Author Archives: Ready.Set.Simplify.

Hot Spot Check Up 7: Kitchen Island | Ready to move on?

OK, just for fun, I’m going to use last week’s ‘after’ picture as this week’s ‘before’ picture.

Last week’s ‘after’ picture:

Today’s picture:

Some of the changes are subtle, but I’m pretty happy with how things are going. I’m thinking about checking in on a different clutter hot spot next week.

Maybe The Desk of Paper Clutter Madness?

That could be fun. 

Or productive, anyway.

Other Updates:

  • Still working on getting the house ready for a playdate! I’m making progress…and I’m taking pictures!


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

Menu Plan for the Week 9/25 – 10/1

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

How last week’s menu went:

I actually followed last week’s menu plan exactly. Woah.

Favorite meal from last week:

I really wanted to pick 3 favorites this week, but Mr. RSS convinced me that 2 is plenty when it comes to favorites, so I’m starting with the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili, which I simply adore. I first made it when I saw it in Family Fun Magazine, but when I went to look for it this time, I could not find the magazine nor could I find the recipe on Family Fun’s site, so Danielle saved the day by posting the recipe! And even though I am usually a toppings-kind-of-girl,  I really like this chili as-is, or with just a little cilantro. I did double the beans. I might cut the orange zest in half next time. 4 of the 5 of us like it.

The Portobello Mushroom Burgers were the other favorite. I stuck a big slice of grilled red pepper on mine. Yummy! Mr. RSS decided to double the marinade on these. They had lots of flavor! 4 of the 5 of us liked this one as well.

This Week’s Menu Plan



  • Green salad with beets and goat cheese (I’m making it like this recipe, except I’m using romaine lettuce that needs using up and canned beets from the pantry)


  • BBQ Country Style Ribs (Mr. RSS will likely finish them on the grill)
  • Cooked apples [Edit: I removed this recipe link because when I looked at the recipe tonight, I realized it was way off from how I make these (I should have read the recipe more closely!) I usually use peeled, sliced apples and cook them down in a saucepan with about 1/2 cup water, add a little sugar and cinnamon to taste, if desired.]
  • green beans




  • Homemade Pizza night!  I’ve been using this crust recipe, with part whole wheat flour. I also knead the dough after mixing.
  • Raw veggies


  • Brown Rice with Black Beans (I’m going to add some cumin and chili powder this time.) Toppings: Lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, cilantro)
  • Chips and salsa

Other Updates:

  • I’m having a MOPS playdate at my house this week. I am appropriately frightened. I am planning to clean and declutter every day, focusing on the living room and kitchen. I will not wait until the day before –  no, no, no. There’s nothing like guests coming over to give you that extra motivation! Yikes!

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, Recipes

Let’s Talk Laundry: Part 1

In high school I was one of those kids with laundry (both clean and dirty) – and everything else all over the floor of my room. I thought it was cool.

Oh yes, I did. I also thought that I knew right where everything was.


I no longer make such claims.

It did get a little better in college and in my single days, mostly because of positive peer pressure from my roommates.

In more recent years I have not done very well. Check out this before pictures from when I cleaned out my master bedroom closet:

For many years I was pretty good at washing the clothes, but then they would sit in a crumpled mess in a basket or a pile on a bed or couch. Clean, but very wrinkled. And do I seem like the ironing type to you? 


I finally got fed up with that nonsense and realized that I should not take the laundry out of the dryer unless I was folding it that instant! So for about a year I folded things as I took them out of the dryer. Big success!

Now I am brave enough to take them to another location and fold them right away.

One of my recent goals has been getting the folded clothes put away! I have clean, folded clothes, usually in baskets, sitting around.

Here’s what I’m working on:

  • I try to put my folded clothes on my side of the bed and Mr. RSS’s on his side, and we each put our own away. That works pretty well when I do it.
  • Ella (7) can put her clothes away – I just need to remind her.
  • Gabe (5) can’t reach his drawers very well, so I need to either keep doing it myself (and actually do it instead of leaving them in baskets), or get him a step stool, or something. The other problem is that one of his drawers is broken and if you pull it out too far, the whole drawer falls out – so we need to fix that.
  • Anna (1.5) All she wants to do is open any drawer she can get to and take everything out. Then possibly cram some things back in. Next, she likes to close the drawer on her finger. She obviously needs some work in this area! 😉
  • Cleaning out and organizing more of the closets and dressers will make this easier.

I’m also working on keeping up with Mt. Laundry, which has become a landmark in our basement…until now.  I  have some great before and after pictures to show you, but I’ll save them for later in the week. Oh the suspense!

What are your laundry successes or challenges?


Filed under Laundry

Hot Spot Check Up 6: Kitchen Island in 7 Minutes

I sort of forgot about the kitchen island post until late in the morning today. I took a picture, but I was determined to make improvements. I just wasn’t willing to let it sit like that today. Hooray for determination!

So here’s my before picture:

I didn’t have time to properly clear it all off, so I decided to time myself for 5 minutes while I worked on clearing it, and then take another picture.

The five minutes seemed to fly by, and I was making good progress, so I decided to give myself 1 more minute timed.

After that, I was still super motivated and really wanted to work on it for just 1 more minute (and that’s really all the time I had anyway).

So after 7 minutes (plus a quick wipe of the sponge), here’s how it looked:

I really need to remember that timer thing again. The timer helped me to stay focused and it helped me to work fast! Now, I can get work done on the island and the clutter that is left doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

How are your clutter hot spots doing?


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

Menu Plan for the Week 9/18 – 9/24


Pizza Penne Bake

How last week’s menu went:

I made a few changes last week. The chicken noodle soup and the Swedish meatballs both didn’t happen. Instead, one night turned into an awesome cheap date night with my sweetie, and the other night we grilled hamburgers.

Favorite meal from last week:

I’m going to go with the Pizza Penne Bake, It was easy, cheap, fairly healthy (I used whole grain pasta and served it with a green salad). All 5 of us liked it! I will add more sauce next time, because we are sauce-y people. Especially Mr. RSS.

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Seven-Layer Bean Dip (except that mine only had 5 layers this time – but it was fast and yummy!)
  • fruit – grapes and pears






  • Leftovers


Other Updates:

  • Seriously. There’s a laundry post coming. Soon.
  • We did some good cleaning up in the living room and kitchen this weekend, and Mr. RSS attacked some paper clutter in the basement!
  • We started taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class. Love it!

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, Recipes

Hot Spot Check Up 5: Kitchen Island

Here’s the picture for today:

Not great, but of course it has been much worse.

I generally like to keep things light around here, but I have to tell you that I’ve had a tough day today. I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed.

I’m doing  a little better now. I’ve been praying about it all – that is so good for me. My sweet husband is a great encouragement to me, too. And I had some chocolate cake and tea (see pictured above).  Now I need some much needed rest. And I do have hope for tomorrow. Starting with right priorities, then one bite at a time, one step at a time. And not in my own strength.


Filed under Cleaning, Clutter, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Life

Menu Plan for the Week 9/11 – 9/17


How last week’s menu went:

Last week went pretty well. The store was out of chicken leg quarters, so I roasted a whole chicken instead. The Chick-fil-A dinner got bumped to this week, so I made pizza that night  instead.

Favorite meal from last week:

That would have to be the dinner my wonderful husband made for me on my birthday: Steak Au Poivre, sautéed asparagus & mushrooms, roasted red pepper & crab bisque, brown sugar encrusted baked Brie with berry lemon bread. Yes.  The man knows how to cook. He also made me a chocolate cake! The cake was especially meaningful because he does not enjoy baking. This was the first time I have ever seen him bake a cake!

This Week’s Menu Plan


  • Leftovers/snacky dinner



  •   Friends are treating us to Chick-fil-A! (Bumped from last week)



  • Chicken Noodle Soup (I usually modify a recipe from my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook, but I might try this one from Simply Recipes this time.)
  • Bread or muffins



Other Updates:

  • I’m hoping to post about some exciting progress with the laundry and the refrigerator – maybe even more – by Friday.

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


Filed under Menu Plans, Recipes

Hot Spot Check Up 4: Kitchen Island – and a picture question

Here I am at the 4th week of my kitchen island hot spot check up, and as much as I didn’t want to start it, I actually don’t want to stop! If you want to catch up a bit, here are links to the first 3 weeks:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3 (scroll down for the picture)

The whole accountability/public humiliation thing seems to work for me, so I’m going to go another month and then maybe move to a different spot. We’ll see.

Sometimes I have really quirky blog ideas. Like maybe giving my kitchen island a blog of its own. Sort of like a 365 blog, except that I post a picture of my kitchen island every. single. day.

Quirky? Yes.

Crazy? Maybe.

A little obsessive about my kitchen island? Probably. Just a little.

Today I’m going to show you 2 pictures, both taken at approximately 10:09 AM yesterday. I often seem to have this debate with pictures that I take for the blog. When the light is low (indoors plus rainy day in this case), should I use the flash or not? Which picture do you prefer here:

Without flash:

With flash:

Sometimes I don’t have much of a choice because I can’t get the camera (a digital point and shoot) to focus in low light, but here I at least caught one shot that was decently focused. And then there’s the “flashy” one.

Either way, the kitchen island is not bad, eh? I’m happy with it.

And by the way, I’m feeling really motivated to do some fabulous before and after pictures sometime soon. I’m craving some big impact somewhere around here. There are lots of places to choose from!

I’m linking up with Works for Me Wednesday, over at We are THAT Family.


Filed under Blogging, Cleaning, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up

Menu Plan for the Week 9/4 – 9/10

Note: For some reason linking text is not working correctly for me today, so I just added the URLs and I’ll figure it out later and edit.

How last week’s menu went:

Last week was hurricane/no power/no running water week, so things were not very normal.

Grilled hot dogs and beans

Favorite meal from last week:

It would have to be a tie between friends treating us to a picnic (BBQ), and my dad cooking dinner for us (Pork loin, salad, corn on the cob). But that is really more about the people than the food!  Of the meals we had at home, it would have to be the hot dogs and beans that Mr. RSS and I worked together on.

This Week’s Menu Plan

Ramen Noodles with peas and carrots


  • Ramen noodles with peas and carrots (This is not normally something we would eat for dinner, but we were in a big hurry to get to a free outdoor concert – and my kids beg me for this!) I use about half of the chicken seasoning packet.


  • Baked/grilled Chicken leg quarters (I put olive oil and McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning on them)
  • sweet potatoes
  • spinach


  • The marvelous and talented Mr. ReadySetSimplify is cooking dinner. It’s my birthday:-)


  • Friends are treating us to Chick-fil-A! Yum and fun!




Other Updates:

  • I am almost finished with the big fridge/freezer clean out.
  • I still need to finish going through the kids’ clothes!

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


Filed under Menu Plans, Recipes

We have power!

I am very happy to be sitting here with my laptop, the lights on, drinking tap water, air conditioning working, the hum of a refrigerator in the background, and a safe family. The dishwasher should be running right now, too…. I’ll get to that soon.

Hurricane Irene took out our power (and running water) for 5 full days (Sat.-Thurs.). There is a lot I could say about that, but overall I feel thankful.

Thankful that our family is safe, and our home is not damaged.

Thankful for kind neighbors who gave us access to one outlet on their generator, which kept our sump pump going and kept a lot of water from entering our basement.

Thankful for my husband, who worked hard to prepare us ahead of time. Including thinking to fill our outdoor trashcan with water in case we needed it to be able to flush our toilets. We filled the tub before the storm for the same reason, but it turned out that we needed that extra water!

Thankful for disinfecting wipes, baby wipes, and antibacterial wipes!

Thankful for children who took it all in stride and enjoyed playing with flashlights.

Thankful for friends who let us come shower, hang out, play, do laundry, and plug things in at their house. They also gave us extra bottled water and ice.

Thankful for other friends (also without power, like us) who treated us to a  picnic (take-out) dinner at a park!

Thankful for another friend who invited us to come and stay at her house Wednesday night. I felt like we were at a fancy hotel! With power!

Thankful for my parents, who let us eat dinner at their house for 2 nights in a row. And my dad did most of the cooking and cleaning up! Awesome!

Thankful for the opportunity to be grateful for things like power and running water. Many people in this world live every day without these luxuries.

I am praying for those who are still struggling with damage and loss from this storm.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures this week, but I thought I would share a few. Some of these were taken with our cell phones.

Boiling water on the grill to make coffee and tea.

The kids made a good ol' blanket fort.

I did remember on Wednesday that I should take a picture of my kitchen island for the hot spot check up. This week's picture is bound to be better!

The kids played driveway hockey with Daddy.

Crews working to fix the power lines right around the corner from our house. Yay!

 I’m hoping to be back on Monday with a regular meal plan post!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Filed under Life