Before and After: The Pantry

March 22, 2008 at 4:00 pm (before and after)

I know you’ve all been waiting anxiously for the next installment of Before and After. Well, the wait is over! I present to you my pantry.


I love having a pantry, but when we moved in I was so focused on getting unpacked that I didn’t really spend a lot of time focusing my energy on finding logical spaces for things. Recently I’ve been feeling like we’re completely out of space in the kitchen. So I completely emptied the pantry. My goal was to store all of our food in the pantry plus a few often used appliances like the Bosch. So, as I was emptying out placemats and trays and straws and popsicles sticks I was once again overcome with thoughts of, “I can’t believed we moved this halfway across the country!” 


Once I got to organizing, I realized we weren’t out of space at all, I was just being really ineffective with how I utilized my space. So, it’s been almost a week, and the pantry is still going strong. Special thanks to Anna for hooking us up wth the Cansolidator. I’ve always wanted the gigantic shelf system, but I never had the room. Now, I’ve at least got a good start. We also have a great behind the the door spice rack from the Container Store. It’s from their Elfa collection.



As a special treat to you all, today I am including not just the before and after pictures, but also a during. I started thhis one night and it took me a coupe of days to get it just the way I wanted it, so were were living pretty cluttered for a while. Now though, there’s nothing stopping us. I’m ready to be like Jill all the time!


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Jesus, Mary and Joseph

March 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm (Family)


Today I have been pondering all things Irish. Well really, I have been pondering two things Irish: my corned beef and cabbage dinner, and my grandmother. I think the dinner is self-explanatory, but I might need to elaborate on my grandmother.

My grandma, Delia Edwards, was born in Ireland many moons ago. Growing up, the only real hint that I had to her heritage was how, when she was frustrated, she would utter the words: Jesus, Mary and Joseph in her authentic Irish brogue. I didn’t really hear her accent all that much except when she said those words. In fact, even today when I want to conjure up and Irish accent in my mind I simply imagine my grandma saying those four words, and it all comes to me.

Now, mine was not a grandmother who baked cookies with, nor did she teach me how to can peaches. In fact, the only thing I ever really saw her make was orange juice. Instead, my grandma taught me all about class and how to be gracious. My grandmother taught me that if you give someone a purse, you should make sure there’s a ten dollar bill inside! It is because of my grandmother that I enjoy writing letters. She was my first real pen-pal, and I wrote her many letters over many years.

Because of my grandmother I wash my face every morning with Pond’s Cold Cream. The little white jar with the green lid was a fixture in her home, and now it is a fixture in mine. I enjoy trips to the bookstore, partly because once a year she took her grandchildren book shopping. This is a tradition that my mom continues with my children. I love playing cribbage and reading People magazine. These were all things that I learned at my grandmother’s home.

I feel so fortunate that I was able to grow up in close proximity to my grandparents. We visited their home every week. For me, Sunday afternoons are supposed to be about big family dinners with aunts and uncles and cousins. Our current situation doesn’t allow for that, but that’s always what I think we should be doing after church because that is always what I did after church.

After my grandma had her stroke, I was able to walk to the hospital every day on my way home from classes at Dal. Even though she wasn’t speaking, we still had some amazing visits. That was also the time that I had some of my best visits with my grandfather. It was then that I learned about the hotel where the spent their wedding night, and how much it cost, and how grandpa put his shoes in the hall before bed and in the morning they were waiting, polished.

After my grandmother died I learned how important she was to every person that she met. I have never been to a funeral that was more filled with love. At her viewing I ran into a woman that I had worked with previously. It turned out that my grandmother had given her a job when she was young and no one would hire her; she remembered my grandmother thirty years later.

There wasn’t a false bone in my grandmother’s body. She was the most genuine person that I have ever known. She wasn’t raised in the lap of luxury. In fact, her upbringing was fairly depressing. Growing up poor in Ireland isn’t exactly a dream childhood, but you never would have known it to talk to her.

I’ve never heard anyone say a word against my grandma, and I can only hope that one day I’ll be able to live my life in a way that would inspire that kind of love from the people around me.

So, on this feast of Saint Patrick while I’m enjoying my boiled dinner and my Shamrock shake, I’ll be raising a glass to the woman who is the very epitome of class. 


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Geek by Association

March 14, 2008 at 3:15 pm (Doug Stuff, Fun Stuff)


Today I get a very urgent phone message from my sister-in-law Ingrid. She tells me that she has news and that I need to call her back right away. Of course, my first thought is that we are falling behind in baby making at our house, and then I think that maybe they’ve ditched their plans for Florida and decided to start up a medical practice here in Texas. What I was not expecting was a friendly reminder of the importance of today’s date.

“Do you know today is?” Ingrid asks.

“Umm Friday” I reply

“No, it’s Pi day”

“Pie day?”

“No, Pi. As in 3.14….. You need to make Doug a pie”

Area of the circle = π × area of the shaded square

When a circle's diameter is 1, its circumference is π.

images from Wikipedia


How great is Ingrid. Although her husband is not near so geeky as my own, she was thoughtful enough to keep us in mind on a day that must be near and dear to geeks around the world. Liz and Sharleen, I’m not sure if this is a paid holiday for math scholars, but I’m sure it will be made into a federal holiday any time. You two should definitely hit the town tonight! Pam and Christina, you might want to do a little something for the engineers in your lives. I’m not certain if Hallmark makes a card, but I’m sure you can come up with something!

I’m trying to decide if I, myself should make a whole theme night out of it. You know, chicken pot pie, then apple pie, and then fun little math problems where we actually use pi to figure out the measurements of the pie! Ah, so much to do and so little time. Man, to think I was stressing out about St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I have got to get myself more organized. Thanks for the heads up Ingrid! I knew there was a reason that I like you so much!

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Selective Amnesia

March 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm (Fun Stuff, Great deals, Kids)


Sometimes my kids fool me into thinking that they really are this adorable. I look at this picture of two brothers helping each other make dessert. They look so innocent, so sweet, so unlike the little destructors (I know it’s not a real word, but it so fits them) that they were for most of the day. I think I choose to forget so that I can make it through the day without eating all of the chocolate in the house! I don’t think there’s enough memory on my computer to list everything that they got into, or every mess that they made.

When they put their little aprons and chefs’ hats on I forget everything! As a shout out to my mom, these apron and hat sets are from Pampered Chef and are in their outlet for only $8 … that’s for both! I think it’s a great deal. If you want to check it out, click here. 

For the record, they’re making the Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings. If you’ve ever been over to see the Pioneer Woman, a visit is highly recommended. She’s not exactly low-fat, but hey, you only live once, so you might as well enjoy real butter! The apple dumpling recipe is here. The thing I love about TPW is that she uses stuff hat most people already have on hand. There are certainly no trips to the specialty market required. If you’re browsing her site, make sure you also check out the cinnamon rolls. I’m a little dough challenged, but these work out every time.

Alright, now I’m hungry. Off to make dinner!

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Take Me to Your Leader

March 12, 2008 at 3:59 pm (Kids)


So, this is how one goes about getting a super fancy helmet to guide the growth of a misshapen head. First, a sock is placed on the aforementioned misshapen head, then some sticky thing-a-ma-bobber is placed on top so that the very star trek like laser has some kind of reference point. Then, the very nice lady hands the baby a two dollar light up toy (which my 36 year-old boy managed to break!) to distract him from the laser beam. When she finishes scanning, the image appears on a computer screen, and from that image some people in Phoenix make a custom molded helmet of what the baby’s head should look like. It’s like AutoCAD for infants. Then, all you need is three months, and hopefully the head comes out looking like the helmet.

Unfortunately for our wallet and our baby’s sensitive head, our baby is some kind of growing superstar. He has already outgrown his helmet! The neurosurgeon said that he should be fine, and not to worry about it anymore. There was however, a lot of hemming and hawing before she came up with that answer. So, I decided to take the baby for his final helmet appointment just so that I could make sure everything was as it should be. It turns out that in the space of two weeks the baby regressed 2 mm. Now 2 mm isn’t really all that much, but apparently it’s enough to worry the helmet people. I’m not sure if these people work on commission or what, but there are a whole lot of differing opinions as to the necessity of a brand new helmet. If this 2 mm is going to throw off my son’s symmetry and make it impossible for him to find a wife, than I’m all for him getting a new helmet. I don’t really want ladies attracted to him solely for his brain; they’ve got to think he’s gorgeos too! It’s a tough world out there for geniuses, and you’ve got to take all the help you can get!

Now, I’m just wait for the helmet people to talk to the head people to see if they can come up with some kind of consensus. Hopefully we won’t need another helmet, but if we do, I’m getting a whole new design. I’m thinking maybe solar system this time. Of course, I am in Texas, and they do offer a camouflage version …  

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Why I Don’t Have a Girl

March 11, 2008 at 5:54 pm (Family)


This is all very serious stuff as you can tell by the very serious looking security guard at the American Girl Store. That’s right, I said it, the American Girl Store! What was I, a mother of three boys, doing at the American Girl Store you might ask. Well, let me tell you.

We drove our family to Dallas on Friday night for a family baptism (note to self: never drive through Austin at Rush hour on a Friday). Now, you might think that I might have lots of spiritual type stuff to blog about this wonderful event, but really I’m just going to tell you about the American Girl Store.

After the baptism there was a girl cousins celebration. Even though I had nothing to contribute in the way of girl cousins, I was still invited along for the experience. Have any of you ever been to an American Girl store/ cafe? It is insane! I had no clue what was available in the way of marketing to young girls. Normally I am deluged with talk of SpiderMan and Power Rangers, but that is nothing compared to this place.


There are dolls upon dolls upon dolls. Plus there are babies to get you ready for your grown dolls. Plus there are outfits for your dolls ad matching outfits for you. There is furniture and toilet training accessories (although, let me just say, if you can’t potty train your baby doll, you’re in some kind of trouble!). At this particular store there was also a hair salon … not for you, for your doll.


Now yes, this is all very adorable, and I’m a little put out that I did not have these kind of opportunities when I was eight, but none of this comes cheap. I’m pretty sure the next step in the process is the 529 for your doll, followed by the IRA for your doll.  I did however manage to find my own Just Like Me Doll. Do you see the resemblance?


My sister-in-law Aimee didn’t have as much luck with the Just Like Me dolls, but she has the prestige of knowing that Nicki looks just like her!


Perhaps one day I’ll be blessed with a girl, but I’m sure that day won’t come until we’ve moved well away from driving distance to the American Girl Store!

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Before and After: the crap magnet

March 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm (before and after)


Do you have a place like this in your house? Somewhere that everything magically congregates? A place where, no matter how hard you try, crap magically finds a home? This is my crap magnet. It is the desk area in our kitchen. It is the dropping point on the way into the house, on the way upstairs, on the way to the laundry. Apparently, this “work station” is on the way to everywhere.

When we first looked at this house I was in love with the idea of this desk. I was going to plan my meals there, and pay bills, and basically run my house … my very very clean house! This, of course, never happened! The desk has become a Where’s Waldo game. If someone is looking for something, I’ll usually tell them to look on the kitchen desk. I’m not saying that anyone can ever find anything there, but they have to look there first!

In the before picture there is a whole plethora of crap. I could make it like one of those memory games. Look at the picture for twenty seconds and see what you can remember. Here’s what I came up with:

– cell phone

– Anne’s baby present (still to be mailed)

– Bills to be paid

– random box of rick rack

– Box of Pop Tarts (maybe I’ll organize the pantry next week!)

– PhotoShop tutorial book

– Box of free Crayola stuff that came in the mail

Clearly there was more than just that, but that’s my short list. Of all that stuff, probably just the cell phone and the bills belonged there. So, here’s the after, and I’m pleased to say that it still looks this way a week later. I make no promises that it will still look this way tomorrow!


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