Monday, December 17, 2012

So Little To Say

Since Friday, so much has been said. News articles have been written. Blog posts have been published. Facebook statuses are abundant. Some are factual, some are encouraging, most are grief-stricken.

You don't have to be a parent to feel the sting of Friday's tragedy. Our entire nation and maybe even a good portion of the world stands back, utterly horrified by what happened. It was difficult to read the news updates and see images of a community in shock and at some point, I stopped reading because it was just too overwhelming. As a mother, the thought that something like this could happen to our children at our school is more than I can bear.

There's not much I can do now but hug my children a little tighter, let them know how deeply I love them and pray. I pray for the protection and safety of our family, say thank you for the time we have together this day, and ask for comfort for the families changed forever by this tragedy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Ultimate Holiday Comfort Food - Super Easy Turkey Pie

If there's one food that I love to make this time of year, it's a Turkey Pie. A lot of people call it turkey pot pie, but I don't know why and the name bothers me for some reason. So we just call it turkey pie (or chicken pie if that's the case.)

A little background... my husband and I started dating in October so it wasn't long before the holiday season was approaching. Our relationship was new so to avoid an awkward conversation about whether we should spend Thanksgiving together, I simply made plans to spend turkey day with a girlfriend in San Francisco. The weekend before Thanksgiving, my then-boyfriend invited me to come to dinner at his house with a couple friends. When I arrived, I discovered that he had cooked an entire turkey dinner ON HIS OWN so that we could still celebrate Thanksgiving together. What a catch!

Since then we've often hosted a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner with a small group of friends. There's always a lot of turkey leftover so I use this very simple recipe that I got from my aunt to turn some of the leftovers into a simple and delicious dinner. This year we weren't able to host our traditional dinner so I used a roasted turkey breast from the store instead. The beauty of this recipe is that you can sort of throw in whatever you have left from a turkey dinner.

You will need:
2 - 2 1/2 cups shredded turkey or chicken (cooked)
2 pre-made frozen pie crusts, thawed
1 cup corn (frozen is fine and doesn't need to be pre-cooked)
1 cup peas (frozen works too)
1 1/2 cups pre-cooked potatoes, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 - 2 cups gravy (you can use the jarred kind if you don't have any leftover)
anything else you want to throw in such as onions, carrots, celery (all pre-cooked or frozen work best)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 and take your pie crusts out of the freezer. Let them sit while you round up and prepare the other ingredients - shred the turkey/chicken, chop veggies, cut potatoes.

2. Use one of the pie crusts as the base for your pie. They usually come in a foil pie plate which will work just fine.

3. Dump in your leftovers or ingredients and pour the gravy over, mixing gently with a spoon or fork. Be careful not to tear the crust.
4. Gently remove the other pie crust from its tin plate and lay it on top of your pie, pinching the edges to seal them. Try not to tear it, but don't stress out if you do. Just sort of pinch it back together. Channel The Nester here and remember that it doesn't have to be perfect to be delicious.

5. Put the pie plate on a cookie sheet to catch spills and put it on the center rack. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so. The crust should be a nice golden brown. I sometimes turn on the broiler for just a few minutes at the end to make it crispier.
Hello yummy deliciousness!

Linking up to...
Becoming Martha

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I'm Still Here!

I promise I'm still here. I didn't intend to take a blogging break but things have been a little crazy around here with sickies, work trips for the hubs and general busyness of life. I do have some projects in the works. You can see a sneak peek on Facebook!

Be back soon!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful on Thanksgiving

Yes, I know it's Sunday. I just couldn't miss the last installment of Thankfulness Thursdays with Ashley at Domestic Fashionista. We were out of town for the holiday and the trip didn't exactly go what you would call smoothly. Taking a time out to blog about being thankful was pretty much out of the question so I had to delay my post a little.

Over the past sixteen weeks, I've shared my gratitude for my husband.

For my children.

For my parents, parents-in-law, and my sister.

For the beautiful place we call home.

For my Bible study.

For my closest girlfriends.

I've expressed my gratitude for a number of other people and things as well, all which amount to a very blessed life.

It's easy to forget all these things in the midst of a sleepless "vacation" on the day when you are supposed to be most thankful, internally feeling the pressure to be your very best mom-self in front of the surrounding family and the kids are sick and misbehaving and difficult and you mostly just want to be alone and have a complete breakdown, but you can't because it's Thanksgiving. It's possible that there are moments when you look at those around you and think "I love you so much I would walk through fire for you, but I wouldn't mind sitting at that table over there right now." But the truth is that even that very unthankful statement reminds you just how gloriously grateful you are to be where you are with the people who matter so very much to you.

While that small sentiment won't give you back the hours of sleep you've lost or wipe the snotty noses or prevent the tantrums, it will help you remember that although you may feel like the worst mom in the world, you are overjoyed that you are the mom to these two wild hooligans that you love to pieces. And even though you feel like the worst wife in the world, it will remind you that you are over the moon for this man and you would never ever want to be anyone else's wife. So it is with these small, but ever so large statements in mind, that I celebrate Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Grab A Sweeter Still Button

I'm excited to announce that you can now snag your very own Sweeter Still button (see it there on the sidebar?!?). I put this together using PicMonkey and I'm pretty darn happy with how it all turned out. 
If you feel like being fantastic today, then you can grab my button and display it wherever it is that you choose to display blog buttons :) If you do, please leave me a comment so I can be filled with gratitude and gush over you obnoxiously!

DIY Chalkboard Welcome Sign

If there's one thing I've learned from all the amazing blogs out there, it's that often you can make something more easily than you think for less money than it takes to buy it. It might take a little more time than just grabbing it off the shelf, but in the long run, you are saving money and I personally take a lot of pride in my DIY projects. I look through catalogs, magazines, blogs and of course Pinterest to find inspiration and a lot of instructions on how to do things on my own.

After Halloween, I stopped into Michael's and found this little beauty for $1.89. You can see the upside down price tag showing it was originally $8.99. It's not hideous, but I wouldn't spend nine bucks on it. But for $1.89, I saw this with a different purpose in mind.
All I did was cover it with a coat of black chalkboard paint. I did brush a second coat on a couple spots where the brighter color was still showing through, but that's it. So easy! Then I picked up some cool chalkboard pens at Michael's using a coupon and voila... a new chalkboard sign. I like that the pens make the white a little bolder and they still wipe off with a wet cloth.
I hung the sign above some family pictures on a little wall near our front door. I like that I can change up the message and I love that it cost me $6, including the small can of chalkboard paint that will be used for other future projects I'm sure.
The full wall gives a better idea of the proportions of the display. The front door is to the left of this wall and the garage door is to the right. The photos and the chalkboard sign feel like a nice welcome to our home.

Linking up to...

Becoming Martha

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Kid's Crafts Packs

My kids have been acting a little annoying restless lately. They're a little harder to entertain. They're a little more sassy. And the telltale sign... they are driving their mama CRAZY.

I think it started over fall break, when we didn't have as much to do as usual and I didn't do enough in advance to ward off the boredom. Since then, I have been flat exhausted. Our little man is waking up several times each night and I'm not sure why. It could be teething. It could be separation anxiety. Whatever it is, it's keeping me up all night every night, or at least that's how it feels.

The result is an overtired, not-so-patient mama who doesn't have a lot of tolerance for umm anything. Enter Pinterest and some awesome craft ideas for kiddos from some very crafty folks.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sweeter Still's Latest Feature

A big thank you to the fabulous ladies who host the Friday night Happy Hour link party!! Taryn at Design, Dining & Diapers, Lucy at Craftberry Bush and Jaime from Crafty Scrappy Happy are all super talented and full of inspiration. And last week they featured Sweeter Still in their post-party roundup of 10 Thanksgiving Decor Ideas!

My post-Halloween/pre-Christmas fall porch (aka Thanksgiving) setup was featured and I'm so honored! I also included a tutorial of the Ballard Designs knock-off white wooden planter that I've been using on our front stoop since summer. Check out my post and be sure to visit the Happy Hour link party tonight and join in!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Sixteen

It's our second to last Thankfulness Thursday and next week is the big one :) Be sure to check out Ashley's post today at Domestic Fashionista! She was the one who started this weekly day of giving thanks and I think I only missed one week. It's been a great way to focus on what we have instead of what we need, want or wish.

Today I'm thankful to have the opportunity to help others, even in small ways.

We're participating in Operation Christmas Child for the first time this year. I took the kids shopping last night after an early dinner. I chose to fill a box for a girl, age 2-4 because I felt that would be the best way to help my daughter to understand the purpose of OCC. It was easy as pie for her to pick out treats for someone her age and opened her eyes, if only for a moment, to the fact that not everyone gets toys and books as freely as she does.

After a long week of debating several times whether we should pack all her toys into a giant box to help her appreciate their value and the necessity of clean-up time, it was a nice break to see her choosing toys, games and treats for someone beside herself. She didn't throw "even one single tantrum" as she proudly told her daddy, which might give you some insight into our week. I explained once at the beginning of the trip (and once in the book aisle) that this was not a shopping trip for us and that was all she needed. To drive the point home, I made sure not to pick up anything for myself or for the house so that truly all we purchased was for our OCC box.

Tonight we'll be packing up the box to deliver to the church and I hope it will be another good conversation about how blessed we are and why we help others who have less than us. I'm very thankful for how much we have and I pray that I won't take that for granted.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Fifteen

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner (I think I write that every week haha)! As we gear up for the holiday season, it's easy to focus on all the things on our to-do list. Inspired by Ashley from Domestic Fashionista, each Thursday for the past fourteen weeks, I've shared something or someone for whom I'm thankful as a small way to remember what this season is really all about. Be sure to check out Ashley's post today and you can link up your own too!

Today I'm thankful for our country.

We have our problems to be sure. We are a flawed society full of issues. But on Tuesday, I was reminded that in spite of all the complaints about our government, our leaders, and our political system, we still have so much more than so many other countries and we shouldn't take that for granted. Each election, we take our kids with us when we vote. Even if they don't understand the process or the reasons behind it, we feel it's important for them to see voting in action.

Our daughter asked us why people were waiting in line at our polling place and it was such a great opening to introduce the concept of freedom to our young child. This year I tried to emphasize that no matter who wins or loses, the fact that we have a choice and a say in the matter is the important part. In a heated presidential race like the one that just concluded, it seems that a lot of people forget this. They are so focused on whether their guy wins that they lose a sense of what this country is about... unity. When I was watching the election coverage on Tuesday, I prayed that whoever wins would focus less on taking sides and more on working for the common good.

As we move forward from election night, let's try to be thankful that we are a country with so much freedom.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fall Porch Decor & A Little Tutorial

Halloween is over and most of the stores are jam-packed full of Christmas decor now, but I'm not quite ready to roll out the garland and ornaments quite yet. Fall decor feels more appropriate for the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Yesterday I showed off our fun Halloween set-up; I'm still patting myself on the back for coming up with the pirate ship idea :)

After Halloween, I ditched the skeleton and brought our front doorstep back to regular fall status. We had a couple smaller pumpkins leftover so I left them for now. With just a few simple and inexpensive items, we now have a lovely and welcoming front stoop.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post Halloween

Even with a self-imposed time out this weekend, I didn't want to skip a post sharing our fun Halloween decor. I don't do much inside the house since the kids are still pretty young, but this year I took on the outdoor responsibilities. With the help of my sister who was visiting for the week, my plan worked out pretty well if I do say so myself (plus we got a lot of compliments from trick-or-treaters!)

The only sad part is that the day was so busy that we took only a few pictures so it's hard to see it all in action. But at least these give you the idea. We don't usually put up our Halloween stuff outside until the day before or the day of and usually the hubs takes charge, using a wide array of random Halloween decorations. This year with mama running the show, I decided we needed a theme!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

31 Days In Review

It's finally November and I made it through my 31 Days to a More Organized Life series. True, I only posted 26 out of 31 days but I'm calling it a win. Posting 26 times in one month feels like a big accomplishment, especially a month that turned out to be busier than expected and riddled with sickness.

I shared how I organize the drawers in our renovated kitchen and our alternative to a traditional pantry.
I offered tips on packing for your family and preparing your home before a trip and restoring order after a vacation.
I confessed my sad meal-planning skills and shared my efforts to improve here, here and here.
It's been a busy month and I'm so happy that so many people chose to follow along with the series. I do have a few more organization-focused posts planned, but I need to take a few days off this week to regroup. Check here for the full list of topics from the series!

I hope you'll continue to join me here at Sweeter Still as we move into the holidays! Be back on Monday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty-Six : Taking Care of Yourself

You are probably thinking "what in the world does this post have to do with organizing your life??" Stay with me.

Sometimes we work so hard to make everyone happy and everything great in our lives. We do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, the driving everyone from here to there and back to here. We wipe noses, bottoms, and tears. We go to bed so tired that we can't sleep because all we can think about is all the things we have to do the next day. We plan parties, playdates, real dates and holidays. But sometimes we forget to organize time for ourselves.

Time for yourself often feels like the last item on the priority list, but it shouldn't be. Just like spending time with your spouse or significant other, having time for you is not bad or wrong or selfish. It's necessary to recharge our batteries. I love my family more than anything, but I need time on my own occasionally and that doesn't make me a bad wife or a bad mom. Here are a few ways that I make sure I have time for me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty-Five : Baby Girl's Room

Today's post will pretty much be all pictures since they pretty much speak for themselves. Organizing my baby girl's (age 4) room is a constant process. Even with regular clean-up everything ends up mixed up. Her closet is made up of a hanging section for clothes and cubes to store toys and games. The games were taking over...
I relocated the games to a cabinet on the backside of the island and it opened up a lot of space. We even have an extra spot open for overflow! The black basket took the place of the green bin and holds mostly little brother's toys that he plays with regularly.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days to a Normal Life : Day Twenty Four : Using Gadgets to Stay Organized

Technological tools and gadgets carry a huge workload these days. With our phones capable of everything from managing our calendar to providing restaurant reviews and traffic alerts, using the phone for talking doesn't even seem to be the norm anymore. Smart phones, tablets and laptops make technology portable in a way that wasn't possible until fairly recently. The other day in the car, while the Maroon 5 song "Payphone" was playing, my 4 year old asked me what a payphone was. As I was explaining, I realized that the idea of needing to access a public phone is completely foreign to her. Anytime we leave the house, I have a phone right there in my purse so why would I need a payphone??

Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty-Three : Saving Kid's Artwork

Kids accumulate a lot of stuff. Even if you are religious about purging unused toys, clothes, books, etc, they still manage to bring in more. Once they reach school-age, they start to bring home papers, art projects, and all sorts of "mementos." We're not even to the schoolwork stage, but we have a miniature artist on our hands and for the past two years, we've accrued a lot of artwork.
Inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night - from Fancy Nancy Art Camp

It's not that I don't love and treasure every single piece. Even the ones that make you think "what am I looking at??" are precious. But the fact of the matter is that we don't have the space to store the abundance of masterpieces that come through our door. I don't want to just callously throw them away (although some I do) but I just can't save it all. So what can you do??

Sweeter Still's First Feature!!


I'm so excited to share some awesome news today! Yesterday my linen closet revamp was one of the favorites featured at the Keep Calm & Link Up party cohosted by Becoming Martha, Chase the Star and Wait Til Your Father Gets Home!

I am really honored to have been chosen for a feature and I'm grateful to all the awesome gals at Keep Calm & Link Up! You should definitely check them out. Each blog is full of creativity and the link party is newer so join in the fun each Thursday evening.

If you are a new visitor from the KCLU party, thanks for stopping by! I hope you'll stick around!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty-Two : The Junk Drawer

I don't know about your house, but in ours, the junk drawer gets out of control faster than almost any other spot when it comes to clutter. I try to reorganize it every couple weeks and it still looks like a tornado blew through. I tried to brainstorm ways to avoid the junk drawer in our new kitchen, but when you get right down to it, there is random stuff that needs a home and it usually ends up together.

Here's ours before:
It's not completely out of control, but there's a lot in the mix making it little more than a guess where to find something or where to put it back when you finish. 

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Thirteen

It's week thirteen of Thankfulness Thursdays and Thanksgiving is now just a month away. Inspired by Ashley at Domestic Fashionista, each week I write about someone or something for which I am thankful. It's just a small way of counting our blessings in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by DF and read Ashley's post and link up your own!

This week is really simple but I'm thankful for the fall weather.

Finally in the last weeks of October, we're experiencing a little feeling of fall here in southern California. It was still 78 yesterday afternoon, but the mornings and evenings are crisp and cool. When I wake up, the house is chilly enough that I'm wearing slippers and a sweatshirt or robe over my pjs. And I've actually been able to wear a light sweater and boots! After so much heat this summer, the chill in the air is a welcome arrival.
I'm ready for our annual trip to the pumpkin patch and while I've had fall decor up for a few weeks now, it finally feels appropriate. I've been making some delicious soups that are just right for cool evenings and I'm all geared up to decorate for Halloween. Thank you, autumn, for finally showing up!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty-One : Organizing Your Car

As a mom, I spend a lot of time shuttling from place to place in the car. Having just gotten a new car a few months ago, mine still feels pretty neat. I put more effort to keep it clean and organized because it doesn't have years of wear and tear. Regardless of whether your car is new or old, there are easy ways to keep it up that don't take a lot of effort.

I recently purchased a small plastic coupon organizer from the dollar store to manage important information that we keep in the car. If you've ever been pulled over or in a fender-bender, you know how important it is to have your insurance and registration handy.
The organizer came with labels for the various sections so I made one for registration and insurance info. I also designated one section for emergencies, which has contact info for roadside assistance. I also put a pocket-sized notepad and pen in the back just in case. I store the whole thing in the glove compartment so I know exactly where all the important papers are when I need them.

I bought a small first-aid kit for around $10 at Target that has some basics in it like bandaids, advil and antiseptic wipes. It's small so I keep that with a package of wet wipes in the side pocket of the driver's side door. In the pocket of the front passenger door I have a couple plastic bags and a small roll of paper towels for spills, sickies, etc. Our car came equipped with a jack and jumper cables, but if yours doesn't, I'd suggest having some for emergencies.

Because we live in a pretty warm climate, I don't keep too much else in the car for emergencies. If we lived somewhere cold or snowy, I would have a couple small blankets, water and antifreeze. Most of the driving that I do is within city limits and typically pretty close to home so I don't worry too much about us being stranded for a long time. If you spend time driving in isolated areas, you'd want to be prepared with some bottled water, snacks, etc.

To keep the car tidy, I make it a habit to pick up the trash, toys, clothes, etc. that inevitably end up in the car every day. Rather than having to clean a giant mess every so often, doing a daily sweep makes it easier to deal with a small amount. Like most chores, doing it more often makes it take less time and energy.
What do you keep in your car for emergencies?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sweeter Still is on Facebook!

I'm excited to announce that Sweeter Still now has its own Facebook page! I'll be adding links to new posts, sharing news and even giving hints about posts to come. 
Go check it out and give me a like if you want to stay connected to the Sweeter Still blog!

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twenty : The Importance of Routine

There's something familiar and comforting to most of us about a routine. A sense of peace that comes from the habitual. Most of us have routines that have become so ingrained in our daily life that we don't even think about them. For instance, I bet you have a shower routine. I know I do. Every time I shower, I follow roughly the same steps in the same order. In fact, my shower program is so drilled into my brain now that I've actually derailed the process by trying to go out of order and ended up with facewash in my hair. I'm not kidding.

Routines are especially important for children. I've never read a book about parenting that didn't emphasize the importance of pattern in the daily life of a child. There are different extremes to which you might follow your particular routine, but it seems to be almost universally agreed upon that children thrive when they know what to expect each day.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Eighteen & Nineteen : Sweating the Small Stuff

I know the popular catch-phrase is "don't sweat the small stuff." There's a whole book about the concept of not worrying about the little things in favor of focusing on the big picture. But as a mom, while my overall job may be to help my children grow into kind, loving and responsible adults, my day-to-day duties are largely focused on the small things.

The small stuff in my daily routine is what adds up to the big picture for my family. At face value, doing laundry is about making sure my family has clean clothes to wear. In the grand scheme of things, keeping up with the laundry is a way of showing my husband and children that I care, and in turn teaching my kids that even doing simple chores is a way of caring for others.

My big goals might be letting my kids know they are loved and helping them to grow physically, mentally and emotionally, but on any given day there are still breakfasts, lunches and dinners to be made, teeth to be brushed, diapers to be changed, toenails to be clipped, clothes to be washed, groceries to be bought, and bills to be paid.

I couldn't tell you who the seventeenth president was, but I can tell you that Fancy Nancy & the Posh Puppy is the purple book and that if a certain lovie isn't in the bed, it's probably on the couch or under the dining table. I could recite The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who or How the Grinch Stole Christmas if necessary. I remember the name of every doctor my kids have ever seen and the foods they love and hate. I know that the easiest way to get them to take medicine is to pretend to give a dose to their stuffed animals first.

I'll never be a world leader, but I can tell you that both President Obama and Mitt Romney had someone in their lives who taught them to brush their teeth, blow their nose and use the potty. At one point someone was making sure they had clean socks, that they went to school and that they learned to read. Someone knew their favorite story, their allergies and their most ticklish spot.

None of these small things is the most important aspect of my family's life, but my attention to these details gets us from one big moment to the next. By handling the small stuff, it allows our family to enjoy the big stuff. When I've got these things covered, my husband can go to work without worrying that things get done. My kids may not recognize it yet, but somewhere down the line (probably when they are living on their own) they will realize all the things that I did to help their lives run smoothly and to let them focus on what is most important for them. Because I love them. And because my hope is that someday they will do the same for their own families based on what they experienced as children.

You can see the previous days in the series here. Thanks for following along!

Friday, October 19, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Seventeen : Meal Planning, Part Three

I thought since I'm a meal-planner-in-training, I'd offer up some great resources from seasoned planners to encourage your own menu-planning efforts. Even if you are already great at planning your meals, you might find a new printable planning sheet or tip to make things run even more smoothly.

Simple Mom
You might not want to hear this, but the holidays are literally around the corner. This post from Tsh at Simple Mom is specific to December and details not only their menu plan for the month, but the batch cooking she plans for busy times.

Keeper of the Home
Not only is Stephanie really on top of meal planning, but she also focuses on feeding her family "real foods" and avoiding processed foods. This post (written by one of her contributors) is about getting back on the meal planning wagon and gives her actual menu for two weeks. The entire blog is chock full of great menu planning tips and strategies, but this post is a great starting point.

Faithful Provisions
I sort of stumbled upon this blog and while I'm not a couponer (funny that we use that as a word now) I really enjoyed all her resources for menu planning. She has a lot of printables to help keep you organized.

5 Dinners-in-1hr
If you want to be a real go-getter, then this one's for you! You can buy a subscription and receive monthly plans with grocery lists that train you to prep five dinners in an hour that can be easily reheated during the course of the week. If you aren't into the whole advanced meal prep idea, Michelle still has awesome recipes on her site and lots of great tips for making delicious meals for a family.

I hope you find some of these awesome blogs/posts helpful! Do you have a favorite meal-planning resource??

Check out the previous days of the series here!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Sixteen : Meal Planning, Part Two

Yesterday I admitted that I am horrible at meal planning and that it's one area where I would really like to improve. Whenever I read about someone who plans meals a month at a time (or actually cooks for a month at a time) I feel like such a slacker and so envious of their mama skills. I can at least make the effort to start out a week at a time.

I'm not the most able graphic designer and I don't really have the time to design my own meal planning sheet. And seriously why kill myself doing this when so many talented folks have already done this and provide free printables?!

Thankfulness Thursdays/ Week Twelve

Week twelve of Thankfulness Thursdays and Thanksgiving itself is not too far away! Inspired by Ashley of Domestic Fashionista, each Thursday I post about something for which I am thankful. If you're feeling grateful this week too, jot it down and hop over to Domestic Fashionista to link up!

Today I'm thankful for our network of support.

Last weekend we celebrated the baptism of our son and it was beautiful to see all those who joined in the festivities. We are blessed with wonderful godparents, who I know will treasure their duty and play a significant role in the life of my baby boy. Many of the same people who have celebrated with us at times of triumph and rallied around us in times of strife were there to yet again surround our family as we welcomed our son into the community of God.

I'm thankful for a group that will celebrate this momentous occasion with us regardless of personal beliefs. For those who don't lay a claim to the gift of grace, I pray that our ceremony would impact them in some small way. I'm grateful of course for our little guy and pray for a lifetime of blessings upon him. How fortunate we are to have so much love with which to surround him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Fifteen : Meal Planning, Part One

Confession: I am awful at meal planning. It's one of the areas that I know would really help me, but I'm inconsistent at best when it comes to planning our meals in advance. I'd really like to improve on this so the next few days will be about taking some steps towards consistent menu planning.

To start off, I wanted to have some back-up meals in the freezer that can be thrown in the crock pot when I know it's going to be a hectic day. Even this takes some planning because the meals have to thaw beforehand. I think I can handle looking ahead at the week and seeing that Thursday is going to be busy so I better thaw a freezer meal Wednesday to make dinner easier the next night. Are you following me?

I did some research on good old Pinterest for freezer meals and found myself a brand new blog to read. It's the mecca of meals, crafts, DIY and it's called Six Sisters' Stuff. You might have heard of it; they have like ten zillion followers. The post that I found on Pinterest was this one about making 8 slow cooker freezer meals in one hour. Yahtzee!

I chose three of the eight meals to start: Black Bean Taco Soup, Hearty Beef Stew, and Cilantro Lime Chicken. I made a shopping list and took my little guy to the store to stock up.
I labeled gallon ziploc bags with each meal, today's date and the time each needs in the slow cooker. Then I just followed the instructions on Six Sisters and dumped everything in. I browned the ground turkey for the black bean taco soup first and let it cool while I put together the other two meals.
Now I have three ready-made meals that just need heating up to make dinner a snap!

Join me tomorrow for more adventures in meal planning and check out the previous days in the series here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Fourteen : Much-needed Inspiration

The longer I write this series, the more I respect bloggers who post daily or almost daily. It takes a lot of work to come up with a quality post for each day. Today instead of taking a break, I'm sharing some of the organization blogs and sites that I find most inspiring and motivating. Get ready to see some serious organization skills!

I Heart Organizing
From DIY to creative storage to printables to keep you organized, this gal does it all! Jen is a home management guru and clearly works hard to make her home not only orderly, but beautiful.

Toni takes the cake when it comes to organization. Her blog is full of fabulous ideas and tutorials to help you get control of your own home.

Becky has a zillion ideas for organizing on a budget. Her blog is a great reminder that you don't have to blow the budget or have endless space in order to be organized.

I hope this gives you some good motivation to tackle some organizational projects! I'll be back tomorrow with more ways I'm getting life in order.

Check out the whole 31 day series here!

Leibster Award Nomination

I'm really excited to share that I was nominated for the Leibster Award by Mary at Cherry Blossom Love! I've been reading Mary's blog since the beginning of October and it's great. She's a new mom, talented with graphic design and all around awesome so you should check out her blog!

The Leibster Award is geared towards building up recognition of smaller blogs (less than 200 followers). Each nominee selects other small blogs to nominate as a way to spread the blog love! Here are the rules...

Monday, October 15, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Thirteen : Vacation Recovery

We just got back from a four day trip to the LA area for some great time with family and friends. I'm sorry that I had to skip two days of posting, but I promise to fulfill the 31 days anyway. At the last minute, the hubs was able to take some extra time and we extended our trip, which was awesome, but also meant packing in a hurry and not enough time to get posts ready for our absence. Boo (but yay for our trip)!

Now we're back and I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about how I "recover" our family and home from an out of town trip. Here's what happened when we came home and unloaded the car...
And that's not even all of it! So what do I do??

Friday, October 12, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Twelve : Packing the Family for a Vacation

Yesterday I offered some helpful tips for prepping your house before a vacation! Today we're talking about getting the family ready to go. Packing is easy enough when you are only planning for yourself, but when you factor in kids who need diaper changes, snacks, and activities to keep them busy, it can become quite the ordeal.

I'm a classic overpacker. It is what it is and I've learned to accept it. I truly hate the feeling of not having something I need on a trip so I tend to overcompensate a wee bit. Fortunately, I've tamed it down since having kids who require so much extra stuff just so that we can actually fit it all in one car. I'm also a big believer in learning from prior experiences so here are a few things I'm doing this time around to ease the stress. Remember the intention I set in the beginning of the series...
Packing us up in an orderly way will help to keep things running smoothly during not just the packing process but the trip itself.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thankfulness Thursdays : Week Eleven

Welcome to another week of Thankfulness Thursdays inspired by Ashley at Domestic Fashionista! Each week I share someone or something for which I am thankful as a way to remind myself of all that I have in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

This week I am thankful for the beautiful place we call home.

I've lived in a lot of different parts of the country. I was born and raised in New Hampshire, spent high school and then some in Colorado, went to college in Washington state, lived for a year after college in Texas and finally moved to San Diego seven years ago. Each place has its own beauty and unique qualities, but I'm very happy to call southern California my home.
We have such temperate weather. No more starting the car fifteen minutes early in the morning to warm it up, no more shoveling snow and no more scraping the windshield. We don't get a lot of rain and we live just far enough in from the coast to enjoy an abundance of sunny days year-round. Sometimes I miss the New England autumn or the snow-filled Christmases, but mostly I'm happy right where I am. I'm thankful to have such a beautiful place to live with my family and I need to remember to take advantage of it more often.

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Eleven : Preparing Your Home for a Trip

Welcome to day ten of my efforts toward organizing our home and family, one step at a time! If you missed any of the previous days you can check them out here!
Today we are talking about how to get your home ready before you leave for a vacation. There's so much to do before a trip, not to mention so much excitement and anticipation. Just a few simple steps can help keep your house safe while you are out of town.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Ten : Tracking Our Schedule

Today I'm bringing back a previous post about our weekly calendar with a few updates.

I found a great printable week-at-a-glance calendar at Mommy Tracked. They have a bunch of other options but this one looked like it would work best for us. It has a space for each day of the current week, plus small sections for kid's activities and the dinner plan for that day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Nine : De-junking Your Purse

Tell me if this situation sounds familiar... You're tackling a trip to the grocery store with both kids and your cell phone starts ringing. You reach with one hand into your purse for the phone while keeping the other hand on your toddler who has outsmarted the shopping cart seatbelt and managed to turn himself around still buckled. While you dig furiously through your purse with your free hand, your toddler continues to lean precariously over the edge of the seat, laughing hysterically as you hold onto the back of his pants. Normally you'd ignore the phone but you're waiting for the pediatrician's office to call back so you can tell them the the snot flowing freely from your preschooler's nose is now definitely looking green and not clear. Finally your fingers grasp the phone just as the pediatrician's office number lights up under the heading "missed call."

At any given time, the contents of your purse can mean the difference between sinking and swimming. It's not enough to carry your phone, but the ability to find the phone when you need it. It's not just a hold-all for papers and receipts, but having the receipt on hand when you need to pick up the dry-cleaning or return an item at the store. Often my purse feels more like a dumping ground than a well-ordered carryall. If you feel the same, then keep reading!

Monday, October 8, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Eight : Linen Closet, Part Two

Were you wondering if I was ever going to reveal my reorganized and revitalized linen closet?? I spent the weekend working on it piece by piece and truthfully, only the cabinet is done. I have plans for the closet portion, but I really want to share the cabinet now!

The first thing I wanted to do was add some personality. The inside was still this bland cream color that used to be on all the trim and the doors. When we overhauled the kitchen, we had the entire interior of the house painted and now the walls are a light gray and the trim is a crisp white. Love.

So in a bold move on my part, I painted the inside of the upper cabinet in the same light gray as the walls. I did it during naptime and while it was a nice change, it didn't really do much.
The top two shelves are painted and the bottom section isn't. Could you even tell? Me neither. So I hopped over to Michael's and found some pretty scrapbook paper.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

31 Days to a More Organized Life : Day Seven : Pantry Alternative

Yesterday I shared how we removed most of our upper cabinets during our kitchen renovation, leaving us with a lot of drawers for storage. One of the biggest changes we made when we took down the wall between our kitchen and living room was getting rid of our pantry. Because of the new layout, there isn't space for a typical tall pantry cabinet. Instead, we use four large drawers to store our dry goods.
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