Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An Everyday Strategy for Being Efficient: Touch Things Once

This is a strategy I picked up years ago. I can't even remember where I read/learned about it. I just know it works so it has become a good habit of mine.

"Touch Things Once". That means don't set things aside to put them up later. Put them up now.

Lets apply this principle to everyday life:

Handling the mail:

Scenario one: You grab the mail on the way in from running errands. You throw them on the kitchen table to go through later. When suppertime comes, the mail is moved to a kitchen countertop. Someone throws library books on top of them. The library books are due and hastily grabbed to bring them back to the library. The mail is accidentally grabbed along with the stack. You throw everything in the car. Someone notices that there is mail with the library books. The library books are returned. The mail gets left in the backseat of the car. The electricity bill doesn't get paid. You are left blinking in the dark. You have to pay a fee to get your electricity back on.

Scenario two: You grab the mail on the way in from running errands. Mail has to be judged worthy to get into my house. You stand at the trash can in the garage and immediately toss out the junk mail. You open up the bills and throw away the junk mail in the bills. You put the bills in the bill spot. The bill gets paid. You are a hero.


Scenario one: You finished eating supper. You pick up your dish and put it in the sink. The sink becomes overflowing and you need to use the sink, so you put it on the counter.Then you need to use the counter, so the dish gets shoved into the sink again. Someone yells that there are no dishes and it finally gets loaded into the dishwasher. Of course the dishwasher doesn't get started and someone else yells that there are STILL no clean dishes. The dishwasher is finally started but by that time there is a huge backlog of more dirty dishes. Don't pretend like this never happened to you. You probably have a sink full of dirty dishes right now!

Scenario two: You finished eating supper. You pick up your dish and put it straight into the dishwasher which is started after the meal is done. Cue angelic music.


Scenario one: You pull the clean clothes out of the dryer and put them on the sofa. You are going to do laundry while you watch T.V. Oh, you are so efficient. The doorbell rings. You grab all the clean clothes and throw them on the floor of your bedroom and quickly shut the door. It is your nosy neighbor who stays way too long talking about absolutely nothing.  You forget about your efficient plan of folding clothes. Night comes and you stumble into your room and discover the pile of wrinkled clothing. You are too tired to worry about it now. You wake up the next day and try and choose something from the top of the pile that isn't too wrinkled. You throw everything back into the dryer to get the wrinkles out and throw them back onto the sofa. The doorbell rings. You know this is you.

Scenario two: You stand at the dryer and fold and hang the clothes directly from the dryer. The doorbell rings. You close the dryer. It's your nosy neighbor who stays way too long talking about absolutely nothing. You excuse yourself for a moment and turn the dryer on fluff. The buzzer goes off and you say you must get back to the clothes. The neighbor leaves. You smile and get back to folding clothes. Everyone has wrinkle free clothes. Your husband looks so great in his wrinkle free clothes that he gets a huge raise. Well, OK... I may be stretching it a bit here...  but it COULD happen.

The second scenarios result in peace. It is a simple thing but produces so much. I had to walk around telling myself "Touch Things Once" for several weeks before I got the habit down.

Easy Habits to Keep Your Car Clean on the Inside

Have you ever had to pick up a friend for a ride in your car and had to shove aside tons of junk while you apologize profusely for your trashed out car? It's embarrassing isn't it?

Here are some easy tips we use to keep the car ready at a moments notice:

Before you step a foot out of the car at home, take a few seconds and have your passengers pick up any junk laying around and toss it immediately. Have them take any toys, books and games inside and put them away immediately. Pick up any food stuffs laying around. This is the source of a lot of stink. Make this a habit in your family. If you do this every time you come home, the inside of your car will be spotless.

Keep a bottle of "smell pretty" in the car. You can give it a quick spray before picking up a friend. Its a nice welcome to a friend to be greeted with a clean smell. If you have some tough odors, do a thorough cleaning with a good carpet cleaner like Resolve topped off with Nok-Out for the carpet and/or cloth seats. Leather seats can be cleaned with Pledge furniture polish.

Keep a sealed plastic bag in the car. This is great if someone feels sick in the car. I also keep a plastic grocery sack for wet clothes or shoes.

Keep a few paper towels in your car. It's easier to clean up a spill when it is fresh than when it is soaked into the carpet. For long trips, I put a few damp paper towels in a sealed plastic bag for sticky hands and faces.

We have a hard and fast rule that no kids can take drinks from a fast-food restaurant into the car. This cuts wayyyyy down on the sticky spills you have to handle. Let's face it, no matter how careful you are, a sudden jerky car movement can send those drinks a-flying. Just avoid it altogether.

Long car trips are always a challenge. It seems trash multiplies and it doesn't take long until your car resembled a trash dump. Bring several extra grocery sacks. Tie them to the door handles on each row or next to each child. Everyone can dispose of their trash immediately and keep the floor clean. When you make a bathroom stop, throw out the bags and put fresh ones.  Also, bring along a small cooler of water bottles with pull up tops (like the Ozarka sport top). Spilled water is so much easier to clean up than sugary drinks. Don't even mess with the screw on caps. No one puts them back on and they inevitably get dropped on the floor.

I hope these tips will help you keep a clean car that you are proud to show off.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

An Amazing Fragrant Bread - Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

You must prepare a "sponge" to ferment overnight before making this bread. Wonderfully fragrant. This bread disappears quick so I usually double this recipe and put one in the freezer.

4 to 4 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbl. olive oil
2 tsp. rosemary
Kosher salt for topping.

Make ahead a "sponge". In a bowl combine 1/2 c. of the flour, the 1/2 c.warm water, and the yeast. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth.Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the "sponge" stand overnight at room temperature to ferment.

The next day, gradually stir in the 1 c. warm water, rosemary, 2 tsp. Kosher salt and just enough of the flour to make the dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead in the rest of the dough. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once. Cover and rise for 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured parchment paper. Place an extra large bowl upside down over the dough to cover it. Let rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 475. Put in baking stone. Shape the dough into a circle about 11 inches in diameter by pulling and pressing with your fingertips. Not too rough or it will deflate. With your fingertips, make 1/2 inch-deep indentations every 2 inches in dough. Brush dough with olive oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt. Slide the baking sheet onto the hot stone (if you don't have a stone, put on unheated baking sheet. If you don't have parchment paper, grease the baking sheet). Bake for 15 minutes.

Wonderful served warm with olive oil with browned garlic and black pepper added. My family adores panini sandwiches made from this bread sliced. Brush a little olive oil on the outside of the sandwhich bread prior to putting in sandwich press or George Foreman Grill.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What Tempts Me

Yes, I, Frazzled Mom, have a weakness. It is a horrible, sick addiction. Dare I confess this? OK (steadying my nerves).... I am obsessed with beautiful paper napkins. There, I said it.

Really, as far as addictions go, this one isn't too bad right? Wrong! I can't help myself. If I see a beautiful package of napkins, I MUST have them. Well, since they usually cost me less than $2.00 a package, I guess I'm doing OK. I could be addicted to beautiful expensive china. Oh wait, I am.

I am also partial to those paper napkins that you put in your bathroom for company. Ohhhh.... especially monogrammed or seasonal ones. I can't bear for my company to wipe their hands on the towel that my boys use. My kids are clean, but come on, they are boys!

Well, for all you friends out there who are sick just like me, I'll show my finds today at the discount store Marshalls. That store is my favorite hunting ground for some beautiful paper napkin finds and awesome prices.

These are two I got today made by the tasteful folks at Caspari:

This one is called Royal Orchard Gold from the Royal Horticultural Society. I think this is beautiful for any occasion.

This gorgeous one is called "Pumpkin Gold". Just perfect with my fall decorations. 

OK - I didn't purchase this one, but if it had been at the store I would have snatched it up. It is a Caspari napkin called "Profusion of Flowers" in silver.

I love Ideal Home Range (IHR) napkins. My local Ace Hardware store carries an amazing selection that I often indulge in. Their Christmas collections are irresistible. I didn't purchase any today, but let's drool over these...

This one is called "Burger Party". Just adorable for any cookout!

This one is "Castanea". Very elegant for any day.

Oh... "Winter Toile" is just gorgeous!

Five O clock Tea is just adorable for obvious reasons!

I'm nuts for "Nuts"!

This one is exactly like my Beagle "Tug". I think I HAVE to have this one!
See, I'm so sick. Just don't judge me! Prayers are called for here. 
"Wild West" in red is such a great choice for a Texas Tea!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Comcast tried the old bait and switcheroo!

We have never had cable until this past year. We have really enjoyed it until our year was up, our package deal was over and we were switched to regular billing. Reality check! I immediately contacted Comcast through their chat feature which obviously is some foreign country (take your pick). I was flabbergasted at the blatant switch and bait going on. Luckily, I saved my chat transcription so you can see it for yourself. I have added some of my comments in purple italics for your amusement. Your welcome.

Let me say that all I had to do was call my local number, press the button to cancel the service, confirm I was speaking with the "Cancellation Department". I told them I had been very pleased with my service over the past year, but that the new bill did not fit our budget. I made myself aware of what the current packages were and which one best matched what we currently had. *Surprisingly* my customer service rep immediately made me an offer of that exact package which I signed up for. Yeah, I know, I'm a glutton for punishment. It was only a 6 month package deal so we will have to go through this process again in 6 months (groan) but at least I know to skip the whole scam that is their online customer service.

Here is the transcript of the online customer service chat:

Jay Carl>
Hello FrazzledMom_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Jay Carl. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Jay Carl>
Comcast thanks you for your interest in our services. Welcome to the Sales Department! Please bear with me while I assist you with your request for today. You can call me Jay. (because you cannot pronounce my real name stupid American) It's really nice to have you on chat.

Jay Carl>
How are you doing today?

(Enough with these false pleasantries, let's get to it) Hey Jay. I'm an existing customer and I'm interested in signing up for the double play. I don't need installation, but it wouldn't let me go past that point on the online form without putting in a date for installation.

Jay Carl>
The process that you went through earlier was the online order request form. The actual order processing will be done here on my end. We need you to stay on the chat line while we go through the order process. Would that be alright with you?

okay  (no, I'm going to disconnect and you can do it by yourself. Duh!)

Jay Carl>
I really do apologize for that inconvenience FrazzledMom. Usually, it will go through if the service you currently have is eligible for a no install upgrade.

Jay Carl>
May I have your phone number please so that I can locate the account?


Jay Carl>
I have accessed your account and I have checked the form you have filled out as well. As I can see on the form, you would like to have the Double Play Starter for $69.99, is that right FrazzledMom?

yes... tv and Internet

Jay Carl>
Wonderful! A very nice choice. A few moments please while I check the area and account for eligibility.

Jay Carl>
FrazzledMom, as I can see on your account right now, we might be having a problem with the order that you have selected.

Jay Carl>
As I can see right now, you currently have the Digital Starter and the Performcance Internet.

Jay Carl>
I really do apologize FrazzledMom but we could not reprocess the promotion that you were in last 2009.

(hang on gang, here comes the old bait and switch)

Jay Carl>
However, we can go ahead and upgrade your level of service to a promotional offer. 
explain...  (I would have loved to type "what the heck is going on here?")

Jay Carl>
FrazzledMom, I really would hate to trouble you like this.  (can you hear the accent in your head yet?) But can you please specify on what you would like me to explain? Would that be the promotional offers that I informed you about?

I want the 69.99 double play special. Why don't I qualify for it? I am an existing customer and the form asked for my existing customer number. It can't be that this is only good for new customers or it wouldn't have asked me for the number... Is the 69.99 double play special not for digital start package and Performance Internet?  (doesn't that made sense Mr. Jay?)

Jay Carl>
FrazzledMom. I am currently looking at your account right now. Basically, I am looking at the services that you have had from the start of your account up to now. As I can see, You were under that promotion form  (sic)**/**/** to **/**/**.

Jay Carl>
I would just like to emphasize that we could not re apply a promotion that you already have had.  (oh really....)  I really do apologize for the inconvenience. I really would like to process the order for you right now. But basically, our system will block the order and it would not go through.  (wow, BLOCK the order. We can't have that can we.)

Jay Carl>
I would just like to emphasize that we could not re apply a promotion that you already have had. I really do apologize for the inconvenience. I really would like to process the order for you right now. But basically, our system will block the order and it would not go through.  (again with the blocking)
Jay Carl>
However, we can go ahead and upgrade your service.  (oh, wow, seriously dude. At this point I clearly see what's going on and I am livid.)

This doesn't make sense to me at all. I have read the fine print and it doesn't say anything about not qualifying for this unless I have an outstanding balance.  (you don't know who you are dealing with Mr. Fancy Pants. I read fine print for a living.)

Jay Carl>
I really am so sorry FrazzledMom. It is really hard for me to inform you this but I never did say that we could not apply the promotion because of an outstanding balance.  (more gibberish and hand waving.)

Jay Carl>
What I was trying to explain in simple terms  (did he just call me an idiot?) is that you already had that promotion before. To be specific, last 2009. We cant give it to you now since you already had it.

Jay Carl>
Again, we are so sorry if it seems misleading.  (Oh it is not misleading. You are pulling a bait and switch.)

Exactly... so I don't understand why I can't get this promotion?  (let me see if he will slip up here)

Jay Carl>
But please do not worry. Again, we can upgrade your service to a promotional price.  (nope, he's going for it)

I don't want to upgrade my service. I am satisfied with what I have.  (I am seeing colors right now. Urgggg)

Jay Carl>
You can not get the promotion since you already had the promotion. As what I was explaining earlier, we cannot reapply the SAME promotion on an account. You can not have the promotion twice. Again, I know it can be an inconvenience but if your problem is your bill, my suggestion is for you to upgrade your level of service.  (maybe if I say it three times she will give up and sign up with the more expensive package)

Jay Carl>
We have the Digital Preferred Double play. That would be for $79.99.

FrazzledMom_>  (I am so mad that I've had it. I'm calling an elephant an elephant.)
Jay - I have not read anywhere in the fine print that you cannot get a similar promotion again. My other promotion has expired. I feel like I am being pressured into purchasing something I do not want. If you cannot help me I guess our conversation is over. Thank you.

Jay Carl>
I really do apologize FrazzledMom. I am only trying to save you $30.41 dollars of your monthly bill. Plus you get better service than what you have now. Again, I really do hope you understand that I would love to process the order that you like for you. It is just that our system would not allow it.

Jay Carl>
Is there anything else I can help you with?  (hello, hello.... where has she gone? Surely she was going to sign up. I was going to save her so much money.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Humble Meatloaf Revisited and Revived

The very word "meatloaf" does not conjure up memories of tasty meals. Let's elevate that lowly dish into something of a star. A makeover of sorts.

Meatloaf Makeover
1 lb of extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup of Bread Crumbs (you can also use oatmeal)
1 egg beaten
1 Tbl. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbl. Worchester Sauce
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/4 c. milk
Optional: 1 Tbl. A-1

6 slices of ham or turkey
3 slices of provolone cheese

Add all the ingredients together in a bowl (except the Add-ins). Mix with your hands. Pat the meat mixture onto a piece of parchment paper and flatten to 1/2 inch thick. Make sure it is no longer than your baking dish. Lay the ham or turkey, provolone and then the broccoli. pick up the edge of the parchment paper to roll the flattened meat up into a log shape (rolling from the long end so you don't have a super thick meatloaf). Roll the meatloaf (seam side down) to the middle of the parchment paper, seal the ends and the seam, pick up the parchment paper with the meatloaf in it and place into a large (11 x 8) glass dish. Because I use lean beef, the loaf isn't sitting in grease. If you use a fattier ground beef, you might want to put it on a raised metal roasting/broiling rack like the one below so it isn't swimming in grease.

1 cup chopped broccoli (frozen)
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup catsup
2 Tbl. of brown sugar

metal roasting/broiling rack

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If it is still pink inside, cover with foil and cook for another 30 minutes.
In a bowl combine 1/4 cup catsup and 2 Tbl. of brown sugar and 1 tsp. dry mustard. Spread over loaf. Bake for 10 minutes more uncovered. Optional:
A-1 Sauce on top

Guess what ya'll?! You can do this in the crockpot. Here are the changes: Add sliced carrots and/or potatoes at the bottom of the crockpot before putting in your meatloaf. This will elevate your meatloaf out of the grease. Add the topping or A-1 to the top of the meatloaf now. Cook on High for 4 1/2 hours.


Related Posts with Thumbnails