Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Easy, Go To Dinner Idea

Here is a great family-friendly recipe that the kids will love! You can even "hide" veggies in it if you have a picky eater! My step-son is very picky with veggies, and he ate two helpings without complaining about veggies!! It was a success! Moreover, this is super easy and fast! You will likely even have the ingredients on-hand! This dish also freezes well, just prepare in a freezer-friendly pan!

Please note: I don't usually measure ingredients, so these amounts are estimated. You can always add or omit any ingredient!

Tex Mex Lasagna (for 4-6 servings)
1 lb. of ground beef, cooked and drained
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of mixed peppers (green, yellow, orange, and/or red), finely chopped so there is no evidence of veggies
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn kernals
1 pkg. corn tortillas (about 10)
2 cups shredded cheese (I like the yellow/white marble or Tex Mex blend)

  1. Cook ground beef until no longer pink and drain grease.
  2. Saute onion, garlic, and peppers.
  3. Add tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, beans, and corn. Cook on low until warm.
  4. Layer ground beef mixture and tortillas like you would a traditional lasagna, overlapping tortillas, in a lasanga casserole pan.
  5. Spread cheese on top.
  6. Bake 350F for about 25-30 minutes, until hot throughout and cheese is melted.
  7. Allow to cool for about 10 min.
  8. Serve with tortillas chips, salsa, sour cream, and fresh tomato slices.

I hope this is a hit with your family as it was in mine!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My GO TO Fast, Healthy Dinner Idea

I probably make this dinner twice per month because it is fast, easy, healthy, and above all, delicious! My family loves it, and often there are leftovers for lunch the next day! I usually make a double batch (see my double batch post) and freeze one half.

**Please note that measurements are approximate as I don't usually measure any ingredients and just add in whatever I think looks right or whatever I have on hand.**

**Please feel free to omit or add any ingredient you see fit--these are only suggestions. I do not always add everything.

Beef Vegetable Soup (yields one batch, serves 4)

1 - 1 1/2 lbs. stew beef, leftover beef roast, leftover rotisserie chicken, or chicken breast

2-3 cubes beef, chicken, or tomato boullin

6-8 cups water (more or less depending on how much water you like in your soup)

1 onion, chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 ribs celery, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 large potatoes or sweet potatoes, cubed

1 cup butternut squash or similar, cubed

1-2 fresh tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can stewed tomatoes (I like to use fresh because less sodium)

1/4 head of cabbage, chopped

3/4 cup each of frozen corn, peas, and/or beans

1/2 cup frozen okra, sliced

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1 medium yellow squash, sliced

1 choyote squash, cubed

1 can kidney beans, rinsed

Italian seasoning, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

chili flakes, optional

1 jalapeno, chopped, optional

fresh herbs of choice

1. Add water, meat, and boullin to large soup pot. Heat to boil. Boil rapidly until meat in cooked through (if uncooked).

2. Add broth ingredients (onion, garlic, celery, jalapeno, and tomato), continue to boil covered. *Note--for more flavour, saute these ingredients in olive oil first, if time permits.

3. Add hard vegetables (i.e. potatoes, carrots, squash, etc.) as they require more cook time.

4. Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and chili flakes (if using dried herbs, add now, if using fresh, add at the end of cook time).

5. Add frozen vegetables, reduce heat to medium low to keep a slow boil.

6. Add softer vegetables, kidney beans, and fresh herbs, reduce heat to simmer.

7. Check hard vegetables to ensure they are cooked thoroughly.

Serve with a crusty bread, dinner rolls, or toast! Add a large glass of milk and you have hit all the food groups!

***This can also be done in a crock pot set on low all day.***

***To be more time efficient and maximise your time, chop vegetables as the meat is cooking and broth is being boiled. Add ingredients in order of broth ingredients first, then hard vegetables, and softer vegetables.***

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jewerly Organizing--made easy!

I had been complaining to my husband forever that I needed a full length mirror! It was driving him nuts! One night I was looking at http://www.overstock.com, which is a site that I love, and found the perfect mirror! Plus it stores all my jewerly, which freed up so much space on my dresser and put everything in one place! For $119.99 and $2.95 shipping, it was mine!

Here is the link to the item I bought on http://www.overstock.com/:


Here is the inside of the unit (bottom half in the pic, top half has a mirror inside), with ample room for necklaces, rings, bracelets, and watches.

Looking at the inside of the unit with the door open. The door has tons of room for earrings and more necklaces!

With nothing in it!

The mirror with the door shut. It has a magnet that holds the door shut.
This mirror/jewerly armoire was the perfect solution to my unorganized jewerly problem. Before I had to search for the piece of jewerly I wanted, and being a mom, time is crucial. Having everything at my fingertips is very important! Plus, I have my full length mirror that serves a very functional role!

Dresser Drawer Overhaul

I recently did a dresser drawer overhaul in our master bedroom. From start to finish (6 drawers), it took about 1 1/2 hours. I have before and after photos for you to see. I was frustrated with not being able to find what I wanted in our drawers. Moreover, my 15 month old son was having too much fun taking everything out of the drawers, which made my attempts at keeping the drawers neat worse.

Here are some before pics:

Sock Drawer (also contained tights, hose, slips, etc.)

Panty drawer, all types mixed up

Other side of pantry drawer, again all types mixed up

bra drawer, messy

other side of bra drawer, couldn't find straps to special occasion bras
In the dresser four drawers were for me, and two drawers for my husband. My drawers consisted of underclothing, socks, hose/tights, and bathing suits. My husband's drawers had socks and underwear in them.
These are the steps I took to organize the drawers.
  1. Completely empty a drawer, one at a time.
  2. Vacuum out the drawer with the hose of the vacuum.
  3. Go through each item creating a donate pile, trash pile, and keep pile.
  4. Items that were in the kept pile were then folded neatly and stacked into "like" piles (i.e. exercise bras, cotton panties, thongs, special panties/bras, maternity bras, nursing tanks, strapless bras, etc.).
  5. Place neatly stacked piles back into the drawer. Place less-used items in the back of the drawer and more-used items in the front of the drawer. *Use drawer separaters if you choose (more on that below).
  • I took out all my maternity bras and nursing tanks out of the drawers and put them into a large storage container to be stored in the basement. They were taking up precious space!
  • I moved my sports bras and slips to the closet.
  • Some of my special occasion bras have straps, so I put them into a zip-top bag so that I could find the straps when needed.
  • Socks were inspected for holes, loss of elasticity, etc. and tossed into the trash.
  • Pantyhose, tights, and thigh highs were inspected for holes and runs. The keepers were then put into individual zip-top bags to prevent snagging.

*Drawer dividers are a great way to keep piles in piles and looking neat. I researched several sites to order some of these. Unfortunately, I didn't find what I was looking for and need to go to a organizing store in a larger city to find what I am looking for. I tried to use sturdy pieces of cardboard (which you will see in some of the photos), but then didn't like these because they made my clothes smell like cardboard...not pleasant!*

After pics of the drawers:
half of my husband's underwear drawer

my sock drawer, each pair folded into each other, color cordinated, single layer

panty drawer, neat stacks in similar types

half of bra drawer, right side is special occasion bras (i.e. strapless, convertible, bustier)

other half of bra drawer, bras folded into cups, colour-cordinated
There are two drawers not pictures, my husband's sock drawer and my bathing suit drawer. I hope this gives you some ideas on how to organize your drawers and underclothing! If you have additional ideas, please feel free to post a comment. I can find anything now quickly and efficiently and save precious minutes in the morning getting ready!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Master Bedroom Closet Makeover--Part 2

After MUCH research of different closet systems, my husband and I decided to put a hold on this closet remodel project. It is very expensive and we weren't sure what exactly we wanted. We will attempt to do this again come this winter. So now I organized the closet with what items we have on hand now. I bought nothing new.

These are the steps I have taken so far:

Organizing a closet this size with this much in it, was going to be a multi-step project. The first step was to take before pics and make a plan. After the before pictures were taken, my next step was to go through each item, getting rid of clothes and shoes that my husband and I no longer wear. I made three piles: sell, donate, and throw away. For me, this took about 1-2 hours.

Next I started with the top shelf. I reorganized my husband's sweaters, sweatshirts, and t-shirts. I made two folded stacks of sweaters, two folded stacks of sweaters, and several stacks of like-color t-shirts. I labeled each stack by sticking a label below on the shelf marking what the pile had in it. This was mainly so my husband could keep things organized as well. He has about 3/4 of the top shelf for his items. The other 1/4 of the top shelf has my sweaters and t-shirts. I have my sweaters folded in stacks of hooded sweaters, turtlenecks, warmer sweaters, light sweaters, etc. I have my stacks labeled as well the same as my husband's (see pictures). For the summer my sweaters are the top shelf, and in winter I put them where my shorts and summer bottoms are kept.
After the entire top wrap around shelf was neat and organized, I went to the shelves in our closet. The top shelf had my husband's jeans and khakis on them. I decided to hang my husband's pants and khakis because he would make a mess of the stacks finding the pair he wanted. I used that top shelf now for my husband's work clothes (pants and t-shirts), again labeled.
The next two shelves had my sweaters on them. Now they have been moved for the summer to the wrap around shelf in the closet. The one shelf has my work-out shorts, capris, and long pants on them, labeled. The next shelf down has my shorts and summer cardigans, labeled. The bottom shelf has my jeans and capri jeans on it. I have not organized this shelf yet, and it will be talked about in part three of the closet makeover.

I also used my husband's tie hanger for my scarves. My husband no longer has a job that requires him to wear ties, and MANY were outdated. The ones that we kept, I hung on a regular hanger. The belts that we kept are hung on a regular hanger, one for my husband's belts and two for mine.

Wrap-around shelf, (left to right) my husband's t-shirts color-coordinated, my t-shirts, my sweaters. Please note that each stack is labeled.

More detailed picture of my sweaters and labels.

My hanger with scarves on it, top shelf with work-out clothes and next shelf with shorts and cardigans on it.

Top shelf, my husband's work pants, t-shirts, and caps. Next shelf my work-out shorts, capris, leggings, and long pants.

Wrap-around shelf, my husband's sweatshirts, lounge pants, sweaters, and sweatshirts. Please note labels. Also, hanging are my husband's khakis and jeans.

What I have done so far took me approximately 3-4 hours. Please see pictures above for details on my progress. I am now working on the rest of things, which will probably take me two more posts to finish.
By tackling small sections, it helped me to not get over-whelmed by the amount of work it is taking to overhaul our closet. Moreover, you can start and stop more easily and work on this project over several weeks, if needed.
If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, TAKE A BREAK!!!
When you have finished your closet project, you will be much less stressed and feel better that you are organized and can find things easily!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Organized Travel--Packing Tips

My family and I travel frequently and sometimes at the last moment! I have a system for making it easier and faster to pack for our family trips. Please keep in mind that my husband and I have two children, ages 9 and 1. Here are the things that I do to keep traveling organized:

  1. Luggage/bags: I keep our large luggage and travel bags in one spot in our basement. If you do not have a basement, store them anywhere you have extra space. Place smaller bags inside larger ones to take up less space. I keep our smaller weekend/overnight travel bags in our master bedroom closet. It makes it easy for last minute road trips.
  2. Childrens' Toiletries: For the children, I have a small basket with their travel needs in it. I put their things into a small, clear pouch. I try to use refillable, travel-size containers whenever possible. Some things I keep in the pouch are travel-size shampoo, body wash, body powder, vaseline, and diaper rash cream. I have a thermometer and medicine dropper in it as well. I also put any medicine in there that either of the boys may need. You never know when they can get sick! I try to always plan ahead!
  3. Adults' Toiletries: I do the same thing for us. I have travel necessities in a clear zip-lock bag. I usually end up bringing the large version of shampoo, etc. for us. For me it just seems easier, especially on longer trips.
  4. Childrens' Clothes: A few days before we leave, I check the weather to the destination that we are going. This helps me prepare what to pack. I lay the boys' clothing out by outfits into neat stacks. Each stack represents one day. I try to pack clothing that can mix with different outfits.
  5. Adults' Clothes: I am the worst at overpacking! I have learned now that traveling with children, I really needed to downsize my own clothing and shoes! Now I plan all my outfits, including shoes and jewerly, and lay them into neat stacks just like the boys' clothes. I try to stick to a similar color scheme with interchangable pieces for different outfits. This helps me to only pack a few pairs of shoes verses needing a separate piece of luggage just for my shoes! My husband seems to never overpack and usually takes up the least amount space of all of us!
  6. Misc.: About a week before we leave, I make a list of items that I can potentially forget. The day before we leave, I check off the items off my list. If they are not in the luggage, they go in a pile near the door. Items such as, passports, cell phone chargers, camera chargers, any documents needed, diaper bag, baby front carrier, etc. go in the pile near the door.

I am very organized, so usually finding things at the last minute are easy for me. I rarely forget anything! If you keep the travel items in the same area all the time, you will not have to search for anything. This makes last minute travel a breeze and not stressful at all! If you have any other tips you would like to share, please post a comment!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Walk-In Closet Makeover--Part 1

As an organizer, I am embarrassed to say that the walk-in closet in our master bedroom has literally become a disaster! I have been wanting to install a custom walk-in closet system since we moved into our house. So for months now, I have been procrastinating and in the process of my procrastination, I have let our closet become the mess that it is! As for most of the "stuff" on the floor, it is due to my one-year-old son taking all the folded clothes off the shelves and playing with them!

There are SO many options out there for closet system makeovers from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars! I want something high quality, but I want a great deal! This makes a perfect winter project for me to complete! It has come to the point that I "just have to make a decision" and stick with it!