She lives!

She lives!

Guys. Let me start by saying SORRY! I know that I have been a pretty shitty blogger the last few weeks. First it was work, then it was life, and this last week it was the internet, or lack there of. But I am pleased to announce that I am back up and running, with real internet! At my house!! Wi-fi even!!! As you can tell, I am just a little excited about this. Previously, my only option for writing this was to use my Ipad on cellular data. Which was totally fine for the first few (although typing on any kind of tablet, no matter how good you are, just SUCKS after the first couple paragraphs.) But then… I hit 90% of my data plan… and I wasn’t even half way through the cycle… and I have to share with my husband. Needless to say, I had to go MIA for a bit, but now I’m back and better than ever!

So let me catch you up on the week. I did attempt the one pot chicken lo mien I mentioned last post, and it came out pretty good. I was impressed. Not blown away, talk about it for a week, best-effing-chicken-ever impressed like I was with my last chicken recipe, but it was definitely tasty. Speaking of that AMAZING chicken, has anyone else tried it yet? I commanded you all to make it immediately,and I need to hear about some life changing chicken people! But getting back to the lo mien, it was easy to make and something completely different than what we normally eat around here, so I think I will keep it in the repertoire.

As far as adventurous went, the lo mien was it for this week. After learning my lesson in week 1, I made sure to include some meals I had made before when planning out the menu for this week. And by that I mean, since I completely bombed at the whole meal planning/grocery list writing thing, I had to go back to my comfort zone in order to feed my family for the week. So we may have eaten my world famous Barilla and Ragu delight. And we may have eaten hamburgers and french fries (both of the frozen variety.) And we may have had breakfast for dinner one night. But in the end we all got fed, and I even scored a victory with one of my old staples.

I made what I am calling “Fiesta Eggs!”. (note the exclamation point. It is part of the name, not the sentence. Because a name like Fiesta Eggs! needs to be said with feeling.) All I did was add a little bit of cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper, salsa, and cheddar cheese to scrambled eggs. They were sooo good! I mean, I don’t even like breakfast for dinner. I only make it (a lot) because everyone else in my family loves it, and it is cheap and simple. But even I absolutely loved these eggs. Maybe they tasted better than they really were because I was so proud of myself, but I doubt it. They were that damn good.

So now we are all caught up! I’m not sure what next week holds for cooking yet because I haven’t been able to convince myself to attempt week 3 of meal planning yet. I’m actively trying not to think about the lack of food in my kitchen right now. I just want to delay the weekly visit to my personal hell for as long as possible, and since tomorrow is Sunday, I get at least one more day. 3 cheers for family dinner!

P.S.

I feel guilty for being sketchy the last few weeks, so I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret. Big changes are coming for myhouseholddisorder. I hope to be launching a newly designed page in the next week! It should have more info, more features, and just be altogether better. I didn’t want to say anything about it on off (read: highly likely, almost definite) chance that I procrastinate and don’t get it done anytime soon. But it’s out there now, so I guess I have to get it done. Fingers crossed!

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Practice does not always make perfect

Practice does not always make perfect

A few days ago I sat down for my second meal planning/grocery list writing session. I thought “this will be easy. I’ve done this before. 30 minutes of focused attention and I’ll be done.” I was wrong. Very, very wrong. For starters finding 30 minutes of focused attention for anything is hard around here, let alone for something like this. You see, I still hate this part of my journey. Even my successes in the kitchen cannot make me a list person or a grocery store person. I’ve just come to accept these two things as fact about myself. They are not changing anytime soon.

So my quick thirty minutes turned into something more like 3 hours, spread over the course of an afternoon. My list was written in fits and bursts. My menu contained days that said simply “fish” and “pasta.” This was a sad, sad attempt at meal planning, and much worse than my first go at it.  Have I already lost all the motivation of 2 weeks ago? I am not able to manage even one month of consistent grocery shopping and cooking? It appears not.

I leave the house a few hours later, loser of a grocery list in hand, and I. AM. DREADING. THIS.  I don’t know what it is, but I just cannot handle grocery shopping. There is nothing that I like about it. Not one single thing. I’m even out at 9:00pm to do this, hoping that a less crowded store will lead to a more enjoyable experience. And it does help a little. While I still don’t enjoy myself, I also don’t have a nervous breakdown in the cereal aisle as I try to follow proper grocery store etiquette in getting around all the other people. You see, I turn into Mario Andretti when I’m shopping, and the other shoppers never seem to understand that we are in a race.

I did manage to get my shopping done though, and I even made it home with the proper ingredients to make a few dinners. First up was chicken enchiladas, which sounds much more complicated than it really is. I am proud to say that I turned them into this chicken-enchilada-casserole-thing, and it was delicious. AND I did all this without a recipe! Granted, it involved a taco spice packet and enchilada sauce from a can, but I still count this a victory. I mean it wasn’t frozen, fast food, or anything resembling the shape of an animal and that adds up to a real food win in my book.

Tomorrow things get a little more complicated with one pot chicken lo mein. I have never in my life attempted to cook anything even remotely close to Asian food, so I’m a little concerned about how this will turn out. Lets just say that I am definitely using a recipe for this one. Wish me luck!

P. S. 

If I can perfect how exactly I made the enchilada-casserole-thing, I will post the recipe on here for you guys to try. It may take a while though, so don’t hold your breath. Or you can probably just go to Pinterest and find one right this second. And it will probably be better than mine anyways. And I will probably Repin it from you so I’ll have something to use next time.

Unplugged and Unapologetic

Unplugged and Unapologetic

Guys, the last week has been busy! Work has been crazy, the Easter holiday was crazy, and my kids are always crazy, so it’s been nothing but chaos and craziness for 7 days straight. And before anyone gets the idea that the storm has passed and life is slowing down, let me present you with this:

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That’s me as I try to write this post with 2 little helpers and one very large, very orange stuffed cat. What you can’t see is the iPad on the floor and my fingers desperately trying to type coherent sentences while keeping both children perched safely on my lap. (I swear, we parents should start a traveling circus to showcase our amazing feats of multitaksing!!) And this picture pretty much sums up how I’ve felt the last few days: overwhelmed and overburdened.

Well that’s not exactly true. Overwhelmed? For sure! I’m always overwhelmed, but I like my life full and busy and exhausting. I mean, who really wants to lead an underwhelming life??? But overburdened? That was probably the wrong word. I’m exactly as burdened as I would like to be at this point in my life. And the burdens I am currently carrying are all very good ones! Two beautiful, silly toddlers that require tons of work but keep me young at heart. Fantastic family and friends that love me and want to spend time with me. A job that is demanding and time consuming, but one that provides for us and I can honestly say I LOVE going to everyday. I’ll take those burdens time and time again!!

And so, when life turns into a whirlwind, I simply buckle up and enjoy the ride. I’m too busy enjoying all the things my real life has to offer to even thing about anything here in Internet world. So I don’t blog. I don’t facebook. I don’t even check my email. It’s not a deliberate decision. It’s just something that happens. I’m glad that I can just allow myself to be, to hold on and survive, to thrive. I make no apologies for it. And I highly recommend trying it for yourself sometime.

NOTE:

As you all can imagine, I did not get much cooking done in the last little while. I’m still too new at this to throw that into the mix of pandemonium and madness. So there may have been a frozen pizza night and a sauce-from-the-jar spaghetti night. Plus, there were 3 nights in a row of impromptu family dinner over at the parents (score!). But I did manage to produce my BEST DINNER TO DATE. Seriously y’all, this chicken was so good, I talked about it. And talked about. And talked about it. For days. It’s posted under the recipe tab. Do yourself a favor and go make this chicken. Like now!!

Mel 2, Universe 1

Mel 2, Universe 1

That’s right everyone! Log another W in the win column because last night’s dinner was an absolute smash! It was Italian sausage stuffed peppers, and even miss I-exist-on-nothing-but-smiles-and-hyperactivity S went back for seconds. I think I just might be getting the hang of the cooking thing!! Unfortunately, this unlikely development seems to have caused a cosmic shift in the universe. Let me explain.

I was on the back porch soaking up the last few rays of sunshine and basking in the glow of a successful first dinner. All was right with the world…and then silence descended upon the kitchen. This (can I get an “amen?!”) is NEVER a good thing. You see, before you have kids, you imagine weary parents welcoming a few precious moments of silence with open arms. Then you actually have the kids, and you learn (painfully in most cases) that SILENCE. IS. BAD.

In this particular learning experience, decided that tables and cell phones taste better with a few thousand pours of mommy’s expensive sweet chili sauce. I got to him just in time to watch the last drop fall out of the bottle and right onto his head. Apparently, babies need a little extra spice and clean babies need even more. So as I scrubbed the child, the floors, the table, and the cell phone, I couldn’t help but wonder what I did to deserve this.

And then it hit me. cooked something. I cooked something that didn’t come from a freezer or a box. I cooked something real, something that required a recipe instead of directions. There has always been an understanding between the universe and myself, and I had gone and upset the delicate balance of things. This? This was my punishment. And my punishment was the straw the broke the camels back for my sad, abused little phone.

So as I write this, one new phone later (what a way to start month 1 of budgeting, right?), I can’t help but hope that the universe requires merely one ultimate sacrifice in exchange for learning a new skill. I can deal with that. The alternative is keeping score, and I’m not quite sure I can keep up. Although if that is the case, I am currently in the lead! And I don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon!

Note: All of the recipes I have tried came straight from other people’s blogs via Pinterest. I know no one out there seriously thinks I was able to achieve these things on my own, right??? Because if that’s the case, you may need to back up to post número uno and read my core principle. Ha! Right after you do that, click on Recipes at the top of my page to try these out for yourself. Seriously guys, if I can pull them off, ANYONE can pull them off.

I have tasted sweet, spicy victory!!

I have tasted sweet, spicy victory!!

And it tasted just like the homemade black bean burgers I made last night. Yep, you read that right. Homemade black bean burgers. Made. By. Me. I certainly chose a doozy for my first recipe on this journey.

It all looked so simple on the glowing computer screen. Pour everything in a food processor. Form burgers. Cook! I raced home from work, eager to check off the first meal on my first ever menu plan. Well maybe eager is a stretch, but I wouldn’t say I was dreading it either. Or maybe my memory of it has gone all rosy after the success of it all. But that came later. First, I actually had to execute this not-as-easy-as-it-looked monster of a first recipe.

Prep time was listed as 10 minutes. I didn’t time myself, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that mine took at least 3x that. Of course, if I knew how to chop cilantro (thanks Google!) or how to convert measurements (and again!) or had a functioning can opener (this shoutout goes to the lovely S and J), 10 minutes seems quite doable. By the time I was done, I had:

1 destroyed kitchen

1 black bean purée covered mom

2 screaming toddlers

and 9 beautiful, almost-like-the-picture burger patties.

I put them in the fridge to harden up, and spent the next 2 hours bargaining with every higher power to MAKE THESE TASTE GOOD. I am not kidding when I say that if these things had not been edible, bad things were going to happen. Very bad things.

I was delighted when I pulled them out 2 hours later and discovered something must have gone right. They were beautiful and firm and could be moved about just like beef burgers. I cooked them up, along with the potato and zucchini fries I also found on Pinterest, and then came the test. Would they taste as good as they smelled? Would their cilantro heavy flavor overpower the sour taste left by the previous chaos in the kitchen? Would this be my first victory??

The answer is… YES! YES! A thousand times YES!!!!!

I loved the burgers. My friend (read: guinea pig) loved the burgers. AND they passed the kid test with flying colors! Even my husband, who does not like black bean burgers, reluctantly admitted that “they were good, I guess, if you like things like that.” That’s right guys. I aced the first test!!! And after this undeniable success on Day 3, I am almost excited about my dinner for tonight: Italian sausage stuffed peppers. Let’s see if I can go 2 for 2! Wish me luck!

Pro Tip:

If one splurges on the good, expensive sweet chili sauce that pairs perfectly with black bean burgers, one should probably keep it under lock and key. One should probably not leave it out on the table where J can get to it. And one should definitely not leave one’s phone dangerously close to it.

No one told me it would be THIS hard

No one told me it would be THIS hard

This is the story of days 1 and 2.

DAY 1

My first step on the road to domestic bliss is getting all things financial in order. My initial thought? Anyone out there looking to off load some unused inheritance, I AM  HERRRERE!!!! No takers?? None?? Nada??  Ok fine, off we go.

I start by setting a budget for next month. I find this nifty online tool that calculates everything for you, shows what % of your money goes to which category (household, lifestyle, debt), and generally makes things “easy” and “painless.” Easy?? Painless?? I call bullshit!! By the time I’m done plugging in bills, income, and savings (ha!), I am in  the floor, lamenting all things budgetary. I mentally run right back to our freewheeling, loosey-goosey lifestyle. I mean, we pay our bills! We eat! What’s the harm in just staying in our structureless nirvana?

I live in my carefree fantasy just long enough to hear an ominous crash from the living room. My bubble is burst, and in floods all the reasons why I’m attempting this (in my mind) crazy change. The kids. The husband. The house of our own to destroy. So I grudgingly go back to the budget, decide that it’s as good as it’s going to get for month 1 ($249 overspent), and tackle my next obstacle: menu planning.

DAY 2 

Waking up from my hard-cider-and-Pinterest induced coma, I am greeted by my unfinished menu plan and grocery list taunting me from the coffee table. You see, I am not a list person. And remember that core principle from the backstory? I. Hate. Cooking. So I hesitate to remember why I was writing these things in the first place. Then it all comes crashing back with the force of the destruction from yesterday. The kids. The future. The budgetary despair.

So I spend a few hours tearing out my hair whilst picking dinners for the week and compiling a complementary grocery list. I finish (FINALLY!) and realize not a single dinner is something I have ever made before. But I’m nothing if not ambitious, so I soldier on, figuring “what the hell? Balls to the wall right?!” I scoop up the 3 year old and off we go.

Remember me? Not a cooking person? Not a list person? I am also NOT a grocery store person. I hate buying the food almost as much as I hate cooking it. Nonetheless, I enter the store with my first ever list and a whole lot of apprehension. Shopping takes longer than usual as I’m buying things I never have before (chicken thighs, fresh cilantro, soy sauce) and I’m calculating things as I go (not mentally but constantly unlocking my phone to plug in numbers.) *Here I must pause and remind you that this is a judgement free zone. I will not judge you, so please don’t judge me. 🙂

I imagine how I look as I intensly debate the cost of white onion v. red onion with my rapt 3 year old, my ponytail loose and falling from the sheer stress of it all. Luckily, I have mastered pulling off the IDGAF vibe, so we power on. I blow the budget, but comfort myself with the idea that a lot of the items are new “staples” and won’t have to be purchased again for months. We make it out, and I am EXHAUSTED. My one shining moment from the day: I cross the last item off the list and realize I get to skip all four of the frozen food aisles. I smile for the world to see, knowing I must have done something right in all this business.

And my final thoughts on Day 2?

THANK GOD today is Sunday, which equals family dinner night over at my parents house (and no cooking for me!!!)

P.S.

In case anyone was wondering, this is what J looks like after mommy takes 15 minutes to post a blog.

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The Backstory

The Backstory

I. Hate. Cooking.

Let me just put that out there from the get go.

Now that we’ve established that core principle, let me tell you why I’m here.

I am embarking on a self-inflicted journey into all things domestic. I want to cook better food for my family. I want to live on a sustainable budget that allows for ample savings. I want a semi structured life that allows for less stress and more family fun. I want every room in my house to be clean at the same time. (That last one may be wishful thinking with 2 toddlers calling the shots.) In short I want the Pinterest-y, super mom, parenting blog heaven we all dream of.

My dilemma? I’m not perfect and life isn’t perfect.

So with my bar set realistically low, I am beginning my journey today. The road will be tough and marred with (hopefully) silent curse words along the way, but I want to share it with you. I want to create a  safe haven for all of us that struggle to live up to the Internet ideal of parenting. I may be trying to go a little Pintrest-y, but I will never be the “perfect Pintrest parent.” I am hoping to find a happy medium that works for me and my family. Also, I know myself, and if I don’t put some sort of checks and balances in place, I will not succeed. So you guys are it. My accountability. My fail safe. Don’t let me go this alone.