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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Google Housework Calendar

As mentioned in this post, I also started using Google Calendar to track my housework and home maintenance. For now, I am tracking the kids' chores (ex: dusting) on a different calendar.

I have not listed daily things, such as dishes, sweeping the kitchen and laundry. Only weekly, monthly and quarterly things are included. I will be keeping this on the sidebar as well.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Google Menu Planning

Whew, it's been over a month since I posted here!

Even though I haven't completed or perfected my menu plan, I had to share my discovery!

Amy over at ManiakMadness posted regarding menu planning using Google Calendar. Uh, genius!!!

It was a chore for me to make up my menu plans on a weekly and (once) biweekly basis. My intent was to eventually have enough family favorites to come up with a rotating monthly plan. I hadn't gotten around to doing anything like it, though.

Enter: Google Calendar.

I won't reiterate Amy's marvelous post but allow me to show you my self-perpetuating menu plan!

I still have to put in recipe details and fill in a few gaps but the updated calendar will always be available on my sidebar.

My personal version of the Menu Plan calendar is color-coded: red = beef, yellow = chicken, green = vegetarian, blue = other (pork, sausage, pizza, etc.) and aqua = new recipe. If a new recipe is incorporated into the cycle, the color will be changed appropriately.

My menu plan loosely follows this schedule:

Monday = Mexican
Tuesday = Vegetarian
Wednesday = Chicken
Thursday = try something new!
Friday = Family Fav
Saturday = frozen pizza (I work these days and hubby's in charge of dinner)
Sunday = slow cooker (until 2013)

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on using Google Calendar for my housework!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My 1st 2-Week Menu Plan

As I mentioned in my goals post, I'd like to eventually have a month-long menu plan. My intermediary step is a 2-week menu plan. I keep finding that I'd plan a week, buy groceries and then be scrounging for the next week until our next payday. Silly me!

I thought it'd be more difficult to coordinate a 2-week plan but all I did was go through my recipe binder and list some of the tried and true recipes as well as some of the recipes I've been meaning to try. From the list, I plopped meals here and there on my menu planner,* trying to space out meats (ie. beef vs chicken vs vegetarian) and genres (ie. Mexican vs Italian vs other) adequately.

*I usually use a paper that includes days of the week as well as a shopping list section before transferring it to the menu plan chalkboard in my pantry.

Sunday (yesterday) - Chickpea and Tomato Curry -- It was filling and tasted good but I'm not sure if I would make it again.

Monday (today) - Mexican Chicken Casserole -- This was a family hit the first time I made it but not so popular with the kiddies the second time I made it. Despite this, I'm going for it a third time!

Tuesday (Feb 7) - Quinoa Burgers -- This is a first-time try-out but I've heard great things from friends.

Wednesday (Feb 8) - Better-than-Ever Beef Enchiladas -- This is tried and true!

Thursday (Feb 9) - Cheesy Sausage Pasta -- A new one.

Friday (Feb 10) - Broccoli Quinoa Casserole -- Another newbie.

Saturday (Feb 11) - Frozen Pizza (I work during the day)

Sunday (Feb 12) - Taco Twist Bake -- A new try, though I won't be using ground turkey.

Monday (Feb 13) - Crockpot Chicken -- An easy go-to recipe.

Tuesday (Feb 14) - Best Ever Meatloaf -- A new recipe. I realized as I was typing this that this is Valentine's Day, though I sincerely doubt we'll be doing anything to celebrate it. If, by some miracle, we find a 'sitter and head out for dinner, this will still be what the kids are having for dinner.

Wednesday (Feb 15) - Pizza Quesadillas -- This is an easy tried-and-true and the kids never seem to tire of pizza.

Thursday (Feb 16) - Nacho Mac and Cheese -- Tried and true.

Friday (Feb 17) - Tater Tot Casserole -- A family-friendly go-to recipe.

Saturday (Feb 18) - Frozen Pizza

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pantry Update

I thought I'd share a bit of an update in regards to my pantry.

Here's what my lunch snack section looks like after purchasing a few bins at the dollar store:

*sigh* My husband and I both love it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This Week's Menu Plan

Still scraping by with a weekly menu plan. I plan on upping it to biweekly before attempting monthly but haven't organized/pepped myself up enough.

Last week, I didn't even have a menu plan and I still did very well. A side benefit of menu planning that I hadn't expected is that you have a better idea of the recipes on hand so that when you find that pork tenderloin in the freezer while rearranging a bit, you know exactly what you're going to make with it.

Monday (today): I threw in some of what I call "Crockpot Chicken" (see recipe here)

Tuesday: Sloppy Joe Pie

Wednesday: Bratwurst Stew (I had this recipe on a previous plan or two, but have still never made it!)

Thursday: Italian Sausage Enchiladas

Friday: Chicken Noodle Casserole

Saturday: frozen pizza

Sunday: Slow Cooker Meatballs

On the recommendation of a former vegetarian, I picked up this book at Costco. Ever since attending a little seminar she put on regarding pulses (beans, lentils, etc.), and being a former vegetarian myself, I've been wanting to incorporate them into my diet more... Be prepared for plenty of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) and bean dishes coming up!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Master Closet: Interim

When I wrote this post, I previewed my bedroom closet which was a complete disgrace.

(that drawer, incidentally, has since been completed!)

Here is how it looks after a trip to IKEA:

My husband's side of the closet (he still needs a tie rack of some sort):

My side of the closet:

 My jewellery finally has a home!:

I'd still like to do this for my earrings:

Or this for all my smaller jewellery:

(medicine organizer)

And something like this for my belts:

The reason I labeled this an "interim" project, is because I'd like to raise the row of shelving from the center of the back wall to be flush with the side wall shelving, as demonstrated in my crude closet plan below.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Linen Closet

Another instance where I do not have before pictures.

If you're like I am, however, all you have to do to "picture" what my linen closet used to look like is to check out your own... Towels haphazardly "arranged," baby blankets when we no longer have a baby, clutter, clutter and more clutter.

Here is my linen closet after an overhaul that took place over a couple of months. I really capitalize on the tidbit that everything doesn't have to be done in one go.

That donate bin gets filled frequently with all my organization projects.

I used a metal tin from my craft room to house our card games:

We used to love Scene It but haven't played in ages! We'll have to break it out again soon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan This Week

One of my goals this year (I will be posting my goals) is change my method of menu planning. My plan is to come up with a monthly plan that has certain days for trying new recipes.

In the meantime, I will still have my weekly, or maybe even a biweekly, menu plan. As an improvement here, I've started planning sides!

Monday: Brown Sugar Meatloaf and corn

Tuesday: Lemon Dilly Chicken, roasted potatoes and broccoli

Wednesday: One-Dish Beef Stroganoff and green beans

Thursday: Tomato Onion Quiche

Friday: Indian Curried Barley Pilaf and broccoli

Saturday: my husband's in charge

Sunday: Crockpot Chicken,* rice and green beans

*I made a terrific variation (below) of the plain ol' crockpot chicken recipe.

4-6 (frozen) chicken breasts
2-3 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 pkg dry onion soup mix

Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 7-10 hours.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Organization Goals

I always wondered if people ACTUALLY set goals around New Year. I recall doing so as a family growing up (and highly recommend this!) but having been on my own, then married and now with children, I've only thought about goals in general and haven't really made specific goals.

This year, perhaps as a result of my organization kick, I wrote down some goals using the following categories:
  1. Home
  2. Family
  3. Personal
I thought I would share my Home goals here to help myself with accountability, or maybe so that when I accomplish a goal, I can give myself a high-five.

  • Go from weekly menu planning to a monthly menu plan with open days to try new recipes.
  • One of the biggest changes that my husband and I have been dreaming of is moving our computer/home office area OUT of our bedroom. We've been waiting to either get a new computer case that enables us to lock out little fingers or for our youngest child to be old enough to leave things alone. We should be able to accomplish BOTH this year and so we will be rearranging our loft area to accommodate our home office.
  • Once our computer area has been removed from our bedroom, we have plans to change the configuration. Will be interesting to see before and after!
  • Finish organizing my craft room. I have been doing bits here and there and haven't been crafting a whole lot as a result.
  • Finish organizing the master closet. We can't afford to redo closet shelving but I have been working around this and am nearing completion.
  • Hang photos/art/printable decor. I have soooo many framed pieces that are waiting for a place to call home within my home.... This year, they will be hung!
  • With my youngest daughter getting older, I am hoping to move her and her sister together this year! This will give their brother his own space.
  • Finish organizing the laundry room. I organized part of the laundry room as seen here but have more to go.
  • Organize the basement! This is a big one and while I have been getting rid of boxes and the contents of some bins over the last couple of months, there's still a ways to go.
  • Finish organizing the linen closet. I've taken a few steps here but would like to get it done.
  • Window treatments! We've been in our home for 4 years now and still have paper blinds in the windows. Our goal this year is to get blinds or rollers or drapes or a combination thereof for the master bedroom and the children's bedrooms.
  • Organize piano music. I currently have all my book and sheet music in upright magazine holders and it's hardly a desirable solution. I plan on purchasing binders and more page protectors to take care of this job!
Well, that's about it for organization goals. I have a few projects on my Personal list but nothing too interesting.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Purse Organization

Toni, at A Bowl Full of Lemons, shared a terrific post on purse organization. She invited her readers to share what was in their purses.

My purse is usually a horrific mess, but, after some purse organizer research, I begged my Dad to get me a Purse Perfector for Christmas (they can only be purchased in the United States) and he delivered!

Here is how my purse has looked since Christmas:

The bottom left corner looks a bit disorganized and I'm still thinking of ways to tidy it up.

Once I take out the Purse Perfector, you can see I have an emergency stash of cosmetics beneath. When I was working part-time, I used this little case all the time but now that I'm mostly at home, I haven't used it at all. Still, I wouldn't want to be caught without it!

You can see that I keep my keys in the purse's own little pocket at the top there.

So here are the contents of my purse:

My first thought (or did I say it aloud?!) when I opened the Purse Perfector gift was that it seemed rather small. Trust me when I say that it doesn't stay that way! ;) Here is how I utilize my Purse Perfector:

The center section of the Purse Perfector unzips so that you can open it up into a horzontal line for larger bags/purses. I unzipped just one side so I could fit my over-sized wallet into it. As you can see, I leave my wallet open so that I can easily access cards.

When I was putting my purse back together after this little photo session, I put my notebook in with my main wallet. Much better.

I keep emergency feminine hygiene products, as well as hand lotion and a pen, in the purse's side pocket. Don't want those in full view!

I love how easy it is to find anything I might need now and highly recommend this type of organization! The side benefits of a purse insert are switching between bags (I am NOT a purse collector so this didn't figure into my decision) and the fact that it fills out the purse's shape nicely... No more lopsided, awkward-looking bags!

Toni has some wonderful purse organization tips as well so check out her purse post!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Project Center

I am primarily a papercrafter but there was a time* when I had other crafty hobbies, mostly knitting and cross-stitch. So for this post, I'd like to share an organizing project that had me pulling out the old box of willy-nilly crafting projects.

*Most of these projects are from before I had my first child six years ago!

As I sorted through, I decided that the perfect storage solution already existed in my papercrafting studio.

I scrounged up all my clear bins, filled and labeled them. Since I wanted my projects more accessible than my craft room is, I found a spot for the caddy in my bedroom's walk-in closet.

Here are my current projects:
  • Cable-Knit Scarf
  • Kimbo Kowl (This is a brand new knitting project--I was only able to get supplies for it because I had a store credit from 6 years ago!)
  • Hooded Baby Blanket (I started knitting this project while pregnant with my first child who is now 6 years old...)
  • Christmas Tree cross-stitch (I started this either while in high school or shortly after!)
  • other knitting, crochet and cross-stitch supplies and projects
  • Recipes (all the recipe cut-outs from previous organization attempts that haven't made it into my current recipe binders)
One of the good things about having my projects like this is that in order to start a new project, I will have to finish an old one!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kitchen Reorg: Recipe Books and My Recipe Binder Revamp

While the Christmas season was wonderful for traveling and visiting family, it is good to be home and getting back into the swing of things. I've been able to work on a few more organizing projects, including setting some goals for this year, but for this post I'd like to focus on the near-completion of my kitchen reorganization series.

Here is a before picture of the cupboards above my refrigerator:

The plastic lunchbox was a Christmas gift some time ago from my mother-in-law who uses them to carry first aid supplies. A great idea but I am still considering how to improve upon it since the inside of the lunchbox is a disaster area.

In this post, I will be focusing on the left-side which housed a plethora of recipe books.

I am one of those people who has a hard time passing the Company's Coming display of recipe books at the grocery store or at Walmart.*  My collection has definitely grown since I was a newlywed. The downside of this is that they don't stand up very neatly. I finally found a simple, if unimaginative, solution.

*Incidentally, I don't buy many recipe books any more. There is such a wealth of recipes online! The two exceptions to this will be:

After weeding out about half of my recipe books (I'm no longer vegetarian), I was able to tidy up my recipe book cupboard.

After cutting the flaps off of an empty diaper box, I was able to stand up the majority of my recipe books within it and shove it into the back of my recipe book cupboard. This way, they are still accessible but the back of the cupboard isn't wasted. I keep my recipe binders in the front, as I use them much more frequently.

My original recipe binder post was quite popular and can be found here. As is the way with most organizing projects, it was decided, after some use, that my system needed to be revamped.

The most apparent change is that I separated Breakfasts and Desserts from my Main Recipes (entrees, etc.). I also added some new categories.

My Breakfasts binder:
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles
  • French Toast (New!)
  • Other
  • Muffins (New!)

My Desserts binder:
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies (New!)
  • Brownies (New!)
  • Bars (New!)
  • Seasonal - Pumpkin (New!)
  • Seasonal - Egg Nog (New!)
  • Seasonal - Rhubarb (New!)
  • Seasonal - Halloween (New!)
  • Chocolate & Candy (New!)
  • Dips & Sauces (New!)
  • Ice Cream (New!)
  • Beverages
  • Other

My Main Recipes binder has a few extra categories as well. Pasta was split into its own categories and most of the Entrees had a Slow Cooker tab added.
  • Menu Planning
  • Pasta - Mac & Cheese (New!)
  • Pasta - Beef (New!)
  • Pasta - Slow Cooker (New!)
  • Pasta - Other (New!)
  • Beef
  • Beef - Slow Cooker (New!)
  • Poultry
  • Poultry - Slow Cooker (New!)
  • Pork
  • Pork - Slow Cooker (New!)
  • Vegetarian
  • Other (sausage, tuna, etc.)
As I did last time, I have included a short video of my binder organization.  ;)(It sounds as though I have a lisp in this but I don't actually have one.)

I'm linking this at: