Sunday, April 29, 2007


The job is done and I am thrilled with the results! This room is always going to be a basement pantry/laundry/utility/storage room but it doesn’t have to be the Black Hole of Household Debris that it was before.

Not much has changed in the pantry, although I did relocate some “non-food” items into other areas.

My “household tools, light bulbs and miscellaneous hardware” area is MUCH improved. There was so much stuff there that belonged somewhere else. I used some spare jars to catch nails, screws and other hardware, and some old tins for sewing and shoe care items. The jug at the top holds plastic supermarket bags that we reuse as wastebasket liners. BIG improvement over the old pair of sweatpants on a hanger that I had been using to hold these bags!

I found some curtains while I was going through the cabinets and boxes, so I replaced the ugly ones that HAD been in the windows. These let in a lot more light--plus they're blue, my favorite color!
I bought 3 bins at Target to take care of my storage needs. As I suspected, I already had enough other storage items for what I needed to “corral” in bins. I came in well under my $50 budget, having spent under $20 for the bins! And they are perfect for the job of holding my brown bags, gift bags, and spare hangers (I hate having empty hangers cluttering up the closet bars and floors, and I need hangers in the laundry room sometimes to hang up items that shouldn’t go into the dryer.)

I use wreath hooks to hang these tote bags on the closet door (inside the closet, all the Christmas decorations in their storage bins). The orange bag contains swim goggles and a few other odds and ends that we use in the summer to go to the pool. The straw bag contains small coolers and lunchboxes that are great for long car trips or visits to the pool. See the orange, blue and yellow panels? Those are sliders that hide more storage space. My husband had no idea there was storage space back there!

I turned the dresser around and pushed it back in the room so I have the space to unfold my large laundry-drying rack. I use this on rainy days when I can’t dry clothing on the outdoor clotheslines. Less use of my dryer means smaller gas bills AND less wear and tear on the clothes! Everything’s off the top of the dresser so I can use it to fold and sort laundry, wrap gifts, or “whatever!”

Everything’s off the top of the dryer except my tissue box, clipboard for shopping list and freezer inventory, and a series of empty detergent lids. Those are labeled with each person’s name as well as “coins” and “sewing.” If I know who belongs to the stray hair clip, Scout pin or other item that finds its way into the laundry, I put it in the right bin. Unidentified buttons wind up in “sewing.” Coins that end up in the washer or dryer are officially considered the Laundress' Tip.

Next project: the kids will have to “dive under their beds” and find the mates to all these single socks! This little line is the place where the odd socks hang out until their mates have been found. This cute burlap rice bag that I’d been saving is just the right size for my spare clothespins.

Here’s my laundry-sorting area. When a hamper is full, I run a load of laundry.

This white basket contains items to be mended, handed down, or returned to the store. The tote bag is full of paper goods to be used at an upcoming church function; I’ve been filling that up as I go through the room. This way I only had to handle that stuff ONCE!

Extra storage containers for spaghetti, chili and other things I make in bulk and freeze are kept in these two washtubs. Up above the freezer are seldom-used items such as party chafing racks, camping equipment like the Coleman stove, the steam cleaner, a tub of cookie cutters and a coffee urn.

My "BEFORE" pictures and description of the mess at hand are located here. I'm republishing the pictures below:

I owe a big THANK YOU to Laura, the Organizing Junkie, for hosting this 30-Day Organization Challenge. This room has been an embarrassment to me for years, but I needed some incentive to get it done. The shame-factor of posting photos of my mess on my blog was a BIG incentive! I appreciate the tips and motivation that Laura provided on her blog.

All in all, it wasn't too painful and the room is 100% better.

And here are the questions that we have been asked to answer as part of the Challenge:
1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it? I think the worst part was just dealing with all the stuff that I have been squirreling away in that basement for over 8 years. When I would clean out my desk, a box of junk would wind up in the instead of dealing with those items I would just leave them there. I forced myself to handle each and every item and decide if I really wanted to keep it AND where it really belonged.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order? I'm trying to remove things that don't belong before they grow roots in the room! This means that if I go upstairs out of the basement, I try not to go empty-handed.

3. What did you do with the "stuff" you were able to purge out of your newly organized space? I had 8 "freecycle" pickups, 4 boxes donated to the Vietnam Veterans, many trips to the garage to put all kinds of tools and things back where they really belong, and innumerable Hefty bags!

4. What was the biggest lesson you learned from this experience? Don't let the size of the room, extent of the mess, or length of time it has been this way paralyze you. Just jump on in!

5. Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life?
Yes, I do. The room is brighter and more spacious. I can use it better as a place to dry laundry on a rainy day, sort clean clothes, wrap gifts, and store what I really need to keep down there.

Menu Plan Monday, April 30

I really enjoy beginning the week with a menu plan in hand. A big THANK YOU to Laura, the Organizing Junkie, for hosting Menu Plan Monday each week! Stop there to check out the other menu ideas and great recipes you'll find from her many participants (it's grown to over 100 most weeks!)

SUNDAY: I'm making my husband's favorite; he and Big Brother have spent the weekend tent-camping with the Boy Scouts in drizzly, historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. So tonight we're having Chicken Parmesan to welcome them home.

MONDAY: Pork Teriyaki with rice and broccoli

TUESDAY: Tandoori Chicken, "stove top" stuffing and green beans

WEDNESDAY: Spaghetti

THURSDAY: Middle Sister's school is having a fund-raiser night at Chick-Fil-A so we'll be eating there.

FRIDAY: Linguine with shrimp marinara (never had this last week)

SATURDAY: There's a good chance we won't be home for dinner on Saturday. If we are, we'll have burgers on the grill, macaroni salad and corn on the cob.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, April 23

YIKES--just as I typed this, I realized it's my oldest godchild's birthday and I haven't yet sent her a card! Must fix THAT! After all, you turn 29 for the FIRST time only once in your life. Wow, do I feel old. My godchild is 29!

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura, the Organizing Junkie. Visit her site for links to lots of great recipes and menu plans. I am such a sucker for reading other people's favorite recipes. Then I want to change my plan, because everyone else's dinners look so good! But this week I'll read with an ulterior motive, since it's time to plan ahead for the month of May.

SUNDAY: Fend for yourself. We had a HUGE lunch at a party for our godchild's First Communion. Homemade Chinese food as far as the eye could see: pork and vegetable dumplings, lo mein, fried wontons, Korean barbecued beef, and a variety of Asian snack foods. No one wants much for dinner tonight!

MONDAY: Quick Chicken Divan. This is a new recipe. It looks easy and yummy! I'll serve it with rice and biscuits.

TUESDAY: Spaghetti and meatballs

WEDNESDAY: Chili or hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, green salad. We'll be between a track meet and a baseball game so dinner has to be quick & easy!

THURSDAY: Chicken piccata, rice, green beans

FRIDAY: Linguine with shrimp marinara

SATURDAY: The Boy Scouts are on their camping trip to Gettysburg, and Middle Sister has a birthday party, so I'll probably just make a meatball sub for myself and something quick for Little Brother.

Quick Chicken Divan

2 cups broccoli, cooked and cut up
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken (or two chicken breast halves, sliced crosswise and sauteed in a little bit of oil until just done)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup dry bread or cracker crumbs (Panko is great in this dish)

Arrange broccoli in a shallow casserole dish and top with chicken. Combine soup and milk and pour over chicken, then sprinkle with cheese. Combined melted butter and bread crumbs, then sprinkle on top.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425°.

NOTE: I like to add 1/4 tsp each of thyme and black pepper to the sauce. Also, it's great with Swiss instead of Cheddar.

Source: Family Corner

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, April 16

Once again it's time for Menu Plan Monday, hosted by the always-gracious Organizing Junkie!

There have been so many schedule changes in the past week and the coming weeks--I'm glad I plan out my menus in PENCIL!

SUNDAY: Chicken Marsala, mashed potatoes, green beans

MONDAY: Balsamic roast pork with roasted potatoes & carrots

TUESDAY: Cajun Bourbon Chicken Bites with rice, broccoli

WEDNESDAY: Pizza. Big Brother has a track meet at 3:45. Middle Sister has a softball game at 6:15. Both events are at the same location, which is conveniently right across the street from a pizza shop. I try to avoid fast food stops when athletic events are involved, but this didn't leave me much choice!

THURSDAY: Middle Sister's basketball banquet. It's a potluck spaghetti dinner. Each family on her team has to bring a pan of pasta (such as baked ziti) and a dessert for 12.

FRIDAY: Baked whiting (I use the same procedure as when I bake flounder). Sides "to be announced."

SATURDAY: Stir-fry, brown rice

Osaka's Pineapple Stir-Fry

Serves 4-6

1 1/4 pounds of boneless chicken breasts, skinned and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2-ince piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 15 ounce can of pineapple chunks in natural juice, or you can dice up a fresh pineapple.
1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce
6-8 scallions, white parts left whole, green tops sliced
salt and ground black pepper

Toss the strips of chicken in the cornstarch with a little seasoning.
Fry in hot oil until tender.

Lift out of the wok and keep warm. Reheat the oil and fry the garlic, ginger and onion until soft, but not browned.
Add the canned pineapple and it's juice. If you are using a fresh pineapple then add 1/2 cup of water.

Stir in the soy sauce and return the chicken to the pan to heat through.

Stir in the white parts of the scallions and half of the sliced green tops.
Then serve it garnished with the remaining sliced green scallions.

Source: Family Corner forums

Balsamic Roast Pork with Roasted Potatoes and Vegetables

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 pounds
2 yams, peeled and cut in chunks
4 potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
1 cup baby carrots
3 tbl each olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Place pork roast in roasting pan. Pour a little of the oil mixture over the top. Toss the rest over the vegetables in a mixing bowl.
Spread the coated vegetables around the pork in the pan.
Bake, covered, at 325 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Cajun Bourbon Chicken Bites

1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cut in bite-size chunks
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
1/2 cup bourbon (like Jim Beam)
2 tablespoons white wine

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients, except white wine, in a zip lock
2. Put chicken pieces in the bag.
3. Refrigerate at least several hours (preferably overnight).
4. Bake chicken at 350 F for one-half hour in a single layer, basting with
marinade every 10 minutes.
5. Remove chicken.
6. Scrape pan juices with all the brown bits and pour into a skillet.
7. Add any remaining marinade and add 2 tbsp white wine to the skillet.
8. Heat and add chicken.
9. Boil for one minute and serve over cooked rice, or as an appetizer
with individual toothpicks in each piece of chicken.

Source: Friendly Freezer Yahoo group

Friday, April 13, 2007

2 More Hefty Bags OUT THE DOOR!

I am so thrilled at the progress I've been making in the basement! I keep dragging people downstairs so they can inspect it. Today is trash day and last night I hauled two heavy bags of stuff OUT! I'm making yet another pile of stuff for Freecycle; I've got two bags of things going to my mom's (she's taking some bubble wrap for some gifts she'll be mailing out, plus a drip coffeemaker I never use, for when they have guests and need to make more than 4 cups at a time. I also have a few outgrown clothing items to pass along to a couple of nieces.)

There will be a few more trips to the garage today with stuff that really does not belong in the basement. And then it will be down to the last few trouble things: the baskets (where the HECK do I keep those?) and the "miscellaneous" that I will just have to walk around the house with, putting each thing into the right spot. After that, I will have that whole big dresser top for folding laundry or wrapping gifts.

I even got rid of the disgusting old "came with the house" curtains. When I was cleaning out, I found a box of curtains, some of which don't fit any windows we have here. There were two chambray "toppers" in that box, so I washed them and hung them on the basement windows. More light is coming in, and they look much nicer--and not quite so '70s!

Today or tomorrow I will be getting a couple of containers. As I suspected, I won't need TOO many! I do need places to keep the gift bags that we reuse, and the brown grocery bags that we recycle our paper in. I know what I want to store the brown bags in, and where to get it. The gift bag container is one I haven't figured out yet. Maybe I'll get inspired when I'm shopping!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Still Plugging Away At It

I'm still working on it and still making progress! The boxes of clothes are scheduled for pickup. I've posted four separate items on Freecycle already, with more to come.

Today I spent most of the morning working on the "household tools" area. I put all the lightbulbs together, put nails, screws, and eye hooks in separate jars, and got a box together of "things that really belong in the garage." I also took some books upstairs so I could list them on, or sort them for donation to the library. I put the snow boots that Little Brother hasn't grown into yet, upstairs in his closet. I also started a list of the types and sizes of containers I will need to finish this job. Finally, I intend to move the suitcases upstairs. Everyone can keep his/her own suitcase in the bedroom closet.

I'm excited to be making progress!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, April 9

EASTER SUNDAY: Glazed spiral-sliced ham, baked yams/baked potatoes, pickled beets, cole slaw, Portuguese Easter bread, and for dessert: Walnut-Spice Cake and Chocolate Cream Pie

MONDAY: Tandoori Chicken

TUESDAY: Spaghetti

WEDNESDAY: Chicken fried rice

THURSDAY: Beef Burgundy Stroganoff

FRIDAY: Linguine with shrimp marinara

SATURDAY: Chicken piccata

Visit the hostess of Menu Plan Monday for many more recipes and menu ideas!

Pickled Beets

2 cans sliced or cut beets
Liquid from ONE can of beets
2/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Combine liquid from one can of beets, vinegar, sugar and spices in saucepan and heat until sugar dissolves. Add beets and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmering 20 minutes. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cole Slaw

1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup finely diced onion (1 small to medium onion)
2 stalks finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrots

3/4 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt

Combine vegetables. In separate container, mix vinegar, sugar and salt. Pour over vegetables. Stir well. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

This serves 6 as a side dish.

Walnut-Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Icing

This cake has a delicate, delicious flavor. Get the recipe at Cook and Count!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Car Edition

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer has declared this week "Car Week" for Works for Me Wednesday.

Here's my tip: I keep a collapsible cooler in the trunk at all times. It will keep frozen food frozen for a couple of hours. In warm weather, if I go grocery shopping, I put all the cold stuff in the cooler--and this buys me time to do one more errand before going right home. It's also come in handy when we visit my parents and they send us home with a "care package" of holiday leftovers, since it's almost a 3-hour ride home. Since it collapses it takes up almost no space at all. Cooler in the trunk--works for me!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

30-Day Challenge: The Beginning

As if she doesn't have enough to do with her famous Menu Plan Monday, Laura the Organizing Junkie has started up a 30-Day Organizing Challenge!

I'm up for it. Anything that can help me improve my basement/pantry/laundry room/graveyard for assorted, miscellaneous "stuff" will be a great blessing! If nothing else, putting this out in public will shame me into doing something about it.

Here's the mess at hand:

As for the plan of attack: I'd love to do what they do on "Clean Sweep" where they empty the whole room into the backyard and sort the stuff, but that's not practical--and I don't have my own personal bunch of burly movers and camera crew! So I think my plan will be to "sweep" around the room twice. The first time will be the Get Rid of What We Really Don't Need sweep. The second time will be the Find A Home For Everything We Kept sweep.

I am going to allow myself a budget of $50 for any containers I might need--but there's a good deal of storage space in this room that I am not using well. I hope I won't need to purchase too much of anything.

(And tomorrow's Recycle Day, so I'm going to get all those cardboard boxes out of the way right away.)

UPDATE: (April 4) I have 8 boxes ready to go to the recycle pile outside. I have 4 boxes of outgrown stuff piled up to donate, and I will be calling to have those things picked up, later today. I am starting an area for "Things to Freecycle." I'd have stayed down there longer, but I swept around the furnace and hot water heater to evict the Dust Bunny Colonies, and kicked up so much dust that my asthma started acting up.
I have also figured out a better place to keep all the soda, and a place to store the wrapping paper. Those things will be taken care of soon.

CLICK ON THE LABEL "30 Day Organizing Challenge" and you'll see all the posts on this subject!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Menu Plan Monday, April 2

SUNDAY: Dinner at our cousin's home. She served turkey, some fabulous mashed red-skin potatoes, stuffing, two vegetables, and salad.

MONDAY: Pork Teriyaki, brown rice, broccoli

TUESDAY: Paula Deen's Sesame Chicken Strips, french fries, green beans

WEDNESDAY: It's just me and the kids; I'm undecided. Maybe I'll find a good idea when I read everyone ELSE'S menus!

THURSDAY: Spaghetti

FRIDAY: Our traditional Good Friday meal of grilled-cheese sandwiches and clam chowder.

SATURDAY: Stir-fry

Thanks again to the gracious hostess of Menu Plan Monday. Visit her site to see an abundance of great recipes and meal ideas. Last week well over 100 participated!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...