Playing Catch-Up: Clutter Free Challenge

I know, I know.  I have left you all behind! The Clutter-free countdown watch has stopped! But I got a new “battery”, and here we must go on!

I need to Clear the Clutter!

Please no judgement~ This may take some time…

To recap, we have conquered(!):

Day 1: Preparation (Read: Clean your house first!)
Day2: Entryway
Day3: Mail
Day4: Living Room
Day5: Books & Magazines
Day6: DVDs & CDs
Day7: Toys
Day8: Junk Drawer
Day 9: Dining Room
Day 10: Kitchen Counters
Day 11: Kitchen Cupboards & Drawers
Day 12: Pantry
Day 13: Master Bedroom
Day 14: Master Closet & Drawers

Here’s where I left you hangin’ on!

Days 15, and 16 are the Master Bathroom and Bathroom Drawers (separately).

Days 17 and 18 are the Kid’s Bedrooms and Closets.  – Okay, so I have 4 kids my loyal reader(s) (haha), so you are feelin’ me when I tell you, this may take longer than a day, right? Right! Actually, I had tackled this one pre-countdown a bit, so for now, I may be able to just declutter a weensy bit!

Day 19 is the Kid’s Paperwork, AKA my command center.  This is an ALWAYS task.  Not just for one day, and it creeps into crazy if I let it go, as is my usual routine, so a before and after will be easy.  Also, it takes only a second to clean it up a bit, but the long-term solution is the one that may take longer.

Day 20: Kid’s Bathroom

Day 21: Laundry Room & Linen Closet

Day 22:  And here we are today. I am working today.  I have an after work meeting at 7:00, which leaves me exactly one hour to get my kids fed and off to their scheduled practices on time. Perhaps a recap tomorrow on Days 17-22? Day 23? Can I de-clutter a backlog of 9 days worth of clutter, all in one day, and get ready for my company coming this weekend, and kid activities to boot?   Probably not.  I will have to prioritize a bit.  This is why I am Hardly a Goddess, people!  But, “striving to the best H.A.G., that I can be.  Every.  Single.  Day.

Stay tuned for lots of Before & Afters! {to the great horror of my dear mother.  Sorry, Mom!}

Follow along yourself at #LWSLClutterFree!

Mom’s Original Pumpkin Bread

Best Pumpkin Bread

I can smell sometimes more than taste, the memories of home in this beautiful pumpkin bread. If you could just be in my house right now to smell this yourself, you would know it is Fall and a rainy day like today, requires warm bread from the oven, sweet napping kids, and fresh flowers. Nice.

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Mom’s Original Pumpkin Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. ground clove
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

Measure out the dry ingredients and mix together well.

In a separate bowl mix the pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Mix well.

Add the wet to the dry and mix until combined.

Pour into two greased loaf pans.

Bake at 350° about 50-60 minutes until center is cooked (insert knife, in center. If it comes out clean, it is done). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn the pan on its side for 5 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside of the pan to release the loaf. Cool on a wire rack.

http://hardlyagoddess.com/moms-original-pumpkin-bread/

I can’t wait to welcome the girls off the school bus to this:

Best Pumpkin Bread

Yum!

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And now, I have one for the freezer to enjoy when I least expect it! Yum!

One pumpkin bread for the freezer

6 Crockpot Ready Freezer Meals

6 easy freezer Crockpot Meals

I get paid once a month.  Needless to say, budgeting is not easy, so when I am down to the wire, and doing a “pantry challenge” it is sometimes like trying to make a meal out of beans, and salsa.

I sometimes will do a semi-freezer cooking day, but it is the usual fare, of recipes that I know how to make by heart: chili, taco soup, meatballs.  This time I wanted to put together some crock-pot freezer meals for the days that I work, to just be able to pull out the night before to thaw and throw in the pot before I leave for work.

Today, I worked from a list that I put together last night.  So the process for me is twofold.  First is making the list of recipes I will make for the freezer, writing down all the ingredients needed at the store, or stores, as the case is with me.  I like to buy my meat in one store and my other groceries at another.  I could easily shop at 4 stores to get the best prices, and I sometimes do, but for this shop, I just did 2 stores. Oy.

The second part of the process starts once the shopping is done.  I pull out all the gallon sized bags, and my sharpie.  Sometimes I cut up all the veggies first, so the meat won’t contaminate anything.  This time though, I cut the meat in one area, then put in their respective bags.  After the meat was cut, I washed down the counters, changed the cutting board, and started the veggies.  It is easier to cut all the specific veggies you need across all the recipes, than to do each recipe at a time.  It is kind of like an assembly line and it saves tons of time in my view.  After you fill the bags, squeeze out the air, and zip them up.  Double bag any with liquids.  Sharpie your meal name, and instructions on the bag: BBQ legs, low 6-8, serve with rice.” That kind of instruction.  Very detailed right?

It is hard to give you a total price, since I was shopping for the next week for lunches and snacks too, but the round number is $40 for the meat and for the groceries that I didn’t have it was only $35.  I know that sounds super low for some or hight for others, but my grocery store is awesome. and I am happy with the cost spent.  It is the kind of store where you bag your own groceries and you pay a quarter for your cart, which you get back when you return the cart…incentive to bring carts back to the carriage return I think.  Anyhoo… It has great produce for super cheap.  Since all these meals just call for meat and veggies with some type of sauce before freezing, I didn’t need a lot of extra stuff.

You can find some of these recipes here, or here, otherwise they were my own.  The low down is that I prepped and froze:

Creamy Chicken Soup (crockpot)
Lamb Curry (crockpot)
Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Veggies (crockpot)
Chicken Fajitas (crockpot)
BBQ Chicken Legs (oven or crockpot)

Then, I had to NOT freeze my dinner for tomorrow morning’s prep before work, so I just assembled and left in a bag in the fridge, Chicken Sweet Potato Stew.

I now have  6 meals prepped, and have meat not-prepped, but ready for me to make:

tacos
cabbage rolls
homemade pizza
Sunday Sauce (for pasta)
Corn Chowder with Ham

So technically 11 meals.  Totally worth the one hour shopping trip, and 2.5 hours of prepping.  But it was a bit hectic.  I think I can plan it better next time…and make more room in my freezer (picture is NOT pin-worthy) as I only have one and it is stuffed!

Freezer Stuffed with Easy Crockpot Meals

Clutter Free Day #14! Master Closet Re-do

If you’ve been following along, I have been slowly trying to get my house de-cluttered following a specific plan.  There are lots of other people focusing on organization right now, I think with the upcoming holiday season closing in on us.  I think the fall is a great time to organize, as it lets you take stock of what you have accumulated in the house for clothes, toys, and junk in general before it starts coming in again with Christmas or Hannukah presents and parties that you buy for to spruce up your home.

I have a running wish-list of improvements that I would like to make, and purchases that are needed to fix up our house, and I have barely made a dent in it in four years.  Did I tell you already, that I have 4 year old twins?

See how that works? Life gets in the way, as many of you know, but I still have some minor wish-list improvements that don’t require that I hire someone to do work, or spend money:

  • Decorate the front porch
  • Organize the “sewing room”
  • Frame and Hang art-work by the kids
  • Improve the window treatments for energy saving and beautifying
  • Paint – several projects with this one
  • Organize and put away clutter

See that last one? It is free and gets my house in good shape for functioning everyday, and for visitors.  In two weeks I have four of my girl-friends coming to stay the weekend, with their kids and one husband.  The week after that I have about 25 eight year olds coming for a birthday party.  So this de-cluttering project is very timely for me!

Enter today’s project.  The master bedroom closet and drawers.  Gone are the socks with holes, old clothes, and junk drawer next to my bed.  Now, my husband’s junk drawer will remain un-touched. That is his domain, and I am off the hook with that one.

Pictures:

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Sometimes the  “before”s are pretty awful! I am trying! My mother would be appalled! But I am the proud owner of some straightened out drawers, and now onto Day #15 Master Bathroom de-Clutter…oh boy!

 

Goal Accomplished: Running a Marathon!

running a marathon!I

After months of training, and lots of stress about, “can I do this?”, “why am I doing this?”, or “is this stupid?,” I have accomplished a long-standing goal of mine: to run a marathon.

Did I answer my questions? Yes! I CAN do this, I am fulfilling a dream, and this is stupid…but SO worth it, and not really stupid when you look at the broader picture of the former two answers.  I think it is important to set goals for yourself, not only to give yourself something to work toward and to give you a sense of purpose and challenge in your life, but also in the accomplishing of the task, to give you fulfillment.  I enjoy the journey, the ride, but the finish is the sweet ending to this story…as miles 18-24 brought a keen awareness of my lack of physical strength, but also a sense of my very good emotional, mental strength.  I am way strong people.  I can take it.  Mentally, I am nails, and my body is the jello!

reaching the end of marathon

The end, was a welcome boost to my diminishing resolve. But then, I could really sense that this was almost over, and I didn’t want to leave any energy in me to spare.  So I booked the last 2 1/2 miles to finish strong – and happy.

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And then, because we had the kids at my in-laws, I got a date with my MoonDog.

date post marathon

Awesome selfie, huh? You can tell we don’t get out much!

Reflecting on my mindset over the race has been pretty interesting.  I can laugh about it a bit, but it really was mind-blowing for me.  The bell-curve of emotions and physicality of it are a metaphor for life: Easy at the start, and I was very thankful for the opportunity to do this…as thing got more challenging, I was nervous, my faith waning…then as things got really bad, when even the mantras and positive self-talk didn’t help, I was cursing the existence and idea of the marathon…then nearing the end, and sensing a relief, my positive outlook came back in spades with a new-found resolve and faith to carry me through until the finish.  Hmmm.  See what I mean?

Other than the deep-thoughts that 4 1/2 hours of running (without people to talk to or listening to music) will give you, it also gave me a bad knee (but not a broken one!) and an inability to walk today, the day after! HAHA to me! Serves me right! Once I start walking again, this is going to be great! Right?  We shall see.  What is next? This also, we shall see. Stay tuned!

 

 

Day #13 of Clutter-Free Challenge

Day 13 of my 31 days challenge is the master bedroom.

I feel after absorbing Days 11 & 12 into day 10 (as they all related to a major kitchen de-cluttering) that I need to refocus my efforts a bit.  While my bedroom is generally not very cluttered, it IS dusty and sometimes the clothes just sort of find a home on my bedroom chair.

So, a little cleaning and de-cluttering of my clothes IN the drawers is where I focused my efforts today.

Out: holey sock, underwear, clothes for the summer, out of style clothes, clothes I didn’t wear all summer or last winter, shoes that I won’t wear more than once this year.  I think that is a good start.  Also, clearing out my bedside table to only have a lamp and a book is also nice.  Maybe some tissues; maybe an alarm clock – his and hers.

See? It’s so hard to clear the clutter! I need so much near me at all times it seems!