Posts Tagged ‘organization’

It is Friday night…

and I am organizing my spices. Isn’t my life exciting?

I suppose I should say I am attempting to organize my spices. Here’s the dilemma: I have 40+ spices (most of which I use on a fairly regular basis). I have a tiny kitchen cabinet to keep them in, plus a spice carousel on the counter. They take up over 2 shelves. I can reach about 1 1/2 of those shelves (one of the joys of being 5’1″!).  Did I mention that these shelves are 12″ deep and 14″ wide (yes, I just measured).  So far, the best option seems to be the Spice Stack.

Ugh. So… anyway… here’s the list of my essential spices, should you be interested in starting to cook or stocking up. If you *are* just starting out with experimenting with your own cooking, I highly recommend McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations so you don’t end up buying a jar of spices that you don’t like.

Essential Spices:

  • basil
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon, ground
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • garlic salt (though I am thinking surely there is some way to make this from garlic powder?)
  • marjoram
  • nutmeg (apparently this is essential, since I have 3 containers of it!)
  • onion powder (good for making your own spice combos and rubs)
  • oregano
  • paprika
  • parsley (unless you have a greener thumb than I and can grow fresh… yum!)
  • rosemary
  • salt, popcorn (it is finer than regular salt and works better for homemade tortilla chips!)
  • salt, sea (we use instead of table salt)
  • salt, seasoning (it is a wonder that I manage to keep sodium as low as I do!)
  • Mrs. Dash 🙂
  • thyme

Not so essential, but nice to have on hand:

  • bay leaves (I use them for soups)
  • cayenne pepper (quick and easy way to add heat)
  • onions, minced
  • poppy seeds (for poppyseed chicken — yum!)


  • Cinnamon sticks (used for potpourri… I need to post that recipe!)
  • Cloves
  • Ginger, ground
  • Cream of tartar (used for meringue here)
  • Sage

Skip it (links to make your own from other spices)

So… if nothing else, I’ve managed to inventory my spices and put my substitutions links all in one post.
I guess I should be thankful that my life is boring enough at the moment that I can devote time to researching ways to store spices?  And that I can appear to be organized?  Trust me, this post makes me seem so much more into organization than I actually am!  I do think I could save quite a bit of time if I didn’t have to drag a chair over to the cabinet to reach the second shelf of spices, and then remove 28 spices before finding the one I need.  I guess I also need to be thankful for a husband who doesn’t think I am completely loony for organizing spices on a Friday night, much less blogging about them (he is happily occupied watching TV at the moment).
Feel free to comment if I missed something you find essential or if you have any suggestions!

Housecleaning or Homemaking?

I’d been half-thinking about doing a post about Hope for today, but hadn’t really had time to put my thoughts together.  I think this post may qualify anyway (at least for me personally!).

First, I have to give a shout out to the 2 blog posts that gave me this idea.  I haven’t even read them yet, just noticed the titles.  I figured I’d write this out first and then go read!  Be sure to visit these sites:

Housekeeping… or lack thereof

H is for Homemaking

I first read the title of (lack of) housekeeping (which I read as housecleaning the first 3 times I read it… same concept) and thought, “I need to read that blog post!  That describes my house!  As a matter of fact, I need to be cleaning instead of blogging!”.  Then I scrolled down and saw “H is for Homemaking”.  Immediate thoughts… “Wow, that is a much better term!” (no offense intended to the original posters!) Next thought, “Yay!  That’s my H blog post!”

Housecleaning brings to mind drudgery… Cinderella without the prince… work that I would rather not do.  “Homemaking” reminds me of making a home for my family — an organized home where we can do what we need to do in order to go out to the world to do what we need to do there.  (Probably a home where I am not running around saying, “Hurry, we’re late!” all of the time while frantically looking for shoes and keys too!)   Thinking of all of these chores that I hate doing as contributing to a peaceful home for my family motivates me much more than thinking of unending housework (and ever-multiplying cat hair).

So… from here on out… I am changing my thinking.  I am not going to ask myself, “What housework do I have to do today just to get by?”.  Instead, I’ll be asking, “What one thing can I do today to make this home a little more welcoming and peaceful for my family (and myself)?”

I don’t know about you, but that gives me some hope.

Monday Menu Planning 4/5/10-4/11/10

Update on last week — we did really well… the only meal I planned and didn’t cook was meatloaf and we used that meat for hamburgers over the weekend and the green beans I’d cooked to go with it for green bean casserole for Easter! Went out to eat once over the weekend which we are trying to avoid… but overall we’re doing better than we used to!

Looking to this week… the high for tomorrow is 84 degrees… I’m a little scared of what August will be like! So… assuming it doesn’t rain… tomorrow sounds like a great day for cooking OUTSIDE! No good sales at the store and lots of chicken in the freezer, so here’s the plan so far:


  • Grilled Chicken
  • Potatoes of some sort (we have potato salad in the refrigerator, instant in the pantry and actual potatoes on hand too… so I’ll see what I feel like then)
  • Green Bean Casserole (from Easter)


  • Chicken Kebabs (we just did that 2 weeks ago but they are so easy!  Tuesday night is busy so we’ll probably grill Monday and just reheat) — chicken, onion, peppers, mushrooms
  • Brown Rice
  • Grilled Pineapple


  • Spaghetti with leftover sauce from last week
  • Quick Eggplant Parmesan (update:  this was a new recipe for us and really good!)
  • Garlic bread (otherwise known as leftover dinner rolls brushed with garlic butter) 🙂


  • Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas
  • Black Beans


  • breakfast for dinner… either waffles or Easy Breakfast Casserole
  • fruit


  • Probably a leftovers day… I’ll see later in the week


  • Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings (with baby carrots added in)  — love this recipe because I can put on to cook when I get up and it is ready when we get home from church!
  • Green Beans

Coupons, coupons, coupons… loving saving money!

I have turned into my mother.  I think I am well on my way to embarrassing my children in the grocery store while price-matching/couponing/rebating.  However, I do draw the line at carrying thousands of coupons into the store and having a complete shoebox organizing system for rebates (I love you, Mom, even though I am sure you are not even reading this blog!).  I do seem to spend too much time trying to stretch a dollar though…

Here are some of my finds over the past few months:

Aldi — I *love* Aldi!  They don’t accept coupons but the prices are worth it.  I shop there mainly for produce (except for sweet potatoes… had a bad experience there!) and the things we almost always need on hand and can’t wait for sales on (sugar, everyday spices, milk, lunch meat, cheese, eggs).  They also have generic Goldfish (Sharks) and an amazing boxed pasta salad (which I haven’t bought yet but tasted and fully intend to buy next time I go!).  My love for Aldi’s goes far above the good prices though.  They are a haven for shopping with a preschooler.  No coupons means a shorter checkout time for me and their pretty small stores means less time going up and down aisles.  Smaller stores also means shorter checkout lines (I have only once been in a line with more than 3 people) and a smaller parking lot.  A few Aldi’s tips for newbies — they don’t take coupons, bring a quarter to get a shopping cart (they have a corral at the front of the store and you deposit a quarter to get a cart and then get it back when you leave), and bring your own bags (cloth or from other stores)  or come prepared to buy theirs.  I highly recommend their cloth bags — the one I have is HUGE and cost $1.99. — a site where you can add coupons to your store card (Kroger here) and not have to carry coupons around! — Coupon matchup sites are great… but it is so nice to have someone local doing matchups because it is *so* frustrating to see a great deal that is not available to you! — coupons galore.  Print them out and use them at the store just as you would regular coupons. — look here for any online coupon codes you need!

I tend to do couponing/rebating in spurts so I am trying to get a bit more organized about it.  Right now I am just shopping Aldi for deals, shopping for 30-day-meal items on sale and good deals at Kroger, and doing rebates if I happen to stumble across a great one… which is basically never right now since I am not even looking and Walgreens stopped doing rebates!

Some great finds of today’s grocery shopping at Kroger (thanks to some sites above!):

  • Ronzoni Smart Taste Pasta $1.25 ($.75 if you buy 8 participating items in their March Madness event… I recommend buying DiGiorno pizza at $3.99 and Simply Orange orange juice at $2.99 as well!) — paired with coupon from ronzonis.comFREE!
  • Yoplait Delight yogurt — $2.00 — paired with $1 coupon at = $1.00 for 4-pack of yogurt bliss! 🙂
  • And be sure to check out Pillsbury products — Grands biscuits, breadsticks, pizza dough, etc. — buying them gets you $$$ off your next purchase and there are tons of coupons out there for them.  If you don’t get the Sunday paper you can find coupons at  This held true for me even though I bought the sale items that didn’t advertise money back on the price tag.
  • Off to Aldi tomorrow to buy the things I didn’t get at Kroger today!  I’ve had an expensive few weeks grocery shopping trying to stock up on some things (like chicken breasts on sale at Kroger last week!) but I know it will pay off in a few weeks or on those weeks when it seems like nothing is on sale.

    Getting organized: Monthly Recipe Rotation

    I’ve been slacking on menu planning lately… as evidenced by the fact I’ve been at the grocery store about 5 times this week. At a MOPS meeting Wednesday I was reminded of my good intentions a while back to do a 30-day menu rotation. That coupled with my good intentions to try out new recipes means you get to benefit from my work! Whenever I make a recipe that I plan on putting in our rotation, I’ll post it here. I’ll do the same for new recipes that we try… noting whether or not it made the cut for us. I’m still figuring out exactly how I am going to do this… I may end up having more recipes so I can throw in soups for the winter and salads/grilling out for the summer. We’ll see.