Apples and Hours

My coworker/friend and I were comiserating over how exhausting it is to be a mom and work full-time outside the home, and how we struggle to find time to cram everything that has to get done into the nooks and crannies of the day.  Like how, this morning, I put my makeup on and fixed my hair during the oven pre-heating process and first 10 minutes of baking of Thor’s lunch (fish sticks…mmm!), then spent the last 10 minutes of baking, cleaning the kitchen and getting breakfast into him.  

A few minutes later, my friend calls out to me, “Hey!  Gwen Stefani has the same problem we do!”

“What’s that?” I asked.  Because I know Gwen Stefani is not struggling with trying find pants that fit nicely, or worrying about having to buy pantyhose for a corporate event.

“She has a hard time fitting in everything she needs to get done in a day–trying to balance work and motherhood.”

I burst out laughing because…nannies, housekeepers, personal assistants, and probably personal chefs.  And a husband who also has personal assistants.  Do you know how much more I could get done with a full-time housekeeper?  Because while my beloved (and oh, they are my Precious) Molly Maids* do a fantastic job of cleaning up what I have missed once a month, do you know how much time it would free up if I didn’t have to think about doing dishes?

But it’s relative.  I’m sure Gwennie (who is one of my favorite celebrities, and who is allowed to call me Laney) really does feel the struggle.  Her struggles are just different from mine.  Whereas my time away from Thor equals three apples per hour, her time away from her kids equals three thousand apples per hour.  But at the end of the day, no matter how many apples we have, we both just have 24 hours, and we’re both just trying to make time for our families, while staying on top of everything else that is expected of us.

Which is why, when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, instead of getting up and getting going, I went and got Thor out of his bed.  I brought him back into mine and gave him snuggles until 6:35.  Yes, my hair isn’t gorgeous today, and he’s had more inspired lunches, but he got a nice chunk of time knowing he was loved, wanted, and thought of.  I’ll take his smile over great hair any day.


*Hiring Molly Maids is the best thing I have ever done for myself and my family.  They are reasonably priced and do a great job.  Consider it!

Party On, Lane

Five months into the year, I finally kicked off my “entertain/socialize more” resolution from New Year with a little garden dessert party, which was very, very satisfying.  I know some really wonderful people, and I was happy to have so many of them gathered in one place.  I was also happy to feel like I could set up a good looking space for our dessert spread.

I showed you how I recovered my cafe table set for the party.  I recovered my patio dining table and chairs with a red-on-red tonal, print tablecloth by Paula Deen, also purchased at Ross for $4, and I used another $4 Paula Deen print as a tablecloth for a little card table, where we set up prizes and food.

I think things mixed and mismatched nicely.


For the party, I made brownies, mini-cupcakes, and soft pretzels.  My friend, Francine, made some amazing lemon sugar cookies, and we also had a cheese tray.  For drinks, we went through two pitchers of lemonade and some ginger ale, and those of us who imbibe had Birthday Cake cocktails:  1 part Cake flavored vodka, to 2 parts ginger ale, on the rocks.

Mini-angle food cupcake with chocolate icing (piped on with a ziplock bag that I cut the corner out of) topped with a mini-marshmallow.
And the mini-red velvet cake cupcake with cream cheese icing (same piping technique), topped with a stemmed, maraschino cherry. I based these off of one of my screen print designs. Food imitating art!
Cupcake Ninja! You can still order these, by the way. $25 for a tshirt. If you want one, contact me through


So, great party!  No one cried.  No one threw up.  No one salted the earth in front of my door.  And Thor got to play with my friend Emily’s delightful daughter, who is the teensiest, most adorable, fairy-pirate I know.

Here, Thor coaches MissA on her frisbee grip.

How To: Recover Patio Seat Cushions

When I married Bryan, I inherited this adorable cafe table and chairs.  B’s mom lovingly, and carefully painted it bright red, and covered the seats in red and white canvas for us, and it was truly a great set.  But, years in the sun faded out the canvas, and then a year in storage didn’t do much for the fabric.  It was high time to recover the seats, especially since I have a little party coming up this weekend.

I am neither as good at, nor as equipped to cover chair seats as my mother-in-law (who owns a staple gun! I admire this woman so much!), and I am also cheap.  Lucky for me, I grew up watching Todd Oldham on MTV’s House of Style, so I know all about faking fabulous.  He used to do these great episodes about recovering chairs with old sheets, hot glue, and buttons.  I thought about that after a couple of weeks worth of me hunting for what I wanted on the internet failed, and I decided to hit up Ross and see what I could find.

What I found were three great, vinyl tablecloths for $4 each.  Just enough to cover the cafe table chairs, and give some new life to my other patio dining table and chairs.  Along with a roll of duct tape that cost about $2, I can spruce it up nicely.  Tonight, I worked on the cafe table.  Tomorrow night I’ll hit the bigger set.

I started with this Waverly tablecloth. It was felt backed, so I thought that would give the covers a little longer life.


I plopped a seat cushion down in the corner of the tablecloth (60″x120″ sized rectangle), and started cutting as though I were wrapping a Christmas present.


Those of you who have received Christmas presents from me will not be surprised to find out that I used an obscene amount of tape to secure the cover. I pulled and tucked, and taped as I worked for a smooth top of the cushion, and sides that were flat enough to fit into the chair rims. Duct Tape. Is there nothing it can’t do?


The finished product looked like this.


Thor gave the newly revived seats two thumbs-up.


I had enough tablecloth left to cover the glass top of the table, which has become smokey over the years. I tucked the tablecloth into the table frame, then went to work cutting around the edges like it was a pie crust.


And now, for $6, my little table is ready for the party. And when it’s said and done, I won’t feel bad about having to recover it because I only spent $6.

Nice Work if You Can Get it

Neither B, nor I are good housekeepers. We’re both a little forgetful, and we both suffer from some tunnel vision, so we don’t always remember that there is a mess we aren’t seeing. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.

Since we’ve been in the new place, we’ve done very, very well (I have even continued to make the beds daily!) Laundry has taken over a bit, and so have my shoes, but I intend to get that sorted out today. But something else that has helped me is having gotten help. Since we’ve been here, I’ve managed to squirrel away enough every month (just about $80), to bring Molly Maids in once a month. B and I keep the big stuff in check, and they come in and do all the things that never occur to me–like baseboards and dusting. I love them. I have never met the ladies who clean my townhouse, but I love them like family.

We had also been dealing with a lot of stress about getting our house in shape to sell. Not only are we not good housekeepers, but we are not good at moving. Ha! Given that we moved from a packed out 1700 square foot home, into a 1001 square foot townhouse apartment, it meant getting rid of about 900 square feet of stuff. What to do???

We knew we were going to rent a dumpster (and thank you tacky neighbors for taking the open top dumpster we paid for as an invitation to throw away your old mattresses, meaning that we are dangerously close to overfull–please do not pile on top of it), but between each one of us rotating sick weekends, and both of us working full time, we couldn’t figure out when we would get it done. So, we hired temps.

They cleared everything in under 2 hours and did a fantastic job! We do have to pay for a minimum of 4 hours, but that’s still cheaper than the extra month of mortgage we’d be paying if it took us another 2 weeks before we could get started on it personally. It’s cheaper than a week of mortgage, actually. The dumpster cost more than the hired labor.

Not really sure what my point is other than this: If you can’t do it yourself, chances are, you can hire someone to do it for you. And if you are in a position to do so, I think it is worth the money. It also helps stimulate the economy and create work for people who might desperately need it.

So you see? My inability to clean up after myself is helping us come out of the recession! I am a recession buster!

And now I am going to go take a shower, because I spent 2 hours cleaning out the refrigerator/freezer that was accidentally turned off for a week. Full of food. It smelled like we had been storing heads in there! Thank God for Lysol.

Good Job, Lane

This is a new record for me, and I risk jinxing myself by writing it down here, but I’m going to go ahead and give myself a pat on the silly head. We have been in our new place for a full month now, and I have made my bed and cleaned my kitchen every day of it. That means I have done the full wipe down, and if anything other than a drinking glass or stirring spoon was left out of the dishwasher, I washed it by hand. As I’ve said before, I know housekeeping comes easily to some, but I am one of those who finds it mystifying and exhausting. And you know what? I am exhausted.

I suppose the plus is that on the weekends, I’m not looking around going, “Argh…I should really clean up this mess.” There isn’t a mess. Granted, I still have a few things to put away from our trip, and I haven’t figured out “homes” for another handful of items, but it’s clean in here, and I am wearily proud of myself.

Part of it is that I finally feel at home, and I want to keep it looking good. Part of it is that I have more time in the mornings, with Thor’s school schedule and my work schedule. Part of it is that B is committed to doing more to keep his end up. And, part of it is that Thor is old enough to self-contain his own tendency to string and strew.

Whatever the reasons, now I know I can do it.

If I could only learn to cook…