Monday, May 18, 2015

Spring Cleaning 2015

This morning begins the 2015 Cleaning/Purging Frenzy. It's going to be epic. There is so much in this house right now that just needs to go. So, I'm curious. What is your Spring Cleaning method? Do you have a method? Do you do one big clean at some point throughout the year and then let everything go to hell in between (guilty)?

Here's my typical plan (because I am a college teacher and generally have my time in the summer at my disposal, I can do this. It would be harder if you work 9-5 five days a week; you'd have to break it up on the weekends or in the evenings).

  • I only tackle one room per day. If I try to do more, even if I finish early, I get lazy, and I don't do as thorough of a job as I should (especially purging). This is my plan for the next few weeks: 
    • Tuesday: Living room; Wednesday: Dining Room; Thursday: Kitchen (then, Memorial Day weekend off); Tuesday: Playroom; Wednesday: Office; Thursday: Our Room; Friday: Maggie's Room; Saturday: Sophie's Room; Monday: Basement; Tuesday: Garage; Rest of the week: Outdoors. That schedule will have me wrapping up right as Maggie is finishing school. 
  • As I tackle each room, I start in one corner and work my way around (that way, I'm working methodically through the room). Again, I do this so I don't get overwhelmed and dart around the room like a ping-pong ball. I move all of the furniture and sweep underneath, wipe all furniture down, throw out any randomness (papers, etc.), and try to reorganize. Final step: I sweep and scrub the floors. This method also has me only spending about 3-4 hours cleaning per day, so I can then devote time to beginning other summer work projects (or the pool, whichever seems like the better option that day;)). 
I love the feeling of a clean, organized house. Too bad about that little thing called entropy. Wish me luck!! A/J

Friday, May 8, 2015

Summer Bucket List 2015

I just found out this morning that my summer class, which would have run for 2 hours on MWF from this coming Monday into mid-June, was cancelled. I suddenly have the feeling of a gigantic ocean of time opening up before me. One that I can swim around in. Having time is such an indulgence (if only I had the extra money to go along with the extra time; I guess the Rolling Stones were right after all).

So, what do I plan to do? Well, lots of things. Here's my Summer Bucket List.

1. Read the following books: Beale Street Dynasty: Sex, Song, and the Struggle for the Soul of Memphis, Bad Feminist, So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It EnduresBorn with Teeth, Girl in a Band, Zelda (I'm starting there; I'm sure I'll add more).
2. Re-read the Harry Potter series with my oldest daughter and watch all of the movies. Again.
3. Prep for my new classes coming up in the Fall.
4. Write my essay on Carroll's influence on Bishop and Plath and wrap my other book project.
5. Remodel the kitchen (paint the walls and either get new counters/paint the old ones - I'm over the 1970s turquoise).
6. Clean out my home office so that I can actually walk through it/sit in it. Oh, and work in it, I guess;).
7. Spend almost every evening at the pool.
8. Refurbish the wicker couch I inherited and reupholster the French antique chairs. And the bench. Have I mentioned that I have never reupholstered anything?
9. Clean out my closet, getting rid of every article of clothing that makes me feel like a stuffed sausage.
10. Relax on the porch. Regularly.
11. Take a Ducky tour of Pittsburgh.
12. Eat at Pho Van in the Strip.
13. Take the kids to Sandcastle for the first time.
14. Paint the book spines on the basement steps.
15. Let the kids run around in fountains in the "Big City." Free entertainment.
16. Bike ride and swim at Ohiopyle. Teach Sophie to ride a bike first. And how to read.
17. Sip wine at the Summit Inn while watching the sun set on the hills beyond the mountain.
18. Eat Pamela's Pancakes.
19. Have my kids think magical toy fairies came and rid them of excess toyage in the playroom.
20. Dig my toes into the sand.

That's not too many things, right;)? Oh, summer, how I love you. A/J

Feel free to steal this printable and write in your own ideas. I love doing one with the kids with the things they want to do. They love crossing things off as we go:). 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring "Pho"ward

Good morning, friends! It's been a while. But the sun is shining. And I'm beginning to feel more like myself as spring settles on the hills. Lots of life changes from February to now that threw my world into something of a tizzy, but I hope to be back on a regular basis as summer arrives.

Yesterday, I should have been doing a lot of logistical tasks around the house. Instead, I made my version of a healthy Spring Pho (one of my favorite soups) and painted pottery. We all need mental health days, yes? Here's the delicious recipe for the soup. And our "expertly" painted crafts.

Healthy Chicken Pho
Healthy Spring Pho
Spring Pho

What you need: (to make enough for six generous servings)

Two boxes of chicken stock (I like Rachel Ray's brand)
2 cups of beef stock
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of either soy sauce or fish sauce (The fish sauce I had was dated "Best Used by Feb. 2013." I decided not to chance it.)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
6 garlic cloves (I throw mine in whole)
1 1/4 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and diced small
1 package of chicken tenderloins, chopped into small cubes (seasoned with Lemon Pepper seasoning)
1 package of sobu or udon noodles
1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
Handful of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Handful of cilantro, chopped or torn
Alfalfa sprouts
Green Onions, diced
Lime, quartered

What you do:
1. About two hours before you want to eat, combine the broth, spices, ginger (essentially, the first 8 ingredients) in a large stock pot (or dutch oven). Allow the broth to simmer over medium-low heat until it reduces some and the flavors meld.
2. As the broth nears completion, stir-fry the chicken in a large pan, using coconut oil to coat the pan before tossing in the chicken.
3. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions. I cooked mine a little under time because I like a toothsome noodle.  Also, prepare the toppings (the cilantro, alfalfa sprouts, green onions, limes).
4. Just before serving the soup, stir in the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I like the bite it gives the soup) and the parsley for a fresher flavor.
5. Layer the soup accordingly to serve: noodles on the bottom, then the chicken, then the broth, then any of the toppings you want. Serve with the lime wedges on the side (the lime juice really makes the broth sing).
6. Enjoy!! My kids loved this soup. Which made my heart happy, because I love Pho so much. They have turned up their noses at this soup every other time I made it. Last night, we finally had a breakthrough LOL.

It was $89 for the three of us at the place at the mall (certainly a lot more expensive than I remember pottery painting being)!! Still, it was fun. And I now have a $30 pencil holder for my desk at my new job (more on that soon). 
See you again soon. I promise. Much love, A/J