Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Top Ten Things Not to Say or Ask Someone Who is Selling Their House


1.  Do you have a realtor?  My husband's cousin just started selling real estate.

2.  My house sold in three days and I had five offers to chose from.

3.  Did you ever consider refinancing?

4.  No one will buy a house with old windows.  I always look at the windows first and if they aren't new, forget it!

5.  What are ya asking?  Really?  Isn't that a little high?

This is the St.  Joseph kit I bought when selling a house in Milwaukee.  It took 51 weeks to sell that house.  Granted it was during that huge housing crash, but perhaps I should consider a different model this time?

6.  Did you bury your St. Joseph statue upside down yet?

7.  You better sell it quick cuz I hear the Fed is going to raise interest rates soon.

 8.  Make sure to clean out your closets.  People will be looking in them! 

  9.  I have sure seen a lot of "For Sale" signs up in your neighborhood lately.

10.  I don't know why you're bothering with Open Houses.  They never work.  Just your neighbors will come.

Prairie Eydie

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Art of Deciding to Move During the Holidays Part III

Staging the kitchen was quite involved, but luckily did not include white dish towels.  According to my stager, you want potential home buyers to feel like they will magically become Rachael Ray in your kitchen.  It doesn't matter if they currently only make fish sticks with a side of soupy rice, after viewing your kitchen they must feel empowered to nourish their family with delicious "30 Minute Meals" daily.

This mixer is TOTALLY inappropriate for staging your kitchen.  It has too much color and personality. 
First, there needs to be a Kitchen Aid mixer in the corner.  It is best if the mixer is a neutral color and not hot pink.  I don't own a Kitchen Aid, so I had to borrow one.  Unfortunately I had to return it so its owner could make Christmas cookies.  (Super selfish of her to put supplying loved ones with spritz cookies over helping me sell my house.)  The counter now has a glaring, gaping hole.  I may or may not rustle up the strength to tote the mixer monstrosity back to my counter. 

To the right of the stove, angle a cookbook on a stand.  The cookbook must not feature a human face (like Rachael Ray's face).  Preferably the cover should show muffins or crepes.  This will cause potential buyers to imagine themselves baking fragrant cinnamon apple muffins in your kitchen.  Personally, I think a crepe cookbook would cause anxiety and distraction.  Potential buyers might ruminate on the following crepe questions:  Savory or sweet crepes?  Where will I store my crepe pan?  Where can I buy a crepe pan?  Will I be obligated to host a crepe house warming party? 

Sadly, I did not have an appropriate cookbook and had to borrow one from Prairie Sherry.  Are you noticing a theme? (My cookbooks were either vegetarian or had Jamie Oliver's mug front and center) 

Prairie friends, this is not reality.

Next, the stager and I wrestled the leaves out of the kitchen table.  The leaves were cemented in with years of accumulated apple juice spills and toast crumbs.  After pushing the table back together, it was the size of a café table.  The table can now comfortably seat one thin coffee drinker, unfortunately I have to seat my three growing children at the table.  The diminutive table means more squabbles and more spilled glasses of milk.  We shoved the table in a corner, so the kitchen now seems spacious enough to ballroom dance in.  (In case the buyers want to have a "Bridges of Madison County" dance moment.)

Hey!  I hear Prairie Eydie has a great kitchen to dance in.  Let's book a showing!

The final touch was a large bowl of Granny Smith apples in the exact center of the kitchen table.  I forgot to ask what green apples have to do with selling a house.  Initially I was devoted to using the tart apples and made countless batches of squash and apple bake.  Now I just let them rot and feel bad when I throw them out. 
Before each showing I have to clear off all the counters, leaving only the Kitchen Aid, the angled cookbook, and a Keurig (which I did not have to borrow).  Since putting my house on the market, I no longer bother cooking much of anything.  We are surviving on turkey sandwiches, clementines, and protein bars.  Here is to a quick sale in 2016.

I almost forgot.  No amount of staging  in your kitchen will make potential buyers overlook the lack of stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.  Buyers are much too saavy to be distracted by a bowl of green apples.

Prairie Eydie

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Art of Deciding to Move During the Holidays (Part II)

Before putting my house on the market, (or "Going Live" as realtors say) I worked with a stager.  It was her job to tell me how to "stage" my house so it would sell quickly.  I am going to pass on what I learned for those buying or selling a house.

Trust me Prairie Friends and just say "NO". 

First, you must do everything possible to make your bathrooms look like they belong in the Hampton Inn.  This involves ripping out functioning medicine cabinets and replacing them with impractical framed mirrors from Kirkland's.  I now store everything that used to be in my medicine cabinet in a plastic tote at the bottom of the linen closet.  I begin and end each day schlepping that tote to and from my bathroom.  The only item that can be on the bathroom counter is a brushed metal soap dispenser.  (I rebelled against buying the soap dispenser and decided to have nothing on the counter.)

Do not let anyone, under any circumstances touch the white towels!

Do NOT think of adding a splash of color with a cheerful bath towel or shower curtain!  You can only have white shower curtains and white towels hanging in the bathrooms because buyers want to feel like they are moving into a spa. 

I guess seeing my children's damp Minion towels doesn't scream, "Serenity Now."After each showing,  I quickly strip the bathrooms of the pristine white towels before my kids can soil them.  I suggest buying a mega pack of white towels at Costco.  

YUCK!  These could almost be dated back to Pioneer times!
I hope you have more taste than I did and don't have those tacky "Hollywood Lights."  You know, the ones with at least two light bulbs burned out at all times?  The ones all covered with a couple years of dust?  If you do have these hideous lights, please junk them (or donate them to someone who doesn't know better). Replace the "Hollywood Lights" with the much more stylish and serene "Tulip Lights."  Oh.  And I hope you saved some of the bathroom paint so you can touch up the newly exposed bathroom wall. 

Ahhhh!  Much better.  Now I can relax!
Okay.  That takes care of staging your bathrooms.  Tomorrow I will explain how to stage your kitchen and coffee table. 

Prairie Eydie

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Art of Deciding to Move During the Holidays

But Prairie Eydie, where will you put your Christmas tree?   And your holiday Barbies?  And your three children?

 I am currently channeling my inner Pa Ingalls and moving the family to some new digs.  Nope.  There is no sod dugout in our future, rather a cozy,1950s ranch. 

Would Pa Ingalls have bothered to stage "The Little House in the Big Woods"?  I think not.  Having an onsite  meat smoker would be impetus for buyers to submit those offers. 

For some unknown reason I didn't think it would be a big deal to sell the house while raising three kids, nurturing two elderly cats (one with a chronic, stinky ear infection), and working full time.  Also unknown is why I thought the holidays were a perfect time to list.   (Well, okay I do know why I chose the holiday season.  I wanted a concrete reason not to decorate every surface with wistful angels, fake snow, and fairy lights.)

Geez.  You'd think I would be able to sniff out those art supplies.
I am no longer naïve about the stresses of selling a house.  Sadly, I have resorted eating Costco pretzel rolls before each showing and open house - which has added the stress of not fitting into my winter coat.  My time is now divided between yelling at the kids to stop mussing up my artfully draped throws and searching for things I hid so the house will look calm and clutter free to potential buyers.  To date I have lost two tubs of Lulu's art supplies (each containing a pricey set of Mr. Sketch scented markers), countless chargers, a bag of addressed Christmas cards, and Blueberry (Lulu's toy gorilla).
Tune in tomorrow for Part II of "The Art of Deciding to Move During the Holidays".  I will be leading you through the art of staging your house. 

Prairie Eydie

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Art of Cooking for Kids

I know, I know Mrs. Pattmore.  I need to start taking cooking seriously again.

Coming up with something for my kids to eat three times a day is as much fun as getting weighed at the doctor's office.  As much fun as teaching students to write a proper paragraph.  As much fun as shopping for beige bras.

I used to take my role of "Kid Cook" very seriously.  I freaked out after calculating that my kids were eating more servings of fruit than vegetables.  A ratio of 4 to 0.  I bought Jessica Seinfeld's book, Deceptively Delicious, and pureed veggies every Sunday night to "hide" in the kids' food.  Sorry to tell you Jessica, but my kids always knew something gross, like pureed cauliflower,  was hidden in their food.  ("But mom, we like the mac & cheese made with neon orange powder!")  The brownies with pureed spinach flopped big time.  ("Mom!  What is wrong with you??)

The other night, cloaked in "Mom Guilt," I decided to bake an organic chicken for dinner.  I would make a simple side of green beans (picked from our garden) and quinoa.  It was a smallish chicken so I put it in at 4:00 to be done at 5:30. (I error on the side of over cooking chicken since I am 47 and don't have a meat thermometer.)  I felt good about myself.  I was making a wholesome meal that my children would appreciate and love me for.

At 5:15 the kids started circling me, like turkey buzzards around a carcass, to find out what was for dinner.  I proudly clicked on the oven light to show them the chicken.  Satisfied I was doing my job, the kids returned to their rooms.  At 5:30 I checked the chicken.  Still slimy.  At 5:40 I checked the chicken again.  Nope.  Still pink.  At 6:10, I desperately tugged at the leg bone hoping it would pull from the chicken.  No go.  At 6:45 the chicken still wasn't done.  Lulu was following me around alternately pointing at her mouth and stomach.  The boys were sitting at the kitchen table kicking each other.

Then I snapped.  I calmly took the chicken out of the oven, walked to the garage, and dumped the chicken in the garbage can.  I was done, done, done. 
  • I didn't want to continue testing for "doneness." 
  • I didn't want to continue answering the question, "Is dinner ready yet?" 
  • I didn't want to carve the chicken, serve the chicken, pick its bones for extra meat, and make chicken broth in the slow cooker.  
The kids made themselves PB & J sandwiches and lived to see another day.

I wish I felt guilty about throwing out the chicken, but I feel it saved my sanity.  And what is wrong with having cereal for dinner?

Prairie Eydie



Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Art of Being Someone Else - Part Two

I got off the phone ready to put Prairie Sherry's "End of the School Year Cleaning Routine" into reality.  Fortifying myself with yet another iced coffee, I headed into my bedroom.   (Trader Joe's Coffee Concentrate!  Prairie Readers, I get absolutely NO kickbacks from Trader Joe's endorsements.  I just want you to be as peppy as me!) 


Prairie Readers, I am eating a big ol' slice of humble pie.  It is with tail tucked between my legs, that I admit Prairie Sherry was right.  My cleaning energy level is "sloth" compared to her unattainable level of "hummingbird."  I didn't come close to cleaning my entire house in one week.  It took three days to go through every drawer in my bedroom and that is without going through every drawer!  (I didn't go through my drawers of jewelry.  Yes.  You heard that right - drawers of jewelry.)  Here is what happened.

I talked to Prairie Sherry mid cleaning week.  Not wanting to admit I was still in the first room.

Sherry:  So?  How is it going? 

Eydie (Tugging furniture away from baseboards for thorough vacuuming):  Great!  Soon I will be tackling the kitchen.

Sherry:  (Sharp intake of breath)  You do know that is the most difficult room? 

Eydie (Ripping curtains down to be washed, ironed, and rehung): Worse than the master bedroom?

Sherry:  Much worse.

I left the curtains on the carpet (that was still cat hair enhanced) and slogged to the kitchen.  Unicorns and glitter did not greet me. 

This is my cupboard for fancy drinking glasses.  OH!  That is where the cat's ear cleaner is!

My spice drawer.  I spilled vanilla in January and forgot to clean it up.  Not sure what the green stuff is.
The job of cleaning the kitchen was bigger than me.    I was already way behind schedule and needed divine intervention.  Enter - Prairie Ma. 

The challenge wasn't totally unsuccessful.  My bedroom is in pretty good shape.  The kitchen is in excellent shape, thanks to my long-suffering mother helping me.  My advice to you is to ask for help when using the "Prairie Sherry End of the School Year Cleaning Routine."

Hmmm.  I wonder if Sherry has a "Beginning of the School Year Cleaning Routine?"  I bet she does.

Prairie Eydie


Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Art of Being Someone Else Part 1


 I am well into week two of summer vacation. I spent the first morning of summer vacation thinking about different ways I could be productive and really get my house into order during vacation.  After three glasses of iced coffee, laced with 1/2 and 1/2, I still didn't have much of a plan beyond throwing out moldy bath toys.  So I called Prairie Sherry, a woman who always has a plan.
(NOTE:  Official Prairie Grlz endorsement.) 

I love you Trader Joe's Coffee Concentrate.  You offer such a variety of ways to get a caffeine buzz. 

 Prairie Eydie:  My house is dingy due to 9 months of consistent neglect.  The kids' bathroom is caked with Crest, there are stacks of school papers on the kitchen island, and the entry way is basically a sandbox.   I remember you saying how you spent the first week of summer vacation cleaning your house so everything would be clean.

Crickets.  Crickets.  Crickets.

Prairie Eydie:  Are you still there?

Prairie Sherry (sniffing):  Yes, I am.  I just hesitate to tell you what I did.  I am not you will be able to handle it.

Prairie Eydie:  I CAN handle it.  I am ready for this. 

Prairie Sherry:  You will need to go through your house one room at a time.  Every drawer is gone through a wiped out.  Every shelf is emptied and scrubbed.  Furniture is moved away from the walls and vacuumed behind.  Baseboards are dusted.  Bedding is aired out.  Windows are washed.  Ceiling fans are dusted.  Lamp shades are vacuumed.  Tassels are combed . . .  

Prairie Eydie (interrupting):  Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah.  I can handle all of that.

Prairie Sherry:  I create a master list and work off of that for the week.  It is exhausting work.  One thing you never must do is go from room to room.  You stay in one room until it is completely cleaned.  The only exception is the last day when you will shampoo all the carpets.

Praire Eydie (jotting down notes with a blue crayon):  Got it.

Prairie Sherry:  Remember I am very Type "A".  I worry someone like you might not be suited for such a cleaning. 


Prairie Sherry and Carson - A match made in heaven.

You won't want to miss Part Two of "The Art of Being Someone Else."  Are my baseboards buffed?  My pillows puffed?  My Goodwill bags stuffed?  My make-up brushes fluffed?

Prairie Eydie

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Prairie Eydie Loses Mother of the Year Title (once again)

Mother's Day has come and gone.  Sadly, yet again, I did not receive the coveted "Mother of the Year" award.  I try so hard every year, but am bumped out of the running by mothers who lovingly bake zucchini kale muffins for breakfast and iron 100% cotton button down shirts.  For a "Mother of the Year" victory next year, I need improvement in the following areas:  laundry, haircuts, and school artwork archival.  If I can do this, the trophy will be mine.

I am a single mom with three kids.  I work full time and try to keep sane by going to boot camp (which kinda makes me insane - with all the tire flipping and med ball slamming), creating art, and blogging.  It is hard to fit laundry into my life, but I must if I want to take home the trophy.  Here is what my laundry room currently looks like -

A moldering mess.  
Clean clothes in the basket AND in the drier!  The clothes must wait patiently for folding.  I like to wait until things are good and wrinkled before giving them the shake down.    

Yesterday it was 90 degrees out.  (I was wearing a breezey, clean sundress.)  I was outside surveying my garden, and saw my oldest son, Leonard, walking down the street wearing a long sleeved hoodie and jeans.  I immediately accosted him for wearing such a stupid outfit on a hot day. He politely waited for me to finish before saying, "Mom, I have no clean shorts.  Yeah.  And I have no clean t-shirts.  Plus, you forgot to buy me sandals.  (Hmmm. I will also have to improve on kids' clothes shopping.  I seem to do quite well when it involves shopping for me.)

Later, when my middle child, Gus, was getting ready for bed.  He said, "You DO know that we have been wearing dirty socks all week. We get them out of the hamper every morning."  No.  I did not know that.   I did what I assume most moms do - I immediately drove to Target and bought a couple new packs of socks for the boys.

I know of moms who spend the school year curating museum quality scrap books and galleries of their children's artwork.  I, on the other hand, have started throwing my kids art projects in the garbage when they are sleeping.  Just look at what Leonard brought home the other day -
Something not even a mother could love.  It is also jagged and sharp, practically a weapon.
What is it?  A failed attempt at pottery, I guess.  But I am determined to be "Mother of the Year 2016," so I will either find a cute way to display this lump or save it forever in a Rubbermaid tote.  Yes.  Award winning mothers have lots and lots of totes.

Awww.  I think I LOVE this low maintenance hairstyle.

Finally, I have to get the kids on a haircut schedule.  I need to stop hoping that the "Keith Partridge Look" will be back in style at any moment.  It is not going to make a comeback and I am going to have to pay the money for regular trims.  Often I have to pay for haircuts twice.  Once at Cost Cutters and then again at a decent salon to fix what happened at Cost Cutters. 

Okay Prairie Friends - I am off to throw in a couple loads of laundry.

Prairie Eydie



Friday, June 5, 2015

The Art Of Healing--Prairie Sherry's Way

It has been a week since my surgery to set and plate my broken arm, and while the plaster splint, cotton batting, and two ace bandages are hot, sweaty, and cumbersome, I am in little pain and healing quite nicely.  I am not, however, probably behaving according to doctor's orders because I didn't receive any.

The do rag is just covering a gaping head wound.

I found that when you break a bone around Memorial Day, unless it is sticking through your skin, you will probably be triaged as low priority. Higher priority are the holiday Harley riders who have smashed their helmet-less skulls on the pavement during their first ride of the season or the barbeque "masters" who have first degree burns following the fireball that commenced the grilling season. I waited five days for surgery after my dazzling fall on a rocky ledge. 

Looking down into the abyss that
proved to be my undoing.

Post op, too, seemed a bit hurried and sketchy.  I never met the actual surgeon while conscious, the occupational therapist didn't showed up, and I only had to suggest that perhaps I didn't need to stay overnight before I was dumped out of the wheelchair right by valet parking. The nurse didn't seem terribly concerned that my daughter would have to drag her drugged-up mother to the third floor of the parking ramp and load her into the car.

So I came home with no instructions.  Of course, having been through all of this before, I know what I should and should not be doing, but just the fact that I wasn't looked at sternly, lectured, and then given a printed page of things to avoid has given me permission to do things my way.

Day One of Recovery:

I go back to work as a cashier.  I work an eight-hour shift checking out grocery orders.  I also bag those orders one-handed.
10 pound bag of potatoes?  No problem!

Day Two of Recovery:

I am back to work again, but this time I bag adding the splinted arm.  I go home and wash the dog--wrestling all 18 pounds him in and out of the laundry tub with one arm. I decide to wash the other three dogs as well.  At 9, 11, and 14 pounds, they are a cinch. 

Next time I hope she breaks both arms.

Day Three of Recovery:

I work another eight hour shift.  With my free evening, I decide to make 10 pounds of pulled pork for my daughter's graduation party. I successfully manage the butcher knife without severing arteries.

Getting it out of the pot was the tricky part.

Day Four of Recovery:

I have a day off, so I tackle the lawn.  I figure out how to maneuver the Torro with one hand.  Did I mention that we have a hilly, oversized corner lot?

I fought the mower, and I won.

Day Five of Recovery:

Another day off, so I clean the house top to bottom.  My only concession to the broken arm is that I don't scrub the kitchen and dining room tile on my hand(s) and knees, but enlist the aid of my steam cleaner.  

I wonder if Ma Ingalls used one of
these in that Plum Creek dugout?

When I have finally settled down to a class of ice tea and a book, a gust of wind takes the patio umbrella off of our second floor deck, and sends toppling to the deck below.  I manage to close it and drag it up a flight of stairs to its rightful home.


Day Six of Recovery:

I break the only rule I was given at the hospital ("Don't remove the ace bandages!"), and I redress my split with one hand.  The bandages are covered in grass stains, pork fat, and cleaning residue. I really have no other choice. I sweep out the garage and wash three loads of laundry.

Impressive one-handed wrapping.

Day Seven of Recovery:

I have taken it easy today.  I met Prairie Eydie for breakfast, and then I came home to do some light gardening. The bandage really needs changing again.

On June 10th I have an appointment with my surgeon.  I suspect that he with then give me permission to go back to work on a limited basis and begin some light physical therapy. I will smile at him sweetly, nod intently, and agree to all of his suggestions demands. He is, of course, the expert.

Prairie Sherry  


A little disclaimer here.  In case you are concerned, I did none of the above while under the influence of the narcotics the surgeon prescribed. I ditched those right after surgery. Didn't follow the directions for those either.   

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Top 6 Reasons Why Prairie Eydie is Posting Late

Can I come out now, Prairie Sherry?  I posted.

I am in the outhouse with Prairie Sherry.  Monday came and went and I didn't post.  Part of me was hoping that Prairie Pa would come through with his much anticipated, "How to Eat for Free as a Senior Citizen," post.  But he didn't.  He is too busy gardening and avoiding Home Depot.  Sigh. 

As a teacher, I hear lots of excuses.  So here are my top 6 excuses for my late blog.

6.  I have 8 days of school left and my students have lost their minds.  My energy is being slurped up listening to comments like, "Why do we have to always read in here?" or "Can't we do something fun today?" or "You should buy us cupcakes."

5.  I am spending a lot of time flossing my teeth and massaging my gums.  Plus I am chewing gum with xylitol five times a day.  This takes time people!  I got yet another bad checkup with my mouthy dental hygienist.  If she doesn't say something positive to me at my next appointment, I am bailing.

4.  I am reading an awesome book!  And I am recommending it to you, Prairie Friends.

  3.  Did I mention that I only have 8 days of school left?

We all look at the same sunset, Ponyboy.  But I don't know why we have to look at the same post, day after day.
2.  The 7th graders are reading The Outsiders.  Wednesday is dress like a Soc or a Greaser day.  I have been spending a lot of time combing the Madison-area, St. Vinny's for a red wig so I can go as Cherry Valance. 

I want to be just like Prairie Sherry when I grow up.  
1.  My middle son, Gus, broke his arm.  Horseplay on the swing set with his older brother.  When you have three kids, this is bound to happen.  I could not even look at his arm until it was all wrapped up and in a sling.  (Yet another reason why I will not be "Mother of the Year."  When my kids are injured I throw gasoline on the fire by becoming hysterical.  My hysteria usually brings about vomiting on their part.)  He will need surgery, which is scheduled for Thursday - SIX DAYS after breaking his arm.  

Hmmmmm.  Maybe I can talk Gus into watching Downton Abbey, Season 3 with me.  

Prairie Eydie     

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Art of Accepting a Setback

I am coming off of a two-day binge of House of Cards. Paranoia is setting in.  I no longer trust my iPhone.  You'll never get me near railroad tracks.  I pray that my personal fashion icon, Michelle Obama, is nothing like Claire Underwood, although I do admire Claire's understated chic.

Why would I sit in front of a screen on a glorious spring day? Why would I be typing this with one hand, and not very successfully? Let me tell you. I broke my arm. Again!

Post accident and post surgery.

It started last Thursday when smarty-pants Prairie Sherry decided to leave the safety of the plains and hiked up a bluff at Devil's Lake State Park. This is a photo of me enjoying a zen moment at the top of the rock-strewn bluff I had just climbed.

Actually, I was just trying
to get my heart rate back to
Then I started the climb down.  I don't think my mind was at a higher plain of consciousness as my foot slipped on that rock and I hit the ground.  Nine hours and two ERs later, I returned home.

Honey, I'm home.
Yup, they let me keep the hospital gown because there was no way I was letting them put that long sleeved t-shirt back on. I'm sure Michelle or Claire would wear it much better.

The arm is now set, plated in titanium, and ensconced in plaster. I will have to put aside any near-future plans of world domination a la Claire Underwood.  I would never be able to get one of her signature slender sheaths over this bandaged appendage let alone zip up the zipper. 

Frank, would you put that call to Putin on hold and unzip
this damn zipper?

Looks like a summer of sloppy t-shirts and elastic-waisted shorts ahead for me. 

Prairie Sherry


I would be remiss if I did not thank my dear friend, Cindy, for getting me off that bluff, driving to two ER's, and listening to my incoherent drug-induced ramblings for 8 hours.  She has earned the title of Prairie Cindy.

Bless you, Prairie Cindy!