Saturday, July 24, 2010

Baby, It's Vile Outside (and not very pretty inside, either)

Oh I hate this weather. It's hot, humid, the heat index is about 110 degrees and relief is coming by way of weather in only the lower to mid nineties tomorrow, isn't that refreshing?

I hate wearing summer clothes. Only those who are slim and trim look decently presentable wearing tank tops or shorts. Fat chicks in tanks and shorts look preposterous. At least I do. As someone who likes to be as covered up as possible, I find the dog days of summer to be a clothing nightmare.

I hate my hair in the summer. Because of its length and thickness the only way I'm comfortable in hot weather is with it twisted into a knot on top of my head. And that gives me headaches. So I often just sweep it back into a low ponytail which gets very boring day after day after day.

And let's talk about makeup in the summer. I sweat profusely. I know, so very attractively feminine, yes? I have a constant sweat mustache from June to September and my entire face sweats so much I have to keep tissues or a handkerchief on hand at all times to avoid mopping my face on the front of my shirt. So you can imagine how easy it is to apply makeup and keep it on. I'm either red-faced from being overheated or blotchy from my makeup beading up and running off, showing patches of my red skin underneath.

Most of the time I just throw in the towel. I figure what's the point? I spend my summer days wearing trailer-trash tank tops and capri pants (I don't wear shorts) with my hair twisted into a knot on top of my head with a pencil stuck through it and no makeup covering my sweaty, blotchy, red face. Another reason to hibernate until cooler weather comes through! I just wish my poor husband didn't have to look at me during the summer!

And this is just about the kind of weather during which someone will decide it's a great time to plan some kind of outdoor or otherwise poorly ventilated gathering to invite me to. Which means not only having to endure being out in this kind of weather, but also having to wear clothes that look nice (translation=cover most of my body thereby driving the heat index way up), having to arrange my hair in a respectable manner (translation=down and loose and plastered around my face and neck also driving up the heat index) and having to apply makeup (translation=hopeless) all while behaving pleasantly and as if I'm happy to be there! I think summer gatherings should be banned unless the host/hostess is providing air conditioned options to his/her guests.

Every time I find myself wilting and melting under a tent at an outdoor barbecue in August or gasping through a wedding in an un-air-conditioned church in July, I being planning my revenge parties as a way of coping with my misery.

Revenge parties, you say? Glad you asked, my friend, glad you asked. I swear one of these days I am going to organize a large, outdoor party in the middle of February and invite everyone who has ever invited me to sit in their backyard in the middle of July or August. We'll do it just like a summer cookout: cooking, sitting, eating and talking outdoors the entire time. And I will provide the same kinds of protection against the elements that they provided me: a tent in case it snows and plenty of hot drinks. If those aren't enough and they're still cold, they'll have to fend for themselves. And, of course, I'll have the heat in the house turned off because I don't like paying for the extra gas. It'll be up to the individual guests to make sure they have gloves, hats, mittens and boots. It'll be great!

In the meantime, if you need me, I'll be sealed in my 70-degree house until September.

Friday, July 16, 2010


VBS week is officially over and I am worn out and wound tight so I'm decompressing a little by blogging. And my favorite thing to do with my blog when my brain is weary is post recipes. So here's a favorite I made this week. Hope you don't mind.

I made scones last night, two batches of them. I had two small events back to back to which I had to bring a dish. For one I needed a dessert and for the other a brunch dish. And for both I brought scones. That's just one of the things I love about them, they're so versatile!

I make them so often I could almost do it in my sleep (and, now, Redheaded Snippet can make them, too) and this time, I took photos.

I was all set with my ingredients and tools out, ready to get baking when I discovered that my last remaining liquid measuring cup is missing.

I don't know if this happens to you, but in my house, the darnedest things go missing and it just about makes me blow a gasket when they do.  I can understand when the phone, tv remote, or all the pencils in the house go missing; they're things we all use and things that tend to get used and left in odd places.  Well, okay, the tv remote shouldn't be used or left anywhere but very close to the tv, but anyway...

But when things that I know no one uses but me go missing, that makes me nuts.  I keep a ruler in one of the kitchen drawers.  It comes in very handy.  The children don't use rulers.  The Viking has a very manly tape measure and, thus, has no use for a small wooden ruler.  Yet it is constantly missing.

My kitchen tongs.  Okay, yes, once I caught The Viking using them to fish a dead frog out of Man-Cub's aquarium (and believe me I nearly had a coronary over that one--and bleached and scalded those tongs to near melting when he was done), but otherwise, no one else uses them.  And they still go missing on a regular basis.

My sunglasses.  Redheaded Snippet thinks my sunglasses are dorky.  The Viking and Man-Cub would have some serious explaining to do if they had any reason to be borrowing them.  But they disappear.

I know what you're thinking.  The only common denominator in all of these scenarios is me, right?  WRONG!  When it comes to my things, I leave them in the same places whenever I'm done with them.  It's a conspiracy, I tell you!

Anyway, I'm all ready to bake scones when I remember that my last remaining liquid measuring cup has gone missing and, of course, no one has claimed responsibility.  The first two were destroyed by my family and I had kept the last one in a closely guarded place but, alas, they discovered it.  It hasn't turned up anywhere and I have been left with no way to measure any liquids in the house.

This was the first tine I really needed to measure something since the disappearance and I was ready to panic!  I've been less than vigilant about the amount of cream I've put into these scones before and it really makes a difference!  The recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of cream and it means it!  No more, no less!  What was I to do?

Well, I scrounged through my entire kitchen looking for something, anything, that might help me measure 1 1/4 cups of cream when my eye fell on this item sitting on top of my fridge:

An old egg beater with...surprise...liquid measurements stamped on the side!  Yippee!  I was back in business and feeling like a genius!  So, on to the recipe!

Start with 2 cups flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. 

Dump 'em all in a large bowl and whisk 'em up to evenly distribute (or use your rubber scraper if you don't feel like washing extra utensils). 

Add the 1 1/4 cups heavy cream to the dry ingredients and stir in just enough to fully incorporate into a sticky, rather dry batter.

It should look like this.  That's it, no eggs, no shortening, no butter.  Just flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cream.  See?  Easy! 

Now, with your hands, knead the dough ever so gently, just enough to form it into a ball, so not really a proper knead at all but a few soft squeezes to get everything together.

Place the ball on a floured surface (I just put it directly on the island surface; it's engineered quartz and similar to marble in its smoothness and coolness) and gently press it into an 8-inch circle about 3/4 of an inch thick.  I confess, I never pay attention to how thick it is.  And I don't measure the diameter anymore, I just press it out until it looks big enough to cut into 8 wedges.

Cut into 8 wedges.  I've done 16 smaller scones before and you could probably do any number you wanted, but 8 makes 8 good-sized, hearty scones.

Transfer carefully to a parchment-lined cookie sheet (I did two batches yesterday so I used two sheets).  I really dislike working with parchment, but the recipe really doesn't work as well without it (you have to really watch the timing carefully as the bottoms will burn easily without it).

Brush each scone-to-be with milk or cream (I always use cream because I already have it out)...

Sprinkle with cinnamon (totally optional but I always do)...

Sprinkle with sugar (here I'm sifting confectioners sugar, but I usually just sprinkle table sugar on top)...

And bake at 425 degrees for 12-18 minutes.  I always check at 12 minutes and hover closely after that.  They're done when they're set on top but not yet browned.  And watch the bottoms; they'll turn on you if you aren't careful, even with the parchment!

We like these spread with clotted cream, lemon curd, jam (red plum, strawberry or apricot are my faves), or even Nutella, but they're good even with nothing.  And though they are good with a glass of cold milk, nothing is better with them than a cup or two of good, hot, strong tea!

Enjoy!  I'm off to bed!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Even With Sleep Deprivation It's Obvious

Ok, I'm on about 2 hours of sleep because I could not sleep last night for fretting over what we're going to do about Man-Cub's education come September.

Since I'm tired beyond measure I am going to try to be concise. But since I'm tired I may just be even worse at concise than I usually am. And that's bad.

We decided private school is the only option. We even found a school that has quite impressive academic standards. It offers its students a classical education. Like such as teaching them Latin, Greek, Geography, actual History (good-bye "social studies" whatever that is supposed to mean), actual Literature (ditto "reading" class) and other exciting things like Persuasive Writing, Debating and many other wonders I simply cannot remember because I'm trying not to fall asleep.

They cover American History in Kindergarten and First Grade, Ancient History in Second Grade, and Medieval History and Literature in Fourth Grade, including reading The Hobbit and Beowulf, works they would have to wait until high school to read in the public school, just to name some examples. Their required reading list blew me away.

The problem (and this is going to sound strange)? It's a Christian school. You may be confused. Aren't we Christians? Why, yes, yes we are. But, unfortunately, we have both had such negative experiences with Christian schools and the people/churches who run them that we more than a little prejudiced against them. I'm not saying it's right, just that that's the way it is.

And I think God may be trying to do some work on me in that area.

I had always said I would only put my kids in Christian school if there was absolutely no other option for them. I always meant that to show how strongly I felt against it. But, apparently, God took me at my word and took it very, very seriously. I now find myself in exactly the position of having no other option and the irony is killing me.

I've been working and re-working my resume and looking for jobs and applying so we can work out the financial obstacles. And we know God will provide if it is His will for Man-Cub to go to that school.

But the obstacle of our pride and prejudices (hey, that sounds like a book I'm kind of fond of) has actually been harder to overcome and God has had to, once again, use one of my children to get through my thick skull and hardened heart.

We assumed, based on what we know of his temperament, that Man-Cub would be absolutely horror-stricken at the idea of being pulled out of his school and put into a new one where he knows no one, has to get up earlier and has to wear a uniform complete with a tie! For that reason we decided we wouldn't breathe a word of our nefarious plans until it was a done deal. We've been skulking around here very cloak-and-dagger for weeks now, keeping it all from him!

Well, the other day he and The Viking got to talking. They were talking about school. Man-Cub began sharing his deepest, darkest secrets with his dad and told him just how much he hates school and why. By the end of the conversation our poor boy was begging his father to please let him be home-schooled. The Viking was pretty knocked sideways by that.

The next day, I brought it up with Man-Cub. I told him Dad had told me about the home-schooling request. And so we talked about it a little more. Man-Cub wouldn't get very specific with me (he confides in his dad more than he does me, which is exactly as it should be) but he did turn huge, moist, earnest eyes to me and plead with me not to send him back to that school!

I have been feeling a sense of urgency and desperation concerning getting Man-Cub out of that school for over a year now. But I was completely unprepared for seeing those same feelings mirrored in my sweet boy's eyes!

So I began sharing with him the things we've been mulling over. I got out the information on the school we'd like to send him to and showed it to him. As we talked, instead of getting more and more freaked out like we had expected, Man-Cub got more and more excited and animated! It was near miraculous!

I told him about Medieval History in Fourth Grade. He was ecstatic. I told him about them offering fencing as an extracurricular activity. He was amazed. I told him about more frequent field trips, more challenging assignments and smaller classes. His eyes lit up and he said, "You mean, I may actually get to share facts?!" His current class size makes student participation rather difficult.

Then I told him that they would also teach him Bible. And that's when God spoke through the mouth of my babe. I thought he might screw up his mouth and roll his eyes (after all, he gives me enough of a hard time about sitting through church on Sundays). But he slapped his hands down on the table, looked up at the ceiling and then closed his eyes and said, "I NEED. To go. To this school."

I was floored. And said so. And he explained, "Every time I say something about God at school, I have all these people getting on my case, saying, 'No, that's not true!' I HATE that!"

Before I could regain my power of speech, he came up with another burning question, "Will I get picked on by Eighth Graders?" Surprised again, I answered that I seriously doubted it. And that's when he brought me to tears.

He slumped back in his chair with a grin of relief and sighed, "Oh! Then I'll be able to take off my armor!"


His armor? My nine-year-old son goes to school every day wearing imaginary armor? I spluttered some more and he explained further, speaking very slowly as I was having way more difficulty understanding this than I should.

"Mom, I can't go to school without my armor. I can't be the same there as I am here. I'd get beat up!"


I mean, I was desperate enough to get him out of there after what Redheaded Snippet went through--I don't think it would be wise to go into details because there were minors involved, but I can say that our daughter was victimized and we had to go so far as to press charges and go to court and STILL the school would do NOTHING--but NOW, now that he's dropped these hints I can't imagine what is going on that I don't even know about and there is no longer any question that he must not return there!

Prejudices and bruised pride are no match for the safety and well-being of my child! So people will think I'm one of "those people" who sends my kids to Christian school, so what? So I have to get a job for the first time in 16 years to be able to pay for it, so what? I can't believe I am so proud and stubborn that I kept myself up all night last night fretting about this when it is painfully obvious to a child what needs to be done.

So now we just wait to see how God moves and how He chooses to provide.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Between the heat and the very important decision we have to make about Man-Cub's schooling in the Fall, I am deflated, flat and wilted.

So, I am posting about something completely unrelated and completely fluffy.

Flowers! Yippee!

See, we have these hydrangeas.  They're among my most favorite of flowers and the very first thing we did to the house, landscaping-wise, when we bought it was to plant this bush near the side entrance (the only one we use).

Hydrangeas are very tolerant of part-shade and are rather low-maintenance and seem to really, really like our soil.  As you can see, this bush has burst into bloom with a mighty vengeance this year!

All of the lower branches were so heavy laden, they were lying on the ground. That's what I was trying to capture in this photo, but I don't think I got what I was going for.  And I don't think you can see from any of these photos just how wilted and sad the blooms were starting to look.  It seemed to me that if I wanted to take advantage of my bounty and get some dried hydrangeas from my garden to display all over the place, I needed to act fast.

So I grabbed a basket (my smallest laundry basket, usually reserved for ironing) and my kitchen shears and began snipping away.  And even confining myself only to the best-looking blooms, I filled it to overflowing!

I then turned my attention to the less stupendous but still well-bloomed pink hydrangeas in the flower bed along the side of the house that really feels like the front.  The Viking loves that I am so fond of a shrub that is so easy to maintain so he gets me new ones whenever he can.  I think we have five or six now.  I love that man.

But, oh, these poor, pink dears are looking a mite peaked, no?  They looked rather worse than their neighboring blues, but I snipped away.

And my basket runneth over!  I wanted to reach deep down in there, grab armfuls of blooms and bury my face in them.  But I've seen how very buggy hydrangea stems and leaves are so another romantic fantasy was put on hold yet again.

And lest ye think I mercilessly hacked the shrubs to bits, leaving decimated skeletons to wilt in shame the rest of the Summer, behold how I left them!  The blues...

And the pinks...

See?  You'd never know I was there, would you?

I left this basket sitting on the dining table for only a few hours, though part of me just wanted to leave it there forever.  I would love a basket, though maybe a shorter one that wouldn't obstruct views of your dining companions at dinner, overflowing with dried hydrangeas on the dining table.  But the purpose of this little forage into the shrubberies was to dry the flowers for more prolonged use.  So I dug out all my vases, pitchers, jars and anything else that could hold flowers, filled 'em all up, and set them out on the table to dry!

It was pretty odd.  Redheaded Snippet stopped dead upon entering the dining room right after I'd finished and asked, "What's with the shrine?"

Now, I didn't get a good "group" shot and I must warn you that most of these photos are of terrible quality (apparently I am quite incapable of holding still while pushing buttons), but I think you'll get the general idea.


Oh dear.

How sad.

How very sad.

How violently blue...and sad.

These kind of made it...

As did these, a bunch I cut weeks ago and (obviously) put into water.

So, suffice it to say that The Great Hydrangea Harvest was somewhat disappointing.  I managed to salvage one good vase full of them, which seems quite a poor percentage, but I'm thankful for what I got.  And now the blooms left on the bushes are wilting beyond belief along with those in gardens all over town (except for those belonging to my friend/neighbor whose blooms are luxuriously gorgeous and lush--I must learn her secrets)!

So much for my dreams of a year-round bower of dried hydrangeas.  Maybe next year...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

You win some, you lose some

The past few days have been somewhat of a mixed bag. And since I simply don't have the energy to act like I'm hugely successful as a wife/mother/housekeeper all the time, I feel it's only right to share both the good and the bad.

This week, I've enlisted the help of the children in getting and keeping the house clean. All the beds in the house have been made every day this week, bedrooms have been tidy the entire week and the rest of the house has been tidy enough so that anyone could have dropped by at any given moment without sending us scurrying around shoving things under the sofa or into the laundry room (not that we've ever done that, I'm just sayin'...)! It's gone so well that the past two days, it has taken the children merely 10 minutes to complete their Morning Chores!


On a similar note, we also cleaned the powder room and half of the living room as they have never been cleaned before. I'm talking moving furniture away from the walls, getting out the vacuum cleaner attachments and an old toothbrush for detail work, wiping down the walls, and scrubbing every inch of the bathroom floor the old fashioned way: on my hands and knees with a scrub brush. The Viking got into the spirit of the thing, too, and painted the powder room window for me!


As I mentioned, I only got half of the living room cleaned. The rest is tidy and looks presentable, but I know what is lurking behind and underneath the rest of the furniture. I know I'm not supposed to be worrying about perfection, but it's going to feel lopsided to me until I just get it done!


Wednesday was Redheaded Snippet's birthday (she's 15 now, I can't believe it) and tonight was her "party" (I use the term loosely, hence the quotes) so we had the local frelatives over for cake and ice cream. I always ask the children what kind of cake they want, bakery or homemade, and do my best to provide it for them and this year Redheaded Snippet said she wanted me to make Sticky Toffee Pudding.

If you haven't experienced the wonders of Sticky Toffee Pudding, you don't know what you are missing. It's not what we think of as pudding at all. The British use the term, "pudding," to mean most cakey desserts and STP is very much a dense, moist cake. It's made with brown sugar and chopped dates and has an ooey gooey, dark brown caramel sauce (the "sticky toffee") and is served with cream that gets drizzled on top. The Viking and I had it at a pub in Surrey and it remains my most favorite thing to eat in the world.

So, that was what Redheaded Snippet requested. And I was happy to oblige. I had made it for Christmas a few years back with triumphant results but, for some reason, I decided to try a different recipe. I think I must have lost my mind. We all know, especially in cookery, that if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it! Well, I tried to fix something that was perfectly fine and made a disaster out of it.

Suffice it to say that an hour and 15 minutes past the time the party was supposed to start, I had a lackluster-looking "pudding" that looked nothing like it was supposed to but very suspiciously like an American cake that had clung stubbornly to the bottom of the tube pan despite my most heroic efforts to jiggle it loose and then obliged no one at all by falling in large pieces out onto the platter. Ten people were waiting patiently at the dining room table, too polite to wonder out loud why on earth the party hadn't started but all no doubt thinking it and I was faced with serving a cake that looked like I had gone out and thrown it into the street. Which, in fact, I very much wanted to do.

I can't deny it. I had a minor meltdown. The entire production had been a comedy of errors (I accidentally sent my poor, patient Viking to the wrong pizzeria to pick up Redheaded Snippet's requested dinner--panzarotti's, remind me to tell you sometime--which cost him an extra hour of driving around in rush hour traffic, just for one example) and the dumb cake just pushed me a little over the edge. I gripped the edge of the counter and burst into tears and laughter at the same time. My family thought I had lost it. Which I think I had.

I knew I had to pull myself together and forge ahead so I got the sauce ready and started sticking the fancy candles I had bought into the cake.

Well, because everyone had been waiting so long and I was in such a rush, I didn't let the thing cool long enough. So when we put the candles into it, they began to melt. Into the innards of the cake. It was as if the cake was so hideous the candles were just going limp in shock and protest! The Viking pulled one out to reposition it and it was nothing but wick where it had been below the surface!

In quite a frenzy by this time, I wildly ordered everyone at the table to just sing happy damn birthday sans candles or cake! Fortunately, everyone in my family has quite a healthy sense of humor so they made the most of it while I yanked the candles out, cut up the cake, drenched the pieces in caramel sauce and served it with ice cream.

Everyone said it was delicious and Redheaded Snippet assured me it didn't matter what it looked like so I guess it wasn't a true disaster after all. And I think I've learned a valuable lesson. Never, ever, ever use a tube pan to make any kind of cake whatsoever. You hear me? Don't do it, it will make you say all kinds of bad words and then you will have to apologize to your children for your lack of self-control!


Like I said, you win some, you lose some, you can't win them all. I think I'll go soothe my wrankled pride by sitting for a few minutes in my gleaming powder room, that should make me feel better...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Tough Decision

Don't you hate those? I agonize over them, terrified of making the wrong choice. We had one to make today.

Redheaded Snippet, still high from the national tournament in Virginia Beach, was buoyed to further heights upon being notified yesterday evening that she has been selected to play in the Junior Olympics.

Approximately 120 players are chosen to compete. It's an honor and looks great on a resume.

Unfortunately, it also costs quite a bit of money.

We live very frugally. If we can't afford it, we find a way to get it cheaper or learn to do without. But every so often, something comes along that must be dealt with. The car will break down in a horrifying way. A niece will be born in a different time zone. Someone will suddenly swell up and develop spots or take a whack to the head with a hockey stick. And that's when things get hairy. Something must be done, of course, and the questions of exactly what to do and how far to go become complicated.

This recent trip to Virginia Beach was one of those things we felt we needed to deal with. People stuck their necks out and made things happen in order for Redheaded Snippet to be in the program that held the tournament. It wasn't their fault she was selected to go further than we had anticipated (or budgeted for) and we felt that in turning it down we would have been biting the hand that had fed us. And though it was definitely extending us further than we were comfortable, we went.

But there is no way we can afford to put her in this latest tournament. We still fear it will seem ungrateful of us to say no, but to go further into debt in order to send her would just be foolish and irresponsible. I went over it round and round in my head all night and all day, hardly sleeping and barely getting anything else done, and no matter how you look at it, it's just not doable.

So the answer, regrettably, has to be no. We are all disappointed, but I think we'll be glad we were prudent instead of careless when we look back on it.

At least I hope Redheaded Snippet will be...

Small Groove That Hopefully Will Not Become a Rut

I've gotten myself into a bad groove and if I'm not careful it will wear itself down into a deep, dark rut.

I've been up past 3:00 am for three nights (mornings) in a row now.

I'm being a very bad girl.

I'm a night owl, just feel naturally more awake and energetic between the hours of midnight and 6:00 am. Which is brilliant for college life. Mommy life? Not so much. But I adapt and during the school year when I'm tearing children screaming from their beds at 7:30 in the morning, I can barely keep my eyes open past 10:00. And now that I don't have to get up early any more, I find myself luxuriating in the still, silent pre-dawn hours.

But I must stop this or I will make myself sick. Eventually, I'm going to have to rejoin the land of the living and I will probably be sick all day!

We've made and begun implementing our new Summer Schedule (which, no, staying up until unholy hours is not part of). After one day, ONE DAY, of Official Summer Break (look out, I'm full of superfluous caps today), I had had enough. I could not take the bickering, whining or frustration any more and knew we needed some structure!

Beginning today, the children are not allowed to turn on the TV or computer until their beds are made, their rooms are tidied and all the dirty laundry is brought down to the laundry room. Neither child is allowed to be on the computer more than an hour at a time or 2 hours each day and those hours have to be earned. Failure to complete Morning Chores, Zone Chores, Afternoon Blitz or After Dinner Blitz in a pleasant and timely manner will result in the loss of TV and computer privileges. Failure to comply with the time restrictions (such as dragging one's feet, claiming, "I'm getting off now," while taking 30 minutes to say, "good-bye,") will also result in loss of privileges. Extra time may be earned by completing extra chores and tasks.

They were not happy about this. Man-Cub, especially, was ready to throw his head back and howl about it were it not for the threat of spending the entire morning doing my chores in addition to his own. He quickly came around.

Despite their obvious displeasure, I think things went rather well today. The house already seems more peaceful and harmonious. They completed their morning chores surprisingly quickly. I happened upon the genius idea of allowing each child to inspect the other's work and report back to me on it. They became remarkably fair when they realized they were both at the same disadvantage.

Today's Zone was the bathrooms. I set Man-Cub on to the downstairs powder room and Redheaded Snippet on the larger upstairs bathroom. Once both rooms were tidied and the trash cans emptied, Redheaded Snippet began sweeping and Swiffering (yes, it's a verb now, keep up) while Man-Cub scoured the tub. I went in later and took care of the toilets and sinks and anything else that needed to be wiped down (like mirrors and windowsills). We were done in no time at all!

So, now, when the children wake up tomorrow, there will be very little for them to tidy up in their rooms, having just done it this morning, and their Morning Chores will take even less time and I hope they will start to see the wisdom of this plan. I've been doing it in my own bedroom for a few weeks now and it really helps me start my day with a sense of accomplishment and serenity. Ah, the power of a properly made bed!

Let's just see how long we can keep this ball rolling!