My journey toward a peaceful, organized family, home and life!

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Week's Meal Plan

I've always hated entertaining.

Too much stress and, I thought, too much effort.

But, since I had a menu plan, I didn't hesitate to acquiesce to family coming over on Sunday with only a few hours notice!

Sunday: Indian Curried Barley Pilaf (with boiled, shredded chicken)--really not that much curry in it, but really yummy!

Monday: Potatoes & Sausage

Tuesday: Tomato Pie

Wednesday: Sweet & Sassy Pork Tenderloin

Thursday: Mexican Chicken Casserole (a family fav!)

Friday: Personal Pizzas

Saturday: Southwestern Pulled Beef

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

This Week's Meal Plan

This is going up a bit late...

I had to come up with this week's meal plan a little differently than I usually do. My typical process involves finding recipes that look easy and delicious and then purchasing any items I need. This time, I had to take stock of what was in my fridge, freezer and pantry to create this week's meal plan. This was a good experience for me!

I had a budget of $100 to get essential perishables from Costco for the next 2 weeks! I'm definitely not used to working with a limit (our usual bill is between $250-$350) but I managed wonderfully, though I did have to use my meager savings to buy bread.

My husband usually works late on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and so I don't do anything fancy on those days. Here's what we have going for this week:

Monday (yesterday): Crockpot Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (the whole family enjoyed!)

Tuesday (today): Beef & Pasta (already cooking in the crockpot!)

Wednesday: Mac & Cheese (another crockpot recipe... I LOVE my slow cooker!)

Thursday: Grilled PB & J**

Friday: Homemade Pizza (this was on the menu last week but while I had intended to make dough, we had some refrigerated dough that needed using)

Saturday: Beef Dip (recipe below)

Sunday: Crockpot Chicken in Sauce

**I have previously tried Peanut Butter Cup Grilled Sandwiches, which were quite fun. I later learned about Grilled Peanut Butter and Jam Sandwiches, which we will try this Thursday.

Beef Dip recipe
This is something I do from memory. It's a recipe I received from my neighbor and friend.
  • roast (I usually thaw mine first but this doesn't mean cooking from frozen isn't possible!)
  • packet dry onion soup mix
  • about 3/4 cup of water or beef broth/whatever
Throw it all in the crockpot around 2pm on low and by dinner, it's good to go! Slice it up and serve au jus on buttered, oven-toasted french bread.

    What I Recommend from Last Week (stuff even my kids liked!)

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Front Closet, Part 2

    I loved my closet organizer so much that I got another one to keep kiddy shoes in!

    True to toddler form, one of my 2-year-old's shoes along the bottom is missing. ;)

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    This Week's Meal Plan

    So having a meal plan last week made a complete BELIEVER out of me!! My goodness, the amount of stress relief was tangible, especially since I had so many slow cooker meals on the list. Sometimes, the plan was deviated from but there seemed to be plenty of room for change!

    Here is this week's plan:

    Monday: Better-than-Ever Beef Enchiladas (didn't get around to this last week)
    Tuesday: Bratwurst Stew
    Wednesday: Mini Gyro Meatloaves (didn't get around to this last week)
    Thursday: Chicken & Biscuit Casserole (I'm going to boil up* a bunch of chicken for this and Saturday during the day)
    Friday: Homemade Pizza (as in homemade pizza dough! You read that right, Mom!)
    Saturday: Mexican Chicken Casserole
    (Crockpot) Sunday: Chicken in Mushroom Sauce (it's mushroom soup so I don't have to worry about my son's "ick" factor)

    *thanks to Kristin at A Simply Klassic Home for her helpful tips!

    I've linked this up at:
    The Organised Housewife

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Front Closet Organizer

    I've seen so many wonderful applications for the "shoe organizer" on Pinterest! For other than shoes, that is! Pantry, craft room, laundry room, bedrooms, toy rooms... So many amazing ideas!

    I found myself a clear plastic "shoe" organizer and immediately gave it a home in my front closet...

    I'm so happy not to have to hunt through my front bench for my mittens/gloves, hats and scarves!! My kids love it as well and are being pretty good about maintenance.

    I'm linking this at:

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Paper Clutter: Archiving

    While this is my final post on paper clutter (as pertains to my Simplify 101 course), I'm sure the subject will be visited upon again sometime in the future. Perhaps a check-in, to be sure that I'm maintaining my systems... They all require habit build-up and I'm still working on it!

    In association with archiving (long-term document storage), I reorganized my filing cabinet. I had purchased this only a few months ago and constantly reaffirmed to my husband that it was WORTH the expense!!

    I forgot (once again!) to take a before picture but aside from the less organized labels, I wasn't using a "straight-line" filing system (this is when all your tabs are in the same position). Aby's argument that this system was easier even though it seemed counterintutive, rang true to me.  ;)

    So, here is my straight-line-filed filing cabinet!

    Looks so neat and tidy in comparison to the "before!"

    My categories and subcategories:
    • Insurance
      • Car
      • Home
      • Life (soon!)
    • Taxes
      • 2011 Taxes (current tax year includes tax receipts for school and work, as well as charitable donations)
      • 2010 Taxes
      • 2009 Taxes
      • 2008 Taxes
      • 2007 Taxes
      • 2006 Taxes
      • 2005 Taxes (While Americans are advised to retain their tax records for 7 years, I'm unsure of the Canadian regulations... Hoping this is good enough!)
    • Financial
      • Retirement
      • Employment Insurance info (by year as required--my husband is in a trade apprenticeship program)
    • Home
      • Mortgage
      • Property Taxes
      • House Plans/Legal Documents (we've built our house twice in a row now!)
      • Legal Docs from sale of our previous home (may not need to keep this)
    • Auto (nothing in here right now... just made space for it in case)
    • Legal
      • Birth Certificates
      • Church Certificates
      • School Certificates/Diplomas
    • Files by Family Member (my husband and I each have one, while the kids share one for now--this is where we keep things such as accreditation info and memorabilia--see below for what I plan to do in the future for child memorabilia) 
    • Warranties/Manuals (so excited about having these all in one place!!)
      • Major Appliances
      • Minor Appliances
      • Electronics
      • Other
    So that's it! I absolutely love opening my filing cabinet now!  ;)

    Here is what I plan to do in the future for the memorabilia that children collect (long-term artwork, report cards, etc.):

    (click on the photo to go to original post)

    I will add the applicable years to each age/grade as done here:

    I'm linking this at:

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Paper Clutter: Reference Binder

    What I call my "Reference Binder" others might call a "Command Central Binder" or "Family/Home Management Binder." Simplify 101, where I've been taking my online paper clutter organizing course, has a FREE download here so that you can easily create your own! I HIGHLY recommend it!! This is where I store information that I may need to reference on occasion. Examples are:
    • emergency information
    • important phone and/or account numbers
    • business cards
    • school calendars
    • babysitter information
    • take-out menus
    • event flyers
    • recreation schedules
    • immunization records (my kids are still in the active phase ;) )
    • vital statistics
    • bill tracking
    • home and auto maintenance
    • etc.

    Here is a glimpse of mine:

    I found a lot of free printables here and while they aren't exactly what I'd like, I am using them until I have time to put together my own. (I'm no graphic designer but I do know spreadsheets!) You can also find more free organizing printables using Google. Printables are also available for purchase on Etsy (like I Heart Organizing, The Nest Effect and Clean Mama); some can even be customized.

    My categories are:
    • Emergency Information (in the front cover)
    • Important #s
    • School
    • Church
    • Activities (includes Entertainment and Leisure)
    • Child Care
    • Personal Records
    • Financial
    • Home Management
    • Auto Managment
    • Local Businesses
    Since I haven't had this binder for very long, I don't know what all will be put in here. Here is the general idea:

    Emergency Information
    This could include such info as home address and phone number(s), directions to the house, emergency services numbers (9-1-1, poison control, police station, fire station), family physician and dentist, school number, neighbors and other emergency contacts.

    Important #s
    Includes phone numbers and account information for utilities, health care/benefits, insurance, etc.
    I keep all of my family and friend contact info in a lovely book we received for our wedding 10 years ago. I still plan on transferring over some of the more used ones into printables within this section.
    I will have sheets with each of the children's friends: names, addresses, phone numbers, parents, etc.

    School calendars and events, as well as the general school and teacher information.

    Directories, assignments and recent bulletins are kept here.

    This category includes Entertainment and Leisure, so any brochures or flyers for things such as the arts, museums, recreational activities and invitations all go here after appropriate dates are noted in our calendar.

    Child Care
    A list of babysitters as well as information on each child is kept here... So excited about this! Past and potential future day care info goes here as well.

    Personal Records
    Immunization schedule and records, vital statistics (every person has a ton of numbers assigned to them such as social insurance numbers (social security numbers in the States), personal health numbers, school identification numbers, driver's license numbers, etc.) and various personal info such as online usernames and passwords.

    Banking institution info and account numbers in here as well as bill payment tracking.

    Home Management
    Keeping track of warranties, repairs, as well as cleaning/maintenance tips and the Call Before You Dig brochure. I also keep a list of items we plan on selling here (the timing to place an ad may not be ideal at the time). If we ever get around to painting, we'll store our paint chips here, too.

    Auto Management
    Keeping track of vehicular maintenance and tire warranties here.

    Local Businesses
    This was one of my favorite parts! This is where all our take-out menus are stored, as well as other local business brochures and flyers (for example, spas and other services).

    Check out my archiving system (using a filing cabinet) in my next post!

    I'm linking this at: