Clutter Countdown Day 28: Control Center

Oh man.  This is the 2nd time I am clearing the decks on this one in just over a month!

For whatever reason the “control center” or some call it “command center,” is the catch-all for my family’s crap! Paper, keys, phones, chargers, loose change, school sheets to sign, lunches unpacked from bags, and so much more that can really add up.

Catch all

Take a breath! I know this is gross, but you will see how awesome 30 minutes of my kids plopped in front of a tv show was for me! (read: veeeery educational and child appropriate tv show.  Good mom.)

Anyhoo. Here is more of the “before”:

Clutter Clearing the Command Center

And the shelves up close:

Bookshelves de-cluttered

Gross! Okay, so now drumroll… Er, well.  Here’s the “after”:

After clutter clearing 20141028_112557

See the folders on the right?  that is the area where I keep papers from school for the kids.  The cubbies above this area hold music, sunglasses, and coupons.  The one area I would like to improve, but would need to spend money on (which is not today!) is the wires.  I would love a box that holds electronics and hides them while charging.  I have seen lots and lots but never can quite decide.

I had to show you the  picture of the doors shut, as that is even better, and less cluttered looking! But here is how nice my cookbooks look now:

bookshelf organized

 

Nice, right? Now I can see them!  Is it fun to see what cookbooks I actually use? I love seeing other peoples bookshelves- especially their cookbooks.  That HUGE blue thing is the cookbook that I use the most: Mine! It has all my cut-outs and copies and go-to recipes that I use over, and over in it, organized like a regular cookbook, except better because I use it all the time! That needs a night of browsing through and organizing all by itself!

So excited for this new little organizing project that was quick to start and finish! My 31 days are almost done! whoowhoot!  The keeping it up and nice and clutter free is the real challenge, and a daily one at that!

Clutter Free Days 22-27: The Home Office

Day 22 – Home Office
Day 23- Bills & Paperwork
Day 24 – Digital Data
Day 25 – Photographs
Day 26 - Guest Bedroom- done!
Day 27- Craft Supplies- done!
Be still my heart, the weekend is over.  Sigh.
After a wonderful visit with 4 of my life-long (literally) childhood friends and their children this weekend, it is back to a quiet week of just the 6 of us in my somewhat (hahaha)organized home!  We are just a few days behind for you, so if you are following along the Clutter-Free path, we are just a few days away from the finish!
I have to admit that day 22 – HOME OFFICE has stopped me in my tracks.  I don’t even want to start.  Because then, I will have to move onto day 24 and 25 which are just looming above, as day-long, not a quick fix, type of projects.
Day 26 is done and so is 27; I keep my craft supplies to just about zero, now that I have kids, and use theirs instead!   I had gone through all their things at the end of summer, as I was organizing a bit before school started.  While it isn’t perfect, it is okay for now, and I’d rather spend the time in the office de-cluttering.
So, let’s start with some office inspiration as I try to get started in on the office, photos (online and printed), bills & paper, and computer files:
office ideas
Image Source Inspiration:
  1. Home Heart Harmony Blog: Command Center Central
  2. Bhg Blog: Crafty Living
  3. Bhg Blog

 Wow! I love the tech-organizer of the #1 picture, the wide work table of #2, and the comfort of #3.  All of them beautiful, and none realistic for me…but VERY inspiring!  As my lovely friend says, “it is time to create a vision-board.”  Yes, indeed. Time to get started with the doing, now, and not just the pinning!

Nutella-Stuffed Pumpkin Cookies

These are ah.mahz.ing! Completely and utterly, ridiculously, great cookies.

I think it is rude, and bad manners to put someone else’s brilliant recipe in your own blog, pretending it your own. So I won’t.  But you can find it here, at Ambitious Kitchen. She is brilliant, in my book, for these Nutella lovelies on their own.

Nutella Stuffed Pumpkin cookies

Please, please make them.  While they are a bit more effort than your standard chocolate-chip cookies, they are worth every little labor you put into making them.  And really, how hard is it to make cookies? This is easy!

My technique trick was to do them in an assembly-line kind of fashion, and keeping the dough and nutella cold, for easy “stuffing.”

Nutella Stuffing

 

I made a pile of teaspoons full of nutella, and then froze them for easy insertion into the cookie dough as the recipe recommends, but actually just using a knife and just a tip of cold nutella placed in the middle of dough was way easier.  I thought pre-scooping the dough into one tablespoon amounts first made the process easier too.

* I did change the recipe a bit, as you know I like to do…I used 1/4 cup of brown butter, and 3Tbsp. of canola oil, in place of the 1/2 cup brown butter that she recommends.  I still got the flavor, but less saturated fat, and now I have enough butter to make a second batch! :)

Rolled nutella cookies

 

She is genius. These are awesome.

finished nutella stuffed cookies

I have to show you this again:

20141023_145655

Let me know what you think!

Cooking Dried Beans in the Crockpot

This is a go-to.  Saving you money, and BPA from canned beans.  Here you go.  You’re welcome.

Cooking Dried Beans in the Crockpot

Ingredients

  • Dried Beans
  • 4 Quart Crockpot

Instructions

• Note: Do not cook Kidney beans (red beans) in your crockpot, as they have a toxin that is released during cooking, that is not safe for crockpot cooking. Use this technique for white or black beans only.

First you have to pre-soak the beans. Overnight is WAY too much planning for me, unless I am putting this in the crockpot first thing in the morning, so I usually do this:

1. Quick Soak:

Take a bag of dried beans and pour into a colander. Rinse and pick out any beans that are broken in half or shriveled or the skins that have come off the beans. Discard these gross ones.

Rinse the rest of the good beans and put in a pot, covering with water by about 2 inches.

Bring to a boil, and turn the heat off. Let soak for one hour. Drain.

After one hour, they are not cooked, but are ready for the crockpot (or any other method of cooking.

2. Crockpot.

Spray a 4 quart crockpot with non-stick spray or oil mist.

Take the pre-soaked beans and dump in the pot.

Cover the beans with water- about 2 inches over the top of the beans.

Cook on low for 8 hours, until beans are bite-tender (use your tester: your teeth!)

http://hardlyagoddess.com/cooking-dried-beans-in-the-crockpot/

 

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!

Update  and my conclusion after 2 hours:  Seriously! Procrastination & Distraction are my ENEMY!

After: Clutter Free 20141023_095643

And look at the linen closet (just a peek) but I have tons of “new” napkins in a bin in addition to this, that I haven’t used…because I couldn’t see them.  Erg!

linen closet organized20141023_095740

So much more to do, but I am making a dent.  Progress is underrated.  :)

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.

20141021_142503

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!

20141021_145545

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

One pumpkin bread for the freezer