Monday, March 14, 2011

Getting cleaner by Clear the Clutter

I know that getting more organized was on my New Years Resolutions list this year and I have brought in my dear friend Jessica from Clear the Clutter to help us with that. Jessica is an amazing woman with an amazing talent - organization saavy! Something that I could only hope to attain. She is graciously sharing her organizational prowess with all of us in a three part series to get into Spring Cleaning (aaaah spring! where are you?) Now before we slap on the rubber gloves let's get to know Jessica a bit better:
Tell us a bit about yourself: I am a wife to my highschool sweet heart and mother to two beautiful red head girls (9 and 5). Life is busy in our family with; soccer games, volunteering at school, book clubs, girls' nights out, date nights, family time, household projects, shopping, etc., etc., etc. I love a clean and organized home (who doesn't), and do my best to minimize the unnecessary clutter from my life. I am learning to say, "no", and "help", and to lean on my wonderful friends and family who are always ready to lend a shoulder, or just some Diet Coke and chocolate!
If you could get rid of one chore permanently what would it be:The floors, I HATE cleaning the floors. It doesn't seem to matter how good a job I do, i turn around and find another crub or smudge. It never ends!
Three things that you  have with you at all times:I always have a water bottle, chapstick, and my phone with me.
Favorite meal that you ever ate: My all time favorite meal is from my all time favorite restaurant, Maggianos! Start with the stuffed mushrooms, then the 4 cheese raviolli, continue munching on the bread, then end with the cheesecake and tiramasu, that's right, two desserts!!! YUMMY!
If you could live one day over again what would it be and why:I think the day I would live over would be the day we surprised our girls and took them to Disneyland. They were only 5 and 17 months old at the time. Their faces when they saw the Disneyland castle were priceless. For me, there is NOTHING as wonderful as watching your childrens' dreams come true!
Welcome to Clear the clutter!
Clear the clutter button
Hi, I am Jessica from Clear the clutter . I was excited to be contacted by She Said to give all of you some Spring Cleaning advice! 
Clear the clutter is focused on clearing the clutter from our homes and our lives in order to decrease the feeling of, "I never seem to get around to..." 
You can have it all, just not all at the same time!  By focusing on different areas every month it allows us to accomplish what we want, but also gives "permission" to leave other areas to wait until their focus month comes up. 
As you progress, you will find that more things are being accomplished with less worry and guilt of what is not being accomplished...yet!   The focus for the month of March is Spring Cleaning, and I have a three part series for all of the She Said readers.
Cleaning the bathroom is a necessary evil, but knowing that does not mean that it doesn’t need a Spring cleaning touch up along with the other rooms.
Because the bathrooms are cleaned so frequently, Spring cleaning in these areas is relatively easy. Here is the to do list for Spring cleaning all bathrooms in the house:
  • Wipe/swiffer down all walls, where all of the hairspray and cosmetic gunk can get stuck. Remove all clocks, and decorations to get behind them as well. Use HOT water and a cleaning solution with towel/rags.
  • Wash decorative towels
  • Wash all rugs/toilet covers
  • Clean out sink and tub drains
  • Remove everything from under the sink, clean and replace
  • Wash vents
  • Wash garbage can
To Spring clean the toilets:
  • Steam clean all around and behind the toilet. Re-caulking if necessary will give a clean look as well. If you don’t have a steamer, the hottest water you can handle (use those rubber gloves) with a cleaning solution will work as well.
These small touch ups will go miles to improve the cleanliness of one of the most used rooms in the house.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Good Book is like a Good Friend

A little while I ago I read this book for a book club that I was in and I was amazed!
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Tells the story of two girls, Lily & Snowflower,  who create a Laotong a friendship that is to last forever and regarded higher than a marriage. It follows them as they grow into women and how their relationship grows as well. Set in a remote village in China this book covers how women were treated and regarded in society. What their roles in home are and what they have to go through to get a good marriage.
Lisa See does an amazing job in educating the reader in footbinding, marriage arranging, women's roles in China/society/home and she brings to light a secretive writing that women used (kept a secret from men) to communicate with each other, NuShu.
I really enjoyed reading about the relationship that these two girls had & found myself reflecting on how universal emotions are when it comes to your best friend. - I can't elaborate on it without spoiling some of the events in the book. I knew that women in China weren't looked to highly upon, but this opened my eyes to how are treated and what they are expected to do. I didn't realize how dangerous or really understood footbinding  (after reading the book I looked it up on google....insane that women went through that, but then so are breast implants) I really enjoyed reading about NuShu writing and it's orgins. I was discussing it with a friend and she made the comment that even in oppression women still found a way to break free and communicate - yeah for girl power!!

Check it out and share it with your own "Old Same" (term used for best friend in the book). It will make you grateful for her. It will make you want to reconnect. It will make you want to wash all of your dishes with a smile on your face because you won't get beaten if you don't (so grateful that I'm a woman in America).


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Recipe -- Aebleskivers!

I love breakfast and breakfast foods.  There are just so many yummy things you can make.  One of our very favorite breakfast foods is aebleskivers, which are Danish pancake balls.  Mr. W and I both have Danish ancestry (luckily not the same Danish ancestry, though!), and this is a cherished family recipe my awesome mother-in-law has passed down to us.  Aebleskiver means "apple slices" in Danish, but it might as well mean "little balls of Heaven."

Before we get started, here's some free advice: take your time with these.  They don't take long (unless you're trying to take photos while you cook...), but make them on a morning when you have some extra time and can afford to be patient.  If you try to hurry, they're not going to be nearly as good.  Learn from my mistakes!!

Okay, now we can start with the yumminess.  To make aebleskivers, you're going to need an aeblskiver pan.  It's a cast iron skillet with half-circle indentations.  You can find them at most kitchen specialty stores or stores that carry a variety of kitchen tools, like Bed Bath & Beyond.  I've even seen some at K-Mart and Wal-Mart labeled as "pancake puff" pans.  We bought ours at our favorite local kitchen shop.  Here is our well-loved pan:

Aebleskiver pan
You will also need:
2 cups buttermilk
(If you don't have buttermilk on hand, use regular milk with a splash of white vinegar)
2 cups flour
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter
(I cut the recipe in half for Mr. W and me)

Start by separating the eggs and beating the whites stiff.  Mix all other ingredients together one at a time and beat until smooth, then fold in the egg whites last.  Heat about 1 tsp of oil or melted butter in each indentation and let it get nice and hot.  Use a measuring cup to fill each indentation to the top.  You could add a small chunk of apple to each cup at this point, but I usually don't.  Cook for a minute or two on medium low.  Trust me on this.  I know you're going to want to turn up the heat, but resist the temptation.  Save yourself some heartache and cook them on medium low.  This will allow them to brown and still cook the middles.  They should start to get a little bubbly around the edges, like this:

Once they get bubbly, turn each one about a quarter turn.  My mother-in-law uses a knitting needle for this, and I use one of Mr. W's fancy Korean chopsticks.  You can also use a spoon.  I've discovered that the easiest way to turn them is to kind of skewer them through one side and then lift up (sorry, it's too difficult to take a picture of this one).  Some of the uncooked batter will run to the bottom of the cup and start cooking, which will help give the aebleskivers their nice round shape.

Continue cooking and rotating the aebleskivers until they're a gorgeous golden brown and cooked through.  Add more oil/butter to each cup and heat before starting a new batch.

Serve with powdered sugar or jam and prepare to have your life (or at least your breakfast menu)
changed forever. :)

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