Waffles! Mmmmmmmm……

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In my humble opinion it is easy to plan dinner meals for the week, make a list, hit the grocery…done! ¬†Unfortunately I always fail to plan for breakfast and lunch and just throw in some eggs, bread, milk and lunchmeat for good measure. ūüė¶ ¬†You would think after fifteen years of marriage and three kids I would get a clue that we actually eat three times a day!

Sometimes I’m a little slow on the draw…

So I’m trying to (at least loosely) plan those other 14 meals a week. ¬†In doing so, I am working toward keeping the staples on hand at all times. ¬†One thing I must always plan for?

Waffles! Mmmmmm……

My perfect waffle quest has finally come to an end after 6 long years, and I want to share it with you. ¬†I picked this bad boy up at Costco about 6 years back –

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It’s a Waring Pro and I was soooooo excited to start making those fluffy, crispy, moist rounds of deliciousness! ¬†I rushed home, practically tasting the gooey maple syrup and warm melted butter, and proudly announced “We are having Belgian Waffles for dinner!” ¬†With that the family got all worked up about trying the new gadget.

Since it was already about 6PM, I knew I had to get something on the table, and quick! ¬†I remembered seeing something on the Krusteez package in my pantry about adapting the recipe for waffles…yes, YES! ¬† We had enough mix, we had syrup and butter, we had the shiny new waffle iron, we even had bacon for a side. ¬†I was ready to rock!

I turned on my new favorite appliance, mixed up the batter, poured it in and waited (somewhat impatiently) for the first waffle to be done. ¬†Finally the beep – the moment of truth. ¬†My mouth was watering, I was having a major Pavlov’s dog response to the aroma. ¬†I ¬†turned and opened the iron. ¬†It looked…OK.

What?

Well, 1st attempt, new iron, I couldn’t expect perfection immediately right? ¬†I buttered up the deep pockets and drizzled on some syrup and took a bite.

EPIC FAIL

It was heavy and rather floppy Рnothing at all like what I had hoped for.  I tried again.  Same.  To say that the family was disappointed is a bit of an understatement.

So began my quest for the perfect belgian waffle recipe. ¬†After many failed attempts I finally came across one that worked well. ¬†It had all of the characteristics of a proper belgian waffle, but the prep was a serious pain! ¬†I don’t know about you, but my family isn’t into waiting for an hour to eat in the morning. ¬†Two “starving” 14 year olds, a 9 year old, and a hubby that can’t take his medications until he has food in his stomach don’t allow for much prep time.

Yes, they would all be watching me from the family room while  I got out the plethora of ingredients, bowls, kitchenaid mixer, measuring devices, then sifted the dry ingredients, separated the egg whites and beat them to stiff peaks, made the batter, gently folded in the egg whites, etc, etc, etc.  By the time the first waffle was done everyone would be grumpy and my kitchen would look like a hurricane had hit it!

I was happy to have found a good recipe, but needless to say, the waffle iron got relegated to the back of my small appliance cabinet because it was just too much to go through regularly.

I was sad.

Then, about 6 months ago I was searching through Allrecipes.com and came across this. ¬†OH…MY…GOSH. ¬†Heaven in a simple recipe. ¬†I tried it because it was simple, but I didn’t get my hopes up too high-I’d waited so long-then EUREKA!

Golden and crispy on the outside, tender, moist, and light on the inside. ¬†It melted in my mouth. ¬†I almost cried. ¬†The bonus? ¬†You can refrigerate the leftover batter for up to a week (it never lasts that long!) and it’s just as good as fresh made!

So dear readers, it is with great pleasure that I share this recipe with you Рand I hope that you enjoy it as much as our family does!  I would love to know who originally created it so I could find them and give them a great big hug!!!

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…or you can go to Allrecipes.com and find it under “Waffles 1”

Buy the way…now there is always something for breakfast in my refrigerator! ¬†Happy eating! ¬†~K

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Of faux marble and glass beads…

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Oh my goodness – I am a bit behind. ¬†Sorry – the hubby had surgery last week so that’s been the focus. ¬†But back to my not so perfectness… ūüôā

I’ve been working on the fireplace, and thought I was almost done. ¬†(I still have to do a couple of clear coats on it.) ¬†Then I took a step back and thought I might need to amend my final product. ¬†Would love some feedback. ¬†Here’s what I have so far:

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faux marble

From the front...

From the front…

OK, so check out the small inset with the “X” – do you think I should do a the faux marble treatment there too, or no? ¬†Help me out by taking the survey below…

By the way, there are a lot of different ideas out there for faux marble…from easy to difficult. I did some checking on the net to see if there was a better way to do faux marble (I started doing it before faux was in – about 1987 – did the top of an antique piano and had people looking close to see if it was real. ¬†I was hooked!) so I was sure there was a better way than my easy technique…nope. ¬†If you are interested let me know and I will post a tutorial. ¬†Easy, cheap, and gorgeous!

Also – I have started working on the buffet I found for 25 bucks on Craigslist (can I have another YAY!) ¬†I am kicking around a few ideas for the top. ¬†I would really like to do something different ~ I know I could just paint it, but I’m an artist so I just have to do something! ¬†Here’s what I am thinking about. ¬†You know those great little glass beads you can get at craft stores for $6 (or the dollar store for a buck… – you know where I got mine…yes, the dollar store.) ¬†I thought it might be neat to do a bit of a scrolling design with the beads on the top after I add some thin scribe molding around the edge. ¬†Then pour in the fabulous thick glaze-coat stuff to cover it all and make a flat surface. ¬†What do you think? ¬†Here is what I have as a starting thought:

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Now, I could fill in around the swirls with other colorful glass beads, use very muted river-rock beads and let the glass swirls “pop,” just paint the swirls in a shade lighter or darker, or just leave the piece plain…thoughts?

Thanks for being patient with me dear readers…I can’t wait for your input! ¬†~K

Puppy Update!

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Just a little update-

Those that have been following for a while know that I used to be “Hotdog Mama” while we were whelping. ¬†I thought I would give you a quick update on the pups in case you’re interested:

Pumpkin (AKA) Cinnabun and Pepper…

Well, the boys were adopted to wonderful families, but we decided to keep the two little girls. ¬†They are little darlings! We love them so much and they bring so much joy to our family! ¬†We renamed Cinnabun to Pumpkin because her color developed into a beautiful pumpkin pie hue…(and you know how I love pumpkin pie!) ¬†Here are the darlings:

Pumpkin – Daddy’s little girl!

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Pepper – my little sweetie!

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Sisters!

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My little slice of pumpkin pie!IMG_1932

They are such a great addition to our family! ¬†Four doxies are a lot…a lot of lovin’!

Then there is Frank (AKA Patch):

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He was adopted by a wonderful marine family and it is obvious he is so spoiled!  I love it!  His new mommy, Melissa, keeps in touch with me via facebook and CLEARLY he is doted over!

And our little boy “Big Red” – now named Oscar:

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He was adopted by my high school friend Jessica and her family Рhe moved all the way to New Jersey!  He too is doted over and well loved, especially by their daughter Caroline.  Of course I am lucky enough to get regular updates.

Aren’t they so adorable!

I will return to my organizing/getting it together frenzy tomorrow…no worries. ¬†Thanks for indulging me!

~K

Of Pumpkins and Jeans ~

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This post is going to address something almost completely off topic dear readers, so please bear with me!

This morning as I was assessing my closet situation I decided to pull out a pair of my pre-Thanksgiving jeans. ¬†Yeah, I don’t know if that was such a good idea or not… :/

Can I just say I have an unusual affinity for pumpkin pie?  (Well, all pie really.)  The thing about pumpkin pie is that I thought I could justify eating a lot, scratch that, A LOT of it.  You know those gargantuan ones they sell at Costco for like 6 bucks?

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Yeah, I can put one of those away in less than two days. ¬†With VERY healthy portions of whipped cream. ¬†Anyway, they say pumpkin is incredibly healthy for you…I have been arguing the point for years (and eating the pie voraciously since I was a tike.) ¬†Here are the stats:

It helps eyesight (not sure why I had to start wearing cheaters last year…ok, I’ll just overlook that.)

It helps you lose weight (hmmmm…better skip over that one too.)

Pumpkin seeds are really heart healthy and can help boost your mood (except they aren’t included in pie.)

It has a high beta-carotene content (great antioxidant) and can help fight cancer (now were talking!)

It helps keep the skin wrinkle free (…could have fooled me on that one.)

It has more potassium than banana (now see, I KNEW there was a reason I like pumpkin pie better.)

It contains about a third of the vitamin C that you need each day (not sure why I had such a bad cold over the holidays though.)

OK – I don’t care if all I am getting out of it is potassium and the cancer fighting benefits…I love it!!!

But jeans don’t lie.

UGH!

So, as I sit here blogging and drinking my water with a spritz of lemon (when I really want to be drinking a big fat coke zero…mmmmmmm…)¬†I am thinking that I need to do the meat (mostly fish and chicken,) and veggie thing for a couple of weeks. ¬†Detox you know.

First of all, I lost about 40 lbs a couple of years ago – which required me to purchase a whole new wardrobe (darn? NOT) and lose all of my larger clothing.

Second, to accomplish that I did the Atkins diet and largely stayed away from processed¬†(not simple) carbs for almost two years. ¬†The first week was a living hell. ¬†Yes, I said it – it was hell! ¬†I had the shakes and sweats, I felt sick, I couldn’t sleep but was tired all of the time…guess what that was? ¬†Withdrawals! ¬†Bad carbs are like a drug and during this holiday season I fell off the wagon – big time!

So, I was going to get those jeans on and wear them today ALL DAY no matter what. ¬†Question…do they make anything like shoe horns for jeans? ¬†NO! ¬†(Maybe I could market something like that and make a bundle, hehehe.) ¬†As I struggled to pull them over my hips and backside, I realized this was going to be quite a task. ¬†To the bed I went – well, hopped.

After pulling, tugging and jumping up and down like a maniac (I’m sure my children were wondering what the heck Mommy was doing upstairs,) I wiggled over to the bed and laid down. ¬†This helped flatten my stomach immensely and I was able to button and zip while sucking in like there was no tomorrow. ¬†They were on!

Then I had to get up.

I won’t bother you with the details – needless to say, it took a few minutes. ¬†I felt a bit like Randy from “A Christmas Story” ¬†trying to get his bundled self up when he fell down in the snow. ¬†Unfortunately, once I got up the victory was short lived…I realized I had yet to put on my boots…

Not time to clean up my closet Рtime to clean up my eating habits!  OMGosh Рthis organizational thing is spilling over into all aspects of my life!

No problem. ¬†I’m ready. ¬†Bring it… ¬† ~K

Meals…also part of my organizational madness!

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Today I want to write about something really important to me…one word…

FOOD.

OK, two words…

DELICIOUS FOOD!

So, this weekend I was whipping up a yummy and easy batch of hearty beef stew, and as I was cooking my mind was contemplating the subject. ¬†(Actually, my mind contemplates food more than I care to admit, but we’ll save that for another day.)

Now there are tons and tons of sites and blogs out there with phenomenal meal planning tips and recipes…I have my favorites, as I’m sure you do. ¬†How does this tie into my organizational theme? ¬†Well, I want to share a couple of tips and mistakes for meal planning I have made along the way so perhaps you can glean some ideas how to make an organized meal plan work for you!

Mistake: ¬†Not making a meal plan! ¬†You know¬†the consequence of that…take out, drive through, $$$$$$!

Tip: ¬†After you look at your weekly schedule do a meal plan according to what’s happening that day/evening. ¬†In other words, Chateaubriand with Bearnaise sauce, roasted garlic asparagus, and potato & shiitake mushroom gratin is probably not the best choice for a night when two of your kids have soccer games, another has ballet, and you have a doctors appointment in the afternoon…that’s a night for leftovers or a quick pantry meal of spaghetti with sauce, bagged salad and bread from your freezer. ¬†Twenty-five easy minutes and it’s on the table…and cost all of about 6-7 bucks to feed the whole family.

Mistake:

“This recipe looks wonderful to me! ¬†I must make it this week.” ¬†I’m stoked! ¬†Of course I neglect to look at the hard to find or incredibly expensive ingredients, prep time, cooking time, whether my family will eat it…you get the drift. ¬†The ingredients are found and purchased, then sit in my refrigerator because I have neither the time, energy, family convincing power to try it. ¬†Fast forward three weeks and you have the nice beginning of a science experiment in your fridge! ¬†Big waste of money and time. ¬†Big NO NO.

Tip:  Find recipes that fit your budget, time commitment, and family palette.  Definitely try new things, but be cognizant of what fits YOU and your situation; be realistic!

Mistake:  Thinking everything has to be elaborate to be wonderful.

Tip: ¬†Some of my favorite meals are the most simple…we love breakfast for dinner (BFD) in our home. ¬†A simple omelet, croissants (I get them from Costco – cheap, yummy, and they freeze well,) and fruit is delicious, quick, and easy. ¬†Light a couple of candles and you are good to go!

Mistake: ¬†Not being flexible with your plan. ¬†(You forgot to take out the chicken breasts to thaw, you were sick, you had an emergency…you eat out.) ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†Again, $$$$$$$.

Tip:  Keep a minimum of 3 (preferably 7) pantry or freezer meals at the ready.  Bagged chicken strips, potato buds, and frozen vegies make a perfectly acceptable and healthy meal.  Or, if you make something freezable make a double batch (think chili, lasagne, many casseroles, etc.)  Even my daughter can take care of that!

Of course all of that is just the tip of the iceberg. ¬†I don’t want to go to crazy here – trying to simplify. ¬†The bottom line is this – think about what works for you, your budget, your schedule and your family! ¬†Some big bonuses that come along with meal planning: ¬†HUGE money savings, healthier & more balanced meals for the fam, and way less stress. ¬†If the “Not So Perfect Mama” can do this, so can you! ¬†In case you are interested, here is what I do:

Sunday is planning day – we go over what is happening that week, review the budget, etc. ¬†On Monday I do a quick inventory of what’s on hand. ¬†Tuesday I do my meal plan for the week**. ¬†Wednesday I go shopping. ¬†Simple, quick and easy – and not too overwhelming!

And by the way…my home organizational plan is working wonderfully so far…I’m doing it and I have SO much more time! ¬†YAY!

~K

**I never learned much about cooking as a kid, but learned a lot from my first husband who could really throw together a meal and had no trouble improvising. ¬†I also do a lot of cooking by feel & taste and use recipes as more of a foundation than a strict rule. ¬†I get many of my recipes from the following sources: ¬†family, friends, various cookbooks (I love the “Body for Life” cookbook – MANY tasty and healthy recipes,) pinterest, and http://www.allrecipes.com. ¬†Happy Planning!

The Planning is Complete!

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I made serious progress today! ¬†Finished my planning pages – it took a while because I kept using generic ones, and I realized I needed something that truly works for me. ¬†I hate to “double-do” stuff, so I didn’t really want to put everything on the pages – I use the calendar on my iphone. ¬†It is wonderful because it syncs and both the hubby and I use it, so we always know when all the family appointments are and it has auto reminders (remember, I AM the mom of little brain) and it is super helpful to hear a “ding” a day and an hour or two in advance. ¬†I rarely miss an appointment anymore. ¬†So no, I will not go back to a paper planner for that.

However, being the tactile person that I am, tasks are so much better when they are organized and in a list I can check off. ¬†Oh, I know, there is “Wunderlist” and “Toodledo” and all kinds of cool programs out there for the iphone or android, but I really need to be able to have the list in hand for it to work for me. ¬†Here’s an example of my “Monday” list. ¬†It has all of the stuff that¬†I need. ¬†I guess that’s what I would suggest to anyone trying to get organized like me…use what works for YOU.

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All the things that are “static” I typed into the form, but anything that will change I left blank. ¬†Since I hate to waste paper, I put each day in a sheet protector and will use a very fine non-permanent marker to fill in each week. ¬†Since I finally took the time to tailor it to ME, I am feeling confident about following my own plan. ¬†Yay!

All of the pages are going into a slim binder, and I have made sections for medical info, emergency contact info, home projects/maintenance for the year, budget, and of course the remaining weekly pages. ¬†So the part I like is done. ¬†That being said, I am happy to announce that my fridge, junk drawer, dresser drawers, reorganized kids bath, loft, and master bath have remained pristine all week. ¬†I also started repairing a hole in the wall of my laundry room (dachshunds that want out will dig through anything… :/ ) making repairs on the buffet I bought, and prepping my fireplace surround for a faux marble treatment. ¬†I feel like the little engine that could “I think I can, I think I can…” ¬†And all of this while fighting this nasty cold!

Speaking of which, I finally gave up and went to the doctor after 8 days of coughing up yucky stuff. ¬†Z-Pacs are a wonderful thing…on day two and I am almost normal again!

I had the pleasure of taking my youngest with me to the doc. ¬†Let me tell you – I love ALL of my children, but I have a special bond with Callie. ¬†She’s my mini-me. ¬†I waited a long time for her and she is truly a blessing in my life. ¬†She never fails to make me smile. ¬†We stopped at McDonald’s after my appointment and of course she had to pose for a pic…

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Love, love, love that girl!  She is my sunshine.

Then there are my dig-loving dachshunds…how could I not love them? ¬†I have four, but here are my two 6 month old girls waiting for dad to give treats…

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They are more entertainment than I can buy anywhere!

Well dear readers, it is late and time for me to hit the hay so I can get back to “the list” tomorrow. ¬†Happy Friday to you!

~K

Getting There

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OK-

So I went through all of my rooms and made a checklist (as I said, this is something I am good at…it’s the follow through that is an issue!) ¬†Holy cow – no wonder I have trouble keeping my house truly clean – I have 15 rooms/areas in my house! ¬†I keep trying to do it in one day – and that is just overwhelming to say the least.

Tangent – I did go and get that great buffet; can’t wait to get started on it! ¬†It was up in Lake Arrowhead, CA. ¬†OMG I fell in love with the area! ¬†A mile high, gorgeous homes (large and small,) green, the remnants of snow on the ground, a view of San Bernadino below….OH! ¬†So I started talking to DH about buying a little summer/winter cabin up there. ¬†I fell in love with a few little places I found online and I realized a strange thing…it wasn’t because the price was super reasonable…it was because they were quaint and small! ¬†I could imagine myself whizzing through the place to keep it clean and organized – minimal furniture – minimal stuff – again…BLISS!

But back to getting things under control.

I think my cold is finally going away Рalthough I spent the last day and a half in bed.  Ugh!  Finally decided to get moving this afternoon and spent 1 1/2 hrs cleaning out my refrigerator.

And no – no pictures. ¬†It wasn’t pretty.

It get’s really bad during the holidays – I want to make all of these terrific dishes and have tons of leftovers. ¬†Even my mom asked “Karen, do you have a leftover night?” ¬†Yeah, normally I do…but the holidays…well,you know.

So after removing, cleaning, trashing, scrubbing, etc. I had what looked like a new refrigerator and freezer. ¬†Of course when my kiddos got home from school I begged them to keep it that way. ¬†We’ll see how THAT goes. ¬†:/

I also did a deep clean on the half bath downstairs just for good measure – oh it felt good!

So, back to the checklist.

Fifteen rooms – ugh! ¬†I separated them into equal “time” portions, ranging from a 2 to 2 1/2 hr segments for “full” cleans (like dusting the blinds, baseboards, etc.) ¬†Manageable. ¬†I can do that each day – and have the weekend free for the family. ¬†Heck, I used to work 8-12 hours a day without blinking an eye, so what is the issue? ¬†The issue is this: ¬†I have the attitude that “I hate cleaning.”

So this is part of my challenge.  I must re-adjust my attitude and realize that a clean home makes me feel happy and at peace.  I must realize that 2 hours a day is nothing compared to my other waking hours.  Granted, I spend about 2 hours a day cooking and cleaning up (the kids help,) and 3 dedicated hours to the kids helping with homework, projects, etc.  OK, that STILL leaves me 9 HOURS A DAY to do what I want to do.

Let me repeat that for my own sake:  9 HOURS A DAY to do what I want to do.  WOW!

I never really looked at it like that.

I can do this.

~K