Two Random Pictures

My first cucumber from my garden.  I’m proud of the little thing!

The kiddos I keep roasting marshmallows over our pretend campfire! LOVE this picture!

The chalkboard paint has really been worth it!

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New Chalkboard Wall

We recently rearranged our one-bedroom apartment a little bit.  We made what is supposed to be the dining room, into a little playroom for the girls I keep.

We painted one side with chalkboard paint and the girls love it!  And, I have to admit, I love it too!

(please ignore the messy kitchen 🙂 )

They tried to color in the shapes Lance and I drew, which I think is great for developing motor skills.

Today we’ve been practicing our letter and shape recognition on the chalkboard wall.

Loads of fun for only about $12!

Menu Plan Monday

This week is going to be kind of a busy one.   I’m helping host my sister-in-law’s Lingerie Shower on Thursday, so there’s a lot to prepare for that.  Also Lance’s mom and grandma are going to be in Nashville all week, so I’m sure we’ll be having lots of family time.  But that’s a good kind of busy! 🙂

Recipes marked with (*) are below.

Monday: Sweet & Sour Chicken over rice, salad

Tuesday: Crockpot Meatballs*, Pasta Salad**, green beans, Herbed Monkey Bread (having family over for dinner!)

Wednesday: Garlic Shrimp***, Carrot Salad****, Oven roasted potatoes, Rosemary Rolls (I don’t homemake mine, I buy rolls in the freezer section and doctor them up!)

Thursday: Bruschetta Pizza*****

Friday: Lingerie Shower.  We’re eating finger foods.

Saturday: Oriental Salad ******, Rosemary Rolls

Sunday: Out to Eat

*Crockpot Meatballs:

1 lb. ground beef

1 c. bread crumbs

3 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 chopped onion

1 (16 oz) can crushed tomatoes

1 (14 oz) can tomato puree

Mix the beef, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic and onion. Form into balls and place into slow cooker. Mix crushed tomatoes and puree and pour over the meatballs. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

**Pasta Salad

16 oz. box penne rigate pasta

1.5 cups cucumber, diced small

1/2 medium onion, minced

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 cup white sugar

parsley (to taste)

Cook and drain pasta. Coat with oil. Mix vinegar, sugar, salt, and mustard until sugar dissolves.  Pour over pasta.  Throw in cucumbers, onions, and parsley.  Refrigerate a couple hours and stir before serving.

***Garlic Shrimp

1/2 lb. frozen, deveined shrimp

1/2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tbsp. butter

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Melt the butter over med-high heat.  Add shrimp and garlic.  Saute until shrimp are pink (usually about 3 minutes total).

**** Carrot Salad

1 lb. carrots, grated

1 apple, chopped

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

juice from one orange

splash of apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

***** Bruschetta Pizza

I take a Pillsbury can of pizza crust, smash it out onto a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  I soften 1/3 stick of butter in the microwave and spread it with a spoon over the crust.  I sprinkle chopped onions and diced tomatoes (Hunts brand, seasoned with garlic and italian seasonings), grated cheese, and fresh parsley.  Then I bake it until the crust is done and the cheese is melted.

****** Oriental Salad

1 package cole slaw mix

1 package chicken flavored ramen noodles

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1/3 cup vinegar

For the sauce: combine the ramen sauce mix packet, sugar, oil, and vinegar.

Mix the cole slaw, sunflower seeds, almonds, and crushed ramen noodles.  Pour sauce over it and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

This post is linked to Organizing Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

My Organizer

So, I had this little spiral bound notebook that I would write down all the things I needed to remember: bills, grocery lists, weekly menus, etc.  I kept it in my purse and the pages would tear and get little bent corners on them.  It started to really bug me.

I started searching for a new way to organize everything I needed to keep track of.  I couldn’t find any cookie-cutter organizers that would work.  There were a few on Etsy that I would have been able to purchase the files and then just print my own pages out.  I thought those were too expensive, especially when I could just design my own!

I bought this little 5″ x 8″ three ring binder at Office Depot about 3 years ago, when I still worked there.  I used to use it to keep track of my homework in college.  A few months ago, in the Target dollar section they had these little file folder sets that were cute.  I got some cupcake ones and some sailboat ones.  I hadn’t used any yet, and so I decided to use the cupcake ones to design my organizer.  In the front pocket of the binder is just a piece of one file folder that I cut out.

On the inside front, I hot-glued a piece of ribbon and then attached pens to it with velcro.  It’s not the prettiest, but my pens never fall out!

The first thing in my organizer is my calendar.  I just made a grid and I write in the little numbers and put the month at the top.  This works great for me, because its so versatile with nothing preprinted on the month.

I made dividers for my organizer by cutting the file folders and attaching blank tabs on them.  The first section is Financials.  In this section I have a sheet with the month at the top, and then three columns: Date, Company, Amount.  I write all my bills on one sheet for the month and then check them off as I go.  It is really helpful for me to see them all together, that way I am never late and can prepare for what’s coming.

Next is my Menu-Plan section.

The first thing in this section is a zip pocket that holds any coupons that I will need when I go grocery shopping.

Then I have blank sheets where I write out my menu for that week.

Behind my menu, I have my shopping list.  I LOVE my new shopping list! With everything divided into sections (frozen, canned, produce, etc.), it makes shopping so much faster!!!

Behind that I have my recipes for the week.  What’s great about this organizer, is that it’s the same size as the recipe book Lance got me for Christmas!  So, I can just pull pages out of it, stick them in my organizer, and put them back where they go at the end of the week!

The next section is Domestic Goals.

I have these blank sheets, where I write things that need to get done, but aren’t part of my weekly cleaning routine.  Right now on my list I have things like: wash baseboards, clean out game closet, give cats a bath, etc.  When something is accomplished, I just check it off! That check mark, for me,  is like the equivalent of getting to put a sticker on a chart.

The next section is my To-Do List.

On these pages, I write stuff that I need to do that has nothing to do with housecleaning.  Things that I’ve recently checked off are: make and freeze punch for the party, fill out invitations, clean out coupon pile, and put flea medicine on the cats.

The next section is Daily Thoughts.

I used to keep a journal. I loved being able to read back on my thoughts, see how problems were resolved, and get reminded of past hopes and dreams.  For my life right now, I am way too busy to have time to journal.  But I do miss that writing outlet.  So, I made this Daily Thoughts section and it’s been wonderful!  Since I use my organizer everyday to look up recipes and bills that are due, it’s no extra effort to turn to this section and just write down a few lines about my day.  I’ve written in it 90% of the time since I made my organizer and I’m already enjoying reading back and reflecting on what I wrote!

The next section is Notes.

I have made a blank Notes page that will go in this section, but I haven’t printed any out yet, because I didn’t want to waste what I had left from when I used to use this binder in college.  So for now, I’m using store-bought Notes pages.  In this section, I just put random things like phone numbers, stuff related to my home daycare, or any other info that I don’t wanna forget.

The back pocket just has another file folder piece inserted into it!

And that, folks, is my organizer! Maybe a little bulky, but for this busy gal, it’s necessary!

If anyone would like any of the templates you’ve seen here, to print out for your own organizer, leave me a comment with your email address and I would love to share the files with you!