Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Clean the Couch

I figure since everyone is posting all sorts of tutorials, I'd go ahead and add one of my own. It had reached that point in my house where simply dabbing at spills on the couch was no longer enough. It was time to clean it FOR REALS. And, because I am so awesome at this, I'm going to share my handy tips with you. I've broken it down into 33 handy steps, each of which is very vital and important.

How To Clean the Couch

  1. Begin by properly motivating yourself. I found that making a healthy smoothie (Fine, it was a milkshake. I was out of yogurt) for your 3 year old and putting it in a cup that tends to leak is a good place to start. The 3 year old will then leave the cup where your toddler can find it, and then, when your back is turned, the toddler will conveniently place the cup on its side, right on the crack between the cushions of your couch. If you're child is as gifted as mine, she will chose the crack in the couch that is over the crack between sections of the couch, enabling the smoothie to drip all the way to the floor. It is best if you wait until the day after, instead of the day before, your garage sale to do this.
  2. Wipe up the liquid as best you can, pull the cushions apart and leave them to dry until you can find the time to clean the couch properly.
  3. Enter the living room the next morning to find your children piling the cushions on top of each other AND THE OPEN COMPUTER. Time out.
  4. Return from dropping your 5 year old off at school to discover your house has a distinctly funky odor. Decide you have found the time to shampoo the couch properly.
  5. Drink a Dr. Pepper. Do not eat lunch.
  6. Put your remaining children down for naps.
  7. Pull the cushions off the couch, pretreating any funky spots you find as you go along. If you discover ball point pen marks, rubbing alcohol will take them right out, even if you've been letting them set for months.
  8. Vacuum a family size box of Fruit Loops, a half a dozen crayons, 3 popsicle sticks, 3 pressed pennies, 5 hair clips and other assorted items out of the couch.
  9. Be disappointed that you didn't find any Dove eggs from Easter like the last time you cleaned the couch.
  10. Pull the sections of the couch apart. You might need to use some muscle to do this if you find the hardware is sealed together with dried sugary saliva.
  11. Discover that in addition to more Fruit Loops, some insects have also made their home in the joints between sections of the couch.
  12. Gag.
  13. Be grateful you didn't eat lunch.
  14. Feel deep shame and remorse. Swear you will never let it get this bad again.
  15. Vacuum it all up.
  16. Pull out your handy dandy carpet shampooer with the upholstery attachment and shampoo all your cushions, as well as the frame of the couch. Wonder for the millionth time how your sainted mother survived 7 kids without a carpet shampooer.
  17. Remember that she was still a better housekeeper than you. See #14.
  18. Move all the sections of the couch away from their current location. Find a curtain rod, a stick, a cardboard tube, a dowel, a yardstick and a princess crown behind the couch. Pat yourself on the back for finding such a great place to stash all long and narrow items that your children like to hit each other with.
  19. Discover that the windowsill behind the couch is covered in dead gnats. And there are dried boogers on your sheers. Again. Decide to take them off and wash them.
  20. As you are taking them off, discover the colony of spiders that has taken up residence on the backs of your drapes. Contemplate leaving them there, because after all, it is almost October, the magical month when spiderwebs and dust are considered decorations. Decide to vacuum them up anyway.
  21. Wonder how your angel mother up in heaven, who had a soft spot in her heart for Halloween, feels about how well you're doing as a homemaker. Worry that perhaps your failings are keeping her from eternal exaltation.
  22. Attempt to find the parts for the vacuum hose, but your 3 year old has now woken up from her nap and is using the tubes as a sword. Take it back and contemplate stashing it behind the couch with other long and narrow items.
  23. Clean off the webs and vacuum the floor. Start to put the couches back in their proper place, then notice that your 3 year old is now spraying spot cleaner all over the sections of the couch you just cleaned.
  24. Leave everything to dry while you rush back to pick up your kindergartner. Get smacked in the head with a stick the three year old found.
  25. #14
  26. Return home, retouch spots on the cushions that are still stiff and nasty because they were so saturated with goo.
  27. Give up. Watch your children play on the disassembled couch like it's an amusement park.
  28. Walk away, return to find Addie has again found the spray bottle of pretreater, filled all your vacuum attachments with it, and re-saturated another of the couch cushions.
  29. Kick all of your children outside.
  30. When everything is dry, move the sections of couch back into their established grooves in the carpet and reattach them. Replace all the cushions.
  31. #14
  32. #14
  33. Repeat in 6 months.
You're welcome.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Goodbye, Sabrina

As long as we've lived here, this Sabrina poster has hung on the wall. When we moved in, we weren't sure how to decorate the kitchen/dining area, so we just hung a couple vintage posters Bracken had since college on the wall and called it good enough. At least they were vintage. Three plus years later, nothing had changed. Here are Addie and Chloe dyeing Easter eggs this last year.

Here's another shot of Addie and the Sabrina poster.
Here's the real winner, though. While hunting for a good "before" shot of the wall, I found this shot of Addie with the Sabrina poster 2 years ago.It's AWESOME! But not awesome enough for me to not update my dining room.

Since we really don't have the budget for anything major, I've been collecting at yard sales and using coupons (Thank you Kohl's and JCPenny for those $10 off your $10 purchase deals). I got a shelf for free, which I repainted with paint we had in the cupboard. I wanted a real apple-ey green, but didn't have enough yellow, so I'm fine with what I did for free. I picked up some cute milk glass dishes, a vintage plate and some little birds (which I decided not to paint black for Halloween) at yard sales, added a couple pieces of memorabilia from my life and some herbs from my garden, and . . . .

Voila! One excited Chloe!I'm excited, too.

I'm really quite pleased with myself.
Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that I'll win that set of Fiesta Ware.

It's the tooth

A little over a month ago, Chloe's tooth started wiggling. She told me it was loose, and I didn't believe her, mainly because I just wasn't prepared to have a child old enough to lose a tooth. But I stuck my finger in there, felt that it was indeed rocking a bit, and immediately welled up with tears.

And then got stressed because I was in the middle of all sorts of craziness preparing for my brother's wedding, and knew I needed to get a tooth fairy pillow made now also. I know, a special pillow is unnecessary for the whole process, but I have that special kind of crazy that dictates that I must have it done for the first one or I won't be able to do it for the next one. I had seen this darling thing before, and got right on making one for the Mannions. I got it done, then had Bracken pick up a roll of gold dollar coins so we would be ready. No scrambling for cash in the middle of the night here. And then the tooth didn't fall out.

We wiggled and wiggled and prodded and pulled and bribed Chloe to let us stick our fingers in her mouth again and again. No go. Then this week I looked in there and saw that not only had Chloe grown in her first big girl molars, she also had a new tooth growing in behind the wiggly one. That would not stand. We doubled our efforts to try and get that tooth out before she started looking too much like a shark. One night ended with Chloe sobbing because there was blood in her mouth, and the tooth still firmly in place. At that point we decided we needed to just let nature take its course and back off, full size permanent tooth in place or not.

A couple days later, after a couple bribed attempts at the tooth, it was still there, but so loose that every time she opened her mouth it was pointing a different direction and making me hear banjos when she smiled. And then she brushed her teeth Wednesday morning.

As they brushed their teeth that day, Chloe and Addie bickered as usual. But this bickering elevated into shoving and ended with a full cup of water splashing all over the bathroom. I sent them both to time out, and as they went, noticed Chloe didn't seem to have a loose tooth anymore.
Please disregard my child's yellow teeth. I swear we brush.

I went to check on Chloe. The tooth was indeed gone. We rushed back to the bathroom to check the sink, but no tooth. I unscrewed the drain cap, still no tooth. I realized that after all the trouble we'd gone through to get this sucker out, it had painlessly exited Chloe's mouth and slid down the drain. And I was going to have to go after it. I waffled for a few minutes, trying to decide if it was really worth it. But then I remembered my crazy (see above), and thought about the pillow that had been waiting for a tooth in its mouth for a month, and decided to go for it. I took that sink apart, praying that the trap had done its job.

And it had! In a slush of nasty water, I poured that tiny little tooth into my hand. That tiny little tooth that had arrived 5 years ago with 3 of its friends all in the same month. A month in which I had a lovely battle with pneumonia. This was a significant tooth. We cleaned it off and put it in a bag to show Dad when he came home.

We did show Dad, then took some pictures and put that little tooth into the mouth of the tooth fairy pillow and tucked it into bed with Chloe. She went to bed, and instead of the silence we were expecting, we heard tears. Bracken went in to check on her and found her sobbing over how much she was going to miss her tooth. (Anyone else thinking future Hoarder here?) He told me later that he had consoled her by telling her how it was the tooth fairy's job to collect teeth and if she couldn't get Chloe's tooth, she would be out of a job and she would die. Lovely. Somehow, though, it did the trick. She went to sleep, we snuck in and made the trade, and the next morning, a very excited little girl found a nice shiny gold coin the the tooth pillow's pocket.

She was so excited, in fact, that I'm concerned that she's going to help other teeth leave her mouth a little ahead of schedule. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy listening to her cute little, tongue in the empty space lisp.

I'm not sure why she's holding everything over her right eye, but we'll just go with that theme.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesdays at Lunch with Addie

We pulled into the garage after dropping off Chloe at school. I unbuckled the kids and set to work rearranging the carseats in order to provide Addie with her very own row where she can not in any way molester anyone else.

I was almost done when she informed me she needed to go to the bathroom. I helped her out of the front seat of the car, and noticed there were drops of liquid all over the console. I assumed they were from the bottle of water in the console. Until I found Addie in the bathroom with soaking wet pants. I changed her out of them and asked her to get some new panties. The fact that she chose plastic lined training pants doesn't bode well for the rest of the day.

We then sat down for lunch. Here are some snippets.

"Addie, please don't talk with food in your mouth."
"Mom, Luke Skywalker's dad talks with food in his mouth. And Aunt Veru is his mother."

"Mom, I have a brother."
"No, honey, you have two sisters."
Becoming very agitated and bouncing in her seat, "NO! I HAVE A BRO-THER!"
"Really? Who is it?"
"It's someone else I don't know."

"Mom, I want more macaroni."
"We don't have anymore right now."
"Mom, I want toast."
"Do you want brown bread or white bread?"
"I want . . . Brown!"
I get out the brown bread.
"No, I want white."
I put back the brown bread, pick up the white, and--
"No, I want brown."
I put the brown bread in the toaster.
"Mom, I want a sandwich."
"No, I already put the bread in the toaster, you're having toast."
"NO! I want A SANDWICH."
"No, you're having toast."
"I want a toast sandwich."
"Okay. What kind of jam do you want?"
"Um, pear."
She then polishes off the sandwich before I can blink and says, "Mom, strawberry jam is my favorite."

Lately Addie has been very whiny and prone to tantrums which appear out of nowhere leaving me wondering how the conversation went so wrong. I finally figured it out. Addie never stops talking. Ever. So, what happens is, she starts talking, telling you something very important to her, and perhaps even asking a question about it, but doesn't ever pause for you to answer her or respond conversationally in any way. Then, still without slowing the stream of words pouring from her mouth, she starts to wind up and whine and soon she's yelling and frustrated because you haven't responded to her, BECAUSE SHE NEVER GAVE YOU A CHANCE TO! This realization has actually made me feel much better about myself because I was really starting to think I wasn't paying enough attention to her.

But for now, we're both going to take naps, so that we can start another round this afternoon, and hopefully I can get some insight into how to limit Addie's influence over this one.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm having a love affair with this potato salad

I really can't get enough of it. It is so delicious to me, and so light and tasty, especially when compared with traditional potato salad. I've only ever made it with dill pickles instead of cornichons, I substituted a shallot for the onion last time, and I love using this seedy dijon mustard I got at Trader Joe's. And, I think I may have left the oil out, and it was still super tasty, and even better for me. And of course, I must credit America's Test Kitchen for the recipe.

Austrian-Style Potato Salad

Serves 4 to 6

The finished salad should be creamy and loose, with chunks of potato that keep their shape but are very tender. If you can’t find cornichons, chopped kosher dill pickles can be used in their place. To maintain its consistency, don’t refrigerate the salad; it should be served within 4 hours of preparation.

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (about 4 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small red onion , chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6 cornichons , minced (about 2 tablespoons) (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1. Bring potatoes, broth, water, 1 teaspoon salt, sugar, and 1 tablespoon vinegar to boil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until potatoes offer no resistance when pierced with paring knife, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove cover, increase heat to high (so cooking liquid will reduce), and cook 2 minutes.
  • 2. Drain potatoes in colander set over large bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Set drained potatoes aside. Pour off and discard all but ½ cup cooking liquid (if ½ cup liquid does not remain, add water to make ½ cup). Whisk remaining tablespoon vinegar, mustard, and oil into cooking liquid.
  • 3. Add ½ cup cooked potatoes to bowl with cooking liquid mixture and mash with potato masher or fork until thick sauce forms (mixture will be slightly chunky). Add remaining potatoes, onion, cornichons, and chives, folding gently with rubber spatula to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


I do realize that it's still early September, and I'm way behind on blogging all sorts of other important things, but instead I'm starting some Halloween crafting. I wanted to make these last year, when I saw them on some cute crafting blog that I can no longer find (sorry, I can't give you credit), but never got around to it. And it has haunted me ever since. Which means it must be a really awesome idea.

You start out with some small animal statues. I got most of these at the Dollar Tree. I've also been hunting at garage sales, which is why you should get started now if you want to get these made before Halloween.

Now here's the tricky part. You spray paint them glossy black. I used the 98 cent spray paint from Walmart. Then you glue on red rhinestone eyes. Instant spooky little decoration. I know the pictures aren't great, and I haven't fully decorated for Halloween yet (I'm going to add some black painted branches), but I wanted to get the idea out there now.
And all these cute little pumpkins? Totally got them at the Dollar Tree too. I heart the Dollar Tree.

Next I'm going to start working on this.