Showing posts from 2013

The freezer debacle

After we moved, my health took a sharp downward turn. There were a lot of changes that happened all at once, and so it was difficult to pinpoint any one particular cause. I thought most of it was just pushing myself too hard in the moving process, or maybe the fact that we had been in survival mode for so long and now I was allowed to give myself some more time for self-care. But that wasn't it.

Shortly after we moved into our apartment, we noticed that a couple of our food items were freeze burned. We put it down to the old freezer which was not well-maintained, or some abuse during moving, and ignored it. Then we discovered brand-new food items were getting freezer burned. We checked to see if a vent was getting blocked, and checked for excess ice crystals. I checked the seal on the gasket on the door. We adjusted the temperature gauge with no change in temps or results. As time went on, I started noticing a metallic, almost anti-freeze flavor going on in our food. Everything be…

The intersections of chronic illness and "normal" life: Keeping a home whoever you are

I was diagnosed with chronic illness at age 17, after 2 solid years of suffering and plenty more before of pain and misery. I don't remember more than 3 days of my life when I wasn't in pain. I spent a lot of time internalizing my fear of making goals and having dreams, because when you can't plan a week ahead, how do you know what next year will bring? How do you plan for decades when you could be crippled with pain an hour from now?

Having dreamed so big and fallen so far, I have learned many things. The first and foremost of which is that my home is a sanctuary, even moreso than for the average person. I need a safe, clean, comfortable home to return to at the end of the day, sometimes even the middle of the day. These days, sitting at home usually IS my day. Finding my place in keeping my home, playing the dutiful housewife who can't do much physically, has been hard. It's been allegorical to finding my place in the world at large, as I sit here wondering what …

Back in the saddle

After almost a year of struggling with a sub-par computer, I've finally gotten it replaced (under warranty no less) and have one that actually identifies every letter as I type it instead of sometimes deciding to recognize only half of them. Hopefully this will make blogging a bit less frustrating!

We took the week off from menu planning this week. We had a friend in the hospital, and caring for the group was our #1 priority. The friend is home and recovering now, and we're hoping to get over to visit now that she's almost even awake more often than not.

It also means we've let the daily checklists go by the wayside, and that's been a bit more of an issue. Evening marathons of Doctor Who are always so much more appealing than catching up on dishes, am I right? Mr. Moon caught up on the dishes today, and tomorrow is a new week. One thing I am proud of is that we kept up on tidying regularly. The pile of dishes next to and in the sink was a bit more than I can reason…

Recipe: Upgrading Mom's Chili

I am going to start off with mom's recipe as-is, so if you don't want to go any further you don't have to. But I do have some tips, tricks, and upgrades I've done to make it a little cheaper, and a little healthier along the way. But we'll get to that.

Every year on Halloween, we had chili for dinner. It was a great way to have a nice warm dinner on for whoever wanted to eat it, whenever they were ready. Last minute costume adjustments, homework, etc. before trick or treating, plus that and the candy sorting... it made for a busy evening! So having chili in the crockpot was great, because we could have a bowl before we went out (thus ensuring no cranky, hungry kids being too tempted to dig into too much candy before we got home!) and usually another when we got home to warm up.

We also figured out the best way to eliminate the gassiness usually associated with chili: Start this recipe before 10am! By dinner around 5 or 6, most of the complex starches that cause the…

Menu: Oct 2-5

We are making so much progress on our home. It's really starting to come together, and I'm really excited about it! Hoping to get some new pictures taken here, soon. One thing we are finding is that, for whatever reason, our apartment gets VERY warm without any assistance from us. Even if we leave the door open with a nice cool breeze coming in during the evening, it warms right back up again when we close it. All I can think is that the neighbors must have their heat on full force! But at least it means I don't expect much in the way of a heating bill this winter.

I notice we've got quite a bit of extra traffic coming in this week. Come join the conversation in the comments! We'd love to know what projects you're working on around the house, and what's on your meal plan for dinner. How did you hear about the blog?

Wednesday: Chippy Dippy!
We have a super busy day of unpacking and organizing today, so a nice, easy dinner is called for. It is really nice to be…

Menu: Sept 29-Oct 1

Half-week menus rock!

Sunday: French Onion Soup
Bumped from last week due to Life. Mr. Moon works the evening shift, and having meals ready to eat or easy to make when he gets home has really helped curb the urge to eat out. Also having to buy four new tires instead of the two we'd budgeted helped motivate sticking to the meal plan...

Leftovers! French Dip Sandwiches

What do you get when you have leftover "prime rib" roast, leftover french bread, and leftover french onion soup? Well if you scoop the onions out of the soup for the sandwich, you can add some flavoring to the soup broth and voila! Mr. Moon works, so at least it should be a quick "reheat" kind of dinner. After a day of unpacking and working, I'm sure he will appreciate an easy dinner.

Tuesday:  Slumgullion
Mr. Moon works. Fall gives me a craving for my mom's recipes, which are typically one-pot meals. I've worked out how to make this one from scratch, though this time I am going to …

Recipe: French Onion Soup

I pinned a recipe for slow-cooker Guinness french onion soup, and my sister-in-love asked me to tell her how it went. Well of course with an abundance on onions and just such a request, how could I resist?!

Original recipe here:

Well I don't have internet at home right now, so when I went to make the soup I didn't have access to the recipe. Like I would have followed it anyway. So here's what I did, and then the usual "how I would make it better next time."

What I Did:

Julienned ~4 medium-sized red onions, and tossed them in the crockpot. Sliced 3 smallish leeks (minus the top half of the green parts which were wilty), rinsed well, and tossed those in. Crushed an entire head of garlic, where the head was only as big around as a quarter, maybe a little more--last year's garden garlic! I was also testing the theory that you don't need to peel the garlic when using a crusher. It …

Menu: Sept 25-28

Funny garden update: We have a grey squirrel that invaded my sage today, and I scared Mr. Moon by opening the door and yelling, "EXCUSE YOU!" at it (he thought someone was invading the house!). I had seen some digging marks before, but hadn't had the motivation or time to deal with it whenever I noticed on my way in or out the door. I mixed up a little sriracha and garlic and water, dumped that around the plants, and am hoping that will keep the little bugger from digging up my sage again. There is plenty of dirt around here, he doesn't need to go digging in mine!

We are so far REALLY enjoying this twice a week menu planning. Much easier to account for perishable foods this way!

Wednesday Stuffed Peppers w/ gorgonzola & bacon Sides: Sautéed summer squash, steamed green beans
Day off, lots of unpacking today! We kept pushing off the stuffed peppers because when we were thinking about dinner it was too late to take two hours to make it. So we roasted off the chicken y…

Menu: Sept 22-24 -- Back on the Meal Planning Bandwagon

Yes, only three days. We're trying out a new Thing were we do our menu plans twice a week, on Sundays and Wednesdays. We are hoping it will lead to less food waste if we keep up on our perishables a little better. Of course, that means I need a new fun banner for menu days, but we'll get there eventually!

Sunday: Crockpot Chili
Mr. Moon is working a double, and we haven't been great about dealing with the late-night dinners lately. Late night take-out on a tight budget leads to bad choices for the tummies and the wallet. Kicking off fall with a pot of chili sounded like just the right remedy for getting some wholesome food into us at the end of a busy day.

Monday: Stuffed Peppers
Mr. Moon is on call that evening, so it could be a late night dinner or sudden extra time to unpack boxes. Having something we can prep ahead is good! I'm not really a fan of the tomato-and-rice stuffed peppers, but I saw a recipe for some with chicken that looked good. It had cream cheese as a bi…

Moving: Things to do before you move into a new apartment (learn from my fail)

When we were moving in, the landlord did a walkthrough with us. He assured is the bathroom tub/shower area had been thoroughly scrubbed, and the faint brownish color on the one wall of the shower was staining from over the years.

You probably already know where this is going, but we're going to take a detour first.

The previous tenant also apparently had a fruit fly problem. Not having proper refuse disposal or cleaning supplies, Mr. Moon being here for a week before these systems were in place only made the fruit fly issue worse. IT WAS BAD. There are no pictures. Just me freaking out for weeks. We ended up putting out bowls of vinegar with a drop of soap, and after a few days of less-than-entirely-proper cleaning and refreshing the vinegar, the fruit flies seem to have died off. Thank goodness.

We did scrub the cabinets in the kitchen. The area around the handles was nasty, and the shelves were dusty and dirty. We also wiped out the fridge, though that had pretty clearly been cl…

Moving: Getting back into routine and making new ones

Mr. Moon has finished unpacking the kitchen, though there are already some rearrangements I want to make when we have the rest of the boxes unpacked. The dining room is still not done, and yes I realize they're the same "room" but for our sanity we needed to check something off. Having the kitchen done means no more eating takeout, which is obviously the financially responsible decision. We're still eating some packaged foods that I would typically make from scratch, but I'm hoping we can wean ourselves off them next month. Right now, we're just being gentle with ourselves and honest about our capabilities. Since Mr. Moon finally caught up on the backlog of dishes, that's been our main focus aside from unpacking: keeping up with the habit of emptying the sink every single night and putting away the dry dishes first thing in the morning.

The bedroom is our next priority, since we have a new mattress coming in on Wednesday and must have a path cleared to t…

To Do: The new apartment!

The Living Room - 0% done -  View from the door
View from that hallway doorway

 Damage on the door from previous tenant. :(
Damage in the carpet from previous tenant :(
The nice thing about this living room is that it is BIG. South-facing windows let in a lot of natural light, but also a lot of heat. I will be surprised if we ever have to turn the heat on in here or the kitchen. That doorway you can see on the left of the top picture is the hall that leads to the bedroom and bathroom and closets. The doorway at the right of the bottom picture is toward the kitchen and dining room.

To Do:

EVERYTHING--This room has all the boxes, and most of the furniture. It will be the last thing finished. But that's OK!

The Kitchen/Dining room - 60% done - Dining room
Kitchen with gross-orange-wood cabinets. 
Aren't these liners just to DIE for?
At least the cabinets don't waste any space. All the headspace is available, and the corners too!
At least the stoven is decent, though electric. But that'…

Moving: The aftermath

Moving was a fiasco.

The sticker idea didn't work, the stickers were too small. Next time, use the tape. Very detailed labels are a lifesaver. It takes an extra few seconds to write roughly everything that was in the box, and those seconds add up. But at least include anything specifically important, like NIGHTSTAND FAN or LOCK BOX or what pieces of kitchen equipment are in each box. The idea of packing things with clothes worked awesomely. Do that! Have someone in charge of packing the truck who is well-rested, patient, and good at real life Tetris. Take lots of breaks. It is OK to sit down! Sitting down to pack something doesn't count as a break. Make sure everything is packed into boxes before the day you pick up the truck. Leave as very little as you can get away with until the last minute. Standard-sized boxes are a life-saver. Even if you are using non-standard sized boxes, as long as you have a LOT that are the same size and shape, that's what's important. Non-st…

Moving: When one piece of stress is over, it brings new ones and other such lessons

Well after two weeks of apartment hunting, we are ecstatic to announce that we were approved for an apartment today! It was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience, as we are not the most predictable renters. A year and change of "not really renting" + Mr. Moon's former landlord being no longer of this world + my lack of rental history and crappy credit score + Mr. Moon just starting a new job = skittish landlord. But he approved us and that's all that's important right now. We pick up the keys tomorrow!

Now that we have a Place in mind, it's on to strategizing the long-distance move. This is where my organizational skills come in handy, but my lack of body capabilities makes things difficult. Thankfully we have a number of good friends who are caring, strong, and follow directions well so it's just a matter of getting them into the right places at the right times and knowing what I want them to do.

Of course, there are some things I want to do better for th…

Making Choices: What we skip or skimp to make room for things like morals and munchies

Young House Love posed the question about things we skip (or skimp) to save money. I started to comment but then it got reeeeallly long so I thought I would put it up here and make a shorter list in my comment. Now, my title talks about morals because some of these choices for reusable things instead of  disposable are environmentally motivated as well as financially. As I've mentioned before, Mr. Moon responds to financial motivation more than anything, but over the last three years we BOTH have come around to being more willing to do things primarily for the Bigger Picture benefits outside our own small lives. Gardening is one of those things we have tried to do for something bigger than ourselves, with only meager success.

Subscription TV: I haven't paid for it in 9 years, Mr. Moon and his roommates had done away with it years before I met them. I watch seasons of TV shows when they come out on DVD, have Blockbuster and now more recently Netflix, so for $16 a month I have DV…