Monday, January 31, 2011

Clutter Free closet

The shoes have been organized and purged. Now I have only the shoes that I use and I know what I need. After my de-cluttering, I am more aware of how difficult it is to keep shoes organized in a small space. Thus, I am on the look out for an organizer/ container for shoes. Keeping the eyes opened!

Thanks to all that work, I am able to now bask in an organized closet, with zero clutter. Now comes the hard work, keeping it that way.

Luckily, the shoes were a lot easier than I thought. So, I had time to work on the linen closet. I cleaned out several large bulky towels that we do not use. We store extra sheets in two flat, roller tubs under the bed. I now have it down to one tub and a tidy closet. Ah, there is nothing like clean space and lovely order to bring a thrill to my heart.

Next stop, orderly dresser!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Marble Blondies... Yum!

It is baking time again. Back at the troops with a little bit of chocolate and sugar to sweeten their February. In order to send them, it is best to bake in 8x8 containers. Then, wrap them in foil (after they have cooled). Next, wrap in saran wrap. Finally, place the pan in a gallon size ziplock. Which also allows you to label it. You can usually fit two of these pans in a medium flat rate box.

So, how did I make these blondies? Well, like most things I found a recipe and made it work for me. It called for milk chocolate chips, which I did not have. But I had a few left over Hershey bars. Make it work!

Marbled Blondies:

-1 1/8 C of all purpose flour
-1/2tsp of baking soda and salt (each)
-1/2 C of sugar
-1/2 C of brown sugar
-1/2 C of butter (softened)
- 1 tsp of Vanilla
-1 egg
-2 Hershey bars broken into little bits

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Cream butter, sugars and vanilla.
2. Add egg and mix.
3. Add salt and baking soda to flour.
4. Sift flour mixture into sugar mixture.
5. Pour batter into 8 x8 pan. Drop chocolate bits on top.
6. Put pan in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
7. Take out and swirl chocolate into batter with knife, making it marbled.
8. Put pan back in and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cannot get enough of San Francisco

I am almost done playing with my San Francisco pages. It was such fun, that I think I am trying to hold onto as much of the vacation as I can. One more page with lots of pics and then one last page with lots of journaling. And then... maybe I will be done.

This page could not be completed without the inspiration of Apron Strings blog and their sketch ideas. Thankfully, they have seen me through my San Francisco scrapping.

Most of you know that I am a paper lover! When new paper lines come out, I race to the store to see them. I try to check out as many sneak peeks as possible. Paper is one of the many things that I heart. HOWEVER, I am a hoarder. I cannot bear to let some paper go. As in, "it is too pretty to use." "I cannot find the right picture, occasion, stamp, etc. to go with it." "I can't just cut it up and use it on any old thing."

So, on these pages, I finally broke down and used my last sheet of Basic Grey Nook & Pantry and my only sheet of Lullaby Lane's Puppydogs and Pigtails. The flip sides of both are fabulous too, which led to a lot of dilemmas. And I am glad that I had paper worthy of such a wonderful city.

Now, if I can just find the perfect project to use up the leftover scraps. It may be another few years for that! Here is hoping.

Another page down...

Working through my San Francisco pictures and getting them scrapped. Thanks again to Apron Strings for the beautiful Cosmo Cricket Togetherness paper. Also, another good way to demonstrate multiple uses for Christmas paper. I used a strip of Bella Road's Everybody Loves Christmas line. The Target dollar spot provided lovely flowers and Chinatown provided the pictures. Could not get enough of little flowers and birds. Yeah!

It feels unfinished, but I think I just need to leave it alone. Lot's of times when I want to add, I usually ruin. Sometimes, you just have to walk away!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One page down...

Sketchy Thursdays does it again. Thanks to their inspiration, I am able to complete another page. This one highlights the relationship between my grandmother and my niece. Gillian holds Nana in the palm of her hand. Of course, Nana has Gillian's number too. I cannot get over how much fun it is to see Gilly with her great-grandmother.

Of course, this layout would not be complete with the help of my January Smaller than a Breadbox Apron Strings kit. Love Apron Strings! This kit was about Crate Paper's Snow Day collection. Thank goodness for double-sided paper! Makes the crafting a whole lot easier.

Another good day at the crafting table!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Clearing out the Shoes

This is the week that the closet enters its final stages of organization. I am tackling the shoes! If they do not fit, hurt my feet or I have not worn them in a year, they are going to a better home. This will help me as I attempt to build a shoe wardrobe. And it will help me as I attempt to live within the space I have.

Once again another thank you to the Organizing Junkie for getting me started!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Over half way there...

Well, the closet in now 2/3 finished. Last week, the sweaters, hats and bins on the shelf. This week, the rack and next week is shoes! I took everything out of my closet and asked the Clutter Rehab questions:
1. Do I love it?
2. Do I use it?
3. How long ago did I last use it? ( More than a year, gets tossed.)
4. Do I have room to store it without it affecting my efficiency and stress levels? (This one seemed to be the most key for me.)
5. Am I willing to give up something else in order to make room for it?
6. Can I imagine myself or anyone else in my family ever loving it or using it in the foreseeable future?

In conjunction with the closet clean out, I am also trying to organize/build a complete wardrobe. As stated before, I am tired of looking at a closet of clothes and thinking I have nothing to wear. So, there are a few standard pieces that everyone, from Tim Gunn to my grandmother, insist that I own. The basics are those that fill well and coordinate together.
The top 10 list of Tim Gunn is:
1. Little Black Dress
2. Trench coat
3. Dress pants
4. Classic Shirt
5. Jeans
6. Any occasion top or cardigan
7. Skirt
8. Day dress
9. Blazer/ Jacket
10. Casual outfit (think alternative to sweatsuit)

My grandmother would add a fun top with lots of color and at least two good t-shirts.

So, after having a clear out as they say in Europe, I am down to items that fit and am a little shy of the list. Time to watch sales and check out the consignment stores. Well, off to do laundry!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Be My Valentine

In addition to the Valentine candy holders, I could not resist making some fun Valentines. I have some 3x3 valentines and of course a few A2 size. Good times. I was able to play enough with the scraps and come up with some pretty delightful cards. Once again I relied on Pinecone Express's line to send a little love through the mail. Of course it never hurts to add a little bling! Here are the fruits of my Valentine Labor!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Under piles of laundry and lists of To do's

Well, we definitely had a great time on our vacation. You can tell, by the disaster that hit our home. I am now crawling out from underneath the housework and almost have the place looking like humans live here.

Although, I cannot even get upset by this, because San Francisco was incredible! Every day was another amazing experience and learning opportunity. Day one was a trek through Union Square and checking out the William Sonoma flagship store. Ah, cooking gadgets, cookbooks and pretty dishes always take me to my happy place. Then we walked down to the financial district to meet a friend for lunch. Along the way, we discovered a patch of nature in the form of a small redwood park provided by Transamerica. Finally, we made it to the Ferry building for some wildly good food. Next, onto the North Beach neighborhood for some italian gelato and tasty fudge. The evening ended in the Marina at a fabulous vegetarian restaurant called Greens.

Day two was full of fun food! We started the morning by checking out the Good Food award winners. Some delightful cheeses, preserves, chocolate and pickles. After breakfast, we had a two hour walking tour of Chinatown where we learned about history and fortune cookies. All good things. We had lunch at a Chinese vegetarian restaurant. So gooooood! We ended the evening with Little Star pizza down in the Mission. Followed by some creative ice cream at Bi-Lo Creamery. Dear husband had roasted banana and malted Vanilla. I had orange cardamom and honey lavender. Yum!

Day three was a walking fest. First we walked around Union Square and then used Bart to get us down to the Castro neighborhood. After checking out Harvey Milk's stomping grounds and a few gorgeous Victorian homes, we paused. We stretched, re-fueled at a local Mexican restaurant called El Toro and then began again. Our next stop was the most incredible cookbook store. No that is not a misprint. The Omnivore's Vintage Bookstore was terribly pleasant. I poured over books for nearly an hour and nearly bought up the store, before being reminded (a bit forcefully) that we were getting on a plane the next day. After all that walking, we stumbled back up to the Bart and took it back to the hotel.

All in all, I would recommend San Francisco to everyone. Good food, good exercise, and lots of delights around every corner.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Next on the agenda, the closet rack

This week's organizing project, the closet rack. This will take some time. It will be like a good novel, I'll laugh, I'll cry, I'll scream! Time to purge for real!! So many times, I have turned to this closet and said, " I have nothing to wear." I am hoping to eliminate this phrase from my language. Instead, I hope to clean out what I will not, cannot and do not want to wear. From there I will be able to add a few key pieces that work well together. I hope to eventually have a closet I can look at and say, "oh, I can wear that. Or maybe, I can wear this."

Baby steps on the road to a clean, organized closet!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Taming the beginnings of the closet

Thanks to Organizing Junkie, I developed a plan and stuck to it. This week, I needed to take back the closet shelf and organize my bulky items. So, I took everything out. Dusted the shelf and purged. Went through the steps: Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I wear it? After I cleaned out some older items and let go of a few things, I was set. Everything neatly folded and put away. Now I just have to keep it that way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gearing up for Valentine's Day

Most people know that I am a part of an organization called Soldiers' Angels. This organization works to get volunteers to send letters, packages and baked goods to our troops stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Because it takes a while for mail to get to them, we have to send out items early. So, I am working on my valentines. Thanks to a few blogs out there that provide instructions for candy bar wrappers, I am set. I created about 12 valentine candy holders filled with Hershey bars. I used Pinecone Press Papers, their Red Hots sheet and some pink and cream card stock. The stamp set is one I have had for a few years now, and I am not sure who makes it. I got it on sale a few years ago at Archivers in Louisville. I love the little girl and boy! They are so cute and make me feel like coloring.

Now, I just have to get them in the mail!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A cold, crafty day

Sometimes when the temperature dips, it's a good idea to stay inside and play with paper. Once again, I pulled out my December Apron Strings Smaller than a Breadbox kit and played. First, I scrapbooked a few pictures of my niece, Gillian. These were taken as she and I took a nice winter walk. I used the bright red cardstock and the Jillibean soup Christmas Chestnut soup line. The two sheets I leaned on the most were the turkish bay leaf and the white sugar. After I created the layout, I could not resist playing with some of the scraps. I cut out the mittens and used them as embellishments on mini thank you cards for the holidays. A good day here in Los Angeles despite the chilly outside.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Continuing the Pantry Raid

In keeping with Good and Cheap Eats plan to clean out the pantry for the month of January, I sat down to plan for week two. We are now 10 days into January and 10 days into this food project. The Marina dropped down to 50 degrees today, so a little cup of mandarin orange green tea was in order. Thanks Lipton!

We are going out of town for a few days, so those meals are taken care of. But Monday through Thursday are mine. Monday, we had spicy black bean soup with turkey burritos. Tuesday is chicken pot pie night and Wednesday is looking like turkey burgers with gravy and roasted vegetables. Thursday will be good for leftovers. Use them up before we head out.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Organized in 2011

I suffer from too-much-stuffitis! Thankfully, Organizing Junkie is starting a new 2011 goal of weekly organizing projects. 52 projects off my to do list, how could I pass this up. I couldn't!

So, now I am beginning the list of 52 projects. I find it easier to break down the larger challenges (read: trouble spots) into smaller ones. So, first item on the to do list is cleaning off the shelf in my closet.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Starting Birthday planning

It's the beginning of January and I am trying to get all my ducks in a row! Of course I try this every January. This year, I am trying to make up a big batch of birthday cards for the year.

Ashley Connelly at The Creative Place had a fabulous suggestion. She encouraged crafters to put together card kits. Cutting the paper down to the sizes needed, stamping the message and adding embellishments. Then when you have some free time, just assemble.

So, I tried her suggestion. A few months ago, I saw some paper, cardstock and ribbon that just made me giddy. I sat down and cut and organized. A few days later, I stamped the message on my cut cardstock. A few days after that, I managed to cut the ribbon to size. All of these items were stored in a quart size baggie (a crafter's best friend) awaiting the assembly process.

Today, I finally sat down and assembled. Now, I have a start on my birthday cards. Still have a few more to make, but that is another kit and another day. Thanks Ashley for the great tip.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Back in the craft saddle again

The folks at Snapfish have sent me my Christmas photos. Add that to the December Apron Strings kit I have been itching to play with and we have a layout. I went online to the Apron Strings blog and used their suggestions for Friday 5 Challenge. I also went to Sketchy Thursday and used their sketch as a jumping off point. I had a lot of fun with this layout. Used Fancy Pants Designs Tradition the stripe and scallop sheet. It's double sided and I was able to use one sheet both sides. I then also altered a journal card from the same line. I used a strip of velvet ribbon which I cut into two pieces and one button from my stash.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recycle Food?

"Use it up, wear it out. Make it do, or do without." Words to live by! As part of my food recycling plan I am working harder at using up all the little bits of food I used to toss. Today, it is the chicken carcass... stock anyone?

Thanks to my wonderful mother in law, the cooking genius, I have a fantastic recipe for chicken stock. Now, you are probably thinking, "a recipe? It's chicken bones and water." But you would be missing out on some good flavor if you stopped right there. To the chicken bones and water, add one bay leaf, and one cut up onion. Yum! Also, if you have it, include the chicken skin in the stockpot.

If you have never made broth (like me about 6 months ago) you may be wondering at what temperature and how long you simmer. I simmer at about medium to low heat and I simmer until it looks like broth. Sometimes this can be up to 2 hours. That is a good time to do laundry or another task that could take some time.

Additional notes: There are a lot of other ways to recycle food. Here are just a few:
1. Beet greens in stir-fries, risotto, or sauteed with garlic
2. Add vinegar and oil to the mustard jar and shake. Voila, you have salad dressing.
3. Leftover stirfry can be thrown in the pan and beaten egg poured over it, makes a tasty breakfast.
4. Hard bread ends and stale muffins can be used for croutons. Cut into chunks, spray with oil and season to taste. Then bake.
5. Squished fruit can be saved for smoothies or canning recipes. Stick it in a baggie and pop it in the freezer until it is needed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Always look on the bright side of food

Life is full of tradeoffs. If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain. California has many trade offs. While I am not wild about a 9.6% sales tax, I do so love being able to go the farmers market in January. The silver linings of life can be quite tasty sometimes.

Yesterday, like a I do every Tuesday afternoon, I hopped on the number 1 Culver City bus. Headed down Washington and got off at the Culver City farmer's market. I snagged all kinds of goodies, including some fun olive bread.

Then promptly came home to make roasted chicken with oranges and red onion. I cleaned out the chicken and dried it. Next, I zested one orange and mixed it with a tablespoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of salt. Then I sliced the orange and one red onion. I also took two stalks of celery and cut them in half.

I salted the cavity of the chicken. Then, I rubbed the zest mixture under the skin over the meat of the breast and legs. Next, I rubbed canola oil over the skin of the chicken and filled the cavity with the onion and orange slices and the celery pieces.

Lastly, I placed it in a baking dish and roasted it for 62 minutes at 400 degrees. Or until the thermometer read 170 degrees.

Unfortunately, I only have before pictures. Once again, I was so busy getting ready to eat it, I have no final picture. Sorry folks! But I have it on good authority (dear husband and self) that it is delicious!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Raiding the Pantry

Thanks to Good and Cheap Eats, I am inspired to clean out the pantry.

The plan is to buy only dairy and produce, and the rest of the meal comes from the freezer or pantry. We are saving a few pennies on the groceries this month.

Tonight, we are having butternut squash soup and salad. Tuesday, roasted chicken with oranges and red onion (stock to be made later). Wednesday our line up is turkey-mushroom patties with roasted veggies and Thursday is our standard homemade pizza night. Friday is roasted turkey breast with stuffing, cooked mainly by my handy-dandy crockpot. All of this should provide leftovers for Saturday and most of Sunday. I will have a chicken pot pie in reserve, just in case.

Thus, all that is left is to begin deepening my relationship with the stove!