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Monday, March 28, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

  • Monday: Stuffed Shells - I got a box of free manicotti noodles awhile ago and have been looking forward to trying to make these.

  • Tuesday: Tortilla Pizzas

  • Wednesday/Thursday: Ham and Scalloped Potatoes

  • Friday/Saturday: Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas (thanks for the recipe, Sarah!)

  • Sunday: Veggie Spaghetti

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What I'm Reading...

There have been a lot of posts lately about cleaning and organizing, because, well, it's spring, and what better time to spruce everything up?

Committing Packrat Suicide: How I Killed My Need to Keep Absolutely Everything. I don't think I have any petrified cake frosting, but I'm quite positive I have kept things that I don't need or really want. (Offbeat Home)

Want to Save the Most? Do Without. Smart advice. (Money Saving Mom)

Kitchen Organizing Tips (The Scrappy Housewife via I'm an Organizing Junkie) and Storage Made Easy Thanks to Recycling (Northern Cheapskate). Both of these posts talked about reusing containers and other things you already have to make organizing easier. I did some more kitchen organization this week, and I used some Rubbermaids that were the wrong size for most leftovers (and thus were just sitting in the cupboards) to organize my dried beans.

Go Green and Simplify Your Life. These are just a few easy ways.
Simplify Your Life with the Touch It Once Rule. Because if you're going to deal with something, you may as well deal with it right away, or have a system of organization in place for it. (both from Life Your Way)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crafty Link-Up

Taste the Rainbow Waffles, Pudding, and Cake. Leftover from St. Patrick's Day links from last week, but awesome any time. (various sites via Common Sense with Money)

I absolutely love the spiral bookshelf in the first picture of this post. (Offbeat Home) Also, speaking of cool bookshelves, this tree shelf was featured in an issue of Martha Stewart Living a few months ago, and it's pretty amazing too. Neither holds enough to be functional for me, but they have such an impact that it almost doesn't matter.

DIY Pantone Paint Chip Magnets. Cute! (How About Orange)

Tagalong Peanut Butter Parfaits. Girl Scout cookies mixed into a rich, yummy trifle? Yes please. (My Baking Addiction)

DIY Wheat Thins. If I hadn't just bought a whole bunch of crackers for cheap, I would totally make these. I actually have all the ingredients already. Definitely one to keep and try sometime... (Two Peas and Their Pod via Money Saving Mom)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday and 7 Layer Casserole Recipe

Monday: 7 Layer Casserole
Tuesday/Wednesday: Multi Bean Soup
Thursday/Friday: Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli and Mushrooms - one of my absolute favorites!
Saturday/Sunday: TBD

7 Layer Casserole

  • 1 cup instant rice, uncooked
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey, cooked
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 strips bacon, cooked
  • shredded cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Pour rice, corn, and one can tomato sauce + 1/2 can water in bottom of casserole dish. Add ground beef and second can tomato sauce + 1/2 can water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with onion and green pepper, followed by strips of bacon. Bake covered at 350 F for 25 minutes. Top with shredded cheese, uncover, and bake 5 minutes, until cheese melts.

I should note that 9 times out of 10, I make this casserole without the onion, green pepper, and bacon. In fact, when I got this recipe from my mom, I was surprised to find those ingredients listed, because I didn't remember ever having them in there. Regardless, it's very simple, and I always have the rest of the ingredients on hand if I need a quick and easy meal.

Project Simplify Week 2: Paper Clutter (After)

Last week I posted my before pictures and my list of what I wanted to accomplish in terms of paper clutter. I filed my recipes, and then set to work organizing my crafty binder. I used printer paper, and various free samples of Post-It tabs that I had gotten, to divide it into sections. I hole punched all the sheets and put them in there. I have a bunch of good stuff in there, if I ever have the time to make any of it! I put a few extra sheets of paper and the extra Post-Its right in the front of the binder in case I need to make any new sections.

Next came the trays. As you can see, they're still in the living room, and they're not empty, but I did get rid of all the extra statements and manuals that were living there.

Jesse has already overtaken the top of the scanner/printer that I had cleared off, and I left him the pile to the right to sort through, which is a bunch of information about his student loans. He can decide what needs to be kept and scanned, and then we will get rid of that stack as well.

I have a bag full of documents to shred, which is currently sitting by the shredder. I have to figure out a time to shred them when I will not scare the living daylights out of Jonah (he hates loud noises like that).

In addition to my projects that I had planned, I also organized our important papers and documents, pulling out items that didn't belong, and filing the rest by category, one section for each member of the family, one for taxes, and a few others.
And, while it may not be paper clutter, I knew I needed to rework my hotmail account when it told me I had reached the maximum of 250 rules for sorting e-mails into folders. I had just been rerouting them from the inbox, which pulled from specific e-mail addresses rather than by keywords. I got rid of rules for newsletters to which I no longer subscribed, and reworked the rest by keywords to get rid of duplicates. It took me about an hour total, but I went from 250 rules to just over 100. I also unsubscribed from several mailing lists which I had been meaning to do for awhile, and purposely rerouted others to my inbox so I will be able to unsubscribe the next time I receive an e-mail from them.
All in all, I'd say this week's decluttering was a success!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Why Should a Man Get Married? There are a lot of good reasons. (The Simple Dollar)

8 Reasons You May Not Have Enough Time. I like the first one: "You're just busy, not productive." (Life Your Way)

How to Clutter Your Home. Instead of focusing on decluttering, here's how to go the opposite direction. (Making This Home via Simple Mom)

What My Five-Year-Old Taught Me About Organization. (Life Your Way)

Thoughts on Choosing Guardians for Your Children. We focused mainly on those we believed would line up most closely with both our religious beliefs and parenting style. (The Simple Dollar)

My Stock-Up Price List. In reading this list, I found that my stock-up prices for a lot of the items were similar, which is nice for me to see. (Money Saving Mom)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Project Simplify Week 2: Paper Clutter (Before)

This week's challenge for Project Simplify over at Simple Mom is to get rid of paper clutter. This is one I was hoping would be part of the series, because it's something I've been meaning to do for awhile. Here are the things I'm planning to tackle:

Miscellaneous tax info and papers need to be put away. We actually already got our refund, so it's not that I have to do taxes. They just need to be filed.

This set of trays is my big focus. Some of the statements and documents here need to be scanned, but most just need to be shredded. All of our bills that can be paperless are paperless now, and we have access to those old statements through our online accounts if we need them. The others need to be saved and shredded. The rest of this tray, while not all paper, needs to be dealt with as well, because it's not an attractive addition to the living room.

In the kitchen, recipes I've used recently need to be filed.

I need to go through my crafty binder and miscellaneous pile and organize that. I have a bunch of random things I've torn out of magazines and catalogs because they looked interesting or I wanted to try them, so now I need to categorize those and remind myself what I have. I also have a few odds and ends here that need to get put away.

I could probably find even more paper clutter around the house to take care of, but these are the things that immediately jumped out at me today, so they're the ones I'm going to work on first. How is your spring cleaning going?

Crafty Link-Up

Stolen Plastic Grocery Basket. Not advocating, but I can see how it would be useful... (Offbeat Home)

Toilet Paper Roll Art. These are very pretty. (Full of Great Ideas)

Letterpress Drawer Collage. I love collages, and this mixture of photos and knick-knacks is right up my alley. (Offbeat Home)

Mesh Bathtub Toy Bag. We bought a toy storage thing, but I can't get the suction cups to stick on our walls. (Craftroom)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday and Enchilada Chicken Chili Recipe

Monday: Enchilada Chicken Chili. I had cooked and frozen the chicken that I bought last week, so all I had to do was throw this together last night in about 15 minutes (recipe below) Love that!
Tuesday/Wednesday: Upside Down Pizza
Thursday/Friday: Veggie Pot Pie
Saturday/Sunday: Multi Bean Soup

Enchilada Chicken Chili

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 2 cans kidney or pinto beans, drained
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped

Mix all ingredients together. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Such an easy soup, and so yummy! Top with shredded cheese if you want.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What I'm Reading...

Welcome Spring to Your Kitchen. I'm right in the middle of spring cleaning/nesting/decluttering. Whatever you call it, I'm there. (Good Cheap Eats)

Choosing the Important Stuff. Because nothing else matters more. (Life Your Way)

What Are Your Favorite Green Living Blogs? Not that I need to add more blogs to my list, but... (Life Your Way)

Five Things You Can Do the Day After You Move in to Help Your Home Feel Like YOURS. (Offbeat Home)

How I Save Time, Money, and Energy in the Kitchen. I absolutely agree. (Money Saving Mom)

The Harsh Reality of Living with Next to Nothing. This article talks about living on $1000/month, which is actually not that far from what we currently live off of. However, the article and the game linked there definitely seem like they're from a higher cost of living area than we are. (Northern Cheapskate)

8 Money Saving Swap Ideas. (Life Your Way)

Secrets of a Former Credit Card Thief. He explains how he did it, and offers tips to protect your identity. (Yahoo Finance via Money Saving Mom)

Tips for Cluttered Surfaces. The easiest places to build up clutter are flat surfaces. Our worst is our dining room table. I have a basket there now to catch most of the miscellaneous stuff, but there's still more that ends up there that doesn't need to be there. (I'm an Organizing Junkie)

Free Printable Shopping Lists. I don't know that I'll necessarily print these out, but I really should start categorizing my grocery lists. It would mean less back and forth in the store. (Life Your Way)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Organizing, Organizing...

Simple Mom is running a Spring Cleaning link-up focusing on several hot spots. This week's was your closet/wardrobe. I am not at a point where I can tackle that one, since I have been wearing the same 3 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for the past few weeks, and will continue to do so until Matthew makes his grand appearance in a few more weeks. So...I decided to tackle my kitchen.

Here's the stockpile before...

Note the piles in front of the shelf, and also the stack of magazines next to it. All read, but not taken care of. Please don't hate me, but I finally threw them out because I realized recycling was not going to happen, and they needed to go.

I got this lovely 6-shelf can organizer from I had won a $20 gift code on a blog giveaway, so it only cost $9.99, which is a bargain for one of those. It did make me feel a bit like an idiot when I attempted to assemble it this morning, until I realized I was doing it backward. Such is life. I was able to move everything else off of the floor onto the shelves, and reorganized them a bit too. It's still crowded, but everything fits much better, and I'm much happier with it.
We also took a trip to Goodwill this week to drop off a few boxes and bags of items that had been sitting in the living room for, well, months. We cleaned out our pots and pans cupboard and got rid of a lot of the extras. Jonah was disappointed, because he loves to pull them all out to cook his toys. I am quite pleased that he now has just a few instead of about 15 to pull out for Mom to trip over.
My brother loaded up our old desk, which we had been saving for him (in our living room, because there wasn't anywhere else for it) for his apartment for next school year. We told him it was up to him to store it if he still wanted it, so he's going to take that home to Mom and Dad's over Easter break in a few weeks. Jonah's toys have already overtaken that space. Perhaps it was his retaliation for our getting Matthew's crib mattress and making Matthew's bed in what will soon be their room instead of Jonah's room.
I am in full on nesting mode and I'm exciting to keep tackling more decluttering projects over the next few weeks. Yay spring cleaning!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Crafty Link-Up

Corkboard coasters that look like slices of bread. (How About Orange)

Pinwheel Wall Flowers. Because I have a slight obsession with flowers, even though you wouldn't necessarily know it from looking at my house. (Offbeat Home)

Unique Magazine Racks to Make or Buy. I've seen the wine rack idea before, but the wire hanger and the repurposed crib segment are new to me. (Life Your Way)

Bow Tie Paper Clips from Fabric Scraps. (How About Orange)

DIY Dryer Sheets. (Northern Cheapskate)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What I'm Reading...

How to Sell Your Unwanted Gift Cards for Cash. A description of two sites that buy and sell gift cards. (Pocket Your Dollars)

How to Make Five Meals from Five Chicken Breasts. They do seem like they're pretty large, but still a good demonstration of making meat stretch. (Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles via Money Saving Mom)

Surprising Traits That Reveal Your Personality. Like hair length. (Life Your Way)

I liked several of the Weekend Links from Simple Mom this week:
We've Been Conditioned to Not Make Mistakes (Nesting Place)
Parenting Your Polar Opposite (Steady Mom)
On Labels and Limits: Why I No Longer Call Myself An Attachment Parent (The Happiest Mom)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Crafty Link-Up

Delicious, Mouthwatering Nutella Recipes. I've only had Nutella once, but it was yummy. (Life Your Way)

Homemade English Muffins. I've been on an English muffin kick the past few weeks. Jonah was bagels. Matthew is English muffins. I am curious what the next one will eventually be... (Utah Deal Diva via Money Saving Mom)

I really like the Leafy Cutout Card in this post. (A Little Hut)

TV Cabinet to Console Table. This is an impressive transformation. (Infarrantly Creative via Money Saving Mom)

Now I need ideas. I want to make some sort of jewelry organizer. I don't have a ton of jewelry, so it doesn't have to be too huge - we're talking 5-6 pairs of earrings, less than 10 bracelets, and a few necklaces. I have items in a jewelry box and a travel case, but I forget what I have since I don't have them out. Anyone have anything?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Project of Sorts...

This is not exactly a craft project, but it needed to be done. For the past couple of weeks, Jonah has started to get really interested in what is in the cupboards. He used to be content with the one cupboard of pots and pans. Not any more. And I was okay with letting him explore, until he pulled out one of my specialty cake pans and beat it with a wooden spoon. And dented it. And then he got really interested in the laundry detergent, and I could see that we were heading down a dangerous road...

So, yesterday Mama got out a hammer, a drill, and some screws, and Mama installed 6 cupboard childproof locks.

And they actually work. Mama is not so handy, but Mama was very proud of herself. As a bonus, the confused look on Jonah's face when he attempted to open one of them? Priceless.