8.20.2014

My Recycling Conundrum

First world problems whine, I know.

I know.

I KNOW.

This has been a problem in our house for years. Where do we put the items we need to recycle in our kitchen. Well, we don't use the side door so I just pile up our paper bags in front of it and that's that. Problem solved. Sort of. I unfold 4-5 paper bags and we just fill them up, let it all pile up, and then I get mad that nobody but me takes out the recycling (which isn't totally true... but at the same time... yes, I do take out almost all of the recycling or I put it in front of the back door for Bimmer Man to take to the big bin so I don't have to nag him. Nobody likes being nagged at, right?).

But the other thing is that I hate stealing paper bags from the grocery store just for my recycling. How stupid is that?

And why can't Target just stop with the plastic bags? JUST USE PAPER. I don't know. That's another first world problem. I guess I do live in the land of Target, I could complain.

I think I'm going to get these, suck it up, and take them out to the large bin when they get full instead of just opening another paper bag and filling it up. Now I can use my re-usable bags all the time, not just at the Co-op and the farmer's market.


Bimmer Man better bring these bags back in the house instead of using them for car parts in the garage instead.

We've had this recycling problem for years. Please, please, let's just hope these darn bags fix it. 

Cleaning Out My Non-Existent Pantry

I don't have a pantry.

Our house was built in 1949, so there's little storage, little or no closets, no mud room, a teeny entryway, and no counter space in the kitchen with not very many cabinets.

A few months ago I was dreaming about a HUGE kitchen with a mudroom and a ginormous center island and butcher block counter tops and a fantastic selection of pots and pans.

I have realized that I don't need all of that (but butcher block counter tops would be AWESOME, then I wouldn't need a cutting board), and I still want a mudroom (not just for storage but because we don't use our side door and basically, when two people walk inside at the same time, you have to balance yourself so you don't fall down the basement stairs. Not cool).

In any case, I digress.

This morning I cleaned out the "pantry cupboard" in the kitchen.

I threw away old flavored vinegars that expired in 2012 or 2011. I tossed an unopened container of Hershey's chocolate powder that expired in 2010. Into the trash went a box of Bisquick that expired earlier this year.

If we had a pantry, I don't think I'd be able to use half the stuff in it - I would be tempted to fill it up just because I had the space and then we'd be tossing unused food. That's not cool either. That's just plain old wasteful.

In the past few months I've become more conscious and aware of what we have in our cupboards to eat, or at least I thought I had. New items went into the cupboard and old stuff was just moved to the back.

Sort of like our other cupboard with glassware. Somehow we kept getting new glassware and the old stuff just went to the back and wasn't used. So I donated whatever we didn't use on a regular basis (um, I don't drink martinis but we had several martini glasses! I see a drink shaker that we've never used but had for years, that will be going into the donate box today too!).

Food expires. You have to toss it, it's just making the time to go through your pantries and cupboards and cleaning out the shelves. Don't remember when you bought it? Toss it. Expired? Out it goes. Never going to cook with it again? Into the trash (or organic waste bin in our house).

Lately my favorite time to do this is when I'm waiting for a pot of water to boil for pasta or waiting for chicken to cook on the stove. I'm already in the kitchen, why not kill two birds with one stone?

So, the bottom shelf of the cupboard has been cleaned out, I just need to wait until The Monkey's nap this afternoon to do the rest. I'm short so I need to stand on a chair and I don't want her to see me doing that - she may get some new ideas of her own if she knows she can stand on chairs in the kitchen. Aye, the things you don't think about until you have a toddler....

So, if anyone wants to follow along with me... Challenge yourself to clean out one shelf in your kitchen of expired, unused, old food. I think you'll feel great once you've finished!

8.16.2014

Review Series - Part 1 - PartyLite Candles

I have bought so much stuff from people that I know who have home-based businesses. Like, well, boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. I'm going to do a series of all the products that I've bought and what I liked, didn't like, didn't work, tasted great, tasted horrible, etc...

Why?

Because I didn't know shit about these businesses before going to a party and I ended up buying a lot of stuff. I thought I would be helpful. Plus it's pretty fun to read reviews.

Onto the good stuff -

Part 1 - PartyLite Candles

If you don't like candles, don't read this. If you like candles, then please, carry on.

I like candles. I don't burn them all the time but lately since I have a shitload of them, I burn them daily. I have a ton of tea light candles which I like better than the larger candles because I hate leaving out wide candles because I don't burn them, they end up dusty and when I do finally manage to light them, they end up sparking so badly from the dust and they just don't smell right. So, tea light candles it is for me.

I use a tea light oil warmer when I use essential oils (there will be a post on essential oils in the future) so I mainly buy unscented tea lights. Colors don't matter for me because the flame is hidden in a little marble candle holder thingy. PartyLite tea lights come in packs of 12, the wax and wick are contained in a plastic case (which is recyclable!). The wax doesn't move around like the tea lights from Target in the package of 100 with cheap metal to hold the wax. The ones from Target suck. The little cases also seem to be a bit taller than the wax which makes them easier to move and not spill hot wax all over. I've done that before and that sucks. Overall, if you use a tea light oil warmer, buy these tea lights. You will be pleasantly surprised at how long they last and at the strength of the wick. There's nothing worse than dropping your last tea light before lighting it and the wick breaking off when all you want to do is freaking smell something good in your house.

I have also bought several candle holders. I bought a set of three bug tea light holders for our outdoor patio set. They're way too small to hold anything that has citronella that repels bugs. They're just for home decor. If you're looking for something to hold citronella candles, do not buy any tea light holders. They won't do a damn thing to keep away mosquitoes. You're better off getting a bat house.

The other indoor candle holders that I've purchased work as described. They hold tea lights. They look great! I bought them all from their sale section since I'm a pretty cheap person and I like to find great deals - if you don't mind paying full price, then go ahead and get what you want, otherwise hold out for awhile and you'll get a great deal on candle holders. If you weren't invited to a party, ask your host if you can just order from someone else's party to get a good deal. I'd love to get some outdoor lanterns but we just don't hang out after dark outside enough for me to justify buying any large lanterns.

The scents are pretty good. I like the Perfect Pet, Fig Tree, and one with Blue Lotus something or other, and I also really like the smell of cucumber so I bought some of that scent too. Nothing is too over powering unless you stick your nose into the wax (especially burning tea lights, they're small anyway, so not enough melted wax to spread scent all over the house). If you want more scent, just burn more candles.

I recommend hunting down a representative and asking them to bring out their scent box so you can actually smell everything before you buy. I realized that some of them just started smelling the same to me so I ordered whatever I remembered that I liked. I'm not really a "girly" smell girl, I don't have too much scented stuff around the house so ordering the scented candles was a bit out of my comfort zone.

Questions? Comments? Anything that you want to share about PartyLite Candles?

Cutting The Sentimental Crap

Slowly but surely I'm getting all the "stuff" out of this house.

Today (after two Bloody Marys from McCoy's) I'm starting to wonder how in my right mind I'm going to tackle my craft supplies. There are items that I KNOW I DON'T NEED. I just don't know what those are quite yet.

And so I got rid of a rug instead of tackling craft supplies.

Le sigh.

There are items that are going to be ridiculously hard but then there are going to be items that won't. Like all the sentimental items in the office.

For example, I encountered a piece of drinkware, ok, a Dos Equis pint glass with Bimmer Man's signature on it and a date.

The date, I confess, I did not remember.

It took me a good five minutes (sorry, Bimmer, I just couldn't remember the specific year...).

And then I remembered, I took that afternoon off of work so we could get married. But the glass? I have NO IDEA why that thing is important. I just don't remember why a pint glass could be so important. I must have saved it for a reason, right? Did one of us steal it from the bar we went to after we got hitched?

I don't know.

Which is why I didn't keep the glass.

I had no idea why a glass was so important to keep after seven years. Why? Why was it even in our office? Why did I not wash it off and keep it in the cupboards to drink out of? I don't get it. If it was so important to us, why wasn't it out in the open where everyone could see it?

My memories are much stronger than an item of sentimental value. The moments of your life are defined by your memories and everyone's memories are different. Your memories are not defined by things.

In the seven years that Bimmer Man and I have been married, I haven't actually heard him even mention this pint glass once. Nope, not ever.

So I understand why sentimental items are hard to let go - they bring back memories of good times and bad times. But when you look at an item and can't remember why you even have it, then what's the point of saving it?

And then at some point I'm going to have to tackle different sentimental items that I won't really know what to do with - old college artwork that I don't like (throw it or donate?), craft supplies (recycle? toss? donate?).

Gah.

I suppose this is why it's going to take me forever to get through this house.

At some point in the future, I will not clean as much crap because it won't be in the house, I will be able to spend more time with my family because I won't be cleaning, I will be able to garden more because I won't have "things" to take care of, I will be able to read more books again because I won't have to worry about buying more storage bins for more stuff. I will be able to do exactly what I want to do.

I just have to get through all the sentimental crap first.

8.14.2014

New Crochet Hats


The Monkey needs a new fun hat for this upcoming fall and winter. When I bring her with me to the yarn store she's absolutely drawn to the hot pink yarns. The SOFT ALPACA pink yarns. If she gets her hands on a skein or a ball of yarn, I know I'm walking out of the store with it, otherwise it will end up in a mad mess on the floor. Since I crochet, well, I can't turn down yarn but also, I never have anything in mind to make. She grabbed one skein of this and it's been sitting, waiting for me to think of something to make. I think this hot pink suits the alpaca well, right?


And since I love the pattern so much, I thought I'd try it out with a sock yarn that I found. It was free at a garage sale - I also picked up a yellow variegated yarn too, same sock yarn. I'm not quite sure if I like it yet, but I'll soldier on to try it out. This is the same pattern as The Monkey's hat, just larger for an adult.

As you can tell by the photo, I make these inside out to account for the back post stitch.


The Inevitable Ill-Placed Band-Aid

And sometimes you don't get to choose where your child gets her boo-boos. 


Super Easy Use-It-Up Pizza Burgers

I hate that you never have enough burgers to use up the buns in a package of hamburger buns. Plus I can only eat so many sloppy joes in two days and deal with drooling dogs at the grill with burgers. I hate tossing burger buns into the waste bin, it just seems so wasteful to buy 8 buns for 4 burgers. 

I needed to come up with something quick and I realized that I had leftover tomato sauce in the freezer and grated cheese in the fridge (and since when do I not have cheese in my fridge? I LOVE CHEESE). 


My mouth was starting to water as I put these together. I had made sauce with red wine... it smelled extra great to me after a long day in the sun, biking, playing, cleaning, etc...


And the cheese. I should have put more cheese on top so they were extra gooey.


And baked. Crispy bread, hot sauce, melty cheesy goodness.

Pizza Burgers (sort of)

2 - 4 hamburger buns split in half
2 cups pizza sauce, leftover spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce
2 cups of grated cheese - I use an Italian blend or a cheddar jack blend
And pizza toppings of your choice (I didn't feel like anything other than cheese)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Put bun halves on baking sheet.

Top each half with sauce.

Then top with cheese and all other pizza toppings you want!

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cheese is melty and buns are nice and crispy.

Serve with a salad.

8.13.2014

The Lone Empty Shelf

I've never had an empty kitchen shelf.

Never.

And now I do. 

WOO HOO.

Ok, it's a super small and awkward shelf, but still. It's empty and I call it a fantastic step in emptying out my house of stuff we don't need.

My road to a more minimalist lifestyle is beginning to take shape, I'm hoping that I can empty out the above closed cupboard of random leftover containers without lids tomorrow and get a box of stuff over to Goodwill. I'd wait for the Disabled American Veteran pick up, but it's still a month away and I just want to get rid of stuff. 


Another thing that I did was rid the kitchen of the rug beneath the dog water dish. All I would do is vacuum it and then it would be dirty in about two minutes. That went into the garbage and I've never been so thrilled to be rid of a chore. I hate cleaning so the less I have to clean the better. 

I also took the small kid's potty chair for the Monkey out of the bathroom since she prefers to pee on the seat that we put on the big toilet. One more less thing to clean.

Next up for small steps on Friday: open up a book case in the office and clear out one shelf. And then put away some crochet stuff in the book case. Or maybe move magazines there. I don't know yet. I don't have the heart to part with my Garden Gate or Domino magazines yet. I still read those and get a lot from them so... they shall be saved for now. A few weeks ago I went from having maybe 18 full magazine holders to 10. I can still part with more and toss more into the recycle bin. I also need to pare down office supplies - by that I mean throw away pens and markers that don't work, and see if we have doubles of tape dispensers, pencil sharpeners, too many folders, etc... and put those in a box for donation too. 

BioBag vs. Bag-To-Nature

Since beginning the organic waste program with our local city, I'm in love with it. I can throw so much stuff in the organic waste instead of the garbage can. It's freaking awesome. If you have the option, please do it! We do pay $10 per month for it, but it's worth it in the amount of waste reduction going to landfills and the burning plant. Examples of items we can toss - all leftovers, paper towel cardboard, egg cartons, fish, bones, paper towels, take out containers, paper q-tips, tissues.

I've used two brands of compostable waste bags and these are my (short but sweet) reviews:

Hands down, Bag-To-Nature is my favorite composting bag for the kitchen organic waste bags. They feel a little more like the plastic bags you get from Target and are much more stronger, easier to tie with the ends, and definitely contain the smells of organic waste tenfold over BioBags. These are a bit harder to find - I haven't seen these at Target but they are sold at Frattalone's Ace Hardware and the Lakewinds Co-op. I haven't bought any at the Linden Hills Co-op yet, so I don't know if they sell these or another brand.

BioBags are great for your regular compost when you take it out every night - these ones start composting immediately. As in, they don't work for your regular organic waste (leftovers, etc...) because once wet, well, it's all over for the strength of the bag. I can barely make it to the organic waste cart behind our garage without it breaking. Use BioBags for your greens for your backyard composter. These ones feel a bit more rubbery and softer - they've got a little stretch to them which means if you're tossing chicken bones, the bones will punch a hole right through the bag.

Below are pics side to side of the bags -




Wordless Wednesday - Garden Flowers