Monthly Archives: November 2011

Menu Plan for the Week 11/27 – 12/3 and a link color question for you

From Thanksgiving: Anna really wanted to try on Grandma's glasses

How last week’s menu went:

There were a couple of changes to last week’s menu. When I pulled the chicken thighs out of the refrigerator for the Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs, they did not smell right at all, so into the trash they went. It was only the day after the ‘sell by’ date! I still need to see if I can find that receipt to get a replacement. At least I have the spice mix all ready for when I have boneless skinless thighs again. My sister was coming for dinner that night, so she was sweet and bought us a couple of rotisserie chickens instead.

We had some of the chicken leftovers instead of the Tortellini Soup, so that has been bumped to this week.

The awesome Mr. RSS took it upon himself to use the rest of the leftover chicken and bones to make a huge batch of homemade hearty chicken noodle soup. He was very resourceful digging around the fridge/freezer/pantry/garden to find stuff to throw in there. We ate the soup instead of having a leftover night on Saturday. And it was yummy!

Twice Baked Bourbon Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m going with Thanksgiving dinner! It was at my parents’ house and there were 11 of us there. Sweet family time and great food. I tried a new recipe for  Twice Baked Bourbon Hazelnut Sweet Potatoes (I used Scotch and pecans because that’s what I had on hand), and we all liked them very much. It was a good “special occasion” recipe. As usual, we enjoyed making Swedish Flat Bread together. 

Making Swedish Flat Bread

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • Daddy’s hearty chicken noodle soup (leftovers)






  • Homemade Pizza (I’ll use this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour. I double the recipe and also knead the dough after mixing.) I’m thinking about a ham and pineapple pizza this week.
  • Raw veggies

A link color question for you:

For many months I made any links in my posts blue, but lately I started leaving them black. I’m thinking about switching back to blue, but I thought I would ask you first to see if there was a reader preference.  Which link color do you prefer? Blue or black?

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans

My Yard Sale Experience | Yard Sale Pros & Cons

A couple of weeks ago we participated in a group yard sale with some other families from our Financial Peace University class. The last time I participated in a real yard sale was about 10 years ago, so I feel like I have some fresh thoughts.

I was excited to participate, but I had a slow start on gathering things to sell. I really didn’t get serious about it until 2 days before the sale.

I had some sorting and prep work to do with the baby clothes.

I had the kids go through our VHS tapes and DVD’s to pick some to sell. They also helped pick some toys to sell.

Mr. RSS did some cleaning out and gathering of items mostly from his office (also used as storage).

On Friday evening I was really wishing I had more time to gather things for the sale, so starting earlier is a good lesson for us if we do this again. There’s a lot more stuff we could have gotten out of here!

Here we are all set up. We had 5 tables worth of stuff here:

Indoor Yard Sale Set Up


Lots of baby girl clothes


Toys and baby stuff


books, DVD's, microphone stands


More baby stuff

These bookcases have a little story. At the yard sale, someone said they wanted to buy them, talked us down to $30 for both, and said they needed to come back to pick them up. Well, they never came back. Argh!

But the story ends well. Mr. RSS decided to post them on Craigslist for $75, and a very nice young man just bought them yesterday and paid $80, saying that he loved them and didn’t want the $5 change. Sweet!

Our grand total from the yard sale was $66.00.


I have mixed feelings about yard sales, so I decided to make a little pro/con list based on our experience.

Yard Sale Pros

  • Solid deadline to work towards
  • Fun doing it with a group
  • We got rid of some clutter
  • Made a little money
Yard Sale Cons
  • A lot of work/time
  • Not a lot of money earned for the time spent
  • Still need to deal with the leftover stuff
Concluding Thoughts and Plans:
  • Maybe yard sales are good for things that aren’t worth the time/effort to sell on Craigslist/eBay
  • We’re going to try to sell some of the other leftover stuff on Craigslist. I think I’m going to take the nicer baby clothes to a consignment shop, and the rest will be donated.
  • I’m really glad we participated, because it did get us motivated and moving on getting rid of STUFF we don’t need!

What do you think about yard sales?

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


Filed under Declutter

2 Super Simple Thankful Activities

Here in the USA we are celebrating Thanksgiving. I thought I would share a couple of very simple (and fun) ways to incorporate thankfulness on this day or really any day would work! So, Happy Thanksgiving!

This first one is a tradition from my husband’s family. It’s perfect to do while you are sitting around the Thanksgiving table.

Kernels of Thanks

1. Pass around a bowl or basket of popcorn kernels (unpopped), and ask everyone to take a small handful.

2. Each person takes a turn and shares one thing they are thankful for for each kernel they have.

Of course, if you don’t have popcorn kernels, you can use something else to pass around.

Thanksgiving 2010

I’m Thankful Game

This idea came from a book we’ve been reading called My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts by Susan Hunt. The verse for letter U is “Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks” Psalm 75:1, and in the story for that verse, the family plays this little game.

Each person takes a turn giving a clue about something they are thankful for, and the others try to guess what it is. We played this with the kids, and it was really fun! Great for in the car, too!


With all of these thankful thoughts, I thought I would share my simple thankful list for today:

A warm home and warm socks

A husband who loves me, encourages me, and is a great father to our children

Chai tea and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins

Ella with her sweet and helpful spirit

Gabe with his hugs and inquisitive nature

Anna with her exuberance and toddler speak

Jesus: I’m lost without Him

You! Thanks for reading 🙂

Do you have any activities or traditions for sharing thankfulness?

Disclosure: The book link in this post is an affiliate link, so if you click on it and buy anything at Amazon, your price stays the same, but I get a small percentage of the purchase price. Same goes for the Amazon ad in the sidebar. Thanks!


Filed under Life, Priorities, Simple Fun

Hot Spot Check Up: Revisiting Kitchen Island

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m returning to the kitchen island, which is the hot spot that started this whole thing to begin with. 

Oh, Kitchen Island, how I’ve missed decluttering you! 

Here’s a before picture:

I actually took a second before picture from a different angle just to show you that I did at least have a small area that was clear… (Am I just trying to make myself feel better here? Whatever works!)

Here’s the after picture:

The story with the island seems to be the same as with most areas I work on. After it gets cleaned up and decluttered, I’m able to keep it looking nice for a while, and then just a few things are sitting there out of place or “just for now.” and it still looks pretty good…

But then those items start to invite all of their friends. And those friends invite even more clutter friends until it’s a wild and crazy clutter party.

I’m thinking maintenance is key. Need to work on that.

I’m so happy to have my island looking clean and clear. I’m a much happier cook with more space. And there’s a more peaceful feel to the kitchen this way as well. And I do have some cooking to do…


Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up

Menu Plan for the Week 11/20 – 11/26 | Eating from the pantry/freezer

How last week’s menu went:

Well, I had a few changes to last week’s menu. I didn’t make the Hamburger Vegetable Soup or the Spinach Stuffed Shells, so I’m bumping both to this week. One night we had a leftover night, and I can’t remember what we did the other night – maybe it was another leftover night?

Once again, I didn’t get the Autumn Sausage Casserole in the crock pot in time, so I made it like the original recipe instead. Also, I used a different kind of sausage (roasted red pepper and garlic chicken sausage) and I have to say that I much prefer it with the apple chicken sausage that I usually use.

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m picking the Spinach and Bacon Quiche (I used less bacon). I love that the recipe uses fresh spinach and I love the consistancy of the egg mixture. All five of us enjoy this, and the leftovers are great for lunch.

This Week’s Menu Plan

I’m trying to eat from the pantry/freezer this week to save money and force myself to use the food that is already in the house!


  • Beans and Franks – leftover hot dogs, canned baked beans, molassas, brown sugar, ketchup, minced onion, hot sauce
  • Mixed veggies




Thursday – Happy Thanksgiving!

  • We’ll have Thanksgiving  dinner at my parents’ house. I’m bringing something – maybe yams and/or pies
  • I know we are also having: Turkey, stuffing, gravy, corn casserole, Swedish flat bread, salad (and there may be more…)



  • Leftovers

Other Updates

  • I’m excited that the kids have no school all week!
  • The yard sale report really is coming this week!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans

Hot Spot Check Up: Desk – Week 7 | Success!

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

Do you know that I was so excited to get to the bottom of that paper clutter box, that I didn’t even stop to take a before picture? It looked pretty much the same as the after picture from last week.

I went to work, but I didn’t set a timer, because I was determined to get to the bottom of that box and I wasn’t going to stop until I was there. I knew I could do it. And it sure helps that I told you to expect it!

Now, are you ready to see a thing of beauty?

I really debated about whether I should do something creative or special at the bottom of the box, but then I decided…


I’m going to let the elegance of this empty cardboard box stand on its own.



Maybe I should frame that picture for inspiration. There are many more boxes to go through!

Here are my sorted piles and the very full recycle box:

I filed the To File pile. Yes indeed.

Mr. RSS’s pile is ready for him. Marvelous.

The Take Action pile moved to the desk. AND you’ll be happy to know that I took some action on several items. Maybe those of you with a keen eye can even see the difference.

Of course I did some other decluttering and organizing on the desk, too.

Here’s the desk before:

Here’s the desk after:

What I’ve learned in the last 7 weeks:

  • Even though my progress was slow, I worked on the desk and the paper clutter every week in small chunks (usually with a timer). Slow and steady wins the race, right? I’m creating good habits. It doesn’t happen overnight. Here’s where I started 7 weeks ago.
  • Mail – open it right away (or at least the same day!), recycle the junk, file right away, and of course have a place for things that need action (for me, on the desk next to the computer).
  • Accountability works. Thanks for checking in on me. You motivate me. I hope I can motivate you, too.

I think I’m ready for a new clutter hot spot. Next week, I’m going to revisit the kitchen island, since some of you (OK, 2 of you) have requested to see how it’s looking these days. And I do want to revisit this desk in the not-too-distant future. There’s more work to do here for sure, but for now it is under control.

So after I revisit the kitchen island, what should I work on next? Some places I’m considering:

  • The “entryway” (coat closet and hooks by the front door)
  • The top of the stereo cabinet
  • The kitchen counter by the dishwasher/phone
  • Another idea from my lovely readers?


And by the way, how is your desk looking today?


Filed under Before and After, Hot Spot Check Up, Paper Clutter

Menu Plan for the Week 11/13 – 11/19

Chicken Divan, Lightened Up

How last week’s menu went:

I stuck to last week’s menu exactly!

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m picking two favorites this week. The Chicken Divan, Lightened Up went really well! I decided not to tell the kids that I was using a different recipe and they ate it up as usual and had no idea it was a healthier version! To make it more similar to the way I usually make it I used cheddar cheese and added curry powder. I may try to increase the sauce a bit the next time. I served it over brown rice. We loved it!

The next one is not a big surprise. The Baked Ziti. I used all ground beef this time. It’s easy to make, everyone loves it, and the leftovers are great.

Baked Ziti

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Tuna salad sandwiches – simple tuna salad with tuna (Ha!), mayo, Dijon mustard, celery, green pepper, and seasoning
  • raw carrots
  • apple slices



  • Balsamic Chicken (new crockpot recipe I’m trying)
  • pasta
  • salad or green beans




  • Homemade Pizza (I’ll use this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour. I double the recipe and also knead the dough after mixing.)
  • Raw veggies


Other Updates

  • My house is a mess! Need to work on that this week. Starting with the living room and kitchen.
  • There’s a yard sale report coming this week!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans

Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 6

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

OK! I’m feeling some good progress this week. Doing the hot spot check up with the desk has helped me to be more aware of all of the paper around the house. And we have been doing a good job of not letting the mail pile up. Most of it goes right to the recycle bin. Yay!

I worked on my paper clutter box for 15 minutes, timed.

Here’s the before:

And I had the papers all nicely sorted, too. Then I ran out of time to deal with all the papers and unfortunately left them right where they were for a while.

When I got back to them, they looked like this:

Hmpf. I had to redo some of it to get it back to this (the box with the clown paper is the recycle box):

Do you see how close we are to the bottom of that paper clutter box?? Next week, baby. Empty paper clutter box. Come expecting to see it.

Then I filed the file pile. Yes!

I put Mr. RSS’s things on his desk. Yes!

And I put the take action pile on the desk with the other take action stuff. Ye….mmm….Okay.

But I did go through the take action pile a little and got rid of a few things. OK, I picked some easy ones!

Then I worked on the desk. Here’s how it looked before:

And after:

I even did some dusting on the desk! Woohoo!

Other Updates:

  • The yard sale prep is going really slowly. I hope to get more done tomorrow!
  • I started working on a cleaning and decluttering schedule for myself! I’ll be sure to post it when it’s finished!



Filed under Before and After, Hot Spot Check Up, Paper Clutter

Menu Plan for the Week 11/6 – 11/12 | Cute kids enjoy cute pizza

How last week’s menu went:

Last week was a good week! My parents invited us over for dinner one night, which was really fun and unexpected. They also have a Canadian friend visiting (and actually stuck here for a while because his passport was stolen), and we enjoyed some good conversation and getting to know him.

That surprise to our week meant that the Baked Ziti was bumped to this week, but everything else stayed pretty much the same. I’m so glad I’m posting my menu plans, because it is really helping me plan ahead and stick to the plan!

Oh! I almost forgot! Pizza night was also Halloween, and I got this cute idea for a pumpkin pizza from Finding Joy in My Kitchen. The kids loved it!

"Pumpkin" Pizza

These are the kids that enjoyed the pizza:

Batman (nephew), Mermaid, Mr. Incredible, Cutie Cow, Perfect Pumpkin (nephew) My kids all wore the same costumes as last year. Nice!

Favorite meal from last week:

The favorite meal that we ate here would be the Ground Beef Stroganoff (A quick and easy version that my family loves. I pretty much double everything except the soup and sour cream. I add some beef broth to thin the sauce a bit, and I don’t stir the noodles in. I cook up a whole bag of egg noodles and serve the stroganoff over the noodles.)

Ground Beef Stroganoff

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • Hearty Lentil Soup (I add celery, add chopped spinach instead of parsley, and only use 1/2 tsp of the balsamic vinegar – and I like to use turkey bacon, too)
  • Perhaps some bread


  • Chicken Divan, Lightened Up (Curried Chicken Divan (like this recipe) is a family favorite, and I have played around with trying to lighten it up myself, but I’m excited to try Gina’s version and see what the family thinks! I’ll probably use cheddar cheese and add some curry, we’ll see….)
  • Brown rice


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



  • Baked Ziti
  • Salad or asparagus
  • Maybe garlic bread


  • Buffalo Wings (These are baked, and I do mix melted butter in with the sauce as it says in the “Tips” section) I’ll make some plain/mild ones for the kids.
  • raw veggies and fruit

Other Updates

  • I’m still making some changes to my blog, so if it’s acting a little wonky, hang in there!
  • We are participating in a yard sale with our Financial Peace University class on Saturday, so I’m planning to do some major decluttering this week!

I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday, where you can find many more meal plans to check out!


Filed under Menu Plans

Hot Spot Check Up: Desk | Week 5

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. I’m currently working on my desk, including a box of paper clutter I filled up from the desk several weeks ago. 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to move on to a new clutter hot spot. But I’m not going to let myself move on until I get this paper clutter box emptied and the “Take Action” pile caught up. So I’m using that desire to move on as part of my motivation to get the job done.

And yes, I know that even when I move on to a new hot spot, I still need to keep working on this one. Grrrr.

I mean…..grrreat!

Another thing I need to revisit is how paper flows in, around, and out of the house.

I’m pretty sure there’s a better system than this:

Paper enters the house > Paper sits in pile > Pile moves > Pile sits > Pile moves > Paper falls on floor > Paper moves to new pile > Pile sits > Paper is processed (usually recycled because it is now old and unnecessary)

Paper clutter box before (Yes, I added some things last week when I was getting ready for some friends to come over.):

I set the timer for 15 minutes and got to work. After 6 minutes had passed, I stopped the timer because I was having a little panic moment with a bill that I found. It became a really urgent action item.

The good news is that when I checked it out, it had been paid in full. Whew….because I think it’s pretty important to have car insurance. Of course if I had a system working, I wouldn’t have had to waste that time.

Later in the day, I set the timer for 9 minutes so that I could finish my time.

Paper clutter box after:

The bag is for recycling. The Mr. RSS pile (my favorite) is to be handed off.  I filed the file pile! I added the take action pile to the desk……but I also worked a little on that pile, so it wasn’t getting bigger.

Desk before:

Desk after:

How are your clutter hot spots doing today? 

Other Updates:

  • Good: I finished 6 things on my To Do list today! Not so good: Didn’t do dishes.
  • I really need to figure out a way to get more sleep!


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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up