Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pinterest Things Even Lazy People Can Do: Mason Jar Cappuccino

I couldn't decide which blog this should go on, since it was a bit of a crossover post, but I finally settled on my regular blog. But this is totally a Crappy Housewife trick. Make a cappuccino in a mason jar with powdered milk!

Who is Jule Ann?: Sometimes I Run Out of Milk

Monday, May 19, 2014

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

Do you have this problem: You make coffee, and it's too hot to drink. Then [insert anything] happens, and when you go back to drink your coffee later, it's too cold? This happens to me almost every morning. And, yeah, there are some awesome products on the market that will cool your coffee down and/or keep your coffee warm, but, in the meantime, here's a morning-saving tip:

Make your coffee stronger.

Then, leave lots of room in the mug, and add lots of cold milk. The stronger the coffee, the more milk you can add without watering down the taste. (Lattes are 90% milk, and they still taste great. Why? Because espresso is really strong coffee!) Like magic, your coffee is drinking temperature right away! Now, quick, chug it down before [insert anything] happens again!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Crappy Housewife Tip of the Day

If you've ever made homemade dinner rolls, then you probably know that shaping the rolls is the most time-consuming part of the process. (Except for waiting for the dough to rise, but that doesn't really count, because you don't have to *do* anything. And I use a bread machine for almost all of my dough-making, so I don't have to do any of that pesky mixing or kneading, either.)

A few months ago, I was letting the kids help me shape some rolls, and I stumbled onto an accidental, awesome shortcut. I had used my dough cutter to chop the dough up into approximately the right size blobs, and was letting the kids shape them. They ran out of steam after a while, and starting just sticking the rough-cut blobs on the cookie sheet without doing anything more to them. I baked them, and the unshaped rolls were the best ones out of the whole batch!

So, this is my new roll-making technique: Cut dough in half. Then cut the halves in half. Then cut the halved halves in half again. Then, kinda lose track, but have the general idea in the back of your head that each remaining blob should become 3 or 4 smaller blobs, and just grab biggish-looking blobs and cut them in half until the blobs are all relatively the same size. "Relatively" being a very relative term. By which I mean, "There can be as much variety in size as there is among your relatives."

Does that make as little sense as I think it does? I should probably go to bed. But first, pictures!

I think the different shapes/sizes add to the character of the rolls. If you feel the need to justify their appearance, just call them "artisan" rolls. That's even fancier than boring uniform rolls!

Addendum: Before anyone complains that baking homemade rolls isn't a very Crappy Housewife-like thing to do, I have two things to say.

1. I like baking bread. It's so much better than store-bought, and my family loves it. I never said I was a crappy cook. Just someone who is always in search of a shortcut.

2. When you are home alone with two kids and realize that you are out of bread, and you look at the clock, and try to figure out if you can squeeze in a run to the store before the third kid's school bus gets here, sometimes, baking your own bread is the easy way out. Ten minutes to get everyone's shoes on, then get everyone buckled in, ten minutes to deal with some sort of last minute emergency (potty? nursing? injury? it could be anything!), unbuckle everyone at the store, strap a baby onto your back and a kid into a cart, find the bread you want to buy, remember a few other things you want to buy, stop to deal with some other emergency (diaper? potty? injury? tantrum?), check out, buckle everyone back into their seats, drive home, attempt to transfer car napper(s) to bed(s), fail, deal with ensuing meltdown(s), remember the perishables that you forgot in the car, rush to finish unloading the car before the kids get into something they shouldn't, clean up the mess they created when you didn't get there soon enough... Seriously. Three minutes of dumping ingredients in the bread machine bowl, plus two minutes of hacking dough into roll-ish shapes is so much easier.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pinterest Things That Even Lazy People Can Do: Water Table

We bought a membership to Longwood Gardens this year, and we've been at least four times already. It's a beautiful place to visit. And it's awesome for kids. Lots of water fountains and kid level water features that they are not only allowed, but ENCOURAGED to touch! There's even a sign by the water play area letting parents know that they will loan you a towel if you came unprepared for this level of awesomeness. (That might not be the exact wording.)

Somehow, I have survived 5 and a half years of parenthood without acquiring a water table. We have tried many lazy versions - dish tub on the floor, shallow basin on the craft table, kiddie pool in the middle of the kitchen - but none of them worked overly well. Watching John Wallace's utter joy as he splashed in the many toddler-level water tables at Longwood Gardens made me think that maybe it was time to find a slightly more permanent solution.

First, I went to Craigslist. But everything I found was selling for way more than I wanted to spend. Then I went to Pinterest, and, while I loved many of the ideas there, and may ultimately attempt some version of a basic PVC frame for a plastic tub, I wanted something quicker, cheaper, easier, and, let's face it, lazier.

So, I went to the hardware store. I bought two Rubbermaid tubs, one shallow, one deep. I stacked them in the store aisle to make sure that they would fit inside of each other.

Then I put some heavy stuff in the bottom of the big one. This is an optional step, but I didn't want my water table to be too top-heavy, or too easy to push off the edge of my porch into the garden. I used about 39 pounds of softener salt (which I only need a small amount of for my dishwasher, but only seems to come in 40 pound bags). I transferred the salt into gallon ziploc bags, so that we wouldn't end up with salt pellets everywhere, in case it did tip over after all.

Now, on to the hard part: Assembly. I'll break it down, step by step, so no one gets lost:

  1. Put some water in the shallower tub. (You only need to fill it about 1/3 of the way.)
  2. Put the shallower tub on top of the deeper tub.
  3. Put some toys or dishes or empty bottles in the water.
  4. Wait 59 more minutes for the child to wake up from their nap.
  5. Take adorable pictures!

This would also make an excellent sensory bin, but I don't recommend putting anything in your sensory bin that you are not prepared to be sweeping up from every corner of the house for the next few weeks. (Our sensory bin experiments ended with rainbow rice.)

And the best part of this water table? When you're done using it as a water table, it goes back to being two, sturdy storage bins. And what Crappy Housewife doesn't need more of those?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Pinterest Things That Even Lazy People Can Do: Phosphorescence!

Are all of your kids' friends are having cool parties with fancy decorations and carefully hand-crafted cupcakes and a pin the smile on the Mona Lisa? Hey, don't let the Pinterest Moms gets all the credit! You can throw a cool party, too!

Step One: Buy a black light. Or, if you're cheap as well as lazy, just buy some good quality black light bulbs (they have come a long way since my college days - now they actually work!). We got 3 of these ones and stuck them in one of those spider lamp things that points in a bunch of directions so we could adjust their glow.

Step Two: Black out all the windows of the room you want to party in. I used giant black contractor bags for this purpose. It worked beautifully.

Step Three: Tide! Did you know that plain old Tide (yes, the laundry detergent) glows under black light? I watered some down just a bit and put it in a water bottle with a sports top. Then I used it to splash hearts on a big curtain. Go for the Jackson Pollock effect - this is not for detailed drawings.

Tide Dyed Curtain

Step Four: Tonic Water! Okay, probably everyone knows that tonic water glows under black lights. But it's still cool! Here's a basic recipe for glowing lemonade:
Lemonade concentrate: 1 part lemon juice, 1 part sugar, 2 parts hot water (mix until sugar dissolves)
Mix 1 part concentrate with about 8 parts tonic water in a clear glass.
You could also just buy lemonade concentrate, but I didn't feel like going back out, so I used what I had on hand.

Step Five: Make the kids do the rest of the work! Just shine the black lights at your craft drawers and have them pick out everything that glows. Ditto for the Tupperware cupboard, the toy box, the recycle bin, etc. Then let them make random glowing decorations from what they found. Then give them a bowl of Tide and a paint brush and let them paint on the walls. It's just Tide, it will wash off! (Note: This is apparently not true for ceilings. Oops.)

Step Six: Switch your camera to manual mode so that you can actually take pictures. Hmm... This should probably have been Step One. Oh well, I got two sorta-almost-not-totally blurry shots...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pinterest Things That Even Lazy People Can Do: Banana Dolphin

So, I haven't had any new tips in a while, so I thought about adding a new feature to this blog. It should come as no surprise that I'm not much of a "Pinterest Mom". But every once in a while, something crosses my desktop that is simple, cool, and really, not much more effort than just cutting a banana in half that I was going to feed my daughter anyhow. Score! The most time-consuming part of this project was washing a knife, because I didn't have any clean ones.