A tale of unfolded baby clothes

When I was pregnant with E, I worked hard on the organization in her nursery.  I carefully planned out where every little thing would live and I arranged and rearranged until everything felt perfect.  I even went so far as to Google how to properly fold her baby clothes because I meant business.

One night I went into the nursery with my laptop, put on some music, and spent nearly an hour folding E’s little sleepers and onesies and teeny-tiny little pants.  My belly was huge by then and I’d spent so long hunched over on the floor that I had a hard time getting back up.  But I was PROUD of my handiwork.  When I told my husband and my mom about it, they both gave me this odd smirk and claimed I would never keep it up.  And I laughed at them.  Why wouldn’t I keep it up?  What was I going to do, just toss everything into the drawers and call it good?

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Yep.  Yes, that’s exactly what I did.

The fancy, folded baby clothes lasted until the third time I washed a load of E’s laundry.  For the first two rounds, I would ask my husband to entertain E while I sneaked away to fold her clothes and put them away nicely in her drawers.  Both times I knew I was wasting my time because these days I can’t even get my damn bathroom clean, but I had been so hell-bent on proving my mom and husband wrong that I was going to stick with it.  HA!

By the third load of baby laundry, I wondered what it would feel like if I just tossed everything in the drawers and walked away.

It was LIBERATING.

I have not folded a single item of baby clothing since.  E’s drawers look like a hot mess and I don’t care.  It’s worth the extra 15 minutes a day.

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Now that I know how it feels, I just have to be careful not to do it with my own clothing…

Be honest, new moms:  do you fold your baby’s clothes?

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Frank’s Red Hot ruined my breakfast

I have the same thing for breakfast every day:  egg whites on toast with a banana and coffee.  Even though it never changes, I love my breakfast.  Maybe that’s WHY it never changes.

But sometimes I do wonder if it’s a little boring.  For a few weeks I added cheese to my egg whites and that was fun and all, but it wasn’t conducive to my postpartum weight loss plan.

Suddenly it clicked: I’ve heard from a lot of people that Frank’s Red Hot is great on everything.  I’ve also been told it’s phenomenal on eggs.  So it was decided: today I would try Frank’s Red Hot on my egg whites.  I like Frank’s Red Hot.  I like egg whites.  How could this go wrong?

…….

Yeah, it went wrong.  I shouldn’t have listened to that “lot of people” who said the sauce was great on everything.  I’ve also heard from a lot of people that sushi is delicious, but I hate sushi and you couldn’t pay me to eat it.

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Nope.

I didn’t care for Frank’s Red Hot on my eggs.  I still ate it because a) I’m breastfeeding and need the food, but b) I was too lazy to scramble another pan of eggs.  But I won’t be doing it again and I won’t be getting experimental with my bottle of Frank’s Red Hot.  If it’s good on everything, “everything” must mean just chicken.

Forgive me, Father…

For I have sinned.  It has been roughly 30 days since my last bathroom cleaning.

Hi, MCYOD readers.  Long time no see?  Well, that’s what happens when you have a  baby!

My daughter E was born in February and motherhood is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.  I. Love. This. Girl.

But it’s no lie when you hear about how hard it is to cook, clean, and exercise when you have a newborn.  E is ten weeks old and I have cleaned my bathroom ONCE since she evacuated my uterus.

Somehow I still manage to cook, which is good news coming from the woman whose blog’s name contains the word “cook.”  Most of the time it’s nothing fancy, like tacos or spaghetti, but every so often I get ambitious (like last night) and I make mashed potatoes.  If you think mashed potatoes aren’t fancy, you must be new here.  Potatoes are my arch nemesis.

Now that E is starting to have some identifiable nap time, I figured it’s a good time to make my way back here.  I’ve missed you all.  I hope you’ve missed me.

(And if you’re asking why I’m not using E’s nap time to clean my bathroom:  don’t.  When I can clean my bathroom sitting on my butt on the couch, then we’ll talk.)

Tip of the Week: Recipe Read-Throughs

A cooking tips article on Lifehacker’s website indicates that reading recipes in full before starting to cook is a “no-brainer.” Eeek. Since I began teaching myself how to cook, this is something I’ve failed to do—but what’s worse is that until recently, I never realized how dumb it is that I’ve skipped this very important cooking 101 tidbit.

I shamefully admit my laziness has been to blame. As long as the recipe indicates a “start-to-finish” time, I tack on ten minutes for my slowness and dive right in, thinking that reading the recipe in its entirety is wasting precious time.

But wouldn’t ya know it, it’s just the opposite! I recently started reading my recipes all the way through prior to cooking, because it helped me to set up my mise en place (which I was also trying to improve on). I was amazed at how much more smoothly my cooking experiences went!

It’s like walking in the dark. In a dark room, you can still make it from point A to point B by feeling your way around, slowly but surely. But if you turn on a light, you get there much more quickly because you can see what’s around you and you’re not fumbling. Reading the recipe before cooking is like turning on that light, because you can see what’s ahead of you.

Rolling in Dough

Over the weekend, I was bit by the baking bug. It happens quite rarely, but when it does…oh boy.

And of course I didn’t start off with something easy. On Sunday morning, I drank a cup of coffee for a burst of energy and then stepped right into my bread-makin’ shoes. (Note: I didn’t actually have any shoes on while I made bread. I did, however, bust out my trusty pink floral apron.)

Right off the bat, my husband had little faith in me. I can’t say I blame him. He’s more familiar than anyone with my work in the kitchen. But he had good reason to be weary of my bread’s success; I was making a mixed-grain bread that called for quite a bit of whole-wheat flour, which is notoriously more difficult to bake with than your standard all-purpose flour.

The husband went out for a mountain bike ride and I got to work mixing and kneading…and kneading…and kneading. Honestly, longest six minutes of my life.

And when my husband returned home, look at what I got to gloat about:

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He was quite impressed. Truthfully, it was too early to be genuinely impressed, as I hadn’t yet tasted it. Luckily, the first bite validated my ability as a baker; I baked one seriously delicious loaf of bread! I was telling my coworker about it, and in a surprised tone she asked, “You made your own bread? Like, with a bread machine?” Let me tell you how good it felt to tell her that I did all the dirty work by hand: it felt goooooooooooood.

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That same afternoon, I made these Oreo Cheesecake Cookies:

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I’m pretty sure this was the simplest cookie recipe I’ve ever used, and the cookies were to die for. I took them to a family get-together that evening, and within five minutes, they were gone. Every last one of them.

I recently posted a rant about my food looking nothing like the pictures in the recipes I find online, and what made me happiest about these cookies is that mine looked exactly like the pictures in the original recipe. FINALLY.

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Have you baked anything good lately?

Tip of the Week: Well-Planned Workstations

One of the most important aspects of cooking is mise en place, which is the idea of gathering the ingredients and tools needed for cooking and having everything arranged prior to getting to work. I hate to admit that I’m still not perfect at it. I do prep about 75% of my ingredients before I begin cooking, but I’m a complete failure at gathering my tools and cookware ahead of time.

Part of the problem is that I don’t have a proper “workstation” in my kitchen. I tend to spread myself out while I’m cooking: on one counter I do my measuring, on another I do my chopping, and as I work, I make at least half a dozen trips to the trash can on the other side of the room. Clearly, I missed the last call for boarding the efficiency train.

I found a great article on Bon Appetit about building a better kitchen workstation. Based on their suggestions, there are a few major improvements I need to make when it comes to prepping and cooking my meals. I think these tweaks to my setup will greatly improve my ability to adhere to the idea of mise en place.

  1. I need to secure my cutting board to the counter with a damp towel or nonstick pad. I also learned this recently in Sur la Table’s online cooking basics course. It’s a miracle I haven’t chopped off a finger!
  2. I need a trash bowl. The time spent on each trip to the trash can adds up, and we all know mere seconds can make or break a vital step in preparing a dish.
  3. I should keep my salt in a ramekin. I usually pour my salt from the round Morton canister into a measuring spoon or into the palm of my hand. Sure, it works, but wouldn’t it be more efficient to simply dip the measuring spoon into the ramekin or grab a pinch with my fingers?
  4. I need to keep paper towels handy for cleaning debris from knives and cutting boards. My paper towel holder is cheap and lame, and both hands are required to tear off a towel. Again, any time saved is beneficial to my cooking; I should start tearing off a few towels ahead of time and having them at the ready.
  5. I need to keep the essential tools handy. I said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m terrible at gathering the necessary tools before I start cooking. It’s not uncommon for me to realize that the pan I need is dirty and I have to wash it while, meanwhile, the food in another pan is burning because of my lack of preparation. It has to end!

Do you have any tips for a more efficient workstation in your kitchen?

Company Clean

Preparing for visitors in your home is like putting on a pair of glasses for the first time.  Even though I feel like I keep my house pretty clean on a day-to-day basis, getting ready for my in-laws to visit has magnified every speck of dust, every stain on the carpet, and every slightly disorganized closet.  Does it matter that my family is very unlikely to inspect all of my closets for their cleanliness?  No.  No, it doesn’t.  It will bother me if it’s not fixed before they arrive.

I believe I inherited this mentality from my mother.  Before anyone visits her house, it must be what she calls “company clean.”  It’s like a clean house on steroids.  Luckily, since yesterday was the first day of spring, I might be able to get away with calling it “spring cleaning” and look a little less fanatical.

So I’m off to embark on a mass cleaning spree.  Happy Saturday, everyone.

Do you tend to get carried away cleaning before company arrives?