Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Treasure Tuesday - Shark Navigator Lift Away Pro

This is my new vacuum!  I got it for Christmas.  It's the Shark Navigator Lift Away Pro.  It's got a ton of suction, so you can really see where you have been.  It can make your carpet almost look like new in some spots (some other spots are beyond hope!).  That middle part where the sticker is you can lift away from the rest of it can vacuum drapes or stairs.  It also swivels, and the head is pretty flat compared to my last one so it can get underneath things a little better.

It comes with attachments, including another head that you can put microfiber pads on and vacuum hard floors.  For the price, I'm very happy with it.  I was wanting the newest Dyson for pet hair, but until I win the lottery, this one will do just fine!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, January 30, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - February Week 1

February Week One: Bedroom Questions
This week you can:
  • diagnose your bedrooms' shortcomings
  • devise a plan to transform your bedroom
  • take a clinical look at your wardrobe
As with the first week of January, this week is mostly about looking around and asking yourself some questions.  You want your bedroom to be a sanctuary.  The above picture is not my bedroom, but pretty close to what I would want it to be.  I don't care for the flower pattern on the pillows or the edge of the rug, but check out those windows and that view.  Wonder how I can get that here in the woods!!

As I was going through the questions and finding out what I did and did not like about my current bedroom, I realized that I did not really involve my husband in the transformation of the kitchen.  He knew I would be going through this book and blogging about it, but he was basically unaware of the little details since I'm doing this while he is at work.  For the past week I have been getting a lot of "where do we keep this now?" kind of questions.  I figured I'd better involve him a little more on the rest of the house.  I still did the questions myself to see how I felt, then when he came home we went over some of it together.

As you see in the picture the bedroom is purple.  Not going to happen in real life.  When we were engaged, my husband and I did a Bible study about marriage.  One of the things we had to do was go through a list of chores and decide who would do what then compare notes.  One of the things was decorate the house and he put "together".  I thought that was so sweet that he would want to actually do that together.  He said he had to be sure I didn't hose the place down in purple. HUMPH!

So our bedroom, and the rest of the house for that matter, is builder beige still, with the bedspread and curtains having blue flowers on them.  Blue is his color.  But we cam up with a compromise, and here is what we will need to do to make our bedroom a sanctuary for both of us.

I picked out the lightest shade of blue in the pattern of the linens.  I like it, not as much as purple, but really this probably would be my second choice.  We are going to paint the walls this color and get a new set of sheets as close to this color as possible.  He mentioned crown molding, but I doubt that will happen, and that's ok.  I think just having the paint alone will make it a whole new room.

Other little details will be going through clothes and getting rid of things we just don't wear and lining all the drawers so the wood on the inside doesn't catch on socks and sweaters.  There won't be much to get rid of, as once again, I already did a lot of that this summer.  But I know of a few things without even looking that should go.  Oh, and we need to clean out underneath the bed.  I'm not even sure what's under there......yikes!

I'm really looking forward to this!!  So, how did you do in January?

Until Next TIme.....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Potato Bake

7-8 small red potatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 lb)
1 can cream of broccoli soup, or broccoli cheese soup
1/2 C sour cream
1/4 C parmesan cheese
1 small can french fried onions (optional)

heat oven to 375
in large bowl combine all ingredients, using only half of onions
place mixture in 2 qt casserole dish
sprinkle with parmesan
bake for 50 min or until potatoes are tender
top with remaining onions, if using, and bake 5 more min

Until Next Time.....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Crock Pot Buttered New Potatoes

18-20 new red potatoes with peel
1/4 C butter melted (or more if you like)
1 Tblsp Lawry's Garlic Salt w/ parsley (my fave)
diced onion optional

spray 4-5 qt crock pot with non-stick spray
place potatoes and onions, if using, in crock pot
mix garlic salt and butter together
pour over potatoes and stir
cover and cook on low 7 hours or high 3 1/2 hours
remove potatoes with a slotted spoon to a serving dish
add 2 Tblsp water to drippings and stir until well blended
pour drippings over potatoes

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Menu #5 - Simple Suppers

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Hash Brown Pizza

Roast Chicken and make stock (crock pot)

Meat Hand Pies with leftover chicken

Country Style Ribs (crock pot)

Beef Stew (crock pot)

Random Dessert = Sugar Cream Pie

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Peanut Butter Pancakes

1 C pancake mix
2 Tblsp sugar
1 egg
1/3 C creamy peanut butter
1 5oz can evaporated milk
1/3 C water

in Medium bowl combine pancake mix and sugar
in small bowl beat egg and peanut butter
add milk and water to peanut butter mix
stir into dry ingredients until just moistened
pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto lightly greased medium hot griddle
turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes

this recipe costs about $2-3 depending on prices in your area

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Eighteen


Question #18: How often do you pray for your husband?  What's a prayer you've seen answered?

I can honestly say that I pray for my husband daily, and mostly multiple times a day.  My most common prayer is that he would be safe, happy, and healthy.  The multiple part comes in on the safety.  My husband travels a lot for his work.  Not the overnight in a motel kind of travel, but the hours of driving kind.  A lot of times he's going onto job sites and in the middle of nowhere and on uncharted roads.  He has to travel in any kind of weather and a lot of times in the early morning or early evening dark.  Of course I worry.  So I'm constantly praying for his safety.  

I also want him to be happy.  His job can be stressful and I'm sure it's even more so for him now that I'm not working and he's the only one bringing a paycheck home.  But he does seem pretty happy.  He wakes up in the morning whistling and singing, much to my chagrin, and he comes home greeting all of us with a big smile on his face.

And of course I want him to be healthy.  You already heard his appendix story in a previous post.  I worry sometimes that he doesn't tell me the whole story if he doesn't feel well.  And his father died relatively young, and he had a "heart attack like" episode a couple years ago.  I want to grow old with him here with me, not in a nursing home either!

The biggest thing I can see that God has done for my husband that I have prayed for, is bless his business.  There used to be three partners, and one left, leaving my husband mostly in charge and he is the treasurer.  My husband is a penny pincher....good for business.  There would be times that he would go without a paycheck to be sure there was enough money for his employees.  Now God has blessed his good business practices and ethics and he hasn't gone without a paycheck since that partner left.  Plus he has been able to give small bonuses.  No small feat in this economy!  God has definitely answered my prayers "YES" in that respect.

But we need to keep in mind that God always answers our prayers, it just might be "not now" or flat out "no".  It is always important to pray for God's will to be done and for Him to do what is actually best for us, not necessarily what we want.  This can be a hard pill to swallow when we don't get our way immediately, but I have to say all the way up to this point in my life, prayers have always been answered (ok, there is one or two still pending) with my best interest in mind.  I have been disappointed at the time, but things have always ended up being just right for me.  Obviously, God does know best!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cookies and Cream Fluff

picture from Kraft ('cause it's prettier than mine!)

2 C cold milk
1 3.4oz pkg instant vanilla pudding
1 8oz tub Cool Whip, thawed
15 Oreo cookies broken into small pieces
additional cookies for topping

in medium bowl, whisk milk and pudding for 2 min until slightly thickened
fold in whipped topping and cookies
spoon into dessert dishes
top with additional cookies
refrigerate until serving

Until Next Time.....

Monday, January 23, 2012

1 year to an Organized Life - January Week 4

Whip your kitchen into shape!

This week you can:

  • sort your cooking tools and gadgets into related categories
  • divide your kitchen space into activity zones
  • complete the elimination process
  • decide how to make the best use of your counter space
  • bring the pantry into order
  • conquer the scary areas of the kitchen (sink, frig, and junk drawer!)
While this did take some time, I thought it was really fun!  Please don't give up now!!  You will feel so energized and ready to use your kitchen when you are done.  It's almost like getting a present you really wanted for Christmas!!  This pic is just one of the drawers I redid using the rolling technique Regina suggested.  I don't have the little basket for the chip clips yet, but you can see where it will go.  The best policy is to have those things already purchased and ready to go so your kitchen is complete at the end of this day, but I've got a Target gift card coming in the mail so I'm waiting for that.  No sense spending cash when you have a gift card....my name is Frugal Franny after all!

First of all, pick a time of day that you will work best: first thing in the morning, late at night, while the kids are at school, Saturday morning while others are sleeping in.  Then be prepared.  Have all the baskets and dividers you'll need to complete the job.  You figured out what you needed last week during the speed elimination and planning.  Also have an area cleared and clean for pulling everything out.  Before I started, I cleaned the kitchen as it was, wiping down the counters with antibacterial cleaner so when I pulled everything out of a drawer or cabinet it was sitting on a clean surface.  

I then followed Regina's plan of action: I went through every drawer, then upper cabinets, then lower cabinets, leaving under the sink for last.  Remember when you are doing this you are not JUST cleaning, you are organizing which will include a system of maintenance. (Leeds, P.35)  Also clean out drawers and cabinets while everything is out.  I like to use antibacterial kitchen cleaner rather than just water. If you find a bunch of those packages you get from take out that have a fork and napkin in it, take those to work or school, someone is always looking for utensils there!

When I read page 39 where Regina says you'll be surprised that you will still have something to throw out after last week, I didn't really think so, but she was right.  It was only a couple of things, but it was great to have that much more room!  

Cleaning off the fridge, I have to say, I didn't really like.  I got rid of stuff we didn't really need, and that was good, but now it looks so stark white.  It's like when you take decorations down after a holiday.  I know that I'll get used to it and it will be easier to clean this way, it was just a little shock.

Now I want to know how your January went.  Were you successful?  Are there things you need to go back and do because you ran out of time?  Does it feel good?  Personally, I am loving it so far!  I can hardly wait to tackle the next space, and I am looking forward to cooking some big meals in "new" kitchen!

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Broccoli Bake

1 10 oz can cream of broccoli soup
1/2 C milk
1 tsp soy sauce
1 16-20 oz pkg frozen broccoli florets
1 can french fried onions (you choose size based on how much you want)

heat oven to 350
in 2 qt casserole dish combine soup, milk and soy sauce
stir in broccoli and 1/2 can onions
bake uncovered for 25 minutes
top with remaining onions and bake another 5-7 minutes

Until Next Time.....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Crock Pot Chicken and RIce

1 C regular rice uncooked
2 10oz cans cream of chicken soup
1 14oz can chicken broth (or equiv of your own stock)
1 packet (or make your own, see "more" page) onion soup mix
1 whole chicken, quartered or equiv of bone in pieces

spray 5-6 qt slow cooker with non-stick spray
place rice in slow cooker
in bowl, combine soups, broth and soup mix until well blended
place 1/2 of soup mix over rice
place chicken on top
pour remaining soup mix over chicken
cover and cook on low 6 hours

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Menu #4 - Little Bit of Everything

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

"Porc Au Vin" Coq Au Vin using pork (crock pot)

Beef and Noodles (crock pot)

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Greek Pasta

Easiest Chili Ever (crock pot) or stove top

Random Dessert = Linda's Cranberry Salad

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Oven Stew

2 lbs stew meat (1 inch pieces)
1/3 C all purpose flour
2 C sliced carrots
1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes
1 envelope (or make your own, see "more" page) onion soup mix
1/2 C red wine (or water, or beef stock)
1 C sliced mushrooms
1 bay leaf

heat oven to 425
toss beef in flour
place beef in 2-3 qt shallow casserole
bake uncovered 30 minutes, stir half way through
while baking chop vegetables
reduce heat to 375 (or 350, depending on how hot your oven runs)
add all but mushrooms, stir
cover and bake 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender
stir in mushrooms 
uncover and bake another 10 minutes
serve over noodles, or mashed potatoes, or rice

this recipe costs about $6-8 depending on the price you can get on stew meat

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Seventeen


Question #17: How important is it to be beautiful to your husband?  How important is it to your husband for you to be beautiful?  What's your definition of beauty?  What are some things you do to look or feel beautiful?

Beauty....ACK!  I know that God made me and in His eyes I am Beautifully and Wonderfully made.  I also know in the eyes of the world I am not beautiful at all.  I don't think I'm ugly, just very plain.  So I really, really don't like this topic!

Of course I want to be beautiful to my husband.  On our Wedding night he said to me, "Why can't you look like that every day!" It was almost the shortest marriage on record!  No, I knew he was kidding and it was his way of complimenting how I looked that day. I would love for him to think I'm beautiful every day.  He does tell me, usually on a Sunday on the way to church, "You look beautiful today."  I have a hard time believing it, and more often than not think he's just trying to be nice or butter me up for something.

How important is it for my husband?  He really is not one of "those" guys.  He is perfectly happy with me just the way that I am.  We've had those discussions where if you could change one thing...I always say something about my body or my teeth, and he always says that even if we were rich he wouldn't let me; that I'm fine just the way I am.  "Fine"; something every woman wants to hear, right?  But He really means it and in a good way.  I'm very lucky to have found my husband, no he's not perfect, but he's a lot better than most guys out there, in my humble opinion!!

Some things I do to look or feel beautiful?  Well, of course getting my hair done, or wearing my best clothes, or what I feel very comfortable in.  Putting on a little makeup helps too.  I don't do my makeup like I did in the 80's (everyone says thank goodness!!) it's very subtle, but just enough to make my eyes pop and even out my complexion.

I think the thing that makes you most beautiful, though, is having confidence, a positive outlook and inner peace....all of which comes directly from God.  If you hang your head, feel worthless, or are constantly worrying, your outward appearance can reflect that, and people pick up on it.  Are those thing easily achieved, no, not always.  But with some prayer and time spent in the Word, and some honest reflection, you too can be beautiful!  Let's work on that together!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 - New Year New You: Portion Control

There is a ton of information out there about portion control.  Some people like to eyeball it, and some people like to weigh things, while others use containers for exact measurement.  Whichever way you are, you can find pictures, graphs, and items out there.  I have seen plates made specifically for portion control that are partitioned and then have pictures of meat and vegetables so you know where to put them on the plate and then don't overflow the partitions.  I have seen posters where they compare the correct portion to some part of your hand.  The palm is vegetables, the thumb is something else, the tip of the thumb is fats, etc.

I wish I had a kitchen scale, but I don't, so I use measuring cups and containers.  In the picture above from left to right we have 1 cup containers....which are also made for the freezer...4oz containers, which are used most often for fruits and vegetables as that is one serving, and also a lot of snacks, the the small ones are smidgets which hold 1oz perfect for peanut butter, dressing, or other condiments...also great for carrying pills!  These are all from Tupperware.  (yes, I used to sell it)  I like these not only for the exact size, but being able to store them in the fridge, freezer or cabinet and I'm not throwing out a bunch of baggies when I'm done.  I can wash them and reuse.

The other great advantage to using containers like this, is that you can still buy in bulk to get a better deal, then break it down into serving sizes in these containers.  I have some other 8oz containers not pictured that I put mini marshmallows in for a single serving size.  I use the 1 cup ones in the pic for main dishes, especially casseroles, to save for later....my own frozen entrees!

You will never hear me preaching about this diet or that diet.  For some people a specific diet may work great for you, so long as you understand it is a lifestyle change, not just a temporary thing.  For me, controlling my portions is what works best.  I don't deprive myself of anything, which can just make a person want it all the more, or make them very crabby, I just cut back on the amount of something I have.  The containers help tremendously for me in that respect.  If I have a whole bag or a whole container of something right in front of me, it is so easy to eat more than I should, but if I measure it out first, I'm ok.  And you might think that you are depriving yourself, but really it's plenty of food, especially if you eat a little slower and stop at the end of your 1 cup and let your mind and stomach catch up with each other.  Those few times where you really are still hungry, have an extra little bit of fruit or veggies to fill you up.

I wish you were all right here near me so that I could sell off my extra Tupperware containers, but if that kind of thing interests you, you can find a Tupperware salesperson through their website, or find containers at places like Wal-Mart and Target that are similar.  It really does work I promise.  Take it from someone who would rather not ever diet or think about food intake.  If I can measure it out and still be happy, you can too.  Give it a shot!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, January 16, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - January Week 3

Kitchen Questions
This week you can: 
  • learn how to analyze a space to see what it reveals about you
  • understand how you currently use your kitchen and how you would like to use it; these are often at odds
  • perform a speed elimination of all extraneous items
  • learn how to set up kitchen zones
  • whether your pantry is a few shelves in a cupboard or a separate area, organize your pantry so it supports your kitchen activity
  • create a shopping list and an emergency contact list
I like how Regina started the week with questions where you had to think first rather than just jump right into your kitchen.  After going through the questions, I see that there is way more I DISlike rather than like about my kitchen.  It's kind of funny, I loved my kitchen when we first moved in, but now that I'm home all the time and use it a whole lot more, there is so much I want to change.  I want a different sink, a backsplash of some sort, and a cabinet with those pull out drawer like shelves for all the small appliances so I have more counter space.  I do like the floor tile and the fact that it is bigger than any kitchen I've ever had.  Of course these things will have to wait awhile as there is no money in the budget for it right now.

As far as the rest of the weeks' activities go I kind of feel like I cheated since I already cleaned it out this past spring and created a pantry this summer.(see the post about making your own pantry)  But I did the speed elimination anyway and came up with the things in the picture above.  Got a new mixer for Christmas, couldn't tell you the last time I used the red pot, never used the tiny skillet, and those dish rags were once sage green!  So I took them straight downstairs to my future garage sale bin (more about that in another post). 

The lids to all the pots and pans?  I got a dishpan, or a small plastic tub, and put all the lids in there standing on their sides so I can flip right through them and pick out the one I want.  Saved a ton of space and could them nest the pots and pans together.

I don't know about you, but I think this is kind of fun.  I'm looking forward to next week when I get to spend even more time in the kitchen to organize it even more.  I know I already did a lot a few months ago, but there are still spots that could use some work.

So how are you doing so far?

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Onion Roasted Potatoes

1 pouch onion soup mix (or make your own...see the page that has "and more")
2 lbs potatoes cut into1 inch chunks
1/3 C olive oil

preheat oven to 450
combine all ingredients until potatoes are well coated
arrange potatoes in 9X13 pan
bake uncovered, stirring occasionally, 40 min or until tender and golden brown

Until Next Time.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Crock Pot Beef Stew

12 small red potatoes halved or quartered (I use regular potatoes too)
1 lb carrots cut into i inch pieces (or cut baby carrots in half)
1 large onion cut into wedges
2 lbs lean beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
1/3 C butter
1 Tblsp flour
1 C water
salt and pepper to taste
pinch thyme

place potatoes, carrots and onions in 4.5 - 6.5 qt crock pot
in large skillet brown beef in butter
transfer beef to crock pot, leaving behind the drippings
stir flour into pan drippings until blended
cook and stir until browned
gradually add water
bring to a boil 
cook and stir 2 min or until thickened
add seasoning, then pour over everything in crock pot
cover and cook on low 8 hours

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Menu #3 - All Over the Map

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Ravioli Casserole (crock pot)

40 Clove Chicken (crock pot....don't need to use 40 cloves)

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Pork Chop Dinner (crock pot)

Low Country Shrimp Boil

Random Dessert = Apple Brown Betty (crock pot)

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Spicy Cube Steaks

4 4oz cube steaks
3 Tblsp flour
1 Tblsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 14oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

in small bowl, combine dry seasonings and flour
place steaks on waxed paper
place 1/2 dry mixture on steaks and pound into them using mallet or rolling pin
repeat on other side of steaks
heat oil in skillet large enough for steaks in one layer
cook steaks 4-5 minutes on first side, then 2-3 on second over med-high heat
remove to plate and keep warm
pour tomatoes into pan and stir scraping up pan drippings
bring to a simmer and add steaks back in skillet
cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until steaks are tender and sauce is thickened 

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Sixteen

Question #16:  Does your husband listen to your advice?  How do you influence him?  How do you influence your family?

Funny story....now that's it's over.  We hadn't been married a year yet when my husband started having really bad pain in his side.  This went on for a few days.  I kept telling him to go to the doctor, but he said he had been to the doctor for this exact same pain and they won't do anything.  They said he basically had a colicky colon.  I wasn't buying that.  I worked in a hospital for 9 years and knew a little anatomy and physiology...plus I had had my appendix out!  I had to end up literally yelling at him to go to the doctor.  That morning he was having a particularly hard time, and I said you WILL call the doctor as soon as they open.  He said he would go to the walk in clinic but that's all.  Luckily for him he got a PA who was very thorough and very intelligent.  He was sent straight to the hospital for a CT scan.  My husband called me at work and said "uh, I just had a CT scan and now they are fixin' to take me to surgery and remove my appendix." MEN!!!!  After that he promised me that if I ever told him he had to go to the doctor he would go.  Pretty drastic way to influence someone, but some people are just hard-headed!

In other ways, I influence my husband my having a well thought out argument.  If I want a big change or to get "my way" about something, I have to have good reason why my idea is better.  And really that would be the only reason for me....if I can clearly see a better way to do something or to change anything I will speak up and give all the reasons why.  I'm lucky in that my husband will always listen to me....and by listen I mean open his ears....he doesn't always agree.  But if you truly believe in something and have evidence to back it up, speak up.  Marriage is a partnership.  Yes, we are to submit to our husbands , but that doesn't mean we have to be a silent partner.  That also doesn't mean we can be a nag who must always get our way either.  We should always have the best interest of our family at heart, and of course anything God says comes before any of us.  Remember, you always catch more flies with honey and a well thought out argument! ;)

As for influencing my "children", that's easy.  If you've been around you are aware that my children are four-legged.  To influence them all I need is a Milkbone.  Ah, if everything else were that simple!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pork Chop Skillet

4-6 boneless chops 1/2 inch thick
1 small onion, diced
1 Tblsp Olive Oil
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 6oz pkg Stove Top Stuffing
1 1/2 C water
salt and pepper to taste

cook chops and onions in hot oil in large skillet
transfer to plate and keep warm
and mushrooms and cook until crisp tender
add salt and pepper and water
bring to a boil
add stuffing mix and stir well
replace chops and cover skillet
remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes

Until Next Time.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - January Week 2

Creating Schedules and Routines

This week you can: (from page 23)

  • Learn the beauty of working with a calendar.  Whether it's a PDA, the one on your computer, a system such as the Day Runner, or one you create, there is no better way to keep your life on track.
  • Start practicing the fine art of knowing when and how to say "no".  Remember: it adds power to every "yes" you utter.
  • Begin to think like an organizer.  Is there a jumble of thoughts in your head?  Let's bring order to your mind while we're clearing out the physical space.
  • Start creating routines that will save you time and in the long run money and emotional energy.
I was so excited for this week!  I have been keeping a calendar since college, so this one was easy for me.  The look of it has changed over the years.  I used to have a Day Timer, but now that I don't work anymore, this freebie calendar I was given last year at school works just fine.  I have always used the one month at a time view...that's just what works for me.  I got my husband one that is a week at a time because he has so many appointments.  It just depends on what works for you.  Mine is also color coded....that is not necessary, it's just how I roll.  The colors work for me because if I'm looking for an appointment that month I know to just look for light blue, or if I'm wondering what day I'm volunteering at church I look for pink.  It just works for my mind.  You figure out what works for you.

Now start thinking like an organizer.  A lot of us are people pleasers who are always saying yes to whatever people ask of us, then we end up with no time for ourselves or our family or to clean anything...let alone enjoy something WE would like to do.  On page 24, Regina says "When you start planning your life with an overview, you safeguard two things: your energy and your goals."This has helped TREMENDOUSLY with saying no for me.  I will say I must check my calendar....and that's no lie!  I used to be able to tell you exactly what I had written down everyday.  Once I had written it it was memorized.  Those days are gone!  Now that I schedule everything, including chores and exercise and FUN, I can tell someone no, I'm too booked that day, and I safeguard my priorities and feel much better about myself.

This scheduling also helps me build a routine.  A routine shouldn't be thought of as a rut, but more like a timesaver and for me once my routine is done for the day, the rest is wide open for myself, my family or helping others...whatever happens to come up that day.  I like to go to the pool 3 mornings a week, then I run errands if I have any while I'm out.  When I get home I hang up my wet stuff, and put away anything from my errands.  Then I pick up throughout the house and vacuum.  If it's a crock pot night, I will then get it going and clean the kitchen; if not I wait to clean the kitchen as I'm cooking dinner.  In between I get to read or blog or maybe volunteer.  Two of the days that I don't go to the pool, I get up and get straight to the cleaning.  One days is for bathrooms and mopping and the other is for laundry, bills and cleaning the laundry room.  That leaves two days of the week.  One day is purely for fun with my family, and the other for for church and whatever may follow.  

It's important, though, to have the family on board.  Have a family meeting and agree to assign everyone their own routine and keep it posted on the fridge, or in a three ring binder kept in one place if you don't like stuff on the fridge.  I have this paper calendar that has 4-5 blocks for each day of the week.  It's magnetic so it's on the fridge.  You could have one block for each member of the family and maybe it's for a chore, or for soccer practice, etc.  Just an idea.

I like what Regina says on page 27.  "Whatever is used must be returned to the spot where it came from."  If you have followed my blog, you'll know that I have talked about author Sara Horn's "one touch rule" that her mother-in-law has in her house.  If everyone followed this at all times, house cleaning would be so easy!!  It's very simple, if you use something, or read it, or move it, etc YOU are responsible for putting it back where it goes.  This would virtually eliminate clutter!  I know if we would follow through with it for everything, all I would ever do would be the basic cleaning of all areas.  I know sometimes, especially after one of us has been sick, or maybe so busy we touch and run, that there is a ton of clutter around the house.  Not only does putting it away then take a long time, just looking at it can be depressing.  Trying instituting a one touch rule at your house and see how it goes.  Maybe along with it institute a quarter jar.  If you don't follow through with a one touch rule, you have to pay a quarter....and you still have to put it away.  Then maybe donate the quarters or something.  It might make it stick a little faster especially with kids if they have to give up some spending money.  Again, just an idea.

Next week we start in the kitchen....I can hardly wait!

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sweet Cornbread

1 box Jiffy brand cornbread mix
1 box yellow cake mix
plus ingredients to make both

preheat oven to 350
prepare box mixes according to package directions
combine both batters
pour into greased 9 x 13 pan
bake 25-35 min or until golden brown

Until Next TIme.....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pork Stew - Crock Pot

2 lb boneless pork loin cut into 1 1/2inch cubes
8 small red potatoes cut into quarters
4 med carrots cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 med onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 bay leaves
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes undrained
salt and pepper to taste

spray 4.5 - 6.5 qt crock pot with non-stick spray
stir all ingredients together
cover and cook on low 6-7 hours
remove bay leaves before serving

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Menu #2 - Hearty Meals

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Brisket with a side of Roasted Vegetables

Chicken Pot Pie

Shortcut Stroganoff

Italian Pork Chops (crock pot)

Vegetable Soup (crock pot or stove top)

Random Dessert = Easiest Fudge ever

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Healthier Pork Fried Rice

1 1/2 lbs pork TENDERLOIN
2 Tblsp Asian Seasoning mix like Pampered Chef
1/2 tsp salt
1 14oz can chicken broth (or equiv of homemade)
2 Tblsp olive oil
3 med carrots - peeled and either small dice or thin strips
1/2 med reb bell pepper cut same as carrots
3 garlic cloves - minced
2 C uncooked minute rice (try the brown rice)
1 C frozen peas - thawed
2 Tblsp soy sauce
2 green onions - thinly sliced, divided into white and green

slice pork lengthwise into four long strips, then cut those into small strips
in large bowl combine pork, seasoning mix and salt
in 2 cup measuring cup, place chicken broth then add water to equal 2 cups
heat oil in 12 inch skillet
add half of pork to skillet, cook and stir until browned about 5-7 minutes
remove to keep warm and repeat with rest of pork
add carrots and bell pepper to skillet, cook until crisp tender
add garlic and cook about 1 minute
add broth and bring to a boil
stir in rice and remove skillet from heat
cover and let stand 5 minutes
uncover and cook rice mixture over medium high heat 5-7 minutes, stirring, until liquid is absorbed
remove from heat
stir in pork, peas, soy sauce and white part of onions
garnish with green part of onions

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Fifteen

Question 15: Sara wonders what she's made for her family that adds value.  What do you have or what have you created that brings value?  Do you like to scrapbook or sew or cook special meals?  How are these things blessings to your family?

I'm not very creative.  I have made some scrapbook pages, and a couple of things that I have framed, and I like to make my own greeting cards....but I copy!  I see a cute idea and I'll recreate it, or the framed things were my friend's idea and we both made them, and most of my scrapbook pages are from a kit.  When it comes to arts and crafts, I am no good on my own!

I do like to make great meals for my family.  My husband loves my lasagna and the chocolate oatmeal pie you can find on the blog.  He likes my vegetable soup and chili and some other dishes I make.  He said the one thing he was looking forward to the most when I quit working was dinner!  I like to cook and I like to make him happy.  Other people like for me to cook for them too, which makes me feel good.  I have a neighbor that is always asking when I'm going to make "that chicken soup" again.  Sicilian chicken.  Sometimes I make it just to give them half.

This is going to sound really weird, but one thing that I do that my husband LOVES....is the way I fold his shirts!  He just lights up and says "how do you do that?" and he tells me how talented I am.  Shirt folding...talent....really?!??  You know how you go into a store and brand new shirts are perfectly folded into a rectangle?  I can do that with a flip of my fingers and wrists....no folding board necessary.  I worked at JC Penney near the end of my college career and I worked for a folding Nazi!  I hated doing it there, but now it's second nature....and apparently impressive.  I don't know that it falls into the creative category, but it is apparently a blessing to my husband, and it does make your drawers very neat!

So I bet you have blessed your family in ways you don't even know about.  Keep up the good work!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Treasure Tuesday - Farkle

This game is really fun!  I hadn't heard the name until I moved here, but we had a game just like it back home called 10,000 because you play to 10,000 points.  It's really very simple and you don't even need to buy the game cup, although I've seen it at Wal-Mart and Walgreens for only $4.99.

All you need is 6 dice.  A cup makes it a little easier especially for smaller hands, but I use a kid's meal cup from pizza hut for Yahtzee, that'll work just fine.

To "get on the board" you have to score 500 points.  You pull aside any scored dice and can keep rolling to add points as long as you want so long as you score points.  As soon as you roll your leftover dice and don't score any points you LOSE all the points you had so far and it's the next person's turn.  Once you are on the board, there is no minimum amount you have to score on your turn, so the next time you could have just 350 points, for example. If you use all 6 dice and they are all scored, you can pick up all the dice and keep rolling adding to that score so long as you actually earn points.  If you don't you lose everything you've built up during this turn.

The first person to 10,000 MAY win!  If you score 10,000 or more, everyone else has one more turn to try to beat you, but if no one does in their single turn, you win.  Here's one way to score it, I've seen some different amounts in Farkle vs. 10,000.

ones = 100 points
fives = 50 points
the following must happen on a single roll, you can save up for it
three of a kind = that amount hundred (three 1s = 300, three 2s = 200 yes, it's less)
four of a kind = 1000
five of a kind = 2000
six of a kind = 3000
1-6 straight = 1500
three pair = 1500
four of a kind PLUS a pair = 1500
two triplets = 2500

Until Next Time.....

Monday, January 2, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - January Week 1

Why am I like This?  Time Questions.

So you have read the introduction, January overview and now Week one. This week you can:

  • make friends with your new journal and examine your past for clues to the present reality
  • discover where the time goes and how you currently use it
  • understand your real goals in life
  • craft a plan to use the time in a way that enables you to achieve your goals
There will be journal questions occasionally this year to help you reflect and realize how you got to where you are and what steps to take to change it around.  I got a simple 1 subject notebook for this and could hardly wait to get started!  

This week's journal questions are all about how you use time and past habits of using time, then making a plan for using your time more wisely.  I have always told my friends who use the excuse "I don't have time" that they have more time than they think they do, and this exercise will prove it.  I have always done "pretty well" when it comes to time management....I'm excellent at the planning!  I've got a color coded day planner to prove it!  But I have my down falls as well.  

Looking into the past included looking at how my parents viewed time management as well.  In some respects, although I knew how they handled things, it was a bit of an eye-opener.  They had two completely different views on it...which I'm going to guess is probably pretty typical.  

So then I actually wrote out how I spent my time, and I knew where this was going.  For me there wasn't a surprise.  I knew exactly where I spent most of my time that could be put to better use....in front of the TV.  It is hard with the FM and arthritis that I'm supposed to take regular rest periods.  My problem is I'll rest by turning on the TV and DVR and saying, "just a 30 minute show, then back to work".  When that show is over, I always want to watch another.  Especially if I have multiple episodes of some of my favorite shows.  

From this activity, it was time to plan what I really WANTED to do with my time.  Not only the actual hours, but setting goals as well.  Of course for me those goals include executing all tasks that I've assigned myself each day without letting the TV disrupt my plan.  Sounds simple, but can be very hard, especially those days where I need to put my leg up for a while.

But if I want to change, it all boils down to how much do I want to?  The instant gratification of the TV is human nature, but I also know that accomplishing my goals brings a deeper satisfaction with myself and my surroundings.  I just have to keep reminding myself of that.  Luckily, Regina states in the book, that a habit is formed after 21 consecutive days of doing it.  Come on!  We can do this for 3 weeks can't we?  Of course we can!

As Regina states at the end of week 1, decide what you really want from life, do any research needed to make this dream come true, schedule the steps needed to get there, and communicate your goals to those who share your life.  And I'll add, join the discussion here or on the Facebook page for yet another realm of accountability.  Together we can achieve 1 Year To an Organized Life!

Next week: creating schedule and routines!  I've so got this one!!

Until Next Time.....