Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Famous To-Do List

I am a list maker through and through. I often say...if it's not on list, then it doesn't get done.

Sometimes I have several going at once...a daily one and a weekly or even a monthly one. And nothing gives me greater pleasure than being able to cross things off my list and eventually toss the daily one in the garbage. :) I am not too hard on myself tho if I do not cross everything off, I just move it to the next day.

I recently received this e mail on to-do lists from the organizing guru herself, Marcia Ramsland that I thought I'd share with you. It is jam-packed with great to-do list pointers.

Enjoy!


A written to-do list is the secret to clearing your mind of mental clutter and accomplishing more each day. When the list is more than a day’s worth of actions, it is actually considered a “Master List.”

Marcia’s Time Slotted To-Do List:

When you start listing items on your to-do list, you have three choices: you can put to-dos in the order they occur to you, in the time order in which you will complete them, or in priority order. I use a combination of all three. Here are the 3 steps I use each day.

1) In the morning I list what’s on my mind and desk in a running list before opening email. Listing it allows me to get the big picture and start to sort. On a good day I walk into a clear desk with the list already written the night before. :)

2) List the morning’s 3 Priority items in the upper right of my Planner and on a digital Post-It note on my computer screen desktop. (In iGoogle dashboard I found it in “Gadgets.” I also have their clock, calendar, and yellow stickie note.) I like doing the handwritten first. It’s a double insurance that I will get done what I set out to do.

3) The big secret: THEN I list the time I will begin and end each of the 3 big Priorities. Adding the time slot for a priority early in the day makes all the difference in getting it done. Time slots keep me on track.

One last thing: Set yourself up for success tomorrow by clearing your email In-box at the end of each day (or down as low as you possibly can). THE N write yourself an email of with your Priority tasks just in the Subject Line. That way you’ll spot it right away and your mind will focus on your Priorities and not other people’s email priorities for you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Blueberry Picking

Every year we like to go to u pick farms in our area. Even though we have our favorites, we still like to find new ones to try.

This year we tried Evergreen Farms in Watertown, CT for the very first time. They had blueberries and black raspberries. YUM!

Here are some scenes from the day. :)

Enjoy! I know we will be enjoying blueberry muffins and pie and pancakes for the next week. :)






The neck pails they give you to store your bounty in. :)


The happy pickers. ;)


The berries:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Kitchen Table

Here is what my kitchen table looks like this summer. The table runner is from Target and I absolutely love love love the vibrant happy colors. The candle & candle holder which holds my current favorite scent, carribean salsa, are from Bath & Body Works. And all the rest hails from HomeGoods. :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

My First Spray Painting Adventure

I have always wanted a Lazy Susan for my kitchen table but the problem was finding the right size and color. After much searching, I broke down and bought a cheap one from Target for $7.99 and decided to spray paint it. I went for Heirloom White to match the chairs. I think it turned out pretty good. WDYT?

Before:


After:


Next up...the stuff that goes on top. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Puffs Primavera

If you are looking for a really delicious and easy recipe to take to parties this summer, then this is the one for you. I made these yesterday to take to a pool party and they were yummy! My hubby actually asked me if I made them or just heated them up!? LOL!

Tray is from Ikea. It's my new fave. It's long enough to hold lots of goodies. :)







Recipe:
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, cut into 3-inch matchstick-thin strips
1 small red pepper, cut into 3-inch matchstick-thin strips


Directions:
Heat the oven to 400°F. Stir the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and black pepper in a medium bowl.


Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 10x12-inch rectangle. Cut off a 2-inch strip crosswise to make a 10-inch square, reserving the strip. Cut the pastry square into 25 (2-inch) squares. Cut the reserved pastry strip crosswise into 25 strips.


Place about 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese mixture in the center of each pastry square. Arrange the vegetables diagonally on the pastry squares on top of the cheese mixture. Fold 2 opposite corners to the center over the filling and press to seal. Place the pastry strips crosswise across the center of the filled pastries. Wrap the ends of the strips around the pastries to meet in the back and press to seal. Place the pastries, vegetable-side up, onto 2 baking sheets.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Yarn Stash Re-Do

I am a part-time knitter for sure. And I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to my knitting projects. If it's not a gift and I don't have a deadline, it can linger on for months. But that doesn't stop me from buying more yarn. :O

So, as you can imagine, I have a yarn stash that has gotten out of control over the last few months. The little basket that I bought to house my yarn is beyond overflowing. It is littered with bags and bags of unfinished projects and new yarn.

I have been on the hunt for a lidded basket that doesn't look like a laundry basket. It is has been harder than I thought. Then today while I was perusing the aisles of AC Moore for wooden letters, I saw a big but not too big basket that would work and it was 50% off.

Well, when I got to the register, it ended up being $5.00! The original price was $14.99. I was stoked over the bargain even though I had to climb the shelves myself to get it. Everytime I go in there, I swear I will never go there again. :O I am glad I went this time. :)

Look at the transformation...

New Basket:

Messy Stash:

New and Improved Look:

What do you think? Pretty nice for $5.00 and 5 minutes of my time. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Father's Day Frames

Here they are...

They were a hit. So much so that my Mom was jealous. LOL!

For my Dad...


For my hubby...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day Photo Idea

This year I wanted to do something really special for my father and my husband this Father's Day.

So, I came up with this inexspensive photo idea. I hit Michael's today armed with a 50% coupon for 1 regular priced item and a 20% off my total order one. I picked up unfinished wood letters for $1.99 each and a heart for 99 cents. The paint was 2 for $1.00. I always have foam brushes so no cost there. And I picked up a 3 photo black frame on super sale at Kohl's for under $10.00 and a wood desk frame on clearance for $6.99 at Michael's. My photos were even 25% off after I used a special Father's Day coupon code for CVS.

My supplies:


Here they are painted:


The photos:


The frames:


As soon as I pick up the photos from CVS, I'll share the finished product. The photos should be ready in 30 minutes. :)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sunshine Swizzle Stick




What You Need:
3 qt. (12 cups) cold club soda
1 can (12 oz.) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 pkt. (makes 2 qt. drink) CRYSTAL LIGHT Lemonade Flavor Drink Mix*
1 qt. (4 cups) raspberry sherbet

Make It:
ADD club soda and concentrate to drink mix in punch bowl; stir until mix is completely dissolved.

SCOOP sherbet into punch just before serving.

*NOTE: CRYSTAL LIGHT Packets come in two sizes. Please note packet size before preparing recipe. Kraft Kitchens TipsSpecial Extra
Sherbet adds color and flavor, as well as acts as ice cubes to chill the punch.

To Halve:
This recipe can easily be halved. Prepare as directed, cutting all ingredients in half. Makes 9 servings, 1 cup each.

Substitute:
Prepare using 4 pkt. (makes 1 qt. drink each) CRYSTAL LIGHT Lemonade Flavor Drink

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Flag Day




Show your colors for Flag Day or 4th of July with a fun and festive dessert. Raspberries, blueberries and creamy filling are the red, white and blue toppings on the easy cookie crust.

Prep Time: 20 Min
Total Time: 1 Hr 35 Min
Makes: 24 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4cup powdered sugar
2teaspoons grated lemon peel
2cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2cups fresh blueberries
1/4cup apple jelly, melted.

DIRECTIONS:

1 Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over bottom to form crust.

2 Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

3 In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel until fluffy. Spread over baked crust. Arrange raspberries in large star shape in center. Arrange blueberries around raspberries. Drizzle or brush with melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator.

Nutrition Information:

1 Serving (1 Serving)Calories 150(Calories from Fat 70),Total Fat 7g(Saturated Fat 3g,Trans Fat 1g),Cholesterol 15mg;Sodium 85mg;Total Carbohydrate 18g(Dietary Fiber 0g,Sugars 11g),Protein 2g;Percent Daily Value*:Vitamin A 2.00%;Vitamin C 4.00%;Calcium 0.00%;Iron 2.00%;Exchanges:1/2 Starch;0 Fruit;1/2 Other Carbohydrate;0 Skim Milk;0 Low-Fat Milk;0 Milk;0 Vegetable;0 Very Lean Meat;0 Lean Meat;0 High-Fat Meat;1 1/2 Fat;Carbohydrate Choices:1;*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sweet Treat

for the end of the school year.

Just put a lollipop stick into a marshmallow. Dip it in melted chocolate. And decorate it with nonpariels. :)

Add a cute tag and some curling ribbon and voila a sweet treat for teachers and friends. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Flea Market Find


I love flea markets. You just never know what little gem you are going to find. And luckily for me the whole family loves them as well.

We happen to have a pretty good one not too far from us in Stormville. It is a mix of old and new and they have a great food court too.

My son hunts for baseball cards he needs.

My hubby digs for rare records.

And my daughter loves the jewels and gems.

And, it was because of her, that I got this fabulous necklace and earring set. It was marked $24.00 but the lady gave it to me for $20.00 without me even asking. :) Yay! I plan to wear it on Easter Sunday. :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Nest Cookies


A sweet treat for the Easter table or a spring party, these cookies couldn't be easier, starting with refrigerated sugar cookies and purchased frosting.

Prep Time: 45 Min
Total Time: 45 Min
Makes: 24

INGREDIENTS:
1package (16 oz) Pillsbury® Ready To Bake!™ refrigerated sugar cookies (24 cookies)
1container (12 oz) fluffy white frosting
1cup flaked coconut
Food color
Jelly beans

DIRECTIONS:

Bake cookies as directed on package.

Cool completely, about 10 minutes.

Frost cookies.

Add coconut to a 1-quart resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add 2 to 3 drops favorite food color, shaking bag to blend color. It may be necessary to add 1 to 2 teaspoons water to help disperse the color evenly or additional food color until desired color is reached.

Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon coconut on each cookie.

Top with jelly beans or candy coated chocolate peanut candy.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft)

Nutrition Information:

1 Serving (1 cookie)Calories 160(Calories from Fat 70),Total Fat 8g(Saturated Fat 3g,Trans Fat 1g),Cholesterol 0mg;Sodium 70mg;Total Carbohydrate 22g(Dietary Fiber 0g,Sugars 16g),Protein 0g;Percent Daily Value*:Vitamin A 0.00%;Vitamin C 0.00%;Calcium 0.00%;Iron 0.00%;Exchanges:1/2 Starch;0 Fruit;1 Other Carbohydrate;0 Skim Milk;0 Low-Fat Milk;0 Milk;0 Vegetable;0 Very Lean Meat;0 Lean Meat;0 High-Fat Meat;1 1/2 Fat;Carbohydrate Choices:1 1/2;*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Lemon Crinkle Cookies




■1 (super moist) lemon cake mix
■2 eggs
■1/3 cup vegetable oil
■2 tbsp lemon zest
■2 tbsp lemon juice
■1 tsp lemon extract
■white sugar for coating
■confectioners’ sugar for coating

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2.Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and lemon extract until well blended. Drop cookie scoops of dough into a bowl of regular ‘ol white sugar (this will help the confectioners sugar stick). Toss the sugar over the ball of dough until coated. Move the ball into the bowl of confectioners sugar, toss ‘em around more. Once sugared, put them on an non-stick (or lined with parchment) cookie sheet.

3.Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven or until the edges are lightly browned.

I had to keep mine in for 10 minutes. I guess the timing depends on your oven.

They were so good that I am making them again for company on Easter Sunday. :)

Enjoy!

Double-Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

I love anything lemon especially during spring and summer. I am putting this cake on my to make asap list. :)


What You Need:

1 pkg. (2-layer size) lemon cake mix
1 pkg. (3 oz.) JELL-O Lemon Flavor Gelatin
1-1/4 cups water
1/2 cup oil
4 eggs
1/4 cup poppy seed
1/2 cup (1/2 of 8-oz. tub) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese Spread
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. shredded peel and 1 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon, divided


Make It:

HEAT oven to 350°F.

BEAT first 5 ingredients in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Stir in poppy seed. Pour into well-greased and lightly floured 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan.

BAKE 50 min. to 1 hour or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan 30 min. Loosen cake from sides of pan with knife. Invert cake onto wire rack; gently remove pan. Cool cake completely.

BEAT cream cheese spread and butter with mixer on low speed until well blended. Gradually beat in sugar and lemon juice. Spread over top of cake. Garnish with peel.

*Sifting the powdered sugar ensures that the prepared icing will be smooth.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Favorite Book & Author!



What would life be like with the one who got away? From the acclaimed author of My Husband’s Sweethearts comes this bighearted, funny, fiercely perceptive tale about a happily married woman and the little white lie that changed everything.

For Gwen Merchant, love has always been doled out in little packets—from her father, who lost himself in work after her mother’s death, and from her husband, Peter, who’s always been respectable and safe. But when an old college boyfriend, the irrepressible Elliot Hull, invites himself back into Gwen’s life with a surprising proposition, she suddenly starts questioning everything she’s ever expected from love.
Elliot, it turns out, is in need of a pretend wife, just for the weekend, in order to fulfill his dying mother’s last wish. But as Gwen finds herself drawn into Elliot’s quirky, wonderful family—and uncovers a few secrets about her own—a pretend relationship just might turn out to be the most real thing she’s ever known.

I cannot wait to read her other books!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Organizing the Mail Pile

I struggle with this on a daily basis as I know many of you do too. I have been able to gain a handle on it by using the file folder system. I have a desk area in my kitchen and that is where I have a pretty wicker basket that holds my main file folders. That's where I have the bills and school notes, etc. The desk drawer holds envelopes, stamps, address labels and my checkbook for easy access.




Underneath the desk I have another basket that contains file folders with documents that are not needed on a daily basis but that we need access to fairly regularly.



If you are looking into starting a file folder system, here are some pointers from Marcia Ramsland:

Five File Folders will clean up any mail piles from scattering across your kitchen counterop. A portable file holder is a key ingredient to set up a “Personal Organizing Center” along with a supply drawer. Every home needs one.


Each day an average of fifteen pieces of mail arrive in your mailbox. If you flip through and deal with only ten of the fifteen pieces, you are left with five dangling pieces a day to be dealt with “later.” That’s why stacks of mail can appear from out of nowhere. At the rate of five pieces of mail per day, that means 150 pieces a month or 1,565 pieces a year—sixteen inches of guilt piled on your desk or countertops.

Remember, loose papers represent undone actions. They drain emotional energy and take away your peace of mind.

Five File Folders to Handle Your Mail

1. Calendar
2. To Do
3. To Decide
4. To Pay
5. Your Name

File Folder #1 - CALENDAR
Put an item in the CALENDAR file only after putting it on your monthly calendar. This cleans up “refrigerator clutter” and includes invitations, schedules, & upcoming events.

File Folder #2 - TO DO
Only if an item takes more than 5 minutes to do AND you’ve listed it on a Master List on the countertop can you put it in this file. Assign it to the 3 days you can most control: Today, Tomorrow, or the next day.

File Folder #3 - TO DECIDE
Place items that you are thinking about doing, ordering, or following up on in here. Then when you decide to do it, you know right where to find it! The last day of the month, toss the unused items for a fresh start next month.

File Folder #4 -TO PAY
If you don’t have one place by your checkbook to pay bills, keep them in a desginated file folder so they don’t get lost. Important!

File Folder #5 YOUR NAME
Keep anything of interest just for you in there.

Now add a File Folder with each person in your family. Explain that no longer will there be visible paper clutter on the counter, and it needs to be emptied daily or by Saturday noon on the weekend.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ooooh, Look a Healthy Recipe

I am a pastanatic. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even as a snack. But, I hear that carbs are the enemy these days so I am always on the lookout for ways to make me feel less guilty about eating them.

When I first tried whole wheat pasta some years ago, I literally almost hurled. However, I am happy to admit that they have come a long way. I prefer Barilla whole grain but Ronzoni healthy harvest is good too.

This recipe is from Whole Living. Enjoy! ;)

Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes




Ingredients
Serves 4

Coarse salt and ground pepper
12 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion , thinly sliced, lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes , halved lengthwise
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more serving
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Directions:

1.In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot.

2.Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 3to 4 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.

3.Stir in artichokes and cook until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add olives and half of the tomatoes; cook until tomatoes start to break down, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pasta to skillet. Stir in remaining tomatoes, oil, cheese, and basil. Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary to coat the spaghetti. Serve with additional cheese.

A Chart For You

If you are as anal as I am and you like lists and charts, here is one to get you started on your new weekly cleaning schedule.

Happy cleaning & organizing!

http://www.organizingpro.com/downloads/3x5_weekly_chart_colored_%202up.pdf

A Weekly Cleaning Schedule??

A neighbor of mine has had one for years. And you know what? Her house always looks FABULOUS! I used to think that I didn't need one but since I've gone back to work, I just can't keep up with it all. I am tired of saving it all for the weekend. And, I am tired of the house looking not so fabulous during the week. I am ready to jump on the bandwagon. So here is a weekly schedule courtesy of Marcia Ramsland.

A Weekly Cleaning Schedule is the backbone of staying on top of clutter. It frees up time since regular routines create order. The goal is to stay ahead of the dust and clutter without much effort.

Here’s what you want to do in Weekly Cleaning so your house stays clean:


l. Empty Wastebaskets. Believe it or not, this is a sign of all clean homes and offices. Get your money’s worth from your weekly garbage and recyle pickup by tossing out everything you can.

2. Change Bed Linens. Instead of tackling the Herculean task of changing all the beds on the same day, try changing no more than two beds per day. Set up a schedule for changing bed linens on a weekly or every-other-week schedule.

3. Vacuum Regularly. Vacuuming is one of the quickest ways to give the illusion of a clean home. It also minimizes dust and adds longevity to an expensive part of your home—your carpet and floors.

4. Clean Kitchen and Bathroom Floors. When kitchen and bathroom floors are clean, people will presume you have a clean home. And all you did was keep the crumbs and dirt picked up.

5. Eliminate One “Clutter Pile.” Piles are telltale signs of disorder. How many do you see around your house right now? Conquer one pile per week and soon you’ll regain control.

6. Complete One Project from your “Priority Project List.” Create this priority project list while vacuuming and scrutinizing your home. List no more than ten items, though. Once you have a few crossed off, you can add others.

7. Handle Errands. Whenever possible, do a few errands on your way home from being out. A convenient, quick stop on the way home takes less time than getting up the momentum to go out and tackle a bunch of errands later.

Example of a Weekly Cleaning System

Monday - Empty wastebaskets
Tuesday - Vacuum traffic areas
Wednesday - Eliminate a clutter“pile”
Thursday - Do Errands, i.e. banking, gas, grocery
Friday - Clean the kitchen & bathroom floors
Saturday - Change beds & do laundry
Sunday - Free Day

The Benefits of Organizing Your Cleaning

A simple cleaning system gives you:
• a nice-looking home
• more free time
• less stress

It is definitely worth the time to create a system that works for you.

And I couldn't agree more. I will be implementing this system starting today. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Green Beans

This is thee best stir fry recipe I have ever made. It is quick and easy too making it a perfect busy weeknight meal. It is from the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Everyday Food. I've made it twice already. The whole family loves it. Give it a try and let me know how much you love it. ;)




Ingredients:
-white rice
-1 TBSP cornstarch
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
-1/4 white vinegar
-1 TBSP vegetable oil
-1-1/4 lbs of boneless/skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
-2 bell peppers (any color- I used red & yellow) seeded & diced large
-1/2 lb green beans, trimmed & halved
-5 scallions, thinly sliced
-2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & minced
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-2 TBSP chopped roasted peanuts (I omitted these - I don't like nuts in my food)

1. Cook rice according to package. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce & vinegar. Set aside.

2. In a large wok or skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add chicken, bell peppers & green beans & cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.



3. Add scallions, ginger & garlic & cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender about 4 minutes.




4. Whisk soy sauce mixture, add to skillet, and cook stirring constantly, until sauce thickens about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Fluff rice with a fork. To serve, spoon chicken mixture over rice and top with peanuts if desired.

Monday, February 07, 2011

My New Planter

I have had this ficus tree in my family room since we moved in. Actually, it came with me from the townhouse when we moved. It is older than my kids. But the pot that it was in matched my old decor not my new one. So, for years this poor tree sat in it's ugly old plastic container. But not anymore. After several failed attempts, I finally found the perfect container for it and the tree fits in it perfectly!! It was from TJ Maxx and it was only $12.99. Yay!! That may seem like not such a big thing but let me tell you it is harder to find the right color and size than you think. How do you like?



Friday, February 04, 2011

Valentine's Day Sofa Table

For every holiday, I change out the decor on my sofa table. I change the runner and candy and mix in some homemade crafts. This is what I did for Valentine's Day. The table runner is from HomeGoods. It was $12.99. A little more than I had wanted to spend but it was the only one I liked. The little heart candles were from Target. They were a gift from a student of mine a few years back. :) The candy dishes were all wedding favors. :O And the love frame (which still needs a photo) is from Kohl's. It was a gift from my friend Irene. :) The cards and frame are the homemade part. TFL! :)