Thursday, September 18, 2014

Deep Clean and Declutter: Week 3

MoneysavingMom challenged us to declutter this month.

I already worked on my living room and bedroom and have tossed more than 2 dozen items. This week, I tackle the kitchen.

Insert photo of 3 full garbage bags here (use your imagination but trust me- yuck)

It's scary how easy it was to find 10 items. Does anyone else find they save random foods that were purchased or gifted because it seems so wrong to throw the food out? Then they expire. Including really random food and condiments you apparently NEVER USE in your kitchen? Check this list out:
1) 6 months expired, unopened blue cheese dressing (sadness)
2) 2 years expired, unopened, saffron
3) 2 years expired, unopened, remoulade jars
4) a can of stuffed grape leaves we were gifted but never used
5) a can of expired cranberry sauce
6) 6 months expired, unopened, flavored mayo
7) several bags of almost empty dog treats which I emptied and condensed down to 1 small jar and the box from the protein bars that I noticed had just 1 left so I finished that off, to keep my energy up and propel the decluttering forward
8+9) a jar of pepper jelly that we hadn't finished from months ago which I rinsed and gifted with another empty jar to a friend who uses them
10) 2 plates that my husband had put away in our cabinets weeks ago that actually belong to a friend

Because it was so easy to get rid of things this week I refocused my energy on cleaning the main living areas of our home since we are entertaining 3 times in the next 2 weeks! This task list took about 4 hours and my husband helped by taking on half the kitchen work. While this was not an easy task my house looks (and smells) fantastic which was my goal in taking on this challenge this month!
_x_ cleared countertops and thoroughly wiped them before replacing stuff to them
_x_ returned items to the walk in pantry area so as not to crowd the kitchen
_x_ scrubbed the microwave and stovetop
_x_ swept the kitchen and dining room floors
_x_ swept the guest bathroom
_x_ cleared the guest bathroom counters and wiped them down with wipes
_x_ cleaned the guest bathroom toilet

Next week I hope to do a once-over cleaning of the main areas again (to keep it fresh for guests) and to declutter the closets and clothing drawers. This is a good time of year to switch our clothing out (READ: take down the sundresses and hang up the sweaters). I also use this time of year to really examine each piece of clothing and decide whether I wore it at all since I hung it up and whether I need to keep it or let it go. Does it fit? Is it stained? Is it outdated? Is it too young for me and is it time to let it go? Those are the types of things I consider. 

I usually make my husband carve out a few hours of time to try all of his clothes on and ask him to pare down his tshirt collection as well. So I suspect next week's list will have at least 10 items too... though it's always a challenge to let go of our clothing (especially since I tossed quite a few things away just last week!). But I'm sure we can do it. I also found some things in the bathroom and plan to declutter in there a bit. And if all else fails, that basement always has a few great items to toss.

Do you have tiny closets that require you to reexamine your wardrobe seasonally too?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rich In Eggs

A friend with chickens shared her excess eggs with us. As a result, we are rich in eggs. Dozens and dozens of eggs.  Here's what we are cooking with eggs:
-Omelettes
-Egg Salad
-Fried Rice with eggs
-Hardboiled eggs in my lunch time salad for added protein
-Eggs over easy/scrambled eggs with toast

Here are 2 more creative uses of the eggs I'm looking forward to trying this week for the first time:
Spaghetti Pie- (from www.oprah.com)
  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti (cooled)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Directions


Mix the cooled spaghetti, eggs and grated cheeses together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the oil to a large nonstick sauté pan and heat to medium heat. Once hot, add a handful of the spaghetti mixture to the pan and flatten it out to the edges. 

Lay the 4 slices of American cheese and add another layer of the spaghetti mixture on top. Cook for about 5 minutes and flip, cooking for another 5 minutes on the other side until golden brown. 

Turn out onto a cutting board and slice as you would a pizza, and serve.




Tortilla Espaniola- (from allrecipes.com)
INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut
into 1/4-inch slices
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced into rings
6 eggs
1 roasted red pepper, drained and cut
into strips
3 ounces Spanish serrano ham, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian
parsley
DIRECTIONS:
1.Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add half of the potato slices, and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. When done, remove potatoes to a large bowl, leaving oil in the skillet. Cook the remaining potatoes in the oil until tender, then add to the bowl, leaving oil in the skillet. Gently toss potatoes with salt and pepper to taste.
2.Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion rings, and gently cook until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Spoon onions onto a plate, and allow to cool while the potatoes finish cooking.
3.Whisk eggs in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in cooled onions, roasted peppers, and serrano ham. Gently fold in cooked potatoes.
4.Heat the skillet with the reserved oil over low heat. Pour in the egg mixture, and gently cook until the sides have started to set and the bottom has turned golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Loosen the tortilla with a spatula if needed, then carefully slide onto a large plate. Turn the skillet upside down and place onto the uncooked side of the tortilla. Turn the skillet right-side-up, and remove the plate. Return the skillet to the stove, and continue cooking until the tortilla has set in the center, about 4 minutes.
5.Slide the tortilla onto a serving plate and allow to cool to room temperature. Cut into six wedges and sprinkle with parsley to serve.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Free Holiday Cards through Tuesday

Go to Shutterfly.

Add 10 holiday cards to your cart (customize them with family names, photos and messages for free!).



Enter code: sneakpeek at checkout.

All you pay is shipping $5.99.

I love this deal and take advantage of it every year if possible!

Happy Holiday Shopping ;)

Deep Clean and Declutter: Week 2

My goal for deep clean this week was the master bedroom.




Yup, it needed a sound cleaning.

_x__ Carpet vacuumed and ready to steam clean (tonight!)
_x__ All clothing off the floor
_x__ All laundry washed, dried and put away (done on Wed, more to do now for next week but that's ok, at least the big laundy basket got tackled this week!)
___ Change the sheets and make a pretty bed (after I steam clean tonight but before bed I promise!)

The closet is a monster in and of itself, so beyond picking up the floor and vacuuming in there I'm saving that to pair with the bathrooms for cleaning next week since I spent an hour cleaning in there this morning and will likely spend another 2 hours steam cleaning tonight.

Here are my current "after" pics:




My other goal is to declutter and this week I aimed to make a giveaway box of 10 items:
1) A holiday candle we wouldn't use
2) A plastic tote we no longer need
3) A car accessory
4+5) Two pair of corduroy pants my husband will not wear
6) A pair of white pants I was gifted but will not wear
7) A swimsuit top that no longer fits (TOO BIG!!!  YES!)
8) A large vacuum and broomful of dirt...ok, those really were thrown away but I'm not counting them in my purge numbers! A small bookmark I plan to gift to a friend soon
9) Three matches to light candles... again, not counting those but I was tempted because I was really digging here at the end... a nightgown I no longer need
10) Another huge stack of books (at least 7) to the "to be sold" pile
*11) a too small dress for me

Additionally, I threw away several grocery bags full of garbage (or 1 large hefty bag) and a few nasty piles of hair, dirt, and grime!

Plus, I tried to be intentional with things we have to use them up before we go out and buy more- including food and drink we shared with friends or made dates to share with friends, a set of disposable flatware that we will use for entertaining this month to keep it easy since we made 3 dinner dates with friends, and holiday candles that I'm trying to be intentional about using up this year since I tend to buy ahead and put them away and sometimes forget to burn them all!

Friday, September 5, 2014

September Challenge from MSM: Deep clean and Declutter My Home

The clutter monster requires a lot of vigilance when you're living in a small home! So, when MSM announced her September challenge involves decluttering our homes I decided that I will make one more big push (I've done it several months already this year and have taken at least 1 boxload of stuff to Goodwill and countless garbage bags out of my home monthly!) before the holidays. We plan to entertain more this fall so I hope to utilize the excess as part of that entertaining and count that as part of my decluttering efforts.

Each week I will post some photos of my decluttered items. I will also plan to deep clean each of my rooms while weeding through to toss stuff we no longer need. MSM said she will spend 30-60 minutes a week on this project. I imagine it will take me 2-3 hours to declutter and clean each set of rooms but I'm ready to do that.

This week: THE LIVING ROOM 

This week I pulled everything out of the living room and vacuum and steam cleaned my carpets thoroughly. I wiped down all the baseboards and woodwork. I took all the knick knacks off the shelves and cleaned them before replacing them. I changed out the artwork (that really freshened up the room). 

I put out some fall decor (two types of apple candles, pumpkin spray for the bathroom, and some seasonal tableware and napkins). 
I put the red apple 3 wick in my open living area and ...

I put a mini green apple in my bathroom. I have some amazing pumpkin candles and decorations from Bath and Body Works that I received as gifts but I'm planning to wait until October to burn those. I've also got 2 types of cinnamon candles to burn in November. Is it strange to have a candle planning schedule? I just love them and burn them almost every day whenever I'm home alone!

I also spent time decluttering junk. I filled an entire box this week. Here's what I decluttered from the living room this week:
-A stack of magazines we had read to a relative who loves to read them but can't afford subscriptions
-A board game we got as a gift but never played
-A gift of eggs (we converted them to hard-boiled and made them and intentional part of our meal plan this week so they wouldn't go bad before we could use them!)
-A stack of cds and dvds we kept but never recorded anything on
-An entire shoebox of cd sleeves we no longer need
-2 shirts I no longer want
-A lamp we had in the bedroom

Plus, I repurposed some storage containers from my living room and moved them to my bedroom. That way I was able to move the plastic storage out (we live like we're in a dorm- one day there will be beautiful wood furniture but that day is not yet today). That storage now holds stuff that was previously just "stacked" in the laundry room and keeps it organized until we are ready to use it over the next year. I'm psyched about that! And the bedroom looks SO MUCH BETTER without those plastic drawers!

Come back next week for my bedroom and bathroom deep clean and declutter :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Running Strong

Some may wonder... are you even still running?

Yup, I ran 3 times this week and I feel really good. It feels good to be outside. It feels good to connect with people in my community (lots of friendly waves and smiles even from strangers). It feels good to move my body, purposefully, and know that I am ending the year in better shape than I started. Yes, I feel good and I'm running strong and it makes me feel good about myself and my life when I do it. For reference, in April I thought I would have a heart attack every time I tried to jog for a few minutes.

Image by Rachel Greenhouse, ilbelfarniente.wordpress.com.

Monday, September 1, 2014

2014 Goal Check-in: 3 months left to go

RE-ENERGIZE for 2014
Social
·         Reach out to at least 1 friend by email, phone, or in person daily during 4 months- I've done this 2 months and I'm planning on doing it again this month and then again in December. Attend 4 meetings of my community service group and host a monthly get together with friends- So far I've attended 2 meetings this year so I plan to attend meetings 2 more times this fall and we've invited friends to get together 7 times this year, we've invited another 2 groups of friends to our home this month, and we will continue inviting others once a month in October and NovemberAccept at least 1 social invitation from others monthly and stay in close contact with both sides of our family each month. We've done this nearly every month and it's been a very positive experience.

Financial

     Worked extra shifts when they were available earlier this year, have been cashflowing our graduate programs with help from our employers, completed federal and state taxes myself, funded our trips for the year (1 left to go!), paying off another chunk of the mortgage, and have spent some time each week this summer decluttering the house and selling the excess stuff or donating it to Goodwill. Plans for the rest of the year include completing our retirement contributions, finishing the final mini home reno project for the year this month, and cashflowing 2 more courses! 

Personal

·         We have enjoyed three out of four vacations. I have scheduled our health physicals. I started working out again this year and slowly but surely built up to running regularly and training for a marathon. Unfortunately, due to an injury I had to cut back and will race a 10k instead. I have focused on quality time with my husband almost every week this year though I've fallen behind a bit this summer. I was working towards reading 50 books outside of school, newspapers and magazines this year and so far I have read 35. Plans for the fall include 1 more vacation, healthier eating, another attempt to stop biting my nails, attending our annual physicals, running a race, reading for pleasure each night before bed, and refocusing on my marriage since free time will be at a minimum.

Career

·         I have continued working full-time and I assist on 2 committees and train new employees. I had a great annual review and some wonderful meetings with my management team this summer. I look forward to putting my professional life on cruise control this fall, showing up to do my job and minimal committee work, but not taking on any additional responsibilities or projects until next year so I can devote more time this fall to school, marriage, and personal interests outside work!