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!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saving Money on your Grocery Bill

Tired of wasting money on groceries? Tired of throwing food away? Tired of buying something only to find out it was on sale last week? Making dinner and realize that you are missing the key ingredient?

With organization these woes can be solved! First of all, I must tell you that I am pretty frugle and LOVE to save money! I get excited over a good deal! With that being said, I will share with you the ways I save my family money by shopping smart.

When I lived in the United States, I was a religious coupon clipper. In Sunday's newspaper, I would clip coupons and scan the ads for good deals. There were several products that I refused to buy without a coupon. I keep my coupons in two envelopes. One envelope has coupons for groceries and one for household items. However, now living in Canada, coupons are hard to come by! They do not come in the newspapers. I have found a few online sites that offer coupons in Canada, but I find that to be really time consuming and often not worth my time to do it. Therefore, I had to come up with a better way to save money on our groceries and household items.

Using the Weekly Ads to Save Money

Now I scan the weekly ads that come in the mail on Fridays. On the weekend, I look over the ads, find out what is on sale, and make a list. My list looks something like this:

  • fruits/vegetables

  • bakery/bread

  • deli

  • meats/seafood

  • grocery items

  • refrigerated/dairy

  • frozen

  • paper/cleaning products

  • health/beauty items

  • miscellaneous

Note: So I remember where the item is on sale, I put the first letter of the store next to the item.

Meal Planning According to What is On Sale

Next, I plan my meals around what meat and fruits/vegetables are on sale for that week. On the back of my list, I write the meals that we will be having for the week. When meal planning for your family, think about what your family enjoys, but don't be afraid to try something new as well!

Buying in Bulk or Family Sized-Items

I typically buy in bulk for many items. Please note that most of the time, but not always, it is more cost effective to buy in bulk. Pay attention to the unit price to which size of an item is the better deal. You should see this on the price tag by the scu number. Items that are nonperishable or frozen (or can be frozen) are best to buy in bulk because they will not go bad, as long as you have the storage space and/or a freezer for such items.

I always buy meat/fish in family pack sizes when they are on sale. I then divide the meat/fish into dinner-sized portions, label, and freeze. In the summer, when berries are at their best, I wait for them to go on sale, wash them, pat dry, layer in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze. Once they are frozen transfer them to freezer bags and label.

I hope these ideas can help you save time and money at the grocery store! By taking the time to look over the ads and making a grocery list, it can save you time

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Laundry Out of Control?

One night my friends and I were talking (I really mean griping!) about our household tasks. One task that we all had difficulty with was how hard it is to keep up with laundry...especially with children! We felt that is was too time consuming and never seemed to get put away once it was folded.

I am probably the odd ball here because laundry is one of my favorite chores! However, I don't enjoy all aspects of it. The part I don't like about laundry is ironing and putting away the clothes. I have come up with some suggestions to make it less time consuming, less of a headache to deal with, and less work for you!

1. Get LOTS of Laundry Baskets!
Go to the dollar store and stock up on laundry baskets. Simple plastic ones will do the trick, and make sure that you AND YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS can carry them easily. I typically do not like the fancy wicker ones because they are not easy to carry and tend to harbor ordors!

2. Divide and Conquer!
I have three baskets in the master bedroom closet (one for whites, colors, and jeans/heavy duty). I have one basket in each of the children's bedrooms. I have one basket in each bathroom where bathing takes place, and one basket in the laundry room.

3. Laundry Day
Pick a day(s) of the week that you will be doing laundry. Since the master bedroom will have three baskets (one for whites, colors, and jeans/heavy duty), TEACH your family members to sort the contents of their baskets from their bedrooms into your baskets. As for the baskets in the bathrooms, have your children alternate weeks and do the same thing with the contents of those baskets as they did with their laundry baskets. The laundry basket in the laundry room is for kitchen towels and other misc. items.

***TIP--by giving your family members and/or children some of this responsibility is equals less work for you and teaches them a valuable lesson about contributing to the family!

Also, please note that when teaching your family try not to be too critical or too much of a perfectionist or they are not going to want to participate with helping out!

***IMPORTANT--have a separate basket for delicates, items that need hand-washing, or cannot be put into the dryer! I would do that load myself to ensure that items do not get ruined!!

4. Washing/Drying
Decide on who will be putting laundry into washer and dryer. I for one, am a bit particular about laundry, my husband wouldn't even know how to turn the washer on, so I am the one that does it all. However, you may want to give older children/teenagers this responsibility. Afterall if it is all sorted now and brought to the laundry room/area, the easy part is loading the washer and dryer!

5. Fold and Put Away as a Family
In our house, we fold as a family in front of the TV. If you have children old enough to help fold, teach them how you want clothes and towels folded so you are not refolding items. Have a basket on hand for each person and/or bedroom. Load baskets with items for each bedroom and/or family member. Load one basket with linens to put away. Have members of the family bring their basket back to their bedroom, and again, if old enough put his/her OWN clothes away neatly! You may have to check their work a few times to ensure they are not just tossing things into drawers.

6. Ironing
This is my least favorite task! I typically tackle ironing once or twice a month. I do it in front of the TV usually when the kids are sleeping or napping. If you have teenagers that are capable of doing a good job with this, you could have them do this chore or do a portion of it.

Other Tips!
  • Start loads of laundry at night. Not only will you be saving energy (and money!), you will be one step ahead of the game!
  • Do not let items sit in the dryer. Otherwise, you are creating more work for yourself if they are all wrinkled when you go to iron. If you do put laundry in the dryer at night, fluff the load for a few minutes before folding in the morning.
  • Line drying (again for energy consumption) is something I take advantage of in the summer months! I love the feel of line-dried towels, and the smell of line-dried clothes! This is something that family members can help out with as well!!!
  • Do not put wet or damp items into laundry baskets! That just creates stinky laundry and often the mildew smell is hard to get out of clothes. Moreover, mold can grow on items, which is virtually impossible to get out except by using bleach. Teach children to dry items first by handing them on the tub or towel racks!!
I hope this helps you loathe laundry less! By getting your family involved, you are teaching them responsibility and the value of helping each other out. You will be giving yourself more time to be with your family instead of a bystander doing all the chores while they are having all the fun!!! Even very small children can help out too. Give the appropriate tasks to the appropriate age!
Good luck and happy laundry day!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Manage Your Time; Make Double Batches!

What family these days isn't busy? With children being involved in extracurricular activities and parents working, it is very easy to just pick up take out or fast food for dinner on your way home from work! However, if you want a healthy alternative that will save you time and money, make double batches of dinners and FREEZE them! It is easy to take out something from the freezer to thaw before you go to work or to take it out to thaw when you get home. My mom used to have me take out the meat out of the freezer when I got home from school. That way it was thawed when she got home from work. As I got older, I would do much of prep work in preparing the dinners making it even easier for her when she got home.

How much would it take to make a double batch of your family's favorite dinners? My answer...very little! If you are making it already, it would only take a few extra minutes of prep work and a few minutes to place into freezer bags, label, and freeze! I keep freezer bags of different sizes and a Sharpie marker stocked in my kitchen to make it easy. Be sure to label what is in the bag, it may not be recognizable after it is frozen, and the date!

Here are some ideas of foods that I make double batches of and freeze:
  • soups (cream based and broth based)
  • stews
  • chili
  • chicken pot pie filling (use a prepared frozen pie crust to finish)
  • manicotti pasta stuffing
  • lasagna
  • mashed potatoes (they make excellent potato pancakes or hashbrowns for breakfast)
  • bean dishes
  • squash dishes
  • casseroles
  • spaghetti sauce
  • meatloaf
  • meatballs
  • homemade hamburger patties

Make and freeze your family's favorites. It will make your life easier on those busy nights while giving your family a healthy meal!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Weekly Housework and Errand Routine

I find that if I don't keep up with housework daily and errands weekly, it throws me off making me feel unaccomplished, overwhelmed, and frustrated. Over the past year of being a stay-at-home mom, I have slowly come into a weekly routine.

Please note that when I use the word "clean" it means cleaning all surfaces, vacuuming , mopping floors, dusting, mirrors, etc. When I use the word "tidy" it means wiping off coutnertops, picking up toys, no dishes in the sink, putting away anything that should be put away, etc.

My weekly routine goes something like this:

Monday--I stay home and usually do not go anywhere. I clean the kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and living room areas (basically the main living areas that are most used). If my son is having a good nap or the day is going well, sometimes I can get Tuesday's cleaning jobs done as well. Generally this takes me about two to three hours.

Tuesday--I clean the entry, laundry/mud room, and main floor bathroom. This usually takes me about 20 to 30 minutes. I run errands this day according to my to-do list, which is created/updated on Sunday or Monday.

Wednesday--I tackle paperwork (i.e. filing, invoices, receipts, etc.) for our small business and tidy our home office. The time it takes to do this really varies based on the time of the month. This is our trash day as well (we do not get curbside trash service where we live so I have to bring the trash/recycling to the refuse station). I finish any errands not completed on Tuesday.

Thursday--I clean the two bathrooms upstairs, clean and/or tidy the boys' bedrooms and our bedroom. I vacuum the entire top floor. Sometimes I have to finish this on Friday. Generally this takes about one to two hours.

Friday--I am usually catching up on anything not checked off my to-do list.

Saturday and Sunday are generally my "days off" meaning I just tidy the house and spend time with my family. If I was not able to take the trash/recycling out on Wednesday, I can do it either of these days. This is usually my husband's job, but if he is away working, then I do it.

Life happens and sometimes my routine gets thrown off, truthfully it happens just about every week! So for example, if my Monday cleaning doesn't get done, I just tidy and clean the Monday stuff the next week. I try not to stress out about it!

Generally every other week, I move the furniture in our main living area to vacuum and mop (if needed) underneath it. I only do this because we have hardwood floors and this is where the dust settles! If you have carpet, you would not have to do this!

*****One key area I would like to point out, is every night before I go to bed, I spend about five to 15 minutes tidying up the mainfloor. I feel refreshed in the morning when there are no dishes in the sink from the night before and the toys are not laying around everywhere!*****

Creating a routine that has room for "life" is key for me when staying organized and on top of things in my household! Then housework doesn't seem to build up! If this happens it is because we are really busy, and in that case, I just start up the next week.

When you create your own routine, you will need to decide which day you can tackle your cleaning chores. For example, if you work a typical Monday through Friday job, you may have to do your cleaning on the weekends and save weekdays for tidying and spending time with family. If you have children, they can definitely be helping out with these tasks saving you a lot of time. Husbands can also help out with things! I will tackle that subject in another post as I have had lots of inquiries on how to get husbands more involved!! In my household, we have the belief that we are a family unit. We help each other out with cleaning, errands, and yardwork. We work together to get it done faster in return giving us more time with each other for play! Since I am a stay-at-home mom and my husband works a great deal away from home, I generally am doing most, if not all, the cleaning and household chores.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Resolutions

As the new year is upon us, I am like most people, I have a few New Year's resolutions. The first one is to be more organized! That one might be a surprise to some as I am the one writing about being organized. However, wearing so many "hats" leaves me with little time.

Before becoming a mother, I was "neat freak." Everything always had to be clean, tidy, and organized! When I moved to Canada permanently, I was essentially "moving in" with my husband permanently as well. That meant that my step-son, who was eight years old at the time, stayed with us often. As most eight year olds, they are messy eaters at times! It drove me nuts! I was constantly vacuuming up the crumbs behind him. My in-laws laughed at me and told me to "get used to it." I didn't think it was going to be "that bad" having a baby around. Well, as my baby is approaching one year in a few days, he is the one making a MUCH BIGGER mess that the eight year ever could! I have had to learn to relax a little bit on my squeaky clean regime. Thus, this has taken a tole on my organized home!

One area that has gotten disorderly and is driving me crazy is the closets! Two closets being of particular concern, the master bedroom closet and the baby's room closet. In our master bedroom closet, the stacks of clothes are hardly neat anymore, there are hangers on the floor, laundry piles up quickly, clothes that need to be donated, and I have maternity and post-maternity clothes in a pile in the corner. It has gotten out of control!

The baby's room closet is a mess partly because of him digging in there for toys that I have already put away. I have a habit of finding amazing deals on things, so I have toys that he is still too young for which are piled on the shelf in the closet. Now there is way too much on the shelf! The floor in his closet is covered with books, old and new toys, a baby swing, an exersaucer, and so much more! It is a huge mess! I can't find anything!

A few other areas that are making me nuts are the dresser drawers. Again, my baby is partly to blame for this one! He is in the habit of taking everything out of them and throwing them onto the floor. Need less to say, his dresser drawers are no longer full of perfectly-folded, neat piles of clothing. In the master bedroom, the same problem is happening in our dresser drawers. I must say this one is my fault, probably because I am putting things away in a hurried manner.

So as 2010 is upon us, I will be taking some "before" pics of these areas and some "after" pics when I am finished. I intend on keeping these areas as neat as possible! In my defense, I organized our home when we moved into it a year and a half ago. It has stayed neat and organized up until probably November of 2009. I think part of the disorganization may be due to the holidays and being even more busy than normal! That may be just my excuse, but I am going to stick with it!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Choosing a Planner or Calendar

As the new year begins, the task of finding a new calendar and/or planner can be daunting. My advice is to not just pick one, but really look at your options. Find one that is suited to your needs.

When I was teaching and maintaining a household, I personally liked one with a month-at-a-glance, week-at-a-glance, and plenty of space to write down events and appointments. I would also choose one with a plastic or heavier cover if you tend to bring yours with you as I did. Some may want to keep their work and personal calendars and/or planners separate; however, I found that maintaining two was too much work. I generally combined mine into one planner/calendar. It went to work with me everyday and home every night.

Now that I am a stay-at-home mom and a small business owner, I use a large desk calendar to write down events, appointments, and schedules. Again, I like plenty of space to write things down.

Whatever calendar or planner you choose, take your time picking one out! Afterall, you will be with it for the entire year! Having a planner/calendar is an essential way to keep yourself organized and managing your time!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Creating my To-Do List for the week

Every weekend I update and/or create my to-do list for the week. Having a visual, written to-do list really helps me stay focused, less stressed, more organized, and in control. I used to type and print it out, but now I use a small notebook. I write down everything in the notebook that I need to remember. Before I was a Mother, I could remember things that I needed to get done better; however, now I cannot seem to remember anything! I forget things very easily! Therefore, having a to-do list to me is essential!

I only tear pages out of my notebook that I do not need anymore, or once the To-Do List has been updated on a separate page. I usually carry this notebook with me when I am running errands, so I can check things off as I am done with them. This helps me feel "accomplished!"

My To-Do List looks something like this:

To-Do List--Jan. 2-8, 2010
and so on...

I try to organize my list by errands, household, phone calls, etc.
If my list is particularly long, I can feel overwhelmed. I will designate tasks that I want or need to get done by the day. For example, if item #1 on my list needs to get done or I want it done on Monday, I will either highlight it in a color or put "Mon." next to it. I feel very accomplished when I can check off items on my list!

This may sounds a little ridiculous to some. However, if you are an unorganized person who forgets things a lot, creating a To-Do List is essential in helping you become more organized.