Category: Martha-esque


Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Thanks to some helpful Facebook feedback, I got great ideas for reinventing the pumpkin wreaths.

Atop the input, a serendipitous trip to an alternate Hobby Lobby resulted in me scoring the orange chevron burlap ribbon that I’d wanted but had sold out at the previous location.

This afternoon, I gave my wreaths a little sprucing up with a nip here…a tuck there…

Presenting (drum roll) my Dr. 90210‘d pumpkins:

Etsy-worth, they are not.  But I’m happy with them!  Not to shabby for a newbie eh?

Did I just type “eh?”  I need to stop watching HGTV before I start talking about “cold rooms” and “bachelor ren-ohs.”

Now for my next outdoor tszuj project:  locating a size-appropriate mat for our front double doors that isn’t $500 and/or überscheezy.

It’s either that or hire a tiny door man.

With a penchant for wreath styling.

Pumpkin Jam

Friday, October 4th, 2013

I assembled my pumpkin wreath essentials:

  • Orange Tulle
  • Plain Burlap Ribbon
  • Apple Green Chevron Patterned Burlap Ribbon
  • Tubular Plumbing Pipe Insulation Foam
  • Positionable, Glittery Squiggly Things
  • Scissors
  • Masking Tape
  • Glasshead Pins

I shaped the foam into two pumpkin and sealed them with masking tape.  I wrapped the foam shapes first with plain burlap and then with tulle.  I attached the sparkly things, fashioned pumkpin stems from burlap-wrapped foam pieces and used the pins to secure them.  I used everything except the chevron ribbon.

Everything went according to plan!  And then I put them on the door.


These pumpkins aren’t the gourd-geous creations I expected.  The problem is that I have no idea how to fix them.  Still, that didn’t stop me from troubleshooting.  First, I tried weaving the chevron ribbon around the pumpkins.  Eh.  Then, I considered fashioning the ribbon into bows.  Bah!

But I’m not giving up just yet.  I think this project just needs a little boost…a fresh perspective.

So, got any ideas?



Chop! Chop!

Monday, March 25th, 2013

In an attempt to reduce meal prep stress and wrangle the food budget, I’m FTSing,* HomeEc style.

Dan does most of the cooking while I’m tasked with grocery shopping and prep work.   The prep work is typically done during Em’s naptime.  It’s a great system with two kinks: I have a  toddler with free will and clients who don’t stop needing things during naptime.  Don’t you know that when there’s a list of 10 ingredients to chop, roast, marinate and/or pre-cook, that’s the day Em either refuses to nap or awakes early in a crappy mood with a case of koala clings, or a needlessly needy client call requires excessive attention.

I’d been making multiple trip$ to various grocery stores (Whole Foods, HEB, Costco, Trader Joe’s) throughout the week.  Grocery shopping like that (especially at Costco) can get crazy expensive all too quickly.  I’d go for two forgotten items and end up with a $60 bill.   Our monthly grocery expenditures got out of hand to the point my easy-going husband mentioned it.  Now we have a weekly budget to follow with the help of three F.T.S steps:

STEP 1:  Plan It.

Every Saturday morning, we set our weekly menu.  We typically cook 3-4 times per week, eating leftovers in between.   Take this week’s menu: Dan grilled a tri-tip for fajitas yesterday.  We’ll have fajitas tonight before chopping it up and making beef fried rice tomorrow.   It makes life so much easier, and we’re never left with a fridge-full of leftovers.

STEP 2:  Shop ONCE.

On Saturdays, I snap an iPhone pic of our grocery list.

Yeah, I’m so 2000 and late like that.  I could type a list, but why bother?   I go shopping sans kiddo.  Savvy shopping with a toddler proves oxymoronic when the focus on getting in and out quickly and avoiding tantrums leads to impulse buys.  Sure, let’s buy those freshly made tortillas we don’t need and let you shove one in your mouth, because you’re getting antsy, refuse to eat the snack I brought and won’t stop screaming “TORTILLA!”

I use coupons when available, but it’s rare when I can use them.  I typically don’t buy brand name products.  I stick to the HEB/Central Market brand salt-free, additive-free, organic items.  Those rarely go on special, and I’m not willing to buy a name brand that isn’t as healthy just to save a few cents.   But when one of our regular items goes on sale (ie: SunButter), I’ll buy an extra jar or two.

I also make a weekly trip to Trader Joe’s for strawberries.   “Just for strawberries?” you wonder.  Yep.  In SAT terms, Emme: strawberries = Lindsay Lohan: vodka.   HEB’s organic strawberries mold within 1-2 days after purchase.  Trader Joe’s organic strawberries are cheaper, taste better and last longer.

Once I make my HEB and Trader Joe’s run, that’s it.  There’s no going back until the next weekend.

STEP 3:  Stay One Prep Ahead.

Starting a couple of weeks ago, I started prepping ingredients a day ahead of time.  This avoids the potential day-of stress.  Today, I took my prep to Pinterest-level by pre-chopping a week’s worth of ingredients.   Everything on the tray was for roasting.   The kiddo is a roasted broccoli fiend, so that stash will be a part of her dinner tonight, her omelet tomorrow morning and then our fried rice dinner.

You’re thinking “Oh, must be nice, Ms. Work at Home Mom, to have all that time.”  Ha!  It took all of 30 minutes.   As soon as Em went down, I checked my work email to make sure nothing was pressing, popped a TJ pizza in the oven and got to chopping.   By the time it was all packed and loaded into the fridge, my lunch was ready.   I switched into work mode until the kiddo awoke an hour and ten minutes later.  Not too shabby.

As if the time management benefits weren’t enough, there’s another serendipitous offshoot: it makes the fridge more user-friendly.  Our fridge is typically jam packed following Saturday’s grocery shopping run.  By chopping it all up, I can see what we have.

But the best part?  It means less time spent in the kitchen and more time focusing on what’s most important:


* FTS = Fix This Sh*T

Trapped in a Closet

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

When Dan took the kiddo to visit his parents Sunday, I tackled the one task I’d been dreading.

Cleaning out Em’s closet.  Remember this cute, prepartum pic of her newly assembled Pax?

Yeah, well this Pax has been a powderkeg of ill-fitting clothes, widowed socks and abandoned baby gear.  I didn’t think to take a before picture, though I’m not sure it would’ve captured the hot mess concealed behind the frosted glass doors.

Oh, who am I kidding!  The mess was obvious..and overflowing.  So much so I’d even given up on hanging or folding her freshly laundered clothes.   I’d open the door, find an empty space and shove them in, each time quickly shutting the doors and bolting in mom shame.

One Ziploc XL storage tote and a small trash bag later, old clothes were either stored for future use (kow) or tossed when holey or irreparably stained.  I organized bows and paired socks like a boss.  I took all the cards, papers and mementos tossed on her top shelf and put them in a basket for when I finally get around to organizing her baby book.  Next to the basket?  The frames I need to fill with artwork and the board books I intend to make before she turns 14.  One of these days I’ll share my “Emme Craft Tasks” list aka “Tara’s Delusions of Grandeur.”

Tall toddler can reach where were keep her medicines, batteries and various kiddo unfriendly sundries.  Until I can get to the Container Store for locking lid bins, I temporarily put all the things that could spawn an ER trip in sealed plastic shoe boxes.  Considering she uses the phrase “OPEN!” 500 times a day, I’ll need to make that trip soon.

The great closet purge catalyzed a full-on room rejuvenation.  I washed her stuffed animals, rearranged her book shelves and decluttered the curs-ed changing table (I have a love-hate relationship with that damn changing table).

Two hours passed in what seemed to be thirty minutes.  As I was working on the finishing touches, I heard the garage open.

I relaxed knowing everything and everyone was in its place.

New Year’s Clean

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I spend every December 31st in a cleaning frenzy.

I’m kind of obsessive conscientious about starting the new year in a clean house.   This year, I took advantage of the long weekend to jumpstart my tidyfest.  Here’s what I managed to accomplish:

  • Degrubbed all cabinets, countertops, light switches and doors (you’d be amazed what a toddler can get where)
  • Dusted and washed all floorboards
  • Swept and Bona’d (remember, it’s bad luck to sweep on New Year’s Day!)
  • Cleaned all of kiddo’s toys
  • Attacked the hot mess that was the child’s high chair
  • Vinegar bombed the microwave, coffee pot and disposal
  • Laundered kiddo’s bedding
  • Cleaned fridge’s interior and exterior
  • Laundered clothes, towels and bathmats
  • Removed tiny fingerprints from all windows, mirrors and fireplace’s glass doors
  • Scrubbed toilets
  • Scoured shower scum
  • Polished wood furniture
  • DeXmasified the house
  • Put out a new Welcome Mat (The “Come Back with a Warrant” one is now at our back door)
  • Restocked our spices at Penzey’s (but forgot we ran out of thyme.  Of course!)
  • Ordered onion/potato/garlic canisters (thanks, Pinterest!)
  • Bought all ingredients for New Year’s Day must-have good luck foods (black-eyed peas, collard greens/kale and jalapeno cornbread)
  • Prepped tomorrow’s pork fried rice dinner
  • Completed all items on to-do | to-buy list
  • Wiped down kitchen computer and laptop
  • Organized my purse and desktop
  • Ate a crapton of pie.

Okay, that last one wasn’t exactly on my chore chart, but it was a task I took to hips heart.

I’ve decided to spend tonight doing absolutely nothing except hanging with Dan and crossing our fingers that the kiddo sleeps peacefully (kow).

While it’s not exactly fireworks in Sydney like our 2009 New Year’s honeymoon, it’s pretty damn fantabulous.