Hurricane Report (and not just inside the house)

I’m blogging from my phone today because Hurricane Irene hit us and our power has been out for 29 hours and counting.

Thankfully, we are fine and there was no damage at our house. However, there are a lot of trees down in the area along with a lot of power lines.

So here we are. At this point I’m thinking it’s just like we are camping in the woods in a big fancy cabin. Just not fancy enough to have power or running water.

It is definitely helping me to appreciate electricity and clean running water, which I take for granted most days.

Our menu plan is pretty much up in the air at this point. Dinner tonight was grilled hot dogs, carrots, Sun Chips, and watermelon.

Other no-power foods we may be eating include canned chicken or tuna (perhaps made into salad), turkey sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, raw veggies/fruit, and anything in the freezer that can be grilled.

There will need to be a big refrigerator/freezer clean out when this is all done, of course. It’s actually good for me to be forced into such things.:-)

And you should have seen how hard I worked to catch up with dishes and laundry as we prepared for the storm.

I hope the rest of you on the east coast survived the storm well!


Hot Spot Check Up 2: Kitchen Island, and Thanks! (I’m talking to you!)

Time to check on the island! I decided that I would give myself a deadline and take a picture at 10:00AM today.

Just for fun, I took a picture last night at 10:00PM. Here it is:

Let's just say we really know how to fill up space around here.

And here’s today’s “official” picture:

Better than last night, not better than last week.

 On a happier note, I’m celebrating 6 months of blogging, and what I really want to say, is…

Thank You!

Thank you for reading!

Thank you for stopping by.

Thank you for commenting!

Thank you for your encouragement, your advice, your comradery.

Thank you for putting up with me!

I am blessed by you!

I have learned so much in these last 6 months of blogging, and you, dear readers, are a big part of what keeps me going! 

Thank you for sharing a piece of your life with me.  It means a lot.

What would you like to see in the next 6 months? Is there an area/topic you would love to see me tackle? I would be happy to hear if you have ideas or requests for future blog posts.

And if you want me to just keep trucking along doing my thing, that’s good too!

Menu Plan for the week of 8/21 – 8/27


Hearty Lentil Soup

 How last week’s menu went:

I switched things around just a little last week and ended up having another leftover night instead of the grilled chicken. I ended up using Lauren’s recipe for stuffed shells and it was well-loved by all. It was a yummy week. Oh and by the way that Quiche recipe was really good, too. And I used just one package of bacon and split it between the two quiches and the yummy Hearty Lentil Soup (I add celery, add chopped spinach instead of parsley, and only use 1/2 tsp of the balsamic vinegar). I am a bacon lover and I thought it was plenty.

Quiche with spinach and bacon

Favorite meal from last week:

Tough choice, but I’m going to go with the Pesto Pasta because it’s simple with fresh ingredients and we all love it. I have made this pesto enough now that I don’t measure. I just throw it in and taste test to adjust ingredients as needed. I learned to make pesto from a friend who has a large garden and at the end of the season has a “Pesto Party” where she supplies the basil and you bring the rest of the ingredients. Totally fun to hang out while the  kids play and moms make pesto to bring home!

Today’s motivation for menu planning:

We eat healthier with more variety when I plan ahead for the week!

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Leftover Night (including some leftovers that were shared with us from the potluck meal at church)


  • Easy Chicken Enchiladas (I add enchilada sauce on top before the cheese, and sliced black olives, too.) topped with lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and sour cream
  • Chips and salsa





  • Hamburgers
  • Sweet potato fries
  • fruit

Saturday (Picnic!)

  • Hebrew National Hot Dogs
  • raw veggies
  • Sun Chips
  • watermelon

Other Updates:

  • I still need to do a big refrigerator clean-out.
  • I still need to finish going through the kids’ clothes.
  • We’ve been doing a good job keeping the living room and kitchen picked up!
  • I’m getting rid of 2 pairs of jeans that are too big!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

Hot Spot Check Up: Kitchen Island

I do love my kitchen island.

And I love to put stuff there.

Lots of it.

Everyone does. If you came over, I bet you would put something there.

It’s a big clutter hot spot for me. It’s a nice big flat space and it’s just out of the reach of our 1-year-old. It’s a  great work space. It’s just begging you to put something there.

The problem is that too many somethings are put there and not cleaned up and put in their proper place, and then other somethings get put on top of those, and so on and so forth…

The status of my island makes a big difference in how my home looks and feels. My post Island Watch 2011 gives a pretty good summary of how bad the island gets – with pictures of piles of clutter.

I am going to post a picture of my island every week for the next four weeks (I think every Wednesday) to help me keep it under control. It looks like it might work, because I stayed up last night and cleared it off.

So here’s a picture of the kitchen island today:

Other Updates:

  • The kids and I picked up the kitchen and living room, we swept the living room, and the kids picked up the basement/play room/family room themselves. Yay!
  • I still need to clean out the fridge and finish the kids’ clothes project.
  • I still need to go through those “hiding” baskets and boxes of clutter. My goal is to get through one basket by Monday.

What is your worst clutter hot spot right now?

Menu Plan for the week of 8/14 – 8/20


Brown Rice and Black Beans

 How last week’s menu went:

I stuck to the planned menu for the most part. We did not have the taco salad because we did a leftover night instead. It was the first time I tried this particular recipe for Brown Rice with Black Beans, and I must say I loved how the rice came out with this method. I might add some cumin and oregano next time. The leftovers were great for lunch with a little cheese, salsa, and tomato from the garden.

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m going to say it was a tie between the Barbecue Ribs (I also added a dry rub and cooked them at a lower temp for a little longer) and the Buffalo Chicken pizza (I use a bit less of the chicken and blue cheese dressing. You must use Frank’s Hot Sauce if you want it to be right) with this crust. Yum.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Today’s motivation for menu planning:

Menu planning saves me money! I look at the sales flyers  and I decide on my menu based on what meat and produce are on sale (I usually shop at Safeway). I don’t use a lot of coupons. At one point I got into the coupon craze, but I’m just not there right now. Last week I used 3 coupons. Really, just the fact that I make a plan and (mostly) stick to it, saves me money.

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Pesto pasta (All 5 of us love this!)
  • fresh  tomatoes from the garden


  • Quiche: one with bacon and spinach and one with broccoli
  • fruit salad


  • Spaghetti and meat sauce
  • salad


  • Hearty Lentil Soup from Cooks Illustrated (I add celery, add chopped spinach instead of parsley, and only use 1/2 tsp of the balsamic vinegar)


  • Stuffed Shells (I might use the recipe from the box, or just make it up as I go along. Or you can tell me your favorite recipe in the comments..)
  • green beans



  • Leftover night

Other Updates:

  • It’s been a month so I need to do a big refrigerator clean-out this week.
  • I still need to finish going through the kids’ clothes. I’m hopeful I will be able to post about this soon.
  • I’m going to try posting a picture of my kitchen island once a week for a month(big clutter hot spot for me), so that we all can see just how clear I am keeping it. Some of you will be happy about this.  😛

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

Seeing the clutter with new eyes | Dinner guests

Well, I have a cleared island, and a mostly decluttered kitchen and living room, but I’m not that happy about it.

Can you guess why?

A bunch of the clutter was just moved to a different location.

What is it about guests coming over that changes the way I see? I suppose I see the clutter through their prospective eyes.

We had friends over for dinner on Tuesday (Yay!). So, I started thinking about cleaning up over the weekend.

I got a bit more serious and actually worked on it on Monday with the kids. It seemed like we accomplished quite a bit.

We cleaned the kitchen floor!

And the kids liked it!

 We decluttered and organized the children’s books in the living room!

We eventually got rid of that dirty sock, too.

We moved some of these books to another room, put some in a give away box, and put the rest in one red box that we keep in the living room (you can see it by the fireplace in a picture at the end of the post).

We cleaned out and organized the shoes, etc. that were pouring out of the coat closet!

Yes, most of those shoes were mine! I admit it!

We took most of them to the bedroom closets upstairs, and one pair is heading out the door. We are trying to just keep 1 or 2 pairs each in this closet.

That empty spot is for one pair of my shoes. Just one!

 Monday night I even made a ‘To Do’ list for Tuesday.

On Tuesday, I spent the day working on decluttering and cleaning (and of course making dinner), but it seemed to be going very s-l-o-w-l-y. At about 3:00, I realized that there was clutter everywhere. I was seeing clutter and dust that I hadn’t noticed in….months. It was worse than I thought.

Around 4:30 I started doing bad things with clutter. You know. The crazy desperate clean up. Throw everything into a container and hide it somewhere!

Trash, papers, toys, food….all together in laundry baskets in my husband’s office . Oh joy!

Hiding clutter. Nice.

 And check out this before picture of our fireplace.

There really is a fireplace behind there. For fun, look for Christmas items still there in August!

A lot of this is evil paper clutter that I thought surely I would sort through and organize if I put it right there in the living room!!! Nope. Apparently not.

This next picture shows the recycling that went straight from that pile out the door!

This recycling was just sitting with the other clutter. You know, just hanging out.

And now for the “After” picture. The “After-hiding-a-bunch-of-the-clutter-in-another-room” picture. Let’s try to get excited…

Still not perfect, but much better than before!

I know from my past that I really need to dig into those laundry baskets and boxes soon and not just ignore them. At the same time, I need to maintain the order that I have. I’m not expecting it to be easy, but I am going to fight for it!

By the way, we had lots of fun with our guests!

Do you know what else is fun?

I told them about my blog.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.

Menu Plan for the week of 8/7 – 8/13

I love summer!

How last week’s menu went:

I stuck very closely to the planned menu! In case you have been on pins and needles wondering what I decided to do with those pork chops, I cooked them on the stove instead of the grill, and made Drunken Pork Chops. I got the idea from the menu Laura@OrgJunkie posted, which linked to the recipe with lots of pictures that Newlyweds posted. Newlyweds originally found the recipe from Siggy Spice. I just love to give everyone credit! I served it over mashed potatoes. My family loved it and I will be making it again for sure.

Favorite meal from last week:

This is a tough one because it was a very yummy week. I’m going to choose the  BBQ Chicken Pizza (I use less chicken, and a mix of Gouda and Mozzarella cheeses), served with that watermelon up there.

Today’s motivation for menu planning:

Planning and shopping once a week saves me time! Making a grocery shopping list and actually looking at it while you are at the store helps, too!

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • leftover night


  • Meatloaf (I prefer to use petite diced tomatoes in this recipe)
  • sweet potatoes
  • green beans

Tuesday – dinner guests 🙂 Better get cleaning!



  • Pizza: one Buffalo Chicken pizza (I use a bit less of the chicken and blue cheese dressing. You must use Frank’s Hot Sauce if you want it to be right) and one regular cheese pizza with this crust (I double the recipe and use 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
  • Raw veggies and dip



Other Updates:

  • I hate to admit this, but the kitchen Island is now half covered. Must. Battle. Clutter.
  • There is progress happening on the kids’ clothes/dressers/closets! Stay tuned.

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.