Scrambled Eggs

Yes, scrambled eggs. Eggs are wonderful. They get a bad rap from a nutritional standpoint but remember the DA’s motto – In Moderato.

Treat eggs like, well, a treat. Treat eggs gently and well. The best eggs I have ever eaten were at the Hilton Hotel at the Rome Airport. I had been robbed in the Cinque Terra by a herd of young ladies, got back safely to Rome and just wanted a hot bath and a warm bed. The breakfast eggs sent me on my way home to the US with most pleasant memories. I’ve tried to duplicate them ever since.

After much research and testing, my scrambled eggs do best when I:

1) Preheat my skillet on gas mark 4.

2) Don’t use a lot of butter. Just enough to coat the pan.

3) Don’t overbeat the eggs. I think I read that from Julia Child.

4) Add just a pinch of salt to breakdown the protein. Per Larousse Gastronomique.

5) Don’t use a whisk. Just a fork. Not sure why except maybe the whisk aerates the mixture too much.

6) Cook slowly. Very slowly. Allow at least 10 minutes for good creamy eggs that are like a lumpy custard rather than dry curds. It takes a least six minutes, occasionally stirring the bottom of the pan with a fork for the eggs to start setting. Don’t rush the process. If you are in a hurry, don’t eat scrambled eggs.

7) Don’t use milk.

8) For a little extra tang, I disperse one teaspoon of cream cheese in small pieces in the eggs. But this is not always necessary.

Scrambled Eggs for One

Ingredients:

3 large eggs, preferable, cage free

1/8 tsp salt

Start heating your skillet at gas mark 4 which may be medium on an electric range. You will need to test your own range. I butter my skillet using an butter wrapping, placing it in the skillet and “painting” the butter around the skillet with brush.

Butter your pan quickly and remove

Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the salt. Gently stir the eggs in a bowl just until mixed and egg whites are incorporated – not stringy. You should not be able to lift egg white up and out of the mixture.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and let it set. If the edges started curling in and you are hearing a frying sound, your pan is too hot. Remove and allow to cool.

Every minute or so, GENTLY stir the bottom of the pan. Do not be vigorous. Allow at least 5-6 minutes for the eggs to begin to set. Don’t worry. The slower the creamer.

As the eggs begin to set, watch your skillet temperature. Continue to stir and begin to scrape and turn the eggs.

Your eggs should look like this:

Soft, luscious scrambled eggs.

OK, I agree. Three eggs are a lot. Split in half and save for another day. Just don’t reheat on High! Be gentle, reheat slowly in the microwave on level 2-3.

Enjoy! Happy eating!

My friend just made a worm bin!

My blogging friend posted this and I think this is awesome. I love making my own dirt with an indoor Naturemill and can’t wait to try add “worming” to my DA projects! Thank you!

Learn about nutrition with me!

I know.. this is KINDA unrelated…

But I have terrible, unloved city dirt (filled with glass…) and am trying to grow my own veggies. 

So in an effort to enrich my soil – and subsequently the carrots and beets I just planted and next years goodies – and then my own nutrition, I just made a DIY worm bin.

If you’re interested check how to here!

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The 12 Dynamic Laws of Domestic Administration

Whether you are an SDA (Single Domestic Adminsitrator) or a PDA (Partnered Domestic Administrator), managing a household tends to follow some basic tenets or laws. My DA laws are dynamic. According to Merriam – Webster, dynamic is marked by usual and continuous productive activity and change. I don’t know about you, but my DA duties are continually changing in scope and practice!  And who really wants to partake in unproductive activities? So here are my 12 Dynamic Laws of Domestic Administration.

1. Just like exercise equipment, you aren’t going to use the expensive electric ice cream maker if you have it covered with books, magazines and other clutter.

2. Creating meals from leftovers sometimes begets more leftovers. Embrace the creativity.

3. Even though we live in a land of plenty, it’s really NOT okay to waste food.

4. Self-interest is an acceptable core value as long as you put away some of the savings and give to others. Which leads us to:

Give to Grow.  Share and Care.  Create Compassionate Connections.

5. Just like trying to lose weight, the only way to know where your money goes is to log your expenses every day.

6. The only way to know how long it takes to do a task is to actually measure it. Really, your mind is not THAT good at estimating time.

7. Be kind to yourself. It’s OK to occasionally treat yourself with a special splurge.

8. The best way to take care of others is not to be a burden to others.  Manage yourself first.

9. Be honest with yourself. Do you really need five kinds of cheeses in the cheese bin at one time?

10. Domestic Administration is a job. Take a rest – exercise – sleep – and refresh your mind for the next spreadsheet and “to do” list.

11. Patience. Small wins.  Perseverance.  A better mousetrap.  All lead to a few nickels, dimes and quarters over a day.  A couple of dollars a day X 365  > $500.

12. Be green. Try at least. Do you really think the earth is going to last for your great-great grandchildren in 2100 at the rate we are using it up?

Thanks for stopping by and joining the DA Community!

Being a Kinder Customer

Part of Domestic Administrator duties include interacting with all kinds of customer reps, associates, or partners. They have a variety of titles but basically they are those individuals who are the front line face or voice of the company they represent. Sometimes it’s pleasant. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes the voice of the company is talking so fast I can’t understand them. Sometimes I am talking so fast, I get misunderstood. It’s a two way street.

Organizations are spending a lot of time and effort training their staff on customer service, scripting, and “leaning in” to the customer. They may create various mantras or beliefs that include some variation that the customer is always right. I’m not really sure of that. I’m not infallible. Am I right just because I have the money or credit to pay for an item?

I have been known to get a little impatient with service reps. I have leveraged my consumer power and asked for the supervisor or the manager and to keep going until I get a satisfactory answer. I hope I am nice most of the time but I know sometimes when I enter an establishment I am not always in the best of moods. When my parents passed away and I was working on the estate, I wasn’t exactly pleasant to creditors.

I’ve never worked at a drive-through window at McDonalds. I’ve never checked anyone out at Target or served a latte at Starbucks. I did manage the cash register at a thrift shop once and gained a quick appreciation for those behind the counter. It was much harder than I imagined and I realized I was better suited to be in the back of the shop sorting clothes or staying with my day job in healthcare dealing with sick, vulnerable patients and supporting health professionals in their role.

I decided several years ago to be a nicer, better consumer. I thought I was pretty nice but then the WIIFM gremlin would creep in occasionally, sit on my shoulder and whisper that I, as a consumer, am always right.  But, maybe I’m not always right. That maybe just getting what I thought I wanted or needed was the right thing. Where do we get the idea that just because we can walk with our wallet that we can beret others into submission?

I’ve witnessed some terrible interactions with customer service reps by customers. Reps are many times not paid much more than minimum wage, many work variable schedules, sometimes don’t receive 40 hours week and may be balancing a family, school and a personal life just like me. We expect them to handle every mood we throw at them including being rude and uncivil because we think we are paying them to do so.

I have found it much calmer to take a moment and encourage their work, compliment their smile, thank them for their efforts and look for something positive then internally criticize the service. If something goes wrong, gently identify the problem and collaborate with the person to correct.

I don’t believe people, in most cases, go to work to do a bad job. Some jobs are worse than others and can be challenging. Just for today:

Reset your expectation that every service interaction has to be fabulous and wonderful.

Remember the person on the other side of the counter is a human being just like yourself.

Choose and practice empathy if you have to work with a customer service rep in some capacity. Put yourself in their shoes.

If they do a good job, let them know with more than just a generic “thank you.”  Just as you may want your boss to give you specific feedback, be specific in your feedback to the rep. “You have a great smile. Thank you for sharing it.”

Just for today, try being a kinder customer.

The 5Ss of Cleaning a Refrigerator

Our 5s Fridge. A Work in Progress.

Fridges get cluttered. I’m not sure how five jars of mustard, four types of pickles, three containers of leftover beans and things I can’t take a picture of or describe get misplaced in the bowels of this appliance but they do and the clutter gets out of control. And basically, what you don’t see, you don’t use.

I have been focused on better food management after clearing out my parents’ two freezers and a fridge before moving my dad to an assisted living facility several years ago. One of the freezers was frozen shut and had to thaw out for about two weeks. Even then the door would not open with a crowbar. Somehow my husband and brother in law got it open and it was worth the effort. We found a bit of money wrapped in foil entitled “bacon.” Interesting choice of words.

Back to my fridge. I personally like to use some of the Performance Improvement techniques I learned in healthcare. For this, the 5 Ss of Lean work best: Sort, Straighten, Shine, Standardize and Sustain.

Sort – Combine, keep, share, or throw away. Have that deep discussion with yourself on if you are really ever going to use the Raspberry Swirl dessert topping ever again.

Straighten – This is the Mary Poppins mantra. “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Reassign spaces and areas in your fridge above and beyond fruit in the fruit drawer and butter in the side shelf.  If you are really detailed, create a fridge map or just list what should be where. We tend to keep breads (in Houston bread molds if you leave it out) and leftovers on the bottom shelf. It’s the go-to shelf first for lunches at home.

Shine – Wipe out the fridge. Clean every item before you put it back in the fridge. Every time you take something out of the fridge or put something in, take a few extra seconds to tidy and clean.

Standardize – Work practices for the first three Ss should be standardized. As an SDA (Single DA), you can create your own standards. A PDA (Partnered DA) may need to “inservice” the significant other and collaborate on this fourth S and the fifth S below.

Sustain – Let’s face it. This is the hard S. The fridge gremlin comes in during the night and will start messing with your design. To Sustain, you are continuously assessing the results of your work. You are looking for improvements to sustain a clean, less-cluttered, functional fridge.

My five tips for Sustaining:

1) Schedule in a monthly-or bi-monthly cleaning day on your household management calendar (HMC). I know you have one!

2) Inventory your fridge and freezer and date when you do so. I thought I inventoried a lot but the data showed only twice a year. I’ve sinced upped it to quarterly and put it on the HMC.

3) Create a par level for foods you use regularly such as eggs, milk, cheese, bread, etc.

4) Keep an ongoing list of foods you need to use up quickly such as leftovers or fruits with short shelf lifes like strawberries. Keep the list on the front of your fridge so you can mentally review possible “ingredients” for a leftover meal. Don’t rely on a container with refried black beans to emotionally entice you to eat it up. I noticed a significant reduction in our grocery list in doing this one action.

5) Take a moment to create a sense of contentment for being efficient, cost-conscious and an excellent DA!

Happy Cleaning!

14 Things I Wish I Had Told My Young Adult

Our oldest has left the nest for his first real job. He has worked some part time gigs going through school but this will be his first fulltime job in his field of choice. Regardless of where your young adult is heading, there are always things you wish you had told them. You may wish you had that special last moment like parents in the past sending young adults off into the prairie, to college, to the big city, immigrating to the US, going into the military or just heading off on their own for a global adventure.  I think we all want our kids to be accountable, successful and independent. We want to see them get along with others, do well in their jobs, truly enjoy their work, and have long employment life.

Where is your path leading you?

If I could “do-over” our last special moment it would include:

  1. I’m sorry. I wish it was different but life isn’t perfect. But, life is good.
  2. Dissatisfaction can be a motivator.
  3. We encouraged you to dream. Continue to dream big.  Dream jobs do come along but it may not be your first job. That’s OK.
  4. For the most part, bosses are doing the best they can. They aren’t perfect. Figure out a way to get along.
  5. Work helps you determine what you enjoy and don’t enjoy doing. Give everything a try.
  6. Organizations are trying hard to create better work environments for their employees. But you are still ultimately responsible for finding the joy in your work.
  7. Making connections and building relationships will help you just as much if not more than education in helping your career.
  8. You have strengths but use them properly. Identify and manage the “dark side” of strengths. Your strength could be critical thinking but don’t become a critic no one wants to be around.
  9. Everyone has barriers or constraints that can prevent them from success.  Try to find a way to grow outside of your comfort zone.
  10. Be kind even when you don’t feel like it.
  11. Remember people when you make decisions. Try to see things from the other side.
  12. Balance logic with empathy.
  13. The less than perfect job can build important skills and characteristics like patience, flexibility, adaptability, and cool stuff like idea generation and creativity.
  14. Difficulties and disappointments can make you bitter or better. Choose the latter.

Hugs.

Button, button. Where’s the button?

Buttons are not indestructible. They fall off. The clothing gremlins visit and break them in them  half. They need replacing.

My husband and I go to garage sales and thrift shops quite frequently.  He’s very tall and slender and a hard fit for clothing, especially dress shirts. He’s a 16 X 37 shirt. Custom shirts are expensive and lend themselves only to an annual or semi-annual treat. In the meantime, we find great designer shirts on our GS and thrift shop excursions. I’m always amazed at how many great, designer shirts that are missing a button make it to a donation pile somewhere. Lucky us!

As a long time sewer, I’ve noticed that buttons have gotten expensive – especially if you need just one. In addition, matching buttons to a ready-made shirt or pair of pants is a challenge. I can’t seem to find a good dress shirt button that even comes close to the original. Basic white or opaque buttons don’t have the same shape or curvature. Tortoise-types are the wrong color and would definitely stand out.

This may sound a bit Depression-era, but I find it best just to remove buttons from an older shirt or go to a thrift shop, buy a not so fabulous shirt, take off the buttons and put them on the better shirt.

Personal Investment:

Assuming you love the shirt, are committed to managing your expenses, and have basic white or beige thread, a needle and scissors, your investment is:

Time to go to the thrift shop but that can be scheduled with other errands.

Time to sew the shirt buttons on. This depends on how many you are replacing. It takes me 3 minutes per button to remove old and replace with new. I can do this while watching White Collar, Dancing with the Stars or Modern Family. A bit hard while watching the Olympics or the Tour de France…

OK, A bit of extra time if your mind has to process through putting non-Daniel Cremieux buttons on a  real Daniel Creimeux shirt. (I love his shirts!). Some people just can’t shake that off for some reason. The math helps me get over that quickly.

Money: Could be free if you are using an old shirt. Could be $5-$7 for the thrift shop shirt vs $35 – $50 or more for a better man’s dress shirt.

Yes, ready-made clothes are plentiful.

Yes, you can just donate the shirt and get the donation deduction and move on with a brand new replacement shirt.

Yes, you can say buying a new shirt is worth the time you save in working through this process.

Or, you can take a moment, think through what you can and cannot do, and perhaps choose to repair and save $25 or more through some simple steps and different decision making processes.

Don’t know how to sew on a button?  Visit: http://www.wikihow.com/Sew-a-Button

Happy sewing!

Dark Chocolate Almond Protein Bars

Honestly, I really find it hard to get more protein in my diet without the saturated fat. Yes, I have absolutely no problem eating leaner meat, low fat yogurt, egg whites and cheese. All kinds. I enjoy protein shakes but they get a little old and non-interesting after a while.

So here’s a recipe to share that I modified from Laura Scudder’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Trail Bars. I had a jar of almond butter I needed to use up and it worked quite well. I’m down to, oh heavens, 1/2 jar of almond butter.

Enjoy – but not too many!

Dark Chocolate Protein Bars

3/4 cup Almond Butter

1/4 cup honey

5 tbl water

1 cup chocolate protein whey powder

3 cups granola cereal

1/2 c dark chocolate chips

Line a 8 X 8 square pain with foil and extend foil up sides of pan. Spray with non-stick spray.
Divide granola in to 1.0 cup and 2 cup amounts. Sprinkle 1/2 of 1.0 cup amount over bottom of pan.
Place almond butter and honey in a microwaves safe bowl and microwave on medium for 60 seconds. Stir. Microwave again on medium for 60 seconds. Stir until mixture is smooth.
Stir water and protein powder together until blended. Add protein powder mixture to almond butter mixture. Stir until smooth.
Stir in remaining 2.0 cups of granola and chips until evenly moistened. Mixture should be thick like cookie dough but not crumbly. It should not be “pourable” like cake bater. Some almond butters are thicker than others. If it is pourable, add a bit more granola cereal.
Spread or gently mash the mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of granola.
Chill one hour or until firm.
Cut into 20 bars.

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/recipes/dark-chocolate-almond-bars/#ixzz23eJCrfmL

More Staycation Tips – creating your environment

We learned some great things in our recent staycation experiment. First, both of us did better than expected in not letting the regular home environment interfere with “vacation.”  Second, it gave us an even greater perspective of “enough” – true contentment with what you have. Finally, pre-planning helped tremendously and although we only had a couple of days to design, any time you can give to creating the atmosphere and visually reinforcing the environment is tremendously helpful in mentally vacating from your chores and routine.

Some additional tips to creating your staycation environment –

Sleep in another bedroom. If you have an additional bedroom, set up vacation in that room. Create your favorite vacation experience with flowers, pillows, candles, scents, or whatever will provide you with sensory details to remind you of a vacation destination.

Create a video frame of your vacation favorites. My husband moved the video frame of several of our vacations to the second bedroom. One might think you might regret that you can’t take that big trip this year, but really, it makes you thankful you were able to go anywhere at all and relish in the memories of the trip.

Simple Pleasures. Use your leftover hotel products to reinforce your vacation or “away” mindset. Buy some special soaps or lotions that reflect the destination you are trying to create.

Use up you gift cards – whatever they are!  If you are a gift card saver, this is the time to use them up. Even if it is a shopping trip to Target.  

Visit your church bulletin sponsors. If you are wondering where to go, take a look at your church bulletin sponsors. The advertisers would appreciate the business and you are doing a good deed by supporting their sponsorship.  

Design your trip around a popular event.  Is it July and you can’t go see the Tour de France? Bring France to you. Watch the tour, enjoy some French wine. If you are cooking at home, set a Provence style cafe tabke and cook a French meal.  Or go out to a French restaurant.  Take a French cooking class or watch on Youtube. Buy some French products online and enjoy opening and using them. Use a map to “visit” a couple of popular cities, read up on the history, visit a museum with Impressionists works, or even go on line to learn historical details. Go for a bike ride. Order a French movie online.  Learn a couple of simple French phrases.

Create a wine or brewery tour – Mike’s a novice brewmaster so we always include a brewery tour or brewpub wherever we go. If you can’t go to a winery or brewery, bring it to your staycation.  Choose a region such as Colorado, California or the Northwest and design a tour with the brew, wine and some regional treats.

The important thing is separate from your routine, disconnect from chores, open and clear your mind of the ceaseless “listing” of things to do, quiet the voice that wants to critique, and just – enjoy the moment.

Let’s Talk Peaches

I love peaches but I think they are the most challenging of fruits to select and ripen.  You never know what you are going to get once they ripen. You can be anticipating perfect peaches for a pie and you may just wind up with a pile of tasteless mush.

I’ve learned just to stay away from the slightly green ones which I am sure some expert would disagree with me on. I like cling-free peaches just because they are easier to split and slice. Your peach, your choice.

Peach and Potato Partnership

I know the literature says put in a closed bag with an apples but apples aren’t exactly cheap. Unless it’s those sad apples in the store that have been in their own storage for the last six months.  I just hate to buy one fruit to ripen another. And then you have to remind yourself to buy an apple to ripen a peach or put it on the list.

How to improvise?  I spied a small red potato in the kitchen and thought I would try that. I seem to always have small “c” red potatoes so no extra purchase there. The ethylene charts indicate potatoes are slow emitters but I thought I would try them anyway.

It worked. After 3 days, my hard, yellow peaches turned into perfectly tender, yellow-red globes of lush.  The peel came off in nice thin layers opening up to a beautiful yellow, slick, juicy fruit.  Perfect, perfect, perfect.

I keep the same potato in the bag for weeks. Perhaps the ethylene collects in the bag. Not sure.  Regardless, I have used this technique all summer. It won’t correct a mealy peach. A mealy peach is a mealy peach and it happens in the “conditioning process.”

Let me know how this works for you!  Share your comment below!