Sunday, May 31, 2009


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

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
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

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!