SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{January 26, 2014}   Reflection: A Kinder, Gentler Me

Warning: this is not sweet and nice. Read ahead at your own risk.

January 11, 2014

If you’re anything like me, come January, you begin to reflect on the past year.  Where you were, how far you’ve come, and all that.  I’ve taken part of today to read over old blog posts.

This past year has been a rough one.  Maybe the rough patches don’t always make it into my blog – that’s ok.  But looking back, I see things that I did not recognize till it was too late.

And in a way, I prefer not to reflect. But it helps one grow.

I don’t know that all of the changes in my life have been positive ones.  I’m left with more questions than answers.  I’ve been pulled into a mess I never wanted a part of by people who should’ve minded their own business. There have been several people I really loved and respected that have completely let me down.  People I thought were my friends lied to my face, lied to my husband, talked behind my back, and gossiped about my child.  I’ve been accused of “digging for information” (because the lives of middle aged + women are so incredibly fascinating) and shunned because I didn’t choose sides.

I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to maintain all of my friendships.  The drama in question was not my business.

But it’s not theirs, either.

I’ve learned, through a series of events, that I had more liabilities in my life than I ever realized.

January 22, 2014

Those liabilities have done me a favor. I didn’t see it at the time, but now I recognize that’s what they did. By removing me from their lives, and the way they did it, I am able to see their true colors. I see that the friendships I thought I had were nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Some of that has a bit more sting than I’d like. The Little General asked after me while CrazyMathLady was in from Africa. (My thought is she’s made my welfare none of her business and if she won’t talk to me, she need not talk about me.) And CrazyMathLady is still too closely aligned with Arsenic, et al, for my comfort. She says she’s not going to stop being my friend, even if I stop being hers. I believe actions speak loudly…. 7 years, lost. Of all the Bunco women that cut me loose? I miss the Higher Authority. I always saw her as a grown up version of Monkey 2, seeing the beauty in everyone and everything. Learning the truth about her was rough.

The past year has been one of many changes, and not all good ones. It’s hardened Real Chick. She doesn’t want to let anyone through that tough exterior because she sees that she cares too much and knows she’ll get too involved. She still has a heart the size of Texas and will bend over backward for a friend, but there won’t be as many with that label again. And Pioneer Woman questions things more. She’s less trusting, almost lost. Me? I’m disappointed. I want answers to the questions I don’t want to ask.

In the end, though, this past year has reinforced the Golden Rule for me. It’s made me appreciate the quality friends I have because the quantity was meaningless. It’s taught me that I’m stronger than I knew, better than I knew, and to stand behind my decisions, unpopular as they may be.

So this year is about a kinder, gentler me. This year is about taking care of my family and cultivating the friendships that are blessings in my life. My true friends and my family bring out a better version of me and that’s who I will discover this year.


{January 18, 2014}   Grand Plan Challenge: Entryway

I’m an Organized Home junkie. I have loved this site ever since the days of the message boards and challenges.

The interaction and message boards are a thing of the distant past, but the tips and ideas are still there. Every year, the New Year’s Grand Plan Cleaning Challenge is posted just after Christmas. Last year, jeepnmom and I decided to tackle the challenge together. Unfortunately, life got in the way! But we both love the idea of clean, organized spaces, and are trying again. We have a group on Facebook this year to post goals, challenges, and photos as we go. Hopefully we’ll stay with it a little longer.

The first week of the challenge was all about gathering supplies and lists and such. I didn’t do the best job on that one. I’m completely out of dusting spray.

Last weekend was the beginning of Entryway Week. I have a cute little hall with a cute little closet coming off the front door. Because that door is used so infrequently, the hall was still in pretty good shape – from last year. The closet? Not so much!

This is a "before" of my front hall, aka the entryway.

This is a “before” of my front hall, aka the entryway.

The closet in the front hall, intended for outerwear, I’d imagine, has become our catchall.  The shelf held my sewing machine, table linens, Christmas paper, and miscellaneous household paperwork.  The rod contained everything from old Letterman jackets to bridesmaid dresses to Monkey #2’s First Communion gown.  The bottom of the closet had household files, cleaning tools, packaging from miscellaneous electronics…basically anything without a home.  Then right before Christmas, we hosted a get-together with a bunch of our friends.  Grizz was in charge of cleaning the living room – which consisted of chunking everything in that closet.  Including an area rug that I no longer like in the living room.

"Before" of the hall closet.

“Before” of the hall closet.

I started by emptying the hallway all together.  The shoe shelf was removed, the shelf under the mirror cleared, and I dusted the mess out of everything.  Remember, I really haven’t touched this area in a year!

The cute shelf in the front hall under the pretty mirror before I straightened it.

The cute shelf in the front hall under the pretty mirror before I straightened it.

When I cleared the shelf, I “rediscovered” these really pretty hooks I’d ordered from one of those home parties over 10 years ago.  I’ve had this idea of hanging them in the hallway for the Monkeys’ school bags and jackets…IMG_20140111_095706_806

After all of the dusting and sweeping was done, I decided to tackle the closet.  Let me just say, that closet was absolutely ridiculous.  I ended up with everything in a huge pile in the living room.  While it was empty, I dusted the shelf in that closet and vacuumed the carpet at the bottom.  Then I needed to 1) sort all that crap; and 2) determine the purpose for that closet in order to put only appropriate stuff back!

So this is what I figured out – Purpose for the front hall:

  1. Monkeys’ shoes on shoe shelf
  2. Monkeys’ jackets on hooks (after Grizz installs the hooks!)
  3. Monkeys’ book bags under their jackets
  4. Shelf is for decoration until I decide differently.

Purpose for the hall closet:

Closet rod - After

Closet rod – After

  1. Outerwear on rod
  2. Vacuum/Shark/etc. in closet till I find another home for them
  3. File box on closet floor
  4. Sewing stuff on shelf
  5. *some* Scrapbook stuff – temp storage!
    The scrapbook crate is actually stuffed with pretty much done pages - just need to be organized and stuck in books...

    The scrapbook crate is actually stuffed with pretty much done pages – just need organizing and stuck in books…

    Sewing stuff in a neat grey tote...

    Sewing stuff in a neat grey tote…

    No more expensive formalwear in this closet!

    No more awkward, expensive formal wear in this closet!

    My file tote on wheels is one of my favorite things ever!

    My file tote on wheels is one of my favorite things ever!

Bottom of the closet - After

Bottom of the closet – After

  1. After - bottom of the closet

    After – bottom of the closet




*UPDATE* 1/21/14

The front hall still looks amazing, even a week later, with regular use.  I’m still having to remind the monkeys to hang their jackets.  Shoes still don’t always make it to the shoe rack, but as long as they’re there before bedtime, it’s a battle won in my book.  Keeping the bookbags in the front hall means we shouldn’t have the phone calls at 8AM asking Grizz or me to leave work to bring binders to school – yes, that does happen!

As long as I do a quick check daily/nightly, maintaining the entryway shouldn’t be difficult.  I think that’s probably why it’s first on the to-do list, so that you can have that quick sense of accomplishment and you can keep it up easily.

I also have a wishlist going for that area.  Actually, it’s kind of just one thing – a rug at the front door!  Well, maybe some kind of umbrella stand, too, but I really like the openness of it.

What do you think?  Do you follow a cleaning plan?

~ Katie

In my house, you can pretty much count on a crockpot meal on Mondays. I have faculty meetings, Grizzly has pool, and Pioneer Woman’s husband joins us. Occasionally, when I can’t make up my mind, I text the Red Bull for input (chili!!!!), but that’s kind of rare.

Last week, when we learned the cold front was coming in, I ended up with pot roast stuck in my head.

By the time I went to the store, I felt poorly in more than one way. And for some reason, cow is expensive right now. I’m talking $13+ for a decent sized roast.

Or you can get a 6 pound pork roast for a little over $7.

I always crockpot pork roast with some barbecue sauce. Grizzly likes to put them on the grill. But I really wanted something different. Pinterest and Google both brought about some interesting finds. What I ended up with was combination of a few recipes.

SoBoMama’s Fall- Apart Pork Roast

  • 1 roast, thawed. (Mine actually contained a bone – and if you know me, you know I have bone issues!)
  • Injection kit (We always buy Tony Chachere’s garlic and butter or herb and butter, clean the “shot-sticker,” and re-use)
  • Salt and Pepper (no real measurement, just to taste)
  • 8 oz. Coca Cola
  • Butter (or margarine or whatever you use in your house)
  • A half cup of coffee
  • Worcestershire Sauce

At 4 A.M., when I arose to go back to the real world after Christmas Break, I retrieved the roast from the fridge and chunked (technical term!) it in the crockpot.  I sprinkled it with a little Worcestershire and then left it alone for a minute while I concocted my injection.  In a microwave-safe measuring cup (thank you, LilCajunChef!), I combined 1/2 stick of butter, a splash of Worcestershire, and a half cup of kind of strong coffee.  I microwaved the cup of stuff 1 minute (long enough to melt the butter) and whisked the mess out of it.  Then I pulled it up in my injector and injected the heck out of the roast in as many spots as I could.  I added eight ounces of Coca Cola, dashed it with salt  and pepper, turned the crockpot on low, put the lid on, and left it alone till I came home from work. At which point, it was totally juicy and falling apart.

Can I just say nobody starved Monday night?  The monkeys, Pioneer Woman, Grizzly, the Red Bull and I all had plenty to eat and there was enough left for pulled pork sandwiches Tuesday night.

You know I’m all about the freezer cooking, but I’m not sure how this would do prepped ahead like that.  It literally took all of 10 minutes to prepare from the start Monday morning.  If I were to freeze this, I would wait to inject, or maybe not even inject at all.  I think the coffee and Coca Cola and Worcestershire keep the roast plenty tender.  I didn’t even brown ahead of time.

With the roast, we had macaroni and cheese (boxed – ugh!) and baked beans.  And the Realest Chick I Know keeps fussing for the “recipe,” though there kind of isn’t one.  Go figure!

What’s your pork roast secret?

~ Katie

et cetera
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