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…

http://www.workingmom.com/grocerylist.htm 

www.practicalspreadsheets.com/GroceryList-Template.html

*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,
Jean
www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com
     

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,
Jean

       

More Organizational Tips: More on P.M.S, Root Cellars, Freezers and Canning Room, Yummy Bar-B-Que Brush On Butters and Canning Recipes!

“Disorganization….. is merely the sign of a very healthy individual trying to do more in a shorter period of time than those lazy obsessively tidy types who can think of nothing better to do than  straighten objects in drawers and stuff like that which only feeds their own egos and makes them think that they are better than those of us who are truly gifted.”  Author Unknown… although it could be Neil!

Obviously this above mentioned quote is a joke… just in case you were wondering!  As many of you know from reading my blogs, I love canning! When I decided to write my cookbook, “Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats”, my main objective was not only to have all my favorite recipes in one book, but also to have a large canning section that wasn’t filled will all pickle recipes.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against pickles, even though I don’t much care for them… I just wanted interesting canning recipes… like Chocolate Syrup, Pesto, Marinara Sauce and stuff like that! I have a lovely canning room and Neil made us a root cellar in our basement that I am thrilled to have… and equally thrilled to fill every year!

P.M.S. is looked at in such a negative light… which I fully understand~ been there, done that kind of thing! Anyway several years back, even before I discovered Sink Reflections, my best friend and I were always looking for ways to organize and structure our homes and lives.  One day on the phone we came up with the P.M.S. Plan!  Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify our lives.  Now, my friend loves to make lists as much as I do… she is now a mother of six with bundle number seven on the way, Lord willing!  At the time of our P.M.S. she only had one child and I had three… life was a bit simplier in those days… but she is one of those ladies that likes to make really long lists and is filled with an exuberant amount of energy… she even chases ground hogs with brooms… at least back then she did.  As I am ten years older than her, her lists at times seemed unreasonable… she put too much work on her back… so was birthed our P.M.S. plan.  The motive was to help both of us look at what we wanted to accomplish in a day or week and then prioritize that list in level of importance; then look at the list and minimize it down to the most important and then simplify it down to what was really practical for our days.  After the list was P.M.S.’ed anything extra that was accomplished was just a bonus.  I have used the P.M.S. way for many things, especially when creating my routine’s.  

       


*Each spring we do an inventory of canned goods on the shelves as well as in the root cellar and freezer.  This way I know what we need to preserve that season and what I have plenty of.  I write this list in my Canning Journal… it is actually the first page to start each new season.
*After my inventory is complete I make a list of what items I need to can/freeze and the quantity I want to do. This is the second page in my journal for the current canning season. As each things get put on the can shelves, root cellar and freezer I have the sheer joy of crossing that item off my list!  A job well done!
*As mentioned above I keep a Canning Journal… of course! Every year I date the top of the first page with the year. I include the date of item canned, what was canned, the quantity and the size of the jars used.  If I purchased the ingredient, for ie. Blueberries for blueberry pie filling~ I will write down where I got the blueberries, if I picked or not, how much I paid per pound, how many pounds.  I also make notes of which children or friends helped.  I love making memories in my journals! 
*During the canning season, we often have to move jars and reorganize if there is not enough room left for a particular item.  I always keep similar items together. This makes it much easier for the children when I ask them to go and fetch me something.  For example, I keep all my tomato based products together; Spaghetti and Marinara sauces, Bar-B-Que sauces, ketchup, salsa, pizza sauce and V-8 Juice. The only exception to the rule here is Tomato soup~ that goes with the soups I can. I can apple, peach, blueberry and cherry pie fillings… these all stay together; Fruits, juices, jams and condiments are beside each other; potatoes, carrots, beans, beets are together as veggies; meats are right beside the veggies, then broth and soups, and so on.
*I follow the same rule for the root cellar and freezers.  I have several freezers: two hold frozen veggies and fruit, any freezer jams, and two hold meat items.  I try to keep all beef, pork, venison and chicken together… again this makes it easier for the children.
*Each spring the freezers need to be cleaned out and purged.  It never fails that things always seem to fall to the bottom and then the question, “where did that come from?” is asked.  Be sure to always date and itemize all items put into the freezer~ this way there is no question as to what & when! 
*The root cellar needs to be kept clean and organized through the winter.  Unlike the jars and freezers, the items in the root cellar will spoil much more quickly. Certain items should not be strored togethe such as apples and onions or potatoes.  My main goal is to always use the items that are ripening or not holding so well first and to be sure to purge and spoiled items. The old saying of one rotten apple will spoil the whole basket is true! 
  A great resource for root cellars is “Root Cellaring” by, Mike and Nancy Bubel, published by Storey Publishing,
www.storey.com  I will be going into a lot more on root cellaring this fall when the crops come in, so stay tuned!

         

‘Tis Grilling Season… here are some BBQ Brush On Butter Recipes along with a few more canning ones from my cookbook! Enjoy friends!

To 1 stick of salted softened butter add one of the following and mix thouroughly.  Let set in fridge for at least 3 hours so flavors blend through! NOTE: The herbs are all dried. 

Cajun Style Poultry Brush On!
1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed
1/8 tsp. thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. cumin, ground
dash of red pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Lemon Basil Fish or Veggie Brush On!

1/2 tsp. lemon peel, finely shredded
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. basil, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Parmesan Butter Brush On!~ great to brush on veggies or even use in pasta or spread onto bread to make garlic toast!
1 Tbsp. fresh parmesan cheese, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, crushed
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Garlic Butter Brush On~ great to brush on veggies or to make garlic toast
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Chive~Tarragon Brush On~
great on red meat and veggies!
2 Tbsp. chives, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon, crushed
2 Tbsp. parsley, snipped

Canning Recipes taken from, “Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats”. We all love condiments but don’t know how to make them!  Here are two great condiments that most people enjoy!

            Chocolate Syrup, by Jean Smith

1 cup Dutch cocoa powder
3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cup hot water
1 Tbsp. vanilla

SPECIAL NOTE: These measurements are to make 1 quart.  Adjust measurements for how many pints or quarts you want to make.
1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl; pour 1 cup hot water into pot and add dry ingredients until thouroughly mixed; add remaining water; mix thouroughly until smooth.
2. Bring mixture to a boil; boil for 2 to 4 minutes, until sugar is dissovved, stirring constantly.
3. Revove from heat; add vanilla.
4. Fill pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.
5. How water bath for 15 minutes.
NOTE: This foams up a lot while boiling. Stirring is crucial. You can take the pot off heat to let it go down a bit, always stirring, if it seems like it is going to overflow.

Ketchup
2 galons tomato juice
7 Tbsp. salt
2 small onions
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves, ground
3 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup Permaflo (thickener)

1. Put 1 1/2 cups tomato juice and  peeled and quartered onions in blender; run blender until onions are well blended; pour into learge kettle with remaining juice; cook until juice boils down 1/3.
2. Add vinegar and boil again; bring to a gentle, rolling boil.
3. In a bowl combine remaining ingredients and blend thouroughly; very slowly stir the spice mixture into boiling liquid- if you dump it in, it will clump!
4. Boil for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
5. Put boiling mixture into jars, placing lid and ring on each jar as you fill it.
6. Water bath for 15 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts.

Happy Day,
Jean
www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot.com
www.wreninthewillow.blogspot.com
www.farmgirlwisdom.blogspot.com

         

More on Organization: Creating Routines with P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify , The Kitchen & Pantry and More Market Fresh Canning Recipe’s!

Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no ‘science experiments’ going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off… at least for fifteen minutes… so look fast!  After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (… and the table…) and look at the out of doors… cry when everyone else is going ‘bye-bye’, and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane… yes windows are nice, but they don’t stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother… I tell them can you imagine if we didn’t- think layers boys!  Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well… It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding… where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel ‘thwacks’ happen… yes the kitchen is the heart of the home… after all it’s where we nurish those we love… I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized.  Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table… an possibly out of your very own gardens!  

Today we’ll focus on the Kitchen and Pantry… read on next time for root cellar and canning room tips!  In ‘Sink Reflection’s’, by Marla Cilley I’ve learned much on keeping notes on what needs to be done through the use of my Control Journal.  She also discusses much on the concept of starting and maintaining ‘Routine’s’.  I have read that if you do anything consistantly for thirty days, it will become a habit or a routine~ that works with both good & bad stuff, so be careful!  I can testify that this is true… as I mentioned in the previous blog post, ‘Walk Through’ has become second nature in my life and that of my children’s. We have incorporated this aspect into our daily lives and now it is a ‘normal’ thing and no one looks at me with that, ‘What are you talking about?’ look!  It really is wonderful! When we write down the daily routines that we want to live by, we can visually look at these lists and see what needs to be done. It’s kinda like typing… for those of you who know how. I don’t think about where the key I need is, because as soon as I do, a mistake will inevidibly happen… I cannot even tell you right off the top of my head what letter belongs under which finger… I have to actually stop and think about how to spell a word and then I can see it in my mind… you typers know what I am saying… it’s also like walking… you don’t think each step, you’d probably trip, you just know how to walk.  Well that’s how our daily routines can and will become a part of our lives… if we are consistant with them that is!  So today lets look at creating routines! 

Creating and Maintaining Routines…
Here are a few tips from me & Marla!
*Think about yourself first… when you get up in the morning, brush your teeth, take a quick shower and be sure to put on some lovely organic face cream to make you feel fresh,  have a cup of tea or coffee and do a morning devotion to start your day out right!  If mom’s happy, everyone is happy!
*P.M.S.~ This is not going to be what you think… read on!  When you start your routine list, start small so you aren’t overwhelmed and don’t get a sense of failure if you don’t get all the jobs done!  I call this the positive way to look at P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify your life!  What I would recommend is writing a list of all the accomplishments you want to do, then P.M.S. your list!  From this list create your routine~ Marla recomends a morning, daily and evening routine.  Have a routine for each part of the day and for each day of the week.  I love day planners, A.K.A. Control Journals! 
*Baby steps is another one of Marla’s buzz words… she highly recomends starting small in your routine lists… I think my P.M.S. system works great along with her concept of baby steps.
Here is a sample of my Morning routine as it is written in my Control Journal…
   


MORNING ROUTINE

“She riseth while it is yet night and giveth meat to her household…” Proverbs 31:15a

Week A:

  • 5:50am~ Rise & Shine with smile & praise in my heart! Start coffee if Neil hasn’t already.
  • Swish toilet & sink; get a load of laundry together to throw in.
  • Brush my teeth; get a quick shower; put lotions on; get dressed.
  • Have some quiet time with the Lord and a warm cup of coffee…
  • Check my email’s; read daily devotions; send any responses that need done; do blogs.
  • 6:45am~ start waking the rest of the clan up… get breakfast going.
  • Throw load of laundry in.
  • 7:30am~ everyone at table for breakfast
  • 8:00am~ Assign everyone their tasks for the day; children start morning chores
  • clearing off table; wash breakfast dishes; switch laundry loads.
  • 9:00am~ Think about my day; make list’s for jobs to be done; check my day planner
  • Check menu~ take anything that has to thaw out of the freezer; make sure we have all ingredients for the menu.
  • Everyone is on their way…
I also have routines for each day of the week written down in it so the children can see what needs to be done.  I use to keep the journal open on the counter during the day so everyone could see it freely, although over the years I have drifted from this simply because they really have become habits.  
 More on Room by Room Organization…

… so moving on here are tips from my home to yours!
*Here is my Kitchen routine as I have it in my journal.  This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.
~Wash down: *Counter Backsplash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls. Wash down counters & stove after every use
                     *Wash windows   
                     *put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge
                     *wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week
                     *sweep floor after each meal daily
                     *dust all around ceiling lines and through room
                     *wash floor carpets
~Monthly~ take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan; wash walls
~Seasonally~ Spring and Fall: wash walls and ceiling; empty out cupboards and wash; take all knick knacks off top of cupboards and wash; dust top of cupboards and wash; touch up any spots with paint.
   

Helpful Organizational tips for the kitchen…*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.  I don’t like to use plastic with anything more than I have too!

*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first.  I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer.  I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies. 
*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it is easier to see what’s in the bowl. 
*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans & sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don’t have to run all over the kitchen for items.
*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don’t use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.
*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers.  I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!
*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids.  This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

I am very fortunate to have a nice size pantry right off my kitchen along with a closet in my kitchen to keep my big totes of flour, sugar & oatmeal in. I love my pantry and I get lots of compliments on how orderly and how cute it is!  Here is what I do to keep it organized…
*I have two floor shelves  and two wall shelves in my pantry. 
~On the one shelf I have four medium sized plastic totes that hold pasta, rice, crackers, small bags of flour and other grains. 
I have two larger totes that hold chips, cereals and other larger bagged items.  I made cute tag’s with stickers that spelled out the words of what is in each tote and then I laminated them.  I then hot glue gunned them onto each tote.  I also have two wooden peck baskets on the top shelf that; one hold potatoes & onions while the other holds coffee & tea.  On another shelf I have two baskets which hold linen place mats & napkins & extra table clothes and also a stack of other extra baskets for serving.  Each of these basket has a tag like the totes but they are tied on with a piece of raffia! 
~The other floor shelf is much sturdier and holds all my canned goods~ that is my jars of goodness I preserve.  I keep a few of the basics on this shelf so we don’t always have to be running to the canning room in the basement for stuff.  I also keep my larger mason jars of dry mixes, baking soda & powder, thickening agents, cocoa, along with baking supplies like Chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut on this shelf.  I used sticker labels on each jar to write what the contents are.  I have three baskets on one of the sheves that hold bread, fruit and veggies that don’t need refridgeration in.  On the top shelf I have three ‘fish bowl’ style jars that hold cookies, sugar and treats in. 
~One of the wall mounted shelves has three large ‘laundry’ size rectangular baskets; these hold extra plastic containers, party ware and miscellaneous canning equipment~ apple peeler corer, green bean frencher and such.
The other shelf has another three baskets that hold packages of jello and pectin, canning supplies and anything else that I need to put in them. 
… I love my pantry and the extra storage that it offers me.  If you have a small closet in or near your kitchen you can easily transform it into a pantry simply by adding some shelves and a little creative ingenuity!


Yummy Market Fresh Recipes…
Dilly Beans

2 pounds fresh, tender green or yellow wax beans~ make it interesting, use both
cayenne pepper
4 whole cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4 heads fresh dill or 2 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. mustard seed
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sea salt
*wide mouth canning jars work best for this.

1. Wash beans in cold water; drain on towel; trim off the stem and tail ends, otherwise leave beans whole.
2. In clean jars put one clove garlic, 1 dill head or 1/2 tsp. dill weed and 1/2 tsp. mustard seed; pack the beans in lengthwise into wide mouth jars- they should look like they are standing up.  Trim any that are too long; Add one dash cayenne pepper to each jar.
3. Combine water in vinegar and salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Pour this over the beans, filling to within 1/2 inch of the top. Seal immediately.
4. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
*Wait at least two to three weeks before serving so the flavors have time to blend! 

Zucchini Relish
This relish is not only beautiful but no one will ever relize it isn’t cucumbers… no matter what they say!
5 cups shredded zucchini
5 cups shredded yellow summer squash
2 cups red onion, diced
2 cups yellow onion, diced
4 Tbsp. sea salt
2 cups sugar (may add up to 1 cup more if you like it sweeter)
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. mustard seed
1 each: red, green and orange sweet bell peppers, diced

1. In a large bowl, add both squashes and onions; blend well; add salt. Refriderate overnight.
2. Drain.  Run water through the ingredients several times; drain again.
3. Put ingredients into a large kettle; add vinegar, sugar, turmeric, pepper, dry mustard and mustard seed.
4. Add chopped peppers and add to squash mixture; stir gently until well mixed.
5. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Laddle into pint jars leaving 1/2 inch head space; be sure to wipe rims of jars to ensure sealing.
6. Process in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Happy Day,
Jean