The Great Upstairs Scramble

In spite of not working much on the bathroom, we ARE working.  After moving Ethan into a "big" (twin-sized) bed, what little organization and order that was left upstairs completely fell apart.  Since we started seriously decluttering last year, I have a much lower tolerance for chaos.  I can deal with a few piles here and there, but the stuff-piled-everywhere-and-no-room-to-live types of clutter really get to me.  And my hormones are screaming that I need to get busy because I only have (at most) 13 weeks left before the new baby gets here.  So, I took a few days off of work, and we've been working to get the upstairs back in some kind of order.

 So far I've gone through everything in Ethan's soon-to-be room (formerly my office) and decluttered.  While we weren't able to move everything out due to space constraints, when we are done, only his bed, a dresser, a hope chest, and a bookcase will be in there.  I'll also probably move in a bin organizer and store a few toys and books in there.  I recently purged toys, so we don't have a lot, but I want some upstairs so I can put a gate over the stairwell and have him occupied in his room while I shower. 

 We've also painted.  His room is now light green, to coordinate with his Carter's Forest Friends/Tree Tops theme.  I bought the valances and flannel receiving blankets from the set, and my aunt turned them into an adorable quilt. 
New color!
I have 2 additional valances for the windows, and we'll get some kind of coordinating rug and maybe some decals for the wall.  I'm really excited with the way it's all coming together.

Ethan's current room will remain the nursery, no painting or modification necessary.  My aunt is making another quilt for Baby Girl, and we'll find coordinating curtains and a rug.  We'll just set the crib back up, and we'll be in business!

The best part is that once we're done with all this rearranging, painting, and organizing, the upstairs should be pretty much done!  If the weather is nice in the next few weeks, I'll supervise sealing, staining, and shellacking the woodwork, and maybe the hallway can get finished too  :)


I feel like, overall, we've settled into a pretty good rhythm with what we eat.  I still buy some things pre-made from the store, like crackers, cereal, some bread, and cheese.  But I've also learned to make many things myself, like pasta sauces, yogurt, many kinds of soup, pie crusts, and lots more.  I'm almost tempted to make a list of the things I make that "normal" people buy.  The past few times I've gone to the store, I hardly even ventured into the aisles, and I feel like people must look in my cart and wonder, "What do they EAT?" because there are rarely any ready-to-eat items there besides fruits and veggies. 

Because of our comfort with making rather than buying most foods, when I DO want something that's pre-made, I have an awful time selecting something.  Today I (or rather, Ethan) wanted to buy pickles.  I forgot them while I was at the market, and that turned out to be more problematic than I could have imagined.  I found myself in the condiment aisle at Meijer, staring at hundreds of jars of pickles that I just couldn't buy.  Every single jar had objectionable ingredients.  Vlasic, Mt. Olive, Claussen, and several "boutique" brands.  Dill pickles, Kosher spears, bread and butter, sweet gherkins.  Many varieties had corn syrup, and every last jar had artificial colors (yellow and blue) added.  I found a few lonely jars of organic pickles hidden in the middle, and finally selected Meijer Organics bread and butter chips.  I think there were all of three options for organic: relish, bread and butter chips, and dill spears. 

I know it's silly, because they're just pickles, but the whole experience depressed me.  Why should it be so hard to go into a store and find a product that you can be relatively certain is safe?  Why do pickles, a food that is already preserved by nature of being pickled/fermented, need preservatives?  Things like this are the very reason I started learning to make so many of my own foods, and overall I take great pride in making my own.  But there are days, like today, where it just makes me sad that I can't go into the store and find real food.

Although I'm still angry, I didn't come home and wallow.  I got busy and turned my $6 half-bushel of mixed seconds apples into 8.5 quarts of applesauce.  Then, for shits and giggles, I looked online at Walmart and found that a 48 oz jar of Great Value applesauce costs all of $1.97.  I haven't bought applesauce in so long, I didn't realize it was so cheap.  Of course, it also contains high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, cinnamon, and ascorbic acid (to protect color).  Approximate cost per ounce is $.04.  Santa Cruz organic applesauce, the only applesauce I could find that contained only apples, cost $.16/ounce.  Mine, while not organic, contained only apples and cinnamon and cost $.02/ounce + 2 hrs of my time (including processing).  The peace of mind from knowing where my food came from and exactly what's in it?  Priceless.

Pickles are definitely on my list of new things to learn to make this year...



Between one thing and another (was I this exhausted at 25 weeks when I was pregnant with Ethan?), it seems like I'm either too tired to do anything, or so busy I can't keep my head on straight.  Eesh.  Here's a quick little update on what we've been doing:
  • transitioning Ethan to a "big boy bed", AKA a twin mattress on the floor.  Overall it is going well, but he likes/wants/needs someone to lay with him for a few minutes to help him settle down.  We've been transitioning to shorter and shorter times, but putting him to bed is a bit more time-consuming.
  • Cooking!  In the past few weeks, I've tried a lot of new recipes, including fajitas, quesadillas, Mexican rice, refried beans, wheat bran muffins, and yogurt.  I think the yogurt deserves its own post, so more on that later.  But we've managed to only eat out twice in the past two weeks, which is a huge accomplishment.  It's been time-consuming to pack myself 2 small meals to eat at work, Ethan's lunch to eat at his "grandparents", plus remembering to make my mocha so I don't wind up at Starbucks.  No wonder I'm tired.
  • Organizing.  Well, trying.  *sigh*  I'm almost at the point where I want to donate the contents of my house to Goodwill and start over.  How is it that junk just seems to multiply exponentially?!
  • Cleaning.  All that cooking = more cleaning.  There was one day I ran the dishwasher 3 times, just to keep up with all the cooking and baking.  Crazy.  I'm not a huge gadget person, but I am so grateful to whoever invented the modern dishwasher!