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, 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

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!