Monday, June 28, 2010

Dr. Pepper Ribs

We made these ribs for Father's Day for my Dad who is an excellent grill master himself. I was a little nervous to be honest. The recipe was passed along to us by our friend Kenny (thanks buddy!). We were so impressed with ourselves (and so was my Dad!), that I just had to share! We will definitely make again!

What You'll Need:

  • Ribs
  • 2 liter Dr. Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • Chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

How to Make It:
  1. Place the ribs in a large baking dish. Pour in Dr. Pepper to cover them, reserving at least 1/2 cup for the sauce. Add the salt and soak the ribs in the fridge overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 350. Remove the ribs from the liquid, dry them, and rub with the chili powder. Place them on a baking dish, add 1 cup of water, and cover tightly with foil. Cook for 2 hours, until the meat nearly falls off the bone.
  3. For the barbeque sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and garlic until they're soft and fragrant, and add the ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar, cayenne, and 1/2 cup of Dr. Pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
  4. Fire up the grill, and brush the ribs with the sauce. When the grill is hot, cook them bone side down on a cooler part for 10 to 15 minutes. Flip them and cook until lightly charred and smoky. Remove, and brush on more sauce.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Progress Report – Routines

I have been practicing my routines for a week now and I have noticed that my house is staying more orderly. There are some things that I have been doing religiously with very little effort. There are other things that I have been skipping. Some because they do not need to be done and some because I just can’t bring myself to do them. Here’s a rundown of what’s working very well and what still needs tweaking:

Already a habit

Morning: Make coffee (didn’t have to twist my arm too hard), empty dishwasher/put away dishes, Eat breakfast, and the getting ready stuff.

Evening: Clean out car (one day I forgot an empty Diet Pepsi can), sort car stuff, Make dinner, Open mail, and pack gym bag

Have done, but have also skipped

Morning: Vitamin (I only remembered it once), Quiet time and prayer, and Weekday chores

Evening: Doing dishes, scrubbing sink (I couldn’t scrub the sink on the days I didn’t do the dishes since it was full), Wipe stove and counters, weekday chore, checking on my to do lists

Skipped but it didn’t need to be done

Morning: Laundry (Some mornings there was not enough to start a load) and Water plants (it rained all week last week and I only have outdoor plants)

Evening: Changing Laundry loads, Run dishwasher, and Setting out tomorrows dinner (we ate some leftovers)

Just plain didn’t do it!

Morning: Making to do lists (I keep waiting to do this at work. Shame, shame) and abs workout (anyone surprised? Ha!).

Evening: Pack lunches (I kept leaving it until the morning), Fold laundry (I didn’t do this even once. Laundry is my arch nemesis), and layout clothes for next day (I couldn’t bring myself to do it – I didn’t care yet)

So, you can see this is a work in progress. There are some things I just need to buckle down and do and some things I may adjust. For instance, I was thinking of maybe getting showered and dressed sooner in my morning routine so I feel more awake. We’ll see. I am going to work on it this week. I already half failed this morning. I did not put away the dry dishes, have my quiet time, do abs, water plants, or make to do lists. Tomorrow morning I am going to try an adjusted schedule and see if it gets me going better!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Morning Routine

Now for the dreaded morning routine…It’s really not that bad, but I am not a morning person AT ALL! I used to wake up in exactly enough time to brush teeth, shower, dry hair (very minimal styling), dress, put on makeup, grab something to eat while running out of the house, and make it to the office 5 minutes late. I then digressed to even skipping the makeup (sorry co-workers) for a time. All in all I only needed 20-30 minutes to get out the door. That kind of rushing around gets kind of old though. Plus with my new undertaking of becoming a housekeeping rock star, I have found that the mornings are also a good time to be a little productive. So, without further ado, the morning routine:

  • Start/switch laundry loads – on your way downstairs or to the kitchen switch the laundry loads you started last night
  • Make coffee
  • Empty dishwasher / put away dry dishes – if you put these dishes away now your dishwasher sink will be ready this evening for more dirty dishes
  • Eat breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day
  • Vitamins – taking my vitamin regularly is also an area where I have failed. I put them by my coffee pot to try and remember to suck one down when I have a drink in my hand
  • Quiet time / bible study – My pastor always says to give God the first part of your day! OK! So I gave some time to chores and coffee first, but this is the first thing I really turn my brain on for.
  • Make / review to-do lists for the day
  • Abs workout – this will probably get skipped some mornings, but we’re dreaming big here people!
  • Water plants
  • Weekday chore –sometimes you will not have a chore in the morning and the evening
  • Clean breakfast dishes
  • Shower
  • Get dressedHair / makeup
  • Tidy bathroom
  • Change laundry loads – keep that laundry moving!
  • Grab gym bag
  • Grab packed lunch and head to work!

That’s it! I have to get up an hour and a half earlier, but it feels good to start your day being productive (once you get used to less sleep that is).

The Evening Routine

I will start with explaining my evening routine. The routines are designed to become habit and include your daily chores. I am starting with the evening because it sort of sets you up for the next day and your morning routine.

  • Bring in everything from car – I tend to leave fast food trash, coffee cup, etc in my car for weeks if I don’t make a point to get it out!
  • Sort car junk – dirty dishes to the dishwasher, trash to the can, drugstore purchases to the stairs to be brought up with you…stuff like that.
  • Go upstairs (I know we don’t all have stairs) to put gym bag, purse, etc in their places.
  • Change/start laundry loads
  • Make dinner
  • Open/sort mail – file papers
  • Pack lunches for next day
  • Eat dinner! YUM!
  • Do dishes / run dishwasher
  • Wipe stove & counters
  • Scrub and polish sink – this is a tip from the FlyLady. She says her shiny sink every morning makes her happy. I say scrubbing all remnants of food bits out of it keeps it from stinking!
  • Tidy kitchen & living room areas (or hot spots – where ever you and your family spend the most time and therefore making messy)
  • Weekday chore – I will do the chore assigned to me on my calendar for this day.
  • Fold laundry – I have decided to try and do some laundry every day. It is so much easier to put away 1 load of laundry then 5. When it gets that big it looks daunting and I keep putting it off.
  • Pack gym bag for next day
  • Lay out clothes for next day. – seems silly but you won’t be pondering your closet in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door or pick something out just to find it needs ironing.
  • Get ready for bed (whatever you do)
  • Change laundry loads again – I aim to keep laundry going constantly!
  • Check to-do lists – see what you accomplished, see what you missed
  • Relax – read a book; watch T.V. or just crash and go to sleep (my personal favorite)
This might seem painfully explicit, but I am looking for little victories here too. Yay! I opened the mail!! Check! Yay! I ate dinner (like I was going to forget). CHECK! In addition to the feeling of accomplishment you get from crossing something off your list, spelling it out like this shows me when the things that I have to do (eat) will fit in with all this new productivity. For instance I specifically chose to put opening the mail after making dinner because there is a lull in time while dinner is cooking (unless you brought home pizza). I also realize some days these things can’t happen in this exact order, but doing it in the same order every day helps create habit (I hope). I am also leaving this plan up for revision. I may find serious flaws in my planning or that I forgot to include an important chore. I have this checklist in my iPhone for quick reference. You can’t just make the list you have to refer back to it often.

The Path To Domestic Excellence

When it comes to domestic skills I am pretty low on the totem pole. I am a pretty good cook, I can be pretty crafty (DIY's, small sewing projects etc), and my handyman skills are quite extensive. Basically I am good at everything that creates a mess. I am however, due to my innate procrastination and general disdain for physical labor, horrible at keeping the house clean. I could go so far as to blame this on my mother (I hope she never reads this!). Since she was such a meticulous housekeeper I barely had to lift a finger growing up. Oh we had chores, but we fought her tooth and nail every time we had to do them. Poor Mamma! So, after putting them off for so long or only doing 1 or 2 of my assigned chores, my mother’s OCD would kick in and she would do them herself. I was not a manipulative child by any means. Just lazy. So, my mother (and father btw) is a neat freak and therefore I am not. Interestingly enough, my mother’s mother (Good ole Grandma) is also a little messy and an incessant pack rat. Do you think it goes back and forth between generations? Just a little theory of mine.

Anyway…back to me sucking at life. I can not get it in my routine to do the dishes every day, put away the laundry after it’s washed, or keep up with basic household cleaning. It is just not part of my life. I am a married woman now and for the first time in my life a homeowner. This house is my responsibility. For years my now husband has had someone come and clean his house every two weeks. She is a wonderful lady and excellent cleaner. However, her brain does not work like mine at all and after she comes there are always a handful of things that I can not find. She puts stuff in places that to me make no sense. I have better luck finding things if I look in the last place I think it should go. It is frustrating and expensive! It has to stop. So, now at the age of 25, I am ready to claim my household for my own! I will teach myself how to be a domestic goddess!

I have researched the internet for books on housekeeping, methods, schedules, etc. One of the most helpful sites I found was called FlyLady. I really like the way this lady thinks. I’ve mostly taken her method and modified it for my house. She suggests making “routines”. I have created morning and evening routines that include the daily chores and will hopefully train me to do these things by habit. I have also made a calendar for the month listing the weekly, monthly and seasonal chores I plan to tackle each month. It spaces it out and rotates chores so that it does not feel so overwhelming. After many attempt I have found out that you can not clean you entire house from top to bottom in one day (OK maybe some people can but not me). You can not let it build up, it has to be managed daily.

I know I am not alone in this struggle and do not mind sharing with others if it helps them grow too. I am praying for the spirit to keep this up. My lazy side is going to going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming through this every day, but it can (and will be done). I will let you know how it goes!