Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A bit of weeknight cleaning.

One of my problems is handling my weeknights. I never know what the kids are up to. They make plans, or things come up, or they ask if friends can come over. It's crazy. Miranda has her friend Alli over, Gracie is somewhere. She told me, but I didn't listen because I was angry when I learned that the plans I had in my head are not the ones I will have in reality.  Holly is at band practice. I am without a car.

I do not really feel organized tonight, but I did just plod through a few things.
I did some pool cleaning. The chemicals are getting low again, so I did put some chlorine in. But my main purpous was to vacuum. I vacuumed the crud off the bottom, then I tried to wipe down the sides of the pool, which are pretty filthy by now. I used this orange cleaner that is chemical-free and safe. I just didn't have quite enough in the bottle. I did not get too  far with that project. But the bottom of the pool looks pretty good. Now my filter won't work because the basket in the motor is clogged and I cannot get the lid open. Neil openned it for me the other day and said we'd have to vaseline it so I can open it. Another thing I need a man to do for me. That's one thing I hate about being a single mom. Guess I should work on my arm strenght!

Afterwords, I decided to work on my clothes and laundry. I unloaded the clean clothes from baskets and suitcases that I hadn't gotten to yet. Then I quickly cleaned out my drawers. I don't have much space in there, so I came up with a few ideas. I have two underwear drawers and noticed that I have a lot of things in there I do not wear on a regular basis, notably pantyhose and bondage underwear, you know, those horribly uncomfortable things that are supposed to suck in all the fat? I amassed quite a collection,but I never wear them. I never wear hose either. So those were moved into some cubbyholes in a shoe organizer in my closet. Now those drawers contain the things I always wear: undies, socks, and bras. I decided to move my swimsuits to hooks in my closet. Then I weeded out the winter fleece pjs and put them on a shelf in my closet. I organized the rest of my clothes : workout wear, old t-shirts, pants, jeans and shorts.
This all only took me about twenty minutes. I ended up with a small bag of clothes to donate, and began a load of laundry. I feel good about this. I have much work to do up there. The closet is full of boxes upon boxes of clothes to go through. But if I tackle it a little at a time, it should all be okay.  I need to figure out what to wear tomorrow, then I might call it a night. I am tired.

I need a break!!!

Summers are usually so easy for me. I have four entire weeks to myself here at the house. There are no children's activities. All is good.
This summer is kind of sucking so far. I have very little kid-free time. The older girls are too busy to keep taking off, so they stay with me when the ex goes on vacation with the little one. Grrr...I love my children very very much, but I just need a break from cleaning up after them. Plus Holly has joined band and has practice three nights a week. One of my cars is in the shop, so I have given her mine so I don't have to go get her at nine pm, but now I can't go anywhere.  So my menu planning has really gone downhill.

I did make the shrimp boil macaroni salad. It was okay, but not worth making again.
I have been buying mangos and avacados at Walmart recently. They are both so so ripe that you have to eat them right away, but at least you don't have to wait for them to ripen! I have been going back every few days. We love both. I pack them in my lunches and eat them for snacks. We had mangos with our dinner yesterday. They tasted like perfume!!
My ex is not taking the kids today, nor is he taking them Friday, like I thought. He is only taking Miranda on Sunday for two weeks. Holly will stay with me so she can go to band practice. I am going to have to make sure she keeps this house clean. Very clean. She won't be busy during the day.

I am going to have to re-do my menu to adjust for this change of schedule. I am not going to preplan here, because my schedule and the girls' schedules are so messed up right now. I just jotted down a rather ambitious menu plan, but i am using it as  a guide and will shop for like three days then re-assess.

Today was leftover shrimp, and macaroni salad, and watermelon.
Tomorrow I will pick up a roaster chicken, roast some bell peppers, and maybe serve some tortillas on the side.
Friday I was thinking grilled shrimp. If I have the energy, a salad and some nice sides.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Meal planning

Here is what we will be eating this week:

SUNDAY: Shrimp Boil Macaroni Salad
                    Roasted Bell Peppers

MONDAY: Red Lentils
                    Guacamole and fried tortilla chips

TUESDAY: Black bean relish, chips
                   Soft Tortillas
                   Grilled chicken
                   orange and jicama salad

THURSDAY: Christmas Eve Salad
                       Southwestern Chicken Macaroni Salad

I have two kids Sunday. My youngest comes home tomorrow night, and all three will be going away Friday. I don't usually have children on Wednesdays but am not sure if my ex is going to take them that night, since he will have them for 2 weeks later that week. If he doesn't take them, I will make Arroz Con Pollo that day.

I usually don't plan menus when it is just me. I just make one thing, eat that for a few days, and make something else, very little planning. I don't mind the excess shopping trips, because it is such a joy to walk out of a grocery store spending less than a hundred bucks!! Never happens when I have kids.

All I ever need to know can be found on the internet!!

I am a single mom with three kids, a full-time job, a big house, a big yard, and at least one cat. I have many things to juggle, and I do get overwhelmed and frustrated. I LOVE looking at poeple's craft blogs, or cooking blogs, or home decorating blogs. My life will never look like that, I promise you! But that does not mean I can't try.
Most of the source of my frustrations, other than lack of time, is lack of knowledge. I own two cars, but I know nothing about cars. I have a pool, and I am not too knowledgable about it's upkeep. I don't know much about gardening, or how to do handyman things around the house. I get overwhelmed by the things I have to do that I am not good at. So recently, I have decided to calm down, and just slowly, little by little, educate myself. The internet is loaded with how-to information. You tube is also a great source, especially for handyman tips.
I had the day off today, and decided to put this idea of mine to the test. My van had a low tire. I took it to the local carwash and used the air machine to fill it up. I still need to educate myself on how to read a tire pressure gauge and all that. But I did the job, and I noticed the little cap on the valve was missing from that tire, most likey causing the air leak. I went to Walmart and looked in the automotive aisle, and found these:

Little valve caps, for all of 94 cents. I did not know you could buy these. It would probably do me well to travel around the auto aisles once in awhile, to see what else they have. I replaced my cap and kept the rest in my glove compartment. Problem solved!!

Then, I needed to educate myself about my swimming pool. I am not really clear on how to use the chemicals, so I did a little reading on the net and watched a You Tube video. I have been kind of winging it for years with the chemicals, but I learned some valuable things today. First, I learned that using a clarifier might help me with the cloudiness in the pool. Clarifiers coagulate the smaller particles into larger particles which can be filtered out more easily. Secondly, I learned that if the ph in the pool is not high enough, the chemicals you add to it will be less effective, wasting both time and money. Hmmm,, who knew. So added clarifier today, added ph increaser, and after the pool was at the correct ph, I added the chlorine, which has been low. Wouldn't you know it, the pool is now clear, and my little pool strip is happy because everything is in the right color zone. Yeah!!! I do have some debris on the bottom that needs to be vacuumed. I hope to do that tomorrow.  I feel a little less overwhelmed already!!

Today was a major yardwork day for me. I have been mowing my lawn forever, but even still, I vow to read up on mowing tips from time to time to make my yard the best it could be. I read about mowing in straight lines for a neat look. For some reason, I used to mow in crazy curvy lines all over the yard, on a fast speed. I also liked the look of a shortly cut lawn, so I used the low setting. BAD!! Mowing on a higher setting is much healthier for the grass, so that is what I do now. I also try to go in straight lines. And I learned I should switch things up...not mow the same way all the time. There are some areas where I need to mow one certain way, but on the others, I do alternate. I have read that it is better to go at a lower speed, but I am not sure why. Maybe for safety reasons. I mowed on the 4 speed. I was doing 3, but it was too slow, drove me nuts! It took a little longer to mow like this, but not by a lot.

My yard is chock full of weeds. Ick. I decided I need to get the grass fertilized tomorrow morning. I got the spreader all ready to go. I also took the time to read the bags. I have both weed and seed, and lawn food. The lawn food does not have weed killer, and it claims it will not burn the grass. I think I will use the weeder once a month until fall, and I can use the grass food in October.. So tomorrow morning, when the dew is al over the litte grass blades, I will be out there, killing weeds!!

Speaking of weeds, here it what my pool  area looks like...
 I spent about 45 minutes cutting and pulling all those tall, stalky weeds from the front of my pool. I found a little bush underneath all that mess! I used a weed wacker and a Fiskars branch knife, but most of the work was done by hand. The older stalks pulled out pretty easily. I took about five wheelbarrow trips to my neighbors vacant yard to dump all this stuff. Tomorrow,when i fertilize, I will have to get some weed killer down.
My next project is to tame this bushy mess. It is actually hanging over the pool like a belly hangs over a belt.There is also a large sumac tree which sprouted up last year. I do not have a power saw, my friends will not let me get one! They know me, and don't trust me with one. But that thing needs to come down soon.

see the tree?

I have weedy stalks encroaching my backyard all over. When I was done with the pool area, I worked on the backyard for a time, mostly using the wacker, until the battery ran out. A gas wacker would probably do more work, but I have a hard time starting them, so I opted for battery. That is something I have realized as a single woman...things are heavy. I look for things that are easy for me to  carry or use. The fertilizer bags were way too heavy for me to lift and pour, so I used an old tupperware bowl to scoop the stuff in. Took longer, but I do what I have to do. 

All in all, it was a pretty successful yard day. I have two kid-free weeks coming up soon, and plan on working each day, should the weather allow it!!

Some favorite products of mine

 Spray deoderant, especially Secret, is a favorite of mine. I never thought to use the spray version until I went to Vegas and used the spa at Monte Carlo. They provide little spray deoderates for use after a workout. I switched from stick after I got back, and I no longer get white crap under my arms!

Apricot scrub, by Walmart's Equate brand, is my everyday facial scrub. It has coarse granules in it, and really gets the old makeup and dry skin off. I follow this with: Equate regenerating serum, below. I am not sure what it is supposed to do, but I do know that it makes my skin soft as baby skin. It is a must. The scrub above is inexpensive. The serum is about 14 dollars.

I am obsessed with hair products lately. In the past, i bought hairspray and maybe some mousse, and that was it. One day, I was waiting at the hairdressers and reading a hair magazine. I was fascinated by all the products metioned, and how they were used. So little by little, I have been experimenting. I tried this as an experiment today...smoothing shine serum. I put it on my wet hair after showering. It gave me a very slight wet look, and made my hair look less frizzly, which it does on occassioin in the summer. I got it at Sallys.

Here is my collection of bath products. My three girls and I love body lotion, body spray and body wash. We have quite a collection, enough to last a few years I think! I try to have one spray, one wash and one lotion in the shower at a time, and keep the rest in these baskets. The girls have even more in thier bathroom, and on their bedroom shelves.  I am not picky, I love it all. My favorite scents are food-related, like sugar cookie or pumkin pie. We exclusively use body wash instead of bar is much cleaner. I try to use lotion and spray after every shower because it makes me feel good, however, I skip it if I am in a hurry :)

And here is my favorite beauty tool of all time! Revlon tweezers. I left mine in Ohio when I was on vacation, and had to buy a replacement. I find that the REVLON brand really grabs. I haven't tweezed in two weeks and could not stand it any more!