Organize and Declutter 2012: The Toys - Part I

When I was growing up, all our toys were hidden away in our bedrooms.  So when I was first introduced to the concept of a playroom as a childless twenty-something year old, I laughed to myself and thought, "A room just for toys?"

I am not laughing now.

With two children of my own, I now understand the benefits of a room just for toys.  We have very generous friends and family who have been especially generous with toys, and over the years the toys have multiplied out of control and have taken over our home.  Unfortunately for me, a playroom just isn't possible.


After reading "What To Do When A Gift Becomes Clutter" and taking this advice to heart, I began by decluttering the toys.  Broken toys went right into the trash, while the neglected toys went into the giveaway or the yard sale boxes.


After a quick trip to the dollar store and printing some free labels that I found online, I was ready to get organized:



I printed these sweet little labels from Organizing Homelife.  Aren't they adorable?
Oh, and did I mention they are FREE?




I cut out thin cardboard that I had been saving {you could use cereal boxes} to the size of the labels and used a glue runner to attach the labels to the cardboard.  I'm hoping that the cardboard will help them last a little longer.  The labels could also be laminated.




I used some old photo splits from my scrapbooking stash to attach the labels to the bins.








The bins fit perfectly on these shelves in our younger son's closet. 


{Read Part II here}

Meal Plan Monday - May 28

While I was making homemade rolls for the first time last week, I couldn't help but remember the delicious bread and rolls that my mom made for us when we were growing up.

She always set aside a little bit of dough for homemade doughboys fried with butter in a skillet or our favorite not-so-healthy breakfast pizza.  Waiting for that dough to rise was always a good lesson in patience.

This week I learned that not all dough recipes are the same.  While it was very satisfying to make successful rolls for the first time, I was a little bit disappointed that they weren't the soft, yeasty rolls of my childhood.  In the next few weeks I hope to try again and introduce my boys to homemade doughboys--just like my mom used to make.


Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Waffles
Toast, Bananas
Rice Cake w/Peanut Butter
Pomegranate Cherry Smoothie

Lunch
Greek Pasta Salad
Wedge Cobb Salad {great way to use up leftover chicken!}
Tuna Salad & Veggies in Lettuce Leaf Wrap, Applesauce
SunButter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Pretzels
Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Yogurt, Pear, Goldfish
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:  Happy Memorial Day!
     Backyard Hot Dog Roast

Tuesday:
     BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, Coleslaw

Wednesday:
     California Pilaf, Corn On The Cob

Thursday:
     Lemon Chicken, Sweet Potato, Peas

Friday:
     Spaghetti, Salad, Garlic Bread

Saturday:
     Leftover Night

Sunday:
      Soup and Sandwiches


(*) Indicates new-to-us recipe

$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at Menu Plan Monday

Recipe: Pomegranate-Cherry Smoothie


This Pomegranate-Cherry Smoothie is surprisingly filling and a great breakfast for on-the-go!


Pomegranate-Cherry Smoothie

Makes: 1 Serving

1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup cherry yogurt
1 packet vanilla instant breakfast drink powder
1/4 cup milk
3 ice cubes
flax seed meal {optional}


1.  Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high for 1 minute or until well combined.





Source: Adapted from Hannaford fresh magazine July/August 2007 issue



Meal Plan Monday - May 21

The star of our dinner table last week was Lemon Chicken from Annie's Eats.  And let me tell you, the name just does not do this dish justice.  In fact, I almost passed right by this recipe thinking it was just another lemon chicken recipe.  Wow, was I wrong.

I really think this chicken should have been called Out-Of-This-World Crispy Lemon Chicken.  As soon as I find another sale on chicken thighs, you can bet this recipe will be on the menu!


Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Waffles
Raisin Bread Toast, Bananas
Coconut Breakfast Cake

Lunch
Veggie Wraps, Pretzels, Applesauce
SunButter & Jelly Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Pretzels
Chicken, Rice, Bean Burritos {using leftovers from Chicken Fried Rice Dinner}
Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Yogurt, Pear, Goldfish
Dinner Leftovers*

Dinner
Monday:
     Chicken Fried Rice

Tuesday:
     Honey Barbecue Meatloaf, Baked Onion Rings, Corn On The Cob

Wednesday:
     Island Chicken*, Shoepeg Corn Casserole, Peas, Easy Dinner Rolls*

Thursday:
     Chicken Fettucini Alfredo, Salad, Leftover Dinner Rolls

Friday:
     Leftover Night

Saturday:
     Teriyaki Chicken {Slow Cooker}, Salad

Sunday: 
     Soup and Sandwiches


(*) Indicates new-to-us recipe

$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at Menu Plan Monday

Soap Pouches For OCC Boxes

After reading Ted's story, and learning how important a simple washcloth can be to a child, I wanted to make sure that a washcloth was included in each of the Operation Christmas Child boxes that I am putting together this year.

Since I am also planning to add soap to each box, I really liked this Soap Pouch idea from Whimsy Love and I thought they would be perfect for the OCC shoe boxes.  They are also easy enough for my novice sewing skills.



I bought a large bath towel at Walmart and was ready to start a new sewing project!




Cutting the pieces out...




Ready to start sewing!  I was able to make 25 pouches out of one towel
and sewed them up in one afternoon.




Get the instructions to make these soap pouches at Whimsy Love.

Summer Favorites: Cheddar Broccoli Salad



I love summer salads. 

I'm not talking about the leafy, green, good-for-you salads.  No, sir.  I'm talking about salads smothered in mayonnaise dressings with ingredients like bacon and cheese and pasta and potatoes.  You know--the salads that you find at barbecues and potlucks that contain enough calories for a whole meal. 

If you like broccoli, you will love this broccoli salad with cheddar cheese, bacon and raisins.  And with a vegetable as the main ingredient, you can have that second helping with very little guilt. 



Cheddar Broccoli Salad

Makes: approx. 6 servings {1/2 cup servings}

4 1/2 cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 - 1 tsp. grated onion {to taste}
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbs. vinegar
2 tbs. sugar

1.  In a bowl, combine broccoli, cheese, bacon and raisins.
2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, onion, vinegar and sugar.
3.  Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Toss before serving.


Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com


Book Review: That Works For Me!



I'm excited to introduce you to That Works For Me!, a new ebook by Kristen Welch and Jennifer DeGroot that features over 800 helpful tips from the Works For Me Wednesday blog carnival hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Did you know you can....

  • Make your own lip balm?
  • Cook perfect wavy bacon?
  • Reuse mylar balloons?
  • Clean the bathtub with grapefruit and Epsom salt?
  • Design your own fabric?
  • Make bookshelves from rain gutters?


These are just a few of the creative tips you will find in That Works For Me!.  Here's a little more information about the book from the editors:

"For more than five years, the blog carnival, Works For Me Wednesday has been a hub of helpful tips for every area of a busy woman’s life. Hundreds of bloggers link up every week and thousands of tips have been shared over the past years.

This e-book offers a categorized, organized place for more than 800 practical, “aha!” tips to make your life run smoother. That Works For Me! is a celebration of the WFMW community, with tips from hundreds of different blogs.

It won’t organize your linen closets or remove stains, but this e-book will offer you a good place to start. We’ve searched and compiled and created an organized e-book with 24 popular categories, featuring the best of tips in each group."

When you purchase this ebook you will not only get lots of useful tips, but you will also be helping to support Mercy House, a maternity home in Kenya.  You can save $1 when you purchase That Works For Me! by using coupon code SAVE1. 

Meal Plan Monday - May 14











Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Waffles
Toast, Bananas
Pineapple, Orange, Banana Muffins

Lunch
Veggie Wraps, Pretzels, Applesauce
Pineapple, Orange, Banana Muffins, Yogurt, Carrot Sticks
SunButter & Jelly Sandwiches, Apple Slices
Strawberry, Grape, Apple Fruit Kabobs, Yogurt, Crackers
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
     Lemon Chicken*, Carrots, Cornbread

Tuesday:
     Slow Cooker Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken, Peas, Leftover Cornbread

Wednesday:
      Pasta Dish

Thursday:
     Apple Turkey Burgers*, Carrot Fries

Friday:
     Leftover Night

Saturday:
     Breakfast For Dinner

Sunday:
     Tuna Melts


(*) Indicates new-to-us recipe

$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at Menu Plan Monday

Summer Favorites: Pomegranate Lemonade



We discovered pomegranate lemonade a few summers ago and it has since become our favorite summer drink. 

I finally realized just recently that I could probably make my own version at home {I have no idea why it took me so long to figure this out!} and started experimenting.  This homemade drink is fresh and tangy and perfect for a summer barbecue.


So pretty!


Pomegranate Lemonade

Makes: 2 quarts

1 - 1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup 100% pomegranate juice
2 quarts cold water

In a 2 quart pitcher, add the lemonade, pomegranate juice, and sugar.  Add water and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Chill and serve.

Enjoy!





Meal Plan Monday - May 7











Here's what's cooking in my kitchen this week:

Breakfast
Cereal
Raisin Bread Toast, Bananas
Strawberry Shortcake Pancakes*


Lunch
Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches, Applesauce, Carrot Sticks
Rice & Peas, Yogurt, Crackers
Bacon, Bean & Rice Soup
Dinner Leftovers


Dinner
Monday:
     Creamy Rigatoni w/Sausage and Red Peppers*, Carrot Sticks

Tuesday:
     Oven Fried Cheese Ravioli*, Applesauce, Veggies
     
Wednesday:
      Roasted Sausage and Vegetables, Mile High Biscuits

Thursday:
      Baked Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Carrots, Leftover Biscuits

Friday:
     Leftover Night

Saturday:
    Hubby's 40th Birthday Party Dinner -
    Finger Sandwiches, Snack-y Foods, Cake & Ice Cream

Sunday:  
     Sandwiches/Leftovers


(*) Indicates new-to-us recipe

$5 Dinners has a wonderful grocery shopping list with meal plan form and a few other printable planners that you might find helpful in meal planning {not to mention some great money-saving recipes!}.

Get more meal inspiration at Menu Plan Monday

Operation Christmas Child Update #2



I'm just about finished with two more boxes for Operation Christmas Child!  If you missed the first update you can read it here.

I was very excited to be able to add a personal touch to these boxes by adding some homemade items!  I'm also planning on finishing up these boxes by adding crayons and paper {waiting for back to school sales}, flip flops {after summer sales} and washcloths.



Both of these boxes are for 10 - 14 year old girls:



Toothpaste - free with coupon
Toothbrush - $.44 with coupon
Deodorant - free with coupon
Soap - free with coupon
Princess Stickers - $.20
Candy - $.35
Comb - $.06
Beanie Baby - $.50
Chapstick - $.59
Pencil Sharpener - $.10
Crocheted Ponytail Holder - $.50 {approx.}
Fat Quarter Bag - $1.50 {approx.}
Pens & Pencils - $.08

Total Spent So Far:  $4.32 x 2


What are your favorite items to put in shoe boxes for 10 - 14 year old girls?