Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The White House Gingerbread House 2009

So pretty!

(Photo courtesy of ObamaFoodorama.blogspot.com)

There's a shadow box view of the State Dining Room – the room that the completed gingerbread house sits in throughout the holiday season for visitors to view. This shadow box even includes the famous painting of President Lincoln by George PA Healy that hangs over the fireplace. This room is where you’ll find the only inedible parts of the gingerbread house – the light fixtures!

They also included the new White House Kitchen Garden and Bo. Both are made out of marzipan. In the garden, you’ll find baskets of carrots, eggplants and cabbage as well as other seasonal vegetables.

There's a video and description of the whole process here on the blog: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2009/12/22/making-white-house-gingerbread-house

I WANT one!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A New Toy

Coming Soon!
A new laptop/netbook.

Lenovo IdeaPad U150

Isn't she pretty?
I'm so exited I even paid the extra shipping to have her shipped in two days.

Stay tuned for a review once I've played with her a bit.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I use cut-up old t-shirts for just about any task that requires a rag.
They're reusable, easy to launder, and I don't get upset when hubby grabs one to use for some or other dirty job in the garage.
There are always more where that one came from.
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Just a little quote

I was preparing a small gift for someone and looking for a quote to include.
I have a fondness for Dr. Seuss quotes.
This is the one I chose today.

"Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You."

I hope you have a wonderful day being you today.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

What I've been living with...

...for almost a week.
And the end is not in sight yet.
We're having a bunch of stuff done in the crawl space. The access is in the pantry.
And while the pantry is empty maybe we'll refloor and paint this weekend.

(Oh, and yes, I know. The healthy eating police will not be happy.)
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Friday, November 6, 2009

Almost Homemade Banana Bread

This is my go-to quick banana bread recipe.  When the bananas are over-ripe and time is at a premium, it's a life saver.  Not totally homemade, but yummy!

Banana Nut Bread
(from Real Simple Magazine - November 2004)

1 box yellow cake mix
1 large package instant Banana Cream Pudding
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans/walnuts (optional)

Add all ingredients except nuts to mixing bowl and mix according to cake package instructions.
Add nuts and slowly mix in until just incorporated.
Pour into 2 large or 4 small greased loaf pans.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius) for 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked all the way to the center.
Let cool in pans for 5 minutes before tipping out.


Mash, mash...

Grease the pans.  I just use spray.

Chop the nuts.  I love this chopper because it contains the mess.

Mix.  Love my KitchenAid!

How do I ensure that all loaves are the same size?  Weigh them!

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Christmas is around the corner...

I'm not really thinking about it yet, but on Friday I stumbled upon this cute little ornament.
Guiltless pleasure
I realized that I have quite few food-related ornaments.
I may do a kitchen Christmas tree this year.
I think it could be cute.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Weekday Cleaning


I'm not a fan of cleaning.  I've found that having a very specific routine for this makes it much less painful.  I'm a list person and checking things off gives me real satisfaction.

Over the next couple of weeks I will share with you how I keep my house in a semi-orderly state.  In the shortest time possible.  So I can do other things.

I have specific tasks for every day. Today I'll tell you what I do every weekday.  I'll go into the specific things for each day in a later post.
  1. Do the dishes
  2. Wipe the counters
  3. Sweep the floor
  4. Use the Dust Buster to pick up any visible debris on the carpets.
  5. Straighten up a bit.  Putting things back in their spots every day reduces the mess on "big" cleaning day.
  6. Do a load of laundry.
This takes no more than 15 minutes - 20 minutes if I decide to take out the trash and clean the cat sand.
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Take a Break

Take a little time to sit down and be quiet before the new week begins.
Chair & Cushions
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

My View: Swiffer® Sweeper Wet Cloths

My motivation for deciding to try these was to find something between monthly crawl-on-the-floor-on-your-hands-and-knees floor washing, and daily sweeping.

(Photo courtesy of amazon.com)

Here's what I found:
1. You have to sweep the floor before you use these. It will not pick up all the loose stuff.
2. One wet cloth will only clean about fifty square feet of floor before it's dry.
3. Flipping the swivel head over to be able to use the little scrubby side is such a pain that it's not really worth it.
4. You WILL still have to get down there and clean the corners every so often, which is why I'll have to stick to the monthly thing.

I use these once a week.
I'm cheap, so to overcome the fact that the cloth will only clean a fraction of my floor space, I fill the laundry sink with about a quarter inch of water and dip the end of the Swiffer® in there when it dries out.
I just shake it a little to remove the excess water and off I go.
I clean the heavy traffic areas (around the refrigerator and kitchen table) first so as to utilize the cleaning solution in the cloth.

This review is my personal opinion.
The Swiffer company is (obviously) not compensating me but if you need more information about this product, they answer many questions, especially on the safety of their products, on their web site.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Milk-Bone Substitutes

Sydney is the other girl in our family.

She likes Milk-Bones. Well, actually she'll eat anything but Milk-Bones are what she gets.
Milk-Bones are pricey and I'm trying to do what I can to save money over here.
I scanned the web and found this recipe (Basic Dog Treats). The result - 250 very tasty little heart-shaped biscuits.

Actually DH claims that if I added salt, he would eat them too.

I calculated the cost to see if this made economic sense.
(I used good quality chicken stock, which drove the price up significantly.)

Unbleached flour $0.17
Whole wheat flour $0.21
Cornmeal $0.42
chicken stock $4.05
yeast $0.49

Total: $5.34 per batch of 40oz, which is $0.13 per ounce
If I'd used cheap, canned chicken stock: $0.08 per ounce

Milk Bones: $4.69 for 24oz, which is $0.20 per ounce

Bottom line: Even taking into account the electricity used to bake these, homemade is cheaper and much better for Sydney, having none of the coloring and preservatives found in commercial biscuits.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's Fall!

We woke up to a definite chill here in the Pacific Northwest this morning. I guess the good weather couldn't last, could it?

A little bit of Fall on the kitchen table.
Fall Decorating
I'm starting to think about doing a painting project or two this winter.
Paint Chips
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Friday, October 9, 2009

One thing I can't do without

If you don't have a timer, run out and get one now!
This is my new one. I wore the old one out.
I haven't tried it out yet but I'll let you know if I like it as soon as I've given it a whirl.
If you're thinking of getting a timer, try to find one that will time to more than 99 minutes and 99 seconds, i.e. one that will time hours.
My new toy
I'll mention my timer many times on this blog, I'm sure.
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finally! An iPhone case I love

My previous iPhone case was nice but added a lot of bulk to an already chunky phone.
When my hubby brought this one home, I fell in love.

The SHIELD Apple 3G GS iPhone Shield Polycarbonate Slim Fit Case
(Copy and paste this mouthful into your search engine and you'll find a whole bunch of them.)

What do I like?
It's thin, has a soft feel (although it's quite hard), and the surface is not completely smooth, which reduces the chance of your phone slipping out of your hand.
There's a cutout on the back which allows the Apple logo to show. Silly I know, but I like it.
The top and bottom slots allow unrestricted access to all accessory ports.
It comes in 11 colors. Mine is a lovely, girly shade of pink.
It's very inexpensive - around $10.  I may actually get one to match every outfit.  (Just kidding)

What don't I like?
So far, nothing.

Side view:
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The difference a new kitchen faucet makes

Before - builder's grade boring
Kitchen faucet - before
After - a definite improvement
Kitchen faucet - after
Next on the list - painting the kitchen cabinets.
Hopefully this winter.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Garden Bird
I'm a busy wife, mother, and small business owner living just outside Seattle, WA.
I love gardening, decorating, cooking, reading, and all things in and around my home.

Unfortunately I don't have as much time as I'd like to dedicate to these things.

I hope this blog will serve the dual purpose of moving the things I love higher up on my priority list, as well as inspiring and helping you.

I hope you'll join me.
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