Saturday, March 2, 2013

Attention Followers: We've MOVED!

Hello, followers!

First of all, thanks for keeping up with me here at The Road to Domestication! I appreciate your reads and kind comments =)

Second of all, The Road to Domestication has MOVED! Please check us out at the new site and sign up there to receive notifications of new blogs in your email!


I'm looking forward to continuing down The Road to Domestication with you!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Made-to-Order Lampshade

About two months ago, our cat was flying around the house being ridiculous, and knocked one of our matching lamps off the end-table in the living room. She broke the dang thing. Did I mention that they were matching?

Since I couldn't find another lamp to match the non-broken one, I bought two new lamps, kept the lampshades (which were not damaged) and everything was fine. Except I still had one lamp with no shade left. And no place at home to put it.

But with a new office at the insurance agency where I work full time, I knew I could use it there. The problem was, I still had no lampshade.

So I spent several months looking for said lampshade, finally found the perfect one on Walmart's website, and I ordered it (on clearance) for about $6. Wohoo, right?

Except when the box came, here's what it looked like:

Yeah. So you can imagine what the shade itself looked like. Pitiful. Unfixable. Sold out. Returned.

The search continued...with no results.

I finally decided to just get a plain lampshade and add some pretty embellishments.

I purchased a ribbon and what I call a "floofy" to add with the trusty hot-glue gun.

So I started gluing the ribbon on. Except I ran into a little issue.

The ribbon started to ruffle. I guess between the hot glue and the fact that the lamp was curved and not flat, it just didn't lay straight. So I ruffled/pleated it on purpose instead!

Then I added my lovely "floofy"!
And here's my final product, on the console table in my office, fixed atop the base!

Whatcha think?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Treats & Tries

For several years now, I have wanted to and planned on entering the Neighborhood Village Baking Competition at the Florida Strawberry Festival. If you're not from around Central Florida, you probably don't know what the Strawberry Festival is - no worries! It's smiliar to a state fair, but built around strawberries and hosted in Plant City - the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World! (If you're local, you KNOW what I'm talking about!)

I've been to the Festival every year since before I can remember. I've ridden all the rides, I've seen all the displays, I've sang in the entertainment tent, I've been to concerts in the grandstand, I've covered stories and events and I've worked the information booth!

But this year, I was determined to enter something in the Baking Competition. I really have no clue what I'm up against, but every year I walk through and look at all the ribbon-winning baked goods, and I wanted to try my hand at it!

So I chose this recipe: Strawberry Shortcake Cookies. (If you read about the Strawberry Festival above, you know that the yummy Strawberry Shortcake dessert is a big deal, so I thought maybe this kind of recipe would be appropriate!)

However, I knew I couldn't just run pell-mell into things. I couldn't just throw the recipe together, drop off the cookies and hope for the best. I needed to try it out first. But, as most of you know, I have to live gluten-free due to my Celiac's Disease, so I can't even test them, much less eat them, and, although my husband LOVES cookies, I knew he wouldn't eat all of my trial batches. What to do...what to do?

After much thought, I came up with a brilliant plan: I would give my test-batch to my husband's co-workers! (They LOVE when I send them food!) Then I would also have an impartial test audience!

So I made the cookies. What do you think?

Even though you bake them on parchment paper, it was a little tricky to not let the sugar burn! (And I can't be giving judges of a baking competition burnt cookies - that just won't do.) Once I got the hang of it, they came out quite nicely!

Since it was just before Valentine's Day when I baked these, I decided to make Valentines out of them for my husband's co-workers and our neighbors. (What about MY co-workers, you say? They'll benefit from the next batch, I promise!)

So, I grabbed up some baggies from Walmart, I already had the twine, and I found these cute printables (I can't for the LIFE of me remember where I got them!!! If anyone knows, PLEASE comment and let me know, I want to include a link!) to add, and voila!

I thought they came out really cute!

The general concensus is, everyone loved them! Hopefully the judges like them, too!

So, I'll make them again on Sunday night, and turn them in on Monday morning! Exciting stuff!!!

Do you enter baked goods in competitions anywhere? What has your experience been like?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Day Shelf

When you live in a smaller space like I do, but still love to decorate, it's good to have a spot in which to be creative! So here's the Valentine's Day Holiday Shelf:

I adjusted one of my favorite pics of my husband and I for the frame (the frame came from Walmart, the pic was taken by Little Lane Photography), I added a vintage black pin to dress things up a bit, the hearts and other pics came from Valentine's Day cards, the Coke bottle came straight from the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta, GA, and the sweet little LOVE candles and black and white ribbon came from Walmart, as well.
The Happy Valentine's Day floral pick came from Big Lots (my husband picked it up and suggested it as a part of the Holiday Shelf, actually...I was so pleased!) And sadly, I can't even remember where the red vase came from. Probably Hobby Lobby - I've been known to purchase numerous items there!
Somehow this little spot of decor brightens everything for me!

As for Valentine's Day, my hubby grilled some chicken on his new grill, and I threw together some salad, honey-glazed carrots and garlic mashed potatoes. Chocolate for dessert, of course! These are my favorites: CLICK HERE

Since it's so odd to me to celebrate Valentine's Day in the middle of the week, we actually headed over to Orlando on Saturday and spent the President's Day weekend there to finish up our celebration of love!

Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday!

(Oh, and to see the original Holiday Shelf, CLICK HERE!)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Brilliant Idea

The title of this post may be deceiving...but not purposely so!

For the past week, my husband and I have been participating in a fitness challenge. We wear a pedometer (it's called a Pebble) all day long, and the goal is to have 7,000 steps each day. (I know, WOW, right?)

Since we both have desk jobs, this really is no easy thing. While he is able to walk on his lunch break, my lunch is spent running errands, catching up on all my projects and side get the idea.

So, we decided the best thing to do was to walk our entire housing complex every night after dinner. The weather has been perfect, and it gives us a nice bit of time to spend together, too.

The only problem I've been running into is the after dinner kitchen cleanup.

Before, after dinner I would spend about 30 minutes in the kitchen: restoring the table, putting away leftovers, rinsing dishes, loading the dishwasher, wiping down stove, counters and sink...and whatever else may need to be done in there.

Now...well, there's just no time for that! I'm actually pretty good at cleaning up after myself WHILE I'm cooking, if I make myself, so I've kicked that discipline into high gear. But that still leaves all the dishes that the food is served out of. And the leftovers. And the table.

I put my brilliant idea into action last night and it worked beautifully. Here it is. Are you ready?

My husband retores the table. (Okay, that wasn't THE brilliant idea, but he decided to start doing that, so it's very helpful! And I get points for raving over him in my blog, so it's a win-win!)

Actual brilliant idea: move the food to the leftover dishes (i.e. Tupperware) as soon as it's done, and then serve the food right out of the plasticware! Leftovers cleanup then only consists of putting the lid on the dish and placing it in the fridge!

And then, I took it a step further. After the food is relocated, take the dish the food was prepared in and immediately rinse and place in the dishwasher. Quicker, because the food is still warm and doesn't stick, so it doesn't take forever to get all the residue off. Or, if it was a particularily heavy meal, there's plenty of time to soak the dishes in the sink.

That means, when we get back from our walk, I don't have a kitchen that's a mess and dishes with food stuck all over them. The most I might have to do is scrub a pot or a pan, rinse and place in the dishwasher. BRILLIANT!

I'm sure people have been doing things like this since the beginning of time, but it really was the first time I thought of it!

Do YOU have any timesavers that are brilliant? I wanna hear them!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Recipe Organization

Happy New Year, everyone! (You know, since I haven't posted in over a month, and it's now almost February!)

This particular post has been in the wings for a while, but, for those of you who don't know me well, you should know that I work full-time in the world of insurance (click here), I run a photography and promotional business on the side (click here), I am a consultant for a company that makes organizational products (click here), and I'm married and attempt to keep my husband happy and my house clean (no clicking necessary). You can see why it's been a while since I've posted, but, due to LOTS of organization and just plan "getting stuff done" over the holidays, I'm finally back into a routine...I think. Having the flu didn't help much, either, but it's all good now!

So, I LOVE to cook. Some women don't like to come home after working a full day and have to cook, but it's literally one of my favorite times of day! It's my "me" time, it's my relaxation time, it's my time to create and experiment with flavors, textures and styles!

As you can imagine, I'm always finding new recipes. I see them on blogs, I get them in my email, I get them from friends, I pin them on get the idea. And almost none of them come in the exact same form.

This created a large build-up of papers (of all shapes and sizes), napkins, recipe cards, etc. Whatever form the recipe came in was shoved into a folder, which meant that every time I said, "Hmmm...where did I put that recipe for Paula Deen's meatloaf I found the other day?" I had to pull out the folder and dig through until I found the desired item. VERY ANNOYING. Not to mention that our kitty figured all the papers spread everywhere was a direct invitiation to come along and pounce away. An even bigger mess.

As the holidays drew near, our family began to set up menus for all of the events, and there are always requests for specific dishes I make. The only problem was finding the recipe for all the requested dishes. And I was over it this past holiday season. Something had to give.

So, I searched and searched for the perfect solution. To no avail. After a few weeks of frustration, my husband commented, "Geeze, why don't you just make your own! You make everything else, don't you? That way you can customize the whole thing and it will be exactly how you want it to be!"

Smart man I married, smart man.

Here's what I did - it's all pretty simple.

1. I picked up a black 2-inch ring notebook, a set of black and white 8.5 X 11 scrapbook papers and a set of sheet protectors from Walmart.

2. I went through all of my recipes and separated them all into categories that made sense to ME and the way I cook.

3. I created sections for each chosen category using the sheet protectors, scrapbook papers and my big label maker.

4. I put ALL of my recipes on the SAME SIZE sheet of paper in black and white.


What I love about it:
  • It's all black and white. I'm a very black and white person, literally and figuratively, so this worked great for me, and it saves on printer ink, too - but you can do it in any color combination! 
  •  It's customized so I know exactly where everything is.
  • It's easy to add a new recipe
This made the holiday season much less stressful, I have to say, and it's still working perfectly. Did I mention it makes meal planning and grocery shopping SO MUCH EASIER? It does!

Here's a few pics of mine:

Whatcha think? Fairly simple, right?

If choosing categories and organizing everything from scratch makes you nervous, never fear! Check out these templates:

Clean Mama
Maria the Bee
Prudent Baby

Those should help =)

How about you? How do YOU organize YOUR recipes?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Very "Merry" Christmas

I have such grandiose ideas about Christmas. Maybe, in a way, we all do, but I'm 100% sure of my own!

Although I LOVE Fall, the day after Thanksgiving, all of the Fall decor comes down and up goes Christmas! (As soon as I typed the word "Thanksgiving" I realized I forgot to blog about THAT event. I argued with myself for a moment, wondering if I should delete the current blog, go back, blog about Thanksgiving and THEN do this blog...but you know what? That kind of thinking is exactly what this blog entry is about!)

Let me allow you to catch a glimpse into my mind =) Scary, right? HA! When I tell my husband that "I'm just trying to explain to you what's going on in my head", he always puts his hands on his head and tells me,"That's okay, baby, I think that will just overwhelm me." But in THIS case, it's necessary!

I LOVE all things decorated, holiday-ed, event-oriented, etc. It's such fun for me to plan and organize and then carry it all out in a perfect manner...except, no matter how much I plan, it NEVER turns out perfect. And normally, this is a HUGE thorn in my side. I just have no idea.

I have a very vivid memory of the moment it turned Christmas last year. It was literally midnight, and I was in the kitchen, knee-deep in baking, and watching a stupid orange cranberry bundt cake cave in on itself before my eyes. I was literally about to cry, when I realized it was midnight, and I headed for the living room to wish my husband a Merry Christmas. I rounded the corner to see him knee-deep in all the packing materials of a sound bar and speakers for the TV, a gift that he couldn't seem to get working. I crawled through the mess to him, kissed his cheek and wished him a Merry Christmas. He nodded absently, wish me a Merry Christmas, too, and then proceeded to fume about the stupidity of technology...and it all just hit me. Merry freakin' Christmas.

Now, this is much more amusing to me now than it was at the time - we were just laughing about that night yesterday, as a matter of fact! But the thing is, I remember how frustrated I was, and this Christmas, I determined that I would not allow myself to get to that point again. It simply wasn't worth it.

So I planned. I charted out on the calendar every Christmas event, every day of shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping, Christmas carding, musical-ing, all of it. It was perfect. I knew this would be the most amazing stress-free Christmas there ever was, and I was SO looking forward to it.

And then...I caught the flu.

I missed four days of work. I missed four Christmas parties. I missed a birthday party. I missed a choir rehearsal. I had to cancel two photoshoots. And I was MISERABLE.

And, all of my planning and charting had completely gone to waste!!!

When I finally felt human again and was able to jump back in, I was behind on EVERYTHING.

In the midst of it all, as I was talking to a client on the phone, he ended our conversation by wishing me a very Merry Christmas...and it was all I could do to not respond with a snarky comment.

It was then that I realized I wasn't being very..."merry". And that was the LAST thing I had wanted.

So, honestly, through no choice of my own, I decided that this Christmas would just not be Pinterest-Perfect. At first, I was pretty upset about it, and then I realized that, if I had to give up my sanity in order to have the perfect Christmas, then it just wasn't worth it.

Yes, I'm still behind at work. But I'm not going to work on any of my given days off over Christmas to fix that. I will catch up when I catch up.

Sure, the baking was late getting done, but it still got done...and it is going out without any flu germs attached to it =)

Of course, the presents aren't finished being wrapped, but, let's face it, the cat will probably mutilate them once they get under the tree anyway, so who cares?

And you know what? Not ALL of the food I take to remaining events is going to be beautifully made from scratch. Some will probably be a freezer item that I threw on a sheet and baked in the oven five minutes before leaving for the event. And that's okay. Because I'd rather spend my time with family and friends making memories than spending my time stressing out over perfection in the kitchen.

So I think the key to a Very "Merry" Christmas is not planning and much as I would like to think it is and as much as, yes, I have already started planning for next year! Ha!

But honestly, I think the key is thankfulness and time. Thankfulness for all that we've been blessed with, and time to share it with others. And a clear picture of Who gave us all these things we're blessed with in the first place.

May your Christmas be a Very "Merry" Christmas...whether or not it's perfection!