Showing posts from February, 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…

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

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


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!

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 cha…

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. ;)

-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…

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?

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! :)

Heart Frame Art

When I started to take out my Valentine's Day decor, I realized that I was seriously lacking in that department. So, when my friend Leslie forwarded this idea from Cozy.Cottage.Cute, I knew I had to do it.

I got the frame for $4.99 at The Christmas Tree Shop. The heart punch is Martha Stewart. I got that on super sale for $4.02 and the paper and pop dots I already had in my stash. How's that for a cheap, quick and cute project?

Supplies used:
Frame - The Christmas Tree Shop
Punch - Martha Stewart (Michael's)
Dictionary Paper - 7 gypsies
Red & Black cardstock - Bazzill Basics
Dimensionals - Stampin' Up!

Cute Cupcake Heart Display

Courtesy of the Incomparable Martha Stewart...

Recipe for One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes 18 to 24

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons safflower oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
2.Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Basic Buttercream Recipe:

Makes about 4 cups

12 ounces (3 sticks) unsa…

3 Simple Organizing Tips

We take a little break from the Valentine's Day crafting and baking to bring you 3 simple organzing tips from Marcia Ramsland.

If you are like me, you are always looking for ways to stay oraganized and on top of things. So, when I came across these easy tips from Marcia Ramsland, I'd thought I'd share them with you.

They are practical and easy to follow but will make a big impact on our efforts to stay organized.

Hope they help!

3 Ways to Get Organized and Stay that Way!

1. Practice the “Two Minute Pickup” All Day. This means before leaving in the morning clean up the kitchen for 2 minutes, before lunch spend 2 minutes clearing out emails, before dinner spend 2 minutes organizing desk papers into a To Do list. You’ll always come back to “order.”

2. Set Up a Weekly Schedule. A simple 3 x 5 card posted near your computer will remind you: Monday-send staff email, Tuesday clean out one file, Wednesday send your Blog post, etc. Or at home post it in the kitchen: Monday wash clothes…

Oh, and I have been baking too...

These snow days are wreaking havoc on my diet! :O

The brownies were made with my perfect brownie maker which I love! Look how perfectly they turned out? And the cute little powdered hearts were made possible by a template that comes with the perfect brownie maker.

The cake is an egg white cake so it is nice and light. I used a big heart shaped cookie cutter to make a stencil on the top and I filled it with pink sanding sugar. Pretty and delicious! :)

Hope your Valentine's Day is filled with sweet treats! :)

Valentine's Day Cards

We have been snowed and iced in here in NY so I have been crafting away. Yesterday I made some Valentine's Day cards that were quick & easy. I went old school with these cards. I had a plastic template with stars, circles and heart shapes on it. So I traced the hearts onto cardstock and then cut them out. The small heart is a Martha Stewart punch. The rub ons are Making memories and the cardstock is a mix of Stampin' Up! and Bazzill. Hope you like! :)