Saturday, January 29, 2011

Giveaway! It’s at the end so feel free to skim!

I have three resolutions for 2011. The first is to run two 10Ks. That one is progressing reasonably well considering it’s virtually impossible to run outside right now because of the ice and snow and darkness, but I did join the gym on Monday, so there’s that. The second is to email and call people more, and to turn non-phone friends into phone friends. This one is harder than you might think as I have a phone phobia. I know that phone phobias are disproportionably common among bloggers, but I am a person who, on numerous occasions, has introduced myself to strangers and set up play dates. I usually do this under semi-normal circumstances; for example, asking a mom I’ve been chatting with for a while at the park for her phone number. Or setting up something with the mom of one of Jack’s school friends. But a few weeks ago, I stopped a stranger on the street who was pushing a double jogging stroller. A total stranger! I had seen her around in the past and had wanted to meet her since she had kids, liked walking, and clearly lived nearby. So when I saw her walking on the same side of the street as me, I grabbed my chance and introduced myself. And it turned out great; she’s wonderful. We’ve already gotten together once and our kids get along AND she lives up the street from me AND AND is home during the day. So if our kids’ preschool schedules didn’t completely clash, we’d be able to hang out all the time!

So why, then, if I am willing to accost strangers on the street, am I afraid to call people I already know and like? I think it’s actually a dread of awkward silences. In person, you there are visual signals and things to look at or sip or hold if the conversation hits a lull. But on the phone there’s… nothing. There’s just the two of you, on the phone, waiting for someone to start talking. As a result, I have very few phone friends; friends I feel comfortable calling just to talk without a specific thing to talk about. But I need more phone friends, because I get very very lonely round about 3:00 on a day when I’ve spoken to no one over the age of four, and I need people to call! Thus, my resolution to just bite the bullet and call more people. It’s almost the end of January. Have I done this yet? Sort of. The other day I finally worked up the nerve to call one of my Twitter friends, but I got her voicemail. Half credit.

(Incidentally, here is a tip for those who would LOVE to make friends with other moms at the park, the library, or walking down the street but don’t know how: For the first get-together, suggest meeting at a park or somewhere else outside. This gives both of you an easy escape if one of you turns out to be crazy. You don’t even have to give them your address! You just need an email or phone number. And remember, most stay-at-home moms are dying to make friends with other stay-at-home moms. So your friendly advances will probably be most welcome. Imagine how you would feel if that mom you always see at the library asks for your phone number!)

The last resolution, and the most important for my mental health, is to find a place for every single thing in my house. Lately, any time I try to put something away or get something from a storage area, I feel as though clutter is raining down on my head. I can’t live like this. So from now on, if I cannot find a place for something, it has to go.

I like to think I’ve made a lot of progress on this one. I’ve cleaned out many drawers. I’ve removed the giant, counter space hog of a knife block from the newly-toddler-accessible counter and put the most commonly used knives in a holder on the wall. I’ve given away cookbooks, purses, bags, clothes, toys, and various other things that I am happy to see the last of. I’ve thrown out trash we’ve been storing for years.

I’ve done a lot, but there is still a long way to go. We have an enormous walk-up attic that is a disaster area. If I allow myself to think about it as a single job, I start to panic, because it is IMPOSSIBLE. The attic is walk-up, but not insulated, so there are about four weeks total out of the entire year in which it is neither too hot nor too cold and bearable to be up there for more than three minutes. This means it’s very easy to run up there and dump a pile of junk, but kind of tricky to sort through five years of accumulated junk to organize it. So my plan is to have a place for everything in this house, including everything in the attic, but I’m honestly afraid it can’t be done in a year.

But! Thinking about the attic today, a day when I cannot do anything about it, will do nothing but upset me. And so I present you with this: I am making myself spend at least fifteen minutes every day decluttering. Any efforts made towards decluttering count, whether it be looking up places that are willing to accept half-used cans of latex paint (local high school drama club) or packing up twenty half-used cans of latex paint to donate. (Why so many half-used cans? Because we are very bad at picking paint.)

And thus, we have arrived at the giveaway portion of today’s blog post. My fifteen minutes today includes selecting and photographing some cookbooks and enticing you, my blog readers, to comment in the hopes of winning them. If nobody wants them, I’ll freecycle them; the last batch of cookbooks were snapped right up. But I recently learned about shipping books cheaply via media mail, and I thought one of you might want a cookbook!

Here they are:


We’ve got The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody. An excellent resource for someone new to running his or her own kitchen. My mother gave this to me when I went to grad school, and I got a lot of use out of it, but I feel my skills have passed the point where this is useful.

The Taste of Home 1999 Annual is a good one. Taste of Home recipes are handy ones to have around because they’re all based around ingredients you have already. And they’re tasty. My favorite is the pumpkin pie, which I copied down.

Also shown are the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good and the Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies. I was thrilled to receive these books as gifts several years ago. THRILLED. And then I never opened them once.

Finally, we have 1973’s Good Housekeeping Cookbook. This one is… not so useful. Unless you want to make brains* and scrambled eggs? Oh, the seventies. How we miss you. I’ve only kept this one around only because I thought Andrew had sentimental attachment to it, but it turns out he doesn’t. So perhaps one of you has a vintage cookbook collection?

And, as an added bonus, the blue thing in that picture is a rubber placemat that suctions onto a table. It also has a little pocket that hangs off the end of the table to catch food. It’s an excellent product, and I used it all the time when Jack was a baby. Then we redid the kitchen and got a new table which has a wood grain that prevents the suction cups from sticking, so it became useless to us. Our misfortune is your gain!

If any of you who have actually stuck around long enough to read this far has any interest in any of the items pictured above, leave a comment telling me which one(s) you want. I will choose a winner on February 3 (my birthday) by picking a random number, but I’m willing to bet your odds will be excellent. Good luck!

*One pound of brains makes about four servings. Plan accordingly.


Swistle said...

I do not want to win the cookbooks (AHHHH TOO MANY COOKBOOKS!) but didn't want to let the post slip by without a comment on how funny the part about the attic was.

Diane said...

I LOVE that place mat. My goodness, but the two-year-old makes a mess when she eats. My luck, though, she'll end up putting her food in the pocket on purpose. I'm good on cookbooks, though. I've sort of abandoned mine in favor of the internet. The recipes in cookbooks don't have reviews! (Well, unless you count that they were good enough to make the cut in a cookbook.)

I love this idea of decluttering for 15 minutes a day. I keep waiting around for the nesting to kick in so I can get this place into shape. No sense in forcing myself before then, because then I won't have enough to do, right? RIGHT?

No, I probably should start right away. Sigh. There are about to be five of us in a three bedroom, one bathroom, 1100 sq. ft. house. With no garage or basement or attic (beyond the crawlspace which we Floridians CALL an attic, but is not actually an attic at all.)

Tracy said...

I've looked repeatedly at the Fix It and Forget It, so I'll say that I'd like that :-).

I'm also trying to declutter my home as much as possible this year. I've decided not to worry if it's not all done this year. I made this mess over a number of years, it's the biggest home I've owned, and it's just going to take home. I am trying to get 15 minutes a day during the week, and more on the weekend when I can get my husband to help. He loves getting rid of stuff, so that helps ;-).

Dr. Maureen said...

CONGRATULATIONS, SWISTLE! You have won ALL THE COOKBOOKS. I will pack them up and send them out TOMORROW. :)

Diane: Are you saying you want the placemat?

Jessica said...

I would love to have the fix it and forget it one...we almost never use our crockpot and I always SAY I want to change that, but don't.

Bailey said...

Decluttering FTW! I can't do it, I just end up moving piles, I swear. My girlfriend and I made a plan for next weekend though: I'll spend an hour sorting and boxing her stuff (we're both fixing to move, you see), then break for lunch, then she'll spend an hour at mine. Somebody else's stuff is always more interesting than your own.

I'm raising my hand for the Kitchen Survival Guide. I moved out at 15, and have been sort of stuck in a high schooler's eating mindset ever since. Which is fiiiiine, except apparently the baby doesn't LIKE salt and vinegar potato chips for breakfast. (Jk. Mostly.)

Rah said...

Having just de-cookbooked my own shelves, I'll pass on your offer.

See if your area has a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. They accept partially used, or leftover, building supplies, including paint, and resell them at deep discounts. You can sometimes get pretty neat second hand things there, like if you needed a dozen ceramic tiles, etc.

Jessica said...

Guess what! I was going through MY cookbooks today and discovered...the fix it and forget it cookbook. Obviously I use it all the time, since I didn't even know I owned it. Can I request the cookie one, instead?

Sleen said...

fellow phonaphobic checking in. I always think that the phone is going to ring in my friends' houses as they've just put their baby to sleep or something.

Heather R said...

I am one of your phone friends!! I feel so special:) You and one other friend are the only friends I have post-college that I can call on the phone just to talk! And you are the only one who is home during the day. I have one other friend from college I talk to sometimes but she works 3 days a week and my sister, but she works full time so when I call her I am bothering her. Oh-and I don't need any cookbooks, although the cookie one looks interesting. Oh, heck, I'll enter the contest for the cookie one!

Christy said...

I'd seen the place mat thingy in a catalog and I've wondered if it's any good at containing the uncontainable mess of a 1-year old. Alas, my husband is hounding me about MY cookbooks; if I got one more he might explode.

I am wondering if the footnote applies to both asterisks in the post? Maybe the reference to brains is some inside joke?

Dr. Maureen said...

Oops! First asterisk was a typo.

Krizzzz said...

I also have the Lora Brody book, and let's just say we don't need to talk about how recently I looked in it to find out how long to hard-boil an egg.

Annie said...

Half credit for you + half credit for me = full credit. FRIDAY!

In other news, I'm very envious of your ability to make friends with moms you meet outside. It's really a gift to be able to do that, you know.

jessica - Teachable Moments said...

Have you looked into all the resources in your town or other towns to meet other SAHMs? I used to take the girls to story time at the library and Barnes & Noble. Our town has an official playgroup as part of a parent education program. I know people who met there and have been friends for over 10 years. I was lucky when my girls were your kid's age my sister was 4 streets away. But when she moved I had to find a new support system. Being home with two small children is lonely and isolating - especially with the winter we are having. Keep plugging along. Look at local homeschooling groups - they are usually very active even in the winter and even through you are not homeschooling, you could still meet people that share many of your values and ideas......
Wish we were closer - I'd have you over for coffee at 3:00!