Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Heyohhh Queso

I love all cheese. This includes the Tostitos melty cheese, full of 498 trillion preservatives. This weekend I made queso blanco, and it was good, a nice change from dips I typically make. Quick and easy too.

1 pound sharp American cheese from the deli (you can use regular American too)
4 ounces pepperjack cheese (I used a block and cut it in half)
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 large jalapeno pepper, diced fine, seeds removed
1 TBS olive oil
1 can Rotel with diced green chiles, drained
1 4 oz can diced green chiles
3/4 cup fat free half & half (more if you want it to be thinner)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Shred cheeses - I use a food processor to do this and it's done in seconds. If you don't have a food processor, you can cut them. Do that and set aside.

Drain Rotel with green chiles and separate green chile cans in a collander.

Saute onion and pepper in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add cheeses and stir until about 3/4 melted. Add tomatoes and diced green chiles and stir to incorporate. Add spices and half and half, stir continually until fully melted.

Transfer to a mini crock pot to keep warm. Serve with tortilla chops, on top of nachos, or drink it alone. Whatever floats your cheese boat.

The cheese stands alone...
Until you introduce chips.
Then the party starts.
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Martinis & Bikinis

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Hausfrauing Tips

1. Before you start hausfrauing, purge. It may take you a few days or a week to go through your house, but it's worth it. For tips on decluttering, click here. You don't want to be moving things around to dust that you're going to get rid of anyway. That's extra work for nothing.

2. Make a list of what you'll do room by room. To me, spring hausfrauing means focusing on areas that don't get cleaned weekly, i.e. moving big furniture to vacuum, washing curtains, washing doorknobs and switch plates, washing walls as necessary, etc. There are 47029084 lists on spring cleaning on the Internet. I say just clean everything you can possibly think of to clean in every room, from top to bottom, from the corners to the vent covers. The End. 

3. Arm yourself with a laundry basket that will serve two purposes: It will carry supplies you need for cleaning, and you will place items in there that need to be moved to other rooms to be put away. 

4. Before you start in each room, pick up and put away whatever is laying around and remove all laundry (curtains, sheets, towels, clothes, whatever).

5. Hausfrauing hacks:
  • Spray your cleaner on tubs and sinks and let it soak in for 5-10 minutes = less scrubbing
  • Microwave a bowl of water with one tablespoon of vinegar on high for four minutes = steam loosens crud and it wipes right off
  • Remove bags from trash cans, add cleaning solution, fill bottoms with water, and set outside
  • Dust your ceiling fans with pillow cases, drawing the dust inside of the case. Shake them out and wash when finished
  • If you have oily dust in your kitchen (on your stove hood, etc), the easiest way to get it off is by wiping it down with a little veggie oil. Then put some dish liquid on a sponge and get both off.
This won't help you this year, but if you stick to a hausfrauing schedule, your spring hausfrauing won't be a big thing because your house is in pretty good shape all the time. I don't follow this verbatim every week - I move it around depending on my schedule - but it's a good idea of what goes on. 
And since I do it weekly, it really takes no time at all to whip through whatever chore is on that day.

Don't be sad if your spring hausfrauing takes more than one day. 
You are a warrior and you got this. 
Eye of the tiger, baby. Eye of the tiger. 
And you? Any spring hausfrauing tips to share with the group?
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

10 Tips on Decluttering

Decluttering is really personal. I don't believe in holding on to things I'm not using, wearing or loving in the hopes that I will one day use them, fit in them, or love them. I'm not telling you to get rid of your stuff...that's a lie. I am telling you that. Everyone has at least a few items they shouldn't have, me included.

I think people shy away from decluttering because they think it means an absence of things and a home void of personality.  It does not mean that. It means having the respect for the things you love and want on display to give them a home and space around them.  I have a lot of decor throughout the house. My walls are full of photos. I never, however, have more than I can handle. If it doesn't have a place, it doesn't belong.

My view on clutter in the home is that it leads to clutter in the heart and mind; it allows clutter to infiltrate everywhere. Too much stuff, then suddenly too much to do, too much chaos. In my mind, clearing physical clutter clears a path to a better life.

Here are some things I live by. I'm not a genius and these aren't things I made up. They're basic tenets of organizing in my words.
1. A place for everything and everything in its place. If something doesn't have a designated space, find one for it or get rid of it. Wherever it goes is its home, so when you're done with it return it to its home. I swear I heard my Grandmom say this 49030489038 times. The next one as well.

2. One in, one out. One of the best things my Grandmom taught me. Last week I brought home two cardigans, two t-shirts, and a 3/4 sleeve t-shirt. I also ordered a skirt and two dresses. That night at home I did a quick closet purge. That's how you keep from having too much.
3. Tough love evaluation. If you hold something in your hands and don't feel a connection to it because it's useful, beautiful, or because you love it, get rid of it. If you just want a memory of it, take a photo. Purging requires a shred of ruthlessness. When the urge hits, do it.

4. Cast a critical eye on your every once in a while items. I have seasonal items and entertaining items that I don't use daily or monthly. I make sure I keep an eye on them so I'm not holding on to more than I can use at any given time, or buying more to add to an already complete collection.

5. Zone by zone. I don't say today I will declutter my bedroom. I say I'm going to go through my top two drawers. Once I do that and deal with all the stuff (throwing out, packing up to give away, or putting away in a new home, NOT just moving it), I may move on to my shoes, two more drawers, the bookcase in my room, the box next to my bed. Or I may just stop with those two drawers. Scaling decluttering projects down to 10 minute intervals allows me to accomplish something in 10 minutes. Decluttering a closet sounds like a lot of work and something I might not be up for. Decluttering a shelf does not.

6. Know that organizing is circular. I typically declutter and organize some part of the house on a daily basis even if it's just a pile on the table. Some weeks shit lays on the floor in the closet for three days before I can get to it. Life happens around us. Still, I'm disciplined in continually putting things in their homes and reevaluating my organizational systems and whether or not things are still functional, useful, or loved. You don't organize something once and then never again. It requires upkeep and evaluation.
Real Simple
7. Do not transfer clutter. FYI, it's not decluttering if you're just moving shit from place to place. You have to actually find a home for it, toss it, or give it away.

8. Jammed in is not a good look on anything. We always get new things. Make sure there's a little bit of space for you to assimilate new items and still have some space around the items you have.

9. Someone might want it is not a good reason to hold something. Your home is not a storage locker. Don't treat it as such. Reach out to whomever may want or need it and give them a pick up deadline. If they don't meet it, it gets tossed or donated. MFD wants to hold on to things for months just in case. Nope. Not happening.

10. Use reminders. If you can't bear to part with something, set a reminder on your calendar for six months from now. If you haven't thought about it or used it since you set the reminder, get rid of it.

What about you? Is decluttering a part of your life or a foreign concept? Do you have any tips to share?
Purging is needed
or you will be on Hoarders. 
Then we can't be friends. 
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Monday, March 17, 2014

the weekend that was - birthday edition

Birthday eve dinner at Zahav - amazing food and service experience. We loved it and will definitely go back. We did the tasting menu and sampled a good number of fabulous dishes. I'll boldly say I've never had better brussels sprouts and that the labenah ice cream was quite possibly made by someone actually from Heaven. Philadelphians, you should go. Dinner menu here and dessert menu here. We followed that with a stroll around Old City. It was a wonderful night.
Up at the crack of dawn on my 37th birthday on Saturday to head to Honey's Sit-n-Eat for breakfast. I had excellent breakfast quesadillas and got fried green tomato caprese to go. Holy shit, I'm glad I did. It was delicious.
We took to the dogs to the park close to our house for some family exercise. They loved it.
The afternoon consisted of browsing HomeGoods and TJ Maxx and finding nothing (WTH!), frozen yogurt, and a couples massage. Ahhh.
I got a fabulous surprise delivery from Kerry at Till Then, Smile Often: chocolate dipped apples and strawberries. They were an instant dessert hit. Thank you Kerry! You rock.
We had dinner at home in lounge attire per my request. MFD grilled steaks. I made sauteed local mushrooms and spinach, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed fingerling potatoes, and corn. My brother Stephen and Debbie joined us. I finished out my birthday with some big bad red on the couch. Glorious day.
Sunday food prep: Amanda from Voyage of the MeeMee's quinoa taco filling for this week's lunches, barbecue chicken with sauteed onions for this week's dinners, and Guinness roasted corned beef with a side of boiled cabbage/potatoes/carrots for Sunday dinner. Breakfasts for the week are breakfast burritos, snacks are strawberries, raspberries, raw carrots and cucumbers.
Not pictured:
1. Errands (Sam's, Giant, Target) and hausfrauing (the party doesn't stop because it's my birthday)
2. Basement purging - got rid of some chairs and other crap
3. Finished Night Film, fabulous book

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Things you may have missed this weekend: 37 things about me for 37 years and how I did on my winter goals.

Tomorrow: 10 Tips on Decluttering.

Thank you all so very much for the birthday wishes. They made a great day even better. For you, my favorite Irish blessing for Saint Patrick's Day:
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Linking up with Leeann for

Saturday, March 15, 2014

It's my birthday. I made you a cake and wrote you a long list.

My friend Jessica from Bluebird Sisters celebrated a birthday this week too, and did 29 Things in the style of 25 Things You Didn't Know About Me from US Mag.

I did that before here, and I'm doing 37 more in honor of my 37th birthday today. It's hard to think of 37 things you may not have mentioned when you blog daily, and it sucks for you to read 37 things since I'm old, but let's give it a whirl.

1. The term YOLO makes me laugh every time I see it, hear it, or say it. I will never let it die. Laura will work with me to keep it alive.

2. My thirties have been my favorite decade so far.

3. My favorite color is purple.

4. I like to put peanut butter on a spoon, top it with Cool Whip, and enjoy it in all its processed glory.

5. I fear getting bunions like my Grandmom and having to get surgery to get them off.

6. If we go to a place that serves breakfast and lunch, I will almost always get lunch.

7. LASIK eye surgery is one of the best things I've ever done. I do miss having glasses as an accessory sometimes though.

8. The thought of being without sunglasses makes me panic. I wear them even when it's overcast.

9. Nine is my favorite number.

10. I've never been to Canada. It's a close neighbor, I feel like I should visit.

11. When I was little, I loved catching caterpillars and racing them up the side of Gamma's house. Now I'd rather cut my fingers off than pick a caterpillar up.

12. I suck at directions.

13. Once upon a time, I was a cheerleader. Not quite my personality, amiright?

14. I have two tattoos but often forget about the one on my back until someone mentions it because I never see it. 

15. I didn't go to the sophomore dance or the junior prom. I only went to my senior prom because I thought my mom would be disappointed if I didn't. I hate dressing up and dancing so I really didn't give a shit about proms.

16. I have never missed a deadline in my professional career or an opportunity to vote in a major or primary election since I turned 18.

17. I hate being the center of attention, which was one of the big reasons I didn't want to get married.

18. People who live through their children piss me off. It's lame. You had your childhood. Let them have theirs.

19. I don't watch hard to watch movies, especially if they're based on true stories Knowing shit like that exists is enough - I don't want to spend my spare time watching things I find hard to stomach.

20. I lied about being sick in an attempt to pass Art History in college after I skipped a lot of the side sessions. My lie didn't help but I passed anyway.

21. People who act like martyrs and play the victim infuriate me. Stop it right now and have some respect for yourself.

22. I failed my driving test three times before passing on the fourth.

23. I hate wearing jeans.

24. I remember crying in Mr. Epting's ninth grade english class as I read the end of Great Expectations.

25. It's not a good idea to get in an argument with me about women's rights.

26. I can't use chopsticks and I don't want to.

27. I find foreign money to be a hassle and egocentrically wish everyone used dollars.

28. When I'm on a mission to get something done around the house, I am not a nice person to be around. I will ride my own ass and everyone else's ass until it's done. There is no break time, sitting down or doing anything other than furthering the task at hand. It's like a hostile takeover in a foreign country and it's not pleasant.

29. I frequently forget to wear my wedding rings.

30. It makes me uncomfortable when people write on the wall of dead people on Facebook.

31. I come from a long line of people who manage to be friendly but just out of reach. I use this when I need to maintain or gain a little distance and can slip in and out of it easily.

32. Whenever people are startled by my honesty, I know we will never be close friends.

33. I hate surprises.

34. I do not recognize rock/paper/scissors. I do odds & evens, best out of three, or nothing.

35. My first "adult" concert was Don Henley. I was 13 I think? 12?

36. I can't do any type of accent other than my own.

37. Totes/adorbs/hubs: these abbreviations make me want to punch.

Happy Saturday.

Have you entered this giveaway from Helene?

Nicole // Kim // Helene 

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Toot your own horn

I feel like we live in a weird time where you can't say you're good at something without people thinking you're an arrogant bastard. I'm positive people are out there reading these blog posts thinking she thinks she's so good at this or that.

Well, yes, I do think I'm good at some things and I can confidently discuss those things out loud. And for god's sake I hope you think you're good at some things and can confidently discuss them out loud so we can join each other for coffee at the table of awesome.

I love when people are proud of themselves for what they've said, done, started, finished, figured out, worn, overcome, learned, forgot, whatever. It's powerful. It makes me happy to see other people kicking ass at life.

In my world, daily living doesn't mean minimizing accomplishments or hiding talents. There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, but as long you are aware of that line and stay on the right side of it, TOOT TOOT. No one likes a boastful Cha Cha DiGregorio saying she's the best dancer at St. Bernadette's, so don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. Otherwise it's not wrong to be pleased with progress and share achievements and milestones.

Many years ago, my friend Chris gave me a print with this on it. It's something I think of often and believe wholeheartedly. Read each line and really think about it:

Being humble and modest certainly have a time and place, but playing small doesn't sit well with me. I hate when I realize I'm doing it and I hate seeing other people do it. I don't want you to downplay your talents and I don't want to fight with you to give you a compliment. You're awesome. No I'm not. You are. I'm not. YES, YOU ARE AWESOME, NOW SHUT UP.
Women in particular often downplay their successes and deflect compliments. Why? When someone says you look good, did good, sound good, whatever...just say thank you. Don't devalue your work, change the subject, crap on your appearance, none of it. Just accept the compliment.

And moreover, accept your gifts. Acknowledge them out loud. Whatever it is, don't be ashamed to say you did it well. Acknowledging your strengths in a happy and productive way is not conceited or arrogant. It's honoring yourself and showing yourself some love. Those are never bad things.
I'm good at painting my own nails, cooking, being honest with you when no one else will be, organizing, listening, creating creative curse words, remembering song lyrics, and writing. How do you shine?

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Linking up with Kathy for Humpday Confessions.
 Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Shit MFD Said This Week Vol 3

At a family gathering
MFD: Wait! Put on Lawrence Welk!
Everyone in chorus: No!
MFD: What! That's a great show.

Putting dinner away
MFD: Where's the lid for this?
Me: Where all the lids are.
long pause
MFD: Well this is ridiculous.

Yelling up from the kitchen:
MFD: Steph! Where's the milk? 
Me: I don't drink milk. I don't know. I'm guessing it would be in the fridge.
MFD: fah-ahh-ahhhck

Via phone:
MFD: about your text...you said send a picture of lotion. We didn't get any in the mail.
Me: No no. That hand lotion for outdoors stuff that you got at Jack & Lori's.
MFD: That's cream.
Me: Same thing as lotion.
MFD: Balm, really.
Me: Still the same thing. 

Reading his church bulletin:
MFD: Hey Steph, you want to host an exchange student?
Me: No. 
MFD: They could have a bedroom and hang out in the basement. There's a generous monthly stipend. 
Me: No. 
MFD: Come on. 
Me: No.

As I'm walking out the door:
MFD: Did you wear that outfit yesterday? 
Me: What do you think I am?

Today is my Pop's birthday. He is a card, saying things like:
-Very good (his go to response to anything and now mine)
-calls his grown sons "boy" and all women "woman"
-Say nothing, stay longer

Birthday week is here
Pass the winning powerball
And the pimp cane too
I just like the term pimp cane. Tomorrow: tooting your own horn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Things I do to make Life Easier in the Kitchen

1. I put tinfoil in a bowl before I drain the grease from bacon. I throw it out or freeze it if I'm going to use it to cook with at another time. I don't need to worry about a gross bowl.

2. I prepare food on Sundays: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. I'm cleaning up for an hour or two one day versus every morning and night. I leave the house by 7 and get home at 6. I do not feel like cooking every night. Being prepared gives me no excuse for eating shitty processed meals. That being said, some weekends we're away or I'm too busy to do that. So I always have some meals in the freezer ready to heat and eat: quiche (pieces frozen individually), breakfast burritos, baked ziti, enchiladas, mexican stuffed shells, soup.

3. If a recipe calls for half an onion, I chop the rest of it and freeze it. Likewise, if I only need a tablespoon or two of tomato paste, I freeze the rest of the can in ice cube trays and to use at my leisure. No haste, no waste, and since I usually add them to sauce or soup, no defrosting. I hate wasting food. There are too many people in this world who don't have that luxury.

4. As soon as I use the last of something, I grab my phone and write it down on a list under the Grocery Note I keep in the notes. I check that when I'm making my grocery or Target lists. I've been shopping more at Target using my red card for a 5% discount plus the Cartwheel app, Target mobile coupons, and real live coupons.

5. Wear gloves when doing dishes. Do you think these nails keep themselves? I buy fun gloves at Homegoods to put a shine on a shit chore.

6. I separate bananas when I bring them home - it keeps them good longer.

7. I never buy buttermilk because it would go bad before I'd use it all. If I need it, I add a tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk, stir, and let stand for 10 minutes. Viola - you made buttermilk, bitches.

8. I whisk eggs in a four cup measuring cup so they're easy to pour out.

9.  I don't peel carrots, cucumbers, or potatoes. Again, I hate wasting food and more importantly wasting nutrients. Most nutrients in carrots are in or just below the skin. Scrub those bitches and cut the ends off and boom, you're good to go. Cucumber peel is a good source of fiber. Potato skin has a ton of finber and vitamins - it's full of vitamin K, potassium, copper, and iron. So if you eat over and we're having potato salad or mashed potatoes, expect the skin.

10. I always have a box of brownie mix in the pantry and a few bags of frozen berries in the fridge. If I have to make a dessert on the fly to serve to impromptu dinner guests or bring to a spontaneous gathering, brownies and berry cobbler will do nicely.
Share your kitchen tips!
Ordering out tricks work too.
Please, no tips on beets. 
Tomorrow: our weekend in Mexico. Hasta manana, amigos.
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