June 29, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate cookies.  Over the years, I've tried a lot of recipes.  This is the one I do most often now.  It was inspired by that Neiman Marcus recipe that went around on email a while back, but I tweaked it to make it healthier and easier.  So now I call it my recipe.  It makes about 5 dozen cookies that are slightly crispy, but not crunchy.
1/2 cup margarine - softened, not melted
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use the cheap stuff, so if you use real extract you might want to cut back.
1 1/2cup oatmeal - blend it into powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I prefer not to use milk chocolate)

Cream the margarine, oil and sugars until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla well.  In a large measuring cup, lightly mix the oatmeal and flour with the soda, powder and salt.  Dump the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and mix.  Add chocolate chips and mix again.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  I use a small scoop and put them on a greased pan about a cookie width apart.  If you are using a nonstick pan, bake for 9 minutes.  Add 1 minute if you use the other kind.  Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan before moving to a cooking rack.  Enjoy.

June 27, 2011

So, it's Monday.  I cleaned like crazy for about 3 1/2 hours.  Today, I skipped Madeline's room (I think I'll help her do that later), but I did get the rec room done.  It seemed that, except for Madeline's room(how does she get so much stuff on the floor when she's only in there at night?), the house just didn't take as long to clean.  Of course, I do basic stuff during the week, but it's easier to tidy up, when the mess is one thing instead of a whole room.  So, I'll bake something this week and maybe actually crochet something this week.  That said - Paul was gone for the last three days ...
We'll have to see how it works next week, when he will be home for a long weekend.  And then we'll have to see how it works the week after that, because school will be out and Madeline will be home during the day.  I can just make them all sit in the corner and not touch anything right?  No, I guess that wouldn't be living would it.  I'd rather have a messy house than kids who don't play.
Peony beside the door.
I don't remember where we got this particular peony.  Probably a clearance sale at Canadian Tire.  The red lily is from the ones we grew in Morden (which were from a clearance sale at True Value).  I'm glad the rain on Wednesday didn't batter them into the ground.
Lily behind the peony.

June 24, 2011

My New Strategy

No, not really.
     I'm not what anyone would call neat.  On some days in the not so distant past, one might even call me a slob.  I have, in the past, followed along with Flylady (which worked for me when I had a baby), and consulted numerous books, blogs, magazines and websites on the subjects of cleaning, decluttering and organizing.  I have spent hours planning and scheduling.  I think it is safe to say, I spent more time reading about cleaning than actually cleaning.  That is not to say, I haven't made some progress.  I do wash clothes regularly(daily in fact) and I rarely leave the wet clothes in the washer more than a couple of hours (anymore).  I even put said clean clothes away occasionally.  Mostly, I would say the laundry situation is working out okay.  It's the rest of the house... well, lets just say that I regularly get comments from the neighbourhood kids about how messy the house is and recently I heard one darling child say "does your mom clean?"
So this is where my new strategy comes in.  I started on 20th.  I spent the entire day (well, ok maybe only 5 hours) cleaning.  I planned it out on Saturday night.  Every 15 minute block from the time I put Madeline on the bus for school was filled with some cleaning to be done.  I washed bedding, scrubbed the bathroom, the bedrooms, the playroom, the kitchen, the entrance, the porch, the laundry room and the stamp room (that's where the stamp collecting goes on).  I did collapse before I got to the rec room.  Next week, maybe.
   Anyway.  It has been 4 days, and the house is still reasonably neat.  I've even kept up with the laundry (mostly).  I think that messiness is contagious.  In Flylady, she encourages us to clean a room at a time.  I can't seem to keep motivated that way.  If I'm in a tidy space, I'm less likely to make a mess in it.  It seems to work with the kids too.  So, my theory is that next Monday, I'll do the whole house cleaning, but have to work less to achieve the same results.  So if you want to visit, feel free to drop by on Monday evening.  :) We'll see.

June 22, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

Wet.
Well, last night after I finally wound down around midnight, and climbed into bed, I noticed the hissings and gurglings of the water softener in the utility room below.  Nearly an hour later, there was a break in softener noise and that's when I heard it.  Plop...plop...plop... yup, the laundry room ceiling was dripping, and the pail we keep there just in case, was full.  Hastily I emptied the bucket, and returned to bed.  Only to hear the softener start up for its second cycle.  Yeah!  Anyway.  This morning, my early rising husband, found the other leak.  It had soaked a couple of jackets.  So I spent at little time clearing the shelves on which we now keep buckets.  It rained steadily all day.  The sump pump is working wonderfully.  We should give it a bonus.  The driveway is a small pond, and the neighbour's front lawn is a large pond.  I didn't look to see what their actual pond looks like.  I am however, very thankful that we don't live near any major (or even minor) bodies of water that can overflow their banks and wreak havoc.  We only need to deal with a few puddles (inside and out).  As I write this, the sky is lighter than it's been all day.  A break in the clouds to the west is giving a wonderful golden glow and the barn and yard looks clean and fresh (at least from this distance), though it is still raining.

June 20, 2011

How does my garden grow?

Aren't the colours just gorgeous!  I think that red/orange is my favourite.

Columbine going crazy.  Wonderful!

I love tulips!  There's also a bleeding heart in the background.
Just to be clear -and most people who know me know this - I do not do our vegetable garden.  I did plant (mostly) the flower beds around the house.  It is also (mostly) my job to remove weeds and dead branches etc from said flower beds.  Since we moved to this house 5 years ago, I have discovered a great love of tulips.  (Won't someone please invite me to a wedding in Ottawa some spring?) I don't have much trouble getting out in the garden while the tulips are blooming, but as soon as the heat and mosquitoes come along and the tulips die off, I find it much more comfortable in the house.  These particular pictures are from the east side of the house facing the road, taken on June 1st.

June 18, 2011

My girl is seven!

Well, I totally forgot to take picture of the cake before it was dismantled.  It was, of course, chocolate.  With chocolate filling and chocolate icing.  Is there any other kind of birthday cake worth making.  I wanted to make a multi layer cake without making it so big it would feed 200.  So, it was 3 tiers.  The top was a cupcake.  I used the pyrex storage bowls, that Mom and Dad gave me, to bake the middle and bottom tiers.  Icing scribblers from the grocery store to decorate and it was done.  I also used the leftover cake and icing to make cakepops.  It was a hot day, so we simply ate them frozen.  Yummy!  Here's pictures of the bottom tier with a few cakepops stuck into it.  They weren't there long, because they were too heavy and would have wrecked the cake.  When Gideon saw how I'd decorated the cake, he started crying and said he didn't like that icing, so he only ate the cakepops without decoration.