbers could be so lucky.