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,


More on Organization: Weekly Schedule At A Glance, Focused Event Days~ Errand & Desk Days, More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!

Everyone that knows me knows I love to create schedules, make lists and have multiple day planners & calenders.  I love everything about organization. Over the years I realized that I inherited this trait from my mother… who I may say has even the labels of her spice jars and canned goods all facing in the same direction and to size… they even might be alphabetized- I’ve never dared look.  Her cupboards are immaculate and she never has dust. Mind you, it is just her and my dad and she only had me!  I am glad that I have this trait thanks to her… even though I never realized it while I was growing up.  It has only been since I have had a home of my own and my family have I realized all the important things she taught me… or at least tried to!  My ‘other’ mom, is also extremely organized~ she’s actually the one who introduced me to The Flylady program.  She has helped me tremendously in many area’s, especially with sewing ‘stuff’.  Her material/craft closet is also immaculate and completely organized right up to type’s of fabrics and colors.  Her craft stuff is always tidy and in it’s place!  What wonderful examples I have been blessed with!  Anyway, back to schedules & lists…

Here is my Weekly Schedule At A Glance... this really has helped me in the past when I first started with this program!
*Please note that this doesn’t include any of our farm related chores that we do here at the farm.  I am only focusing on the daily home chores that most of us face. (Be sure to keep watching, next time I will be focusing on Menu Planning and Grocery Shopping!)
*Use Put Away Basket Daily for my walk through’s!

*Focus on what we have planned for the week through my P.M.S. list- do list of appts/calls/errands for the week.
*Back Entry zone cleaning, Bathroom & Upstairs Hallway, stairs- Ryan & Taylor
*Zone clean Kitchen~ clean out fridge; put clean foil on stove burners- Taylor/Mom

*Main floor of house- floors- Ryan
*Laundry- mom
*fill bird feeders- Kyle/Evan
*water porch pots on tables- Kyle
*All outside yard chores: mowing, weed whacking, weeding- boys
*general machine maintained- boys

*Laundry- bedding, dish towels and anything that didn’t get done yesterday-Mom
*Zone Clean Pantry, Family & Dining rooms Taylor/Mom
*Moms office day- phone calls, pay bills, etc.
*purge any old mag’s/newspapers/etc.- Mom

*Menu planning day/ create grocery list from menu- think about what is going to be baked next week as well.
*Zone cleaning Bedrooms
*Sewing/mending if any.
*Baking day if no sewing~ Taylor
Errand and Grocery Day~
*try to schedule all errands for today- post office, cleaners, doctor’s appts., shopping etc. 
*Grocery Shop- do any budget shopping today too.
*Laundry- Taylor
*This is our market prep day and we do all running for this. 
*Laundry~ as needed

SATURDAY: *We are at market all day and the boy who is home takes care of general home duties.
*Grocery Shop on way home from market
*Any meal prep for Sunday gets done today.
This is our day of rest & worship… and we never feel guilty! Praise the Lord!

On to Focused Event Days now, I will try to give a more detailed break down of what we do… here it is!
*Errand Day~ this day needs to be structured to have the best time and gas management possible.
*I always make a list of all the places I need to go and I write them down in the order I plan on doing them.  When I do this I think about the direction’s of the errands and map out the best possible route to take.  I try, if possible to start with the furthest stop first and make my way back toward home.  This doesn’t always work, but most of the time it does.  I also try to do any grocery shopping last, especially in the summer because of the extreme heat that could damage the goods. 
*If I have appointments to keep, I try to make those first thing in the morning where I can do the remaining errands in a timely fashion afterwards.
*I also try to spread any appointments out over the month so I do not over book myself just causing everyone frustration.  Also take into consideration when making appt.s for my children if it is the school season, to make them after school if at all possible.
*Grocery shopping~ this is ‘typically’ done on Errand day but not always due to the fact that I like to shop at one particular grocery store that has a very large selection of Organic goods that I like to purchase.  This store is an hour away from our country home and we drive past it every Saturday on our way home from market… so my main grocery shopping is done on Saturday. The other place I like to purchase other items in bulk is done at a store right down the road from us and that is the shopping that gets done on Errand day… usually!
*Go over the menu for that week and check to see if there is anything I need- write it down on list right away~ I would too quickly forget.
I always make sure I have my grocery list, coupons and shopper bags ready to go.
*My Checklist before I leave:  My purse with checkbook with checks in it, debit card; all lists; Bill stubs, banking papers if needed; sale ads; mail to go out; anything else I need to meet my list.
…Again lists are crucial here!  Another important tip when going grocery shopping is to NEVER go when you are hungry! You will end up buying things because they ‘look’ good at that present moment!  Stick to the list and the budget.

Here are some yummy recipes to enjoy the bounty out of your own garden or from the market!
Lime Cucumber Salsa
1 large cucumber diced

1-2 garlic loves, minced

3 green onions, sliced

2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro, parsley or basil

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 tbsp Olive Oil

1 tsp grated lime peel

1/2 tsp salt, optional

1/4 tsp pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.
2. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Spice Cantaloupe
2 c cued cantaloupe
2tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. In a medium bowl combine cantaloupe, lime juice, sugar & nutmeg; toss gently to combine. Spoon into serving dishes.

Sausage & Veggie’s on the Grill
1 pound Garden Gates Italian Sausage
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1 inch slices
1 medium pepper, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 c fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/4 c Olive Oil
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1-2 garlic clove, minced
1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  In a small bowl, combine the oil, herbs & garlic.  Pour over sausage mixture, toss to coat.  Divide between two pieces of heavy duty foil.  Fold foil around sausage mixture & seal tightly.
2. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 25-30 minutes or until meat is no longer pink & vegetables are tender.  Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.
Happy Day,

More Organizational Tips: Learning The Walk Through, The Family Room and Upstairs Hallway, & More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!

I think the Family Room in a home should speak loudly about the lady of the house. It should be a reflection of her personality and what she loves… for me, it’s the cottage garden, the perfect blue, summer sky and coziness of soft summer hues exploding throughout the room, flower blossoms and of course dragonflies!  My family room speaks all this and I love sitting in my rocking chair with a warm cup of coffee with a good gardening magazine or some inspirational piece… throw in a little boy ready to cuddle, and it’s even better.  The family room is the cozy spot of the home where each member can curl up with a good book & where we can share & talk about stuff.  The family room is often referred to as the living room in decorating mags (I am not referring to the Formal Living room here)… but it is more than that.

I thought today would be a good time to touch base on the Walk Through concept since I have mentioned it so frequently.  It is a very simple concept to apply and it is one that my children completely understand.  The walk through is simply going through a room and picking up AND putting away everything that is out of it’s place. 
Here are a few tips when going through this step in the organizational process of getting your home where you want it to be: (Be sure to check out my blog spots and the web site for great photos!)

*Take a plastic bag and basket along with you each time… use the bag for any trash that needs taken care of and the basket for stuff to be put away that doesn’t have a place in the family room.
*As you go through, start from the top down… table tops, book or other shelves, couches & chairs and then onto the floor- don’t forget to look under the furniture.  Gather up what doesn’t have a place and put in the basket, put trash in the bag. 
*While you are doing this straighten things up as you go… fix haphazard cushions, refold any throw blankets, straighten pictures on the wall, tidy the books or mags that belong on the tables in the room, tidy up books on the shelves, straighten any decorative objects or table clothes/ linens.
… After the walk through I always vacuum or sweep the floor. That gives the finished look!
The walk through is not ‘cleaning’ day, it is something that should be done repeatedly through the day and especially right before bed; vacuuming only once unless needed. I focus on three daily walk through’s; right before lunch- this is when we typically vacuum, just before supper (or just before dad gets home from work) and then before bed.   There is nothing nicer then getting up in the morning and coming down to a tidy house! 

Now lets touch base on how to Zone Clean the Family Room… be sure to keep watching, next time we will focus on Dining Room and closets along with menu planning!
~Weekly jobs: (unless otherwise mentioned- like the walk through)
*Start the room with a walk through.
*Feather dust from the top down: Ceiling line and down corners of the wall; picture tops, curtains, lamp shades, blinds, table tops and any other dusty spots you see.
*Wipe down/dust any shelves in the room
*Wash windows, wipe down ledges; wash all glass- pictures, clocks, etc.
*Straighten book case- organize books that are out of place; any decorative elements; table tops 

~Once a month tasks: * take down mini blinds/shades and wash.
*take down curtains and wash.
*wash lamp shades.
*Pull out all furniture that can be moved; clean up behind; use broom to sweep any dust from the baseboards out onto the carpet so it can be vacuumed.
*Vacuum under cushions of couch and chairs with removable cushions.
*Spot clean any spots on the furniture.
~Spring & Fall Cleaning:
*Wash ceilings and walls, wash carpets; all the once a month chores as well.

Our Upstairs Hallway is the main traffic highway for the whole family. All the bedrooms are upstairs in our cozy, old farmhouse not to mention our main bathroom. I am very thankful for an extra wide hallway considering what an old house this is.  I have two dressers and a book shelf in that hallway~ and even with these large pieces of furniture, there is still the ‘normal’ width of a hallway.  My Zone Cleaning for the upstairs is the same as the the Family Room with three exceptions- there are no blinds and lampshades to deal with; but we add vacuuming the stairway and dusting all the moldings over the doors.
… the hallway provides a play space for the boys as well… there have been many farms and fields in this
play zone and lots of laughter… not to mention a few screams (both of laughter and the other!)


~Cabbage is coming in by the truck load along with yummy melons… here are a few tasty treats!
Market Fresh Tangy Slaw
1 head each; red and green cabbage, shredded- should make about 8 cups
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
16 oz. bottle of red wine vinegar and oil salad dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup organic raw sugar
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Toss together veggies in a large serving bowl; set aside.
2. Combine remaining ingredients; pour over veggies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Toss before serving.
*Let refrigerate for at least 3 hours to allow the flavors to blend!

Cabbage Strudel– makes 2 rolls

8 tbsp butter

1 c chopped onion

8 c thinly sliced cabbage

1 c shredded  carrots

1 tsp salt

1/4 c shredded cheese– Swiss or other

3/4 c bread crumbs

1 tbsp snipped fresh parsley or thyme

1/8 tsp black pepper

12 sheets frozen ph7yllo dough– thawed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 15×10 inch baking pan– set aside.

2. 2.  in a large skillet melt 2 tbsp of the butter and add onion; cook about 5 minutes or till tender.  Add cabbage & carrots; sprinkle with salt.  Cook about 10 minutes or till tender.  Remove from heat; stir in cheese, 1/2 c of bread crumbs, pepper & herb

3. In a saucepan melt the remaining butter.  Unroll phyllo dough, cover with waxed paper & damp towel.  Brush with some butter; top with 1 teaspoon of crumbs.  Repeat layers with five more sheets phyllo., melted butter & crumbs.  Spread half the cabbage filling over phyllo layers, leaving a 2 inch border on one of the long sides & both short sides.  Fold both short sides over filling; roll up from l long side.  Place roll, seam side down, in prepared pan.  Repeat to make a second roll.

4. Bake about 35 minutes or until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 30 minutes.  To serve cut with serrated knife into slices.


Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

4 c 1-2 inch chunks melon

1/4 c (4oz) crumbles feta cheese,

1/4 c loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn & washed

2 tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

120 macadamia nuts, chipped (optional)

In a large bowl combine watermelon, feta cheese, mint & olive oil.  Season with pepper & sprinkle with nuts.  Cover & chill for up to 4 hours.

Happy Day,

More on Organization: The Laundry and Back Entry, More on Control Journal and Yummy

I love to do laundry!  It is by far my favorite domestic task that I get to do.  I love every aspect of it from getting all the dirty stuff sorted out, although that is one of the boys jobs typically, switching loads, hanging the clean clothes out on the line and listening to it flap in the breeze… the fresh air scent that follows… I love folding and putting away.  It is so nice to see the stacks of clean pants, rows of shirts and dresses, neatly folded under garments and the feel of those soft, fuzzy towels… Laundry is just plain fun!  I dream of a first floor laundry with a fold out ironing board, and spacious storage… it is free to dream. Right now I have a basement laundry that is damp and wet when it rains and there are lots of spiders and even an occasion toad! Now remember, I live in Michigan… and for those of you who understand the “Michigan basement” concept you will understand what I am saying. Although I am happy for what I have… it could be worse!

I wanted to touch base a bit more on the Control Journal today.  As I mentioned in my first entry your control journal can be as complex or simple as you the designer want it to be… it can and will grow and change as your home changes, children grow and renovations are done.  Here is how my control journal is set up:
*I use a leather bound 1 1/2 inch 3-ring binder for my journal; it is filled with top loading plastic sleeves and side tabbed divider sheets. 
*My sections are in this order:  Zones, Daily Routines, Daily Home Blessing, Menu Plans & Grocery Lists, Tools, Personal, Activity Frequency List.  Here’s what is in each section:
~Zones is one of the Flyladies buzz words and refers to each room of the house and gives a detailed breakdown of what needs to be done.  With this concept spring & fall cleaning can almost be eliminated.  You use a calender that each zone is tackled.
~Daily Routines holds my morning, daily, after school and evening routines~ as well as each day of the weeks schedule of routines that get done. (see below for a sample of one of my  daily routines)
~The Daily Home Blessing is another buzz word and can be compared best to a Mission Statement. I will share mine with you in an upcoming post.
~Menus & Grocery lists. I designed weekly menus to keep on the fridge each week. This helps in grocery shopping and meal prep every morning.  I designed two groups according to seasons: Spring & Summer have menus that are geared more toward the fresh produce we are growing and that is available to us; the other one is Fall & Winter which focus’ on what we have canned, frozen and what we have in the root cellar along with what we are still growing the fall garden and winter hoop houses.

~My Tools section has an outline from a Flylady conference that a friend attended and shared with me. It is called, “Tips For Not Getting Sidetracked”.   It is basically a breakdown of each chapter in the book and gives practical pointers to help you through the chapters.
~My Personal section holds things that give me inspiration.  I have several poems on mothering, being a help meet, cartoons, drawings from the children and cards from friends and loved ones.  Think of this section as your inspiration section.
~The Frequency of Activities section simply holds a list of how often I want to do particular things.
*Each section has a Title Page~ I have family photo’s, pictures the children have made, poems, cards and other special things to me.
… as I said, your control journal is exactly that- yours.  Let it be a reflection of what you love, who you want to be, your faith and your passions!  
Now onto the Laundry and Back Entry tips! Be sure to keep watching, next time will be on my personal favorite, my Office!
Here is my Zone cleaning list for the Laundry Room, I simply copied the Flyladies with a few alterations because it is pretty basic.
Laundry Room cleaning is a weekly chore unless otherwise stated:
*Dust around the ceiling lines and down corners of walls; behind all appliances & furniture.
*I don’t have any windows, but if you do, this should be the next step along with wiping down the window ledge; take curtains down monthly and wash- mini blinds same thing.
*Wipe down the tops &  sides of appliances; clean gunk from under the washer lid; I like to run my machines self cleaning cycle!  Be sure to check the dryers lint trap.
*Change garbage; fresh bag; gather up any other junk that got dumped out of pockets.
*Be sure to check you laundry supplies and add anything you need to buy onto your grocery list.
*Check behind & under appliances for any ‘lost’ items.
*Sweep the floor; mop.
Here are some helpful tips to keep things in their place in your laundry room.
*Hang a shelf above the washer & dryer where you can keep your detergents handy and available.  Put washer supplies over washer and dryer supplies over dryer. 
*Keep a waste basket right beside the dryer or even better between the two appliances where all trash, pocket liter, dryer lint can be easily pitched.
*Keep a recycle bin handy where you can put your clean plastic recyclable bottles in for garbage day.
My Back Entry can be a challenge, especially with living on a farm.  We have an attached garage to our back entry along with three entry doors~ one that comes in from the back yard, one from the garage and one from the driveway side of the house.  As you can imagine we have a lot of traffic coming in at this point of the house… an it looks like it despite how hard Taylor & I try to keep it clean & organized.  Over the years I have tried everything from dressers to baskets to store stuff in.  Again, please remember I have 8 people living in this house and six of them are males- who work & play very hard outside.  The amount of sand, dirt, mud, grit, manure, straw, hay, etc. that comes in is astronomical in my opinion!  So here is where we are at in the Back Entry today…
*On the one wall I have a full length wall mounted coat rack that has six hooks on it. Each hook has three prongs to hang stuff on… we still have stuff land on the floor!  On the other wall there is another coat rack that has four hooks.  The long rack is for all the guys and their work wear, hats and coats.  It gets pretty thick. They are supposed to line their boots up under the row of coats. 
Our back entry is not fancy by any means… although I have tried very hard to make it cute… it still is a back entry that gets too much traffic. 
*In the winter months we have a basket where hats, mitts and scarves get put in when dry. 
… other than this I can’t say too much on the Back Entry… Some day when I don’t have so many people tromping through I have big plans for a very cute entry way. Until then, I’ll let my boys be boys, and try not to grump too much!
**check out my for dragonfly blog to see photo’s of my dream back entries, laundry rooms and more!

More Market Fresh Canning Recipe’s! These recipe’s have been used and adapted from “Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats” cookbook.

Pear or Peach Honey Spread
6 pears or peaches, peeled & seeded
1 orange, peeled and seeded
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
2 tart apples, peeled and seeded
3 cups sugar

Grind all fruit together; add sugar. Simmer over medium heat until thick. Pour into containers.  Invert on counter for 24 hours to ensure seal was made.  If any didn’t seal, you can water bath for 10 minutes or store in fridge for up to 2 weeks for immediate use.

Believe it or not, here is a pickle recipe!
Dustin’s 5-Day Dills
4 cups water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sea salt
2 Tbsp. pickling spice
1 tsp. alum
Fresh dill

1. Place fresh dill in bottom of a 1 gallon glass jar or crock; put all ingredients in jar or crock; fill jar with clean, sliced cucumbers.
2. Add more dill to top of jar; let set in a sunny spot for 5 days.
Ready to eat. Refrigerate after the 5 days.

Happy Day,

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…


“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,

Organizational Tips and Recipes for Herb Salts And Dry Mixes!

I love reading anything on organization! I am a firm believer of everything has a place and everything in it’s place.  In my home I up against seven other individuals. Now when I say ‘up against’ I don’t mean that in necessarily a bad way for the most part… I just mean not all members of my household have the same instinct as I do… so I work hard at trying to instill this quality, especially in my children… unfortunately it’s too late for my other half(can’t teach an old dog new tricks, LOL)!  He was not taught this art in anyway shape or form… he does try to some degree, but it’s not his nature. Anyway, some of my children have grabbed hold onto it and some, shall I say are a work in progress! A few things that drive me crazy are when the kitchen cupboard doors are left open… I just cannot understand why they don’t close as easily as they opened… sigh! … or why the dirty clothes land beside the hamper, but not in… sigh!  Well, as my one dear friend always tells me… ‘Line upon line… precept upon precept!’ So I trudge on!  Really I don’t mind it all too much because I do love to get things organized and re-do stuff. Anytime I am in the check out line and there appears a new organizing or storage magazine, they just seem to find there way into my cart! Praise the Lord for constant inspiration!  Last week I spent the morning ‘gutting’ out and cleaning the boys room… unbelievable is all I can say!  I do this about four times a year and it never ceases to amaze me what accumulates in that room!  Anyway, Ryan helped me and we got the job done… again!  He say’s to me, “I just love when you clean our room and it looks so nice!”  I just looked at him and said, “Why don’t you keep it this way?”… of course it was the other brothers fault… sigh!  I am going to touch on room by room organization tips over the next few blogs.  A lot of the info will be taken and adapted from my favorite book, “Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady.  So here are some great tips that I believe can work in any home that has these little blessings (A.K.A. children)or not, along with references on some books that I have repeatedly referenced over the years… and of course some recipes!  Have a great day friends!

Room by Room Organization Tips…. Today we will focus on the Bed & Bath rooms… read on next time for Kitchen and Pantry!  Most of the info will be adapted from Sink Reflections.  The ‘FlyLady” as she likes to be referred to (she is a fly fishing instructor as well as an organizational wizard), has several “buzz” words that she refers to often in the book. I will briefly discuss a few here so when I use them you won’t be wondering what in the world I am talking about. The ones I took hold of primarily were~ Walk Through’s, Hot Spots, as well as her ‘Control Journal’.  I will first discuss the Control Journal… I am sure you are surprised by that!
I have followed this book to a tee and it really works… even with less than willing housemates! 

*The Control Journal… in basic terms allows you to write down just what you want done in each room of the house, list’s your schedules, can be a day planner, can hold inspirational pieces or anything else you want to keep in it.  It can be as basic or complex as you the designer want it to be.  I of course like it right down to the nitty gritty of things.  Marla explains how to take your notebook/journal and walk through or sit in each room and write down everything you ‘see’ that needs to be done as well as the frequency you want the tasks done. You can keep the tasks in a calender format~ for example, some chores get done seasonally- Spring & Fall cleaning- wash walls & ceilings; monthly- washing the curtains; weekly- strip & wash the bedding;  several times in a week- laundry; daily- vacuuming the carpets, taking out the trash; several times in a day- washing dishes or sweeping the floors and so on.  You can make it as detailed or not as you desire.  I found it very helpful for the children to be very detailed… this helped them to completely understand their jobs and what was expected of them.
I loved this aspect of her program because I love to journal and see what is happening!  The journal can give specific details as to what happens in each room.  For instance when cleaning the living room~ dust from the top down~ around ceiling line, pictures on walls, book shelf, lamp shades, finally the furniture, wash windows and dust ledges, pick up under furniture, and finally vacuum. Presto room done! 

*The Walk Through... I use this term every single day!  When I ask one of the children to do a walk through they fully understand that I mean they need to go through the room and pick up everything that is out of place, put it in it’s proper place and then vacuum.  This term has become second nature to all of them and it works well even with little ones.

*Hot Spot
is another buzz word that Marla discusses… we all have them whether we want to admit it or not.  In layman’s terms these are those spots in our homes that when someone walks in what ever they have in their hands instantly gets dropped on/in that spot.  For us it’s the bar top counter and on the counter right beside the fridge.  For my darling daughter it is MY DESK!  Anything and everything that is paper gets dumped onto my desk! I understand her motivation… she doesn’t know what I want to keep and what I want to pitch… so it goes on mom’s desk and mom can keep or pitch… so I guess that is OK. Anyway, every home has them… and Marla gives great tips on how to get rid of them… although I have to say ours don’t get as bad as they use to, but we still have them!
… so moving on, here are tips from my home to yours!
*Bedroom…  There are a few tricks that I use in all the bedrooms of my home…
~Plastic totes– in one of our boys room they have a built in wall closet, so I don’t really need a dresser for them.  Although to keep things neat & tidy each boy has two totes: one for socks & underwear and one for their church socks, shoes & belt.  On the bottom of the closet they have a little shelf that holds their pants and jammies.  All their shirts and suits are hung on hangers.  When they work with the program, it is very neat & orderly.  Because they don’t have a dresser in their room I keep all their bedding in another dresser. 
~Books, toys and stuff are kept on shelves and in a desk.  The boys have a desk in their room where they can keep pen’s, crayons, scissors and the likes.  I like to use small pencil boxes for these items so they don’t get all over the place.  The boys books and magazines are kept on a shelf for easy access.  They have two drawers on the bottom of their closet where toys are kept along with ball cloves and cleats.
~Off Season  and Grow-Into Clothing are kept in plastic totes under the bed as well as on the shelf above their closet.  This way dust and bugs don’t have access and things can be kept in order of size and season.  I like to use clear totes that I can easily see into; I keep a note inside the tote as to the sizes so I don’t have to unfold and guess as I am looking for the next size of clothing.  This also makes it easier so I don’t have to drag out all of them and go through each one.  If you don’t like clear totes then list the items on a label and then using clear packing tape cover the whole label so it doesn’t get torn off or fade; put one on the top and two sides of the tote.  IF you have other children that will grow into those clothes be sure to mark accordingly who will use next.
~Knick-knacks and Collectables are kept on a small wall shelf and on top of their desk where they can be easily viewed and kept out of reach of the little boys! 
~For bedding I learned a really clever idea from a friend of mine for keeping sheets & matching pillowcases all together.  Simply fold your flat sheet in half lengthwise and then again and again until it is long and narrow… about 18″ wide; next fold the fitted sheet to be a square that will lay on the top sheet without hanging over- place at the one end of folded flat sheet; fold your pillow cases and lay on top of fitted sheet; next roll the fitted sheet and pillow cases up into the flat sheet until you have a nice, neat square… no more searching for matching bedding!  I keep all the bedding in my armoire in our bedroom.

The bathroom can be a challenge or a delight… in my opinion what makes the difference is if it a small room with no storage or one that you can do cart wheels in (my personal dream bath…) anyway, I have a smallish bath with no storage other than under the small vanity and one small wall medicine cabinet.  On one of my shopping sprees I found a large floor plant stand at an antique shop and knew exactly what I would do with it… It is now mounted on the one available wall in the bathroom beside the tub and that is where I keep our towels.  I don’t like things to look cluttered, despite what Taylor says, and it has to be cute & neat… so I roll the towels and then put them on the two shelves. On the outside shelves I keep small baskets where extra bottles of shampoo, soap and such can be stored; I fold the smaller hand and wash towels and put those there as well. 
~Smaller toiletries, lotions, contact stuff, extra toothpaste,  and such are kept in the small medicine cabinet on the wall.  I try to keep Neil’s stuff on one, mine on another and other stuff on the third. 
~In the cabinet under the vanity I keep the cleaners in a plastic bucket, roll of paper towel and extra larger toiletries.  There is a space between the vanity and the wall where I keep a basket that holds the extra toilet paper.
~No bathroom would be complete without reading material so that gets put in another basket that sits beside the toilet.

… these are just a few tips that I use in my home, but be sure to go to the FlyLady’s web site at to see more great tips!

“Sink Reflections”, by Marla Cilley- The FlyLady, Published by Bantam Books, 2002
“Sidetracked Home Executives”, by Pam Young and Peggy Jones, Published by Time Warner Books, 1977
“The 15 Minute Organizer”, by Emilie Barnes, Published by Harvest House Publishers

Try these great mixes for grilling!

Summer in her beautiful bounty is giving us lots of wonderful things.  In previous blog’s I have explained how to dry and use herbs that you have grown or bought… Here are some yummy mixes, salts and salt-less recipes!  Enjoy…

Garden Herb Dry Mix

*This dry mix is great sprinkled on burger patties before grilling and really adds something special to ground beef when fried!

1/2 cup parsley, dried & crumbled
1 cup Chervil, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup chives, dried & crumbled
1/2 cup tarragon, dried & crumbled
2 Tbsp. sea salt
Combine all in bowl and store in an airtight container; shake before using, contents will probably settle.

Herb Salt’s
If you are trying to watch your salt intake, here a some great salt substitutes that the whole family will enjoy and not miss the salt!

5 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great on fish & chicken!

1 Tbsp. garlic powder
5 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
Combine all and store in an airtight container.  Great in ground beef when making goulash!

… if your not watching your salt intake…
Basic Herb Salt
1 cup sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. rosemary
2 Tbsp. thyme
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp. tarragon
2 Tbsp. dill week
2 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 cup basil
Blend together in a food processor; store in an airtight container.  Great for grilling or putting on pork or beef roasts!

Happy Day,