weekly menuMy husband and I started the Dukan Diet last week and we’ve been going through the normal teething issues that come with a new diet. I have never tried a protein based diet so for me the menu took a lot of getting used to. I have seen all sorts of cute weekly menu’s, mainly chalkboards, floating around Pinterest that I would love to do but do not have the wall space for.

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I have a largish galley style kitchen so wall space is limited. I needed a menu to help with the new diet so I decided to make a laminated one and put it inside my pantry door. I added a legal pad for my shopping list. I used 3M strips and attached them to a sheet protector, I then slipped the back of the legal pad in the sheet protector. Now I can write what I need, tear the sheet off and when the legal pad is empty I can easily replace it. You can also see my little magnetic strip with the magnetic dry erase marker. It is simple and I like it, it is really nice being able to see what the next meal is instead of relying on my memory.

I have to add, I love my little laminator. I bought it last week at Walmart for $27 and have already given it a good run. I know this little thing is going to save me money in the long run, just on gas alone from all the trips to the office supply store.

I am finding so many great projects on Pinterest that I have a list made out with three weeks worth of things to try. This cheap and practical weekly calendar came from Kristy at Next to Heaven.

We are about to enclose our sun room and turn it into a dining room so I decided to go ahead and claim the old dining room as my office. I love it, I have huge windows that look straight into the back yard with views of the old barn and golf course. I had been trying to figure out what to do with a blank wall across from my desk. We all have to walk by it to go from the bedrooms to the living areas so it is a perfect place for our calendar as well as the kids chore charts that I will be doing tomorrow.

I bought the frame for this project from Walmart for $9.99 but also found more expensive versions of it at Hobby Lobby ($24.99) and Target ($22.99). I also found these fantastic little dry erase markers at Walmart. They are perfect for projects like this since they have an eraser on the end and a magnet on the back. I bought some magnetic sheeting from Hobby Lobby, cut it to size and stuck it on the frame, now the marker stays in place without the need for cords.

Twenty minutes of work and I now have a cute practical calendar.

Dry erase calendar

I am one of those people that does not retain much useful information, song lyrics and things that happened 20 years ago no problem. I was a late bloomer when it came to domestic skills so new information such as cooking times and metric conversions don’t seem to be sticking. I am constantly running to my computer to see what temperature the chicken is meant to be and what temperature my Australian recipes are meant to cook at. I found a really handy chart that someone had painted into their kitchen cupboard and was brilliant. I of course forgot to pin it and now can’t find it. We have yet to renovate the kitchen so I didn’t go to that extreme. I typed up a quick little chart in Photoshop, laminated it and used some 3m mounting tape to stick it in the cupboard closest to where I put all the dishes together.

kitchen conversion chart

 

It isn’t totally fabulous but it took ten minutes to type up and saved me two trips to the computer last night when I was cooking dinner. If you’d like to print it here is a full size image.

My kids like making a mess with their toys when playing, for this reason we removed toy storage from the living room and took everything upstairs. They are now four and five and we feel old enough to have independent playtime without the need to constantly watch over them. It doesn’t matter how hard I try to keep the kids things from trickling down the stairs, they always do. I am constantly throwing shoes, toys, hair bows and blankets to the bottom of the stairs. I had a large canvas basket that I would try and remember to hide if company came over but rarely did. In my Pinterest searches I ended up on Karen’s site Sew Many Ways and she had a picture of cute little baskets with bows and name cards, very simple and practical. At least it should have been simple. It took me three Hobby Lobbies, two Walmart’s, a Target and finally Gordmans before I found two matching baskets. I recently bought a lamintor for projects with the kids so I used that to laminate the name tags. I tied them to the basket with some thread and then tied on a bow.

I finished them today and within five minutes of showing them to the kids they are both full. I really like them and they fit perfectly on the bottom landing of the stairs.

Baskets

Yesterday was one of those days where everything took longer than it should and things didn’t turn out quite as planned. I planned to follow the original recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Chili posted at Redsie but a last minute discovery that I didn’t have beans had me scrambling through the pantry until I found half a bag of rice. My Chili quickly turned into a Mexican Rice. I was surprised that it was as good as it was. The kids loved it but hubby and I love a lot of spice so we doused ours with some hot sauce before eating.

Crock Pot Mexican Rice with Chicken
Servings: 10

1 onion, chopped
1.5 cups of rice
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts 2 Cups of water
Combine rice, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.

We really liked it, if you love spicy food and don’t have kids to cook for I would recommend doubling the Chili powder, if not then  Franks Hot Sauce does the trick.

DVD StorageMy husband and I love movies and with that love of movies has come approximately 1000 DVD’s. I don’t have bookcase space for them because books is another passion of my husbands. All of our DVD’s had been stacked three rows deep on shelving in an upstairs closet. It made trying to find one movie nearly impossible. I do have to admit that I am pretty lucky and have a wonderful geeky husband that has put quite a few of the movies on storage drives that we can play on demand through our XBox but the majority of our movies have been forgotten about. I need the extra storage space upstairs and I really wanted to get the movies where they were easy to find.

I was inspired by Jen at IHeartOrganizing. With nearly 1000 DVD’s this was a huge task and took two days to complete.

On New Years Day I dragged my husband to the local Office Depot armed with a $10 off $50 coupon that I printed off the Internet. I cleaned them out and bought two storage boxes that hold about 220 DVD’s each and 500 paper sleeves. The following day armed with another coupon I went to the other Office Depot and managed to get another 500 paper sleeves and three more storage boxes. I would have loved to have used plastic sleeves but with the volume of DVD’s I was dealing with paper sleeves are much more cost effective. I spent $94 on materials for this project and have since sold my empty DVD covers on Craigslist for $20, bringing the total project cost to $74.

My first step was making my own tabs. I have a couple of boxes of file folders stashed away and cut those down to make alphabetical tabs. I then started the tedious task of bringing all the DVD’s down stairs and taking them from the boxes and putting them in the paper sleeves. My husband called me Santa, the quickest and easiest way to move DVD’s is to stack them on a sheet, wrap them up, throw them over your shoulder and carry them Santa style.

I will not lie, taking all those DVD’s out and filing them was extremely tedious, made a huge mess and took a lot of time. In the end I would do it all over. I now have 5 little boxes of DVD’s tucked away out of view in my entertainment center and over 700 DVD cases out of my house giving me storage that I desperately need.

I have a new obsession, Pinterest. I love easy crafts, home decor and getting things organized so I was immediately hooked. I love the visual format and now have all these wonderful ideas to try and beautiful pictures to inspire me. I have already completed four projects this year with inspiration coming from pinterest. I also have the materials for another three projects already purchased.

I have been inspired by Pinterest to use it as inspiration to do one thing I find off of the site every single day this year. It will not always be a project, some days it will be a recipe, some things will take more than a day and hopefully a few will be travel. I am really looking forward to spending 2012 finding new and exciting things. It is also a great way for me to get back into blogging, it has been a year since my last post.

I’ve been playing with this recipe for awhile and have finally tweaked it enough that everyone in my family gobbles it up and goes back for seconds, even my three year old picky eater! It is much healthier than traditional meat based sauces and the blend of turkey sausage and turkey mince gives it wonderful flavor. The red pepper flakes give it the tiniest hint of a kick but still leaves it kid friendly.

1 lb turkey sausage
1 lb turkey mince
1 large onions, chopped
3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (10 oz)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    Spray slow cooker with cooking spray

    Add diced tomato, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to slow cooker

    Cook sausage and mince in skillet until cooked through, drain and transfer to slow cooker

    In same pan saute onion mushrooms and garlic until soft then transfer to slow cooker

    Stir ingredients together and cook at a low setting for 8-10 hours

Makes approximately 12 generous servings and freezes wonderfully.

When I started this blog one of my first posts said that this is not the blog you’ll find recipes on, well that’s changing along with a lot of other things. The past six months of my life have been a journey into trying to find the old me, the one that could cook, the one that never gave up on anything.

In June 2006 I had a stroke, physically with some hard work I recovered and eventually regained my fine motor skills. I thought I was fine but mentally I wasn’t the same person I was before the stroke. I was getting frustrated over little things, could no longer read a book, had the attention span of a toddler, couldn’t speak without getting tongue tied, could not keep a thought in my head long enough to finish a sentence and never finished anything I started. I stopped talking to friends and dreaded social gatherings because I hated trying to have conversations, I felt like an idiot. I would think I replied to an email but hadn’t, forget to return phone calls and I am sure upset a few friends along the way. I became everything I always preached against, I stopped getting out there and stopped living my life. I allowed myself to become consumed with the house because it gave me the excuse I needed to stay home and hide from the world. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was happily miserable.

Its been about six months since I decided that something had to change. I now sit here in front of the computer typing happily away 30 pounds lighter and not stopping every five words to try and remember where I was up to. I have read four books in the past week. I cook dinner every night and nothing is prepackaged from the freezer, things have changed and they have changed for the better. I am happier, my husband is feeling well taken care of and the kids are getting a lot more attention.

It has not been an easy road to get to where I am now and I still struggle daily but things are getting easier with each passing day. When I first started this journey I made lists for everything, what I was going to do and what order I was going to do them in. This went for cleaning, cooking, the kids, anything I dealt with in the day had a list and I became obsessed with those lists. Those lists allowed me to complete tasks without getting frustrated about forgetting that I had laundry on or getting lost in the middle of trying to do something. I gave up my lists just before Christmas and while I tire myself out from remembering what is going at any given moment I am making it through on my own.

As for my getting tongue tied I am getting better. I talk and sing all day, whatever thoughts are in my head or whatever song pops in, out it comes. If I get confused on lyrics I look them up and sing them until I remember them. I’m feeling great about what 2011 has to bring and am unbelievably happy how far I have come in six months. I am doing things that a year ago would have had me throwing my hands in the air and walking out of the room. I plan on celebrating this year in June, I survived a stroke and I finally found me again.

Earlier this year Mommy and Daddy took me on a trip to Branson. When we were eating lunch I was watching helicopters take off across the road and I said I wanted to go up in one. By the time we finished lunch the clouds had come in too low so I didn’t get to go. Mommy said that if I still wanted to I could come back and go on one for my birthday. I talked about it almost every day for seven months! In September Mommy and Daddy brought me back for my birthday helicopter ride. I was such a big girl, I got to sit up front with the pilot! When we landed I wanted to go again and again. Helicopters are a lot of fun, I was reading letters off of signs to the pilot and thought the cars looked like little toys.

helicopter ride

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