sim·plic·i·ty: absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainness: a life of simplicity.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Declutter and Organize calendar

Saw this when a friend posted it. Since I get VERY easily overwhelmed when confronted by a big project, this is just brilliance. Check it out!

You check out their blog too at My Simpler Life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


This is kind of a continuation of my post. I'll use this post to keep track of recipes I've made using Supercook and whether or not my family liked them or not. Just click on the name of the recipe to take you to the link.

Chicken Recipes

Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust
Two thumbs up. Everyone loved it.

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream
Two thumbs up. Best enchiladas I've ever tasted.

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
Two Thumbs up. Easy, everyone liked it.

Poppy Seed Chicken
Two thumbs up. Good stuff.

Honey Glazed "dump" Chicken
One thumb up. It was okay. Hubby didn't like it. He said it was too sweet.

Beef Recipes

Mexican Lasagna
Two thumbs up. Very good.

Cheesy Beef Enchiladas
Two thumbs up. Basic enchilada. VERY easy to make.

Magic Meatloaf
Two thumbs up. Very good.

Hearty Skillet Supper
Two thumbs up. My kids loved it!

Other Recipes

Sausage Potatoes Au Gratin
Can't give an honest review for this one. I totally screwed it up. I'll have to try it again sometime.

Pumpkin Roll

100 Ways to Cook a Pumpkin

100 Ways to Cook an Egg

Monday, April 18, 2011

Milk & Water

A couple of weeks ago, I informed Patrick that I was going to cut out juice and Crystal Lite. His response was "Good for you!" Knowing that he thought I meant only for me I said, "No, no, no. No more juice or Crystal Lite in the house at ALL!" He wasn't nearly as excited about that. I had already been cutting back significantly on the soda. But we were keeping both orange juice and apple juice in the refrigerator and going through it so fast that it was a burden on our budget. And I myself was addicted to Crystal Lite after having weaned myself off soda. So while Patrick wasn't ecstatic about giving up the juice, he supported me in my decision because he knew how much money we would save. The transition from juice to only milk and water was difficult mostly for Mwende. At first she refused to drink water saying that she thought it was yucky. So I was making a lot of "chocolate" milk (aka Ovaltine) for her. But then I realized that what we were saving from not buying juice, we were spending on extra milk. So I restricted milk to only breakfast and dinner. They could have as much water in between as their hearts desired. Fortunately now, Mwende wants water just as much as she previously wanted juice. Even I'm getting used to drinking water with nothing added.

So if you come over to our house, the only drinks you'll find in our fridge are milk and water (and the occasional wine or beer!)


When I first married my husband he had 4 television sets. He lived in a college town where graduating students would put the stuff they couldn't take with them out on the curb, so it wasn't hard to pick up a few. Then I brought my own television set into the marriage leaving us with a grand total of 5. There was one for the living room, one for the kitchen, one for the bedroom, one for the guest room and one for the office. I'm honest surprised we didn't have one for the bathroom! I immediately embarked on a quest to reduce us to a 1 tv set family. This was more difficult than I had imagined as my husband didn't want to give up a single set. But I finally wore him down and we moved to California with only one tv. After that I had a new goal. Get rid of the cable. For one, I hated that I allowed Mwende to watch so much tv. It just seemed so much easier to just let her watch tv to keep her entertained. I worked in a lot of playdates so try and offset that, but when we were home the tv always seemed to be on. In addition to that, my husband depended on the tv for his downtime. So when he got home from work the tv really was always on. (Especially in March for college basketball's "March Madness"). So at some point the tv started to stand for everything I didn't want in life. Zombies for kids and a husband who's attention I had to compete for.

So here we are in California with 1 tv. I started trying to talk Patrick into canceling the cable a couple of years back. He was definitely not keen on the idea. Then this past weekend he surprised me. He was in Indianapolis on a business trip and called me out of the blue to say that he thought we should cancel the cable and just order Netflix. I was ecstatic! Finally. So we made the calls to Time Warner and canceled the cable and upgraded the internet (from Road Runner Lite to Road Runner Basic) to enable streaming Netflix. We'll get some rabbit ears so we can continue to watch the news (and maybe a little American Idol! Okay, that's just me). I bet Patrick will even get the occasional basketball game on ABC or NBC or something. And if I can't get FOX with the rabbit ears, that's okay. I will survive without American Idol and I probably don't really want to listen to Mary Murphy's screeching on So You Think You Can Dance anyhow.

By the way, somehow we ended up with a new tv set through this whole thing. That's okay though, I made sure the old one went out to the curb.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


My food purging started back in the fall of 2010 just before a 4 week trip to Kenya. I had a goal of getting rid of everything in the freezer and refrigerator so that I could unplug that sucker while we were gone. So I needed to get smart about utilizing the food that we had. Its ridiculous really, that is how much food we had in our kitchen that we just weren't using. I have hominy in my cupboard. I really don't even know what that is! So I googled "recipe finder by ingredient". That search led me to I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this website. I started out by going through my kitchen and entering every ingredient in my cupboards, freezer and refrigerator (even the hominy). I was delighted to see the results. With what I had in my kitchen I could make 2,000+ recipes without even going to the grocery store. I could narrow those results by starters, entrees or desserts. I could further narrow the results by typing in one of the ingredients that I wanted to use. The site lists the recipes I can make with the ingredients I have on hand first and then also lists those that I can make, but just need to pick up a couple of extra ingredients at the store. The best part? When I signed up for an account with them they saved all those ingredients for me, so that I don't have to enter them every time. I remove items I've used up as I do and add new ones as I buy them. Did I mention this tool searches a bunch of different recipe sites? Yep,,, and among others I'm sure. Some of the yummy recipes I've made utilizing this wonderful tool include:

  • Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Crust
  • Cheesy Beef Enchiladas
  • Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole
  • Mexican Lasagna
  • Honey Glazed "dump" Chicken
  • Magic Meatloaf
  • Sausage Potatoes Au Gratin
Everything turned out amazing! Well except for the honey glazed chicken. It was too sweet for my husband and while I thought it was good, I didn't like it with rice. It had potential though. Anyway, that's besides the point. I've grown to depend on when figuring out what to make for dinner every night. Its saved me money, trips to the grocery store and created room in our kitchen. Win/win/win.

The kids toys

I get SO tired of picking up toys. (Maybe I already said this?) But sometimes I feel like I spend all my housecleaning time just picking up stuff off the floor and it doesn't leave time for anything else. My solution? Get rid of the toys. Okay, not ALL the toys, but a lot of them. Also, I really need to start encouraging the girls to help me pick up instead of just doing it myself while they play or whatever (which let's admit it, its just easier to do it yourself sometimes!) So I went through all their toys. There were piles of toys everywhere in our apartment. I have no idea how we got so many toys. But there they were. So I went through every last one and asked my self several questions about that toy.

  1. When was the last time they played with it? (Or, have they ever played with it?)
  2. Do they have similar toys that I can get rid of all but their favorite of that group?
  3. How does this toy benefit them? Does it encourage learning, physical activity or using their imagination?
  4. Does the toy annoy me? (e.g. Fisher Price Corn Popper)
  5. Does the toy have too many pieces to keep track of? (Ahem, Mrs. Potato Head...)
  6. Am I keeping this toy because I want to them to like it and play with it, but they're really just not interested?
So using these questions, I managed to get rid of four 33 gal trash bags of toys. And honestly, I've been eying a few more that I'm thinking of getting rid of too! Now all their toys fit in the toy box in their room with three baskets for blocks and balls in the living room.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Problem

I dream of a clean, organized, neat looking house. But that's all it is. A dream. I don't have a proprensity for organization or even house cleaning itself. So I struggle every day to make our living space somewhat presentable. I think I've discovered my problem. We moved from a 5 bedroom house with an attic and a basement in New York State to a cramped two bedroom apartment in Orange County California. I think I saw this coming somewhat. I remember going through all our stuff in New York, trying to decide what I could part with and what to bring with us on our move. I place a lot of value on items, so it was a hard process. My natural inclination is to hold on to things "just in case". You could say I have pack rat tendencies. But I succeeded in getting rid of a lot of stuff and we didn't have to rent a storage space once we moved to California. However, now I look around my house and I see clutter. More toys than my girls ever play with. More dvds than we ever have time to watch. More books than I will ever have time to read (I'm a certified bookaholic!) More dishes than I ever use. More clothes than I ever wear. Just more more more stuff than my family will ever use. And so many "just in case" things.

So I've been getting an itch lately to simplify. With all this stuff, my house can never be "neat". Sure I can hide stuff in cupboards and bins. But I just have this urge to simplify. This urge may stem from my recent trip to Kenya and seeing how happily my in-laws live without all the "stuff". While they certainly have more than the basics they need to survive, it wasn't much more. And frankly the upkeep was simple. There was no "decluttering".

I think that's what got me. The majority of my day is spent decluttering! I spend so much time picking up after kids toys and other decluttering, that I hardly have any time for any thing else! Its frustrating.

So, my quest, my struggle, my goal is to simplify. I want to get back to the basics. I am going to be horribly harsh with myself and my family and start getting rid of all the STUFF. The kids will cry when I give away some of their toys, my husband will grimace when I reduce his dvd collection and I will overcome the sick feeling in my gut when I give away some of my precious books. But I will simplify.