Monday, January 31, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday: Favorite Foods

I only have time for a quick MTM today.  I'm needing to clear up time later this week, so I'll be tackling three zones today as well as prepping some stuff for Cub Scouts tonight.

So: this week's MTM is themed Favorite foods.  I honestly don't think there's many foods that Chaos won't eat (wasabi, perhaps....) and Doc is getting to be just as exploratory with his food choices.  The differences in amounts that my boys will eat become very obvious here.  Just keep in mind that Chaos is 7, trapped in the body of a 10 year old athlete and Doc is only 2 and prefers to graze all day long.  These were made almost entirely of left-overs.  And yes, Chaos LOVES green veggies.

Left-Doc's dinner: apple wedges, peanut butter shimmer, turkey rolls, ear-shaped pasta with alfredo sauce, bunny cookies, bread stick.  Right- Chaos's dinner: tangerine, peanut butter shimmer, broccoli with asiago, apple wedges, bread stick, fettucine alfredo with spinach, turkey, fresh pineapple.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I Choose to Home School

     I went to a public school from Kindergarten through 10th grade.  I wasn't particularly happy there, but I was far from being as miserable as my overly dramatic memories tell me I was.  It was a good school- not great, but decent.  (My oldest daughter actually attends the same school.)  In fact, when I attended school, I was one of those pesky honors students that people talk about.  I was in the Gifted program.  I won the spelling bee.  I participated in debate and the drill team and all manner of academic competitions.  In fact, my 10th grade year I attended 10 days of school.  The rest of the time I was on some sort of field trip.  Despite my lack of attendance, I still made excellent grades.
Oh my.  I was such a dork in my Hard Rock Cafe shirt.  (Yeah, that's me on the end in the purple shirt.)  I wasn't very popular, but the two girls next to me were.  And we were stuck together--- no, literally.  The chick next to me and I shared EVERY class from 6th grade on and the other girl only had 4 classes different in six years.  The boy on the other end was also an honor's student and shared a ton of classes with me.

     I looked forward to Chaos's school days.  He could make friends.  I could host sleep-overs and backyard camp-outs for his little friends and him.  I could send in cookies and cupcakes.  I could join the PTA and do all the cool things for him that my Mom did for me when I was a kid.

     Public school district's Pre-K went as well as could be expected, considering I was very pregnant with Doc and was put on bed rest.  (I wasn't allowed to drive AT ALL.) Husbeastie was sent out of state on business and of course, a blizzard moved in that week.  His teacher was really nice about him missing class and actually offered to give him a ride to school.  Then, in April, we were evacuated from our rental home.  Once Hubby moved our belongings to a new rental, the kids and I returned and Chaos finished out pre-k with his friends.

    In Kindergarten, the trouble started.  I sent in a doctor's note that due to health concerns, Chaos would need to take a nap.  I talked to several people at the school and I was assured over and over again that all Kindergartners took naps and that they would meet every accommodation.  I went ahead and enrolled him.  Chaos was so excited to get to ride the school bus to school.  However, several days each week I was called to come pick him up due to behavior issues.  Chaos was growing wild and erratic every afternoon.   It always started after lunchtime.  I'd pick him up from school, him acting like a crazy hyper animal, and he'd fall asleep before we were even home.  When he'd wake up, he was a sweet little kid again.  It turned out that nap time was relevant to how much work the students finished.  On average, the students were given fifteen minutes to lay down and rest because the class would take too long to complete their work.  I talked to everyone in the school district I could about his need for a nap.  The end result was that they didn't have the man power available to allow him a longer nap.  I pulled him from school in October 09 and began the home schooling process.
A mosaic that Chaos made for an art assignment in September.  Can you see the fish?

    We're almost through with 1st Grade.  Home schooling an ADHD child is a bit of a challenge.  I have to play heavily into unschooling techniques and employ a lot of media learning to keep his mind focused.  There are subjects that make him cry- like reading and handwriting- but for the most part, he's realized that while the other kids are stuck at school all day waiting on everyone else to get finished, he gets to stay home, watch TV, and play with his brother--- and school work only takes as long as he wants it to take.  And yes, he still takes naps almost every day.
Taking advantage of getting out of the house.  This place mat was a restaurant freebie but gave a nice little lesson on Ancient Egypt.  Add in a big cup of cocoa, and he was a very happy little man that totally charmed the waitstaff.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Secrets of Zone Cleaning: Introduction

    I'm a cleaning queen.  I just happen to live in a perpetual mess.  At any given moment, my house looks like it's been hit by a bomb, a hurricane, an entire JV football team, and several groups of bachelor men that still rely on their Mamas to do their laundry---- all at the same time.  Outside of two nights each week (when my house is populated by bachelor males who have their Moms do their laundry) the primary occupants of my house are two little boys under 10.  My husband, I'll make this very clear right now, is exempt from ALL housework.  In fact, I'll go as far as to say that circumstances in our history make it very clear that he is BANNED from housework.  The only things I ask him to do is take the trash to the curb and try to change a diaper every now and then. 

     So, how's a Mama with fibromyalgia supposed to keep this place tidy without calling in the pros?  The secret is in zone cleaning. 

     I've tried so many cleaning systems out there- Fly Lady, chore charts, scheduling things on a calendar, checklists... none of them really work for us.  My life has to be very flexible, so schedules get tossed out the window.  Fly Lady assumes that ALL members of the house WANT a clean house.  So, in desperation, I made my own system up. 
Hmmm... That really does look like me.  Oddly frightening.  Except that I don't wear shoes when I clean.  Ever.

    For Zone Cleaning, you simply divide your home into zones.  In my house, I have four zones.  Four.  That's it.  Each day I deep clean a single zone.  The other zones only get what I call a "Health and Safety" sweep.  Let me break down the zones:

Zone 1: Bedrooms.  (ALL BEDROOMS)
Health and Safety Sweeps: ANYTHING HYGIENE OR SAFETY RELATED (load dishes, load washer/dryer, pick up toys on stairs or from pathways, take out trash, ...etc...)

     It sounds like a lot, but it's not.  At the moment, I follow the zones in order (1-4) on the days of Monday-Thursday.  Friday I keep open for errands and a general break.  All other areas such as lawn or car care I save for the weekend. 
     However, the true beauty of zone cleaning is that it's very flexible.  Have a dinner party scheduled for Monday?  Need to run errands on a Tuesday?  Change the zones around to adjust for YOUR lifestyle.
I'll even show you how to make an easy cleaning kit.

     Over the next few weeks, I'll go into detail about what it takes to clean each zone along with my hints, tips, and tricks.  The first time you clean a particular area, it might be an all day project.  But, I can easily say that by the time the third week rolls around, you will be done with your zone (and all the sweeps) in less than two hours.  After all, if I can take my home from the brink of utter destruction to tidy and calm, so can you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's For Lunch Wednesday #1

     I make a lot of bento lunches for the Husbeastie and Kidlets.  Around the internet I'd been noticing a trend of "What's For Lunch Wednesday", which is a link-up party hosted by

Bento Lunch
     Here are my bento submissions for "What's for Lunch Wednesday":

Plain bentos this week.  (I don't own any mini-cutters and didn't feel like hand-carving the usual decorations.)

Chaos's bento: Peanut Butter and turkey shimmer, fresh pineapple, cheese, and a blueberry cereal bar.  The box is a take-out box that I rescued after the last dinner delivery.  These are the perfect size for bentos and are my go-to boxes.

Doc's bento: fresh pineapple, a peanut butter shimmer, and a blueberry cereal bar.  This box is really a deep divided plate that has a lid.  It's the perfect size for toddler bentos since most of his food has to be either soft or bite sized.  If it doesn't fit in this box with the lid on, I know that I generally need to make it smaller so he doesn't choke.

Husbeasties bento: A turkey cheese sandwich with curry mayo on left over Italian bread, crackers and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, fresh pineapple, and a low-cal Chocolate pudding.

      Can you tell which of us skipped lunch yesterday?  I tried eating a piece of toast when I had time, but someone borrowed it from my plate and ate it while I was prepping his Dad's lunch.  It's ok, I ended up getting called out of the house for a meeting yesterday afternoon- at Tim Horton's.  Yeah.  I had mac and cheese and a mocha and I was a happy girl.  Even better, I got out of the house and got to chat with grown-ups for an hour. 

I Love You, You Make Me Sick...

     As far as I'm concerned, when I met Kyle that Thanksgiving evening 8 years ago, it was love at first sight.  Nah, just kidding.  There was definitely interest, but love?  I was recovering from divorce and a new husband was most certainly NOT in the plan.  I remember my first sight of him- I'd just gotten back from running an errand for the hostess.  I walked into their living room and there was this GUY sitting on a footstool reading a book.  He had long hair and was wearing all black baggy clothing.  Seriously... LOOOOOOOOOOONG hair.  I'm talking about down to his waist.  In passing, the host introduced as and tossed me a bag of chips.  I tried to make small talk but mostly got a lot of non-committal grunts in response.  Then I realized something very important; HE WAS IGNORING ME!

     Obviously, he didn't ignore me for long.  We began dating a month later and were married the very next Thanksgiving.  And since then, we've laughed a lot and developed a lot of inside jokes.

That brings me to my Valentine's decorations for this year:
I know, it's hardly the standard declaration of undying love.  However, that statement defines our entire marriage.

Can you tell I made the entire display from paper plates?  Yep, I spent all of five cents total.

      About two years after we were married, we moved north to Ohio.  On our first Valentine's Day there, the Husbeastie got very ill.  We had no medicine in the house.  I went outside and eyed the car.  It had been buried by a plow under a pile of snow that I couldn't shovel away.  I finally decided I'd walk four blocks to a gas station to pick up some medication.  I started out at 4pm, trudging through snow that was barely above my ankles.  By the time I made it back, two hours had passed and the snow was up to my armpits.  Even worse, the plows kept driving past me, tossing snow piles on top of me and burying me.  K recovered in a few days, but I developed a cough.  After three days of the cough, I walked a mile to the doctor's office.  I'd developed pneumonia. 
    By some odd coincidence, the incident and circumstances have replayed themselves every year since.  Valentine's Day.  Snow.  He gets sick.  I go get medicine.  I develop pneumonia.  And we always laugh about it.  He told me once that it was sweet that I was willing to get sick in an effort to help him.

   This year, though, I'm thinking smarter.  I stocked my pantry with chicken noodle soup, sport drinks, and medication.  There is NO WAY I'm leaving this house on Valentine's Day.  I'm crossing my fingers for a year without pneumonia.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Muffin Tin Monday: Big and Little, Short and Tall

Muffin Tin Monday at Her Cup Overfloweth

When I saw the theme for today's Muffin Tin Monday I just had to chuckle.  It described my boys perfectly.  One is big, the other is little.  One is tall, the other is short.
I should probably take a new picture of the cuteness.  This one is from last Spring.  Doc's definitely bigger now.

So, since this seems to parallel my own children, I HAD to participate.  (As an added plus, I found these cute muffin pans at Target's Dollar Spot!)  Here's my Muffin Tin Monday contribution:

Left side/Doc's Lunch: Big Peanut Bunny Sandwich, little bunny cookies, Tall Veggie Sticks, Short Veggie chips, Big Apple Circles, Small Radish Circles, Sippy cup of milk. Right side/Chaos's Lunch: Bologna Bunny and bunny cookies, veggie sticks and veggie chips, apple rings and sliced radishes, cranberry juice.  The small red heart has ranch dressing for dipping.

Isn't the bunny sandwich cute?  I found the little heart cup at Target's dollar spot as well.

I love how it's big white circles with red peels and little white circles with red peels.  And Doc is finally able to enjoy apples now that he's outgrown the allergy!  I've caught him stealing apples from the fruit bowl twice this weekend!

I love these bunny cookies from Annie's.  I've got to be certain to save some for my Year of the Rabbit bentos next week.

I've also been invited to post my first Muffin Tin Monday here:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Source of all Evil

     I've discovered a new addiction- blog hopping.  Blog hopping is seriously a gateway addiction.  It started out so innocently.  I was reading a blog that I normally read (there's only four or five in my usual rotation to read) and they were linking up a post to another blog on thrifty crafting.  I liked the idea presented and clicked on it to learn more.  I ended up really liking the things in the other blog so I added it to my rotation.  A few days into it, I realized they had added a little blog roll widget to their site.  I had about twenty minutes to kill so I started looking at some of the links.  When I finally looked up from my computer  (and wondered what that smell was), I realized that instead of 20 minutes, I'd been reading for 2 hours.  My pot roast was ruined.  After hiding the evidence (and quickly ordering a pizza and lighting all the scented candles in the house) I stared at my innocent pink netbook.

Did that thing seriously make me LOSE time?  Or did the aliens take me away again?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Found on the Internet: Easy Cheap Meals

All You Magazine is releasing a collection of 148 thrifty meal suggestions called ALL YOU Eat Well, Save Big.  

Each menu in this publication is designed to be made for less than $2.50 per person.  In my house that sort of saving can go pretty far.  You can preview 10 suggestions from this book by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bad Days are OK!

     I have fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain.
    Having fibromyalgia and kids at the same time is... well, "interesting" is the first word that comes to mind.  "Pain-filled" is a close second, though.  It's interesting because you never know, upon waking, what kind of day you will have.  And, to be completely honest, with small children in the house, it's completely irrelevant how YOUR day is going.  You have to keep pushing so that THEY can make it through the day with a good day.  Pain-filled is pretty self-explanatory.  I'm a hugger.  I hug my kids all the time... and it hurts to hug them most the time.

     I wake up each morning when my husband leaves the house.  As he pointed out, I've always been a bit of a morning person.  I listen to the kids playing in their room as I try to get my muscles moving.  Some mornings this might take two minutes; other mornings might take an hour or longer.  I systematically stretch each part of my body while I'm lying down- toes up to ankles, knees, back, neck, even my ears get some kind of movement applied to them.  Skipping even one part will result in a crash later in the day.  Sadly, this delay in my schedule makes my morning personality a lot less obvious. 

    My days run pretty smoothly for the most part.  It'll become obvious within the first hour I'm up as to how active I can be for the day.  For the most part, if it's a good day, I can function normally- even if a bit slower than I'd like.  If it's a bad day, it's like swimming upstream against a heavy current while yelling "OW!" under my breath the entire time.  I actually hobble when I walk.  I have to pick and choose what I spend my energy on.  If I'm going to make peanut butter sandwiches on the kids for lunch, I'll have to forgo loading a second load of laundry into the washer today.  If I'm going to pop a frozen casserole into the oven, I might as well not make the beds.  It's an exchange that I've learned to live with- even if I'm not entirely loving it.

     Then there are the children.  My kids know that "Mommy hurts".  They're pretty gentle when they hug me or lean against me.  They don't really understand why we can't go to the park every sunny day or don't understand why I can't play catch with them in the yard- but they do know that it's because "Mommy hurts."

     And the acceptance from my kids that I'm not going to be one of those Moms- you know, the "Super Moms" hurts more than the muscle pain does.  I really want to be a "Super Mom."

     But, more than anything, I want to be able to say, "It's ok that I've had a bad day today.  Tomorrow will be better."

Household Hint Wednesday: Opening Plastic Cases

Imagine it, you've just bought the cutest new toy for your child, a nifty kitchen gadget, or a new bottle of perfume.  But, before you can have fun with your new purchase, you've got to fight it out of it's hard plastic clam shell casing.

In the old days, I would have just grabbed a sharp knife or a heavy pair of scissors, but then I found a quicker way: my manual can opener.

photo courtesy of istock/Sean Locke

Slide the manual can opener over the edge of the clam shell, close tightly, and begin to turn the handle.  Depending on the thickness of the plastic, you should be open in one or two rounds. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Crack in a Jar

     Almost everyone has bought that chocolately, hazel-nutty goodness in a jar.  Admit it, you know the one I'm talking about.  You might be like I was, with bottles of the stuff hoarded in an upper cabinet (the cabinet the kids can't reach...) just waiting for a midnight snack for a well-deserving Mom.

     It's a rare treat for me, true, but then I made the mistake of putting some in my son's bento on graham crackers.  Sadly, my days of solo Nutella snacking were over- my small jar no longer lasts more than a week.  At over five bucks a pop, it was one of my more expensive treats.  So, I had to find a way to make my own. 
Sadly, I have no photos of my homemade goodness.  It really doesn't last long enough to be photographed.

Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

1 cup hazelnuts, shelled and cleaned
4 ounces milk chocolate chips, melted
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
a few drops vegetable oil 
pinch of salt

To clean the hazelnuts, shell them and wrap in a towel.  Rub briskly until all skins are removed.  Toast nuts either in a pan on the stove or under the broiler until just fragrant and lightly golden.

Using a smaller food processor (I prefer a mini-prep) or nut butter grinder, pulse the nuts until it begins to form a paste-like consistency. 

Add the melted chocolate, cocoa, sugar and vanilla. Continue to process until smooth and well-mixed.

Add vegetable oil, slowly, one drop at a time, and pulse to a smooth, spreadable consistency.  

Store in a tightly sealed glass jar in the fridge.  Will last approximately 3 weeks refrigerated (if it doesn't get eaten first!)

Tip: Hazelnuts can be pricey.  I typically pick mine up around the holidays from the bulk bins at the market.  Otherwise, you can order them from bulk food suppliers or find them in the bulk bins at some health food stores.

Delayed Again

There's not going to be a Tutorial Tuesday today.

What can I say?  Life intervened again and in the few spare moments I had to take photos, it was too dreary to get any light.  (And in this old cottage, the lights are just too dim for good photos.)

I am still gathering topic ideas for tutorials everyone would like to see.  I'm hoping for a break from this snowy weather to get one day of sunshine and photograph several tutorials at once.

And now to go pry the peanut butter jar out of my toddler's mouth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Own Little Neat Freak

On any given day in my house you can expect to find the following:
  • A stack of remote controls and game components on the couch
  • A stack of coupons waiting to be clipped
  • At least 3 dirty socks (I'm never certain why those only show up in odd numbers!)
  • Jackets on the floor
  • Shoes in really weird spots ("Why is there a shoe on the back of the toilet?")
  • Smushed graham crackers
  • A pencil, pen, crayon, or set of dice laying on the floor.

And yet, there's usually far more than that lying about.  It really is shameful and I don't like having a ton of guests over.

Chaos, although he's now 7, LOVES to play with Doc's toys.  Doc is 2.  You'd think we never gave Chaos toys as a baby as fascinated as he is with stacking rings, pretend cameras, and toddler video games. 

Doc, on the other hand, prefers his brother's toys.  HotWheels sets with loops and launchers are popular. 
Doc loves to play.

So, imagine my surprise today when I look over to the classroom area and watch Chaos struggling with his schoolwork.  (He declared it boring and therefore refuses to do it.)  Behind him, Doc is putting away Chaos's toys.  He'd pull one out, play with it, see another toy, put the first one away, then get out the second one.  He did this over and over.

Who is this strange, alien child? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Real Simple: 77 Surprising Expiration Dates

Be honest with me.  You have a jar of SOMETHING in the fridge that you bought a few years back, only used one teaspoon of, then set on the shelf waiting for it to magically use itself up.  (In my case, it's a jar of habanero honey mustard.  TASTES FANTASTIC...)

Real Simple recognized that most people are like this and put together a handy list of expiration dates for their readers. 

A handy keep-or-toss guide to 77 foods, beauty products, and household goods.

by Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith
Certain items in your house practically scream “toss me” when their prime has passed. That mysterious extra white layer on the Cheddar? A sure sign it needs to be put out of its misery. Chunky milk? Down the drain it goes.

But what about that jar of olives or Maraschino cherries that has resided in your refrigerator since before the birth of your kindergartner? Or the innumerable nonedibles lurking deep within your cabinets and closets: stockpiled shampoo and toothpaste, seldom-used silver polish? How do you know when their primes have passed?

With help from experts and product manufacturers, Real Simple has compiled a guide to expiration dates. These dates are offered as a rough guideline. The shelf lives of most products depend upon how you treat them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I WILL Wear a Slave Girl Bikini Someday

I'm such a Star Wars geek.  (Ok, I'm such a geek in general...)
However, until I lose the *ahem* pounds I need to fit into a Leia-esque slave girl bikini, I'd be ecstatic to be nomming away on pancakes like these:

photo courtesy of

There are no rules.

     I subscribe to a ton of email based newsletters.  I read some of them and think, "WOW... I really wish I could post that to my blog.  But, since that's not what my blog is about, I'm not gonna do it."

     You know what?  It just hit me last night that this was MY blog.  I can post whatever I want on it.    If I want to post a list of 10 time saving devices, I can do it.  If I want to post a picture of a cat eating a cheeseburger, I can do that to.  Who made the rules that declared that I have to blog a certain way or only stick to certain topics?

So, I'm making a promise to you, my readers:

If I find something I think is interesting or worth sharing, I'm going to share it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Content (or Lack Thereof)

You might have noticed that I'm missing a bit of content this week.

After battling a cold for several days, it's finally branched into bronchitis.  So, while I'm recovering, keep an eye out for next week's posts.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Coming Soon-Tutorial Tuesday

I had so many requests for tutorials that it was difficult to chose just one to focus on each week.  Requests for recipes, sewing hints, and general craftiness were met with upraised eyebrows.  I asked for suggestions, you delivered--- a LOT. 

So, check back on Tuesdays as I walk you through simple tutorials on common- yet often confusing- instructions

Friday, January 7, 2011

Search the Web and Earn

About two years ago, I stumbled across (which was in it's beta phase back then).

It was an interesting idea- you earn "bucks" for doing something you probably do constantly- search the internet.

It's legitimate, folks.  I use this about three or four times per day.  Even better, I've traded my "bucks" in for prizes in their Swag Store and actually gotten them.  My personal preference is to trade Swagbucks in for Amazon gift cards, but I know several people that trade it for $5 in deposited by PayPal.

So, if you're interested in getting something for doing almost nothing- sign up!  I have a referral link up on the right tool-bar.  I've never used it before, so I'm kind of excited to offer it up for others.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How Do I Explain Finality

The beginning of a year of possibilities hardly seems the place to talk about an ending.  Husbeastie's grandmother, our little Nannie, passed away on January 4th.

The end had been coming for a while.  We're saddened, but at the same time a bit relieved that she'll be free of pain and with her beloved Haw again.

While the Husbeastie is sad and withdrawn about it , not really wanting to talk about it (after all, his Nannie practically raised him)- Chaos is angry.  Chaos has faced death in our family before and isn't having a difficult time with the concept.  What he's angry about is that this time it's VERY personal.

When Chaos was a baby, we moved from Texas to Florida to live with MoMo (Hubby's Mom). After a while, Nannie came to live with all of us.  Every morning, Chaos and Nannie had "coffee" together at the dining room table.  (Ok, in reality, he had warm Ovaltine and she had coffee.)  He always helped her with things like finding her cane and carrying her purse.  Even later, after she moved into assisted living, he'd go and play Bingo with her and visit often.  Now, while he LOVES his MoMo, his Nannie has a special place in his heart.

So this is very personal.

(Doc, of course, hasn't spent much time with Nannie.  He just knows we're a little sad.)

I wondered how I should explain this to Chaos when he surprised me.
"Mommy, Nannie is dead."
"Yes, sweetie..."
"She was at the end of her days.  The sun went down and won't come up for her tomorrow, then, right?"
"That's right, dear..."
"We still have our memories, though."

My big man.  It seems strange that he explained the finality of it to me. 

We'll miss you Nannie. 

How Would You Like to Learn Something New?

This is a question for my blog readers:

How would you like to learn something new?  Perhaps there's a household skill you'd like to learn or a cooking technique you don't understand?

Ask me how to do anything, and I'll do my very best to provide you with a step-by-step, photographic instruction of the process.

Whether folding fitted sheets is your nemesis, or if you have trouble with the difference between a mince and a dice; I'm here to answer all your questions and make your life easier.

So, what would you like to learn?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Household Hint Wednesday: Polish Brass

It seems like every time I turn around, the brass kick plate on my front door needs polishing.  Weather, children, pets, boot prints... these all add up on the tarnishing.

After going to the store to check out some fancy brass cleaners, I finally decided to check my notes on cleaning supply tricks.  (I hate spending $8 for fifty cents worth of ingredients.)

The remedy to cleaning brass and copper- ketchup.


It's true.  I use a single packet of ketchup (picked up for free from a drive-through line) to keep my kick plate shiny.

Using a cloth, rub a generous coat of ketchup across your surface, let sit for five minutes, and wipe off with a cloth.  More stubborn tarnishing might take repeated applications, but it does work.

(And it's not just for kick plates!  Use it on any brass or copper surface: pots and pans, doorknobs, old gelatin molds, even mailbox numbers and doorbell casings!)