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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Organizing the Refrigerator

Welcome to another Thursday organizing post! 
If you are just joining us, we have been getting organized using Jennifer Ford Berry's Organize Now book.


It has some great info and tips on organizing various parts of our life and home. You can see past posts here:


Week 1 about Organizing Your Mind and Life Vision HERE,
Week 2 about Organizing Your Priorities HERE,
Week 3 about Organizing Your Schedule HERE
Week 4 about Organizing Your Cleaning Schedule HERE.
Week 5 about Organizing Your Personal Information HERE. 
Week 6 about Organizing Your Finances HERE. 
      Week 7 about Organizing Your Bill-paying System HERE.
        Week 8 about Organizing Your Receipts and Taxes HERE
Week 9 about Organizing Your Files HERE
                             Week 10 about Organizing your Magazines and Newspapers HERE.
                                               Week 11 about Organizing Your Email HERE
                                                Week 12 about Organizing Your Mail HERE
                                         Week 13 about Organizing Your Child's Toys HERE.
Week 14 about Organizing Your Crafts HERE.
Week 15 about Organizing Your Photographs HERE.
Week 16 about Organizing Your Purse or Wallet HERE. 
 Week 17 about Organizing Your Vehicle HERE.
                                                  Week 18 about Organizing Your Pet HERE.
Week 19 about Organizing Your Books, CDs and DVDs HERE.
Week 20 about Organizing Your Entryway or Mudroom HERE.
                           Week 21 about Organizing Your Family Room or Living Room HERE.
Week 22 about Organizing Your Kitchen Countertops HERE.
Week 23 about Organizing the Kitchen Cabinets HERE.
Week 24 about Organizing the Pantry HERE. 



This week we are tackling the refrigerator. If your house is like mine, then this one can be tough as things have a tendency to be pushed to the back and forgotten about. Does that happen to you too? My husband is actually pretty great at going through the fridge weekly or bi-weekly and getting rid of old leftovers that we didn't eat. Thanks honey! You know I wouldn't get to it until it is growing something so I appreciate that. lol.
 


This Week's Goals:
 
1. Throw out all empty and old bottles and containers. 
Jennifer had a really useful expiration chart in this chapter: mustard (keep for 2 years), ketchup (6 months - this one surprised me!), vinegar (3.5 years), soy sauce (6 months - I don't think we go through a whole bottle in 6 months!), olives (6 months - no problem here. gah!), steak sauce ( 3 years), maple syrup (1 year)

2. Empty each shelf and drawer and clean. As you probably can guess, I use my good old Basic H2 super organic concentrate for cleaning the fridge (and just about everything else! :) The all purpose mix (1/4 tsp to 16 oz of water) works well in the fridge and is completely safe around food since it's made from corn and coconut. It also does not have a scent so it won't make your fridge stinky.


Consider turning the unit off while the door is open for a long period of time to clean it. It will save energy and money. 

3. Keep the oldest food in the front so it gets eaten. Also keep the healthy items up front for the same reason.

4. Empty the freezer and wipe it down. Toss things that have been there for 10 or more months and things you will not eat.

5. Declutter the outside of your fridge and clean off the top. Less is more here:) 


Tips:
1. Vacuum the bottom vent of your refrigerator once or twice a year to keep it running well. We learned this the hard way. We didn't know to do this and our refrigerator died a couple years after we bought our house. (it stopped working while we were out of town and it was a mess to come back to !) We are pretty sure that the people we bought the house from did not do it either once the repair guy got in there and saw how dirty it was! We now do it regularly.:) Our repair guy also said to not push things all the way to the back as it covers the vent. If that is covered regularly, it will reduce the life of your unit.

2. The door of the refrigerator tends to be the warmest spot. The bottom shelf is the coldest. Store food accordingly.



So as you probably can guess, I waited till today to finish this post. :) Summer days are making me more of a procrastinator then usual I guess! Here are the before pics:



It was stuffed!

And the after...




So much better! I threw out some old condiment bottles and a few left overs. Also found some food in the freezer that I knew we would never eat so I tossed it. We do have another freezer in our garage that I still need to tackle. lol


 
 That does it for today. Have you organized and cleaned your refrigerator lately? What are your tips?


Thanks for reading! Have a great day and stay cool! It's a hot one here in Indiana today.


Rebecca
  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chicken Fajitas!

I made some yummy fajitas the other night.

I used some green onions and cilantro from our growing garden.



It made the fajitas taste so fresh.

I also used some colored peppers, baby bella mushrooms that were on sale at Aldi, garlic from the farmers market and chicken breast. I seasoned it with onion and garlic powder, black pepper and cumin. (it's better to season the meat before it's cooked or as it's cooking to hold more flavor)


Color not only adds to the presentation but also adds more vitamins and nutrients. In general, the darker the veggie, the more nutrients it has. I talk about some of this in past posts on nutrition.

The end result was so yummy! My entire family ate it up. I served it on whole wheat tortillas, with avocado, beans and fresh salsa. 


What are your favorite summer recipes?

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Rebecca

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rhubarb Apple Strawberry Crisp!

We visited my parents in Wisconsin over Father's Day weekend and I took some rhubarb from their garden. (also took some that we are trying to transplant, so we'll see how that goes!) My grandfather planted this rhubarb many years ago so I would love to see it do well here in Indiana.


I used to eat rhubarb straight from the garden when I was a kid. No kidding. I loved the tart and crispy taste:)

I decided to make a crisp with the stalks for my monthly Shaklee info meeting with my local group at my house. In searching for recipes, I found that many of them are loaded with sugar, butter, etc and just aren't very healthy to serve at a health and nutrition meeting. lol

And then I came across this blog, where I not only found this yummy recipe, but many other healthy and dairy-free options for my family. My son has a mild allergy to dairy which causes some GI issues, so we try to stay dairy-free.

I pretty much followed the recipe as is and it turned out SO good! Yum, Yum, Yummmm!! 


The apples and rhubarb cooking down in the pan with 1/3 cup sugar and a little bit of cinnamon. Made the house smell yummy!






We went strawberry picking several weeks ago and froze many of the berries. Here are the ones I used for this recipe. They are pretty frozen here.

  


I put the rhubarb mixture in a pan and covered with the frozen strawberries.



I added the crisp oatmeal part. you can get on the details on above blog.


And I baked it for 45 minutes at 350.


It was SO good! It wasn't as sweet as some rhubarb recipes because it didn't have as much sugar. It was a little tart but everyone loved it! My kids couldn't get enough :)

Do you like rhubarb? What is your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

Rebecca

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Organizing the Pantry

Happy Thursday! Did you think I forgot? I was busy - organizing my pantry for this post!! lol. Better late then never, right?



If you are just joining us, we have been getting organized using Jennifer Ford Berry's Organize Now book.

It has some great info and tips on organizing various parts of our life and home. You can see past posts here:


Week 1 about Organizing Your Mind and Life Vision HERE,
Week 2 about Organizing Your Priorities HERE,
Week 3 about Organizing Your Schedule HERE
Week 4 about Organizing Your Cleaning Schedule HERE.
Week 5 about Organizing Your Personal Information HERE. 
Week 6 about Organizing Your Finances HERE. 
      Week 7 about Organizing Your Bill-paying System HERE.
        Week 8 about Organizing Your Receipts and Taxes HERE
Week 9 about Organizing Your Files HERE
                               Week 10 about Organizing your Magazines and Newspapers HERE.
                                               Week 11 about Organizing Your Email HERE
                                                Week 12 about Organizing Your Mail HERE
                                         Week 13 about Organizing Your Child's Toys HERE.
Week 14 about Organizing Your Crafts HERE.
Week 15 about Organizing Your Photographs HERE.
Week 16 about Organizing Your Purse or Wallet HERE. 
 Week 17 about Organizing Your Vehicle HERE.
                                                  Week 18 about Organizing Your Pet HERE.
Week 19 about Organizing Your Books, CDs and DVDs HERE.
Week 20 about Organizing Your Entryway or Mudroom HERE.
                           Week 21 about Organizing Your Family Room or Living Room HERE.
Week 22 about Organizing Your Kitchen Countertops HERE.
Week 23 about Organizing the Kitchen Cabinets HERE.

This week we are organizing the pantry.

I don't know about you, but in my house the pantry can get pretty messy pretty fast. And it is so easy for things to get pushed to the back and forgotten about. Here are some good goals and tips that Jennifer has for keeping the pantry organized. As always, I only highlight some of her points. For more detail you can take a look at her Organize Now book.




This Week's Goals:

1. Take everything out so you can see what you have. (this tip is from me. It's how I did it and I found it helpful). Throw out anything that is stale, expired, etc. Donate food that is still good and unopened that you don't want.

2. Consolidate opened packages of the same item such as cereal, chips, etc.

3. Organize by zone. ie. baking, snack foods, meal ingredients, etc.

4. When you bring groceries home, put new items in the back so you use the older items first.

5. If you have tall shelves, get a step stool so you have easy access.

Tips:

1. Buy, buy, buy when items you use are on sale! (don't buy things you don't use just because they are on sale!)

2. Keep things visible. If they are hidden you will end up buying them again and again.

Like a true procrastinator, I didn't get to organizing my pantry until today! My 3 year old helped and it was fun to do together. He helped me take everything out and put it on the island and table so we could see what we had. We threw some things out that were stale or expired.

Here is the before picture. It is pretty unorganized and full!!

    
And here are some after pictures



This is something that my MIL gave us when we got married to keep plastic grocery bags in. We have it hanging in the pantry.


And I mentioned last week how we hung a rack on the inside of the pantry door for our  supplements. :)

 Cute story: While my 3 year old was helping, he suddenly disappeared to another room and told me he needed to organize his toys. After I was done with the pantry I came to check and this is what I found.




 I guess I inspired him when I took everything out of the pantry and put it on the table! :)

How is your organizing going? How do you organize your pantry?

Thanks for reading! Have a great rest of your day!

Rebecca  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garden fresh BBQ chicken salad

I made a very easy BBQ chicken salad the other day. It was so good! 



Many of the ingredients came from our growing garden.



Ingredients:

From the garden: spinach, lettuce, green onions, purple basil and cilantro. 

Other ingredients: grilled chicken breast, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, black beans (rinsed), corn.

I usually add avocado too but didn't have any ready to eat.

I chop everything small and put a little BBQ sauce over it. I like Montgomery Inn BBQ because it has a good taste and does not have high fructose corn syrup. You could also make your own, which I have done before using molasses.  

The garden ingredients made it taste so fresh. My 3 year old ate it up. He thought it was pretty neat to eat things from the garden that he helped to plant. My 22 month old didn't eat the greens but pretty much everything else:)

I served this with some whole wheat tortilla chips and fresh salsa. The perfect light summer meal.

Is anything ready in your garden yet? What are your favorite garden recipes?

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!!

Rebecca

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Organizing Your Kitchen Cupboards

It's Thursday again! And time for more organizing...:)




If you are just joining us, we have been getting organized using Jennifer Ford Berry's Organize Now book.

It has some great info and tips on organizing various parts of our life and home. You can see past posts here:


Week 1 about Organizing Your Mind and Life Vision HERE,
Week 2 about Organizing Your Priorities HERE,
Week 3 about Organizing Your Schedule HERE
Week 4 about Organizing Your Cleaning Schedule HERE.
Week 5 about Organizing Your Personal Information HERE. 
Week 6 about Organizing Your Finances HERE. 
      Week 7 about Organizing Your Bill-paying System HERE.
        Week 8 about Organizing Your Receipts and Taxes HERE
Week 9 about Organizing Your Files HERE
                               Week 10 about Organizing your Magazines and Newspapers HERE.
                                               Week 11 about Organizing Your Email HERE
                                                Week 12 about Organizing Your Mail HERE
                                         Week 13 about Organizing Your Child's Toys HERE.
Week 14 about Organizing Your Crafts HERE.
Week 15 about Organizing Your Photographs HERE.
Week 16 about Organizing Your Purse or Wallet HERE. 
 Week 17 about Organizing Your Vehicle HERE.
                                                  Week 18 about Organizing Your Pet HERE.
Week 19 about Organizing Your Books, CDs and DVDs HERE.
Week 20 about Organizing Your Entryway or Mudroom HERE.
                           Week 21 about Organizing Your Family Room or Living Room HERE.
Week 22 about Organizing Your Kitchen Countertops HERE.


Before I get into the organizing part, I have a correction from my gardening post I put up last week. My dear husband corrected me in saying that he has not used fertilizer in the garden this year. Sorry about the mistake:)
 

Today we are working on another part of the kitchen - the cupboards! Are yours neat and organized or are they a mess? Usually they are one or the other, right? We worked on our cupboards over the holidays last year. (inspired to do so by this book of course:) We really had a lot of items that we were just not using. So we took out a lot of appliances that we didn't use, extra cups, bowls, etc and donated them to Goodwill. It felt awesome to free up more space!


Here is a before picture of our glass and cup cupboard.








Warning: it is a mess!!! lol


 And here is the after picture. So much better, isn't it? We got rid of  the appliances that we weren't using. I figure that if I hadn't used it in a year, maybe someone else could. It freed a lot of space.


 We also got rid of a lot of tupperware and replaced it with pyrex. We like the glass containers a lot better. It is easy to see what is in them, easy to reheat food without worrying about BPA in plastic, easier to keep clean and it seems to store so much nicer in the cupboard. 

This Week's Goals:

1. Take out everything from your cupboards. Get rid of all items that you do not use. For seasonal items that you use once a year, consider storing them in a different place such as a closet, basement or the garage. Donate or throw away things like broken dishes, mismatched dishes (less to wash!), extra coffee mugs, etc.

2.  Reorganize the remaining items that you regularly use. ie - keep cooking items like pots and pans near the stove. Keep dishes and utensils near the dishwasher or sink. Keep foil, plastic wrap, etc near the refrigerator...

3. Tackle the junk drawers! Use only one and throw most of it out. (still working on this here:)

4. Get rid of spices that are more then 3 years old. If you can't smell it, then it is not good! You can read more about how I organized my spices in this post.

5. Clear out under the sink. We used to have so many cleaning products locked up there. Now we only have three safe ones that clean our entire house and we don't have to lock them up anymore! You can read about how we did that HERE.

Tips:

If you lack space, hang as much as you can. Jennifer suggests hanging pots and pans, coffee mugs, bulky utensils on the back of the pantry door, etc. We use the back of our pantry door for our  supplements. :)


That does it for another week of organizing. How is your journey going so far? How do you keep your cupboards organized?

Next week we will tackle the pantry!

For more tips on organizing, please read the Organize Now book.

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful day!

Rebecca

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Garden Is A-Growing!!!

Correction to this post: No fertilizer was used on the garden. My mistake! Sorry! :)



I keep meaning to post updates on our garden! It has certainly taken off. We noticed a big difference in the first two weeks. Now four weeks later, we are wondering what we have created. lol. Here are the before pictures from when we planted on Mother's Day.






And now for the after pictures that I just took.



 We have around 8 or 9 tomatoes growing already. In hindsight, we probably shouldn't have put that many tomato plants in. lol


We can't believe how much it has grown! The raised bed garden with the good soil definitely helps. And my husband has been watering and fertilizing. We also planted using Basic H2 (organic concentrate made from corn and coconut) and I occasionally spray the leaves with it. It helps to make water wetter so the roots were able to establish well from the start.

We are also excited about our blackberry crop this year. Believe it or not, this was a small little plant that we put in 3 years ago. Now it is a beast!! :)


The first year we had a few berries here and there. We were excited with that. And last year we got a lot more. But THIS year, I think I had better learn how to can and make jams. Anyone have any tips or recipes?? 

I also took a couple pictures of the boys while we were out playing in the yard today...:)

Thanks for stopping in. How has your garden been doing so far? Any tips or recipes to share using blackberries or tomatoes? I am always up for trying a new salsa recipe.


Enjoy Your Week!!


Rebecca

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Organize Your Kitchen Countertops

Happy Thursday! It's time for more organizing...



If you are just joining us, we have been getting organized using Jennifer Ford Berry's Organize Now book.

It has some great info and tips on organizing various parts of our life and home. You can see past posts here:


Week 1 about Organizing Your Mind and Life Vision HERE,
Week 2 about Organizing Your Priorities HERE,
Week 3 about Organizing Your Schedule HERE
Week 4 about Organizing Your Cleaning Schedule HERE.
Week 5 about Organizing Your Personal Information HERE. 
Week 6 about Organizing Your Finances HERE. 
      Week 7 about Organizing Your Bill-paying System HERE.
        Week 8 about Organizing Your Receipts and Taxes HERE
Week 9 about Organizing Your Files HERE
                               Week 10 about Organizing your Magazines and Newspapers HERE.
                                               Week 11 about Organizing Your Email HERE
                                                Week 12 about Organizing Your Mail HERE
                                         Week 13 about Organizing Your Child's Toys HERE.
Week 14 about Organizing Your Crafts HERE.
Week 15 about Organizing Your Photographs HERE.
Week 16 about Organizing Your Purse or Wallet HERE. 
 Week 17 about Organizing Your Vehicle HERE.
                                                  Week 18 about Organizing Your Pet HERE.
Week 19 about Organizing Your Books, CDs and DVDs HERE.
Week 20 about Organizing Your Entryway or Mudroom HERE.
Week 21 about Organizing Your Family Room or Living Room HERE.

Today we are tackling the kitchen! Probably the most used and seen room in your house, right? Because it is such a big job to organize, we will break this room down over the next few weeks. We're starting with the countertops. Are you excited? :)




The kitchen is not only used for food prep and eating, but it also tends to be the place where guests gather when they visit or when you have a party. It is also the place, at least in my house, where clutter tends to gravitate. It can get pretty messy pretty fast. Doesn't it seem that when your kitchen is neat and clean, the rest of the house appears to be too? Don't you feel better and more relaxed when your kitchen is in order?



This Week's Goals:


1. Clear your kitchen of anything that does not involve cooking, baking, food prep, serving food, etc. Put all coats, backpacks, toys, sports stuff, etc in another place or put it away. If it is too overwhelming to put away right now, put it in a holding place like the garage until we get to it to organize later. Take out things you hardly ever use or seasonal items too. Go back to the basics! Less is more.

2. Put away appliances that you don't use daily. The only appliance I have out is my toaster. I am having a hard time deciding if I should store this in a cabinet or keep it on the counter. What do you think? Does it add to the clutter? We use it 3-4 times per week. Thoughts?

3. Clear the counters of all paperwork, magazines, mail, etc. Keep one "in-box" area to receive mail and process it at least weekly. We keep a basket on top of the refrigerator. My husband goes through it on Sunday nights when he pays bills. He recycles the junk mail, pays bills and files them away. (Thanks, honey!!)



Here is a before picture of how the top of our fridge looked. Embarrassing! We tend to put things up there to go through later or find a place for later. Problem is, later never comes. Until today! :)




And here is the after. Ideally, I would like to just have this basket for mail. I still need to find a home for some of the other items. Another work in progress. :)






Tips:

1. Jennifer says that the key to keeping your kitchen looking clean is to keep the front two-thirds of your countertops free from clutter.


2. Music makes people happy! (I am a music therapist after all, so I know this first hand:) Install a small radio beneath your cabinets to lift your mood while you cook and clean in the kitchen. My MIL has one in her kitchen. I have a radio in the adjacent room that I put on sometimes when I cook. The trouble is that I have to compete with 2 little boys who would rather listen to children's music then what I prefer. lol

I took some before and after pictures of my kitchen countertops.  Like I said, it's easy to allow clutter to take over your countertops.

 

And here is the after. Much better, don't you think? Ideally, I would love everything off of the counter tops. But when you use things daily, it is hard to do that and keep it there.





And here is a before picture of some counter space near the fridge. This always ends up having a lot of produce and bread on it for some reason. It is another area that clutters up fast.  

 


So what do you think? Are you still with me? I hope many of you continue to read and participate as you have time. Please let me know what you think. What has been your favorite post so far? What's been the most beneficial? What tips can you share?
Thanks for reading!! Have a great day!!
Rebecca       
 
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