Name: Kim Tracy Prince
Web Site: http://www.kimtracyprince.com/about-me/
Bio: I am a writer. Most of my material is on the web, but the best stuff is still in my journal under the bed.
Posts by ktprince:
- Clean up as I go with Scotch-Brite® Scrubbing Dish Cloths.
- Use a garbage bowl
My 20’s were the age of Yes. Somewhere between then and now I lived through the age of Nope. Now what?
Which way? Malibu Creek State Park, 2015
Over the years I’ve read a lot about the power of saying “No,” how it’s so…powerful, like you’re taking charge of your life, setting boundaries, being brave, etc. etc. I took it to heart, in fact, shutting down when I got overwhelmed. It served me well for a time.
But I was thinking the other day that I got this awesome life by saying “Yes.”
[Define “this awesome life”: solid marriage, lively and healthy kids, family and friends who love me. Enough money to eat and live in a nice house and send kids to a good school. Occasional play and work that feeds my soul. A snuggly kitty. Ripe tomatoes in my garden. Etc. Etc.]
I had an urge to move to California once. I said “Yes.” Even though most of my family was in Connecticut. Even though I didn’t have a job, a place to live, any plan once I got there.
But then I made all those things happen, and I got here.
On the road from Connecticut to California, 1995
I worked in life insurance. It paid the bills (mostly – so did the big credit card companies, for a while). And then I learned that I could work in entertainment. Someone said there was a job opening. I interviewed for it. I got the offer.
I said “Yes.”
Even though the pay was dismal and I’d have to drive from Pasadena to Santa Monica (and it wasn’t even as bad then as it is now). I made it work, with help from friends and family, and a couple of new roommates who lived in an apartment under the stairs.
And then I said “Yes” to a job that was temporary, but it lasted 3 years. And I said “Yes” when I thought “I should email that guy” even though that might seem stalkery and overbearing. I said “Yes” when he asked me to marry him, too.
All those “Yeses.”
But life threw me some big punches, some good, some very bad. Somewhere along the line I started saying “Nope.” Everything can be too much, sometimes. I had to draw the line. And it wasn’t just “No,” or “Maybe” but full stop. NOPE. I loved the word so much I had to get this shirt.
Best photo booth ever, 80’s party, 2016
And now I’m looking around, looking at what I’ve missed, and wondering if NOPE was the best answer. I know it was, in some cases. I can only handle so much. I am needed, so much.
But things pass me by. Podcasts. Vlogging. My goddamned novel. It waves at me every day. “You should write me,” it says. Some days I say “Yes.” Yes, I will write you. Some days I say “Yes.” Yes, I will write you badly. But too often I say “NOPE!” No, sorry, I’m too busy doing this other thing.
And one could argue (I do, actually, since I argue with myself all the time) that by saying “Yes” to some things, I have said “No” to all of the OTHER infinite possible choices I could have made. In that way, I shaped my life. I “Yes’ed” and “No’ed” myself into this corner.
It does feel like a corner. I am now faced with the unknown, and I feel a bit directionless. When I decided to move to California at age 24 without a plan, I felt the decision in my gut and my bones and my heart. I ached for it. It was the clearest choice. There was no other.
But now, at almost 45 with a husband, two children, a mortgage, and a strong sense of the value of my work, I don’t have that feeling about any of the possibilities before me. It’s as if the divining rod that led me across the country is sleeping. (Or whatever divining rods do when they aren’t tugging you towards the secret spring in the desert…)
I won’t go back to saying “Yes” to everything that comes along. There’s a certain wisdom that comes with this age and experience. Not that I can predict how an event or gig will turn out, but that I can be 100% sure that if I do THIS, I won’t be able to do THAT.
So what’s THAT? Knowing what THAT is helps me narrow down the NOPES.
To be here for my family while my kids are young.
To earn enough money to support our lifestyle.
To feel fulfilled in my work.
I’ve NOPED a lot of things over the last few years, and it’s served me well. Snapchat and Pokemon Go for a few examples. Still nope!
But I’m ready to say “Yes” again more often. Yes to the unknown, yes to the possibilities, yes to the things that will bring more of the wonderful into my life.
I mean, look at that last photo. I’m wearing a NOPE shirt, but obviously I said “Yes” to that wig. I mean.
Looks like 45 will be the year of Yes/Nope.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScrubDishCloth #CollectiveBias
Recently our family went on its first epic international vacation. We stayed in hotels and ate out for almost every meal. While it was great fun and adventure, once we returned we were all happy to revisit our favorite homemade dishes.
The first thing I made was an old standby – delicious Slow Cooker Paella. This dish cooks itself, obvs, and it fills the house with the mouthwatering smell of meat, vegetables, and savory rice. By the time it’s done cooking I usually find someone hovering over the pot, asking “Can we eat now?!”
The only problem with this dish is the mess I make! It requires everything you see in the photo above: multiple pots and pans and utensils and lots of chopping. I usually cover our small kitchen with bits of food and dirty dishes and then groan when it’s time to clean up.
This time, though, I made sure to set up a few strategies to keep things neat during the prepping process:
These two steps made clean-up much easier than my usual method, which is make a huge mess and then take 30 minutes later to wash and scrub and rinse and scrape.
Making the Meal
Slow Cooker Paella
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (can be any kind but I like red and yellow for color)
1 zucchini, halved and sliced
8 oz sliced white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz pre-cooked sausage, sliced (smoked sausage, kielbasa, chicken-apple sausage, etc.)
8 oz yellow rice mix
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
Heat oil in a large skillet
Add chopped onions and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes
Add peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic and cook until softened, about 3 more minutes
Pour vegetables into slow cooker
Add sausage to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes
Add sausage to slow cooker
Add tomatoes, water, and rice mix to slow cooker
Stir to combine all ingredients
Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for 2 hours. Paella is done when rice is cooked and your house smells amazing.
(Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Eat! Move! Play!)
Keeping it Clean
There are two phases of clean-up for a slow cooker meal – after you prep, then after the meal is cooked. The cooking time gives you a good opportunity to clean up after yourself before the meal is done!
1. Wipe up as you go
The Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths are new and sold in packs of 2 for $4.99 at Target in four lovely colors: gray, mint, coral, and navy. (I like the mint because it matches my kitchen!) You can find them in the Kitchen Cleaning aisle:
There is a Cartwheel offer running 6/26-7/2 with a discount on the cloths. Cartwheel is a digital coupon app that you can use at Target. I tried it and it’s very convenient!
I kept the dish cloth close at hand while I prepped the paella, wiping spills up with the smooth high-quality cloth side, and scrubbing at cooked-in or dried spills and bits of onion or pepper. I don’t know about you, but when I dice vegetables, I seem to scatter little pieces of them all over the place. If I don’t wipe them up right away, they dry out and get stuck to the counter. The Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloth can handle that, too with its scrubby side!
Clean as you go, and use a garbage bowl
2. Use a garbage bowl
Any large bowl will do – just keep it right next to your cutting board as you are trimming and chopping your vegetables, and throw the onion skins, pepper insides and seeds, zucchini ends, etc. right in there. That way you’re not stepping to the garbage can every few minutes, getting more debris on the floor.
Bonus of a garbage bowl: if you have a garden, bury the vegetable scraps between your planted rows. They will break down into compost right there in the dirt and enrich the soil for next season.
3. Stack your tools
Using a garbage bowl and the dish cloth, I managed to keep my usual mess to a minimum. And I stacked my little bowls inside my bigger ones, tossing in measuring spoons and cups, too, so items were not strewn about, taking up counter space.
4. Wash up
Scotch-Brite Scrubbing Dish Cloths are very effective at washing dishes, too! I am impressed by how well they get even cooked-on food off of the slower cooker pot, and how they clean without scratching.
At the end of the day, my kitchen was clean and so were all the utensils, pots, and pans, and we had a nice batch of our beloved paella (I used chicken apple sausage this time!) to enjoy for a few days! Several of my fellow bloggers have shared their kitchen clean-up ideas here, so check that out for more inspiration!
Since I loathe, and am obsessed with, cleaning my kitchen, I’d love to hear your shortcuts for cleaning up messes – leave them in the comments if you can spare a moment. Thanks for reading!
2005. The father watches his new baby sleep, marveling at his perfect little face, his fat little fingers, the way he sucks on his pacifier automatically. He feels pure love, never suspecting that this fresh miracle of an infant will, in 11 years, write him this poem for Father’s Day:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Your farts stink
And you know it, too.
Happy Father’s Day!
Six years ago our family moved to our current home. We chose the house for its location, in a lovely town that feels like a small town even though it’s just another part of the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles. We are separated from the rest of the city by a shifting barrier of traffic. Sometimes it’s not there at all, sometimes it’s impassable.
Besides the general loveliness of our town, the location is perfect for another very big reason. The schools.
We live a mile from the boys’ wonderful elementary school. They ride their bikes to and from school – they come clanging into the house, usually fighting, around 2:45 every day. If it gets to be 3:00 and they’re not home yet, I find things to do in the front. Cleaning out the car, deadheading the camellia bush, pulling weeds from the front lawn. I busy myself until they tear down the block.
When we moved here, Kyle was about to start Kindergarten.
Now he’s in 5th grade. It was a given that the boys would attend the middle school that is right behind our house. If we lived in a more adventurous neighborhood, he could zipline from his bedroom window to the school’s office.
My, how you’ve grown.
In the years since we moved, however, the district developed GATE, a program for gifted and talented students, but it only exists at a different middle school, a 10 minute drive away. Even though Kyle seemed destined for this program, its geographic disadvantage made us kind of ignore it all this time. He took the test for it anyway. He was curious. We were, too.
He got into the program, of course. You knew this story was going there, right?
There’s an equally challenging set of honors classes at the closer middle school. We assumed Kyle would stay here, take the honors classes, get involved in some of the cool electives and enrichment opportunities they offer. Kyle seemed happy with that. He looked forward to the short walk around the corner to school with his friends.
Until the gifted program had their showcase.
Even though our family was 99% committed to the local middle school, I didn’t mind attending, because I was hoping for a sign. Something to tell me either way what the clear right choice would be.
And here it was. In a morning of presentations and classroom visits, our family got to see the other middle school’s campus, meet the teachers and principal, and ask the students themselves about their experience in the program. These 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were articulate, engaged, and enthusiastic about their school. Every time they spoke, Kyle’s eyes lit up with recognition. I could practically see him processing this discovery. He looked at me and smiled, and flashed a thumbs-up.
When a kid seems excited about going to school, that’s a pretty good sign.
A ten minute drive isn’t a big deal, really. It’s a luxury, even, for most residents of Los Angeles. For me, it’s about adjusting to the loss of the easy morning routine I thought I would have, and accepting a carpool life. Kyle is undaunted. He looks forward to it.
There are some formalities. It’s not our home school, so I had to apply for a “school of choice” permit, which was virtually guaranteed by his admission into this program. Still, when I received the email with the subject “Permit Approved,” I felt a shift.
It was a door opening for our family, a gate if you don’t mind the wordplay, to something unexpected. Something that could be wonderful, if we just give it a chance.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyPledgeCastle #CollectiveBias
Here at the House of Prince we are royalty by last name only, and our house can be considered a castle in the hearts of the people who live here! With two young boys and now a kitten among us, this castle is always in need of a little picking up and dusting.
Our Humble Castle
One of the ways my husband and I have dressed up our humble house is by carefully choosing our furniture. Most of it is designed to withstand the abuse of two little boys, but there are a few beloved pieces that anchor some of our rooms: specifically, our Mission-style dresser, the imported sofa table that now displays treasured family photos, and the bar I put together with my own two hands. Every time I look at them I smile – unless they are coated with dust!
And of course since I work at home I look at these items every day. I hate it when they get dusty so I am known for my “random acts of dusting.” I use Pledge® Lemon Clean Furniture Spray (purchased at my local Ralphs) because it doesn’t just come in handy for dusting – it also gets the wood nice and shiny and leaves behind that fresh Lemon Pledge® scent.
Pledge® Lemon Clean Furniture Spray can also be used on laminate, stainless steel, leather, marble, granite and plastic. Plus it features Allergens Trappers® to remove dust and up to 90% of the allergens found in dust.
Use Left-behind Socks For Random Acts of Dusting!
This is a great little trick that I tell my friends about: use the sad single sock left behind when one goes missing!
Save the Socks
Don’t throw those singletons away – save them for dusting! I also save socks that the kids reject as uncomfortable, or socks that have become too small for them, or too worn out or holey for me!
Mark Them Up
Mark them with a permanent marker or the kids will grab them and put them BACK in the laundry rotation, making me go crazy trying to match them up with a partner!
Station Your Stash
Stash a set of old socks with a can of Pledge® Lemon Clean Furniture Spray. Make a few of these sets and place them throughout your house where they can be in easy reach when you spot dust collecting on your pretty furniture. A simple spray and swipe will make you smile!
Pledge® is more than just a wood polish – you can use it for your everyday cleaning to bring out the beauty in your surroundings.
That’s why you got that lovely piece of furniture, right?
To see what other fresh scents you get with Pledge® visit their Facebook page!
And for inspiration and housecleaning tips, visit Pledge’s #MyPledgeCastle page!