Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week 19 of the Weekly Organization Challenge

I am not dead. 

I am sorry that it has taken too long in getting back on the organizational horse. 

This is week 19 of The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenge! This week focused on the laundry room. 

Currently our laundry room is a large closet off of our main hallway. There is a lot of space there, but most of it is unused. I have plans on turning it into some kind of giant linen closet/storage but I don't know what I want, just yet.

But I still needed to organize this giant ass mess into something neater. So the before.....

and now the after... 

I got rid of all the garbage and moved the cleaning soaps to the corner above the washing machine.

I also put the specialty cleaners and tissues in a storage bin. The dust rags went into the other storage bin.

For now, miscellaneous items live in the empty space that would be a linen closet in the future - the highchair and fan.

Next week, I will focus on laundry storage and hampers.

Organize along with me in The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenges

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Week 18 of the Weekly Organization Challenge

This is week 18 of The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenge! This week focused on photos.

I never got into the scrapbooking craze that was popular years ago and thank god. I can only imagine the amount of time and money I would have spent on books and printing photos. No, instead I decided to keep all my photos (save for our wedding and honeymoon since I was digital camera-less back then) on the computer. Mostly it was just random shit. A family reunion here. A vacation there.

It wasn't until after the birth of The Good Daughter did my picture taking increase 11 fold. And that is when I really fell in love with photo books. 

Just take a look at my baby.

Years ago I had made a photo book of our wedding photos, but since all of those were scans from originals, there was a lot of crappy editing after the fact. Now that all the photos I have of TGD are digital and I know what the shit I am doing in Photoshop (to a degree) I am able to edit the images in a way I want.

To make the book above - an overview of the first year of TGD's life - I used My Publisher. There are other sites too. I have used Shutterfly to make calendars and liked how they turned out.

The reason I used My Publisher for TGD's book, though was I got a killer coupon code for a buy one, get one (which you can score yourself too if you are a new customer). So to create her book, I chose the classic hardcover book with a book jacket. A standard size, 20 page book is less than $30 and that is a killer deal. My book was 100 pages, so it made it just under $114. But I got two. So I gave one to my mom for mother's day.

Some of the features I love about creating photo books, is the ability to print the photos to the whole page. There is no edge and you can fill a page with a single image or several. There are also several different layouts to chose from and each page can be different and unique.

And you can fit a ton of photos in the book. I think there is something like 400 photos of TGD in her book. So when highlighting all her first foods, you can fit up to 12 photos on a page. 

I have a photo book for every year of her life so far and plan to continue to do it for The Good Son. Once they get older, the books will turn into a family year book of sorts, highlighting our vacations and our little family as it grows.

Another great thing about using photo books, is you can design them over a period of time. So at the end of each month you can create a few pages and save your work. Then at the end of the year, you can complete your book and order it. Plus you still have all the originals on your computer but also in a high quality photo book that everyone will love to look at.

DISCLAIMER: I was not paid, in any way, by anyone to write this post.

Organize along with me in The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenges

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Week 17 of the Weekly Organization Challenge

This is week 17 of The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenge! This week focused on CDs and DVDs.

In the living room we have media storage in the center the houses the TV, DVD player and the cable box. But since we are not big movie collectors, the media center is mainly used for housing games.

Of the two drawers in the middle of the entertainment center, the top one houses our small movie collection.

I like to categorize movies by genre (action, comedy, drama, family, war) and within each by title. So the action category contains the following: 300, Bad Boys, Fight Club, Seven and Transformers. Since we have such a small collection, we can keep each movie in their box. As our collection grows we can use the bottom drawer, which is currently empty, as additional storage.

As for CDs, with the invention of the MP3 player, they are going the way of the dinosaur. Both The Good Husband and I have our music stored on our computer and MP3 players. TGH alone has like 1500 hours worth of songs. He was a bit of a techno/bass head in high school and had a TON of CDs. 

I, on the other hand, had quite a small collection and after I transferred all files to my hard drive, I sold what I could at a second hand store. I tell you, there is nothing better in the world than being judged by a 17 year old boy when you are trying to sell your Korn CD and he offers you $2 and a wicked side eye. Trust me, junior, at one point I had glow-in-blacklight hot pink and platinum blonde hair, a tongue ring, a tragus piercing and a tramp stamp. I know it's hard to imagine my 30 year old suburban mom ass as being anything other than lame, but trust when I say I was bad ass and I have zombie decals on my mom wagon currently, thank you very much. 

What I couldn't sell at the second hand store, I sold at yard sales with slightly less judgement or donated. I like to organize both my movies and music by category and then by title/artist. You can check out Netflix to get an idea of movie categories to help you. 

Organize along with me in The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenges

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Introducing The Good Son

Welcome to the world little one! I will try and post regularly and answer emails in a timely manner, but things might slow. Thank you for your understanding.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Freezer Cooking Part 1

When I was pregnant with The Good Daughter, I wanted to have a large freezer stash of meals on hand for after she was born. The Good Husband worked 12 hour shifts then, and I wanted meals I could just throw together.

I made a list of meals and ingredients and went shopping after work when I was 37 weeks pregnant with the intention of cooking that entire weekend. I dropped about $300 at the store. The next day at a routine check-up - SURPRISE! - I had to go to the hospital and get induced the next day. Needless to say I didn't make one damn freezer meal.

So this pregnancy I vowed to not wait until 37 weeks pregnant before I got started and to actually make some meals. I collected recipes for a while and thankfully just after our freezer went tits up, and we found a new one at a yard sale, I got started.

I originally had a list of 15 meals I wanted to make with a variety of proteins and meals (breakfast, lunch dinner). I had the added task of trying to find meals that wouldn't be too heavy since it will be the middle of July once The Good Son is born. That last task proved to be the hardest. I also wanted a variety of meals - ones that could just be put in the slow cooker and some that could be thawed and baked.

But I split my shopping up into two big trips and after TGD went to bed, for one week, I made meals. Below is what I made in round one.

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Black Beans and Corn (double batch)
recipe adapted from Ring Around the Rosies 
6 chicken breasts
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 limes, juiced
2 cups cilantro
1 large bag of frozen organic corn
4 minced garlic cloves
1 finely chopped red onion
2 cans of organic black beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
salt/pepper to taste

~Divide all ingredients evenly and place in gallon freezer bags. Shake to combine.

Instructions for Container:
~Cook in a slow cooker on low 8 hours or high 4 hours, serve with tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, and/or cheese.

Healthy Mama BBQ Chicken (double batch)
recipe adapted from Mama and Baby Love 
3 medium unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large green pepper, cut into strips
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
2 zucchini, chopped
2 cups chopped onion
2 tablespoon flour
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

~Divide all ingredients evenly and place in gallon freezer bags. Shake to combine.

Instructions for Container:
~Cook in a slow cooker on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.

Barbacoa Beef, Cilantro Lime Rice and Corn salsa
recipes from Skinnytaste 
Barbacoa Beef
3 lbs beef eye of round or bottom round roast, all fat trimmed 
5 cloves garlic 
1/2 medium onion 
1/2 lime, juice 
2-4 chiptoles in adobo sauce (to taste) 
1 tbsp ground cumin 
1 tbsp ground oregano 
1/2 tsp ground cloves 
salt and pepper 
3 bay leaves 
1 tsp oil 
1 cup water

garlic, onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, chiptoles, cloves in a blender and pulse on high until combined.

~Trim meat of fat and cut into 4 inch cubes. Place in freezer bag and add spice mixture and bay leaves.

Day of Cooking:
~Cook in a slow cooker on low for 8 hours. Once cooked and the meat is tender, remove the meat and place in a dish. Shred it with two forks. Remove bay leaf and add meat back to the crock pot. Cook on low for 20-30 minutes.

Chipotle's "Skinny" Cilantro Lime Rice
1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice 
1/2 lime, juice of 
2 cups water 
1 tsp salt 
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro 
3 tsp vegetable oil

~In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.

~In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed. Allow rice to cool completely and add to freezer bag.

Day of Cooking:
~Place rice in large microwavable bowl, add 2-3 tablespoons water to rice. Microwave 2-3 minutes. Fluff with fork and repeat. Let stand 2 minutes, then fluff again.

Corn Salsa with Lime
4 cups frozen organic sweet corn
2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced 
1/2 red onion, diced 
1 scallion, diced 
1-2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
2 tbsp chopped cilantro 
1 1/2 limes, juice of 
chipotle chili powder, to taste 
salt and fresh pepper to taste

~Combine all into a freezer bag.

Day of Cooking:
~Thaw in fridge. Serve with completely thawed.  

Honey Teriyaki Chicken
recipe adapted from Once A Month Mom
4 pieces boneless, skinless, chicken breast
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoons onion powder

~Combine all ingredients into a gallon freezer bag.

Day of Cooking:
~Thaw in fridge. Remove from marinade. Grill chicken until juices run clear. Or to cook in oven, place in a greased baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 350ºF uncovered 20-30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes longer or until juices run clear.

Breakfast Burritos (double batch)
recipe by The Good Wife
10 large flour tortillas
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 green onion, chopped
12 oz turkey sausage
10 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, any flavor
salt and pepper to taste

~Add oil to skillet and cook turkey sausage on medium high heat until cooked through. Add pepper and onion and cook until veggies are soft. Remove from skillet. Turn heat to low.

~In a medium bowl, whisk to combine eggs, heavy cream, salt and pepper. Add to skillet and scramble until almost set. Allow to cool completely. Add sausage and veggie mixture and stir to combine. Add 1-2 tablespoons in each tortillas and top with cheese. Roll and wrap in plastic wrap and foil.

Day of Cooking.
~Remove from wrapper. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave on high 60-90 or until hot.

Shrimp Scampi (double batch)
recipe from What's Cooking Chicago? 
2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell 
3 tablespoons good olive oil 
2 tablespoons dry white wine 
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves) 
1/4 cup minced shallots 
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves 
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves 
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 extra-large egg yolk 
2/3 cup panko 

~Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture. 

~In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

~Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Label and freeze.

Day of Cooking:
~Thaw in fridge. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Week 16 of the Weekly Organization Challenge

This is week 16 of The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenge! This week focused on the magazines and newspapers.

There was a time when we had both magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but in our efforts to go green, we eliminated most of them. We still occasionally get newspapers delivered to us, but we use them to clean the windows and mirrors.

But every now and then I will get a random magazine subscription come my way. After I had The Good Daughter, copies of Parents magazine started showing up. I would keep an issue for two months, usually putting it out on the coffee table in the living room. When I had several collected, I would then go through them and save the pages I thought were worth keeping.

In the back of my Brains of the Operation, aka Household Binder, I have several clear pockets were I like to keep the pages I save from magazines as inspirations.

I have them divided into several categorizes for easy access.

 I have recipes.

 Organization and decoration ideas.

 Craft ideas.

And kid stuff including games, ideas and food.

Even with saving only select pages from magazines, I still find that my inspiration section of the BotO can get a little full. So I like to try a craft or a recipe one or two times before deciding to keep the page or not. Some of the times the inspiration is a dud and I throw the page out. Sometimes I find something similar on Pinterest, and I don't need to keep the original.

Saving only select pages from magazines is a great way to cut down on clutter and organize all the magazines that can gather in the living room.

Organize along with me in The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenges

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Week 15 of the Weekly Organization Challenge

This is week 15 of The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenge! This week focused on the coat closet.

 When we moved into the house, I was pregnant with The Good Daughter and had some help unpacking. One of the areas I delegated was the coat closet. And it was a hot mess. 

Games, coats, hats, scarves and a whole bunch of other shit got thrown in there.

The leaf for our kitchen table found its way in there along with some boxes of unpacked shit, that I had no idea what it was. For the longest time, I didn't tackle the coat closet, since we had the coat rack for guests. But adding our coats to it left little room for other coats.

I decided the coat closet would best be served as a home for our coats, leaving the coat rack free for guests. The table leaf still lives in there but I have cleared out most everything else. The bulk of the games were moved to the living room, leaving the top shelf fairly clean.


Using the coat closet as our primary storage for is a great way to accommodate both guests and us. By limited the area to one or two specific things - winter coats and accessories, it allows the space to avoid becoming the cluttered mess it once was.

Organize along with me in The Good Wife's Weekly Organization Challenges