Mom was right.

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It’s about 10:00 am, and while I’ve been out of bed since about 5:30 am, I am not yet dressed, and that’s my breakfast in the Ninja cup on the table.  So what exactly have I been doing for the last four and a half hours of my life?

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I didn’t take this sweaty selfie this morning because I didn’t know I was going to writing about this, but it’s accurate anyway.  Each morning it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to wake up.  During this time it is best if no one asks me any questions or expects me not to walk into any walls or furniture.  I don’t drink coffee, and I have to wake up on my own.  It means brushing my teeth, putting on my workout clothes, drinking some water, making my bed and perusing social media for a few minutes.  This morning I also threw in a load of towels and put some clothes for handwashing to soak in the sink.

Then I work out for a little over an hour.  During part of my workout, I listen to talks from the recent LDS General Conference.  I like the idea of strengthening both my body and spirit at the same time.

Then I clean.  Years ago I followed FlyLady.net, and I learned a lot about cleaning and organizing from it.  Over the years I have modified what I learned from it to fit my own needs, and basically it comes down to dividing the house into sections and working on a section each day.  (I actually only do this Monday- Friday.)  Our house is generally not messy, so that’s never really been an issue, although we do have a problem with piles that I have to work on.  The biggest problem our house has is the details, but I find that if I commit a couple of hours each week to each section of the house, so many of those details get taken care of.  This morning it was the kitchen.  Appliances, backsplash and cabinets are all on the list, but don’t all get attention every week.  Oiling and rotating my coveted cutting board as well as cleaning the floors really well are a weekly task.

Then I make my breakfast, hit the shower, get fully dressed (my stint with Mary Kay years ago also taught me a thing or two), and hit emails, bills, and other to-do list items.  Which reminds me I need to do something.  I’ll be right back.

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I don’t especially like working out or cleaning, so I do it every day, first thing in the morning.  I really hate cleaning the shower, so I keep a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the shower and literally clean the shower every day while I am in there.

I’ve heard people say that you should begin your day doing things that get your creative juices flowing so that you feel energized and ready to face the day.  For me that is, as my Nanny would say, bunk.

In the past I have started my day by going straight to the studio, or by sitting down to write, or by cozying up with my latest yarn project while binge watching Netflix, all the while thinking, “Oh, I can wipe down the kitchen when I make dinner tonight.”

What.Ever.

I’ve learned the hard way that not only do I not wipe down the kitchen while I am making dinner, but I also like to snack a lot while I am “being creative,” and oh, I actually am remarkably less productive creatively while I have in the back of my mind the list of things I should actually be taking care of for the day.

When I choose creativity over responsibility, everyone loses.  It’s just the facts.  My family loses out on my undivided attention.  My body loses out on the attention it needs to function properly.  My spirit loses out on the joy of accomplishment.  My clients lose out because I am not efficient or dependable.  Even my projects lose out because I bring so much garbage to the table by not cleaning it up beforehand.

It may seem like I end up with a late start to the studio, because reality is that I rarely get there before noon anymore, but it is also very real that I am much more productive once I hit the studio doors than I ever was before.  I get the same amount of work done in an afternoon that I used to get done in a day, and it all goes back to putting everything in it’s proper place, both in space and in time.

I’d have to say that it really is true that it’s best for me to get my chores done first thing, even if it means I have to admit my mother was right.

Saving the pot…

I need my pots and pans to last me for as long as possible.  Mostly because I am pretty practical and just don’t want to spend money on pots if I don’t have to, but also because I want new when I move, not now.

So, I was pretty unhappy about this.

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One of our daughters got married this past summer, and at the end of the night we had 17 quart bags of BBQ pork left over, along with about 10 of macaroni and cheese, and 6 of sweet potatoes.  Of course it all totally fits into my regular nutritional life, so no problem eating it all, right?  Ummmm, no.  But every once in a while, I pull a bag of it out of the freezer and work it into a meal one way or another.  This time it was the sweet potatoes.  Oh, those sweet potatoes.  Oh, so much sugar.

And bad planning on my part.  I was being lazy, and I didn’t set them out to thaw.  I figured it would be fine and threw it in a pan on the stove with some water.  Then I started playing on my phone or watching the baseball game or knitting or whatever, and suddenly the scent of forgotten sweet potatoes started invading every part of our house.  Of course it was totally too late, and I had ruined the potatoes, and probably my pot.

I let it soak a couple of times, but the burned food wasn’t getting any softer, and I was running out of patience and elbow grease.  I started thinking about how when food is high in fat and it sticks to the bottom of the pan, all you really have to do is stick the hot pan under cold water and it pretty much comes right off.  The sweet potatoes had a lot more sugar than fat, although I’m sure they had plenty of fat in them as well, but the sugar was what made them burn so badly.  So, I thought I’d try something other than soaking.

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First I put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan, and set it on to boil.  Then I added a little butter to the water when it started boiling.

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I used my egg whisk (one of my favorite items from IKEA), to try to loosen some of the burned bits from the bottom.  Kind of like how I make gravy, only grosser.

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Then I added ice water.  Again similar to the gravy idea, the mix of fat and cold gets the bits off of the bottom of the pan.  I didn’t know if it would work, but it made sense to try.  It actually did start to work, and a goodly amount of the black started to come loose.

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But not all.  So I tried it again, but this time I used canola oil instead of butter.  I’m not sure if the oil works better than the butter, or if it just needed to be done twice, but it totally worked.

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A little bit oily, and just a few spots left that came off easily with a bit of scrubbing.  Saved for another day!

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