Saturday, April 13, 2013

What a Chore!

The other day H proclaimed 'I have to do everything around here!' Really? Because I just asked you to put your pajamas in the laundry basket. Then it occurred to me that H and Charlie are plenty old to start having some regular responsibilities. They actually like to do things like dust and vacuum the couch cushions, though apparently putting an article of clothing in a basket ten feet away is akin to capital punishment. I have what one might call minor control issues, so having them do things like swiffer "Argh! You're just getting more dirt everywhere!" or clean the bathroom "Get away from the toilet, there are germs everywhere!" would be counter-productive if the goal was to have them take some responsibility in helping keep our house clean independently. 

Before I finally broke down and hired someone to clean my house monthly, the only time my house really would get dusted is if I was moving furniture around, actually moving, or my mom did it for me. Until now, we've moved every two to three years so that was totally fine, right? Therefore, dusting is the perfect example of a chore for me to 'give away'.

I came up with a chart for each kid that includes everything from brushing their teeth and feeding the dog twice a day to making their beds and weekend chores like helping with their laundry and dusting or wiping down the bathroom counters.

I printed it on a normal 8.5x11 sheet of paper, trimmed the edges and put them in an 8x10 frame with a marker for each so that they could check off their list without having to print a new sheet every week. They're on the bathroom counter so they can look at them as they're getting ready. Charlie's gonna be wicked good at making x's by the time he hits kindergarten.

When I showed it to them, they were actually both really excited. (Really.) H asked if he was going to get paid a dollar per chore, and I just laughed at him. Um, no. Your 'reward' for completing these menial tasks is to live in a nice house that you can feel pride in helping to create. And leisure time. The screen time is a much bigger carrot than 'sense of accomplishment' but whatev' it'll come. 

So far, they have been doing a pretty good job, especially with the weekend chores because they're still kind of a novelty. Either way, it's nice to have a little help, and it motivates me to get the work done first thing while they're still eager to help so that it becomes routine. It's always surprising to me how long I wait to give H a task, yet Charlie is perfectly capable of it at the same time even though he's three years younger. I have so much to learn about parenting, but I guess that's why the first kid is kind of like the first pancake. A little crispy, maybe even slightly burnt, until you get the temperature of the griddle just right for the others. Ah, the guilt that comes with being a highly imperfect mom.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Spice of Life

Like a lot of people, I store almost all of my spices, oils, vinegar and other cooking and baking supplies in the teeny tiny cabinet above the range hood/microwave. Who doesn't love leaning very near an active gas burner to reach the back of said cabinet and have multiple bottles of basil or cumin fall all over them? I know it totally makes my day. Alas, I have been searching for the perfect spice organization for quite awhile until fortune smiled upon me. Or was it the World Market algorithm? Either way, after about an hour of sorting, organizing and yes, trusty label maker utilizing, I am one happy girl.

IHeart Organizing featured kitchen organization last month, so I've been on kind of a nerdy organizing streak, packaging pirate's booty into freezer canning jars as 'snack packs' and purchasing an over-the-door pantry organizer that is still sitting on my washing machine because the pantry door needs to be re-hung to make it fit correctly (j is super stoked when I start projects that cause him more tedium.) but still, the cure to my spice overload eluded me. Until...

It all started when Our Best Bites posted a photo on facebook of a lime glazed quick bread that they'd portioned out into adorable blue and white mini bread pans. What?! I know-I promise, I'm getting there. Clearly everyone else was smitten with them, because a quick scan of the comments revealed World Market as the source of said cuteness. I hopped online and after I put them in my virtual basket, the helpful folks suggested I might like some round glass spice jars. Hold. The. Phone. Why yes, yes I would like them. Actually, I would like thirty-two, thanks! They arrived and then sat on my counter for two days.

Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for the weekend. My first child-free weekend since last December's (2011, not 2012) weekend at the Rock-n-Roll Vegas Half-Marathon. A weekend of girlfriends, laughter, wine consumption and blessed, sacred, uninterrupted sleep. I have a lot to get done before I leave-closets to purge, books to sort and laundry to fold and put away. Naturally, this was the perfect time to organize the spice cabinet.

(Sorry for the iphone pictures)Here's the scary and overflowing before:
Notice that several of the jars are precariously perched...guess how many times they've lost their footing.

After taking everything out of the cabinet, I knew I wanted the bulk of the spices to go in one of the drawers by the stoves so a quick shuffle of contents so that things made better sense and I had a empty drawer. I then matched up all the spices because lord knows when things are that crammed, there are going to be duplicates because sometimes it was just easier to buy another bottle of turmeric than to find the one that you think you're pretty sure you maybe saw when you took them all down to find the coriander last week.

I initially thought it would be cute to paint a square if chalkboard paint and then write each spice...cute unit, it rubbed off the first time. Also, who has time for that? So I busted out my old pal the label gun, and I filled each jar then applied a label so that I wasn't left to later guess what one might be. I was able to fit a lot of them in the drawer, and chose the few that I use infrequently to go back in the cabinet above, but the new jars and labels made the, easily identifiable. My big containers of cinnamon and chili powder went back in the fridge door-I'm sure it's not true, but I heard somewhere along the way that they are better kept there and I'm sticking to it.

The ahhh after. Like Pretty maids all in a row!

I like these jars for several reasons just a few of them being that at $3.99/four-pack they're affordable, they can hold more than a full-sized jar of most brands and they have a wide enough mouth that all of my measuring spoons will fit inside. Next up; baking drawer organization. I know, the excitement of my life is just astounding.

Everything in its new home and I may or may not have opened the drawers about twenty times just to gaze at the shiny little jars. I swear they winked back. And then I made a batch of Banana Nutella Granola to take and share with my girlfriends-organized and yummy smelling kitchen?! It's the 1-2 punch for this girl. Now, I must pack.