Insta-Party

I’m a one-trick pony when it comes to party decorations. Pinterest stuff is amazing but I usually just glance at it and then do what I know… balloons on a string and streamers.

I’ve done it so many times though, I’ve got it down to a system.

First, I scotch tape and twist streamers all around our table light to the outside of the dining area.

Then I string up balloons.

I use fishing line and a yarn needle and a good many balloons. I thread the line though the tied ballon lip. I tie a knot in the line on the first balloon so it can’t slip off. Then I thread the rest as I blow them up. I tie off the last one to have a string of balloons that I can carry and tie around our chandelier.

I’ve been doing this for almost every birthday since my daughter turned 4.

It’s so easy and clean up is a snap too. (I deflate the balloons with scissors then cut the line.) I don’t always decorate for valentine’s, but this year I thought, “Why not?” I even taped the numerous crafts my kids brought home on the door.

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Manageable Resolution

Seems like everyone by Valentine’s Day is either sick of their resolution(s) or at least we’ve moved on from talking about them or making them.  I’m slow.

I usually make a resolution.  Mine are typically general, vague, and mostly immeasurable, and that works for me.  Last year my resolution was to make more of an effort in putting myself together.  Mostly that meant to shower and get dressed for the day every morning.  Wear jewelry most days.  Very reachable and enjoyable.

I think the year before I made the goal to only eat what was delicious.  That was a fun goal.  I gave myself permission to not finish something if I didn’t like how it tasted.  I don’t think I stuck to that one.  I still like to clean my plate.

This year, my goal is simply put and hard to complete: be more content.

Contentment.  Satisfaction with where I am, what I have, and what I’m doing.  This isn’t lazy; this is hard work.  If I’m content, that means I’m going to take better care of what I have because I’m not giving myself permission to buy something new just because I want it.  So I’m washing my slipcovers so my furniture looks really nice even though it is all the cheap stuff from IKEA.  I’m going to dye my jeans that are fading, making them black again because a bottle of black dye is $2 and new jeans are… a lot more.   I’m not even going to price them out because I don’t need new jeans.  I’m not going to complain about the weather where I live, longing for anywhere but here, but I’m going to enjoy the seasons as they come.  I’m going to have more margin and not pack my day so full my peace spills out and over the edge of a glass too filled.

content mary poppins

There’s a lot of “being present” that seems to be a side-effect of striving to live content.

How about you?  What are your contentment killers?  What helps you feel a sense of contentment?

Container Clutter

Everyone has them. We all need them. The problem is how do you keep them contained yet accessible; together but compact.

Plastic containers are tricky. It’s like a puzzle. Do you match them with their lid? What about extra lids? When you store them they take up lots of room and I hate dumping a stack when I’m reaching for what I need.

Marie Kondo (Kon Mari method) says to stack the containers and lids separately; keep your lids in another larger container. I’ve aimed to achieve this and I pull out my large container holding both containers and lids every time I need a container and every time I put them away.

This means my container of containers is ever changing and in need of constant mess management, as most jobs in the home require (i.e. laundry, dishes, bathrooms, etc).

Here is my container containment over time…

Like I said, ever changing but always contained.

How about you? How do you keep your containers?

Easy Peeling Hard Boiled Eggs

We’ve been eating Whole30 since the new year which means we’ve been eating a lot of eggs. Having hard boiled eggs already peeled in the fridge has been a diet-saver on many occasions. They’re accessible protein.

Everyone seems to have their way to cook hard boiled eggs. Some even bake them. I’ve not felt the need to go that route. I was following America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe, but they do not boil the water until after the eggs are in and that leads to the egg being hard to peel.

Best way I’ve tested…

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.

Lid on helps this speed up.

Gently lower eggs into boiling water. I use a spider (the kitchen tool, not the arachnid).

Bring water back to a rolling boil. (The eggs will lower the water temperature and it may take a solid 5 minutes to boil again.) Once it’s boiling, cover the pot and turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 10 minutes. I set a timer.

Remove the eggs and place in an ice bath (big bowl of water and lots of ice) for 5 minutes. This cools the egg down so you can peel it and it stops the cooking process so you don’t overlook your egg. (If the yolk turns greenish-gray where it meets the white, you overlooked it.)

After 5 minutes make your peeling station. I use a towel on the counter and a paper towel on top (to dispose the shell), my bowl of eggs in ice water, a container for the peeled eggs, and a short but wide tumbler.

Yep, my brother, Ray, taught me this trick. It’s life changing. Place the egg in the cup and shake it to crack the shell all over.

Proper egg cup form…

When the shell pulls away a little, you’ve shaken enough.

I then peel with the side of my thumb, but sometimes it’s so loose, I can actually push the egg out.

Then I rinse the egg in the ice bath so there’s no shell left and pop it in the container.

Perfect egg. Perfectly cooked?

Oh yeah!

10 Great Movies if You Loved The Post

A few days ago we went to see The Post, the new Spielberg movie with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep.  It’s fantastic.  It got my wheels turning to try to define and highlight other movies of this caliber.

Here’s my poor attempt of explaining why these make my list: these movies are 1) great stories 2) beautifully set–many are period pieces and have worked crazy hard at capturing the dress, music, and cadence of speech of their time 3) well written 4) edited to perfection, in my humble opinion, and 5) full of endearing/memorable characters.

I’ll list these by their release year, they’re not in order of my favorites, that’s too hard for me.

  1. Calendar Girls (2003)MV5BMjE3NzcxMDU2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTgyNTc2._V1_

This is based on a true story of a women’s club in England raising funds by creating a topless calendar.  It’s not dirty, its really sweet and moving and hilarious.  I love Helen Mirren.  Also stars Julie Walters, Ciarán Hinds, and Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley from Downton)

2. Good Night, and Good Luck (2005)MV5BMTY0NzQ2NDg2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMzcwOTY2._V1_ (1)

Filmed entirely in black and white, this George Clooney directed movie tells the story of Edward R. Murrow challenging Senator Joseph McCarthy during The Red Scare, continuing to broadcast on TV while being threatened and accused himself of being communist.  Stars: David StrathairnGeorge ClooneyPatricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr., and Jeff Daniels.  Crazy good team of actors.

3. The Queen (2006)MV5BMTQ3NTMxODg1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjEyMjczMQ@@._V1_

Another Helen Mirren, she’s fabulous.  This movie follows the turmoil in England around the death of Princess Diana.  Michael Sheen plays Prime Minister Tony Blair.  I own this one.  It’s tense and beautiful.

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4. Leatherheads (2008)

This is another George Clooney movie.  It tells the story of the beginning of professional football.  It is perfectly cast, includes vintage looking photography throughout, and the music, uh.  I can’t handle how good this movie is.  Stars: George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, and my personal favorite Stephen Root (Jimmy James from News Radio).

5. Frost/Nixon (2008)

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David Frost, famous British TV host, interviews President Nixon after Watergate and his resignation.  This is history I did not live through and so I was educated while watching.  Man, a lot happened during Nixon’s presidency.  I should read a book, I know, but these movies make it so accessible.  Michael Sheen is in this too, he’s up there with Helen Mirren when it comes to ability.

6. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008)

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This movie is set in London right before the beginning of WWII.  It’s a great romantic story based on a book by Winifred Watson.  The music in this movie is jazzy and the pace and cadence of the dialogue is dizzying.  It’s my favorite Amy Adams movie.  I own this one too.  Also stars: Frances McDormand, Cirian Hinds, Mark Strong, and Lee Pace.

7. Argo (2012)MV5BZWUyYzg3NGQtNzkxYi00ZjVlLTkzZDMtM2VhYmEyNzUxYWU3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc3MjUzNTI@._V1_

Okay, this you’ve heard of, and probably seen, but it’s history retold in a great way.  Yes, it is fictionalized (there were two CIA agents, not one) but it’s pretty close.  The intensity of this movie is almost overwhelming.

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8. Philomena (2013)

This movie is painful, but full of grace.  It’s a true story that will mark you.  It won all sorts of film makers awards, but so few people I know have seen it.  Stars: Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.

9. Chef (2014)

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We rewatched this movie two days ago.  We really need to own it.  Jon Favreau wrote, directed, and stars in this, and he invited his friends too: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansen, Sophia Vegera, Oliver Platt.  Seriously!  It’s not a period piece or anything.  It’s the story of a restaurant chef losing his job and starting over.  It’s really a family movie (meaning it’s about family, not meaning you should watch it with your kids.)  It has a lot of language, so if you don’t care for that then this is not the movie for you.

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10. Trumbo (2015)

I knew nothing about this movie.  I found it at the library and it had Helen Mirren in it, done and done.  This is another history movie, but it’s all about Hollywood.  It tells the story of screen writers who were blacklisted because of their political leanings.  One of my favorite movies of all time is written by Dalton Trumbo, and I didn’t know until watching this.  It stars Bryan CranstonDiane LaneHelen Mirren, and Louis C.K..  

 

There are a lot of repeats in the stars of these ten movies.  If I were producing a movie I’d want George Clooney, Jon Favreau, and Ben Affleck directing and it would star Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, Bryan Cranston, Cirian Hinds, and Robert Downey Jr.  Could you imagine!?!?

How about you?  What would be in your list?

Cubic Space Saver

When I pack our clothes and essentials for a trip, I’m always on the hunt for a more compact and usable container.

Packing in a laundry basket was fun for a while, but it’s unbending, and clothes need to be in a squish-able something to fit more in a trunk if needed.

I’m fitting all of my clothes and toiletries and my kids’ too in…

My collapsible soft-sided cooler. Likely you have one of these too.

Why?

1. Because a square shape is more shape saving than anything rounded.

2. I often need a cooler at sometime on a trip.

I unzip the liner for the cooler when I pack clothes, but I keep it in the trunk if we bring grocery items back, then I transfer our stuff into empty tote bags I keep folded small in the trunk.

So here goes…

My clothes (folded vertically) and toiletries bag

Layer One

Both kids’ clothes folded vertically.

Their toiletries bag…

Then there’s still room for books and games!

And it zips!

This was super handy last summer for our beach house vacation and we needed another cooler when we moved out. Also the world’s best bratwursts are made here in West-Central Missouri and we stock up on the way home. Just being prepared.

No Bowl Needed

Well, it’s happened. I’ve come to the end of my own clever ideas. At least for now. Thankfully I have clever friends who say and do blog-able things

This is Rachael.

Her abilities are too numerous to even begin to cover, but I’ll try. She cooks, crochets, sews faster than people on Project Runway and manages to raise kids and take care of other people’s too.

Today, however, we celebrate her teaching me how to turn a bag of chips into a self-standing bowl that keeps chips on the brim. No more hands digging in the bottom.

The play by play…

Yep, she seriously folded in the bottom corners and tucked in the bottom of the bag, continuing to roll it inside until the chips are on top and the bottom is so flat it stands up.

My brilliant friend doesn’t take credit, she said she got it from somewhere, but I got it from her and now so did you!