Simplified Living

Being organized is really just about learning to live simply.  Now, don’t hit the exit button quite yet!  There is minimalism ( a huge trend right now and worth pursuing) and then there is a more simplified life.  I am not a minimalist.  I love home and all the things that make a home beautiful and comfortable.  So, I have holiday decorations, more than two sets of dishes, seasonal throw pillows… You get the idea.  So, how do I keep a clutter free home?  How do I manage to have time to exercise, volunteer, take a nap, have date nights and entertain?  I manage those things because I choose to keep the number of things pared down.

Being organized is about learning to live with less, so your time is not spent managing stuff.  Being organized is also about learning little tips and tricks along the way to make the most of what you have and to simplify your decorating, cooking, cleaning and entertaining.  In honor of spring cleaning, I’ll share a few of those tips over the next few weeks.

Menu prepping and meal prepping are becoming a more integral part of my weeks as I continue on my health journey.  I’m still a pen and paper gal, so I love the InkWell Press “Eating Well Planner” my sister-in-law got me for Christmas.  I write down the recipe for each day’s dinner (adding in at least one breakfast meal and lunch idea for the weekends) and the location of the recipe.  I then make the grocery list.  I am a coupon girl, so Sunday afternoons are my time to clip paper coupons and download my Kroger digital coupons.  Once my grocery list is complete I go through the coupons pulling any that match to needed groceries.  I keep thinking I am going to shift my grocery shopping to Tuesday evenings, but so far I still find myself running to the store for my major grocery shopping on Saturdays.  We will see how I progress-this is one of those goals in my Cultivate What Matters planner-reminding myself to cultivate this one and that progress doesn’t happen over night.

Once back from the grocery store I immediately put things away.  I put grains, chips, cereals etc. in their respective bins (helps us see what we have and keeps things fresh).  I fill the kitchen sink with cold water and one cup of white vinegar.  All of the fresh fruits and vegetables go in to soak.  They are then rinsed and dried.  I then chop or cut anything I can for the week.  We just eat more vegetables and fruits if they are washed and ready to go.  I love using the Rubbermaid Freshworks.  You can find them here:  http://www.rubbermaid.com/en-US/freshworks-produce-saver-green

This week, with strawberries coming into season, I found myself needing to cut strawberries so I could mix them with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of Stevia.  They will be great with yogurt, cottage cheese or as a stand alone dessert/snack.  One of my favorite tricks I learned from a Pampered Chef consultant.  Use your boiled egg slicer to cut strawberries.  It cuts them quickly and in perfect slices!  I did two containers of strawberries in under 4 minutes.  I promise, once you try this you will never go back to cutting them any other way!

I’d love to hear your tips on menu planning, grocery shopping or meal prepping.  For more tips on managing errands:  https://wordpress.com/post/simplifiedorganizedstyled.com/1815

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Beg, Borrow, Steal Recipes! Easy Fajitas

As organized as I am, I struggle with menu planning.  I love to cook.  I love good food.  I collect cookbooks like some collect antique dishes, or shoes (yet, confess I have a little issue there too).  Home is the smell of fresh baked cookies.  Friends should be gathered ’round the table.  Fellowship is centered on a beautifully set table with a savory meal.  Maybe it’s a Southern thing.  I don’t know, but I love food, I love cooking and I love serving.  So, one would think this menu planning thing would be a breeze.  WRONG!  I struggle.  I have decided, like so many things in life, I just get overwhelmed by the array of choices, I like change, and well, to be real honest, my expectations are just way too high.  I’m not satisfied with serving leftovers, frozen meals or chicken nuggets.  I fall into bed feeling disgruntled and disappointed.  I know I shouldn’t, and by no means am I judging those who can throw Stouffer’s in the oven or heat up some nuggets and go merrily on their way.  I’ve tried the on-line meal planning services, I have printed off at least 12 different, adorable menu planning sheets, heck, I’ve even purchased some!  All to no avail.  I give.  I have decided I’ll never be the mom that has a year worth of menus, or rotates weekly or monthly dishes.  Just isn’t going to happen.  It’s just not me.  I am embracing me.  The best I can come up with is a monthly plan, kind of sort of.

I print off a plain old ugly blank monthly calendar.  I spend an evening going through recipes, write down the recipe book and the recipe page number and add the ingredients to my grocery list.  Then there is this whole coupon thing I do, but I’ll post about that next week.  I do everything in my power to do one BIG grocery trip per month, but usually end up doing two middle sized.  I don’t stockpile.  No purpose.  I rarely cook the same things.  I do keep on hand a few staples, and yes, in reality I do have about 5 “go to” recipes.  In the end though, as said, I am embracing who I am.  My creative outlet is cooking.  I am giving myself room to experiment, print off those yummy posts from Pinterest and see what the family says is a keeper.  AND, when my friends treat us to a scrumptious meal my gang won’t quit talking about, I beg for the recipe.  Today’s recipe is just such a recipe.  It’s from my dear friend Lisa Blake, who also happens to be my girls’ god-mother (and the coolest one ever in their eyes.)  She and her husband live on a “mini” ranch in TX, so only fitting that on our last visit she treated us to THE BEST fajitas.  Of course, everything tastes better in Texas, right?!

Easy Chicken Fajitas

4-6 Skinless, boneless chicken breasts

equal parts Italian Dressing and Soy Sauce (we both used the light, low sodium in both products)

I added 2 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 tsp dried red pepper and 1 tsp cumin

Mix the Italian Dressing, Soy Sauce and spices.  Pour over the chicken.  Wrap tightly.  Let marinate overnight.  Cook the chicken breasts on the grill.  Mix up one half cup of the Italian Dressing and Soy Sauce (equal parts).  Saute sliced onion and bell peppers in a little bit of olive oil.  Pour the Italian Dressing/Soy Sauce mixture over the onions and peppers and cook on low in a skillet.

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Serve with white or whole wheat tortillas and condiments (avacado, salsa, cheddar cheese, sour cream).  Add a side salad and you have a great, easy to prepare, quick dinner.  I promise, this marinade will have you hooked.  Who knew-soy sauce in your Mexican food!

I’m gonna keep working on my menu planning, but don’t get your hopes up.  I’m learning to let myself off the hook for some things, but more importantly, learning to embrace the me I am and love living life.

Get Ready: Holiday Planning Begins NOW!

I allow myself to get through Halloween before I begin planning for the Holidays.  Of course, ideas, thoughts, pictures swirl through my mind, but I make no effort to intentionally plan or write things down until now.  We can get so caught up in planning and preparing, we miss the joy of the season.  Before you begin to think of gifts and decorations I challenge you to follow the advice of Glynnis Whitwer and tackle the food planning first. After all, the best memories are made around the dinner table or at the festive holiday drop in.  And in all reality, the food for the next 6 weeks can cost us as much as the gifts if we are not careful.  Glynnis’ tips are easy – just takes a little planning and a little time.

Let the holiday planning begin!  http://glynniswhitwer.com/2013/11/planning-for-the-food/