Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mexi Beef Casserole Dish

If you love freezer cooking then you will love this recipe.....

1 pound ground beef
1 15-oz can sweet corn, drained
1 cup mild, chunky salsa
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 pkg cooked egg noodles
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup taco sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup tomato sauce


Cook egg noodles according to instructions, drain. Meanwhile, brown beef in a skillet until brown and fully cooked. Drain any grease. In a bowl, combine all ingredients, then pour into a freezer container or a 9x13 baking dish. Freeze (may want to allow it to come down to room temperature before placing in freezer)


On cooking day, thaw completely in fridge (take it out the night before or morning of). In a preheated 325F oven, cook for 30-45 minutes, or until bubbly and completely hot throughout. Serve!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Is A Test

DQTRRAXW2FTB


Hello technorati team! How are you all out there in blogging land?

Easy Email Organization

There must be hundreds of blogs and articles that have been written on how to organize your email. They tell you to go to your inbox and create folders and then when you get an email put that email in the appropriate inbox just as you would a sheet of paper in a file folder. Ok....I get that. I think we all get that. But there are many other ways to be organized with your email.

Personally, I love Microsoft Outlook as my email manager for many many reasons. First of all, I love that I can sync the calendar with my el-cheapo Nokia cell phone. Just use the download cord and away it goes.

But the calendar is for another day. Today I am relishing in my emails and how glorious it is to always have a clean inbox.

One thing about my email that can quickly get out of hand is the junk email. I get so much of it because I shop and do many activities online and each time you have to create a username you must give an email address. I try to remember to uncheck all of those boxes that ask you if you want to receive information or promotions but I am sure I don't get it all. I make a concentrated effort when I get a junk email to go to the bottom of the email and unsubscribe to the list. It takes a few extra clicks but once you take this first few steps you can usually get rid of the junk right away.


The next tool in Outlook that I like to use is the Rule Tool. For me this works out great for my work email. You can have certain emails automatically circumventing your inbox and filed in pre-determined folders like your "to be read" or "action needed" folder. You can go crazy with this feature.

To get to your Rule Tool simply click on Tools and follow the instructions.



You can choose from many different options such as moving certain emails to folders. You can have emails sent directly to your deleted folder. You can have an alert sent to your mobile device when an email comes to your inbox. Play around in this tab and see all of the things you can do.




In addition to using rules you can also control your junk mail by using another tool that is found by going to the Tools tab and clicking on Options.









You can manage your junk email very nicely from this folder. You can designate safe email senders and senders that should be blocked.

Do you use Outlook to manage your electronic mail account? If not what do you use?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Freeze Corn On The Cob

Did you know that you can cook corn ahead of time, freeze it, and then have it taste fresh on eating day?

For the prep work, buy the corn on the cobs remove the husks and wipe down the corn. Blanche them in boiling water based on the following:

Small ears - boil for 7 minutes
Medium ears - boil for 9 minutes
Large ears - boil for 11 minutes.

Immediately remove from the boiling water and submerge them in cold water to stop the cooking proccess. Once completely cooled, drain the corn and immediately freeze in freezer ziplocs or containers.

On cooking day remove corn early in the morning or the night before, so it has time to completely thaw. Boil corn in boiling water (just enough water for the corn to be submerged) for a few minutes until heated through, drain, butter and salt if desired, and serve.

How easy is that?

Menu Monday - Dec 7

Good Morning Monday. Time for the menu of the week. How is your menu planning going? It's not too late to start. Share yours here with me.

Monday - BBQ chicken wings, french fries, corn on the cob

Tuesday - hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, green beans

Wednesday - Moroccan Chicken and Couscous Soup

Thursday - Leftover soup and sammies

Friday - Chicken tacos and yello rice

Saturday - BBQ chicken wings, french fries, http://tmorganizing.blogspot.com/2009/06/very-delicious-non-mayo-cole-slaw.html (yes I know this is a repeat but my older boys love wings and I got wings on sale at the grocery this week).

Sunday - Honey Baked Ham, mac n cheese, veggies


Add your own Menu Monday link by clicking below....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another Meatloaf Recipe

Finding more recipes for meatloaf which just happens to be my husband's favorite dish.....

Easy Meatloaf Recipe Ingredients
• 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
• 1 cup 2% milk
• 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except ketchup in a large bowl, and mix well.

Place mixture into an ungreased loaf pan or shape into a loaf in an ungreased baking pan. Spread ketchup or sauce over the top of the meatloaf.

Bake uncovered for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until no pink remains at the center of the meatloaf. If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature of the meatloaf should be 160 degrees.

After baking, let sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan and slicing to serve.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No More Rush Days

I am always thinking of ways to help simplify my already chaotic and busy lifestyle. Earlier this year I was growing particularly frustrated by so many days where I would come home from work without having had one thought of what would be made for dinner that night. Needless to say just starting to think about dinner at 6pm was way too late for me, unless I was from a European country where everyone eats dinner at midnight.

So I started brainstorming and trying to come up with better ways to plan out my day. I thought of planning the night before which was still way too late for me because I usually would need something for the next day's meal. I backed up even further and started thinking about how to plan a week in advance. I created a list for each day of the next week and what my plan would be for dinner. Once I did that and got the habit going, I expanded on the list and started adding food items I would need to keep the weekly menu plan. I started to include a column for my kids and personal activities I had to plan for throughout the week.

I came up with a great worksheet that I now create on Saturday for the upcoming week ahead. I address the meals I am going to prepare and that allows me to identify my grocery list for Sunday grocery shopping. I incorporate my work calendar and personal calendar into my activities column. I also add in any other things that may affect the weekly plan. When I am finished with this worksheet I put it up on my refrigerator for the whole family to see. No more guessing what's for dinner. It's all planned out ahead of time. Of course there will always be those days where things don't always go to plan but at least I have minimized those days by trying to forsee what's up and coming.

I have attached a copy of my worksheet.

Weekly Planner

Feel free to download it and tell me if it works for you. Today just might be the end of rush days for you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yummy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I love banana bread and have found a great recipe that is easy and delicious. I just had to share it with you. If you make it please leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out. So yummy and chocolately.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (depending on how chocolately you like it)
1 cup chopped nuts (if desired)

Directions

Place oven rack in lowest position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of a loaf pan (9x5x3). Mix sugar and margarine in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, milk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients (except nuts and chips) until moistened. Stir in nuts and chips. Pour into pan. Bake for an hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chinese Honey Ginger Chicken Freezer Cooking

Here is another easy freezer cooking recipe that you can make way ahead of time. Simply follow the directions and freeze. On the day you want to make the dish simply take out the baggie to thaw and follow the cooking directions. It couldn't be any easier.

6 chicken breasts
4 tsp chopped yellow onion
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh minced ginger
1/4 c chives

Combine all ingredients in a freezer container or Ziploc bag. Freeze.


Instructions from Freezer:
Allow to thaw. Pour Chinese style honey ginger chicken into a casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve. Great with rice!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Turkey Croquettes

Wanna cute recipe for your leftover turkey and mashed potatoes?

I found a really great one that I tried tonight.

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked turkey meat, diced
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes
3 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
(Makes 6 - 8 servings)

Directions:

In a large bowl, add turkey, sweet potatoes, salt and pepper, 1 beaten egg, mix thoroughly and form into oblong croquettes.

2. In a second bowl add the flour, and in a third bowl the beaten eggs, and finally in a fourth bowl add the bread crumbs.

3. Dip croquettes into flour, beaten egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, and set aside.

4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat and fry croquettes, turning occasionally until golden brown. Serve immediately.

5. Heat leftover turkey gravy and serve with the croquettes.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Easiest and Best Spaghetti Sauce Ever

Being from an Italian background I believe I started eating spaghetti and sauce while still in the high chair. As I grew up past the high chair I remember standing on a chair to watch my grandmother make it every Sunday.

So as a busy mom with kids I have taken the sauce recipe and made it into a recipe that you can make in 30 minutes so that my kids can also enjoy the same spaghetti staple that I grew up with.

So here is my best and easiest spaghetti sauce recipe.

Ingredients

Olive oil, one turn of the pan
1 - 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (puree in a blender)
1 - medium onion diced
2-3 finely chopped garlic cloves (you can substitute garlic with a few tablespoons of garlic powder to save time)
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 - teaspoon oregano
1 - teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper

Method

Heat olive oil in large pan over a medium heat.
Add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
Add chicken stock and cook for about 5 minutes. The stock will reduce in the onion and garlic mixture.
Stir in the tomato puree and turn heat down to low.
Add sugar, oregano, garlic powder (if you did not add garlic cloves).
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Let the sauce simmer on low for approximately 20-30 minutes.
Add the sauce to cooked spaghetti.
Sauce is enough for 2 lbs of cooked spaghetti.

Have fun!



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easy Hamburger Garlic Rolls

If you are like me your pantry always has leftover hamburger rolls from dinner the other night. To top that off, my husband does not like to eat day old hamburger rolls. I hated to throw away the leftover bread because it still seems useable.

So last night I decided to turn the rolls into garlic rolls with our spaghetti dinner. Here is how I did it....

Hamburger Garlic Rolls

Preheat oven on the highest setting or on broil.
Place halves of the rolls face up on a cookie sheet.
Spread the rolls with butter. Sprinkle garlic powder and oregano on top of the butter.
Cook the rolls on the middle rack of the oven for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown. ***
Serve immediately.

P.S. If you want to go crazy, top the buns with onion or mushrooms or cheese to create more variety.

*** All ovens are different so please monitor the browning process carefully. It is very easy to burn the rolls so keep a watchful eye on them.

Purge Now

It's getting very close to Christmas and there will be new gifts coming. I use these types of holidays to prompt me to go into the closets and drawers with garbage bags in hand to purge everything. And I mean everything! Old papers, clothes that no longer are fit to wear, old shoes, toys, and books. Anything and everything.

It's up to you if you want your kids to participate. I usually don't let mine mainly because if I left it up to them they wouldn't approve of anything being purged and it would be a battle I would not want to fight.

I do my purging when the kids are out of the house or asleep at night. When it comes to toys I don't get rid of stuff that I know they love and play with. It's usually the toys and books they no longer look at and probably would never miss it if I gave it away. The same holds true with clothes though those are easier to explain away because clothes get old and kids outgrow them.

Have fun with your purging and clearing your clutter. It will be a great feeling in the end.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How To Make a Rue for Gravy or Sauce

Do you want to make the perfect gravy or cheese sauce? You have come to the right place. Follow this recipe and video for making a rue and once you get the rue completed you can turn it into any flavorful gravy that you want. If you add cheese to it and macaroni you have a great macaroni and cheese dish. If you add chicken stock and mushrooms you have a wonderful mushroom gravy. The possibilities are endless.

The quality of the video is pretty good but keep in mind that I am video taping and making the rue at the same time so if the camera is a bit shaky please understand this. If you have any questions regarding rue please leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Here it is:

olive oil, one turn of the pan
3 pats of butter
3 tsp flour
1 - 1.5 cups of stock or milk (see HINT below)
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter and stir in with a whisk. When butter is melted, add the flour and whisk the flour in with the butter until the flour cooks fully and no longer looks white. The flour might clump up but that is ok. Add the liquid and whisk to incorporate until all the lumps are gone and the sauce starts to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the sauce is at the desired thickness remove from heat and add to the dish you are making.

***HINT*** If you want to make a milk based rue (for mac n cheese for example) then use milk as the liquid. If you want to make a stock based rue or gravy (like for chicken or turkey gravy) then use chicken stock as the liquid. Enjoy.

video

Menu Monday - Nov 23

It's Thanksgiving Week and I am so excited. I love Thanksgiving and I love leftovers even more! Here is to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving week.

Monday - spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic toast

Tuesday - Pizza, salad

Wednesday - sausage and peppers, broccoli

Happy Thanksgiving Thursday - turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, rolls, apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pudding pie.

Friday - LEFTOVERS!

Saturday - Tacos

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Easy Italian Meatloaf

I made meatloaf the other day and it came out terrible. It was dry and tasteless. I didn't want to put a lot of stuff in it because my kids are really picky about herbs and onions and all that. Surely I can come up with something they would like. I searched all over and found my next meatloaf recipe. I am looking forward to testing it out but from the ingredients it sounds delicious.

Do you have a meatloaf recipe that you love? If so please share!

Easy Italian Meatloaf

1 pound ground beef (leaner is better)
1 4 ounce can mushrooms (reserve juice)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 center cut bacon strips
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add water to mushroom juice to make 1 cup. Fry bacon until crispy, drain and crumble. Set aside.

Combine beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, egg, mushroom juice, garlic powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. On wax paper, form meat mixture into a 8x12 inch rectangle.

Sprinkle meat with parsley, oregano, basil, thyme and 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs. Spread bacon, onion, mushrooms and cheese evenly over meat.

Roll meat into an 8 inch wide loaf. Place meatloaf into an 8 inch glass bread pan or glass baking dish.

Bake for 60 minutes. Pour tomato sauce over meatloaf, and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

Let meatloaf sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Easy Freezer Chicken Tacos

I found this great recipe on a blog in my reader. I am a big fan of make ahead cooking and crock pots. This recipe does both.

In a ziploc baggie, add the following ingredients:

3-1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1/4 cup diced green chiles (small can)
3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1 teaspoon cumin

Rinse two pounds of boneless/skinless chicken thighs or breasts and add to bag. Massage bag to combine ingredients well. Seal and freeze.

To Cook: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Place contents of bag into crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours/high for 3-4 hours, or until meat shreds easily.

SO EASY

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Great Lentil Recipe

I grew up on lentils mainly because my mom always told me that they are good for you (they are..loaded with protein and fiber) and cheap (they are...$1 per bag). But I strayed away from them for awhile because I didn't know how to cook them with any kind of variety. But I stumbled upon a cookbook that had a really neat lentil recipe in it and decided to give it a try. Keep in mind that this recipe is very flexible...where it says sausage substitute ground turkey or chicken thighs or legs.

And if you have any questions about the recipe post a comment and I will be sure to help you out.

Sausage and Lentil Stew

1 2/3 cups lentils
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb Italian sausage (removed from the casings or sliced) or substitute 4 chicken thighs
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced small
2/3 cup chicken broth


1. Heat up a frying pan with a couple of turns of olive oil. If you are making this with chicken thighs, salt and pepper the thighs and brown in the pan on both sides (about 6 minutes on each side). If you are making with sausage or other chopped meat, add the meat to the heated oil and brown throughout.
2. Place meat to the side when it is all cooked.
3. In a separate saucepan or pot coat just the bottom with olive oil and heat the pan.
4. On medium heat, add the onion, garlic, and carrots and saute for a few minutes until the onion becomes clear and soft.
5. Add the lentils to the mixture and stir for a few minutes to incorporate the lentils with the vegetables.
6. Add the water and stir well.
7. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the lentils become tender. Approximately 25 minutes.
8. When the lentils are done, add the chicken or meat mixture and the chicken broth to the lentils.
9. Cover and simmer until the meat is cooked throughout. Approximately 15 minutes.
10. If you want to add more variety, cook some pasta or elbow macaroni and serve the lentils over the pasta.

This makes a great meal and great leftovers. You can add whatever meat you want or you can make it completely vegetarian. It's your choice. Have fun with it.

Bon Appetite

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Organizing Your Kids

It's a subject I have been thinking about for some time now. As my teen boys grow into adulthood I am beginning to help them with some of those life skills that will be necessary once they leave the house and go off on their own. Organization is one of them but it's a struggle. It's hard enough to get them to study and do their homework. But I keep pressing on hoping that something will rub off on them and when they do get to college they will at least take a small bit of organizing knowledge with them.

So how do you teach them? For me, it's all about making organization easy and fun. For example, my oldest son could never get his clothes into the hamper. But by chance I took him to Target one day and there were some nifty cool hampers there. He wanted one but when I pointed out that I wasn't going to waste money on something that was not going to get use. He assured me that was not going to be the case. I gave in and bought it for him and I have found that he does use it. Problem solved. One down and only 200 more to go. LOL

As for the other teen organizational problems my intent it to blog about it in a series entitled "Teen Organization". I hope to be able to provide many different suggestions on how to keep your teens organized from my own experiences as well as other people's experiences.

How do you get your kids to be organized? Leave a comment if you have any kind of ideas.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Moroccan Chicken and Couscous Soup

I don't usually buy cookbooks and the only books I own are baking cookbooks. This is mainly due to the fact that I cook by method not by recipe unless it is something rare and exotic and needs a recipe to follow. Baking is a different story because the ingredient amounts are pretty important. But the other day I found a cookbook on how to make all sorts of dishes with chicken and I was intrigued. I love chicken and am always looking for different dishes. So I splurged and want to share this new recipe with you. Originally I made it with chicken but this week I splurged and made it with Italian sausage instead. It came out just as delicious. Also, remember to use this as a method. Quantities will vary depending on the number of people you are feeding. You may substitute any veggie or meat you want.

Moroccan Sausage and Couscous Soup

2 tbsp cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb boneless skinless chicken cut into strips
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 sweet potato peeled and cut into small cubes
1 zucchini, cut into cubes
3/4 cup tomato puree
1 quart water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup couscous
1/3 cup chopped parsley

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. About 5 minutes.

2. Increase the heat to moderately high. Add the chicken, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the sweet potato, zucchini, tomato puree, water, and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender. About 10 minutes.

4. Add the couscous to the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand covered for 2 minutes. Add the parsley and serve.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Menu Monday - Sept 7

Please forgive me for my tardiness. I had a menu planned but just had trouble getting access to my blog yesterday. It wasn't the internet but just my kids who were hogging my computer all day yesterday. Either way here is my menu for the week. Happy Cooking!

Monday - leftover baked ziti

Tuesday - Moroccan sausage and couscous soup, green salad

Wednesday - Shrimp tacos, black beans and rice

Thursday - Chicken and lentils

Friday - Grilled tilapia,mashed potatoes, corn

Saturday - date night. Finally.

Sunday - Arroz con pollo

Monday, August 31, 2009

Menu Monday August 31

It's the last day of August and I got a new recipe book dedicated to the art of cooking chicken. I looked through it and I can't wait to try some new recipes. I am a big chicken lover and often get it very cheap so it makes for good family meals.

Here is my menu plan for this week:

Monday - grilled pork chops, smashed potatoes (add grated onion and garlic for extra zing), corn

Tuesday - Hamburgers, hotdogs, macaroni and cheese, and green beans.

Wednesday - Chicken and couscous soup (featured recipe of the week..stay tuned)

Thursday - Chicken with lentils

Friday - Steak fajitas

Saturday - Couscous salad with turkey

Sunday - Baked Ziti

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Perfect Pantry

So excited! My pantry is featured this week here.

Check it out and also check out my other organizing blog in general. I would love to have you as a reader.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

This post is a bit of a cheat because while my DD's first day of school was today, my older fellows first day of school was actually last week since they are in private high school which follows a different schedule. Either way they all looked adorable and I am so very proud of all that they are doing and have accomplished.

Just wanted to share a few photos of their great days!



High School Junior



High School Freshman



First Grader

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pretty Baby Wipes

I use baby wipes all the time even though my kids are no longer babies or in diapers. But wipes come in handy for an organizer like myself who loves to be clean and have the ability to pick up messes. The product is a really pretty baby wipes case. I love it because it makes me feel good about keeping clean and they are really pretty to look at. Aren't they?




You can get them right here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Monday - August 17

Hello to my fellow moms and bloggers. This week is going to prove to be a big challenge with two kids off to first day of school and one going next week. It's always challenging getting back into a routine even for those of us who are organized. It's still a tough transition. Thank goodness for Menu Monday to at least keep my dinner planning on track. So here it is. My menu for the week.

Monday - grilled bbq chicken, mac n cheese, corn

Tuesday - Hamburgers and hot dogs, mashed potatoes, peas

Wednesday - Shrimp tacos, black beans and rice, green salad

Thursday - Beef soup over noodles, broccoli

Friday - Baked tilapia, squash, green salad

Saturday - BBQ in honor of my birthday!

Sunday - Baked Ziti

Have a great week. What's on your menu?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

School Is Coming - Are You Ready?

Boy it seems like time just flew on by this summer. This summer seemed so more than in the past. I thought I would get a break or that things would slow down some but that never really happened. Now it is time for me to put back into place those organizational systems that work for me when the kids are back in school. Such as:

Morning Routine

1. Set out all of the breakfast bowls, cereals, vitamins, and whatever else you need in the morning to get going.
2. Prepare all school lunches the night before and have lunch boxes all set up on the counter.
3. All clothes get laid out the night before.
4. Shoes and backpacks are at the door. Make sure everyone has their appropriate schedules.
5. Go to bed early to get used to this adjustment.

Weekly Meal Planning

1. Set aside a few minutes of time on the weekend to layout your meal plan for the next week. I coordinate the my meal plan layout right before I go grocery shopping so I can write down any particular food items I might need for the meal plan. This minimizes the surprises during the week and it also helps my husband just in case I am running late at work and he has to help prepare the meal. The plan is right there on the refrigerator. Also, it helps my kids to know what is for dinner on any given night.

2. Do your grocery shopping on the weekend. It is so much more helpful to get that out of the way.

3. Along with the weekly meal plan, I also look over the calendar of events for the week to be sure that everyone knows what everyone is doing and that everyone is taken care of as far as pick ups from school, after school activities, etc.

Do you have any organizational systems that help you throughout the school year? If so what are they?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Menu Monday - July 27

Happy Monday morning to everyone! My last week was pretty hectic. I was on jury duty the whole week so that threw all of my previous organized plans in the air. Even though I am still on jury duty I think I have worked a menu plan for the week that works for this crazy schedule. How did you do this week?

Monday - BBQ chicken, Rice, and Corn

Tuesday - Chicken A La King (using left over chicken from Monday)

Wednesday - Shrimp Salad

Thursday - Pizza and small side salad

Friday - Turkey burgers and veggie cole slaw

Saturday - Beef/Broccoli Stir Fry

Sunday - Hamburgers/Hot Dogs, leftover veggie cole slaw

This week I am counting on some leftovers as you can tell. I believe this is a very good idea when you are cooking for a large family and are leading busy lives. If you cook more than you need in one sitting you can have a wonderful leftover meal the next day.

Have a great week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Monday - July 13

I thought Summer was supposed to be a slow season. For me it's anything but slow. Even though the kids are not in school, there are so many activities in camps and sports and swimming that I don't know when I can get a chance to breath. At the same time I am doing some organizing jobs on the side simply because it is something I love to do.

Thank goodness for Menu Mondays. It is the one constant that I have in my life. So here is this week's menu for Monday. Enjoy your own Menu Monday.

Monday - Baked Ziti and garlic bread

Tuesday - Grilled BBQ chicken, baked potato, broccoli

Wednesday - Hamburgers, hot dogs, tator tots, corn

Thursday - Pizza night

Friday - Steak and Broccoli stir fry

Saturday - Spaghetti and meat sauce, salad

Sunday - BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs, broccoli slaw, corn on the cob.

What do you have on your menu for this week?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Menu Monday - June 29

Hello everyone out there in my blogosphere. It's been a few weeks since my last Menu Monday. That's because I was with my family on our summer vacation trip to our family's lake house in South Carolina. I plan to post photos soon along with my organizing tips for vacations and trips. In the meantime I hope your week is starting off good with a nice plan for your dinner meals. Here is mine:

Monday - Spaghetti with marinara sauce, garlic bread, salad

Tuesday - Grilled BBQ chicken, fried egg noodles, corn

Wednesday - Hamburgers and hot dogs, cole slaw, french fries

Thursday - Pork chops, mashed potatoes, peas

Friday - Baked Ziti, garlic bread, salad

Saturday - Fourth of July bbq! Have fun!

Sunday - Sirloin steak, baked potato, corn

Bon Appetit!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Very Delicious Non-Mayo Cole Slaw

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law last month when we were visiting in South Carolina. It is so delicious and adaptable. The original recipe is as a side dish but the other day I added some boiled shrimp and it made a delicious meal. You can add any meat item like chicken or pork and it will be just as delicious.

Ingredients


2 pk crushed ramen noodles
1/2 Cup slivered almonds
4 T sesame seeds
3 T butter


Brown the above ingredients in butter and cool.

1 - 16 oz package of prepackaged cole slaw
2/3 cup salad oil
2 T rice vinegar (white is fine too)
4 T sugar
1 T black pepper
2 T soy sauce
1 pk of chicken flavoring from the ramen noodles mix

Whisk together all of the wet ingredients and pour over the slaw. Add the butter mixture. Toss it all together. Add any kind of meat you like for a main course.

You can refrigerate this or serve immediately.

Bon Appetite

Friday, June 5, 2009

Declutter A Space

Do you look at a space that needs to be decluttered and wonder where to start? You just look at the space and scratch your head in disgust and then put it off for another day? It’s easy to get into this kind of situation especially if you let the decluttering process overwhelm you. But I have found that the most effective approach to decluttering is similar to dieting. If your goals are too extreme and seemingly impossible you will never get to the goal. You need to make your goals simple and small and do-able.

Let’s use the kitchen as an example. The entire kitchen needs to be decluttered including the cabinets, drawers, refrigerator, and pantry. Instead of trying to tackle all of those areas, concentrate on the drawers first. After you are done, you can either stop or move to the next area. It all depends on your comfort level. Try to remember that the clutter didn’t happen overnight so it won’t be overnight that it will all get cleaned up. It takes some time and patience but the rewards are really wonderful.

So let’s take the drawer example. Like any decluttering or organizing job, the first thing you need to do is completely empty the contents of the area you are organizing. In this case, you should completely empty the drawer (s). You will then need to start going through your items and setting up two small piles, one for trash and one for keep. You might be asking how you know which pile to put the item in. While I plan to write a future post on this, a good general rule of thumb is that if you have not used the item in the last 6 months, chances are you will never use it. Throw it out. If it doesn’t work such as old batteries, dried up pens, or anything that has not worked in a long time throw it out.

Now take the pile of saved items and start returning them to the drawer. To be really super organized, I put drawer organizers in each of my drawers whether the drawer is for silverware or forpens/pencils/batteries. You can buy those at any local hardware or Target store for a reasonable price.

Put the items back in the drawers in a logical fashion. Pens go together. Batteries go together, knives go together. The key to organizing is to make things simpler and easier to get to and get around so that you don’t waste a lot of time sifting through drawers and searching through piles looking for that one item that is “around here somewhere”.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Menu Monday - June 1

Happy Monday Morning! It's Menu Monday and I am curious as to how you all did last week with your menu planning. I did ok..not great..no terrible. I hit about 50% of my meals planned because of a few glitches like me having to work later than expected. It's the start of hurricane season today and being a South Floridian it's not typically one of my favorite milestones of the year. Having said that, I do know that this means hurricane preparations lie in the not too distant future as I have to stock up on supplies. In the meantime I have prepared my weekly menu and as always my goal is to hit 100% of the meals here.

Monday - Chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, and veggies.

Tuesday - Pork chops, applesauce, green salad

Wednesday - Shrimp pasta with oranges on arugula

Thursday - Pizza, green salad

Friday - Tilapia with marinara sauce, broccoli

Saturday - Day off eating out with family.

Have a great week!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Karma?

Just three short days ago I put together a post that explained how to go about decluttering your computer. I thought it was insightful. In fact, I had adopted all of the rules...some a long time ago but a few just recently. I was in the process of backing up the documents in my hard drive to my new google docs account.

Little did I know that in just a few short days, my entire hard drive would crash. I blogged about it here and I wish I had done the google docs a long time ago as I only managed to get 25% of my documents uploaded there. I was planning on doing the rest in the next week.

I guess I proved that when it comes to one's hard drive crashing or Google crashing, my bets are on my hard drive crashing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Decluttering My Computer

I spend a lot of my working time and personal time on my personal computers. Both of them have become cluttered with files and icons on the desktop and it has really bothered me. So I started doing some research on the best way to declutter and found a few articles that have really helped me. I took some bits and pieces of each article and have begun the process of decluttering.

1. I created a temporary folder in the "My Documents" folder. I call it "ADesktop" which prompts me to remember that this is where all of my desktop icons are. We will address organizing your file folders in awhile. You can access all of your programs from this folder and totally cleans off your desktop. It reminds me of a messy desk. You are so much more effective if you file your paperwork in folders in a drawer and clear your personal desk to work. Your computer operates the same way. You can clear up your desktop and organize your "ADesktop" folder so that finding your programs is one click away. Put a nice simple wallpaper on your screen and the computer looks slick and nice.

2. I organize all of my folders whether they are email folders, computer folders, or paperwork folders in the same fashion. Let's use an example of organizing my kids homework files. The main folder that I would create would be called "Kids Homework". Then I would create a sub folder within that folder called "Kevin" which is named for one of my kids. If necessary I would create folders under the "Kevin" folder called "8th grade" or "9th grade". I would then file the document under the appropriate sub-sub-sub folder. What you are doing is creating a hierarchy of folders so that you can easily find the homework paper that you are looking for without having to search through a mound of papers and wasting time. I do the same thing with my paperwork files and plan on doing a separate blog post on that in the future. What you are trying to create is an organizational structure on your computer so that finding documents is easy and quick.

3. Organize your bookmarks in the same way as you organize your folders. Create a hierarchy structure for your bookmarks in categories that make sense to you. Don't be afraid to create a three tier structure if need be. You will save so much time this way. Also, when you organize your bookmarks you can get rid of old and outdated links that you no longer need.

4. Be prepared to put things in the recycle bin. Be judicious about it though just as you do off the computer. Decide if the file is no longer needed or has outlived its use and toss it. It takes some upfront work but it's a lot like cleaning the house..something you may not like to do but necessary for maintenance.

5. Use an online server for your documents, photos, and important bookmarks. I use google docs for my documents. It is safe and password protected and the best part about this is that I can access my documents from any computer anywhere. I use ofoto for my photos but there are many other online websites where you can upload your photos. Because my photos are very important to me I also back up my photos on a jump drive. Very few of my photos are on my hard drive because of the clutter. A lot of people might say "what if the internet crashes" or "what if google folds tomorrow" what would happen to those files that I have uploaded to the server? I guess I could say the same thing for my own desktop computer. It could crash tomorrow and I wouldn't be able to retrieve anything. But I don't see google going away any time soon and if it did, I would create a backup plan

6. I use igoogle a lot. I use the google desktop function to get all of my national news, local news, and weather reports and the google reader where I keep my blog subscriptions. Google reader is awesome for filing your favorite blogs in folders. The google desktop is awesome because you can have it all right on the desktop while you are working. It's all there and accessible. You can add "gadgets" and "widgets" for your favorite games or applications. I added a facebook widget to mine so I can also access facebook from my google desktop. You can check it all out and sign up at igoogle.

I love finding simple ways to perform my computer tasks and so excited that I have started to implement some of these things in my regular life. It definitely makes my computer experience much more pleasurable.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I put this dish on my Menu Monday but neglected to give the recipe. So here goes...let me know how it turns out.

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Chipotle and Fire Roasted Tomato

Ingredients
3 cups chicken stock
1 pound chicken tenders
1 bay leaf, fresh if available
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
4 slices thick, smoky center cut bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chipotles in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons sauce
1 (28-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
Salt
4 cups lightly crushed corn tortilla chips
2 cups shredded fresh smoked mozzarella or smoked sharp white Cheddar, 3/4 pound
1 lime, cut into wedges
1/2 red onion, chopped
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions
Bring broth to a simmer and add chicken tenders, poach 6 to 7 minutes with a bay leaf.

While chicken poaches, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a medium soup pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp then remove with slotted spoon. Drain off excess fat, leaving 2 to 3 tablespoons in the pan. Add onions and garlic to the skillet and cook 5 minutes then stir in chipotles and tomatoes.

Remove chicken from stock, dice and then add to soup. Pass stock through a strainer then add to the soup.

Place a pile of crushed tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup bowl. Cover liberally with smoked cheese then ladle the hot soup down over the top. Serve with lime, raw onions and cilantro at table to finish the soup.

Bon Appetit

Monday, May 25, 2009

Menu Monday - May 25, 2009

Hello to everyone of my followers and I really appreciate you giving me a follow. How did the menus go for last week? I was on target for all but one of those days due to an unexpected long day of work.

Getting back to this week, I feel so bad because I almost missed my own Monday deadline. It's not that Menu Monday was far from my mind but this Memorial Day I was out traveling visiting relatives and did not have access to my computer. I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. I know I did. So here is to a successful Menu week. Good Luck!

Monday - Day Off for Memorial Day traveling

Tuesday - Turkey burgers, baked macaroni and cheese, corn

Wednesday - Apricot Chicken and Rice, green beans

Thursday - Pizza, salad

Friday - Chicken Tortilla Soup, Tacos

Saturday - Grilled Chicken, BBQ baby back ribs, sweet potato, salad

Sunday - Lasagna, green salad

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Save Time With Double Meals

I often rack my brain trying to figure out how to get a nice, warm, home cooked meal on the table every night. With my hectic schedule it is a tremendous challenge.

Several years ago I discovered Rachel Ray and the 30 minute meal. At the time it was a life saver. I really learned how to take the slow cooked meal and make it fast. But now that 30 minutes doesn't seem to be fast enough. I am now on a mission to take the 30 minute meal down to 10-15 minutes.

So that is my challenge. I realized that in order to do that I would really have to plan my meals for the week no later than the weekend prior to my week. I did that this weekend. To give an example, I planned to have one day (Tuesday) as a meal of pork chops, applesauce and broccoli. I also planned to have another day (Saturday) as a meal of Pork Stir Fry with Vegetables. So instead of cooking my pork on two different days, I simply doubled up the number of chops I made on Tuesday and put the extra batch in a ziploc baggie in the freezer for use on Saturday. This will mean that I will have saved a tremendous amount of prep time on Saturday and will still have a fresh and tasty meal.

I did the same thing with my BBQ chicken meal that I planned for tonight. Last Saturday I cooked Italian coated chicken in the oven. I doubled up on the breasts where half of the breasts were cooked with a BBQ sauce coating and the other half were cooked with an Italian breadcrumb coating.

I just think that the doubling idea is a good one and really helpful. Twice the meals in the same amount of time. It really does work. Now I just have to get creative and start thinking of more ways I can double up meals. Any suggestions? Email me or leave a comment. I would love to hear it.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Monday

Hello all of my readers out in cyberspace. I hope your week went well. I have been so busy lately putting up this new blog and researching content that I missed Menu Monday last week. But I am back for my weekly installment and ready for a great meal week planned. Hope yours is as fun as I hope mine will be.

Monday - Spaghetti and meatballs (leftover from Sunday), salad, garlic bread

Tuesday - Pork chops, applesauce, and roasted broccoli

Wednesday - BBQ chicken, fried egg noodles (method is below), green beans

Thursday - Shrimp and Orange Arugula salad

Friday - Turkey burgers, squash, rice

Saturday - Asian style pork and vegetable noodles

Sunday - Day off. We are going to a Memorial Day party.

Fried Egg Noodles

Cook up a batch of egg noodles.
When they are done cooking, drain them off.
Heat up a deep skillet with a few turns of olive oil and a few tablespoons of butter
Add the egg noodles to the skillet and let them saute in the oil/butter.
As you turn the egg noodles you will notice that they will crisp up along the edges.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Organizing Is A Way Of Life

As a young girl, I always have lots of memories of how I loved to organize my room. I would take apart my drawers of clothes and repack them, refold, make it all neat again. I was constantly rearranging my shelves of knick knacks and making my closet look all pretty and organized. All of my clothes on hangers faced the same way. Dresses were always together as well as pants and shirts. In my bathroom, the cabinets were organized too. Except for the fact that I had to share much of my living space with my three brothers, I tried to keep it all organized.

I am sure I wasn't perfect and neat and orderly all the time. But I do remember a sense of satisfaction of keeping my personal space neat. I was always cleaning out my parent's car to make it clean and neat.

Then when I grew up and had my own house, my love of organizing extended to my own house. Kids came along and it was more important than ever to keep organization in order to keep my sanity. And now here I am with 4 kids and still love to organize, reorganize, reshuffle, declutter, and minimize the space in which I live. But now I am blogging about it.

I know some people think of me as a neat freak or maybe just a freak. But to me there is nothing more satisfying and peaceful than waking up in the morning to an orderly house. I believe it sets the tone for my day and my personal inner peace. I find that when the house is a mess or in disarray, I am personally in disarray and irritable. I take pride in my surroundings whether it is my car, my home, or my office.

I try to create an order to my home because I don't have the luxury of time to go looking for things. I work full time, have 4 kids, a hungry husband, and a house that cries for my attention. I believe that order comes in the preparation, the foresight, and tips and tricks along the way that can help train each and every one of us to do those little things that make a difference.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My New Face

So this is my new blog. I am looking forward to putting a lot of helpful information here and helping so many other moms and dads get organized. Life is always crazy but it helps to be organized. I will show you how.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Menu Monday - May 4

Happy Monday to those watching me on the information superhighway. Remember when people used to call it that? How did you do last week with your weekly menu? I managed to stick pretty close to my own menu with the exception of Friday. It was too nice of an evening to stay at home so I decided to eat out with the family. I had a beautiful strawberry field greens salad that I have to find the recipe for to post it.

Without further delay here are my goals for this week.

Monday - Roasted Chicken with Balsamic Vinagrette, Mac n Cheese, and Corn

Tuesday - Fusilli with Shrimp, Orange and Arugula Salad

Wednesday - Turkey burgers and slaw salad



Thursday - Linguine with lemon, garlic, and thyme mushrooms

Friday - Grilled Tilapia with side salad

Saturday - Hot Dogs and Turkey Burgers

Sunday - Happy Mother's Day - no cooking by moms allowed.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Monday - April 27

Hi everyone out there in my blogosphere. Last week was a really big challenge for me personally and I am sure it was for you too! Let's see, one evening was spent working out at my gym with my great and fantastic personal trainer Amy. Another evening was spent with my son at his high school award ceremony. And my mother in law was visiting. All of this proves to be very interesting when it comes to sticking to a schedule. I was able to do about half of my plan. But this week it's all different. My mother-in-law has left and gone back home and the activities this week seem to be mild. So I am going to attempt another successful menu week. What do you have on the menu? Feel free to add to the list.

Monday - Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce, Garlic Bread, and Salad

Tuesday - Chicken in the Crock pot, Cooked Carrots, Buttered Noodles

Wednesday - Minestrone Soup, Salad

Thursday - Pasta with shrimp, orange and arugula

Friday - Sliced Steak on a Mixed Green Salad

Saturday - BBQ Wings, Macaroni n Cheese, Green Beans

Sunday - Lasagne, Garlic Bread, Broccoli

Have a great time creating your own menu! And leave me a note to let me know your successes so I can share them with others.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kitchen Series Part 2 - Under The Sink

How well do you organize the storage under your kitchen sink? If you neglect that cabinet space you are probably not taking advantage of quality space. Most people don't like it because of the pipes. It's hard to put shelves in that space so a lot of people don't use it wisely.

The first thing I would recommend to get for under the sink is an organizer like this.



These organizers can be built around the pipes under the sink. On these shelves you should put your kitchen cleaners (please make sure if you have small children that you childproof the cabinet), garbage bags, and other kitchen paper products. Under the sink is where I put my cutting boards, sponges, dish rags, and dishwasher soap.

Be sure to utilize this space as wisely as possible and keep it neat. You will find that a lot of storage space in the unlikeliest of places.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Menu Monday

This week promises to be a really busy week which makes Menu Monday all the more important. There is going to be some crockpot cooking and some frozen stuff in there but it's unavoidable due to the hectic schedule. I still manage to squeeze in some homemade dishes.



Monday: Crockpot pork roast with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Tuesday: Hamburgers with tator tots and corn on the cob

Wednesday: Teriyaki Chicken served with warm ginger carrot slaw and veggies

Thursday: Celebration Dinner out with the family

Friday: Minestrone soup in the crockpot and Pizza

Saturday: Steak with baked potato and cauliflower

Sunday: BBQ hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries and birthday cake in honor of my daughter's birthday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Organizing Tip For Today

Everywhere I go there is always something that pops into my head that I must remember whether it is remembering to pick up milk on the way home from work, mail a special letter, send someone an important email, RSVP a party, etc etc. When you have kids the list is endless. I don't carry a PDA so instead I carry around a small notepad in my purse to document just those things that pop into my head at a moments notice. When I get home I then transfer the activities to my Outlook calendar as reminders. I have found that this is such a timesaver and it helps me not to forget some important reminders going on in the day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kitchen Series Part 1 - A Clean Pantry

The other day I organized my pantry and now it is so functional and easy to get to everything. Here are some tips to organizing your pantry.



1. Take everything out of the pantry before you organize it.

2. Discard anything that looks old and outdated.

3. Put your items into groups that make logical sense (cereals, canned veggies, paper items, etc)

4. When you put your grouped items back remember to put the most commonly used items at easy reach and put the items you use less frequently up on top or down on bottom. The key is to make your trip to the pantry quick and easy.

5. Use containers for items such as flour, sugar, noodles, and rice. Those items are easier to scoop and use in a hard container rather than the bag that they come in. Plus there is less mess and bugs. Also, use a small basket for little items that can get lost with the bigger items like soup packets, gravy packets, etc.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easiest Birthday Cake Ever

I have made plenty of birthday cakes in my lifetime and it seems that the more easy the cake the better it tastes. I am not sure why that is..I think part of the reason is because in order to make cakes look beautiful it takes a lot of sugary and sometimes not very tasty ingredients like fondant and marzipan and crisco. But here is a birthday cake that I have made for the past few birthdays and it is always a hit and super easy.

1. Take any flavor store bought cake mix and follow instructions on the box. In this recipe I use chocolate. I put mine in a bundt pan because it turns out even all over and it is really easy to frost. There is no fuss with a bunch of pans and trying to make the cake straight.



2. While the cake is cooling, start on the ganache frosting. I take 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of heavy cream and put it under medium heat over the stove stirring constantly until the chips are melted. Once they are melted, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the mixture and stir until melted. Place the chocolate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to let it firm up. (Stir it every few minutes while it is in the refrigerator to keep it smooth). The best part about this frosting is the cleanup. There are no messy beaters, no large bowls, and you get to lick the pot!



3. After 20 minutes you should see the frosting a bit firmer. Take it out of the refrigerator and pour the ganache over the cake.



4. Decorate the top of the cake however you like.


5. This cake is a real crowd pleaser but look out because there will be no leftovers after you make this one.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Menu Monday

I like the idea of starting a Menu Monday....this is my first week doing this and hopefully I will get much better with photos and descriptions.

Monday - Leftover Turkey from Easter, Stuffing, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes.

Tuesday - Ribeye Steak, buttered noodles, green beans, brownies

Wednesday - Pizza, mixed green salad

Thursday - Shrimp with orange pasta

Friday - Asian pork in the crockpot

Saturday - hamburgers/hot dogs, slaw salad, brownies

Sunday - Lasagna, garlic toast, mixed green salad

Enjoy your menu this week!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Basic Rule of Organizing

I have noticed over the years that if I follow this simple rule of organizing, I can generally keep my house clean and organized without too much effort.

The rule is this: If it takes less than a minute to do, you need to do it right then.

Here are a few examples of this:

1. Undressing - when you undress and your clothes are not going in the hamper, you need to hang them up. Hanging up your clothes takes less than a minute. So don't put your clothes on the floor or chair. Hang them up.

2. Bringing in the mail - It takes less than a minute to sort your mail so do it as you are walking into the house. Don't put the mail in a pile to get to later. Do it right then. Don't start piles that take less than a minute to sort through.

3. Cleaning up the kitchen while you are cooking - this is a big one for me because I can cook a big meal and literally have no clean up work to do afterward. While I am cooking or making the meal, I put the items away back in the refrigerator or pantry as I am cooking the meal.

4. Car organization - a lot of reasons people have disorganized cars is because they just don't think of their cars as much as their homes yet clutter can grow rapidly in the car. The one minute rule really applies when you are going from your car into your house. Be sure to clean our your car of trash or stuff that need to go from your car to your house. If it takes one minute to do it is well worth the effort to do it right then.

Always remember the rule of one. You will be much more organized and clean if you do.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Saving Money On Groceries

All of us are always looking for ways to knock a few bucks off of our grocery bills. The grocery game promises you just that. It's so easy and fun and you even get a trial month to figure out if you want to continue. The weekly savings alone pays for the monthly fee many times over. The methods used are tried and true but you have to try it to believe it.

Because of the lists and message boards on this site that have taught me so much on how to save I have cut my grocery bill down from $200 a week to $100 a week for a family of 6. And I don't sacrifice quality of food. I am still able to get quality meat, good fish, fruits, and vegetables.

I hope you try it and comment back to me and let me know how you did.

If you like this post, please tweet me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

**Gadget Watch**

Here is a really neat gadget that I saw today. I have to go out and get one. My laptop bag is getting really disorganized and sometimes I cannot find my jump drives. This is a must have if you have a laptop.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday Tips on Vehicle Organization

Most of us are so busy that we probably don't think much about organizing our vehicles. They just end up messy too quickly so it's always feels like a wasted effort. But if you are organized in your vehicle, you will create a sense of peace and tranquility on the road. I have a few tips that I have learned along the way that help me out tremendously.

1. Keep things in their proper place - actually this is Organizing 101 but always an effective tip to remember. It is true for your car also. We tend to let so much stuff from the house wander into the car like food, containers, toys, games, sporting equipment. My rule is that anything that is in the car needs to have a purposeful function on that specific trip or else the item goes back to where it belongs.

2. Keep a trash bag in the car. I have a great handy trash bag that clips on the headrest and hangs in the middle row of seats in my van. It is perfect. It's not too big or too small and holds all of the trash that we accumulate between gas fill-ups. Remember to empty it at each trip to the gas station and make it a habit for everyone in the car to use it. You will be amazed at how less trashy your floors look. Here is a link to this trash bag pictured below.


3. If you have small children always keep a ziploc bag tucked in your seat pockets with an emergency pair of shorts, underwear and shirt. If you have potty trainers you will undoubtedly fall upon those times where there are potty accidents. Be prepared with a change of clothes just in case.

4. Always keep a small travel size container of wipes. This is a must. You will always have the occasional spill or mud or some kind of accident that needs to be cleaned with a wet nap. The travel sizes are perfect for this kind of application.

5. Carry a towel at all times. You never know if you need it. I have found that a towel comes in handy on days when it rains, if you happen to have a sick child, or any other mishap that might happen inside or outside the car. Keep the towel tucked away either under the seat or in the trunk.

If you like this please tweet about it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blog Agenda

I have so many goals and ideas for this blog and for the future of this idea. It's so overwhelming that I don't know how to shape it all. I am putting together a goal chart and flow chart and hopefully I will get it straightened out. Here are my thoughts:

Monday will be meal planning day to kick off the week...or maybe I should have that on Friday to get ready for the next week. Not sure what to make Monday.
Tuesday will be home/vehicle tips.
Wednesday will be gadget day.
Thursday will be finances day.
Friday will be meal planning or organizing the weekend.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Organizational Tips for Getting Your Kids Ready in the Morning

Organizational Tips for Getting Your Kids Ready in the Morning

I have four kids ranging from 16 years old to 3 years old and over the years I have developed an efficient working plan that will get my kids out of bed, fed, dressed and out of the house in just under 30 minutes. My plan also leaves me feeling less stressed and ready to start my workday.

Preparation and organization cannot be expressed enough when it comes to organizing especially if you have kids. Most of my preparation comes the night before and it really does pay off.

Laying Out Clothes

Every child in my house lays out his or her clothes before they go to bed. This includes sock and shoes and they are all put in a central location near their beds. My younger kids aren't concerned with getting a morning shower so they are expected to get dressed immediately upon waking and making their bed. Even if the older ones take a morning shower, they are to lay out their clothes as well so that they don't search for any missing items during the course of the morning. This is a huge timesaver and eliminates unnecessary waste of time by having to look for socks, shoes, belts, etc. Laying out clothes is not only for my kids. I also do this for myself including shoes and jewelry which saves me from standing in my closet and wasting time trying to figure out what to wear.

Preparing morning breakfast the night before

This might sound very strange but it really does work. My kids eat cereal and drink milk for breakfast so this one is pretty easy to implement and since my kids like to make their own breakfast, this one is a big help to me. Before I go to sleep the night before I put out the cereal boxes, bowls, spoons, and cups in the kitchen where they make the breakfast. When they awake in the morning the only thing I need to take out is the milk while they are already preparing the cereal bowls. (I don't pour the cereal in the bowls the night before so I don't attract bugs). I never thought this would be a huge timesaver but I have been doing it now for several months and it works out really well. It also is a big help to the little ones who want to pour their own cereal. They don't have to search in the kitchen for bowls, cereal boxes, and spoons. As a motivation to have them do it themselves, I give them a sticker on the mornings that they do this task.

Backpacks near the door

I have installed several hooks on my laundry room wall. This is the first room that we walk into through the garage when we come home from school. As soon as my kids walk in the door, they hang their backpacks on those hooks where they remain until the next morning when we leave. I implemented this a few years ago when I would waste countless minutes looking and searching for backpacks. I thought that it might be best to have them hanging in a location that was easy for them to reach. Incidentally this is where I hang my car keys and purse so I never have to search for them either. This is a definite timesaver.

Shower the night before

I totally understand that there are people who need to shower in the morning. I am not one of those people and do just fine showering and drying my hair right before I go to bed. This is the biggest timesaver for myself. I used to think that if I did that I would have to spend more time trying to fix my hair the next morning. However that turned out to be a false concern because even though my hair is a mess when I wake up, it is nothing that a spritz of water and blowdrier cannot fix. All that I need to do is wash my face, put on my makeup, spruce up my hair, put on my clothes, jewelry, and shoes that I laid out, and help my kids with the milk for their cereal.

If you are looking for any help in the morning, I suggest you try one or all of these tips. I think you will find that a little bit of preparation the night before will be a big help in how you start the next day.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Attic

I dread going into my attic but as a South Floridian I know that there are a few good months in the year where being in my attic is a fairly bearable experience. And when I do go in there it's always time for a makeover. This Spring proves no different.

My goals in my attic are pretty clear. Get rid of clutter.

A lot of people view their attic and garages as "out of sight out of mind." But for me it's just the opposite.."out of sight, always on my mind." Just because I can't see it all the time doesn't mean it isn't there. And that's the whole idea behind being organized and decluttered.

So this past weekend was it. I had to get up there and JUST DO IT! And I am really glad I did because I got rid of so many boxes and managed to clear out so much space. I am ordering each of the things that I did to show you just how much I got done.

1. Get rid of anything that will never be used again. I found many baby items up there (like an old stroller) that will never be used again and is something I won't keep for sentimental value. Same goes for old books and old stereo equipment that is so outdated that someone else will be sure to get something out of it. Right now it was taking up space.

2. Take down boxes of stuff that I needed to sort through to figure out what I wanted to keep and what to toss. My two main boxes that I tackled were boxes filled with my kids artwork and school papers. Those boxes were filled with almost 16 years of paper. It was a monumental task. My thought process was to go through each paper and if it made me laugh or gave me joy to see it, I kept it. But let's face it...there are many papers that aren't like that so I just got rid of it. I ended up with one very nice clear box with all of the precious cards, drawings, and ashtrays that my children lovingly made and that was fine with me. The rest got tossed.

3. In my attic, I have all of my holiday items in their own boxes and labeled. They are all stored on one side of the attic to make it really easy to get in and out. Remember only a few months out of the year is bearable so you have to make getting in and out very easy. On the other side of the attic is the "other stuff." The stored stuff like air filters, tax papers, and other important items that you need to keep but are better off being stored. I put the important papers in air tight, clear containers and all are labeled for easy viewing. I do have another clear box filled with very special kids clothing. Even though I am done having kids there are those one or two special clothing items or that special "dress" that you just cannot part with. I have those items stored in their own air tight, clear box also.

It takes some times but it's well worth the effort and I recommend that you tackle this area first because as you go through your house to purge you may end up needing some attic space to take your stored items.

One last tip: When you store things in an attic or basement or anywhere for that matter, always store them in a clear container with a label on the sides and on the top lid. You want to be able to quickly see inside at a glance and you want the container to be sturdy enough to store things on top of. The containers are not that expensive and if you get into decluttering mode you will find that you don't need that many of them. I hope to get some good photos to post of my attic this week. Standby for that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

About Me



It's no secret that I love to organize, declutter, and plan just about everything. I makes lists for everything and can find efficiencies in just about every home. I am a wife and mother to four kids of all shapes and sizes ranging from 16 to 3. I know a thing or two about organization. I started this blog because I want to offer other busy moms my best practices at creating organization.


Me and my little ones



Me and my guy fooling around

Contact



Please contact me at mill2542 at bellsouth dot net
(at = @ and dot = .)

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