Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Do You Do...?

What do you do when your spouse or significant other is away from home for a couple of days?  Recently, my husband went out of town for some C.L.E.E.T. classes (that's continuing education classes for Oklahoma law enforcement types).  He doesn't go out of town very often, so it is rare that I have an evening to myself - and even more rare for me to have two or three in a row. 

First on the list for each evening was getting home and letting out the dog, Leiua (pronounced "Lou-ya", and almost blasphemously short for Hallelujah).  Leiua is an American Pit Bull, and is the sweetest dog you will ever meet.  She is seven years old and has only growled once that I know of - not counting when she is chasing rabbits in her sleep.  She is a big clown and makes me laugh every day.  Leiua is not quite 60 pounds - a runt by most Pit Bull standards, but she still thinks she is a lap dog.  She is very docile and submissive - not at all like the media portrays Pit Bulls.  Leiua is the epitome of what American Pit Bulls used to be called - "America's Nanny Dogs".  She is not very protective, though.  Leiua thinks everyone is her friend and anyone that comes to the house is there to see and play with her.  It doesn't exactly strike fear into anyone's heart when she immediately rolls over to try and persuade them to scratch her belly.  The only thing lethal about Leiua is her tail.  That is a little whip that will bruise the heck out of your calves if you don't get out of her way when she is excited... or happy... or playful... or ornery...

[As an aside, I bet many of you didn't know that Helen Keller, who was blind, deaf, and unable to speak for most of her life, had a Pit Bull.  "Sir Thomas" was her companion for many years.  I bring this up only to illustrate that the viciousness of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes you always hear about in the media is a fairly new aberration and that fighting is not actually the Pit Bulls' true nature.]

Helen Keller and "Sir Thomas", her Pit Bull
Back to my story...  The first big question of each evening was, "What's for dinner?"  Since I didn't have to cook, I had planned to take full advantage of the many and varied restaurants in the greater Tulsa area.  Unfortunately, I had not counted on all my friends being too busy to go out to eat with me.  My evenings wound up being rather one-sided conversations with the dog about the various merits of the restaurants in our immediate area, whether or not they would freak out if my dining companion wore a floppy hat to cover her large ears and rather hairy facial features, whether or not I could actually get Leiua to wear the hat for any length of time (I could not), and, finally, which restaurants were fairly quick with take-out. 

"We are not amused."
The next question ultimately was, "Is there anything worth watching on television?"  With over 150 channels, you would think that surely there was.  I am sad to report there was not, which led to the subsequent question of, "What do we do now?"  Since I still couldn't get Leiua to wear the hat for any length of time, making a stealth community outing with her was impossible.  The first night, I resigned myself to remaining home.  I thought about going to the movies, since there is now, thankfully, a really nice theater just 3 1/2 miles from my house.  Unfortunately, they weren't showing anything that interested me, either.  I could have watched any number of DVDs, but making the choice of which one to pick was too tiring to even think about by that time.  I flipped through the channels for a couple of hours without finding anything very interesting.  (I long for the days when the History Channel actually showed historical shows and not endless hours of pickers and storage locker auctions.  And when did hoarders and addicts become art or entertainment, A&E?  But, I digress...)

The second night I decided to skip television all together and browsed my local Target after dinner.  I managed to pick up a few badly needed items, even if I didn't know how badly I needed them until I stumbled across them in the aisles. 

First off, was a new shower curtain, followed by a matching liner, and some pretty cool double-sided hooks (I hadn't ever seen those before).  The shower curtain that was in the master bath was ancient (read "bought the year we moved into this house") - one of those billowy, fabric ones with the fake valance and no liner that were so popular back then.  This shower curtain set has a tight waffle weave and lends a spa-type feel to the bath.  The liner has little square prisms all over, which reflect the light inside the shower.  The set even matches the wallpaper, which is surprising, and gives the bath a much needed update.  One of these days I'll strip off that wallpaper, but that is a big project for another day.

The next purchase I discovered to be a necessity was a new ironing board cover.  The old cover was falling apart.  Let me just say that I don't iron unless it is a dire emergency.  I am all about wash and wear.  When that fails, I use wrinkle releaser spray.  (By the way, if you buy wrinkle realeaser sprays, you are wasting your money.  I found a recipe on the internet years ago and have been making my own for just pennies a bottle.  Let me know if you want the recipe.)  ...back to ironing...  My husband is an ironer.  He learned to iron in the Army and has been going strong ever since.  He asked me to iron something once but didn't like the way I had done it, so he never asked again.  (And I was soooo happy sad, yeah, that's it, sad, not to have been more help to him in that area...)  In case you are wondering, this new cover has thick padding, is heat resistant, snagproof, and a pleasing lilac color - which goes with absolutely nothing in the room.  (Yes, my husband insists on keeping the ironing board up 24/7 in the bedroom.  Ugh.)

A few aisles over, I came upon some queen-size sheet sets that were in the Clearance section.  I really wanted a pink set (which my husband would have hated), but wound up buying what looked like a mustard-colored set, as it was on Super Clearance compared with the other sets.  You don't find 400-thread count, percale, allegedly wrinkle-free, queen-size sheet sets for $20 very often.  Lucky for me, when I got them home and on the bed, I realized the sheets were actually gold and an exact match for the comforter set.  BONUS!  (Sorry about the wrinkled sheets in the photo, but I didn't think about taking it until after I had already lounged for a bit... and now we know that the "wrinkle-free" promise was a lie.)

My final purchase was a charcoal-infused mattress pad with a silky, textured cover.  It is one of those "memory" foam pads and is really, really comfy - sort of like lying on a cloud of freshly ginned cotton.  Unfortunately, we can't get the mattress pad to stay in place.  There was nothing included in the box to affix it to the mattress and the sheets won't hold it still, hence the duct tape you see in the photo.  I tried that on the corners to keep it from sliding, but it didn't work.  I am sorry to report that it has become my daily chore to reposition the mattress pad every night.  It usually only moves a few inches while we are sleeping, but that is enough to keep us from having a good sleep the following night.  If anyone has any ideas as to how to get the mattress pad to stay in place, please let me know.

All in all, I was in Target for over three hours just wandering up and down the aisles - sometimes going over the same aisle several times.  I saw lots of other things I wanted, like office supplies (which I definitely do not need - I am already the Sticky Note Queen), and a really cool Hampton Forge Tomodachi cutlery block with six super-sharp, stainless steel coated knives in bright, rainbow-colored hues.  I really, really, really wanted that knife set, but just couldn't justify the expense.  I tried, believe me.  But seriously, aren't they just gorgeous?  I am a sucker for bright colors and sparkly things...  The knife block doesn't have the blade guards, but does have an additional four steak knives.  Maybe I can justify buying it another day...  sigh...
I finally paid for my merchandise and was rewarded with a coupon for a free soda from the Snack Bar.  That was good, and since it was so close to store closing, they even threw in a free bag of popcorn. 

When I got home, I unloaded everything, played with Leiua and ate my popcorn, before calling it a night and heading to bed.  My final night sans spouse, I hung the new shower curtain set, replaced the raggedy ironing board cover, and put the mattress pad and sheet set on the bed.  I felt a surge of accomplishment (which probably just shows how little it takes to excite me).  I couldn't wait to see my husband's reaction the next evening.  I waited with bated breath (well, almost).  Would he like the new spa-like look in the bath?  Would he revel in the luxurious, cocooning comfort of the new mattress pad and sheets?  Would he be happy the ironing board cover was well-padded and snug for a smoother ironing experience? 

I imagined he would relax against the bedding and his back pain would become non-existent thanks to the new mattress pad.  Surely, he would gush about how wonderful it felt and commend me for being the industrious and hard-working wife who catered to his needs.  Yeah... apparently, I imagined I was married to someone else...  If my husband noticed any of the changes, he didn't mention them.  Of course, that's not entirely a bad thing.  If he hadn't liked them, you can be sure I would have heard about it and back to the store they would have gone.  I would like to think that he just took the changes in stride and chose to keep the deliciousness of them to himself.  In reality, he probably really didn't notice them, and that's okay.  I know they are there and I am loving them.

So... what do YOU do when your spouse or significant other is away for a few days?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Easy Tip for Cleaning Scorched Pans

I can't recall where I first heard this tip for cleaning scorched pans, but thankfully I remembered it when the hubby began cooking more... cooking more, but not cleaning more.  His specialty appears to be scorched pans.

He never cleans them.  I tore up several steel wool scrubbing pads attacking the burned-on gunk.  Then I had a moment of clarity when this simple cleaning tip returned to the forefront of my mind.  It saved my sanity, not to mention my arm muscles.  Honestly, if I'm going to get tennis elbow, I want to have at least gotten it from actually playing tennis!  If you are even a little bit like me, you will be happy for this tip.  You don't even have to scrape the pan first!

1.  Add a small squirt of dish washing liquid to the pan.  (No specific brand required.)

2.  Add water to cover the scorched area, being sure to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2" or so.

3.  Set the pan on the burner and turn the heat up to High.

4.  Bring to a boil.

Allow to boil at a full roll at least one minute.

4.  Remove from heat using a hot pad, if necessary - don't burn yourself!  Rinse under running water.  Use a regular kitchen scrubbing pad to scrape away any bits of food left behind from the rinse.  A steel wool pad should not be needed.  You should still have plenty of soap in the pan, but if not, add a few drops more to ensure the pan is nice and clean.

Voila!  From scorched on food to nice and clean without having to use all that elbow grease!