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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


If you have a wood burning fireplace or like to camp, you may find these neat little firestarters useful, and cheap to make. Besides, what else were you going to do with all that dryer lint? Thanks to the folks at FlyLady.net for sharing.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Give Leftover Mashed Potatoes New Life

I love mashed potatoes. Generally speaking, when I go to a restaurant, a big part of my entree choice depends on whether or not mashed potatoes are involved. Sometimes, I even request them as a substitute for whatever inferior selection they've already made for me (I know chefs love that!). And when I order my favorite dish of all, eggplant Parmesean, at a place that has mashed potatoes, I ask for them instead of spaghetti, with the marinara. Mmmmm. Don't knock it til you try it.

Anyway, that being said, sometimes it will come to pass that, in my zeal for ensuring we have enough mashed potatoes with certain meals, I'll over prepare these fluffy, delightful treats. Throwing them away would be out of the question, though sometimes that has come to pass, I'm ashamed to say. But in the past week, I've made two delightful dishes with leftover mashed potatoes that turns them into a whole new meal.

While I'd heard of making potato soup out of left over mashed potatoes, I just tried it for the first time. It turned out really good. I didn't use mushrooms (Rick doesn't like 'em), and I used dried chives instead of scallions, and I substituted regular old one percent milk for the half-and-half.

Today, I made Mashed Potato Quesadillas from a recipe I just got in an allrecipes newsletter. Yummy! Again, I didn't have green onions, so I just used dried chives. And I didn't measure anything - just guessed at what I'd need to make enough for one (2 slices of bacon, etc.). Enjoyed this delicacy with salsa and sour cream on the side - tasty!

So next time you have leftover mashed potatoes, give them new life with one of these recipes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Amen, FlyLady Kelly

In one of the bazillion emails I received today from my friends over at FlyLady.net, the sage words of advice below were found. While I'm not hosting Thanksgiving this year (or any, thus far), she was talking directly to me because that's how I generally operate whenever I host an event at my house. Check it out and see if she's talking to you. If so, heed her words: she may just be an angel sent to save your sanity.

Dear Friends:

It is time for another Holiday Reality Check!! During this time of
year when we are all running around trying to make this the most
perfect and best Holiday ever, we lose a sense of reality and start
drowning in perfectionism! Even when we promise ourselves it won't
happen this year!

The subject of today's Holiday Reality Check is about Thanksgiving
Dinner. Now there may be some of you that don't prepare a
Thanksgiving meal but trust me you can still relate to this subject
even if you are not celebrating Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Dinner..... ahhh the Turkey will be golden and juicy, we
will obsess about it being just right! The stuffing will be perfectly
cooked, not soggy or overdone. The mashed potatoes will be creamy and
light, no lumps allowed. Our tables will be set with our best dishes
and oh wait, candles... yes candles. Mental note: have to go buy
candles. If the dining room is flanked in candlelight then no one
will notice the stain on the carpet or the crack in the wall. Hmmm
maybe I should paint that wall. It is only one wall with a crack, so
maybe if I paint that wall in a complimentary color, I won't have to
paint all the walls. OH! If I paint the wall a soft cream, I could
get a new valance for the window. Ay yi yi the window, it really
needs to be cleaned. I guess I need to clean that first. STOP!!!
HALT!! Put the brakes on! Ok, what you just read was how a SHE mind
thinks. We start off thinking about what we want for our dinner and
then somewhere we take a left turn and just keep on going. Before you
know it, it will be the night before your grand dinner and you will be
on a ladder painting the dining room!!! You will be standing on a
ladder with hungry kids, a husband that is shaking his head wondering
why this has to be done now and then it will hit you!! OH NO! The
turkey is still in the freezer!


Let me give it to you straight right here and now! There are three
more days before Thanksgiving, the only thing you need to focus on now
is making sure you have all of the groceries you need and getting your
home ready as in company ready NOT REDECORATING!! If you have not
done it by now, it is time to let it go and focus on what is truly
important. Gathering your loved ones around you and enjoying the
holiday together with good food and good company. Look around you...
if you think that you are not ready for your guests to come and visit
your home on Thursday then go to www.FlyLady.net , go to the table of
contents and click on the link for Crisis Cleaning. Check your
pantry, freezer and refrigerator BEFORE you go to the grocery store.
Do not try and mentally challenge yourself into a brain freeze trying
to remember if you have cornstarch at home. Write down what you need
to complete your shopping and get it done before Wednesday. Do not
attempt to go to the grocery store Wednesday night before Thanksgiving
and get caught in the crowds with all those people that will certainly
have lost their sense of humor and holiday cheer.

Do not look forward to a perfect day, look forward to a FLYing


Friday, November 06, 2009

Watch Out for Deadly Comet

If you haven't already heard of EWG.org, it's a website sponsored by the Environmental Working Group. They do studies and perform tests on a myriad of consumable products in order to gauge those products' toxicity. While I'm not religious about utilizing the site, I have checked out children's sunscreen and various cosmetics. I think you'd be surprised to see how many of the products you use are chockful of harmful chemicals. I know I was a little shocked at the levels in my Origins products considering that particular line is supposedly natural. But that's a topic for another day.

Since I'm on EWG's email list, I get periodic notices alerting me to the dangers of some product or another. Today's email's subject was regarding cleaning supplies that may be used at home or in schools. EWG tested some popular and some green cleaning supplies for safety and Comet, which is at this very moment sitting under my kitchen sink, was the worst of the worst.

Which is saying something since, according to EWG, "nearly any chemical can legally be used in cleaners, and ingredient lists are not required on labels."

Comet was found to release 143 air contaminants into the air and contain 7 chemicals that may cause cancer. And I thought it was just good for scrubbing my kitchen sink. Which goes to prove that while ignorance is bliss, it could also potentially kill you.

Suffice it to say, I immediately became interested in some more green ways to clean my sink and found a lot of great resources thanks to Mom Go Green. According to a commenter on the site, you can simply use baking soda and water. Another person provided this link to a printable fold-out card full of green cleaning ideas (you have to scroll down a bit to the Household Cleaners section). EarthEasy has a lot of great ideas for making your own cleaning products for less while EWG offers some practical tips for cleaning more safely in your home.

One of my favorite cleaning gurus, Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean, has always promoted the use of such simple, safe household products like baking soda and vinegar to clean. And my friend, Christine, uses vinegar to clean everything, including dusting the furniture. It smells like eggs at first, but it does fade. In addition to being safer, these things are a lot cheaper than the more dangeous options out there. So it's better for you all around.

Whoops – I'm a Moron

No surprise there. But I was wrong about getting dumped from Working Moms Against Guilt's blogroll – turns out I was never on it (insert nervous chuckle here). I'm listed as one of their friends (and hopefully I'll stay there if they forgive my dopiness). I kind of thought that's where I was, but didn't see that list on the right. Turns out it's on the left. Whoops. That's what I get for keeping up with the blog via FeedBlitz – no longer familiar with the layout.

But all things considered, I'm kind of glad I thought I got the boot because, if all goes well, it'll have lit a fire under my butt to get off it and get this blog going.

Thanks again, WMAG, for all your support. Even if I am a moron.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

If You Want Something Done...

Forget "right". There are just a gazallion things around this house that need doing one way or another. Here's an example: After over a year of waiting for my dear husband, Rick, to put the hardware back on our windows, I finally finished the last one tonight – at which time it occurred to me that anyone could have come in through it at any time. Not a great feeling.

I also finally cleaned paint off the windows the a fore to mentioned husband also was going to take care of. It kind of made me laugh to find out that, after all this time, the biggest splotches were actually dry wall mud which wiped off fairly easily; I had been holding out for more Goof Off, which I finally picked up last week.

Speaking of Goof Off, I found its warning label a little unsettling: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Nice, eh? There were more, but I won't get into them. I will say that if you're a huffer, I'd avoid experimenting with this one.

I've used this, I guess you'd call it, poison before but must not have read the label because I don't think I would have loved it so much I'd want to bring this highly dangerous substance into my home again. On the other hand, when using it tonight, I didn't wear gloves at first, which is asinine considering we have two ginormous boxes from Sam's Club down in our basement thanks to my Dad's warnings during the Avian Flu scare of 2007, I believe it was.

But enough doom and gloom. Back to how totally awesome I am.

As I sit here typing this, still a little heady from the Goof Off fumes (should have opened the doors) and a little stinky from lack of a shower thus far (though it is still on tonight's agenda), my sink is shiny. My front porch is also pretty swank, thanks to following Fly Lady's mission for today. I even cleaned our porch light glass of bugs.

Plus, I finally threw away the grout bag Rick left laying (or is it lying?) in our landscaping, which made me sad because it was so awesome and also because I'll have to buy another one for the couple of grout lines that were missed in our kitchen remodel (a year ago – I can't begin to tell you how long my To Do list is).

Additionally, I cleaned out a cooler full of slimy water, ruined condiments and various beverages that someone, eh hem, left out on the porch for like the third time in a row. You owe me, sweetheart.

All in all, I had a full, productive day. I'm beat. So I guess I'll go grab that shower and wait for my canonization.