Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Menu Planning

I have gone back and forth about menu/meal planning.  I love the newest way that I am organizing my meals.  I subscribe to an amazing magazine called Cook's Country.  It comes every other month and there are many recipes in it but in the middle there are 8 thirty minute meals.  Every single one I have made is amazing.  So on the days that I meal plan (usually Monday) I get out my magazines and my recipe index.  Last year I started a word document (my index) with four columns.  One for chicken, one for beef, one for non meat and one for soups.  Under each heading I put all of the meals that we love to eat.  This way when I meal plan I see everything and I am not faced with the "I don't know what to make" question.  Back to the planning...I usually pick around 10 meals, which is normally two weeks of meals for us.  I make a list of 10 meals that I want for this rotation.  Then I make a list of all of the ingredients that I need.  I put the list of meals on my board in my laundry room and each day I choose what I am in the mood to make/eat that night.  It has really worked out well and it has saved me from needing one thing and having to take all three kids out.
We are very selective in what we eat so I get food from a lot of different places.  We get our produce from a co op and I know what is on the menu for the week on Friday.  I have been using that to help with my meal planning too.  I order my beef from a farm and it gets delivered to me.  I doubled my order this year and I am hoping it will last me at least 6 months.  I get all of my chicken from BJ's and the rest of the stuff comes from Trader Joe's.  It has been really helpful for me to have all of my meats in my freezer and ready for  me to take out in the morning.
How do you meal/ menu plan???

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Favorite Thing

This is one of my top three organizational tools in my home.  It's a huge bulletin board that I made and hung in my laundry room.  How did I make it?  It was so easy and so cheap...only cost about $25.  I went to the local lumber store and got them to cut a large piece of homasote.  Homasote is a thick cardboard type of wood.  The best part about it is that you can stick thumb tacks right in it.  I bought a large piece of fabric and stapled it to the back.  To hang it on the wall, I nailed one nail in each corner.  I am not crafty at all so if I say this was easy, it was!
So, what do I use it for?  EVERYTHING!  I stick business cards on it, school calendars, prescriptions, receipts, invitations, anything that I want to have easy access to that I don't want to get put into a pile.  About once a week I "purge" anything that has expired or that we don't need anymore.  I like it because I can tack stuff anywhere and it still looks cute.  When I come inside from anywhere, my first stop is to hang up mail, coupons or items that I brought in from the car.  I don't like anything on my refrigerator so this is great for that too.

I am thinking of changing the fabric soon.  I liked this one because it was fun for my laundry room.  You have to be careful about fabrics that have patterns that can only go one way.  A lot of choices were eliminated for me because I couldn't use any patterns that went up and down.  Hope you like it!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


So like I said earlier, I have three young children and I do have a *slight* tendency to flip out when things get messy and disorganized.  So when my first became a toddler I started making some "house rules".  I think they really save me even more cleaning and they teach the kids a little about organization.
1.  The first rule is that the kids are only allowed to eat while sitting at the kitchen table and drinks are allowed in the kitchen only.  This has made a huge difference for so many reasons.  First, my oldest LOVES to eat and snack so if he wants something he knows he has to stop playing and come to the table.  He doesn't ask as often and when he does snack he will sit and eat the whole thing instead of grazing.  Second, I don't find crumbs in many places except the kitchen (and there are a lot) so my sweeping doesn't take as long.  I hope that this will instill life long healthy eating habits, too.
2.  Each child gets one cup in the morning and they use the same one all day.  I was losing sippy cups left and right but not any more!  Oh and washing them is such a pain!  I line up the cups on the counter and the kids can drink from them as often as they want as long as they come into the kitchen.  The two oldest use regular cups for the most part but if we are going to be in the car for an extended period of time I will fill sippy's in the morning.  They have to bring the sippy's inside after we get home and use them for the rest of the day.
3.  We don't wear shoes in the house so as soon as we come in, the kids take their shoes off and put them into their bins in the laundry room.  I always know where their shoes are and we aren't dragging in dirt and leaves.

4.  I strip the kids down in the laundry room so they can put their clothes right into the laundry sorter.  They love the naked run up to the tub at night:)
I hope these are helpful.  Like I said before they have helped me so much!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Gear

If you live anywhere where it gets cold you know that taking out all of the winter gear is such a pain!  Last year I felt like I could never find matching gloves, there were hats that were too big, too small and going outside was just a mess.  So I revamped this year.  Each child got two sets of mittens and hats.  I gave everyone (including my husband and myself) one bin for all of the winter stuff.  I put the bins in a cabinet in our laundry room and so far it has been great.  When we leave, I assess the weather, get out the necessary clothes and when we get home I put everything back.  Staying organized does require some time but really it's under five minutes and worth it to put everything away as soon as you are finished with it.
Here is a picture of the bins:
The colored bins on top are the kids socks.  Obviously pink for the girls and blue for the boys.  The clear bins have the winter gear.  I have the boys stacked on top of each other because of space issues.  In the summer I am going to use the bins for their summer hats, sun glasses and things of that nature.
Let me know if this is a practical tip.  I would also love any feedback about a different way to organize this stuff:)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The New Blog

I decided to start a blog about one of my favorite things...organizing and cleaning my house.  Wow, sounds kind of weird but I do love to organize and make my home more efficient and enjoyable.  I have always liked to clean but having three small kids has forced me to take care of my home on a whole new level.  I wanted to be able to share some of the things that have made my life easier and some of the things that have completely failed!  I would love to hear feedback and to hear things that you do in your home.  I am by no means an expert, its just something that I enjoy:)  Hopefully you will read something that you will be able to apply to your home and make your life easier too!