More on Organization: Working on Menu Planning & Grocery Lists, The Organized Home Makers 10 Commandments (adapted from the FlyLady!) & More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!

I don’t mind cooking, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but we gotta eat right?  Taylor is the one who is in love with being in the kitchen. It’s funny though… she firsts loves to bake~ that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don’t mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn’t mind canning, but I love it and we are both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her… but neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly… we just have never been able to master that! Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag’s where I would be there with my gardening ones!  We balance each other out I guess…
Anyway lets head into the last of this series on Organization with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists… be sure to check out my blog spots & web site for lots of great photo’s to go along with the post!

NEXT SERIES of blog posts will focus on Eating In Season. It will be based on some great ideas from another one of my favorite books, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”, by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp and Camille Kingsolver.  this book gives a journal of this families life when they made a decision to eat locally and seasonally. We have tried to incorporate this into our families life… 
*Menu Planning~
(see a sample of a weekly menu attached!) I love to make my life simpler in the way of the everyday stuff that needs to be done… like preparing meals for my family.  I would rather take a day and sit down with a few of my favorite cookbooks and make a couple months worth of menus so I don’t have to think about what to make!  Taylor & I do run out of ideas and our meals can quickly fall into a rut of the same stuff over and over again!  “What’s for supper tonight?” can quick become spaghetti all too often without menus!  I am sure many of us can relate to that!  Here are a few tips in menu planning:
*First take 1-3 of your favorite cookbooks and 2 blank monthly calenders and a PENCIL! Don’t take more than this… you will get side tracked!
*Be sure when you start you take into consideration what days off children might have from school, regular extra curricular activities happening, each family members day’s off for whoever may work outside the home. (Don’t plan a favorite meal for someone when they won’t even be home for it!)
*Before you even go into the cookbooks, fill in a few of the day’s with some meals that you know each family member enjoys… think about the groceries each meal will take beforehand.  Fill in one breakfast, lunch and supper for each family member with their favorite thing over the two weeks of menus- don’t duplicate any meal and don’t include any deserts… YET.
*Now that you have several of the days & meals filled in decide if your family wants to have a ‘night out’ meal… jot in in the appropriate box. 
*Next, decide how often you want to have desert with meals… fill in accordingly.
*Now go to the cookbooks… I encourage you to try at least one new recipe each day that you have an opening.  This will be fun and will help you & your family make new favorites.  It will also help you from getting in a rut of the same old thing.

~Some extra tips when planning your menu: *Do you have a garden? Do you shop primarily at the Farmers Market during the season?  Do you have any of your own live stock that you raise? Do you have your own chickens for eggs? These should all play a factor in your menu planning.
*Take into consideration what season you are in… spring will hold more salads if you have a garden; summer will be the mother load of produce and will eliminate much grocery shopping for fresh produce, so incorporate meals that save you from buying ‘stuff’; fall will give you more root crops and squashes as well as it being butcher time- plan accordingly.  
*Once your menus are done, you will see how easy it is. 
*Have your family members help when doing the menu.  This can be a fun family activity and sharing time of who liked and didn’t like what!
*You now have two whole months planned out, and it was so much fun and so easy. If you feel adventurous try doing another month and plan it out seasonally. 
*Include this job in your control journal in one of your desk day jobs.
~Grocery Lists: … are really not that complicated and won’t take up too much time here.  Here are some tips from The Flylady and me!
*First thing I recommend is keeping a magnetic note pad or grocery list right on the front or at least the side of your fridge! Each time you run out of something jot it down or tick it off the pre-made list.
… Google ‘grocery list’ and you will be able to download anything you want!  Keep a master in your control journal and make a copy for each week, unless you have a pre-printed note pad.  Here are a few sites to try…

*You will need to go over your menu for the next week and shop accordingly.
*As I mentioned you can save a lot of money when you grow your own or at least eat seasonally. But if that is not an option for you shop the farmers market, which is the next best thing.  There are many winter farmers market as well that you can shop & support and still eat seasonally with root crops, storage crops and fresh greens. I will go into that more this fall!
*Stick to the list when you go to the grocery store.  I am sure most of you shop at several stores for different items. As I mentioned earlier I do the majority of grocery shopping at two stores, one being a local bulk food store.  I do some of the house hold shopping for toiletries at yet another.  Have a list for each store and coupons/ ad’s to go with each.
I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.
*If you have empties to return, be sure they are ready to go and in the trunk.
*Don’t go shopping when you are hungry… you WILL buy things you normally don’t because ‘they look good’ at the time!

~To end our organization series I would like to incorporate my version of  The Organized Homemakers 10 Commandments adapted by me from the FlyLady’s!
1. Thou shalt start your day with meditation and prayer-fulness to get it off on the right foot.
2. Thou shalt keep your sink clean and shiny and your counters free of dirty and clean dishes.

3. Thou shalt get fully dressed and wear shoes… this I agree with the FlyLady wholeheartedly!
4. Thou shalt stick to your daily routines by using your control journal faithfully.
5. Thou shalt not get side tracked by the computer or anything else… stay focused.
6. Thou shalt pick up after yourself… put everything in its place as soon as you are done with it… set the example!
7. Thou Shalt stick to one project at a time and use the P.M.S. guild faithfully!
8. Thou shalt do something everyday for someone else as well as your self!
9. Thou shalt smile when you don’t feel like it because it is contagious and remember to be happy!
10. Thou shalt end your day the way you started it… or at least the way you should have started it (see #1).

~Here are some easy recipe’s to use up all that great garden produce that is piling in right now… or that you picked up at the Farmers Market! Enjoy friends!

 Italian Garden Frittata
6 egg whites
4 eggs
1/2 c grated Romano cheese, divided
1 tsp minced fresh sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tomato thinly sliced

1. in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites, eggs, 1/4 c Romano cheese, sage salt & pepper; set aside.
2. In a 10 inch over proof skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté zucchini and onions in oil for 2 minutes.  Add egg mixture, cover & cook for 4-6 minutes or until eggs are nearly set.
Uncover; top with tomato slices & remaining cheese.  Broil 3-4 in. from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until eggs are completely set.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges.

Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
1 medium eggplant
1/2 c chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c each chopped fresh mushrooms, chopped zucchini & chopped sweet bell pepper
3/4 c chopped tomatoes
1/4 c toasted wheat germ
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp each salt 7 pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1. cut eggplant in half lengthwise; remove pulp, leaving a 1/4 in. thick shell.  Cube pulp; set shells & pulp aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté onion & garlic until onion is tender.  Add the mushrooms, zucchini, bell pepper & eggplant pulp;  sauté for 4-6 minutes or until vegetable are crisp tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper & pepper flakes; cool for 1 minute.
3. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with cheese,  place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25minutes or until shells are tender.

Happy Day,

More Organizational Tips: De-clutter With Flyladies ’27 Fling Boogie’, Dining Room & Closets and Yummy Pasta with Veggies!

Personally I don’t mind a bit of ‘organized’ clutter… now Flylady says there is no such thing but I disagree!  I like a homey look with a row of neat and dusted antique clay pitchers that top my bookshelf in my family room… I like the floral’s and old blue mason jars that adorn the top of my kitchen cabinets and I like the three bowls that set as center pieces on my dining room table. I like ‘details’ in my decorating!  I can honestly say that 99% of my friends as well as acquaintances have told me over & over again that they have seen something or picked me up this or that because, in their words, “It looked just like you Jean!”  My friends know what I like because my home & gardens are a reflection of me. Now don’t get me wrong… as I mentioned in a few blogs ago, my upstairs hallway is NOT ME!  It is dark paneling and really old, ugly carpet… it is my boys play space.  I realize that my home is not just a reflection of me, but also my family, I just like certain things and I like things to look a certain way… and that way just happens to  say “me”! My goal is to make our home both cozy & welcoming while allowing our children to be children. My challenge to you in all this is to do the same.  Don’t decorate your home to ‘please’ others or even the latest & greatest trends… make you home yours & your families~ and have fun doing it!

Now on to the topic at hand~ Clutter and how to conquer it and organize it! (Be sure to keep watch, next time we will focus on tips How To De-clutter using the tools we’ve learned today!)
Clutter can take the best of us down… even the most organized person can start to accumulate ‘stuff’, especially when you have several other people living in the same house as you!  It gets worse when they are not as interested in organization as you are, but there is a way and the Flylady refers to as the 27 Fling Boogie in her book, “Sink Reflections”.

The Following excerpt was taken from notes given at a class on organization focusing on this book:

De-clutter 15 Minutes a Day
– here are 4 great tools that make it super easy for anyone- they have been adapted from “Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley.

1. The 27 Fling Boogie~
*We do this assignment as fast as we can. Take a garbage bag and walk through your home and throw away 27 items.  Do not stop until you have collected all 27 items.  Do not stop until you have collected all 27 items.  Then close the bag and pitch it! DO NOT LOOK IN IT! Just do it!
*Next, take an empty box and go through your home collecting 27 items to give away. As soon as you finish filling the box, take it to the car. You are less tempted to rescue the items.
*Rule of thumb: if you have two of any item and you only need one, get rid of the least desirable.
2. The Hot Spot Fire Drill~
*Here is a problem that we all have and continue to struggle with- Hot Spots! I mentioned this term a few posts ago, but here it is again.
*A Hot Spot is an area, when left unattended will gradually take over.  Like a hot spot in a forest fire, if left alone, will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest.  This is what happens in our homes.  If left unattended, the hot spot will grow and take over the whole room as well as making the house look awful.  When you walk into a room, this is the first thing you see.

*CLUTTER ATTRACTS CLUTTER!  Do you have areas like this that continue to grow if left alone? Does the rest of the family see this as a place to put things when they do not want to put them where they belong? It is our job to nip this in the bud.  Get rid of the pile, find the surface underneath and stop this hot spot from becoming a raging clutter inferno.
*Do a few of these a day. Take five minutes per ‘drill’ and see if it doesn’t help immensely.
3. The 5 Minute Room Rescue~
This is a reminder to spend just 5 minutes clearing a path in your worst room.  You know this area of your home; the place you would never allow anyone to see. Just 5 minutes a day for the next 27 days and you will have a place that you can be proud to take anyone!
4. Work In Your Zones~
*Each week we will be in a different Zone.  After a full month, you will have worked your way around the majority of living areas of your home.  do not worry if you have not gotten to every room in your house the first month.  As one area gets cleaned, it will become easier to do and you will have more time to face those areas that don’t seem to fit in any zone.

~Tips To De-clutter: 
Once again the Flylady uses some specific techniques in her book to help de-clutter and one of those tools is a timer… see how! Taking 15 minutes each day to declutter an areas or zone , using the 27 fling and clearing your hot spots are some of the most powerful tools you can use to create a more peaceful home.
*When To De-clutter:  Decide how often you are going to de-clutter a zone.  do a little every day- use a timer- Only try to do a small amount at a time.  the house didn’t get to be a mess overnight and it won’t get perfect that fast either. Set the timer to do only two sessions at a time.
*De-cluttering Equipment: You will need garbage bags, boxes, magic markets, and a dust rag.  If you need to label the boxes- give away, throw away and put away.  Line the throw away box with the garbage bag.
*Set your timer:  Decide on the length of time you feel comfortable starting with- 10, 15, 30 or 60 minutes.  Do the job as fast as you can and do not pull out more stuff then you can put away in that length of time.  this means just one drawer, one closet, one magazine rack!  Not all of them at once.
*Start at the entrance to the room:  Then, work your way around the room clockwise.  Do not skip a spot. Whatever happens to be next, just do it.
*De-clutter Away:  With boxes at your feet and dust rag in your waistband, start off by cleaning out and getting rid of the things that do not belong in this room.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a place for everything right away.  By the time you finish you will.
*What to De-clutter?:  Things to ask yourself as you get rid of your clutter:
~do I love this item?
~Have I used it in the past year? 6 months?
~Is it really garbage?
~Do I have another one that is better?
~Should I really keep tow?
~Does it have sentimental value that causes me to love it?
~Or does it give me guilt and make me sad when I see the item?
Cleanse this room of everything that does not make you smile!
*Get rid of the garbage:  When the throw away box gets full, pull out the bag, close it, and put it in the trash can or wherever you keep your garbage. Put a new bag in the box and keep going until the timer goes off.
*Donations:  When this box gets full, put it in the trunk of your car and next time you are in town, drop it off.  Grab another box and keep going till the timer goes off.
*Put Away Stuff:  When this box is full, take the box in your arms and put everything in the box away where it belongs.  If you don’t have a spot for them , then put them in a logical spot.  By the time you have finished you will have a place for everything and everything will be in it’s place.
*Timer Goes off:  when the timer goes off, you have to put away all the boxes, but first you have to empty them all.  Do it quickly!

 Here are my Zone Cleaning check lists for:
~The Dining Room:
*Always start with a walk through.
*Dust: ceiling lines and corners of walls; all pictures/wall hangings/curtains; furniture- tables, chairs; Light fixture
*Wash windows; wash down window ledges; wash all glass on pictures, cabinets, etc.
*Wipe down cook stove; clean out ashes of cook stove during cool season months.
*Purge old papers from baskets/ newspaper crock/ cabinet drawer- children’s stuff.
*Sweep & wash floor.
~Monthly chores:
*Take curtains down and wash
~Spring & Fall Cleaning chores:
*Wash down ceiling & walls plus all weekly & monthly chores.

~Closets: …can be one of those Hot Spots we discussed yesterday! Here are a few ways to conquer the closets.
*Have 3 Baskets or boxes ready when you start your closet clean up:
1 for things that you are keeping and need to be put in their proper place.
1 for things that go to the resale shop
1 for things to be thrown away
… now go to it following the 27 fling boogie system… And don’t look back!
*Pick up any clothes/coats that may have fallen down and rehang- straighten any clothing that is out of order
*Straighten shoes/boots-
*Straighten what is on the shelves and organize what is in there.
*Be sure to dust the corners
*Sweep or vacuum the floor
… couple tips…
*If you have a lot of shoes, invest in one of those shoe bags that hang on the back of any door and keep them in order.
*If you are fortunate enough to have a walk in closet, use shelves and racks along with totes to keep things in order.
*I love pasta and I love the bounty that comes out of our gardens… here is a wonderful combo of the two!

Linguini & Market Veggie Plate

8 ounce package Linguini Noodles- 
2 medium zucchini, halved & sliced
1/3 c chopped onion
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp each salt & pepper
2 tbsp Olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 c shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 c shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the veggies, fresh herbs, & spices in butter & oil for 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add garlic & cook 1 minute longer.
3. Add tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 minutes or until heated through.  Sprinkle with cheeses; cover & simmer for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.
4. Drain spaghetti; serve with vegetable mixture. 

Happy Day,