THE HOMEMAKIN' BLOG09/07/08
I mentioned in a previous blog that I have been baking bread lately... it is true. Some of you guys wrote in requesting that I blog about the bread specifically, so here I go--
I have been making two kinds of bread. The first is a standard white sandwich loaf, that makes good toast and is pretty tasty. I do not make this loaf very often, though, because it is so tasty that we will just sit around eating bread all day until it is totally gone. It usually takes us like 2 hours of bread eating to kill one of those fuckers. Seriously, homemade sandwich loaf, fresh and toasted with some strawberry jam is just about the most delicious thing in the world. OWMPH OWMPH OWMPH.
The other kind of bread I make is that ol' New York Times bread that all the bloggers make. It makes some really good bread, too, but it is a lot easier than the sandwich loaf, and it makes more bread, like a pound and a half or something. Like I said, it is also pretty tasty, but it is not so tasty that you will go into a feeding frenzy and eat the whole loaf, and you will not punch someone out for the last piece. It is still good, though, and better than what you can get in the store, hands down. It is super with spaghetti and other saucy stuff, and Drew likes cutting a slice of it, poking a hole in it, and frying an egg up in the hole. It always smells real good when he does it, but I have double-fiber Brownberry bread with my eggs in the morning, otherwise I would never poop ever. For me, NY Times bread is dinner time bread.
It is mega-super easy to make, guys. The ingredient list is so short that you feel like it is a magic trick when you make it. FLOUR WATER SALT AND A PINCH OF YEAST, HANG OUT OVERNIGHT, COOK IT UP AND WHAT THE FUCK. The only catch is that you need a dutch oven or something to cook it in. Luckily, I conned someone at some point to buy me a dutch oven (I do not remember the circumstances), so I have this bread to add to the long list of things I use it for. (Dutch ovens might seen not-so-useful, but I use mine for everything. I make some real kickass chicken in mine all the time. I almost want another one, cause I use mine so much that sometimes I am using it for one thing, and want to have it free for something else, but can't, probably because of the spacetime continuum.)
Anyway, here are some pictures of the last time I made bread. This loaf is not as tall as some of the previous ones I've made, but I think that might be because I added some extra water when the dough didn't look right. The bread was still really good, though.
Perhaps you have noticed a change in banners on my site. This is because some of the new shirts are going out of stock, and one of them (the SORRY shirt), will never be reprinted again. I know, I know, y'all never believe me when I say "never again", but it is true. Out of all the shirts I have ever discontinued, none of them have ever come back.
So, feel free to check out the new store!
All the new shirts are modelled by my excellently cute and cutecutecute husband Drew, my sister Angela, her boyfriend Frankie, and our new model Ms. Chelsea. They are all good models, and good looking. That is why they model the shirts.
Modelling is superficial business, y'all. Not for the ugly.
THE COUCH SAGA, PLUS SOME SLIPCOVERS FOR SALE. BUY THEM. PLEASE.
So, like I was saying last time I wrote in this thing, we moved recently. We moved into a house that is smaller than our previous house, but it is all good, cause our old house was bloated, and we had rooms with nothing in them (ie The Old TV on the Floor By Itself Room, and The Two Rooms With a Little of the Landlord's Furniture and Nothing Else). Also the old place was totally ugly, and we just rented it cause we thought we'd be able to get a lot of work done in a big place, but, between the ugliness of it, and the landlord coming over to hang out in the yard whenever he wanted, we just weren't, how do you say, creatively inspired
. Which is unfortunate when you rely on doing creative shit to eat.
So, we moved. Into the little house. When we moved, we had two brown couches, a matching chair, and a matching ottoman. We planned to put one couch, the chair, and the ottoman upstairs in the living room, and the second couch in the basement to watch TV and play videogames on. When the movers got the furniture to the house, the couch would not turn the corner into the basement without renovating the house and removing the walls in the kitchen and hallway. Obviously, we were not going to do this.
I was totally exhausted from the move, and the couch not fitting down the stairs was enough to put me over the edge. The upstairs was too small to have all the furniture in it, and there was no furniture in the basement. I was so tired that it seemed like the end of the world, THE NEW HOUSE WAS GONNA SUCK FOREVER. It was hopeless. Then, I remembered that my sister had a couch that kinda matched mine, so I called her up and had her boyfriend come by with his truck and take one of the couches. It was better to give the couch away than to have to think around it, you know? The couch was the personification of some kind of personal failure, and looking at it, all outta whack in the wrong room, fucking up my feng shui, was really bugging me the hell out. Angela made out and got a free couch, and I got some mental space to work with...
It sounds kinda like I over-reacted about the couch thing when I write this, but you gotta understand, it REALLY pissed me off. I try to be a rational person, BUT THE FUCKING COUCH WOULDN'T FIT DOWNSTAIRS, AND IT LOOKED TERRIBLE UPSTAIRS. Get it? I am still glad I got rid of it. I would do it again.
Anyway, I found myself suddenly in need of furniture, which I hadn't planned on at all. The timing was bad, too, since I just got done doing that first and last months rent/security deposit on the new place. That shit is expensive. So is furniture.
I looked around and couldn't find anything cheap, and whenever that happens, the only thing you can do is go to IKEA. Unfortunately, I live in Ohio, and the closest IKEAs are in Pittsburgh, which is an ambitious trip involving getting a hotel room and all that, and Cincinnati, which is a trip I like to avoid whenever possible. In order to avoid a road trip, I got online and ordered a couple Klippans to go in the basement, cause I heard they were flat-packed now, and I figured I would take 'em down a piece at a time if the whole shebang wouldn't go.
I ordered the Klippans, then I ordered some slipcovers from a different place, since all the colors IKEA had at the time were kinda booty.
OK, so, I got an email from IKEA saying to expect a call in 3-7 days to schedule delivery. 9 days later, I call IKEA to ask where my couch is. They say to call back on Monday.
I call back on Monday, and they say to call the delivery company. The delivery company says they never got anything for us, and to call back on Friday. I call back on Friday and they still never received any couches to deliver. They tell me to call IKEA.
This goes on and on until we've been waiting for almost a month for the couches to be delivered. I couldn't have anyone over to visit, because we took the chair and ottoman to the basement so we could sit down there sometimes (one person got the chair, the other, less fortunate person, got to sit in the beanbag.) Upstairs, we just had the one couch, which is fine for two people and two dogs, but a little too intimate, yet unconversational for more any more than that. I was getting pretty angry!
I called IKEA the last time, and they told me that they didn't know where the couches were (how do you lose TWO couches?), and that they had to file a report. I told them I wanted my fucking furniture. They said I could cancel the order, and place it again... I asked if they would be able to rush ship it. They said no. I asked if they would even be able to guarantee that it would be delivered ever, at all, and they said no. I had them just cancel the order completely, and fuuuuuuck you IKEA.
So a month later I am left with no couch. Bummed out. I checked on Craigslist, and found a nicer sectional that had small sections that would fit in my station wagon, and made a few trips and took it home. It cost less than the original couches, but is a lot fancier-looking, and I don't think the dude ever even sat on it. Pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, now I have two custom-made slipcovers for couches I don't own. They are brand new slipcovers, and they look like this:
Do you want a slipcover for your Klippan? I have TWO that I will sell you for cheaper than I bought them, and they are brand new. I haven't even opened the box yet. I will even just sell you one, if you want one. Then, hopefully, someone else will want to buy the second one. I bought them for 129.00 each, but I will sell them to you for whatever price you name that is not insulting. The slipcovers are for the 2-seater Klippan. They are popular couches, so I hope some of y'all are in the market for some slipcovers.
I also paid out the nose for shipping from Sweden or some shit, but that is my problem.
Write to me at nataliedee (at) nataliedee dot com to talk to me about couches and their slipcovers.
Q: I, like you, love purses. To unnatural degrees. Problem is, I spend too much money and time trying to find that one-size-fits-allpurse, the one that'll work for day, night, work, and hanging out and suits my requirements (outside pockets, comfy strap, etc). I tend to lean towards the fancier/designer bags when the budget allows, but I get conflicted. I feel bad spending so much money on a bag, and feel like I am somehow showing off since it's a 'status' brand. I could justify it more if I knew I'd carry the bag until it fell apart, but I know I won't. The flip side is that cheaper bags sometimes look-- well, cheap-- and while I don't want to look like some uptight rich society lady or something, I do want to look nice.
Should I just buy a purse and be done with it, telling myself no more bags for a really long time, or maybe rotate between, say, five bags? And should they all be super nice ones or one nice and the rest cheaper ones?
A: I think that nice bags are worth it... As you will read in the next question, I hate cluttering my house up with crap. As such, I save a lot of money by not buying tons of crap, and reinvest it in things that are nice that will last me a long time.
My angle on the high-end designer bags is this-- there are status bags, and there are really nice, well-made bags by good designers that are just really nice bags. When I buy a bag, I usually try to find a good deal on it (but not so good that the bag might be fake, cause paying a lot for fakes is a sucker move), and then buy something that is CLASSIC looking, instead of the it-bag of the day.
Nobody has to know the brand of your bag. If you buy something simple and well made, with no logos or flim-flam on it, nobody will think you are flossing. They might think you have a nice purse, then, a couple years later, they will notice just how nice your purse is when you still have it, and it still looks good. Buying something nice and simple and as plain as possible will also ensure that it will not look out of style in a year or two.
My original angle was to just get one nice purse and have that be it, but unfortunately, sometimes you need to have options. So, I started with a nice brown leather bag, cause I thought that would match everything. Then I started wearing more black, and the brown didn't look as nice with the black, so I got a black bag. Then, I came into some unexpected money around the same time as my birthday, and got a grass green bag, since that is my favorite color, and then at some point I got a blue one. I think I am done for now. I have one nice, well-made bag in all the colors I wear. I maintain them, and treat them with respect, and keep them in the dustbags when I am not carrying them, and they all look as nice as when I bought them. A couple of them are a few years old at this point, and still look great, so I do think they are good investments. And, in buying classic designs instead of logo-bombs, they look nice instead of gauche when I carry them.
It is a lot more worthwhile to spend extra for something nice that will stand the test of time than it is to buy something cheap, that will wear out and look bad in a couple months, and have to be thrown away in less than a year. You can shell out the extra dough, and have something very nice that will ALWAYS look good, for as long as you have it, and when wear does begin to show, it looks nice and loved instead of crappy. This doesn't pertain to EVERYTHING, but purses are something that is worth making an investment, since you carry one everyday.
Q: I just can't keep my home tidy. I don't know how to keep myself organised, I leave a trail of mess everywhere I go, the extent to which it affects my life is unbelievable...I can only have friends over to visit on the occasion that I've mustered up the energy to tidy up to an acceptable standard. I'm always late for work because I can't find anything, and though I love cooking, I never really get to enjoy it because my cupboards are empty, and besides, I don't want to make a mess because I know I won't clean it up!
I know it's not healthy to live in a dusty, dirty environment but at this point I don't even know where to start. I need some basic advice on how to keep things running smoothly so I'm not stuck with a total pigsty to deal with whenever I roll out the mop and bucket. It's weird because I do in fact enjoy cleaning up, but I'm a total procrastinator and by the time I get around to
tackling it, there's so much I get overwhelmed and exhausted just thinking about it!
I should let you know I have ALOT of clothes and really need to figure out where to put them. Wardrobes and sets of drawers don't work - I don't like putting things away because I forget I have them. I live in Germany where you can barely change your curtains without mailing some paperwork so I have a serious paper organistion situation. Also working up the courage to actually chuck out
old clothes and books, I just can't bear to do it!
I can already hear the common sense solution: buy folders to file away the paper. Use see-through boxes or take poloaroids of what's inside. I know this stuff, but it doesn't help me. I guess what I want to know is, is there a philosophy to being a tidy person?
A: Here's my philosophy in regards to keeping house: Nobody is ever going to do it for you. No matter how bad I've felt, or terrible the circumstances I've fallen under, nobody has ever shown up with a bucket and said HEY, LET ME JUST CLEAN UP AROUND HERE FOR YOU.
As such, I try to make it as easy on myself as possible. It is a lot easier to take 30 seconds to sponge off the counter than it is to let all the food and dirt and crud fester on it until you need a scrubby thing and a bunch of chemicals to get it tidy. Swipe It Now VS. Project Clean-the-Counter Later. Do you want to take 20 seconds to wipe down the edges of your tub and the bathroom sink with your washcloth before tossing it in the hamper and replacing it with a clean one, or do you want to spend an hour with a bristled brush scrubbing mildew and shit off your bathroom fixtures? Would you prefer to take a minute out of your day here and there so you can have a house that is 85-90% clean, or would you rather save yourself five minutes a day out of 24 hours, and live in gross squallor?
I am not saying my house is sterile. It's not. Sometimes the dishes will pile up, but never so much and for so long that you can ever smell them, or they do not fit into one side of the sink. Sometimes I will go a little too long in between vacuums, and there will be some dog hair on the floor. BUT, my house is NEVER so dirty that I won't have people over unexpectedly, and if guests are expected, it takes like half an hour to get it looking fresh and nice.
You have to look at it as a quality of life issue... First off, your mess is already adversely affecting your quality of life, and that is a huge problem. You can't have guests over, you can't do the things you like in your own place, and your place is such a mess that it affects you even being able to leave! These are all big problems.
The main thing you need to do is get rid of your clutter. Everything you own is something you have to keep clean. Therefore, the more you like cleaning, and the more you do it, the more shit you get to keep in your house. If you don't like cleaning, and you don't like keeping up your place, THEN YOU DON'T GET TO STOCKPILE STUFF. Period. I am not balls out about cleaning, so I keep it bare-bones. If I do not keep every piece of useless crap, and give it a space in my house, I do not have to keep useless crap organized and dust it and make sure dustbunnies do not get underneath it.
If it is not a financial document, or a license or medical record, I do not keep it. If there is a question about whether or not you need it, scan it in and save it on your computer, then pitch it. If I buy a magazine, I get rid of it as soon as I finish reading it. There is no magazine rack, no saving outdated periodicals for later. WHEN DO YOU NEED OUTDATED PERIODICALS? If a piece of clothing does not fit, or is worn out, or beyond repair, I do not keep it. If I haven't worn it in a few months, or, in the case of seasonal clothes, if I take something out of storage and do not recall wearing it last winter or whatever, I do not keep it. If I have half-finished bath products that I haven't used up for whatever reason, I get rid of them. You following what is going on here?
If you are not certain something (anything) is 100% important, get rid of it. There is no BUT WHAT ABOUT LATER? Later already came, and you didn't need it. If something happens in the distant future that makes you need junk from years ago, there are bigger problems going on aside from where all your clutter went. I have been on my "Don't Bring Anything In The House And Get Rid Of Anything That Looks At Me Crosseyed" kick for a while now, and the only thing that has resulted is a clean house. I have yet to be like OH SHIT, I ACCIDENTLY THREW THAT THING AWAY. You know what you need, and what you don't. You just have to be honest with yourself, and pitch the crap in the same way you'd rip off a bandaid.
I am not trying to sound harsh or anything, but it seems like your problem is one of two things, or possibly a combination of both. The first problem would be that your cleaning issues stem from pure laziness. The comment about not knowing where to put your clothes, and then adding that you KNOW you put them in a dresser or wardrobe, you just don't want to use them, leads me to this conclusion. You have to WANT to enact any solution to problems you have. I can't help anyone improve anything if the most basic solutions are met with a I DON'T WANNA.
The second problem might just be depression... I say this because you don't value your own well-being enough to keep things nice for YOURSELF, and your reluctance to pare down your posessions makes me think you are keeping them to fill a void rather than to meet any actual need you have. You treat your place as a place to store stuff you don't need, and as a surface to collect grime, at the expense of having a functional life, and you put your friends' perceptions of how you live ahead of actually living in a healthy way. You dig? If I am wrong about the depression thing, then it is just laziness, and I guess that's cool, too. If it's depression, though, maybe you ought to talk to someone about it who is not me (ie. a doctor or therapist of some sort.)
I guess, long story short, is you need to get into the habit of taking a minute or two out of your day here and there to tidy up a touch, and make your house nicer to be in...throw away your crap, ALL OF THE CRAP.... and be honest with yourself about WHY not getting anything done, and giving inanimate objects precedent over YOU and your quality of life, is the way you decided to live. You are a grown up now, you have total control over how you live. The cleanliness of the place you live in is an extention of your own personal hygiene. If it is important to shower and make sure you are presentable and don't stink, it is equally important to keep your home to the same standards.
This is not a situation that is outside your control, people all over the world keep up their homes, regardless of socioeconomic standing or culture. People sweep the dirt floors of huts. They prepare their own food. They understand the space limits of the place they live in, and don't fill it with cack until they can no longer function within the walls. This is a situation that is unpleasant to face, because you let your work pile up for such a long time. The only way out of it is to get to work, and establish cleaning habits so this doesn't happen again. It's only hard if you make it hard.