Category Archives: housekeeping

For the freezer


Our carefree days of summer are coming to a close. Rob and I attend preschool orientation tomorrow and Dorothy begins next Tuesday. Today the girl spent all day with my husband’s parents swimming in their neighborhood pool, which will close after this weekend. She told me emphatically she was not planning on doing flips in the water today because she has a runny nose. Somehow I doubt she maintained her position on that issue. I spent most of the day in the kitchen getting ready for our new routine. I made some chicken tortilla soup for the freezer, for heat-and-eat lunches at the weather gets cooler. I love soup for lunch in the fall, but I have never found any canned soup worth eating that doesn’t have tons of sodium, MSG, or both. (If you know of one, leave me a comment!) So homemade soup in freezer jars it is.

Then I spent some time sprucing up Dorothy’s room, since though she won’t take it with her, it seemed like a nice thing to give her a pleasant and orderly jumping-off-spot. I laundered, pressed and rehung her curtains, washed her bed quilt, and tidied up her space a bit. Then I made a double batch of oatmeal pancakes for the freezer so I can feed her breakfast quickly without resorting to packaged food. I put freezer paper slips between them so they won’t become one solid pancake brick in the freezer–it will be easy to grab just one or two.

I’ve prepped a Moroccan-style stew for tonight, with bread from the bread machine on the side, and I when I went to pre-cook my chickpeas I realized, ugh, that my pressure cooker was among the things I had to pack away when we put stuff in storage a couple weeks ago. Bummer. Fortunately I had canned chickpeas in the pantry, since you never know when you’ll need an emergency batch of hummus, but it’s rather frustrating. We did have a showing last weekend, but the prospective buyers claimed disappointment regarding our lack of a garage. And I have to say this is a bit confusing to me, since it states very clearly in our listing that the house has no garage. Maybe they thought we didn’t mean it?

A jar cozy


This isn’t a new project, but just one I was using and enjoying. Last summer I crocheted cozies for the repurposed glass juice jars we use for water. I put little handles on them and they are very cute and portable, and they both insulate the jar and keep it from getting broken if I want to grab one on the go. It felt like a nice way to use up (gifted) scratchy acrylic yarn I wouldn’t want to wear or put on my babies. I just crocheted a little mat the size of the bottom of the bottles, then did double crochets in a round all the way up the side. I used several stands of yarn together so it would be extra bulky.

In other news, we’re really enjoying our hiatus from house-selling. Our goal is to have it back on the market in two weeks, but in the meantime it’s nice to not have the constant threat of a showing hanging over our heads. In a funny turn of events, however, the house is actually pretty clean right now because I just bought a steam mop and Dorothy and I are both so charmed by it that we keep using it. I love the idea of being able to keep the floor clean and chemical-free as our little wee one becomes more mobile and has the floor as his new realm. We’ll just hope the charm of using the mop doesn’t wear off in a couple months. (Ha!)



Two days of painting by my Dad and one late night (pictured) from my husband later, and we now have an extremely attractive newly exposed front porch that in no way resembles the screened-in haven of tea party dishes, half-burnt candles and caked-on playdough we had before. Although I have to admit I was rather fond of my dusty old front porch playroom, this one should look much better to potential buyers.

With the house all cleaned up for the open house, my little family skedaddled out of town to a lovely outdoor wedding picnic and a day at Holiday World. The park was just right for us–I couldn’t believe how family friendly the whole place was! From the clean, safe rides for the four-year-old to the pleasant, air-conditioned space with stacks of clean towels and comfy gliders for nursing moms (hell yeah!), we all had a really terrific day. Dorothy rode the canoe ride (above) so many times that when Rob finally went to drag her off the friendly ride operator told him “Dorothy is a very polite girl.” Apparently they’d developed a relationship and exchanged names during her multiple trips through the start!

Our only unpleasant moment at the park was right after Dorothy and Rob exited the log flume–soaking wet. We hadn’t prepped her that she’d get wet on the ride, oops! She recovered (and dried off) pretty quickly though.

After we arrived back home, however, our little happy holiday was over. We realized we’d left an big wet bag of dirty cloth diapers back at the hotel room. Ick! Cloth diapering only saves money if you wash and reuse–not if you leave them at hotel rooms to get pitched out by horrified cleaning staff. Darn. So I made a little trip to Mama’s Hip today and did some diaper shopping. Luckily, my little chunk is now big enough for the next size up, so although it hurt to replace the wet bag, at least I was able to buy some diaper covers we’d have ended up needing anyway.

A deer and more house effort


Given that we live on a busy street in a fairly large city, it was quite surprising on Tuesday morning when Dorothy and I looked out our window and saw a deer in our side yard. Rob phoned animal control, but they said they do not deal with “indigenous wildlife.” (Which is cool, I guess, except isn’t it a little dangerous to have deer near busy streets and the nearby airport runway?) We left for a playdate and some errands, and he was still there when we came home six hours later, just bedded down and looking more comfortable. We watched him for a long time–we had a great view! Dorothy felt a little frightened of him and was resistant to taking her nap, and although I was not scared of the deer, it did feel really odd and alternative-universey to be staring at it out of my own window. The animal left maybe thirty minutes after we came home. I guess our presence back in the house made our side yard less comfortable for him.

Meanwhile, inside the house. We’re still preparing in a fast and furious way for Sunday’s open house. My brother and mother came over yesterday to help, and we (meaning actually my brother and a friend) took down the entire screened-in front porch. I hate to lose that indoor/outdoor space, but the front of the house looks much nicer now, since the screens and frames were really not in very good condition. Tomorrow we will repaint the newly exposed porch. I’ve been working on taking down and laundering curtains, and I also made a little skirt and tablecloth (above) for the kitchen microwave cart, which was also looking pretty shabby. It looks nicer now, and I think sewing the skirt was much easier than trying to scrub up the grimy toaster oven that is now well-hidden!

Saint Louis and home again


We had a great weekend visiting my in-laws in Saint Louis. We took the kids to the City Museum, and it had to have been one of the most interesting kid-oriented places I’ve ever been to. Things to climb on and through, slides everywhere, secret tunnels. We had a nice time and the travel part went okay, all things considered.

Yesterday was back to real life in hurry, although it was our wedding anniversary. Seven years ago today we were driving back up to Chicago to unpack and repack and leave for our honeymoon! We had so many boxes of gifts (crammed into our car and the cars of guests who also drove down from Chicago) that they filled an entire wall in my little apartment. What a generous way for our family and friends to send us off into married life! We unwrapped and made a list, but left them boxed along the wall until we moved into our house in August. I took almost a whole year to send thank-you notes.

I celebrated my anniversary yesterday with a pleasant if not-so-romantic dinner out with my parents and kids, while my husband taught a night class. There will be other years for romance. But Rob did keep with his tradition of purchasing a “traditional” gift for me, according to anniversary gift charts. He has fun thinking of something that fills the requirement and makes me happy. I particularly liked year 3–leather. He bought me cowboy boots! This year was copper or wool, which was almost too easy. The good people at Grinny Possum helped him out, and I’ll be sporting beautiful handmade woolens this fall just for me.

Now I’m turning my attention to our house. We rescheduled our open house for this coming weekend, and I’m really trying to get the place in shape for a good showing. I’m washing curtains, scrubbing nooks and crannies, driving myself crazy. One of yesterday’s projects was recovering our dining chair pads with new fabric. The others ones had gotten too worn from years of use and accumulated car fur. They never looked nice even after a good cleaning. These at least looked good for about four minutes, until the cats realized they were done!

Like dating but worse

Our house has been on the market for something like three months now. I realize that in a world in which many people exist quite happily with very few (or zero) square feet to call their own, it is sort of obnoxious to complain about the inconvenience of being able to afford a slightly larger house. Yet somehow, we really need to move and it’s a total drag. You have to move Little Guy’s crib every time you open my bedroom closet. But showing the house with a newborn around is sort of killing me. Every time we get a showing we have to abandon all other pursuits (especially the messy creative ones) and make our little two-bedroom look like it is not inhabited by two cluttery adults, two messy children, and two hairy beasts (meow). Each time we show the house I have to remind myself that all this cleaning will be worth it if the person coming to see it actually makes an offer, and we get to move into the house we’re eyeing just down the road. But so far no one has. Yesterday we showed the house twice, and our realtor reports that one prospective buyer said the house was very pretty but just too small (my sentiments exactly) and the other is coming back to give it a second look tomorrow. It feels like a second date, but all I can do is shave my legs, get dressed up, and sit silently while the other party critiques. If I want to say something witty it doesn’t matter–all I can do is sit there and look pretty while the other party forms judgement. (Did this happen to the Little Mermaid? I’m getting confused.)

Anyway, in honor of tomorrow’s second showing I decided to clean out the toy box. Not that the buyers will look in the toy box, and not that the toy box comes with the house, but at least it’s something I can do. Dorothy received several beloved toys for her birthday that contain many small parts and accessories that want to stay together and not get jumbled all together (with cat hair, loose change, and that missing sippy cup lid, it turns out) in the bottom of the toy box. So today I made some drawstring bags with plastic pouches on the front. The toy and accessories will go in the bag, and an index card (or something I printed out, if I have the time and inclination) will slide into the pouch to identify the contents. Now the Polly Pockets and their myriad microscopic high-heeled shoes should never, in theory, be parted again. And once we’ve outgrown these toys we can reuse the bags for the next great thing.

And as an update, I finished Dorothy’s bucket hat (Simplicity 2684) and it’s adorable. I sewed on a ribbon and attached a toggle at her request. I reinforced the brim by adding a layer of canvas between the cotton prints and I think this is my favorite method of hat construction yet. It’s not rigid or floppy, and unlike fusible backing it won’t make the fabric pucker. And it’s pretty cheap!